This week, Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield looks at luminescent bacteria, respectful travel in Palau, Queenstown snowmobiles & more
A new, ethereal light is being experimented with at Paris’ Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle airport. The same light is starting to illuminate villages like Rambouillet, 50km south-west of the French capital. The gentle, turquoise light is generated by Aliivibrio fischeri — a marine bacteria collected off the French coast, and then placed in transparent tubes filled with salt water, where it gives off its bioluminescence. The light is created by a biochemical process that is part of this living thing’s metabolism. French start-up Glowee is behind the project.
Palau, in the north-west Pacific, is the first country to offer exclusive experiences to visitors based on how they treat its environment and culture, and not how much they spend. In time for Earth Day on April 22, the tourism sector of the Republic of Palau, has announced Ol’au Palau, which rewards visitors for measurably protecting and preserving Palau during their stay. Through the Ol’au Palau app, visitors can accumulate points for demonstrating responsible and regenerative behaviour during their stay. In return, they can use those points to unlock access to unique experiences Palau has to offer. These experiences won’t be available to visitors who don’t participate or who don’t accumulate enough points during their stay. In the local language, Palauan, “Ol’au” is a way of inviting someone into your space. Pre-COVID, tourism comprised 85 per cent of Palau’s GDP. Ol’au Palau aims to help rebuild tourism sustainably.
BLUE MOUNTAIN ECO
Five-star eco resort Chalets at Blackheath has just opened in bushland adjacent to the UNESCO World-Heritage listed Blue Mountains National Park. Phase one of the boutique retreat is four freestanding studio chalets. Discreetly positioned, each has a king-sized bed, wood-burning fireplace and an oversized bathroom made of limestone.
BIG, DARK SKY
It might seem odd to us (with our big, blank sky) that Portugal has established a reputation as one of the top places in the world to observe the night sky, mainly thanks to the creation of the 3000sqkm Dark Sky Alqueva Reserve in the central Alentejo region. It was been certified as the world’s first Starlight Tourism Destination by the Starlight Foundation, a UNESCO supported international organisation championing science and tourism. It averages 286 cloudless nights a year.
Sigfuús Thor is aiming to open a new volcano destination in South Iceland. His dream is to “induce” a micro-eruption, with fountains of lava regularly jetting out of the Earth safely in a breathtaking natural display. He has repurposed oil-drilling equipment to create it. The man-made volcano is set to open late this northern summer.
A warning to West Australians about planning another planning to visit to Kununurra in the East Kimberley to be wary. Gullivers Tavern manager Darren Spackman has just told GWN 7 News the town has become “unliveable” amid a crime spree. His bar has been broken into seven times in four weeks. Locals are calling for a curfew. WA Police says burglaries, car thefts and property crime have fallen in the Kimberley since it deployed a task force including 30 more officers to the region in February. Operation Regional Shield, which combats youth crime, will last 12 months.
RUNNING ON RAILS
Geoffrey Thomas is not only our Aviation Editor and cruising columnist, but a big rail travel fan. (We reckon that “if it takes you somewhere”, Geoffrey writes about it for us.) He’s just been away on The Ghan researching and writing for our May 17 Rail Guide
FOLLOW THE CAMELEERS
A new and exclusive private charter flight will follow the journey of the Afghan cameleers between Adelaide and Darwin. Afghani and Pakistani cameleers played an important role in opening up inland Australia. Holidays of Australia (which pioneered the popular direct charter flights between Perth and Uluru) has come up with a fascinating six-day, five-night itinerary, departing July 11, 2022. The charter plane will fly over Lake Eyre, and Uluru and Kata Tjuta and visit Coober Pedy. There are nights in Adelaide, Alice Springs, Uluru (Yulara), Katherine and Darwin. Twin share is $7659 per person, single is $8499 and includes most meals, quality hotels, touring, transfers and welcome and farewell functions. holidaysofaustralia.com.au and 1300 854 897
HIGH IN THE SNOW
Queenstown Snowmobiles is New Zealand’s only heli-snowmobiling adventure. The South Island adventure, between July and September, begins and ends with a scenic helicopter ride. In between, guests ride a snowmobile over the snow-covered Garvie Plateau, behind The Remarkables in Queenstown. No experience is necessary, as qualified guides give tuition and then lead small groups. They have an earlybird special for direct bookings made before April 30 of $725 ($NZ795) per adult, saving $36) and $638 ($NZ700) for a child, saving $32.
ROOMS WITH A VIEW
Accor has officially reopened its flagship Pullman Melbourne on the Park hotel opposite the Melbourne Cricket Ground. A $40 million renovation of the 419-room hotel includes 19 floors of completely upgraded superior, premium and deluxe rooms and suites. Specially designed windows with metal shrouds frame views of Melbourne’s famous gardens, the MCG, the Sports and Entertainment Precinct and the Melbourne CBD. Each room has a window chaise.
South AMERICA ADVENTURE
Perth tour leader Connie White is taking a small group (of no more than 16 guests) to South America. Fully escorted from Perth by Connie, the group will meet up with local guides in every city, and visit Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, Lima, Cuzo, Puno, La Paz, Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls, Rio and Santiago. It includes a trip on the Perurail Titicaca Train, decorated in the manner of the great Pullman trains of the 1920s and with an open-air observation bar car. They leave on March 12, 2023. 0418 915 823 and email@example.com