With insight into how our stories take shape, keeping our online world secure, and an unusual traffic sighting on Albany Highway, Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield surveys another week in travel
IDEA COMES TO LIFE
Here I am, writing this column, which, in print will be between our front page cover, and Mogens Johansen’s story, which starts on the following page.
And I’ll take this opportunity to explain how we work, and how that came about. Most travel editors and travel writers join “media famils” — group familiarisation trips, where everything is laid on, and served up in a particular way, to impress the media.
But Mogens’ assignment to Singapore and Cambodia started with the idea from us, as a travel team, that we could find contrast and variety close to home — but just as we might in Europe.
We have a long and strong relationship with Singapore Airlines, and chatted with our colleagues there about it. We were all excited about the potential for the idea, and they did a lot of the planning work and helped us fly there and back.
Mogens went alone — fully focused on the assignment and experiencing it as any of our readers would.
So, it is a pretty good example of how we are proactive, on our readers’ behalf.
NEW SHIP, NEW UPGRADE
My eye has also fallen on APT’s 17-day Vietnam and Cambodia Discovery tour, which is from $8795 per person twin share, but until June 30 has a free cabin upgrade worth up to $4000 per couple. Though the trip visits Hanoi and Ha Long Bay (for a three-day cruise), the main event is seven nights on APT’s newest ship on the Mekong River, the Mekong Serenity, pictured above. Travellers will visit Angkor Wat, Phnom Penh and riverside villages before arriving in Ho Chi Minh City. It includes 42 meals and a range of onboard beverages on the Mekong cruise. There are departures from August to December, 2023, and Mogens will be on one of them. 1300 278 278 or aptouring.com.au
I don’t often include sales — that’s all a bit commercial. But I feel compelled to mention Camera Electronics’ end of financial year sale, for our photographically minded readers.
A SanDisk Extreme Pro 200MB/s, 128GB SD memory card for $41.25 is worth knowing about.
I also see 20 per cent off some Sirui tripods — a well-designed and well-priced brand that I like, and particularly the Sirui Traveller 7C carbon fibre tripod with E10 ball head, pictured right, which is also 20 per cent off and is now $239.
There are 3694 items included in the sale in their online shop, at cameraelectronic.com.au/collections/eofy-sale.
(PS No — the team at Camera Electronic don’t know I’m mentioning this.)
PASS THE WORD
Most of us are online pretty well most of the time — and this week Telstra revealed how our passwords are putting us at-risk of being hacked or scammed. According to their data, 23 per cent of Western Australians admit to having used their birthdate as a password for their online accounts. (The national average is 17 per cent.)
A Telstra spokesperson says: “If your password is something as obvious as your birthday, you might remember it every year, but so will hackers!”
Telstra’s research also shows that:
78 per cent of Aussies are using the same password across more than one account.
63 per cent never change their banking passwords, or change it once a year or less.
17 per cent use their birthdays as passwords. While 20 per cent use their pet names, 9 per cent base their passwords on their favourite sports team.
From January to the end of April this year, Australians lost $194 million to scams and hacking, according to ScamWatch.
Telstra’s message is: “Check the strength of your passwords and make simple changes to help protect online security.”
WAR ON HIDDEN FEES
Wise, the global technology company with a good international travel money card (which we’ve been recommending), has pulled together a coalition of Australian multicultural organisations and companies in the financial sector, and is calling on the Federal Government for more transparency in international payments — specifically when it comes to hidden fees. It’s a massive and important, if not particularly visible, subject. Australia’s 2023 remittance volume forecast, according to Wise’s recently launched Remittances Report, is $7.65 billion — more than its overseas development aid, for example.
A spokesperson for Wise says: “One of the major issues with remittances is hidden fees — fees hidden in marked-up exchange rates or bank fees, which ensure less money arrives on the other side. The recipient should be the one benefiting from a remittance payment, not the bank or exchange house along the payment chain. The coalition led by Wise incudes Council of International Students Australia, NSW Council for Pacific Communities and Airwallex, to name a few. They have written to the Treasurer, Jim Chalmers, calling for regulation which will stamp out hidden fees on international payments.
BLADE RUNNER. NOT
The talk of Albany Highway (at least the lower part) has been the movement of big wind turbine parts. And when I say big I mean BIG — as in the 54 blades which are each nearly 74m long and weigh 17 tonnes. Then there are 90 tower components, the longest of which is 36m and weighing 85 tonnes. And then the 18 hubs and 18 nacelles. In all, there are 180 oversized loads travelling the 250km from the Port of Bunbury to the Flat Rocks Wind Farm stage one site at Broomehill West. They are travelling slowly via Coalfields Road, Albany Highway and Warrenup Road. Each day up to mid-August, four loads are expected to make the 250km journey from Bunbury to the site north of Tambellup West Road. The project is by Enel Green Power. A spokesperson says: “All loads will travel in accordance with relevant permit requirements. Enel Green Power acknowledges and apologises for the inconvenience encountering oversize loads may cause.” Very polite.