Arrivals & Departures Weekly Travel News & Views 2 April 2024


There are some exciting new happenings, in WA and further afield, as Stephen Scourfield explores another week in Travel


The first passengers flew from Sydney to Busselton last Tuesday — which, just as importantly, opens up a new Jetstar direct flight from our South West to Sydney. There are three flights a week in an A320.

There will be about 28,000 seats a year each way on the flights. Stuart Hicks, chair of Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association, admits: “To put this into context, the region currently welcomes 1.56 million domestic visitors per year — the vast majority of which are travelling from within WA.” Yes, that’s us .

... but Stuart also gives this assessment of our Sydney friends: “The type of visitors arriving on the flights is perhaps more significant than their volume. Interstate flights give the region direct access to visitors who, unlike their intrastate counterparts (that’s us) , have a tendency to travel outside of the peak holiday and weekend periods.”

... and Stuart adds: “Research shows ... they are motivated to immerse deeply in the destinations they visit, and seek to engage authentically with a place and its people.”

Thanks for making that clear, Stuart.

(My thoughts are with the passengers sitting in a Jetstar plane for five hours. The seat pitch in a Jetstar A320 is 73.7cm — from one spot on the seat to the same spot on the seat in front or behind.)


Frankly, there was an even bigger announcement (in my book) on Thursday, with the news of scheduled flights to start between Broome and Singapore. It’s been such a weird embarrassment that a State this big hasn’t had a northern international gateway airport.

You can read the full story here.


BIG4 Holiday Parks around WA were very busy over the Easter weekend. An insider reveals: “The network is bustling with 76 per cent cabin and 77 per cent site occupancy.”

Australia’s South West is their top holiday destination in WA, with 63 per cent of sales and 73 per cent of bookings. BIG4 Denmark Ocean Beach Holiday Park is the most popular park in WA, with 24 per cent of sales and 36 per cent of bookings.


International Dark Sky Week 2024, from April 2 to 8, is a global initiative to encourage people to enjoy the dark. Carol Redford, CEO of Astrotourism WA and one of 2000 global Dark Sky Advocates, works with 17 regional local governments to develop Dark Sky Tourism. She says: “The night sky in WA is world-class and it’s an asset for tourism. People can be moved to tears if they’ve never seen a dark night sky full of stars before.”


There’s a new star in Murdoch, with the opening of new hotel Courtyard by Marriott Perth, Murdoch last Tuesday. The 150-room purpose-built hotel is Courtyard by Marriott’s first in WA and the centrepiece of Murdoch Health and Knowledge Precinct. The hotel aims to attract leisure and business travellers, as well as people visiting Fiona Stanley and St John of God hospitals and Murdoch University. There is a special from $169 per room per night, and a Murdoch Minibreak Package that includes breakfast for two guests daily at Substance Restaurant and Bar, parking, a bottle of wine and late checkout starting from $229 per room per night.


August 2024 marks 100 years since the last horse-drawn Cobb & Co mail coach travelled the dirt tracks of Outback Queensland, and there’s a 10-day festival to celebrate the centenary. Tickets are on sale next month. The festival is Friday, August 16, to Sunday August 25 in the Maranoa region, 500km west of Brisbane. The family-friendly event will culminate on August 24 and 25 with a re-creation of the last Cobb & Co mail run in Australia, along the 76km Cobb & Co Way — a historic route between the towns of Surat and Yuleba. Mail will be collected from the Surat Post Office by a replica Cobb & Co coach, to be pulled by three different teams of five specially trained horses, who will be rotated every 10km throughout the two-day trip. It all ends with a delivery to the Yuleba Post Office. What a great event.


Cathay Pacific is bringing traditional French cuisine to the skies. It has joined with Michelin-starred French restaurant Louise to present an exclusive menu of 16 reinterpreted French classics for travellers in first and business class on some long-haul flights. In business, there’s courses like braised Iberico pork belly with bacon jam followed by Guanaja chocolate cremeux — a decadent layered dessert with three distinct flavours and textures of chocolate.


The Federal Government’s Smartraveller website has published new advice, aiming to make sure Australians travelling overseas for medical tourism consider the risks. It includes advice on how to research the destination, healthcare providers and ensure adequate insurance cover. It points out: “You’re responsible for the cost of your treatment overseas. You or your travel insurer will have to pay if you need further care or a medical evacuation.”


Coral Expeditions’ newly launched Melanesia and Micronesia program for 2026 is exciting. The three-voyage series visits far regions of New Guinea, Melanesia and Micronesia from January to February 2026 on Coral Adventurer. The voyages to remote archipelagos of Vanuatu, Solomons, Papua New Guinea and the Federated States of Micronesia, focus on natural habitats, cultures and local traditions. There will be almost daily snorkelling and diving. For Coral Expeditions it’s a return to regions they haven’t visited since 2018.

As an example, the 16-night Port Vila to Rabaul voyage (to Vanuatu, Solomons, Bougainville and New Britain), which departs on January 29, 2026, is from $17,390 per person, including the air charter flight from Rabaul to Cairns. 1800 079 545 and


Viking has just floated out its newest ship for the River Nile in Egypt. The 82-guest Viking Hathor is set to debut in August 2024, sailing Viking’s popular 12-day Pharaohs and Pyramids itinerary. Torstein Hagen, chairman of Viking, says: “Our guests are thinking people who are curious about the world — and Egypt, with its cultural treasures and ancient antiquities, remains at the top of the travel list for many of them.”