Arrivals & Departures Weekly Travel News & Views: 18 March 2023

Cars planes and bicycles feature in this week's travel round up by Stephen Scourfield


A local walked into Rachel Walmsley’s office in Moora on Monday and donated $45,000 — the final money needed to build its Big Cockies sculpture. Eighty per cent of the $390,000 needed for the 10.5m Carnaby Black Cockatoo sculpture has come from private donors. “Amazing, hey!” says Rachel, who is community landcare co-ordinator for the Moore Catchment Council. “A Monday marvellous miracle happened. What can you say to that — apart from WOW, WOW and WOW?”


Collie Underground Coal Mine Experience recently opened at the Collie Visitor Centre. Guests can find out what it was like to work underground in the 1950s.


The Netherlands teems with bicycles but Nijmegen’s Velorama is its only bicycle museum. Nijmegen may be the oldest city in the Netherlands, but it is making some of Europe’s biggest strides into sustainability. The coal power station was decommissioned in 2016 and has been turned into a solar park with 9000 solar panels and two wind turbines that power almost 400 homes. The Sustainable Department Store is the Netherlands’ first and only eco department store and De Nieuwe Winkel is a vegetarian restaurant with two Michelin stars and one Green Michelin star. In the village of Groesbeek, 13km away, there is a planted “food forest”, where everything is edible.


The team at Pullman and Mercure Melbourne Albert Park reckon they are in pole position for the 2023 Australian Grand Prix. Practice days lead to the race itself on April 2. Its Lawn Bar is right outside the hotel and is open 11am to 8pm from March 30 April 1 and 9am to 6pm on race day. Heineken Beer and Audrey Wilkinson Wine (white and red) are $10. The hotel has a pre-race event in its Grand Ballroom from 11am to 2pm. Tickets are $139.


A new Peppa Pig theme park will open in Texas in 2024. The first was in Winter Haven, Florida. One of the highlights of the park will be the Muddy Puddles Splash Pad. Can’t wait.


Reader: I am thinking of flying Emirates from Perth, then on to Pisa, on Emirates-flydubai. I will be travelling solo. The flight from Dubai to Pisa is on a Boeing 737 MAX 8, which I think were the grounded planes a few years ago after a couple of crashes.

Scourfield: The terrible issue with the plane was a recurring failure in the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System, and it caused two fatal crashes. But the fact that it was completely identified and worked on and corrected gives me confidence. I followed the rework of that, and the FAA in the US and others approving the plane as safe now. I do see the criticism, but a lot of that traces back to victims’ families, which is completely understandable. There are a LOT of MAX 8 planes flying now — it is reckoned they carry 2400 passengers a day. Would I fly in one now? Yes.


South African Airways vouchers issued for travel affected during the COVID affected period will now expire on March 31, 2023. Travellers holding a voucher can apply for a refund before that date.


We have a reader going to the UK to celebrate her 80th birthday who’s been having trouble tracking down a car to hire. There are some companies in the UK which do not have an upper age limit. One is Sixt ( I even just rang them on +44 207 0188 233 for her, to double-check, and they confirmed that there is no maximum age limit. (Reservations is +44 207 0188 246) or book through the website. Budget, Goldcar and Interrent also have an “age 99” upper age limit. As far as age limits go, Avis is 80, Europcar 70, Hertz 79, Thrifty 79.


APT has savings of up to $3000 per couple on 2024 Canadian and Alaskan adventures. My pick is its Rockies Icons and Alaska Cruise — a 15-day trip between Calgary and Vancouver, which is from $9995 per person, twin share. With an APT tour director, maximum of 40 guests, 32 meals included, GoldLeaf service on the Rocky Mountain train and a guaranteed veranda on the Holland America Line cruise up the Inside Passage to Skagway and Glacier Bay in Alaska, it’s well structured and good value. Call 1300 672 534 (trip code UT15JWBV).