Arrivals & Departures Weekly Travel News & Views 20 February 2024

The two ships in port.

Preparing for a road trip, exploring art and culture, or upgrading your luggage... Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield has it covered as he surveys another week in Travel


It’s a nice touch . . . after booking a trip with Viking, guests get an email from Karine Hagen, the river and ocean cruising company’s executive vice-president. I’m off with them soon, and Karine tells me I will also be emailed some short, cultural insight videos, “sharing with you some of our favourite people, traditions and recipes, as well as reading lists and filmographies”. Karine adds: “We believe that by providing you with this cultural content ahead of your journey, you will have an even more meaningful experience with us on board and ashore.” It certainly prepares guests for more purposeful travel ... which is what we did in last week's 32 pages of Saturday Travel, and the 28 pages of Sunday Travel in The Sunday Times. (Yes, it was another 60-page Travel weekend. You can read our stories at


There are all sorts of opportunities to learn through travel. Ross Dowling AM, has just been lecturing on the cruise ship Seabourn Odyssey, which sailed from Sydney and around New Zealand to Auckland. Ross says he and wife Wendy “had a wonderful time”. He adds: “We berthed in Tauranga alongside Celebrity Edge (pictured at the top of the page). Odyssey is 32,000 gross tonnes, whereas Edge is 132,000 gross tonnes —a slight difference." Ross is emeritus professor at Edith Cowan University and chair of the Cruise WA Working Group. He contributes to tourism research and development in a number of capacities around the world, taking a particular interest in cruise ship tourism and geotourism. He says: “Cruising is back bigger and better than ever and I am loving it.”


Como Metropolitan Singapore had its “soft opening” in September, but the celebration is continuing. Close to Orchard Road, it has a glittering retail space called Club21, a robot barista called Bruno and pastries at the patisserie Cedric Grolet Singapore. In its Como Shambhala spa, there’s an “oxygen therapy space” with hydroxy mild hyperbaric devices (a first in Singapore). Oh, and an ice bath.

Luxury Escapes has a two-night “Grand Opening, Singapore Como Orchard Road” package which includes daily breakfast and cocktails from $899 per room (including taxes and fees). Adding flights, there is a $2187 package for two adults. 1300 889 900 or


With signs of the seasons turning, my thoughts start to veer towards inland road trips — and I see Aldi has a new range of caravanning and road trip equipment. It includes what a spokesperson calls “starter essentials for anyone new to camping life”. There are head torches from $9.99, a compact six-piece cookware set ($59.99), portable coffee maker/kettle ($39.99), rechargeable bug zapper ($49.99) and rechargeable fans ($59.99). I’m not going to mention the 24-inch TV. Aldi stores and


Aldi’s eight-litre capacity foldable washing machine is $79.99, plugs in and whizzes round. It seems to me an elaborate version of the old cattle station “back of the ute” washing machines — a Dingo flour drum, filled with water and with a bit of washing powder and some smooth river stones added. The dirty moleskin pants and Wrangler shirts went in, and it was strapped on the back of the ute for the day’s mustering. The clothes were hung out at night, ready for the next day — and “yesterday’s clothes” went in. It worked a treat. No electricity required.


The tourism operators at Tamborine Mountain in Queensland, who were hammered by the Christmas superstorm, are keen to let everyone know they are back in business. Judi Minnikin, owner of Cedar Creek Lodges and Thunderbird Park and a member of Tamborine Mountain Chamber of Commerce, says that the resilient and collaborative community recovered quickly: “We really need this message to be shared far and wide.” Tamborine Mountain is just out of Brisbane and the Gold Coast and has accommodation from glamping to self-contained lodges and luxury accommodation. Thunderbird Park has high walks and more than 100 other “challenges”, and there’s Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk, glow-worm caves at Cedar Creek Winery, distilleries, restaurants and farmgate stalls.


Jamba Nyinayi Festival returns to Cardabia Station near Coral Bay on Friday April 12, with Indigenous performers and new two-night camping and cultural experience packages.


The Blackwood River Arts Trail is from March 23 to April 7 in the Blackwood River region of Nannup, Bridgetown-Greenbushes, Donnybrook-Balingup and Boyup Brook. Almost 70 artists will open their home studios and there will be exhibitions in more than 35 venues including cafes, gardens, gift shops and small galleries.


Musician Steve Richter and I are in the last stages of preparing and rehearsing for our performance Inside Landscapes, for Perth Festival on Saturday (February 24). The one-hour words-and-music performance will let the audience experience a full 24 hours in the inland of WA — an exploration of landscape, but also our “internal landscape” ... how we need to react to nature. It is at State Library of WA, in Perth’s Cultural Centre, from 6pm to 7pm and tickets are $25. Visit and search for Inside Landscapes. (It’d be nice to see you there.)


Casey, my faithful suitcase, will be spared an appearance at Perth Festival — but his wider family will be out and about. Casey is an Antler suitcase and I see the new and upgraded Antler Stamford 2.0 collection has new colours. The Stamford fuses Antler’s timeless British design with modern Japanese innovation. Antler is a British manufacturer, which started making luggage in 1914, but the Stamfords have Hinomoto 360-degree rotating wheels with Lisof tyre fabric, which were developed with Mitsubishi. There’s a nifty in-built feature which keeps these wheels well greased for longer. The shells are lightweight polycarbonate with a matt surface. They come in Field Green, Berry Red, Dusk Blue and Midnight Black and range from $329 to $429, with the set of three at $1137.