Arrivals & Departures Weekly Travel News & Views 11 June 2024

The Main River bursting out at Wurzbur.

Keeping an eye on what's happening around the world, Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield reviews another week in Travel


Lots of people read this supplement simply because they’re looking for a holiday. I’m aware of that, and that’s why (for example), I’ve done the river cruise between Amsterdam and Budapest so many times, with so many different river cruise companies — so I know the differences between each and can advise travellers. Heavy rain, particularly in southern Germany, just about brought river cruising to a standstill on the Rhine, Danube and Main, as you can read here.

Mogens Johansen is on holiday and was caught up in it.


Behind that holiday focus, I’m also acutely aware that “destinations” are countries, with all their politics and prejudices. And so, while I’ve got one eye (one side of my brain) on holiday deals, the other eye (other side of my brain) is focused on the background story of a place.

And it’s been a big week for that . . .

Environmentally . . .

In Sri Lanka, monsoonal rain has hit 20 of the country’s 25 districts and cut electricity supplies to lots of places. At least seven people have died, including some in Sitawaka, just outside the capital, Colombo. There was more than 400mm of rain in a very short time.

The severe heatwave that has been cooking parts of India since March is suspected to have killed more than 100 people. Temperatures have touched 50C in capital Delhi and Rajasthan, and scientists have stated that the situation has been worsened by human-driven climate change. Some parts of the country have also been battered by a recent cyclone and heavy rains.

Politically . . .

In India, as I write this, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party-led alliance has claimed an election victory, and a third term in office. The electorial commission in India says that more than 642 million people voted. Award-winning novelist Arundhati Roy has been among the voices accusing Mr Modi’s government of promoting Hindu supremacism.

But in South Africa, the African National Congress has lost its majority for the first time since apartheid ended 30 years ago. The ANC, which was once led by Nelson Mandela, won just 159 seats in the 400-seat Parliament, down from 230. “Our people have spoken. Whether we like it or not, they have spoken,” says President Cyril Ramaphosa.

There is a national strike in Nigeria. I’ve calculated that the planned rise for the minimum wage would enable a family to buy 25kg of rice a month. Nothing else.

But the people of Mexico have voted in their first female president, with a historic landslide, despite assassinations and other violence and pressurising. Claudia Sheinbaum will replace her mentor, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, on October 1.


I mention all of that to explain that I am immersed in the world, and all its implications, on your behalf. All of these situations may have a bearing on our travel — from your comfort in India to your safety in South Africa.


Reader Rudi Gracias wonders why Holland America’s cruise Ancient Mysteries and Egypt scheduled for September 2024 has not been rescheduled, as the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has a “reconsider your need to travel warning”, largely due to the conflict in the Middle East. This is a matter that I have covered regularly in these pages since the start of the conflict. Ocean and river cruise ships are running pretty much as usual, as are tours, despite the DFAT statement: “Terrorist attacks could occur anywhere in Egypt. Potential targets include religious sites and tourist locations. The situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories could lead to increased tensions, and the security situation could deteriorate with little notice. Increased tensions in the Middle East may result in airspace closures, flight cancellations and diversions, and other travel disruptions.” But I have stayed very close to the ocean and river cruising and touring operations in Egypt and I haven’t seen any issues affecting travellers.


Steve Richter is part of our Travel family — a composer and musician who brings the world to life through sound, particularly at our Round The World dinners. I love working with Steve, but he’s been two-timing me, having played drums and piano for Australian artist Esfandiar Shahmir. He has just released his first album, Pour Me One In Silence, which was recorded live at Lyric’s Underground during Perth’s Fringe World festival earlier this year. The Fringe judging panel awarded the performance the overall music prize in 2024, and Steve has mixed and done the master for the album. The music is an introspective and subtle fusion of Persian sensibility with Western instruments. It features Esfandiar playing the ney (a haunting wind instrument) and percussive daf. He sings poetry in Farsi on some tracks. Esfandiar lived in WA until February 2024, but has moved to Brisbane. He returns for a concert at PS Art Space in Fremantle on June 22.

The album can be bought and downloaded at

Tickets for the concert are at


And finally, back to Europe. Reader Jan Pittman noticed our story about Norway, and says that she and partner Dave did the trip up the coast on a Hurtigruten ship 10 years ago, and “absolutely loved it”. She says: “My only regret was that we hadn’t thought of (or nobody suggested it) driving back from the northernmost point where we got off the ship, down to Oslo. We flew back.” Jan also mentions Norway in a Nutshell — a train, ferry and bus trip from Oslo to Bergen: “It was absolutely magical and I would highly recommend it.”

I did it quite recently, recommended it, too, and wrote about it in depth. Search for it at

And with that, I’m off to France.