Domestic Travel

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Prince Harry and Meghan’s heartfelt moment as 5-year-old steals the show

<p>Today, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex made a visit to Dubbo as part of their Australian royal tour.</p> <p>Prince Harry and Meghan were greeted by local politicians and school children at Dubbo airport, including one 5-year-old who gave the newlyweds a very special welcome.</p> <p>Young royal fan Luke Vincent managed to wriggle his way past security and cameras to meet the couple face-to-face.</p> <p>After giving Harry a hug, the Buninyong Public school student reached out and touched Harry’s beard.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 500px; height:281.25px;" src="/media/7821410/image_.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/bbb7037aea5b4ce2b0089c0c9388b2ba" /></p> <p>Luke, who has Down Syndrome, then gifted Meghan a bouquet of flowers and embraced her as well.</p> <p>The youngster’s school principal, Anne Van Dartel, told <em>7 News</em> that little Luke loves beards.</p> <p>“Luke’s favourite person is Santa Claus … and now it’s Prince Harry,” she said.</p> <p>“Luke waited beautifully today and waited for Prince Harry and Princess Meghan to come to us. And he even brought her flowers.”</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 500px; height:281.25px;" src="/media/7821412/image_.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/2e6053eb217d4aa691d0efe955ca5051" /></p> <p>Ms Van Dartel explained that when Luke first reached out to Harry she was nervous because they had been instructed that there was to be “no touching”.</p> <p>“I was very concerned when he started rubbing Prince Harry’s face and his hair, but Prince Harry was completely gracious and was so polite and realised what was happening and his infatuation with his beard,” she said.</p> <p>“We can only thank him so much for treating Luke with such respect who didn’t understand the situation. The way that Prince Harry and Princess Meghan interacted with him was just delightful.”</p> <p>Ms Van Dartel, who went to Dubbo airport with some of her school students to give the royals a warm welcome, said Luke’s moment with the couple was very special.</p> <p>“He’s often the star of the show at school, and now he’s the star of the show all around the world,” she said.</p>

Domestic Travel

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Under the spell of The Ghan

<p><em>Justine Tyerman boards The Ghan, the famous transcontinental train, from Darwin to Adelaide. Here is the first of a four-part series about her journey.</em></p> <p>The sleek silver Ghan, with the twin bright red diesel-electric locomotives throbbing at her prow, was a magnificent sight at Darwin’s Berrimah Railway Station as coaches and taxis arrived with 285 excited passengers ready to embark on our great train adventure from Darwin to Adelaide. We were about to travel through the ‘Red Centre’ of Australia, a 2979km journey spread over four days and three nights.</p> <p>The sheer size, length and spectacle of the 903m, 38-carriage, 1700 tonne train set my heart pounding. I instantly fell under the spell of this iconic train originally named the Afghan Express after the 19th century Afghan cameleers who helped blaze a trail through the country’s remote interior.</p> <p>Although construction began in 1878, it wasn't until 2004 that the last section of the railway track from Alice Springs to Darwin was finally completed. The locomotives and the carriages all proudly bear the emblem of an Afghan riding a camel.</p> <p>My Gold Service cabin with ensuite bathroom was mid-ships so the walk with my small wheelie case was manageable in the tropical heat but those at the extremities of the train were shuttled in style.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 375px; height: 500px;" src="/media/7821396/image_.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/7c7198d49e814601b592acf4840077e3" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>My ensuite bathroom with lovely Appelles bath and body products.</em></p> <p>My hospitality attendant Aaron greeted me with a beaming smile and soon after appeared in my cabin to chat about what excursions I wanted to do during the days ahead.</p> <p>“All of them,” I said, unable to choose from the fabulous selection available each day. Having done the excursions, Aaron helped me come to a decision in no time.</p> <p>Train manager Bruce then welcomed us all aboard via the in-cabin radio which also broadcast an excellent commentary and a series of stories about the places, events and people along the route.</p> <p>Restaurant manager Nick popped by to discuss my preferred dining times in the Queen Adelaide Restaurant. The cuisine on The Ghan and her sister The Indian Pacific, a trip I completed in June, is as legendary as the history of these great train journeys. Not to mention the beverages …</p> <p>A glass of champagne mysteriously found its way into my hand as the massive train slid so smoothly from the station, I was only aware we were moving by watching the people waving on the platform slowly disappear from view. A toast to The Ghan seemed a fitting way to celebrate the departure of such a majestic train on another epic journey across the continent. The Ghan has a presence, history and grandeur like no other and to be finally embarking on the trip sent bubbles of excitement through my veins. They matched the effervescence in my glass.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 333.3333333333333px; height: 500px;" src="/media/7821395/image_.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/bfe4305a9cd6419fa6045699e220b978" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>A toast to The Ghan seems a fitting way to celebrate the departure of such a majestic train on our epic journey across the continent.</em></p> <p>“This is the life,” I thought as I settled into my super-comfortable cabin and watched the Northern Territory countryside flicker by. Tall termite mounds like cylindrical chimneys scattered the bushy terrain which had been recently scorched in a controlled burn-off. The ant-like insects build amazingly clever dwellings for themselves with a central vent for air-conditioning. They devour an enormous quality of matter and return all the nutrients to the earth. The structures are aligned north-south to catch the sun. You learn all sorts of fascinating things by listening to the commentary on The Ghan.</p> <p>Soon after, we crossed the broad Elizabeth River and it was lunchtime.</p> <p>I dined in the ornate Queen Adelaide Restaurant on tropical chicken salad with fresh mango, flat beans, red onion, bamboo shoots, macadamia, lotus root, coriander and mesclun with lime pepper dressing, followed by a divine mango parfait with wild berry salsa. White tablecloths, fine china, waiters, wine … and that was just a light lunch.</p> <p>Travelling solo, Nick seated me with a variety of different people at every meal. On this occasion I lunched with three highly-entertaining Australian widows, one of whom knew a family from my hometown of Gisborne, New Zealand. Such a coincidence.</p> <p>As we chatted, we travelled through sparsely-vegetated hilly terrain cut by dry river beds, and rocky outcrops as though it had rained massive boulders.</p> <p>Unlike the Indian Pacific where there were hours of on-train time to daydream and relax, the daily excursions on The Ghan Expedition took up the bulk of the daytime hours. Early afternoon, we arrived at the Northern Territory town of Katherine to be met by coaches waiting to take us on a variety of excursions. Following Aaron’s advice, I chose a cruise and hike in two of the 13 gorges on the Katherine River in the 292,000-hectare Nitmiluk National Park.</p> <p>We boarded barges and cruised slowly up a spectacular steep-sided, rocky sandstone gorge carved by the Katherine River over millions of years. The commentary of our skipper-guide Sam added wonderful layers of meaning and history to the experience.</p> <p>Nitmiluk means ‘cicada country’ to the indigenous Jawoyn people, she said.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="/nothing.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/9a899824b5844b6381ffc5b4cb074710" /><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="/media/7821397/image_.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/9a899824b5844b6381ffc5b4cb074710" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Cruising the Katherine River in the spectacular Nitmiluk Gorge. </em></p> <p>“Listen and you’ll hear the buzzing sound, especially in the evening,” Sam explained.</p> <p>She also pointed out huge gashes in the rocks on both sides of the river indicating fault lines, and trees like the paperbark with uses such as cooking foil and the larruk with anti-inflammatory and insect repellent properties.</p> <p>The white sandy beaches alongside the river looked like idyllic spots for picnics and swims until Sam drew our attention to the signs: “Crocodile nesting area – do not enter.”</p> <p>They’re mainly freshwater crocs here, not the monster ‘salties’ I’d seen in Darwin, but you still wouldn’t want to get anywhere near them. Thereafter I imagined I saw many crocodiles submerged in the river, but they were “probably rockodiles” according to Sam.</p> <p>The kayakers we passed on the river must have been incredibly brave or foolhardy – I couldn’t decide which.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="/media/7821398/image_.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/050daa96945643b9a174632cd393abda" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Kayakers on the Katherine River near a croc nesting beach.</em></p> <p>Turning my attention upwards while keeping my arms well clear of the water, I was transfixed by the staggering height of the sheer cliffs on either side of our barge, reaching 60 to 100m high, depending on the depth of the river. The Katherine rises up to 9-10 metres during times of flood – the extreme sideways lean of the trees are an indication of the strength of the current.</p> <p>Today the river was so low we had to hike between the two gorges, boarding another barge on the other side.</p> <p>Between the gorges, Sam pointed out aboriginal paintings etched in the rock walls high above us, still intact after thousands of years. Some indigenous art in the region dates back 40,000 years, the oldest known art forms on the planet.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 333.3333333333333px; height: 500px;" src="/media/7821399/image_.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/65609f519a0f409b9cdcff88e5259132" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Aboriginal paintings etched in the rock walls are still intact after thousands of years.</em></p> <p>As we neared a deep pool in the upper reaches of the second gorge, Sam told us a Dreamtime story of the Jawoyn people.</p> <p>“According to legend, Bolung, the rainbow serpent, carved the gorge in his own image then laid to rest in the 40m deep pool right below us.</p> <p>“There’s a whirlpool here and Jawoyn people won’t swim, fish or drink water from the pool for fear of a flood or other calamity.</p> <p>“The serpent is one of few common threads in aboriginal culture. Indigenous people in the Flinders Ranges area have a similar story.”</p> <p>Sam also explained the kinship system of the aboriginal people whereby a skin name is handed down by your mother meaning those of the same name cannot marry. The penalties for breaking the rules are severe – a spear to the back of the legs.</p> <p>We passed by an impressive towering rock known as Jedda Rock after the 1955 Australian-made movie of the same name, the first feature film to star aboriginal actors.</p> <p>The rocks in the Katherine Gorge are around 1.6 billion years old, Sam explained.</p> <p>As we neared the end of the cruise, I spotted a large cage on the water’s edge.</p> <p>“It’s a croc trap,” said Sam just in case we had forgotten we were in crocodile country.</p> <p>Jay, a cheery Jawoyn lad with a huge smile shouted “Boh boh” to us as he tethered the barge to the jetty and we disembarked.</p> <p>The Jawoyn don’t say “Goodbye”, they say “Boh boh – See ya later”.</p> <p>A huge plume of smoke threatened to obliterate the sunset as we bused back to the train. A controlled burn was taking place somewhere in the distance, turning the sun into a fiery red ball in the western sky.</p> <p>Later, as I emerged wet and drippy from the shower, I discovered we were actually travelling right through the fire, hot and red and fiery with flames leaping up trees and lots of smoke. It was really dramatic. Travelling through an Aussie bush fire, courtesy of The Ghan.<br /><br />That evening, I just had to try the crocodile sausage entrée with a lemon aspen sauce on the dinner menu. Having been warned by my Aussie mates that croc was bland, I found it surprisingly tasty.</p> <p>Sticking with exotic, I had an excellent chickpea saffron dahl served with pickled okra and basmati rice as a main course, and yummy ginger and macadamia nut pudding with caramel sauce and coconut ice-cream for dessert.</p> <p>As I snuggled into my comfy bed ­ beautifully-made by Aaron with crisp white linen ­ in the air-conditioned comfort of my cosy cabin, I looked back over the photos I’d taken that day.  <br />The grandeur of the Katherine Gorge was quite overwhelming. The deeply-furrowed, weathered old faces of the rocks towering above the river gave me a powerful sense of the ancientness and dignity of the land. Truly one of the Australia’s most stunning natural wonders.</p> <p>FACTBOX:</p> <p><em>Justine travelled courtesy of Rail Plus and Great Southern Rail.</em></p> <p><em>This is the fourth trip I’ve booked with international rail specialists Rail Plus.</em></p> <p><em>* Visit <span><a href="https://www.railplus.com.au/australia-by-rail/australias-great-train-journeys/the-ghan-expedition/ghan-expedition-prices-book.htm">https://www.railplus.com.au/australia-by-rail/australias-great-train-journeys/the-ghan-expedition/ghan-expedition-prices-book.htm</a></span> </em><em>for more information on this and other epic train adventures around the world, or phone 09 377 5420 from New Zealand.</em></p> <p><em>*A veteran of many rail journeys organised through Rail Plus, I’ve also travelled on the Indian Pacific (see my series of four stories <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/domestic-travel/what-it-s-like-travelling-across-australia-on-board-the-indian-pacific">here</a>); the <a href="http://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/international-travel/on-the-unesco-world-heritage-bernina-express-from-switzerland-to-italy"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Bernina Express</strong></span></a>; and the TranzAlpine</em></p> <p><em>Rail Plus has a dedicated team of experts to advise you on Great Train Journeys all around the world including the famous Eastern and <a href="https://www.railplus.com.au/great-train-journeys/eastern-oriental-express/prices-book.htm"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Oriental Express</strong></span></a>, next on my list.</em></p>

Domestic Travel

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Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan touch down in Sydney

<p>The long-awaited moment is finally here as Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex have landed in Sydney for their Australian tour.</p> <p>The couple travelled with Australian airline Qantas instead of British Airways as previously predicted. The flight touched down around 7am at Sydney International Airport.</p> <p>Surrounded by security personnel and their entourage, the royals still found the time to give a smile in the direction of fans, media and countless waiting cameras.</p> <p><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px; display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/media/7821329/capture.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/c4fe2065a2364f0e899c2adcc19d18cd" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;">Photo credit: <a href="http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-10-15/prince-harry-meghan-royal-tour-begins-in-sydney/10376108"><em>ABC News</em></a></p> <p>Their large entourage is said to comprise of 10 staff members, a hairdresser and press secretaries.</p> <p>According to <em><a href="https://www.news.com.au/entertainment/celebrity-life/royals/prince-harry-and-meghan-arrive-in-sydney/news-story/23300d87611204a8c1772635a9ce45ea">news.com.au</a></em>, it is said that Meghan has invited her best friend and stylist, Jessica Mulroney, along with her husband Ben to help her with the styling of her outfits in an “unofficial” capacity.</p> <p>After leaving the airport, the Duke and Duchess made their way down to the Admiralty House in Kirribilli.</p> <p>The tour consists of visiting locations in Australia such as Sydney, Melbourne, Dubbo and Fraser Island, while also visiting other countries that are a part of the Commonwealth, which includes Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand.</p> <p>While they are here specifically for the Invictus Games, the royals will also take part in events surrounding mental health, farm visits and public picnics.</p> <p>Their official duties won’t start until tomorrow, giving them one day to wind down.</p> <p>The two will start off by spending time with the Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove and his wife, Lady Cosgrove, where they will be joined by representatives from the Invictus Games. Afterwards, they plan to visit Taronga Zoo to meet two baby koalas.</p> <p>Heading to Dubbo in NSW on Wednesday, the Duke and Duchess want to “see first-hand the hardships local farmers are facing by visiting local property” and also want to take part in a public picnic.</p> <p>On Friday, eager fans will be able to catch Harry and Meghan at Bondi Beach in Sydney where they will be promoting the awareness of mental health. And afterwards they will be seen climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge with Prime Minister Scott Morrison to raise the Invictus Games flag.</p> <p>They will also be visiting Melbourne and Cockatoo Island before departing for the South Pacific.</p>

Domestic Travel

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The huge change for Qantas passengers

<p>The march towards a completely paper-free life continues with Qantas announcing that it won’t be necessary to print a boarding pass on domestic flights if you have used the check-in option online.</p> <p>You’ll just need your digital copy on your phone which will be scanned at the boarding gate. This will save you time as you prepare for your flight, taking away the need to go to check-in counters for your boarding pass.</p> <p>Angus Kidman, editor-in-chief of comparison site <em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.finder.com.au/" target="_blank" title="Finder.com.au">Finder.com.au</a></em>, was about to board a flight from Melbourne to Sydney this week when he realised that the change had been implemented, according to <em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-advice/flights/qantas-passengers-no-longer-need-a-paper-boarding-pass-on-domestic-flights/news-story/b96cca0dd49cef29defa03623dda2832" target="_blank">news.com.au</a></em>.</p> <p>“It certainly helps speed up the boarding process, which is good news when you’re on a crowded service,” he said.</p> <p>Reiterating Kidman’s experience, a Qantas spokesman said that the initiative had been implemented to make for a smoother flying experience.</p> <p>“Passengers on domestic flights who have checked in online and have a digital boarding pass will no longer receive a printed boarding slip at the gate,” said the spokesman.</p> <p>“The removal of printed boarding slips at the gate will speed up the boarding process and help us improve our on-time performance.”</p> <p>Kidman said that Qantas had lagged behind other airlines who haven’t required boarding passes for some time, and noted that due to the growth of mobile check-ins, the International Air Transit Association had removed the requirement of printed boarding passes.</p> <p>“Having one less scrap of paper in my wallet is certainly welcome,” he said.</p> <p>Printed boarding passes had already been dropped for international travellers at Australian airports in August.</p> <p>The measure has sped up international flight boarding said Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge in a statement, with almost three-in-four travellers being screened though automatic SmartGates, according to <em><a href="https://over60.monday.com/boards/63889387/pulses/SmartGates" class="router">news.com.au</a></em>.</p> <p>“These increasing volumes mean we are always looking for ways to clear legitimate travellers efficiently and seek out those of interest to law enforcement,” he said.</p> <p>But if you’re travelling domestically with Qantas and have a QFF membership card to board, or have a seat change since boarding, you’ll still need a printed boarding pass.</p> <p>Do you find it easier to use mobile check-in when flying? Let us know in the comments.</p>

Domestic Travel

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Weather warning: "Dangerous" supercell storms brewing

<p>Yesterday, meteorologists issued a warning for severe “storm outbreaks”, known as supercells, which will include drenching rains, hail and fierce winds along the east coast of Australia.</p> <p>The wild weather is expected to move from Rockhampton to Brisbane in Queensland and carry over to New South Wales.</p> <p>“An area of low pressure is moving through south east Australia bringing showers but even before it arrives we already have a storm outbreak across south east Queensland and NSW,” Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Mr Saunders said.</p> <p>However, experts have warned that the recent storms have led to more “organised” storms, called supercells.</p> <p>Supercells are rotating systems that are known for bringing heavier, rain, more damaging winds and larger hail.</p> <p>The BOM describes supercells as thunderstorms that can have the most destructive impact and have a habit of lasting for longer periods of time.</p> <p>The BOM has forecast that up to 35mm of rain could fall on Brisbane today, with a further 60mm expected for the four following days.</p> <p>“On Thursday, the system will head further north and west bringing showers and storms for central Queensland,” said Mr Saunders.</p> <p>In Sydney, up to 20mm of rain could fall up to and over the weekend with occasional sunny spells.</p> <p>Canberra will also be hit with showers, with up to 30mm expected to fall on residents.</p> <p>Australians on the west coast of Australia will also need to prepare for umbrella weather over the next few days.</p> <p>Perth is expected to be hit with showers later today and on the weekend, particularly on Saturday.</p> <p>Melbourne is expected to have relief from the grey skies for the next few days, however, the city could receive up to 20mm of rain on the weekend.</p> <p>Hobart will have similar conditions but see less rain on the weekend.</p> <p>Meteorologists expect Adelaide to see a dry week but there’s a risk of rain falling on the weekend.</p> <p>In Darwin, it is forecast to be sunny and 35C with possible storms on the weekend.</p> <p>Despite the recent wet weather, meteorologists have said that the drought is still far from over.</p> <p>Australia is now on “El Nino alert”, meaning that there is an increased chance of drier conditions around the country. </p>

Domestic Travel

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The weird thing Harry and Meghan can't do on their Aussie tour

<p>On October 16, Prince Harry and Meghan will kickstart their first major royal tour as a couple by arriving in Sydney, Australia.</p> <p>The 16-day tour will see the Duke and Duchess of Sussex complete 76 engagements around Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand.</p> <p>Although the royal newlyweds will happily mingle with fans throughout their travels, there is one bizarre rule that will limit their encounter with a furry friend.</p> <p>After being welcomed into the country by Australia’s Governor-General Peter Cosgrove and his wife Lynne, the couple will meet two koalas that same afternoon.</p> <p>However, due to strict new anti-koala cuddling rules, the royals will be allowed to pet but not cuddle the Aussie animals.</p> <p>Sam Cohen, Harry and Meghan’s private secretary, said: “You can cuddle in Queensland and pet in New South Wales.”</p> <p>The couple will then jet off to Melbourne, Dubbo in NSW and Queensland’s Fraser Island.</p> <p>Harry and Meghan will visit Fiji and Tonga between October 23 and 26 and also spend four days in New Zealand.</p> <p>The royals are looking forward to meeting as many locals as possible during their lengthy trip.</p> <p>“There is a long history of the friendship between the royal family and Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand, and their links with the UK extensive,” Ms Cohen said.</p> <p>“The Duke and Duchess are very much looking forward to experiencing the unique customs and cultures of these four Commonwealth countries and have asked that this tour allows them to meet as many Australians, Fijians, Tongans and New Zealanders as possible.</p> <p>“Together they look forward to building an enduring relationship with the people of the region.”</p> <p>The main reason why Harry and Meghan are heading Down Under is to support the Sydney 2018 Invictus Games, an athletic event for disabled and ill service people.</p> <p>To officially welcome the Olympic-style event, Prince Harry, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and athletes will climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge and place the Invictus flag at the top. </p> <p>“The Duke and Duchess are excited to see Sydney fully embrace the Invictus spirit and support the competitors across a range of sports at some of the city’s most iconic venues,” Ms Cohen said.</p> <p><strong>Prince Harry and Meghan’s royal tour itinerary:</strong></p> <p>Tuesday October 16: Sydney, Australia</p> <p>Wednesday October 17: Dubbo, Australia</p> <p>Thursday October 18: Melbourne, Australia</p> <p>Friday October 19: Sydney, Australia</p> <p>Saturday October 20: Sydney, Australia</p> <p>Sunday October 21: Sydney, Australia</p> <p>Monday October 22: Fraser Island, Australia</p> <p>Tuesday October 23: Suva, Fiji</p> <p>Wednesday October 24: Suva, Fiji</p> <p>Thursday October 25: Nadi, Fiji and Nuku’alofa, Tonga</p> <p>Friday October 26: Nuku’alofa, Tonga and Sydney, Australia</p> <p>Saturday October 27: Sydney, Australia</p> <p>Sunday October 28: Wellington, New Zealand</p> <p>Monday October 29: Wellington and Abel Tasman, New Zealand</p> <p>Tuesday October 30: Auckland, New Zealand</p> <p>Wednesday October 31: Rotorua, New Zealand</p>

Domestic Travel

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Wild weather warning: Washout to hit both east and west coasts of Australia

<p>Forecasters are urging Aussies to make the most of the warm weather before conditions change and the east and west coasts are hit with a burst of wild weather.</p> <p>Yesterday, Sky News Weather meteorologist Rob Sharpe warned: “Rain and storm events are on the way for the east and west.”</p> <p>Sydney could be hit with almost half a month’s rain in three days, while northern parts of New South Wales are expected to receive even more.</p> <p>Mr Sharpe predicts that rainfall will be widespread on the east coast and in some inland areas from east of Melbourne all the way up to Brisbane.</p> <p>“As we move into Friday there’s a chance we’ll see a low pressure system developing close to the coast and there could be some powerful winds associated with that,” he said.</p> <p>Sydney could receive 22mm of rain from Thursday until Saturday, a hefty proportion of the 55mm rainfall average of October.</p> <p>Temperatures in Sydney will drop from 23C earlier in the week to around 19C in the lead up to the weekend.</p> <p>Brisbane, Perth and Canberra are also expected to be hit with heavy downpours as the week continues.</p> <p>Canberra could see 8mm of rain on Thursday and temperatures dip to a maximum of 16C.</p> <p>Although Brisbane temperatures are expected to stay around the mid-20s all week, the city is expected to receive around 20mm of rain.</p> <p>The wet conditions will also hit the west coast of Australia, with Perth facing possible sporadic thunderstorms from Tuesday until Thursday.</p> <p>“In the west, we could also have a rain and storm event but a little more in terms of rainfall and a little less in the way of severe thunderstorms,” said Mr Sharpe.</p> <p>Adelaide and Melbourne could see some showers earlier this week give way to sun and patchy clouds.</p> <p>Hobart will see some rain on Tuesday and Wednesday and experience cooler temperatures on Thursday, with a maximum of 14C.</p> <p>In the north of Australia, residents in some areas have been given fire warnings.</p> <p>In the tropical north of Queensland, residents of Irvinebank have been told to leave their homes due to bushfire warnings.</p> <p>There is also a fire weather warning in place for Darwin and Katherine as gusty winds combine with dry and hot temperatures.</p> <p>Will you be hit with the wild weather this week? Let us know in the comments below. </p>

Domestic Travel

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Why you must visit this Australian paradise on the Great Barrier Reef

<p>So, there we were.</p> <p>Forty kilometres from the nearest land, floating over a remote section of the outer Great Barrier Reef.</p> <p>Just me, my young family, and a two-metre shark.</p> <p>A whitetip reef shark, to be exact. But after nearly a week staying on Orpheus Island, I felt a strange sense of calm. Had I become acclimatised to these underwater predators, who prowled underneath the resort marina at night, fed like pets by the staff? Or was my guard simply down, lulled by several days of award-winning food, lazing around the pool and an unlimited, self-replenishing mini bar, included in the price of accommodation?</p> <p>The answer is, probably both.</p> <p>Orpheus has a dual effect on guests. It's deeply relaxing, thanks to five-star facilities and personalised service that somehow manages to be laidback and yet slickly professional at the same time.</p> <p>But also, its location, 80 kilometres northeast of Townsville and surrounded by pristine reefs and protected oceans, means you can't help but encounter nature's raw beauty during your stay.</p> <p>In fact, the nature spotting begins on approach, with an exciting helicopter transfer that zooms you from Townsville across Rattlesnake Island (used by the military for bombing practise), past nearby Fantome Island (a leper colony until 1973) and over coastlines dotted with aquamarine reefs, sea turtles and dugong.</p> <p>Named after an Australian Navy ship that sank in 1863 (which, in turn, was named after the legendary Greek poet, prophet and musician known for his ability to charm), Orpheus Island has been attracting tourists since the 1930s.</p> <p>Jen Truasheim, the resort's gardener, longest resident and shoe-eschewing unofficial historian, says the place has changed a lot since she arrived to "chaos and madness" in 2000.</p> <p>"We had jet skis, we had ski boats, we had 90 guests, we had 50 staff; we had dead turtles out there being carved up by props."</p> <p>The ethos has done a U-turn for the better since the resort's two subsequent owners took over.</p> <p>The latest, Chris Morris (who made his fortune running global share registry Computershare and now has a string of pubs, restaurants, casinos and resorts under the Colonial Leisure Group banner) has worked hard to restore the balance of nature by investing heavily in eco-friendly infrastructure.</p> <p>Since he took over in 2011 the resort boasts a sewage treatment plant, solar hot water and guests are capped at 28. It's now more in keeping with the ethos of the rest of the island, which is predominantly national park.</p> <p>Happily, for us, Morris is a grandfather, so unlike many similar exclusive tropical resorts, children are welcome here. From the moment our helicopter touches down at the far end of the resort's beach the emphasis is on understated luxury. Our bags attended to (each guest is limited to 15kg), we take a short walk over the coconut palm-dotted lawn to the pool, where a glass of bubbly awaits.</p> <p>A solitary cockatoo screeches above, reminding us that this tropical paradise is very much Down Under.</p> <p>Sitting down with the resort manager, we learn of daily activities, such as snorkelling, fishing, kayaking and tours to nearby islands, that are included in the price of accommodation.</p> <p>Then it's time for the executive chef to grill us over our particular culinary likes, dislikes and inevitable quirks (for our fussy four-year-old that's easy: plain rice, noodles and Nutri-Grain, thanks).</p> <p>The food turns out to be a highlight of our stay, with a la carte breakfasts, ethnic themed share plates for lunch (Thai, American, Moroccan) and impressive degustation-style dinners that might include ricotta gnocchi with smoked clams and Moreton Bay Bug with black garlic aioli.</p> <p>After touring our modern suite (where fruits, a cheese platter and another bottle of sparkling wine are waiting for us) I venture past the horizon pool to the beach.</p> <p>Almost immediately I spot something unusual in the water.</p> <p>A couple of fins disturb the surface very close to the shore and, peering gingerly into the water lapping at my feet, I see a baby shark, about 50 centimetres in length cruising obliviously past.</p> <p>Later, the staff, who are well-versed on local flora and fauna, explain that it's a juvenile blacktip reef shark and, if I'd care to wait until dark, I could see plenty more larger specimens underneath the resort jetty.</p> <p>True to their word, that evening we watch transfixed as a staff member drops morsels of fish scraps into the water. Beneath us are about seven sharks, up to two metres long, circling and pouncing on the free dinner provided.</p> <p>The next day we take out one of several tinnies available to guests and try our luck fishing. Hooking up to a buoy that marks the island's giant clam garden we snare a couple of undersized red emperors and throw them back. On the way home, we spot a sea turtle and another cruising shark.</p> <p>Then it's time to go on a larger adventure.</p> <p>We book a tour to nearby Hinchinbrook Island, the largest island national park in the world and about an hour away by boat. (These day tours cost extra, starting at $1307.)</p> <p>Gardener Jen is our guide and, as she recounts stories about local indigenous tribes on the boat crossing I become distracted by a three-metre-long hammerhead shark, the first I've ever seen in the wild, lazily swimming off the starboard bow. It's absolutely thrilling.</p> <p>Then, past the foreboding sheer rock walls and boiling sea of Hinchinbrook's Hillock point, we enter the calmer waters of Zoe Bay, eventually stepping out onto the estuary's small beach.</p> <p>Jen, a botanist by training, enthusiastically identifies the rainforest trees and plants around us: spiky 'lawyer' palms (whose thorns were used by indigenous people for sewing needles), red beech (good for boat-building timber) and quandong trees that bear edible purple-blue fruits.</p> <p>We walk for 20 minutes to Zoe Falls, where Jen pulls out a couple of pesky march flies we'd dispatched earlier and drops them into the clear, fresh, mountain stream-fed pool.</p> <p>Almost before they hit the water there is a threshing bubble and splash and they are snapped up by a school of beautiful gold and black-spotted jungle perch. We spend the rest of the day lazing on the rocks and swimming in the cool, crystal clear water, marvelling at the fish.</p> <p>But no journey to this part of the world would be complete without a close inspection of the Great Barrier Reef.</p> <p>After learning about the perils of crown of thorns starfish and plastic rubbish during a visit to Orpheus Island's marine research station (a remote campus of James Cook University nestled in an adjoining bay to the resort) we take to the boat again and head nearly 40 kilometres northeast to the isolated Walker Reef.</p> <p>Surrounded by ocean and entirely lost in one of the seven wonders of the natural world, it's now that I spot that beautiful, two-metre whitetip shark cruising beneath us.</p> <p>But, instead of fear, I notice the animal evokes another instinct in me: protection.</p> <p><em>Written by Peter Barrett. Republished with permission of <span><a href="https://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/destinations/australia/107261718/orpheus-island-great-barrier-reef-an-australian-paradise">Stuff.co.nz</a></span>.</em></p>

Domestic Travel

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Iconic Aussie pubs you cannot afford to miss

<p>It would be un-Australian to not bend your elbow at one of these iconic Aussie pubs if you are passing through. </p> <p><strong>1. The Prairie Hotel, SA</strong></p> <p>Voted Australia’s Number 1 Outback Hotel by <em>Australian Geographic</em> magazine in 2016, the Prairie Hotel in Parachilna draws thousands of visitors each year for its stunning Flinders Ranges location, artisan accommodations and highly unusual menu.</p> <p>While the gourmet bush foods change seasonally, the signature dish, available year-round, is the FMG – feral mixed grill – and basically means if you can kill it, they’ll grill it. Kangaroo, wallaby, emu, goat, camel, rabbit … are expertly complemented by locally sourced native ingredients such as quandongs, native limes and bush tomatoes.</p> <p>For a truly unique Australian pub food experience, what could be more adventurous? </p> <p><strong>2. The Ettamogah Pub, NSW</strong></p> <p>When Australian cartoonist Ken Maynard scratched out his first doodles of the Ettamogah Pub in the late ’50s – an oddly top-heavy construction full of chain-smoking dogs and rural ruffians with a flat-bed truck parked precariously on the roof – he could not have imagined that half a century later four such pubs would exist in the real world.</p> <p>A brick and mortar tribute to his comic strip that ran in the weekly Australasian Post from 1958 until its final issue in 2002, the first Ettamogah Pub opened in 1987 in Albury, NSW, where Maynard was born.</p> <p>This award-winning family-friendly hotel has since been renovated to add a sports bar, cocktail lounge and other distractions such as a jumping castle and rock-climbing wall for the kids.</p> <p>The original red-roofed timber building with its unique slanted walls true to Maynard’s cartoon vision has been preserved as a permanent tourist attraction. </p> <p><strong>3. The Cherry Bar, VIC</strong></p> <p>Any ‘favourite gig joint’ straw poll of local or international rock acts will likely include this hardcore underground bar, the only business located along the aptly named ACDC Lane in Melbourne’s CBD.</p> <p>The tiny 200-capacity live music venue is a standard fixture for touring legends, who like to pop in for a drink or play a set in between huge theatre or arena shows.</p> <p>Guns N’ Roses front man Axl Rose loved the place so much, he once whiled away six hours there; Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher famously tried to buy it during a 2002 tour down under; and when Lady Gaga wanted to host her 4th of July party there in 2012 she was turned away because The Cherry refused to bump an existing booking for local band Jackson Firebird.</p> <p>Now that’s rock ‘n’ roll.</p> <p><strong>4. The Daly Waters Pub, NT</strong></p> <p>Looking for an Aussie outback pub dripping with character?</p> <p>The Daly Waters Pub, around 600km south of Darwin along the Stuart Highway to Alice Springs, claims to have “witnessed murders, shoot-outs in the main street, cattle stampeding through town and the odd drunken brawls”.</p> <p>It’s also haunted by the ghost of a woman named Sarah who was murdered by her husband.</p> <p>Oh, and female visitors are invited to ‘leave their mark’ by removing their bra and hanging it from the ceiling, a tradition that began in the early ’80s over a lost bet and continues to this day.</p> <p>It’s not limited to just ladies’ undergarments. Literally anything can be left pinned to any available surface.</p> <p>Half the fun of a Daly Waters Pub stopover (besides the swimming pool and the superb ‘beef ‘n’ barra’ dining option) is to browse through the memorabilia of thousands of previous visitors.</p> <p>What will you choose to leave behind?  </p> <p><em>Written by Greg Barton. This article first appeared in <span><a href="http://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/iconic-aussie-pubs-you-cannot-afford-miss">Reader’s Digest</a></span>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <span><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestsubscribe?utm_source=readersdigest&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;utm_medium=display&amp;keycode=WRA85S">here’s our best subscription offer</a></span>.</em></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

Domestic Travel

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Severe weather warnings in place as temperatures soar

<p>Forecasters have warned Aussies of a “wild day of weather” as above-average temperatures, rain, 100km-plus gales and even blizzards are forecasted. <br />Tasmania is expected to be hit with “vigorous and damaging” gusts of up to 100km/h. </p> <p><br />The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a severe warning for the Western, Upper Derwent Valley, South East and parts of East Coast, Central Plateau and Midlands areas today.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">⚠️ Severe Weather Warning issued for Damaging <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Winds?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Winds</a> for Western and Southern <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Tasmania?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Tasmania</a> for Wednesday morning and early afternoon. See <a href="https://t.co/lu3PDZ9GbE">https://t.co/lu3PDZ9GbE</a> for details and updates; <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Hobart?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Hobart</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/weather?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#weather</a> <a href="https://t.co/lJW3P9PkP2">pic.twitter.com/lJW3P9PkP2</a></p> — Bureau of Meteorology, Tasmania (@BOM_Tas) <a href="https://twitter.com/BOM_Tas/status/1039311209135316992?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 11, 2018</a></blockquote> <p><br />Last night a cold front crossed Tasmania overnight, followed by a trough to cross Tasmania this morning. The windy conditions will continue to Thursday in the North-West, with showers contracting to the West and easing during the day. Friday will be mostly fine, with temperatures heating back up to the high teens. </p> <p>Hobart is expected to reach a maximum of 15 degrees today and 17C tomorrow. </p> <p><br />The wild weather follows many states encountering a burst of warm weather yesterday. </p> <p><br />Yesterday, Townsville had a top 27C and will rise to 29C towards the end of the week. Brisbane will experience 24C today, which will rise to 27C on the weekend. </p> <p><br />Today, Sydneysiders will experience 28C in the CBD which will drop back to 22C the following day. <br />Yesterday, South Australia also encountered wild winds, with winds of 80-85km/h hitting Cleve, Whyalla, Roseworthy, Edinburgh and Hindmarsh. Today, South Australia is forecasted a high of just 16C. </p> <p><br />The Northern Territory will continue to experience warm weather with a high of 33C today and 35C on Friday. </p> <p><br />In the west of the country in Perth, temperatures have already fallen and the cloudy skies are expected to continue until the weekend. </p>

Domestic Travel

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Harry and Meghan’s Aussie tour schedule revealed: Where you can meet the royals

<p>Next month, Aussie royal fans will have the special opportunity to get close to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex during their Australian tour.</p> <p>Last night, Kensington Palace announced that Prince Harry and Meghan will visit Sydney, Melbourne, Dubbo and Fraser Island during their tour.</p> <p>The couple’s visit is centred around the 2018 Sydney Invictus Games, the international sporting event for injured and ill veterans that was founded by Prince Harry.</p> <p>The couple will arrive in Sydney on October 16 for a day and then they will spend October 17 in Dubbo, in rural New South Wales.</p> <p>Harry and Meghan will then head to Melbourne on October 18, before returning to Sydney for the Invictus Games from October 19-21.</p> <p>The opening ceremony for the games will be held on October 20.</p> <p>On October 22, the royals will travel to Fraser Island in Queensland to see a completed Queen’s Canopy project, which aims to restore rainforests across the Commonwealth.</p> <p>Harry and Meghan will then visit Fiji and Tonga, before returning to Sydney on October 26, so they can attend the Invictus Games closing ceremony the following day.</p> <p>It is expected the couple will have time allocated in their itinerary to visit community groups involved with young people, focusing on employment, training and community leadership.</p> <p>Royal spectators also expect that the newlyweds will take time to visit a community group that assists farmers struggling with the drought.</p> <p>The 16-day tour will mark the couple’s first major international tour and there will be several opportunities for the public to see the royals.</p> <p>Kensington Palace revealed in a statement that the governments of Australia and New Zealand had invited the couple to visit. </p> <p>At the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK, the royals will also visit Fiji and Tonga.</p> <p>“The programme across these four Commonwealth countries will focus on youth leadership, environmental and conservation efforts — including the dedication of several new Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy projects — and the recovery and rehabilitation of servicemen and women through the Invictus Games Sydney 2018,” a spokesperson said last night.</p> <p>Following the Invictus Games closing ceremony in Sydney, the royals will travel to Wellington on October 28.</p> <p>It is expected Harry and Meghan will meet New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden and her newborn Neve Te Aroha during their time in the country.</p> <p>The pair will visit Abel Tasman National Park in New Zealand on October 29 and then head to Auckland on the 30th.</p> <p>To conclude their trip, Harry and Meghan will visit Rotura in New Zealand on October 31 before heading home.</p> <p>Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that he is looking forward to welcoming Prince Harry and Meghan into Australia.</p> <p>“Their visit will be an opportunity to promote the incredible achievements of Invictus athletes from around the world, and showcase Australian programmes promoting youth leadership, environmental and conservation efforts,’’ he said.</p>

Domestic Travel

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Bad news for drought-stricken farmers

<p>Australia’s weather forecasters are predicting that warmer and drier than average conditions will continue well into spring across NSW.</p> <p>The Bureau of Meteorology’s 2018 Spring Outlook will offer no reprieve for our nation’s drought-stricken farmers, who have already struggled through the 12th driest winter on record.</p> <p>Drought conditions are expected to intensify across eastern Australia as the temperature is likely to be warmer than usual in spring.</p> <p>“A drier and warmer than average spring would likely mean intensification of the existing drought conditions across parts of eastern Australia and an increase in bushfire potential,” the BoM says in its outlook, released Thursday.</p> <p>“Much of eastern and southern mainland Australia has experienced a very dry winter and start to the year, so an outlook with increased chances of drier conditions indicates areas currently experiencing drought are less likely to see significant respite in the coming three months.”</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Spring?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Spring</a> 2018 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BOMOutlook?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BOMOutlook</a> now available: below-average rainfall and warmer than average days/nights likely for most of Australia 🌧️ 🏞️ 🌏 🌡️ View the outlook for your location (now with increased forecast resolution) &amp; full video at <a href="https://t.co/uiBc8gq6s3">https://t.co/uiBc8gq6s3</a>. <a href="https://t.co/VrqmKlviqp">pic.twitter.com/VrqmKlviqp</a></p> — Bureau of Meteorology, Australia (@BOM_au) <a href="https://twitter.com/BOM_au/status/1034957622787694592?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 30, 2018</a></blockquote> <p>Andrew Watkins, manager of long-range forecasts at the BoM, told <em><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/aug/30/no-relief-for-farmers-as-bom-predicts-spring-heatwave">The Guardian</a></em> that some parts of Australia had received less than half of their average rainfall in winter, with spring looking like it will bring similar dry conditions.</p> <p>“We might expect to see summer start a little early this year in many places, a chance of an early heatwave is certainly on the cards for southern and south-eastern parts of Australia,” Mr Watkins said.</p> <p>“Unfortunately no area is looking at good odds of above average rainfall, particularly in south-eastern Australia.”</p> <p>Last month, 100 per cent of NSW was declared to be in drought after a winter that was among the state’s top five driest.</p>

Domestic Travel

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Twin toddlers centimetres from deadly snake: Can you spot it?

<p>An Australian mum has accidentally captured on camera the scary moment her twin toddlers were centimetres from life-threatening danger.</p> <p>Victorian mum Stacee Carter and her partner Jack took their 16-month-old daughters on a bushwalk in the Kings Billabong Park, when they unknowingly came across a suspected brown snake.</p> <p>Although her daughters were unharmed, Stacee discovered how close a snake had come to her little girls without her even realising at the time.</p> <p>The mother posted the photo on Facebook as a warning to other parents to be watchful as the warm weather approaches. Can you spot the snake?</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 500px; height:317.0347003154574px;" src="/media/7820431/1.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/06186c3e7f7a446487fb821b45d0b9c7" /></p> <p>The brown snake is considered the world’s second-most venomous land snake and is responsible for 60 per cent of snakebite deaths in Australia.</p> <p>“Makes me sick to my stomach, we are so thankful and blessed our babies are safe and home with us,” Stacee wrote on Facebook.</p> <p>“We had a guardian angel or two looking after them today.”</p> <p>The brown snake was close behind the second daughter, on the left of the photo.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 500px; height:332.01892744479494px;" src="/media/7820432/2.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/002bde37f1f144d49b88b5fb444573a8" /></p> <p>The mum said the incident won’t deter the family from going on a bushwalk but has taught them to be more careful.</p> <p>“Obviously, you think about what could have happened and your mind plays a few scenarios, we just have to be more careful next time, hot or not,” she told <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/2018/08/23/15/16/victorian-mum-accidently-snaps-moment-bushwalk-turned-sinister?ocid=Social-9News">nine.com.au</a></strong></span>.</p> <p>“It's that season again and contrary to what people think they are often curious of noise and will go and check it out. Looks like this guy was on a mission, so glad you were all ok,” one woman commented on the photo. </p>

Domestic Travel

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Good news for drought-stricken farmers: Extreme rain about to hit

<p>A burst of rain is set to drench the east coast of Australia, bringing a month’s worth of rain in just two days.</p> <p>According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the rain will hit New South Wales on Friday as the system makes its way across Australia, with drought-stricken farmers in NSW having a 90 per cent chance of receiving rain.</p> <p>The system, which progressed across southern parts of WA, is forecast to hit South Australia before turning across to NSW and Queensland.</p> <p>Sydney is expected to have a much-needed 50mm of rainfall across the weekend.  </p> <p>Sydney has received only 1.4mm of rain in the month of August so far, with the average rainfall for this time of year being around 55mm.</p> <p>Tamworth and surrounding areas will have between a 75 and 90 per cent chance of rain, with 80mm of rain expected to fall in northern New South Wales.</p> <p>Brisbane is forecast to receive 40mm of rain and 65mm on the Gold Coast.  </p> <p>The burst of rain is also expected to hit Tasmania and southern parts of Victoria, but it is likely Melbourne will miss most of the showers.</p> <p>Sky News meteorologist Rob Sharpe told <a href="https://www.news.com.au"><strong><u>news.com.au</u></strong></a> the system will lead to a “big area of rain”.</p> <p>“A front is progressing across southern parts of WA and then as that moves into South Australia, a low pressure system developing will move up and into inland areas,” he said.</p> <p>“Moving with it is a fair but of upper cold air that will lead to thunderstorms.”</p> <p>The rain is expected to increase once the system makes it way to the east coast.</p> <p>“As we move into Friday, this system will run into moisture in the east so rain will develop along the coast and Tablelands.”</p> <p>The area of rain could stretch from the Victorian border, up the entirety of the NSW coast and finally easing north of Brisbane around Rockhampton.</p> <p>“There will big areas of rain right across eastern and central parts of NSW, southern parts of Queensland. Into Monday, that will still bring rain into Gippsland and eastern Tasmania.”</p> <p>Before the rains hit, the south east coast of Australia will battle through a chilly week. </p>

Domestic Travel

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Farewell Indian Pacific – now I’m addicted to train travel

<p><strong><em>Justine Tyerman completes a four-part series about her journey on the famous trans-continental Indian Pacific train from Perth to Sydney. On day 4 of her epic 4352km, three-night, four-day trip from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, Justine goes hiking in the spectacular Blue Mountains, and soon after she disembarks in Sydney, she already has the next train trip lined up…</em></strong></p> <p>My last day on the Indian Pacific trip from Perth to Sydney was spent off the train amid the stunning landscape of the Blue Mountains National Park, 80kms inland from Sydney. In fact, it was here at Katoomba Station that we said our fond farewells to the Indian Pacific train and many of the passengers who continued direct to Sydney. The rest of us caught a commuter train to the city later in the day where we were reunited with our luggage.</p> <p>Desperate for some exercise after days of sitting and consuming alarming quantities of delicious food, I chose to do a hike rather than the Scenic World attractions at Katoomba, a series of thrilling experiences I can highly recommend from an earlier trip with my family.</p> <p>The Prince Henry cliff track between Katoomba and Echo Point was a two-hour guided hike with Blue Mountains Guides, Mark and Dylan, a couple of awesome, funny and extremely knowledgeable guys who love showing visitors around their ‘backyard’ – the Blue Mountains UNESCO World Heritage area, part of the Blue Mountains National Park. The park covers an area of 267,954-hectares, an uplifted sedimentary plateau, 1215 metres above sea level at its highest point.</p> <p>Like most patriotic Kiwis, I am reluctant to rave about Australian scenery but the Blue Mountains are an exception - the Katoomba Cascades and Wentworth Falls, sheer cliffs and sandstone escarpments hundreds of metres high and the beautiful forested Jamison Valley are jaw-dropping.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em><img style="width: 500px; height:375px;" src="/media/7820352/1-the-iconic-three-sisters-rock-formation-glowing-in-the-winter-sun.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/0c1a9912b00e4093b0b226af6c91e2d9" /></em></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The iconic Three Sisters rock formation glowing in the winter sun.</em></p> <p>At Echo Point, the famous Three Sisters rock formation was bathed in sunshine. A few years ago, we scaled the perpendicular stone and steel steps of the Giant Stairway to a platform cut into the ‘tummy’ of the first sister. Standing 922m, 918m and 906m tall, the Three Sisters are a truly astonishing sight especially on a clear winter day when the blueness of the Blue Mountains is at its most vivid.</p> <p>Geology tells us the sisters were formed by erosion of the sandstone over many millennia by the wind, rain and rivers which are gradually breaking down the cliffs surrounding the Jamison Valley.</p> <p>However, I prefer the Aboriginal legend which tells of three beautiful sisters - Meehni, Wimlah and Gunnedoo - who lived in the valley as members of the Katoomba tribe. They fell in love with three men from a neighbouring tribe (the Nepean tribe), but marriage was forbidden by tribal law.</p> <p>The brothers were unhappy about this and decided to use force to capture the sisters. A major tribal battle ensued, and the sisters were turned to stone by an elder in order to protect them, but he was killed in the fighting and no one else could turn them back.</p> <p>Meanwhile, at Scenic World, our fellow train passengers plummeted 310 metres down the world's steepest scenic railway through a natural rock tunnel to an old coal mining site, hiked through a Jurassic forest on the valley floor exploring relics of the 1880s mining era, glided back up the sheer cliff face to the top of the plateau in a huge 84-person cable car and then took a ride in the glass-bottomed ‘Skyway’, 270 dizzying metres above the Jamison Valley and the Katoomba Falls. Adrenalin-pumping stuff!</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 0px; height:0px;" src="/nothing.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/272be71415e24cca81d47cc430e4e976" /><img style="width: 500px; height:281.25px;" src="/media/7820353/image_.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/272be71415e24cca81d47cc430e4e976" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The Katoomba escarpment overlooking the spectacular Blue Mountains and Jamison Valley.</em></p> <p>After a delicious lunch at Katoomba and a few toasts to our outstanding Indian Pacific experience, I boarded an ordinary train back to Sydney, feeling quite bereft. No more cosy cabin, convivial Outback Explorer Lounge or five-star Queen Adelaide restaurant just down the hall.</p> <p>To prolong the magic, I read all the literature I had been storing up for when I got bored on the Indian Pacific... which never happened.</p> <p>The history of train travel across Australia is a fascinating read. In 1917, after decades of debate between Australian states, a coast-to-coast rail line was completed. However the track was made up of three rail gauges which necessitated a different train for each section of line. As a consequence, passengers from Sydney to Perth had to change trains five times to complete their journey.</p> <p>It was not until 1969 that a standard gauge railway line from Sydney to Perth was completed. A competition was then held to find an appropriate name for the transcontinental train. Henry Roach’s ‘Indian Pacific’ was chosen as the winner because it perfectly expressed how the rail track joins the Indian Ocean in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east.</p> <p>On February 23, 1970, the newly-christened Indian Pacific departed from Sydney’s Central Station on its first unbroken journey across the continent. Four days later, a cheering crowd of 10,000 welcomed the train at East Perth Railway Station.</p> <p>In 1983, the Crystal Brook to Adelaide line was converted to standard gauge allowing the Indian Pacific to operate via Adelaide.</p> <p>In 1996, the ‘Tea and Sugar Train’ between Port Augusta and Forrest ceased operation after 80 years. In its heyday, the train visited 47 communities on a weekly basis to deliver food, mail and other supplies. Every fortnight, a doctor, dentist and social worker would also travel on the train.</p> <p>In 2000, the Indian Pacific carried the Olympic flame from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta as part of the Sydney Olympics Torch Relay.</p> <p>In 2020, the Indian Pacific will celebrate 50 years of service. What a grand occasion that will be.</p> <p>I also read up on statistics about the Indian Pacific. Some were mindboggling… the train carries 3000 litres of water for each carriage and churns through 58 litres of diesel per trip, not to mention 22,000 bottles of wine, 30,000 litres of milk and 37,000 servings of lamb rack, the most popular dish, per year. In total, 715,000 dishes are served in the Queen Adelaide and Platinum Club restaurants each year.</p> <p>Thirty crew look after up to 300 passengers in Platinum and Gold Service, both all-inclusive of onboard meals, beverages and off-train excursions.</p> <p>Platinum Service guests dine in the Platinum Club with flexible dining options for both intimate dinners and large groups.</p> <p>Platinum Service cabins feature day lounges that convert to either double or twin beds by night and en suites equipped with a full-size shower and Appelles toiletries. Platinum passengers have complimentary private transfers to and from the terminal, in-cabin morning tea and optional in-cabin breakfast.</p> <p>Gold Service guests dine in the Queen Adelaide Restaurants and have access to the Outback Explorer Lounges, the social hub of the train, serving Australian wines, beers and spirits.</p> <p>Gold Service twin cabins are equipped with three-seater day lounges that convert to upper and lower sleeping berths at night and compact en suite facilities with Appelles toiletries.</p> <p>Both classes enjoy cabin steward service, in-cabin music and journey commentaries.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 375px; height:500px;" src="/media/7820355/image_.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/1c3a77219e0f4abd83191704c1ec5e4c" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Saying goodbye to the Indian Pacific train at Katoomba Station.</em></p> <p>The average Indian Pacific train length is 731 metres weighing 1390 tonnes, pulled by one diesel electric GE 7FDL-16 locomotive from Perth to Adelaide and two from Adelaide to Sydney to handle the mountainous terrain. Annually the Indian Pacific covers 452,608kms, the equivalent of travelling around the world eleven times.</p> <p>The logo on the carriages is the wedge-tailed eagle, Australia’s largest eagle. Its massive 2.3m wingspan is a metaphor for the journey that spans a continent.</p> <p>It was a strange sensation to disembark at Sydney’s bustling Central Station and farewell my NAMs who were by this time OAMs (Old Aussie Mates). It took some time for the ground to stop swaying beneath my feet and for me to re-engage my brain and take charge of my life again.</p> <p>The traffic, people, high-rise buildings, asphalt, noise and neon lights jangled at my senses and I wanted to take refuge back on the Indian Pacific.</p> <p>The four-day trip was blissfully easy and shamelessly self-indulgent – no meals to cook, housework to do, laundry to wash, gardens to weed, lawns to mow, deadlines to meet or decisions about which direction to take. It’s the most leisurely, stress-free, luxurious way to travel for people of all ages – family groups, friends, couples, the young, the not-so-young and the in-betweens. I could just imagine the fun a group of friends or family would have on such a trip. I can also see how a long-haul train journey like this leads to another . . . and another . . . It’s addictive.</p> <p>I certainly haven’t got the Aussie Outback out of my system yet. In fact just the other day, I contacted Rail Plus and booked The Ghan, another epic trans-Australian train journey, this time from Darwin to Adelaide. Then there’s the Trans-Siberian, the Orient Express, the Silk Road and the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland… the possibilities are endless, and oh so tantalising.</p> <p><em>Read Justine’s account of <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/domestic-travel/what-it-s-like-travelling-across-australia-on-board-the-indian-pacific">Day 1</a></strong></span>,<span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong> <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/domestic-travel/on-board-the-indian-pacific-the-magic-of-the-nullarbor">Day 2</a></strong></span></em> and <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><em><a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/domestic-travel/indian-pacific-off-train-excursions-highlight-of-train-journey">Day 3</a></em></strong></span><em> of the Indian Pacific.</em></p> <p><em>Justine Tyerman was a guest of Rail Plus and Great Southern Rail.</em></p> <p><em>* The <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.railplus.co.nz/australia-by-rail/australias-great-train-journeys/indian-pacific/itinerary.htm">Indian Pacific</a></strong></span> is a four-day, three-night 4,352km, 65-hour journey from Sydney on the Pacific Ocean to Perth on the Indian Ocean and vice versa operated twice a week by Great Southern Rail; and is one of many great train journeys offered by Rail Plus.</em></p> <p><em>* Visit <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.railplus.co.nz/great-train-journeys/">Rail Plus</a></strong></span> for more info on this and other epic train adventures around the world: or call 09 377 5415</em></p>

Domestic Travel

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Indian Pacific: Off-train excursions highlight of train journey

<p><strong><em>Justine Tyerman continues her journey on the famous trans-continental Indian Pacific train from Perth to Sydney. On Day 3 of her epic 4352km, three-night, four-day trip across Australia, she visits the South Australian capital of Adelaide, learns the tragic story of two early explorers and meets a couple of drag queens… </em></strong></p> <p>The Indian Pacific was cruising sedately into Adelaide when I woke up on day 3 of my train journey across Australia from Perth to Sydney. Before boarding coaches to explore the city, we farewelled barman Brendan, hostess Nikki, dining room manager Mario and others who had looked after us so well since boarding in Perth. They were taking a break before heading north on the Ghan and we picked up a new crew for the Adelaide to Sydney leg of the journey.</p> <p>I managed to have a quick chat to Brendan before disembarking.</p> <p>He was such a delightful, gregarious fellow, and a whiz at making cocktails so it came as a surprise to find he’d only been behind the bar since April. Prior to this, he was studying for his masters in social work at Flinders University and before that he was teaching maths and science to years 7-10 and in Townsville.</p> <p>He enjoyed teaching and study but loves his new job.</p> <p>“On the train, I work with wonderful, caring, talented people and brilliant guests who are always seeking fun, happiness and good times,” said Brendan.</p> <p>“It’s great being involved in creating fun memories for guests and new friends in what is really a unique atmosphere, and watching passengers build relationships with each other. Everyone arrives as strangers and leaves as friends.</p> <p>“I work on the Ghan as well as the Indian Pacific so I get to see Australia and explore fantastic, scenic places. It’s an awesome job,” he said.</p> <p>“I’ll see you on the Ghan in September,” I said as I thanked him, hopped off the train and onto our smart tour bus. He thought I was kidding!</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 500px; height: 333.33333333333337px;" src="/media/7820238/1-the-famous-adelaide-oval.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/3dbecbc48cae4166af281a0335135969" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The famous Adelaide Oval.</em></p> <p>Australia’s capital of festivals and the arts, Adelaide is a most attractive, well-designed city encircled by beautiful parks. Historic buildings like St Peters Cathedral have been carefully-preserved and the lovely River Torrens adds a tranquil feel to the busy metropolis. After an informative bus tour of the city and the option of exploring Adelaide’s fresh produce market, we enjoyed a lavish breakfast at the famous Adelaide Oval. The cricket buffs amongst us were frothing at the mouth with excitement. I watched a team of groundsmen meticulously grooming and conditioning the grass in preparation for the season ahead and envisaged the stands full of excited fans.</p> <p>No disrespect to lovely Adelaide but after two days in the Outback, I felt oddly resentful at the intrusion of civilisation into my bubble. I breathed a sigh of relief when we returned to the Indian Pacific and I snuggled into my cabin, waiting for the next phase of the trip through South Australia and New South Wales.</p> <p>Travelling north though the state’s green and gold fruit-bowl with vast windfarms on the horizon, we skirted the fringes of the Barossa Valley, a world-class wine-growing area famous for its shiraz. Passengers on the Sydney to Perth trip can take a tour of the region’s world-class boutique wineries and dine at a vineyard. I envied my NAMs (new Aussie mates) who were doing the journey both ways.</p> <p>We zipped through settlements rich in history like Peterborough in the wheat-lands, population about 1500. The rail line through Peterborough was once the busiest single track of railway in the world. A huge number of trains loaded with freight and ore, and the Ghan carrying passengers to and from Darwin, all passed through the town. A record was achieved in 1923 with 102 trains in a 24-hour period. An original 1880s Y Class locomotive sits alongside the track as a reminder of the steam-driven era.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="/media/7820240/image_.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/6af1109e83294bef84d3f5cbdd31e9d9" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The Indian Pacific near Port Augusta with the Flinders Ranges in the background.</em></p> <p>The cuisine on board the train was outstanding every day but lunch on day 3 was exceptional – a chicken salad with pistachio, currants, red onion, lemon rocket, pearl couscous topped with mint yoghurt dressing followed by rhubarb parfait with figs, honey ricotta ice-cream and praline. The Vasse Felix Filius chardonnay from Margaret River was a superb accompaniment, along with a lively political debate with a couple of retired school teachers.</p> <p>The landscape here was not as relentlessly flat as the Nullarbor and featured a few mulga trees and an undulating horizon. Somewhere near the Outback town of Manna Hill, home to about 66 people, I spotted a few kangaroos, emus and something that looked like a camel shimmering in the distance… but no one else saw it so it may have been a mirage.</p> <p>After lunch, my NAMs drew my attention to a plaque on the wall in the Outback Lounge. It told the tragic story of explorers Robert O’Hara Burke and William John Wills who set off in 1860 with the objective of crossing Australia from Melbourne in the south, to the Gulf of Carpentaria in the north, a distance of 3250 kilometres. At the time there was much fervour for epic journeys of exploration. Most of the inland of Australia had not been explored by non-indigenous people and was largely unknown to European settlers.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 500px; height: 333.33333333333337px;" src="/media/7820241/3-passengers-enjoying-drinks-and-listening-to-mattie-in-the-outback-explorer-lounge-before-the-dancing-began.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/feab4d21e80549a6ada044b71caa131b" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Passengers enjoying drinks and listening to Mattie in the Outback Explorer Lounge… before the dancing began.</em></p> <p>The expedition team of 15 men, 26 camels, 26 horses, many wagons, 6 tonnes of firewood and enough food for two years left Melbourne on August 20, 1860 amid much fanfare. Bad weather, poor roads and broken-down wagons meant they made slow progress at first.</p> <p>Burke took an advanced party on to Coopers Creek and waited for the majority of the supplies to follow under the supervision of William Wright. But Burke was a man with a mission in a hurry to get to the Gulf of Carpentaria. So he departed with Wills, John King and Charles Gray on December 16 leaving most of the stores behind with four men who were instructed to wait three months until they returned.</p> <p>A diary note on March 28 1861 documented that salt water marshes stopped the explorers from reaching the open ocean at the gulf so they began the retreat just short of their destination.</p> <p>The return trip was plagued by delays and monsoon rains and the death of Gray from scurvy, apparently because the lime juice had been left behind.</p> <p>When they reached Cooper Creek on April 21, 1861, they found the camp had been abandoned just hours earlier. Wright had never arrived with the main supplies but some stores had been buried in a box under a tree marked with the word ‘DIG’.</p> <p>Rather than try to catch up with the rest of the party, Burke decided to make for Mount Hopeless. A relief party was sent to the site but did not find a note left by Burke.</p> <p>With their provisions and strength failing, Burke and Wills died in late June 1861. In September 1861, a search party found the Irish soldier John King living with Aboriginal people who had fed and sheltered him.</p> <p>The remains of Burke and Wills were discovered and returned to Melbourne for a public funeral in January 1863.</p> <p>At some point in the afternoon, the Indian Pacific crossed the path of their doomed expedition. Looking at the unforgiving landscape, I shuddered to think of the men perishing out there in the wilderness.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="/media/7820242/image_.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/312416c22e61499e8a0043e7be5ea9c8" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The Indian Pacific near Broken Hill at dawn.</em></p> <p>Just as I was about to slip into my customary post-prandial reverie, our guitarist Mattie started tuning up in the lounge. In no time, his ‘fan club’ were singing and dancing in the aisle like a bunch of teenagers at a rock concert.</p> <p>Before I joined them in the ‘mush pit’, I stood at the end of the carriage and looked around the animated faces of my fellow passengers and NAMs who just three short days ago, were strangers to each other. Quite apart from the extraordinary landscapes we witnessed, the trip is an exceptionally social experience – a veritable party on rails with exquisite cuisine and cocktails included. It was hugely enjoyable even without close friends but with a carriage load of old mates, it would be quite a celebration. A great way to mark a 60<sup>th</sup>… or even an 80<sup>th</sup> as some of our fellow passengers were doing.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="/nothing.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/1f42c0143dbb4c2baabab412b3f05874" /><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="/nothing.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/27625e741e2843349a0257e74f8af661" /><img style="width: 500px; height: 333.75670335873554px;" src="/media/7820244/5-the-miners-memorial-at-broken-hill-an-off-train-excursion-for-those-travelling-from-sydney-to-perth.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/27625e741e2843349a0257e74f8af661" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The Miners Memorial at Broken Hill, an off-train excursion for those travelling from Sydney to Perth.</em></p> <p>When we crossed into New South Wales, we lost a few hours and pulled into Broken Hill in darkness. Like many Outback towns, Broken Hill was built on precious metals. In 1883, silver, lead and zinc were discovered here, deposits that proved to be the largest and richest in the world. Broken Hill, known as ‘Silver City’, holds the distinction of being Australia’s oldest mining city. It’s also the base for the legendary Royal Flying Doctor Service and School of the Air.</p> <p>The choices of off-train excursions at Broken Hill had me in a dither. I could opt for culture at the regional art gallery and the world’s largest acrylic painting by local artist Ando, or attend a live drag queen show. When I discovered that the cult movie Priscilla, Queen of the Desert was filmed right there at the Palace Hotel in Broken Hill in 1994, it was no contest. ‘The Main Drag’, starring the brash and brassy Shelita and Christina, was hugely entertaining. The high-energy, up-tempo show totally blew me away and had the audience singing, clapping and participating in no time. The glitzy, sequinned costumes, garish wigs and make-up worn by the two strapping local lads, one an accountant and the other a teacher by day, were hilariously OTT - their eyelashes were so long and thick, I’m surprised they could see at all and their stilettos were so high, they were like stilts.</p> <p>From the moment Shelita and Christina sashayed onto the stage with a couple of dancers, they wowed the audience.</p> <p>Their opening remarks set the outrageous tone for the show:</p> <p>“Welcome to the Main Drag! Firstly there are some simple rules of engagement. Flash photography is strictly…  mandatory!</p> <p>“Do we look gorgeous? Do we look beautiful? Do we look sexy? Well drink up! The more you drink, the prettier we look! Oh come on, you have to spend a lot of money to look as cheap as this.”</p> <p>With scenes from Priscilla projected on the wall above the stage, the girls sang well-known hits from the movie like ‘I will survive,’ ‘Hey, big spender’ and ‘I love the nightlife’ to the delight of the audience.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 363.6191915375897px; height: 500px;" src="/media/7820245/6-justine-with-shelita-and-christina-after-the-main-drag-show-at-the-palace-hotel-in-broken-hill.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/70fb0e2a729d406697002fe62e3fdda9" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Justine with Shelita and Christina after the Main Drag show at the Palace Hotel in Broken Hill.</em></p> <p>After the show, I had a look around the grand old Palace Hotel. It’s an icon in its own right with grandiose murals on the walls and ceilings including a copy of Botticelli's Venus – quite surreal with a disco ball lighting effect.</p> <p>Dinner that evening was divine – as usual, there were three or four choices at each course which was always the hardest decision of the day. The lamb shoulder slow cooked in honey and black vinegar looked very tempting but I opted for carrot and coriander soup to leave room for the Hunter Valley beef fillet with Pacific oyster sabayon sauce, and blood orange meringue tart with wild berry salsa. The tart had a handmade chocolate pastry case. It was dreamy.</p> <p>The 80<sup>th</sup> birthday party celebrations continued in the lounge long after I retired. Such energy!</p> <p><em>Read Justine’s account of <span><strong><a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/domestic-travel/what-it-s-like-travelling-across-australia-on-board-the-indian-pacific">Day 1</a></strong></span> and <span><strong><a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/domestic-travel/on-board-the-indian-pacific-the-magic-of-the-nullarbor">Day 2</a></strong></span> of the Indian Pacific. </em></p> <p><em>To be continued… Look out for the final part of the Indian Pacific travel series next Wednesday. </em></p> <p><em>Justine Tyerman was a guest of Rail Plus and Great Southern Rail.</em></p> <p><em>* The Indian Pacific is a four-day, three-night 4,352km, 65-hour journey from Sydney to Perth and vice versa operated twice a week by Great Southern Rail. <a href="https://www.railplus.co.nz/australia-by-rail/australias-great-train-journeys/indian-pacific/itinerary.htm"><strong><u>Find more information here.</u></strong> </a></em><span><a href="https://www.railplus.co.nz/australia-by-rail/australias-great-train-journeys/indian-pacific/itinerary.htm"></a></span></p>

Domestic Travel

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Stay indoors: Huge dust storm could hit this city tomorrow

<p><em>A huge dust storm hit Sydney in September 2009. The Double Bay marina is covered in a red haze on September 23, 2009. </em></p> <p> </p> <p>Sydney could be hit with dust storms from Wednesday as winds pick up and temperatures rise ahead of a cold front.</p> <p>Parts of south-western NSW was “sand blasted” by swirling winds and conditions are so dry that most of the winter crop has failed to grow, reports <strong><em><u><a href="https://www.smh.com.au/environment/weather/sand-blasted-large-dust-storm-may-hit-sydney-ahead-of-cold-front-20180813-p4zx8d.html">Sydney Morning Herald.</a> </u></em></strong></p> <p>A strengthening cold weather front this week means the dust could be carried to the NSW coast, possibly creating a similar dust storm to 2009 when Sydney’s skyline turned red.</p> <p>David Wilke, duty forecaster at the Bureau of Meteorology, said although it was more likely that areas in western NSW hit will be hit by dust storms, it was possible the storm could hit Sydney.</p> <p>“The next strong cold front will likely come at the end of this week but there is a weaker front at the moment and we do have very dry conditions,” Mr Wilke said.</p> <p>Cold front often lead to dust storms as warm columns of air lift and carry particles from dry areas, Mr Wilke explained.</p> <p>Most of the dust in NSW is from south-western Queensland and South Australia, both of which are particularly dry. All of NSW was declared in drought last week.</p> <p>Australia has experienced its driest July since 2002, and the driest autumn since 1902.</p>

Domestic Travel

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“Unusually” severe weather warning for three Aussie states

<p>Three Aussie states are being warned of an “unusually” long spell of severe weather, as a fierce cold front is forecasted to move across the country’s southeast.</p> <p>South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania are expected to be hit with dust, thunder, hail, fierce winds and cold temperatures from today.</p> <p>Forecasters have said the weather will be “terrible” for the weekend, with winds of up to 100km/h already being reported.</p> <p>The Bureau of Meteorology released a series of severe weather warnings early today for the three states, as they are all in the cold front’s path.</p> <p>Last night, South Australia was the first to be hit with the severe weather, with wind gusts of 89km/h recorded at Port Lincoln and Strathalbyn.</p> <p>“A cold front will enter the far west of the state (on Thursday) evening, reaching Nullarbor around midnight. The front will continue to move east over central and eastern districts on Friday,” the bureau said in a statement.</p> <p>“Well ahead of the front, north- to north-westerly winds averaging 50-65km/h with isolated damaging gusts of 90-100km/h are forecast to develop.”</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">Northerly winds are expected to increase on Friday ahead of a front and there is some risk of low-end damaging winds occurring in parts of the warning area. Check details at: <a href="https://t.co/09ed7fDrM2">https://t.co/09ed7fDrM2</a> <a href="https://t.co/K3fqY1NIwR">pic.twitter.com/K3fqY1NIwR</a></p> — Bureau of Meteorology, South Australia (@BOM_SA) <a href="https://twitter.com/BOM_SA/status/1027394794639839232?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 9, 2018</a></blockquote> <p>Although Adelaide will not experience the worst of the cold front, the city will still be hit with strong gusts.</p> <p>This morning, Victoria also experienced ferocious winds, with gusts reaching 111km/h at Mount William at 2 am and 87km/h at Melbourne Airport at 4:24am.</p> <p>Yesterday, BOM Victoria senior meteorologist Stephen King said the winds would last the entire day.</p> <p>“A windy day coming up on Friday,” he said.</p> <p>“But by the time people wake up there will be winds across most of Victoria with destructive winds in Alpine regions up to 130km/h while elsewhere wind gusts of 90 to 100km/h from first thing and right through most of the day.</p> <p>“That’s what is unusual about this event. That it will be for a significant amount of time — a good 12 hours — and across a really widespread area.”</p> <p>The winds are also expected to carry dust through Victoria and possibly into Melbourne.</p> <p>“We had some raised dust in the Mallee a few weeks ago and there is again the possibility that dust could make its way through to Victoria or into Melbourne,” Mr King said.</p> <p>“There will be quite miserable weather across all of Victoria on Saturday with widespread shower activity and the possibility of hail and thunder,” he said.</p> <p>Tasmania is also expected to experience miserable weather this weekend, with the BOM revealing that a vigorous north-westerly wind will develop on Saturday.</p> <p>There is also a possibility of flooding in the southeast of Tasmania, due to abnormally high tides coinciding with a king tide in the evening. </p>

Domestic Travel

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On board the Indian Pacific: The magic of the Nullarbor

<p><strong><em>Justine Tyerman continues her journey on the famous trans-continental Indian Pacific train from Perth to Sydney. On Day 2 of her epic 4352km, three-night, four-day trip from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, she hears and sees ghosts… </em></strong></p> <p>When hostess Nikki knocked on my cabin door at 5.40am on Day 2 of my Indian Pacific train journey across Australia, I seriously regretted agreeing to such an early call on a chilly winter morning. But then I squinted through a slit in the venetian blinds and witnessed a magical sight - dawn on the Nullarbor Plain. Suddenly wide awake, I leapt from my cosy bed, pulled on every merino and down thing I could find in my case, and bolted down the corridor, hooking my camera strap on the cabin door handle in my haste and almost decapitating myself.</p> <p>The train had stopped at the Outback settlement of Rawlinna for a sunrise breakfast and the early birds among my fellow passengers were already outside, huddled around a series of open fires burning brightly in half drums. Our onboard entertainer Mattie was playing a lively rendition of the Indian Pacific theme song:</p> <p><em>From the waters of the western sea to the eastern ocean sand, the Indian Pacific spans the land…</em></p> <p>and Nikki was carrying huge trays of delicious bacon and egg sliders, vegemite pinwheels and hot drinks around the hungry masses. I’ve never seen food consumed with such speed and gusto.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 500px; height:281.25px;" src="/media/7820118/image_.jpg?width=500&amp;height=281.25" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/078cc2a215f044289e1e87ec913e52f1" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;">Caption: <em>A farm house belonging to Rawlinna Station, Australia's largest sheep station.</em></p> <p>Rawlinna is home to the largest sheep station in Australia - the 2.5m-acre Rawlinna Station, established in 1962, runs 70,000 sheep. It’s a popular disembarkation spot for jackaroos and jillaroos, young novices looking for experience on Outback farms.</p> <p>With a slider and pinwheel in hand, I took the opportunity to get some much-needed exercise and walked to the tail end of the Indian Pacific, 700 metres away, talking photos of the sunrise from every angle I could think of - including under the train and between the wheels. I’d love to have been an eagle, like the emblem on the carriages, soaring high above the train to get an aerial perspective of the long silver streak against the red earth. A drone would have done the trick!</p> <p>On the Nullarbor, there are virtually no trees and the horizon is dead flat… or ever so slightly curved. The word is derived from the Latin ‘nullus’ meaning nothing or none, and ‘arbor’ meaning tree. Known to the Aboriginal people as ‘Oondiri’ meaning ‘the waterless’, the Nullarbor was created about 25 million years old when it emerged from the sea. The plain is staggering in size covering an area of nearly 20 million hectares, twice the size of England.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 500px; height:281.25px;" src="/media/7820117/image_.jpg?width=500&amp;height=281.25" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/eff378dabcf9456ab869bc9ebcb66e05" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;">Caption: <em>I was mesmerised by the landscape of the Nullarbor.</em></p> <p>For a Kiwi accustomed to landscapes crowded with hills and mountains, the sight of a flat horizon was literally unbelievable. I was staggered by the austerity of the straight line illuminated by the glow of the dawn.</p> <p>It’s the polar opposite of train travel in Switzerland. There the landscape is demanding, constantly yelling ‘Look at me, Look at me’ – you dare not blink let alone go to the bathroom for fear of missing something spectacular. Here there is an absence of anything to focus on. The vast terracotta landscape is scattered with stubbly grey-green vegetation and white rocks as far as the eye can see. The nothingness is soothing.</p> <p>Back onboard, I stayed in my cabin for a while, gazing out the window, hypnotised by the wilderness. The rocking motion and the landscape flickering by was incredibly relaxing and soporific. It gave my busy brain the time and space to wander, drift and range free.</p> <p>It was such a novelty. Nowhere have I experienced such nothing-to-do-ness.</p> <p>There was no wifi and only sporadic internet signal which turned out to be a blessing. There were times when I switched my phone off completely which would have been unheard of at home. No computer, no housework, no laundry, no cooking, no gardening, no deadlines… it was sheer bliss.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 500px; height:281.25px;" src="/media/7820116/image_.jpg?width=500&amp;height=281.25" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/a1f0e10d2d3f401686e676b9054c41f2" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The Indian Pacific streaking across the Outback.</em></p> <p>I also relished the absence of choices. The days were entirely mapped out for me. I didn’t have to navigate or make decisions about what direction to take. I could not possibly get lost on this trip.</p> <p>It seemed to lower my heart rate and allow me to quieten the incessant voices in my head. A feeling of great peace enveloped me.</p> <p>I became so accustomed to the lack of visual stimuli, I nearly leapt out of my skin when I spotted emus and kangaroos fleeing the noisy intrusion of the train. Apparently some camels appeared while I was snoozing- I was quite annoyed with myself for having nodded off.</p> <p>Having missed the camel sighting, I was egged on by my new Aussie mates (NAMs) to sample them for lunch instead. They no doubt thought I’d baulk at the idea but the camel tagine with coconut rice and coriander was very tasty and surprisingly tender. The wild berry, mint and natural yoghurt parfait sprinkled with almond and hazelnut crumble was pretty good too.</p> <p>Mid-afternoon on the second day of our journey, we stopped to take on water and fuel at Cook, population four, in the middle of the Nullarbor.</p> <p>Cook is seriously remote – it’s 1138 km from Adelaide, 1523 km from Perth and 100 km on an unsealed track to the closest major road, the Eyre Highway. The nearest town is Ceduna, a five-hour drive and the local doctor is at Port Augusta, a 12-hour drive.</p> <p>Once a thriving town of 200 residents, Cook is now a ghost town, its school, hospital, tennis courts, swimming pool, golf course, shops and houses lying eerily quiet and empty.</p> <p>Small service settlements like Cook were established 30km apart on most remote sections of track on Nullarbor to support the trans-Australia rail link, completed in 1917. But the town effectively closed down in 1997 when the railway was privatised. As the population dwindled, Aussie humour still prevailed with signs like: ‘If you’re Crook, come to Cook’ and ‘Our hospital needs your help. Get sick.’</p> <p>There’s a long-drop with ‘EFTPOS Here’ written on the corrugated iron wall and ‘Deposits Only’ beside the wooden toilet seat.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 333.3333333333333px; height:500px;" src="/media/7820115/image_.jpg?width=333.3333333333333&amp;height=500" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/3f75c4d30a944f628cab7a71621ef994" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;">Caption: <em>A sign near the abandoned hospital at Cook - 'Our hospital needs your help. Get sick.’</em></p> <p>The town’s twin jail cells were a sobering sight. Built to hold the unlawful or unruly until the next train transported them out, the buildings were matching ‘his’ and her ‘cells’ with a small barred window at the top and a peephole in the padlocked door. With summer temperatures reaching 49 degrees C, imagine the heat inside those corrugated iron boxes. I doubt there was much recidivism!</p> <p>Many of the buildings were condemned so we were warned to steer clear of them. I tried to visualise children running around in the school grounds and the residents playing tennis, golf and swimming in the pool but all I could see and hear were faint shadows and echoes… ghosts perhaps?</p> <p>Others ventured into the desert but over lunch one of my NAMs pointed out the window at the scrub and mentioned the words ‘taipan’ and ‘lots’ in the same sentence so I stuck to the track.</p> <p>The residents were obviously an optimistic bunch. In 1982, volunteers planted 600 saplings in ‘The Greening of Cook’ campaign. A few survived, a testament to their endeavours, and are now the tallest trees on the Nullarbor.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 0px; height:0px;" src="/nothing.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/afadd04e036643c8816b67d06379e017" /><img style="width: 299.9669093315685px; height:500px;" src="/media/7820114/image_.jpg?width=299.9669093315685&amp;height=500" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/afadd04e036643c8816b67d06379e017" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Caption: Justine at Cook on the Nullarbor Plain.</em></p> <p>Cook is located on the longest stretch of straight train track in the world – there are no corners for 478 km from Loongana in Western Australia to Ooldea in South Australia. When the train finally came to a slight bend in the track by late afternoon, I peered out the window and could just make out the tail-end carriage.</p> <p>After Cook, there was even less vegetation but I never once felt tempted to pick up my book. I was contented to chat in the lounge with my NAMs or daydream in my cabin.</p> <p>That’s one of the wonderful aspects about train travel. You can choose to socialise or not as you please. Some passengers enjoyed the solitude and privacy of their cabins while others frequented the lounge and bar from dawn until well after dark.</p> <p>I also enjoyed listening to the stories broadcast on my cabin radio and reading about the colourful characters associated with the history of the train.</p> <p>Daisy Bates was one such person. An Irish immigrant who arrived in the country in 1882, she lived in a tent in Western and South Australia working tirelessly as an advocate for Aboriginal rights against the assimilation policy of the day. Dressed in a long Victorian gown, boots, veil and gloves, she was known as the Great White Queen of the Never Never, and spent 40 years documenting Aboriginal culture, history, beliefs and customs.  </p> <p>Daisy lived for a time at the railway siding at Ooldea and died at the grand old age of 91.</p> <p>When the Aboriginal people first encountered the steam train at Ooldea, they thought it was great white snake carrying wicked spirits.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 0px; height:0px;" src="/nothing.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/54afe32d91df4f44a54e8850f489d763" /><img style="width: 500px; height:281.25px;" src="/media/7820113/image_.jpg?width=500&amp;height=281.25" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/85da58e3ed0c4a61a3637960f7c57006" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;">Caption: <em>Sunset in the desert. What an awesome sight.</em></p> <p>People-watching was another of my favourite pastimes. A couple of mysterious chaps caught my eye. They looked like secret agents in a spy movie and would have fitted well in an Agatha Christie thriller.</p> <p>By dusk, the landscape had changed to undulating red sand dunes dotted with ragged, wind-sculpted gum trees. I watched as the dying sun flickered behind the gums and sank below the horizon. A knock on my door from one of my NAMs signalled it was high time I joined them in the lounge where Mattie was leading a lively singalong session. Barman Brendan was so busy mixing cocktails, his hands were a blur.</p> <p>Dinner was another delicious feast with three or four choices for each of the three courses – the highlight for me was the spicy Asian dumplings entrée, one of my all-time favourite dishes.</p> <p>We trundled on sedately through the night at an average speed of 85km/h with a top speed of 115km/h. The swaying motion was enough to make me feel mildly wobbly whenever I disembarked on terra firma but was a wonderful sedative at bedtime. Train travel is great therapy for insomniacs.</p> <p><em>Read Justine’s account of </em><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><em><a href="http://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/domestic-travel/what-it-s-like-travelling-across-australia-on-board-the-indian-pacific">Day 1 on the Indian Pacific</a></em></strong></span><em>. To be continued… Look out for the next part of the Indian Pacific travel series next Wednesday.</em></p> <p><em>Justine Tyerman was a guest of Rail Plus and Great Southern Rail.</em></p> <p><em>* </em><em>The Indian Pacific is a four-day, three-night 4,352km, 65-hour journey from Sydney to Perth and vice versa operated twice a week by Great Southern Rail. <a href="https://www.railplus.co.nz/australia-by-rail/australias-great-train-journeys/indian-pacific/itinerary.htm"><strong><u>Find more information here. </u></strong></a></em></p>

Domestic Travel