Beer or tea?

Who’d have thought the iconic brewery Victoria Bitter would be encouraging Australia’s cricket tragics – who watch The Ashes in the UK into the wee small hours of the morning  – to drink non-alcoholic VB Tea.

It is the case, so I asked VB Brand Marketing Manager, Chris Maxwell, why turn the focus from beer to tea?

To climb, or not to climb

A ban on climbing Uluru, the iconic red rock that towers above sandy desert plains in the heart of Central Australia, comes into force in October this year.

The Anangu people, the traditional landowners of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, called for the ban because of Uluru’s cultural significance as a sacred place for them. However, tourists can continue to enjoy Uluru while walking, running, or cycling around its base.

Heated debate over the ban abated at the weekend as hundreds of marathon runners, many from overseas, took part in the annual Australian Outback Marathon.

I talked to race director Michael Walton about the marathon, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary at Uluru and asked his views on climbing the iconic rock.



The Love Boat

The TV series The Love Boat was a catalyst for the world-wide cruising boom, and rated highly with viewers for almost ten decades. Actor Ted Lange, who served up smiles and drinks as Isaac Washington, the cocktail waiter on The Love Boat, reminisced about the show with me in Australia recently where he was a guest of Princess Cruises.

10,000km by bike

Dr Leonie Katekar is an intrepid Australian who is off on a 7-month ride through Central and South America to raise funds for the Fight Cancer Foundation – it helps young people stay engaged with their education during cancer treatment.

I spoke to Leonie before she left on her 10,000km ride when she will average about 80km daily, while riding through some of the world’s remotest locations.

To support Leonie’s ride visit

Passions of a chef

Celebrity chef Matt Moran is a man of many parts, owning some of Australia’s most celebrated restaurants, including Aria and Bangaroo House in Sydney, as well as cooking up a storm on TV cooking shows, authoring cookbooks, and making guest appearances of food festivals across the nation.

I chatted to him recently about a range of topics, including his love of motorcycles.


Food in focus

Times they are changing, and no more so than on cruise ships where huge buffets were once the order of the day, and night. The midnight buffet was as much a sculpture gallery as a food source with its magnificent array of ice carvings, some life-size.

Today’s cruise passengers tastes have changed. Some are vegan, or vegetarian, or gluten- free, or fishetarian, or whatever.  They prefer a menu that tells them exactly what is included in a dish. Cruise lines have latched on quickly to offer all manner of menus to suit those different tastes.

Recently, executive chefs from Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas fleets, spent a week in Thailand to learn more about plant-based food from Christophe Berg at Blue Lotus culinary school in Hua Hin.  And right now, plant-based dishes are being introduced to menus across both cruise fleets.

Here is my interview with Chef Christophe Berg, a world expert on plant-based food.

Crowded house

Tourism is booming internationally. Latest annual figures show 1.32 billion tourists roaming the globe – 84 million more travellers than the previous year.

Those travellers are boosting local economies everywhere, but they are also creating problems with too many tourists visiting too many places at the same time.

Australian Chris Flynn is head of the newly formed World Tourism Association for Culture and Heritage, which aims to protect local cultures, heritage and historical sites that are now at risk from over tourism.

A major concern is the impact the cruise ship boom is having on remote island communities, as well as on major cruise ports where thousands of passengers disembark daily for land tours.

Here Chris, who has spent 40 years working in tourism and aviation, most recently as director of the Pacific Asia Travel Association, voices his concerns to Veronica Matheson.



Luxury at sea

Luxury hotels, luxury tours, luxury at the pointy-end of the plane for an international flight.

We all love those experiences, though sadly they are often far too expensive!

These days decadent luxury is also found on the cruise ships in international waters where high-end passengers are invariably known as valued “guests”.

To find out more about luxury at sea, reporter Veronica Matheson chatted to Adam Armstrong, the Australasian Managing Director of Silversea Cruises, about the company’s new flagship Silver Muse which is currently sailing in Australasian waters.

Silversea is marking the inaugural season of Silver Muse in Australasian waters by launching a fundraising campaign to aid Australia’s drought-stricken farmers.


So where to next?

Just about everyone in the travel industry is forecasting where they think the hot destinations will be in 2019.

Will it be Croatia, or Cuba, or some sunny spot in the Caribbean?

Quite honestly it is impossible to predict accurately as the world is a constantly changing place with so much to see and do, and so little time to do it.

And often travel plans need to be changed at a moment’s notice when a natural disaster occurs, or civil unrest erupts.

So just go with the flow.

I’m following my heart to distant places to visit family and friends, and along the way there are certain to be unexpected adventures.

That’s the joy of travelling. Not quite knowing what will happen next!

So enjoy the journey through 2019.

Best of the best

AS the year closes, family and friends ask “Where was the best place you visited this year?”

Invariably, that place is where I have just been.

As I was in India this month, it remains fresh in my mind as a great place to be.

I saw the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra, and that took my breath away. So did other sights around India.

But the place that stays in my heart is the holy city of Varanasi where many Hindu head to their final resting place beside Mother Ganga (the River Ganges).

On Travel Writers Radio, I talked to Scenic Tour Director Sanjay Nepal about that memorable experience.

FOOTNOTE: I took malaria tablets while travelling through India, but did not come across a mosquito. Back in Australia, and I get my first bite of the summer!