Weekly Travel News & Views: December 13 Edition

From border openings to fortified wines, STEPHEN SCOURFIELD offers some tasty tidbits from the world of travel


With eyes now firmly on the world, the rest of Australia, and ready to travel all over the place early in the new year, I was interested to see new research this week from voco Hotels. Its survey shows that 37 per cent of West Australians are craving connection, interaction, and conversation more during their travels, compared to our pre-pandemic desires. And another stand-out statistic in the responses is that, of all Australian States and Territories, West Australians are the most likely in the country to be looking for plenty of vegetarian and vegan dining options. 20 per cent of WA respondents ticked the box for this, followed by 18 per cent of Tasmanians...


...which makes our story about plant-based dining innovations in Maldives even more pertinent. Over coming weeks and months we will be working and suggesting easy international travel, and flying to Singapore with Singapore Airlines, then on to Maldives, will be one of them.


There are currently two voco Hotels in Australasia (voco Kirkton Park Hunter Valley and voco Gold Coast). Three more will open in the first half of 2022 in Brisbane, Melbourne and Auckland. Backed by IHG Hotels and Resorts, voco combines the reassurance and perks of a big hotel brand with the informality and charm of an individual hotel. vocohotels.com


The Kimberley community of Beagle Bay, on the Dampier Peninsula north of Broome, has reached a first-vaccination rate of more than 100 per cent, with more than 90 per cent of its 360 residents having received two doses. It actually hit 104 per cent mark because anyone visiting the town also gets vaccinated.


+ The US and the UK have made it compulsory for all arriving international passengers to carry a negative COVID-19 test report or proof of recovery.

+ And with that, the phone rings. It’s my brother Rob, who lives in England and is in Spain on holiday, crowing about the sunny 20C day there. Me: “Mate — I can double that.”


We run regular West Travel Club travel quizzes, and there will be one early next year. Watch this space. In the meantime, a question to keep the juices flowing . . .

Q: The official named for which country, and used on its coins and stamps, is Confoederatio Helvetica.

A: Switzerland. It is the Latin version of Swiss Confederation. It is often shortened to Helvetia — female allegory of the country. The name comes from the Gaulish, pre-Roman tribes that lived in the area, the Helvetii.

+ And here we have tennis ace Roger Federer’s tips for winter 2022 in Switzerland — his home country, of course.


My Holiday has combined London, Bath, Edinburgh, Dublin, Belfast, Liverpool and York in one tour across the UK and Ireland. And knocked $4000 per couple off the price. The 15-day fly-and-tour package is from $4590 a person, including international flights, 14 nights accommodation, daily breakfasts, six dinners, coach, entrance fees, with various dates from August 2022. Top spots include Cliffs of Moher, Giant’s Causeway, the Scottish Highlands, Loch Ness, Edinburgh, Stonehenge, Stratford-upon-Avon and London. Oh, and punting in Cambridge. At our suggestion, they have just shifted the booking date from December 21 to January 14.

1300 642 642 and myholiday.com


When WA borders open, lots of readers will become instant tour guides as friends and family come to visit. “What are we going to do tomorrow?” Yes, we’ve all faced that question (I did when brother Rob visited).

So it’s worth noting that the Blue and Red Perth CAT bus routes have just expanded to more city highlights. More than 20 additional CAT bus stops have been installed, including those in Kings Park, Elizabeth Quay, Northbridge and Matagarup Bridge.

Perth’s CAT buses are free. From February, there will be a new Purple CAT bus.


Dwellingup is a good day trip — and it seems “every man and his Santa” was there last Saturday. This Santa truck did a couple of laps, with the big, red chap ho-ho-hoing.


Fortified wine styles back to the 16 century, as countries exporting wines added brandy to help stabilise their wines on long sea journeys. The new Swan Valley Fortified Trail celebrates style and history, and links and showcases 34 wineries making fortifieds. Winemaker James Talijancich, at Talijancich Wines, tells me that making fortifieds takes great restraint. “Julian James Liqueur Shiraz 1981 Solero took me 25 years of putting small amounts aside each year before we sold the first bottle . . . it’s crazy.” James reckons younger fortifieds can be served chilled or as an aperitif and are perfect with Christmas pudding or a cheeseboard. Find the trail at swanvalley.com.au/trails.


RAC Esperance Holiday Park has had the most significant upgrade in its almost 60-year history. The $12 million rebuild brings new accommodation options, as well as an oceanfront entertainment precinct with heated pool, games room, nature play, and barbecue area. There are new and self-contained two and three-bedroom beachfront villas, two-bedroom cabins and one-bedroom studios. The park also has 188 powered camping and campervan sites, eight ensuite sites and new camp kitchen. And the pet-friendly park even has a new dog washing station. racparksandresorts.com.au


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