In this edition, Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield celebrates news of WA's border opening on March 3, and more...
the end of the BORDER
The world, and the rest of Australia, of course, is once again at our feet from 12.01am on March 3, with the planned end of WA’s hard border. This opens the State for travel into WA from interstate and overseas, with vaccination and testing requirements on arrival.
Travellers coming into WA from other States and territories will need an approved G2G Pass; to be triple dose vaccinated, if eligible; and to take a rapid antigen test on arrival.
International travellers will need to be fully vaccinated (under Commonwealth requirements), if eligible; have a G2G Pass; and take a RAT on arrival.
At the moment, the WA Government is giving all interstate and international arrivals two RATs so they can can test at home, but from March 3, only one test will be provided to each arrival.
IN THE AIR
Qantas has already announced that it is delaying the return of the Perth-London flight until at least mid-June 2022. The service was due to return to Perth on March 27.
Emirates airline has been crunching the data to find the most-watched shows on its ICE entertainment system in 2021.
Will Smith’s Bad Boys for Life and The Hitman’s Bodyguard were among the top-watched movies.
Mulan, Luca and Soul were popular with families.
Sci-fi thriller Tenet, family favourite Cruella and Friends: The Reunion ranked highly.
The launch of HBO Max on ICE brought out top TV shows including Mare of Easttown and the comedy thriller The Flight Attendant.
Here’s an interesting figure. With Bali’s opening requiring visitors to spend the first five days in quarantine, resorts like the five-star Bali Dynasty Resort in South Kuta have come up with packages for just that. The Dynasty has five days and four nights for $800. It includes transfers, breakfasts, wi-fi, laundry and PCR tests. (Whoever thought we’d ever see that in “inclusions”?) Most importantly, it is certified under the CHSE Award (Clean Health Safety and Environment).
Malaysia plans to fully reopen to international travellers on March 1, with no quarantine requirements. Visitors will need a negative COVID test result before travelling and shortly after arriving.
NOT PLAIN SAILING
Camplify is an online website where people with caravans, camper vans and camper trailers hire them out when they’re not using them. Reader Kevin Manion hired a caravan through Camplify for a family holiday in Monkey Mia last Easter. During the mandatory pre-inspection, the owner noticed that the pop top roof clips were misaligned but shrugged it off as OK and safe. Being a first-time caravan user, Kevin accepted that. But 5km from RAC Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort, he found himself fighting to keep his vehicle on the road. “The side awning to the caravan had completely let go acting like a sail and was severely damaged,” he says. He let the owner know immediately, and they said insurance would cover the cost. Kevin says: “We went the entire break with no shade from the awning plus the fridge, stove and oven did not work at all. It was a nightmare.” Kevin says Camplify issued him a $1500 excess bill for repairs because their insurance policy doesn’t cover awning damage. A spokesperson for Camplify says: “We also work closely with all the owners on Camplify to ensure they are providing the hirer with a safe vehicle and detailed handover so they are confident to enjoy their trip. Sometimes things don’t go to plan but when that does happen we provide support for the owner and hirer to resolve these issues as quickly as possible. This is the case in this situation and we are looking forward to this hirer and their family enjoying their next Camplify trip in the coming weeks.”
The WA Government has decreed that Easter Sunday is a public holiday.
PARKS WITH POOCHES
Not only did RAC Parks and Resorts see a 42 per cent increase in bookings in the last year over the previous one, but 6443 pets tagged along, too. That’s a 119 per cent increase on 2020. RAC Group executive tourism Tony Pickworth says: “We offer pet-friendly camp sites at most of our properties across WA, as well as brand new pet-friendly cabins at RAC Esperance Holiday Park, which include a fully enclosed play area and dog ramp.”
There are pet-friendly RAC parks and resorts in Broome (Cable Beach), Exmouth, Monkey Mia, Cervantes, Busselton and Esperance.
Walyunga National Park has been added to WA Parks Foundation’s “Smartreka” maps. The free, interactive Smartreka maps can be accessed via the free Avenza app from either the Google Play store or Apple store. The maps use built-in GPS capabilities on a smartphone or tablet to plot real-time location. This can be done without a network connection and without roaming charges. There are also Smartreka maps for Fitzgerald River, Stirling Range, Cape Le Grande, Francois Peron, Cape Range, Karijini, Kalbarri, Purnululu, and Millstream Chichester national parks.
Maps for Leeuwin-Naturaliste, Yanchep, Walpole-Nornalup and D’Entrecasteaux national parks will be launched later this year.
THANKS TO MARGARET
As someone fundamentally interested in this State, I’d like to thank Margaret Allen for her work. Margaret is the State librarian and chief executive of the State Library of Western Australia, but is retiring on March 31. The State Library holds and safeguards to so much of our history and knowledge about the State, and I’ve appreciated having it in her safe hands for 17 years. Respected librarian Catherine Clark takes over on April 1.
I also hear that library staff have been busy helping people to set up their ServiceWA app. So, thanks to them, too.
The inaugural Indian Ocean Fest is being held on Christmas Island from June 21 to 28, 2022 — but only 30 people can attend this pilot festival. They will see destination highlights on land and water, attend talks on the latest in marine science and conservation from the likes of Tangaroa Blue Foundation chief executive Heidi Tait and have “immersive experiences” (their words, not mine) with local operators, including Australian free diving champion David Mulheron. indianoceanfest.com.au
RUNNING ON RAILS
Kew Muthalif, James Dunne and Lachlan McCallum, who all previously worked on the executive team of Rail Europe Australasia, have combined their 30 years experience and launched Australian travel operator Rail Online. They’ve already set up a partnership with rail technology leader SilverRail, whose software is behind more than 30 million rail bookings each year.
Rail Online will handle European rail passes and point-to-point tickets across the UK and plans to add other rail networks across continental Europe and North America in coming months. rail.online
Mention of this brings me to an SBS streaming series called The Bridge. It’s a bit more gruesome than I like, but I can enjoy the Oresund Bridge, which for me is the lead character in this original Danish version. This 16km road and rail bridge over the Oresund Strait connects Denmark and Sweden, Copenhagen and Malmo (and, in the TV series, a body is found on the bridge, half-and-half over the international border). Opened in 2000, more than 20,000 vehicles a day cross the bridge. And both countries, and Norway, are brilliant drive holiday destinations to have on your radar. oresundsbron.com
Geologically, the Oresund Strait is young. Formed between 8500 and 8000 years ago as a result of rising sea-levels. This marked the beginning of the Baltic Sea as a saltwater body, as the freshwater Ancylus Lake flooded in the Baltic Basin.
There’s an American version of The Bridge, which takes place on the border of the US and Mexico, with the murdered body left on the Bridge of the Americas, between El Paso and Juarez.