UK-OZ direct: Soon to be a dream come true?

UK holidaymakers keen to make a quick dash for the Antipodean sun and escape the cold of back home could soon be able to do just that without even having to stop for fuel.

Rumours that Qantas are making plans for a new direct flight from London to Perth have begun to intensify after it was revealed that the airline has put in an order for a shiny new fleet of the 787-9 Dreamliners to replace the old Boeing 747s.

The upheaval involved in the journey that travellers currently have to make in order to see the sights Down Under can be a worry, especially for those making the trip with young children – a 21-hour travel time incorporating a stop-off to refuel is certainly a long time.

But if it goes ahead as suspected, this new direct flight would dramatically cut the length of time spent onboard to just 18 hours.

These state-of-the-art 787-9 crafts are 20% more fuel-efficient than the older 747, allowing them to travel for a longer stretch without having to top up the tanks. Not only does it make travelling much more comfortable for passengers, but it is also kinder to the environment, reducing that all-important carbon footprint.

A Qantas spokesperson commented: “We are yet to announce which cities we’ll be flying the Dreamliner to. What we have said though however, the range of the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner does allow flights like Sydney-Chicago, Melbourne-Dallas or Perth-London to be possible.”

Though this new London-Perth flight is not yet confirmed, it is thought that Qantas will begin operating the route from as early as 2017.

Discovering The Daintree, a tropical heritage site Down Under

If you’re in the midst of planning a tailor-made Australia holiday, why not devote a couple of days to discovering Queensland’s famous rainforest, the Daintree? This area of outstanding natural beauty also carries cultural and historical significance. There are all kinds of activities on offer, and enough incredible sights to enchant and intrigue you for days on end.

 

What to do and see in the Daintree

There’s absolutely no danger of getting bored in the Daintree. If the spectacular scenery isn’t enough to keep you occupied, you’ll find an array of activities on offer. For adventurous types, this is a perfect place to get your hiking boots out and enjoy some amazing treks under the shady canopies. You can also book a wildlife cruise down the river, or enjoy a bird’s eye view from the zip line trail.

Cape Tribulation National Park is a must if you’re in the area. Here, the clear waters of the Great Barrier Reef meet the lush green forests of the Daintree. Enjoy the sun on the sandy beaches before taking a boat out and taking advantage of some of the world’s best scuba diving sites. If you’re not an experienced diver, you can book lessons and tours when you arrive. Cape Tribulation isn’t just a feast for the senses. It is also a sacred ground for the Aborigines, and they are responsible for its upkeep and preservation to this day.

Mossman Gorge is another highlight. To the south of Cape Tribulation, around 20km from Port Douglas you’ll find the natural wonder that is Mossman Gorge. Marvel at the dramatic waterfalls and tranquil pools as you meander through the forest. Book a dreamtime walk, which is led by members of the indigenous community, to find out everything you’ll ever need to know about this stunning spot.

The Daintree Discovery Centre is another great stop to include in your itinerary. Climb the canopy tower and enjoy the vistas from the aerial walkways. Watch out for cassowaries, and enjoy the informative and interactive displays. If you’ve travelling with children, this is an excellent place to start your Daintree adventure. You can book a group visit or pick up a self-guided audio tour.

 

The Daintree is a magical place, which has something to offer every visitor. Whether you’re interested in history or culture, you’re a keen photographer who can’t wait to capture the natural beauty on film, or you’re eager to get out and explore the forests and the waters of the Great Barrier Reef, you won’t be disappointed.

24 hours in Melbourne

Victoria’s lively state capital has the 19th-century buildings and tree-lined boulevards that gives a city a wonderful air of history. But at the same time, at its crux is the startlingly modern Federation Square development, with plazas full of bars, restaurants and cultural events to enjoy. That combination is what makes this city so special, and when planning a personalised holiday here on the banks of the Yarra River, it can be a real challenge knowing where to start. But we’ve come to your aid with a Top 3 of the very best things to do! Take a look:

Royal Botanic Gardens

This expanse of green parkland stretching out south of the Yarra River, and only a short distance from the centre of town, is a beautiful place to have an afternoon stroll in the sun. Taking in over 40 hectares and home to more than 50,000 plants, including many rare species barely found elsewhere, the gardens are visited by 1.5 million people every year. The Aboriginal Heritage Walk is a particular highlight: on this tour of the gardens, you’ll learn all about the unique history of the indigenous Australians. You can also take in some live theatre or a film in the moonlit cinema when the summer months come around.

Southbank and Arts Centre

Found on the banks of the river, the Southbank promenade is filled with outdoor cafés for a taste of Melbourne’s famous coffee culture in the sun accompanied by live entertainment. The promenade plays host to many festivals throughout the year, as well as incorporating a range of theatre spaces including the State Theatre, Playhouse, Fairfax Theatre, and Hamer Hall, the premier performance space for the famous Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Head here on a Sunday for the brilliant arts and crafts market.

Melbourne Zoo

Not so keen on venturing into the unknown territory of the outback? Head to Melbourne Zoo! There are over 320 species of animals to see here at this zoo that has been the favourite place of local kids since 1862. But it’s not just looking at the animals through the fences on offer here: you can take part in many wild encounters including “roar and snore”, twilight music concerts, and behind-the-scene tours of some enclosures. One experience not to be missed is the award-winning Trail of the Elephants, a marvellous attraction giving visitors an insight into the lives of the resident Asian elephants in a traditional village-garden setting.

 

The best way to explore the Great Barrier Reef

2,300 km long, the Great Barrier Reef extends from the northeastern tip of Australia all the way to Queensland. Longer than the Great Wall of China, visible from the moon and a World Heritage Site since 1981, it is no surprise that it is considered one of the most jaw-dropping places on the planet.

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef in the world: more than 2,000 islands (parts of which have never been explored) and nearly 3,000 reefs. For spotting colourful fish in all shapes and sizes, it is the perfect environment. Corals are located relatively close to the surface because they need light to grow, so the full experience is within easy reach.

More than 400 kinds of corals, 1500 kinds of tropical fish, 20 types of reptiles, including turtles, 200 types of birds and rays, sharks, tuna, dugongs, dolphins and humpback whales that migrate from the Antarctic are all there in this underwater world waiting to be discovered.

The Great Barrier Reef has a tropical climate and enjoys pleasant temperatures all year around. The rainy season lasts from December to March, but rest assured, the Great Barrier islands see much less rainfall than the mainland.

One great option for exploring the best that the Great Barrier Reef has to offer is to choose an island far south or further from the coast (Brampton, Heron and Lady Elliot Island for example). These islands are free from the jellyfish sometimes found elsewhere and the water temperature ranges from 21°C on average in winter to 27°C in summer. The temperatures become warmer as you move north.

The most important thing for travellers in the end is what you’ll see. Nature, of course, offers no guarantees, and picking the right location is no easy decision. But this is what creates the magic of the place: every part of the reef is different – depths, dimensions and colours vary across the length of the Great Barrier Reef – and all offer unique, magical views. You’ll be blown away wherever you stay.

Whether it’s exploring the world’s largest coral reef with a snorkel and mask, relaxing on the archipelago of islands or even discovering the dense tropical forests of the surrounding Wet Tropics listed as a World Heritage Site, every way of exploring the Great Barrier Reef is really just as fantastic as the next!

Virtual reality WWII attraction launches in Darwin

An immersive new attraction putting you in the shoes of Australians during World War II has opened its doors to the public in the Northern Territory.

Located in Stokes Hill Wharf in Darwin, the new multi-million dollar RFDS Darwin Tourist facility exhibition named “Bombing of Darwin Harbour” uses virtual reality and holographic technology to transport tourists to Feb. 19, 1942, when 300 bombs were dropped by 188 Japanese planes in the largest single attack ever on Australia.

Tourism NT CEO, Tony Mayell, said the new attraction harnesses technology to give visitors a never-before-seen insight into what it was like to be there in that moment of history.

“There is no doubt this fantastic new tourism attraction is world-class; some of the technology is so advanced it’s the first time it’s ever been used,” Mr Mayell said.

“With the launch of this new tourism attraction we are telling visitors around the world: If you want to learn more about Australia’s war history – the Northern Territory is the place to come.

“Military tourism is a growing trend with more and more people visiting war memorials, exhibitions and events in Australia and around the world.”

The holographic technology tells a particularly interesting story: the previously little-known tale of the commanding officer of the USS William B Preston, Etheridge (Jim) Grant, who observed the attack from the water after being blown from his tender.

Some of the historical treasures on show in the museum include: a suspended replica Mitsubishi Zero Japanese plane, a replica 250kg general purpose bomb that that has been cut away to show the inner workings and a window depicting Darwin Harbour in 1942 that comes to life giving visitors an experience of the Wharf during the attack.