Arrivals & Departures Weekly Travel News & Views 12 December 2023

The gift basket of produce from Australia's Coral Coast.

Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield celebrates new friends and the abundant produce of WA, as he explores another week in Travel


At 6.45pm last Tuesday, about 160 readers entered the banquet hall for our West Travel Club Christmas Gala Dinner. When I stood on stage for the formal welcome at 7pm, I had to interrupt the conversations that had started at every table. We love getting together and talking about the world. We love being with the like-minded and, well, just plain friendly and interesting.


While our dinner at the University Club of Western Australia was a chance to look back on our big year of travel, we also focused on the best of WA, in Australia’s Coral Coast. And chef Costa Simatos used a lot of produce from the region, from Exmouth snapper and Cervantes lobster to Coral Coast beef, Bookara Goat Dairy cream cheese and Carnarvon vegetables.


And there were prizes. The gift basket of produce from Australia’s Coral Coast, pictured above, included olives from Drummonds View Olive Grove; Finlay’s Brewing Co’s Jake’s Point IPA, Starboard Stout and Nature’s Window peach apricot gose, a Helen Ansell neoprene picnic blanket and Bumbak’s mango chutney. We also had a prize of pink gin donated by 30 Knots Distillery. This basket alone gives insight into the produce now available in the region, and hints at places to be visited.

PS Gose is a warm fermented beer that originated in Goslar, Germany.

PPS Fourth prize was a collection of three of my books. There was a rumour that fifth prize was going to be four of them.


The G’day Group is spending $20 million on its Cradle Mountain property, with 30 new cabins, 40 new tourist sites and upgraded amenities. It is expected to generate an additional 60,000 tourism nights annually. The new deluxe cabins and sites can be booked now. Cabins start at $320 a night and sites are $45 per night. G’day Group has also introduced premium cabins from $340 a night. There are 11 at Cradle Mountain, available from December 20.


Ungasan Bali has a New Year’s Eve (in white) party at its Sundays Beach Club. Guests can expect non-stop entertainment, free-flow canapes, food and fireworks at this Uluwatu oasis. A spokesperson adds: “a glass of complimentary sparkling on arrival right through to free-flowing cocktails and wine packages. A celebration of pure sensory delight with DJs, saxophonists, fire dancers, and water drum performances taking you from the end of one year right to the very next.” There also promises to be “a massive crescendo of fireworks on the beach”. Tickets are $146 (1.5m rupiah).


Wendy Wu Tours has a new scholarship scheme for children in Siem Reap. The Wendy Wu Tours Cambodia Scholarship Fund empowers underprivileged students through ongoing funding and support, and will help up to 30 children in Siem Reap. Company founder and owner Wendy Wu, pictured right, says: “Education is very close to my heart — a factor that has always and will always continue to guide and steer me in my lifelong journey to better myself, both professionally and personally. Children deserve the right to an education, however there are so many who face incredible disadvantages and challenges that, very often, the struggle is just not feasible. This really does break my heart and so if we, at Wendy Wu Tours, can do anything to help and enrich even just a small fraction of these children’s lives through the scholarship program, then we will have made some progress. Our commitment to the children in Siem Reap is a lifelong commitment.”

The new educational initiative was unveiled in partnership with their local ground operator and coincided with Wendy Wu Tours VIP 25th anniversary sailing tour of the Mekong River onboard the cruise ship, Victoria Mekong.


A friend and colleague is flying with Cathay Pacific (which has been putting out good airfares from Perth) and has a two-night stopover in Hong Kong. He has asked where I’d stay. For a short stopover, I’d probably choose to be in Tsim Sha Tsui, which is pretty much central on the peninsula. There’s a good range of accommodation there.

Quite honestly, for price, value, cleanliness, reliability for two nights, it might be hard to go past the Best Western. See If anyone decides to be on Hong Kong Island, I’d look at Central area first for such a short stay.


The Courtyard by Marriott Perth, Murdoch, is set to open in February 2024. The new 150-room hotel will be the hospitality centrepiece of the Murdoch Health and Knowledge Precinct. It is close to Murdoch University, the South Metro TAFE Campus and Adventure World (and may be of particular interest to our regional readers). Courtyard by Marriott Perth, Murdoch is the fourth hotel of the Courtyard brand in Australia and Marriott’s fifth hotel in WA. Rooms range from 28sqm to 58sqm, and the Dampiera Library will be a meeting space for small groups and conferences. The hotel will have an artisanal cafe and Asian bistro and Substance Restaurant and Bar.


Rhino-Rack this week unveiled its Pioneer 6 Series — a strong and versatile roof rack. The company claims it has 60 per cent less drag and a 20 per cent reduction in weight compared with previous models. That means less turbulence, improved fuel economy and extended driving range. There is a comprehensive range of mounts and accessories for the rack. Interestingly, there are more “east/west mounting channels”, which will allow for quick and easy mounting for everything from boards to kayaks, bikes and fishing rods. The Rhino-Rack Pioneer 6 Series is from $1258.

PS Some of us still reckon that racks have never been the same since four-wheel-drive designers did away with gutters to sit them in.


Composer and musician Steve Richter played his brilliant original music at our gala dinner. And Steve and I will perform at Perth Festival Writers Weekend in February. We are working on a words-and-music piece called Inside Landscapes, and the $25 tickets went on sale on Wednesday. Inside Landscapes will tell the story of a full 24 hours in the inland of WA — from the silence of night, to the whisper of morning, the dawn chorus, the campfire crackling and billy boiling to flies arriving and an afternoon storm. Composer and multi-instrumentalist musician Steve will bring those words alive with music. It is on Saturday, February 24, 2024, in the Discovery Lounge in the State Library of WA in Perth’s Cultural Centre.