Weekly Travel News & Views: January 22 Edition

Borderless stories and nice news about cute animals from Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield


The physical WA border might still be shut, but we’ll continue to “open up” in our weekly Travel pages, just as planned. These are Stories Without Borders.

We connect you to positive people around the world and the rest of Australia. We take you to places we all love. And we continue to bring great stories about WA, of course.

Following the recent announcement by the State Government, we could have retreated, too. We could have thrown out any thought of anywhere else, and dug into WA. But we are open-minded and international, as much as we are proudly West Australian.

We are committed to all good stories, and keeping you connected. We are focused on travel now in WA, later to the rest of Australia, and to forward thinking, planning and booking for the rest of the world in 2023.

We mostly we are committed to you, to our open and honest communication, and to Stories Without Borders.


Dryandra Woodland is Western Australia’s newest national park — and the State Government points out that it is the first to be created in the Wheatbelt. Dryandra is near Williams, covers 17,870ha and is home to numbats, woylies, brush-tailed wallabies, chuditch, quenda and the mound-building mallee fowl. The Dryandra Woodland National Park is east of Albany Highway, north of Williams and south of Wandering. A spokesperson for the WA Government says converting this former State forest to national park, including the creation of two class A nature reserves, will help to ensure the future protection of these native animals.


The numbat is WA’s State animal emblem, and their numbers have increased in recent years at Dryandra because of the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions’ Western Shield program. This program has been going for 25 years, protecting native fauna by “managing” introduced predators — mainly foxes and feral cats. Barna Mia, a predator-proof animal sanctuary where visitors can see this rare and protected wildlife, including numbats, in their nocturnal environment, is in the Dryandra Woodland National Park.


The numbat or banded anteater (Myrmecobius fasciatus), was proclaimed the animal emblem of WA in 1973. A small, unique, pouchless marsupial with a reddish-brown coat with white bands and a long bushy tail, it prefers to live in woodland with thick undergrowth littered with fallen branches. An adult can consume up to 20,000 termites a day — the equivalent of 10 per cent of its body weight.


The State’s fossil emblem is the gogo fish (Mcnamaraspis kaprios), as suggested by pupils of Perth’s Sutherland Primary School, Dianella in 1994. The gogo fish was proclaimed the emblem in December 1995. Fossils of the gogo fish were found on Gogo Station, near Fitzroy Crossing, in the Kimberley. This was a tropical, undersea reef full of colour and life 350 million years ago. The gogo fish had gills and fins, but shows signs of “getting out of the water”. The pectoral fins have the same pattern of bones as the forelimbs or arms of land animals, called tetrapods. This was “us” planning to get out of the water.


Travel Directors has a flash sale on a flash sail — a seven-day Kimberley Coastal Encounter Cruise from $4995 per person twin share (a saving of $5000 per couple). It has to be booked by February 4. There are four departures, on March 28 and April 9, 15 and 21. The ship carries less than 100 passengers. 9242 4200


I’ve journeyed with Travel Directors to Turkmenistan, on the Five Stans tour and stared into the Darvaza crater — the “Gateway to Hell”. This big gas crater in the Karakum Desert has been burning for years, but now the country’s president, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, wants it put out for environmental and health reasons (and as part of his efforts to increase gas exports). Many believe the crater formed when a Soviet drilling operation went wrong in 1971, but some Turkmen geologists say the crater formed in the 1960s and was only lit in the 1980s. It has become a popular tourist attraction.


Wendy Wu Tours has a “no single supplement” offer on more than 40 popular tours in Japan, South Korea, India, Chile and China, and tours that include a cruise on its Victoria Mekong river ship. A spokesperson says there are savings of up to $3550, because travellers secure a single room for travel this year and for 2023. And they come with a deposit of $99 per person, balance not due until 75 days before departure, and unlimited changes up until 75 days prior. Examples are the 18-day Japan Uncovered, from $12,490 per person (saving the usual single supplement of $2770) and the 21-day Mekong Explorer, from $7980 each (saving $2210). The offer ends on January 31. 1300 727 998 and wendywutours.com.au


Nearly 70 readers joined us on three PhotoWalks with Phones last weekend. On Saturday, it was a chance to look at a small part of Fremantle with fresh eyes. On Sunday, we walked in part of Perth. I think the phones made it clear what a serious camera we have in our pocket — but the most important part is going out and seeing a bit of the world, however close, and using it. There’s another PhotoWalk with Phones in February, and more will follow. westtravelclub.com.au/events


I like Sirui photographic gear. I’ve been using the company’s good and affordable carbon mono pod for years (Sirui P-326 model, about $169). And so, I’m not surprised the designers have come to my rescue with a good mount for connecting my phone camera to a tripod or monopod. Flimsy ones that quickly break are just “landfill (or hopefully recycling) about to happen”. The Sirui TSH-01K Mobile Phone Clamp has a screw device to tighten on the phone camera (not just a flick-down clip). It is $29 and easy to track down online. The other type of clamp I use is the Manfrotto PIXI Clamp for Smartphone, also about $29. It doesn’t have a screw mechanism to tighten, but a solid, clip-down clamp.


Is this item a “travel subject”? Well, if you’re travelling around WA (as so many are, have been and will be) — yes. So I’d like to send 20th anniversary greetings to the Rural Clinical School of Western Australia. It was established in 2002 with the specific goal of attracting more doctors to regional, rural and remote practice. Since 2007, the placement of medical students from both The University of Western Australia and The University of Notre Dame has been co-ordinated by RCSWA. Thanks for the good work (and thanks to all those regional doctors out there, of course).


And finally, congratulations to our aviation editor and cruise columnist, Geoffrey Thomas, who has been nominated a record three times in the 2022 Aerospace Media Awards.

One is in the Best Commercial Aviation category, for a four-part series celebrating 100 years of flying in WA, which we were proud to publish in The West Australian's Travel pages.