Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield has a spring in his step as he springs into a spring already teeming with wildflowers
SPRING IN OUR STEP
Spring has officially arrived. Yay! But 133 readers had a good dose of it even before September 1. For on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, we ran three A Nice Day Out coach days, and were treated to beautiful weather. Blue sky, sunshine, low 20Cs and no flies.
Over the day, we drove up the Darling Scarp, through the Avon and Chittering valleys, drove on to Wannamal, covered 408km a day, got out of the coach six times, had a picnic lunch, left at 8am and arrived back at 5pm. We were very pleased to have WA wildflower and landscape expert Grady Brand with us on our West Travel Club coach days, finding flowers and explaining what we were seeing (including spider orchids at the Wannamal School site), with Mogens Johansen helping fellow travellers with phone photography. It’s a great time to be out and about, with Wooroloo Brook cascading over Noble Falls. They were happy days with our fine readers. (And I’m personally grateful for the kind and generous feedback we’ve already received.)
ON THE ROAD
We partnered with our friends at Australian Pinnacles Tours for our coach days. They have day and longer tours in WA, including their Margaret River region tour and Pinnacle stargazing tour. australianpinnacletours.com.au
INSPIRED BY PINK
The WA landscape has inspired the designers at renowned Danish jewellery company Trollbeads. To mark our Southern Hemisphere spring, Trollbeads has just revealed its newest bead, inspired by WA’s Lake Hillier. It is on Middle Island, in the Recherche Archipelago, off Esperance. It is one of only a few pink lakes in the world, and the bead’s deep hues closely match its colour. Jono Gelfand, co-chief executive of Trollbeads Australia, tells me: “We are honoured that Trollbeads has created an exclusive bead that pays tribute to Lake Hillier — one of Australia’s unique natural treasures. Australia is an important part of this Danish accessories brand, with our own Princess Mary being a fan of Trollbeads.” The bead is $99. trollbeads.com.au
In 1992, I was editor of The West Magazine, and ran a cover story on the setting up and imminent opening of El Questro. For the umpteenth time, Celia Shelmerdine’s face comes alive. English aristocrat Will Burrell and wife Celia Shelmerdine had bought the 500,000ha cattle station and were setting it up for tourism. From my own, many conversations with them I know that the long time they camped under canvas by the river were some of their happiest days.
At the time, Celia told The West Magazine: “When we came here, all we saw was this massive landscape and its incomparable beauty. There were so many natural features. The station had been almost totally abandoned. It was a joke station. Everybody had raped the country and nobody had put anything back.” Will, an Eton-educated businessman with an 800-year-old family tree, told me something else about the million-acre property: “I just thought, if you can buy anywhere for a dollar an acre, you can’t go wrong.” But Will also had the drive to earn his stripes and to be recognised by fellow Kimberley station folk as a good cattleman, and he achieved that. El Questro, at the east end of the Gibb River Road and now owned by G’Day Group, has always been a golden spot in the Kimberley, where four river systems come together. Goodness, Virginia and I even went there on our honeymoon. Happy 30th anniversary, ELQ.
HEAD EAST FOR SOUTH
Touring company AAT Kings and its brand Inspiring Journeys are seeing increased demand for travel in South Australia and have partnered with the South Australian Tourism Commission to give travellers savings of up to $600 per couple on some tours between April 1, 2023, and March 31, 2024. A spokesperson says: “SA has become an in-demand domestic hotspot for travellers, with its diverse landscapes of pink lakes, turquoise lagoons, pindan soil and flame-hued granite stacks, the State dials up the natural drama.”
Three brand new tours are added to the 2023/2024 AAT Kings season — the four-day Outback Explorer between Adelaide and Uluru, visiting Coober Pedy (from $1999 per person), five-day Adelaide to Kangaroo Island tour (from $2485 each) and seven-day South Australian Eyre Peninsula (from $3490 each). This is valid for selected travel dates and terms and conditions apply. Phone 1300 228 546, or visit aatkings.com.au or travel agents.
And still in SA, Holidays of Australia has a Southern Lights by Flight from Adelaide departing on September 23. This is a scenic flight on a chartered Qantas Dreamliner 787 to see the Aurora Australis “southern lights”. A professional astrophotographer will be there to help with pictures. There are multiple seating options and a seat swapping method that ensures everyone gets the opportunity to see the best view possible of the aurora. It is from $1886 per person. holidaysofaustralia.com.au and 1300 854 897.
WALK AND GRAZE
Great Walks of New Zealand has launched two new North Island culinary-focused, guided walks. They are designed for active travellers who want to learn about and savour the produce and wines of the regions they visit. The eight-day Food Lover’s Coromandel is from about $3800 per person, and the seven-day Food Lover’s Waikato is from about $3570. They are based around seasonal and mostly organic produce, and include accommodation and most meals, with wines. greatwalksofnewzealand.co.nz
Reader Michael Allen enjoyed our recent story about Barcelona, but shares a warning. In his own words: “We are a well-travelled couple in our late 60s who have been fortunate enough not to have been the subject of any losses or theft for over 40 years of travels. However, sitting in the comfortable, quiet airport hotel lobby in Barcelona, a male approached my wife, Pam, and asked her if the earphones on the ground next to her, were hers. As my wife bent over to pick them up, the male reached beside her and grabbed her bag containing jewellery, cash and credit cards without anyone noticing and made his way out the door. The earphones had been dropped there by him as a diversion. My wife noticed the bag was missing about 20 minutes later.” But Michael happily swings back to the positives . . . “as an aside, we have just spent five wonderful weeks in seven different European countries and were never asked for vaccination certificates or COVID test results, apart from when boarding our ship.”
TOP EURO VALUE
My Cruises has packaged up three nights exploring the Italian Lakes region, based in Milan and including Lake Como, a rail journey to Basel, an eight-day river cruise to Amsterdam along the Rhine River through France, Germany and the Netherlands with Avalon Waterways, the train from Amsterdam to London, and an 11-day Best of Great Britain, which includes Stonehenge and Stratford-Upon-Avon, the home of William Shakespeare. It is from only $10,990 per person, including flights, accommodation and tours. And that’s amazing value for a 21-day fly, tour and cruise holiday. Book by September 30, 2022, to sail October 7, 2023. 1300 924 585 and mycruises.com.au