Friday, 30 September 2011

Come to Kunming

You may be like me and have not heard of the city of Kunming in China until recently. Kunming is a major city in south west China close to Asian countries of Vietnam, Burma, and Laos.  It is known as the "City of Eternal Spring", as it has very temperate weather because of its almost tropical latitude but high altitude. Kunming is the largest city and the capital city of the province of Yunnan. Kunming consists of an old, previously walled city, a modern commercial district, and expanding residential and university areas. The population of the Kunming province is more than 10 million people and is on the increase, with many new roads and buildings being constructed.

China National Travel Mart
In October this year Kunming will be the host city to the China National Travel Mart where people from all over China, Asia and the rest of the world will gather..Many will arrive at the Kunming International Airport (KMG) which has connections to various Chinese and international cities. The airport is located about 9km south-east of the city area. A new larger airport is being planned to be built within the next 5 years, further from the city center. The recently refurbished south train station links other cities in China. Four major bus stations have recently been located on each side of Kunming outskirts due to the traffic congestion in the city.

Moving around in Kunming is done by either walking, riding bicycles, buses, or taxis. Bicycle riding is made easier by dedicated bicycle lanes along major roads, and bicycles can be hired by visitors. Bus rides are cheap costing about 20c, and taxis start at about $1, with a 60c fuel tax added to each fare.

Notable buildings to see in the Yunnan Province include temples such as the Yuantong Temple and Tanhua Temple
Yuantong Templ
Museums in Kunming worthwhile visiting include - Kunming Zoology Museum, Yunnan Military Academy, Yunnan Railway Museum, Yunnan Provincial Museum, and the Kunming City Museum

Kunming has many modern and traditional shops to explore, some large and some small market stalls. Something a little different is the Kunming flower and bird market, which, as well as selling flowers and birds, sells antiques, curios, coins, jade articles, jewellery, ink stones, porcelains, potteries, stone carvings, marble products and other  arts and crafts to be found there. It is a treasure trove for souvenirs.

Kunming Botanical Gardens
To enjoy the outdoors people flock to the various parks, such as the Kunming Zoo, Kunming Botanical Gardens, Dianchi lake, Green Lake Park, Yunnan Nationalities Village, Jindian Park, Western Mountain Forest Reserve, Stone Forest, and the Jiuxiang Scenic Area,

Two major Theatres are the Kunming Art Theatre and Kunming Theater. 
For more information on Kunming see websites such as

Free Entry to See the Australian Horseball Championships 2011

We all love the excitement of watching top basketball and rugby matches. When you add the extra element of horses you have an awesome spectacle called Horseball. The best Horsaball teams will compete at the Australian Horseball Championships From Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 October 2011

Horseball is a fastmoving skilled game played on horseback where a ball is handled and points are scored by shooting it through a high net (approximately 1.5m x 1.5m).This sport is like a combination of polo, rugby, and basketball. It is one of the ten disciplines officially recognised by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports. Two teams of four players attempt to score into the opponent's goal. The team with the most goals wins the game. Because of the goals, the ball passes, and the quick actions, Horse-Ball can be compared to basketball. The rules of the game ensure a collective and fast safe game.

The game is controlled by two referees one mounted on a horse and the second one seated with a view of the entire pitch. The referees have a radio connection for direct communication. The game is played in a normal riding area of 20x60 meters - ideal dimensions being 25x65 meters. The goals are one meter loops hooked vertically at 4.5 meters off the ground. An important point of the game is that you must make at least three passes between three different team members before it is allowed to score. Therefore all team members must collaborate together for each action.

Origins of Horseball
The sport originated in Argentina in early 1700. It was outlawed in 1790 due to the high rate of injuries causing death among players. In 1941 the Federacion Argentina de Pato was created and in 1953 Horseball was declared a national game in Argentina.  The name of the game ”pato” derives from the use of a live duck instead of the six-handled ball. The game as its known today, including the use of a ball instead of an animal, was defined in 1930. It gained success and has spread across Europe and overseas. The International Horseball Federation has sixteen members including seven outside of Europe: Argentia,. Brazil, Canada, Cayman Islands, Israel, Pakistan, And the USA.

Rules of play of Horsball
The basic rules involve a team of 4 players (plus replacements offside if necessary) making a minimum of 3 passes between 3 different players of their team and then scoring a goal through a hoop shaped vertical goal. The opposing team can defend by either preventing them from being able to shoot by pushing opponents out of the playing area using their horse's weight or have the possibility to get alongside the players and pull the ball from their hands. In this situation, the rules are that both riders have to remain seated in the saddle and the first to get pulled out of their saddle loses a penalty. On the other hand, if both stay seated then if the defender manages to keep hold of the ball for more than 10 seconds then their teams earns a penalty.
Simple tactics of the game involve crossing paths of players in a same team as this method insures that the opposing team send all their defense to one side of the game whilst another player comes up from behind and gets a clear way through the cleared space. Players can also choose to return to their side if they feel an attack is failing and can 'cross' each other, but only if they are players of the same team. This method is quite often used because if a defender is trying to get the ball they usually follow the player with the ball and are therefore going to end up coming face to face with the 3rd player. That however, is strictly forbidden, as in the past head on collisions between galloping horses and riders proved fatal.

When the ball is dropped or falls on the ground, anyone can pick it up so long as they are going in the same way as the way the game was going when the ball was dropped. This is to avoid any riders coming head on whilst someone is picking up, as the player picking up would get hit by the oncoming horse and rider. The rules for pick up are simple; the horse has to be galloping (or at a trot when the teams are of a much younger category, usually when the players are less than 13 years of age) when picking up the ball, whilst stopping is forbidden as it damages the horse's back and usually means that the player has less of a swing to pull themselves back up, which can often result in falling due to losing a stirrup.

The Australian Horseball Championships 2011 is a free event for spectators to watch, so bring along your friends and enjoy the spectacle of the Championships. They will be held at the Australian Equine and Livestock Events Centre (AELEC), 503 Goonoo Goonoo Road, Tamworth NSW 2340 Australia on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 October 2011.

For more information about the contact Grant Biffin. the Event Organiser at the Australian Horseball Federation,  Phone:0438 936 781

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Vegetarian Festival 2011 in Thailand

Many people in Thailand are celebrating the Vegetarian Festival, which is being hepd from 27 September to the 5 October 2011.

Even though the Vegetarian Festival is celebrated everywhere in Thailand, it will feature in the southern province of Phuket. Many people will visit,especially from Singapore, Malaysia, and China.

The Vegetarian Festival has little to do with vegetarianism in the Western sense. It draws its name from the fact that practitioners do not eat meat for a s short period of time. The festival is observed from the first to the ninth day in the ninth month of the Chinese calendar, or the eleventh Thai lunar month.  However, Thai vegetarian food is similar to Western vegetarianism, in that meat is avoided and vegetables are used in food preparation.

Originally, the festival was observed in Chinese communities or among ethnic Chinese, or Thais of Chinese origin. Today, a large number of people, regardless of their origin and beliefs, join the celebration. Some people participate because vegetarian food is good for their health. They believe that by consuming only meat-free meals for the nine-day period, they will cleanse their bodies and minds. Meat consumption also encourages slaughter and is therefore sinful. So refraining from eating meat is considered meritorious, because the practice eliminates one cause of killing.

Legend has it that during this spell in the ninth Chinese calendar month, nine deities dressed as kings come down from heaven to inspect the earth and record the good and bad deeds of each person. So during this period, those who observe the festival try to do good to show to the deities their good deeds. The symbol for the Vegetarian Festival is a small yellow flag placed at vegetarian food stalls. Yellow represents Buddhism and good moral conduct.

In observing the Vegetarian Festival, many people dress in white and pay homage to spirits in Chinese shrines. Apart from not taking meat, they also refrain from taking some vegetables with a strong smell, such as garlic, onion, spring onion, Chinese chive, and Chinese parsley. Vegetables and fruits are the main raw materials for a vegetarian diet.

Apart from Phuket, other major provinces where the festival is celebrated on a wide scale include Trang, Phang-nga, Songkhla, Nakhon Sawan, and Bangkok’s Chinatown. The festival has become a major cultural event of the island of Phuket and Hat Yai district of Songkhla, attracting tourist arrivals during this period.

According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the festival this year is expected to generate at least 1,000 million baht, an increase from 850 million baht recorded last year. Out of this amount, 500 million baht will be circulated in Phuket, 240 million baht in Hat Yai, 100 million baht in Trang, and 25 million baht in Bangkok’s Chinatown.

Hot AIr Balloon Fiesta in Hunter Valley

Balloon Aloft is celebrating its founding 30 years ago in 1980 by holding its first Balloon Fiesta this coming October long weekend. There will be 30 hot air balloons floating in the sky at sunrise on Sunday 2nd and Monday 3ed October.

It will cost nothing (apart from an early start to the day) for spectators to view the spectacle of the 30 hot air balloons in the sky each morning - one balloon representing each of the 30 years Balloon Aloft has been operating. For those wishing to be actually high in the sky there are still a few places on board the Hot Air Balloons available on the Monday morning flights. In exchange for handing over $299 people can enjoy the 1 hour flight over the Hunter Valley, champagne tasting at Petersons and a gourmet breakfast.

Balloon Aloft is located in the lower Hunter Valley 2 hours north of Sydney and forty five minutes from Newcastle.       

The Balloon Aloft Fiesta sunrise flights meet at Peterson’s Champagne House, located on the corner of Broke Road and Wine Country Drive in Pokolbin. Flights take in views of the vineyard regions of the Lower Hunter Valley.

Further information:-
Bookings and enquires: 1800 028 568 or 02 4991 1955

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Future Leaders Forum 2011

An important part of the IT&CMA, Asia’s leading MICE and Corporate Travel event, is the Future Leaders Forum. This aims to take Thailand’s brightest students to enter the meetings and incentive travel industry. Thailand’s brightest students from universities in Thailand are invited to take part. Every year, about 80 to 100 students take part in a one-and-a-half-day workshop which will end with a visit to the aims to the IT&CMA exhibition.  Over 4171 students have passed through the programme since its launch in 2003, attending one of 68 Forums worldwide.

A broad range of industry speakers are invited to the forum to offer their knowledge and guidance on the industry career paths available. The Future Leaders Forum inspireS the very best students and young working adults to join the MICE industry. The Future Leaders Forum is supported by the TCEB (Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau) and TICA (Thailand Incentive and Convention Association).

The Future Leaders Forum aims to give students currently studying for degrees in tourism and event management the chance to:
- Increase their practical knowledge of the industry
- Enhance their understanding of the industry from a global perspective
- Identify future career paths
- Challenge conventional thinking and practices within the industry

The Future Leaders Network aims at offering former attendees a network of peers from across the world, as well as continued career guidance and opportunities

The full title of this important program is the IMEX-MPI-IT&CMA Future Leaders Forum. It will be held on Tuesday 4 and Wednesday 5 October 2011 in the Lotus Suites at the Bangkok Convention Centre.

For more information see the website

Country Music Hoedown Long Weekend

To escape the rat race of high pressure city life many people enjoy going bush whenever a long weekend comes along. For the October Long Weekend many people will be going to Poley’s Place for a great weekend of camping and country music.

Poley’s Place a working cattle property and is located in the mountains 8 kms from Gloucester. It is a great place to sit back and relax. Situated on the property is 'Grannies Lookout', where you can enjoy the views of the Barrington River.

Many country musicians will perform throughout the weekend including The Sideys, Natalie Foley, Greg Bain, The Gibsons, Those Gals, Hummdinger and Ken “Chainsaw” Lindsay. The weekend includes family entertainment, camp fire and music at night, BBQ canteen.

The Country Music Weekend will be on 1,2 and 3 October 2011. There a few cabins on the property, but most people bring along their own tents or caravans. Hot showers and toilets are provided. Camping from Thursday to Monday costs $50 for adults, children $20, and under 5’s free. For those not wanting to camp overnight a day pass is available for $10.

Poley’s Place is located at 814 Thunderbolts Way, Barrington, NSW Australia.
For further information phone 02 65584220 or see the website

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Premium Travel Still on the Increase

Recent research shows that the number of premium travellers carried by airlines in July increased by 7.5% compared with the same to month last year.

The figures, published by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), show a 5% increase on the numbers for the end of 2010. IATA also reported a rise in economy passengers of 5.5% compared with July last year. It is the second consecutive month that IATA has reported an increase in premium figures, recording a 6.4% leap in June.

The airline cartel said premium figures were still 6% below pre-recession numbers. It said: “After a period of weakness at the end of the first quarter and the start of the second, both markets have rebounded to regain the trend-lines evident in the second half of last year. These trends are close to the average of the past twenty years. Premium travel is still 6% below its pre-recession peak, but economy travel is 6% above its previous high point. As of July, there was no sign yet of the deepening economic gloom discouraging air travel.”
The strongest areas of expansion were in the developing markets of the Far East and South America where IATA said there was “solid, double digit growth supported by still strong economies.” But the Association said other markets did not fare as well, notably those linked to the “troubled European economies, across the Atlantic and within Europe”.

The one exception was the European-Far East market which continued to show double figure growth in both premium and economy. But IATA said forward looking indicators were “gloomy” for premium travel. It said growth in trade had stopped and business confidence had fallen which suggested any rise in premium travel would stall in the last quarter of the year. 

Free School Holiday Fun at Local Upper Hunter Libraries

Children like being on holidays from school and often look for fun things to do with other young people. There are a number of creative options available for children and youth in the Upper Hunter Region of NSW, Australia, these September/October school holidays based at local libraries.

If your local library isn't mentioned here, contact them to see what activities they have planned for the school holidays.

Aberdeen Library
Come to Aberdeen library these September school holidays and check out some of the fantastic activities and books!

On Tuesday 29th of October 2011 come and join us for some creativity with magnets. Session commences at 10:30 and runs through until 12:00pm. Places in this session are limited so be sure to book your place NOW!

On Friday 7th of October another craft session will be held but this time it will be all about cardboard creativity. This session begins at 2:30pm and will last about an hour. Be sure to bring your creativity and a good attitude.

Please let the library know if you are coming by contacting the library on 6543 7669 Or come in and visit the library at Moray Street Aberdeen.

Cassilis Library
Come and visit the friendly library staff for two days full of fun!

Cassilis library invites you to come join in the fun at the pizza and movie day on Wednesday 5th of October. Bring your appetite and get comfortable. Session starts at 10:30 and runs through until 1pm. Ages 10-17 years welcome.

If pizza is not what you are looking for come along to the popcorn and movie session on Friday 7th October beginning at 3pm and running through until 5:30pm. All ages welcome just bring your appetite and a good attitude.

Please let the library know if you are coming so they can have enough munchies for everyone. Call us on 6376 1295 or come in and visit the library at the Community Centre in Buccleough Street, Cassilis.

Merriwa Library
Merriwa library has some great activities planned for young people to come check out!

On Tuesday 4th of October don't miss out on the craft session where you can learn how to make your very own Multicultural Calender! Session starts at 11:00am.

Places are limited so be sure to let the library know if you are coming or you might miss out! Call the library on 6521 7007.

Muswellbrook Library
The library and regional art gallery staff are teaming up to bring you some fantastic school holiday fun.

Come along and bring your creativity to one of the two art classes that are being run at Muswellbrook Library.

Sessions are being run on the 29th of September from 2:00pm-3:00pm and again on the 6th of October from 2:00pm-3:00pm.

Places are limited so please call and book your place to make sure you don't miss out! To book call the library on 6543 1913 or come in and visit the library at 126 Bridge Street Muswellbrook.

Muswellbrook Library
The Muswellbrook Library and the Regional Art Centre invite young people to a free Youth Photography Workshop being held during the school holidays for ages 12-18 years.

These sessions will aim to build up photography and editing skills for those just starting out to those who have a bit more experience. Places are limited so make sure you RSVP ASAP. Sessions will be held at the Muswellbrook Library from 11am to 12:30pm on Wednesday 28th of September 2011 and Wednesday 5th of October 2011. Participants will attend both sessions which are free. All you need to bring is your camera and your imagination.

For more information or to book contact the Muswellbrook library on 6543 1913.

Murrurundi Library
Murrurundi Library has some exciting plans for the September school holidays!

Come in and learn how to make some awesome Christmas wind chimes on Thursday 29th of September at 1:00 pm or take an African Adventure with us on Thursday 6th of October at 1:00 pm with the 'All things African' school holiday activity.

Please let the library know if you are coming by contacting the library on 6540 1363.

Scone Library
Scone Library has some exciting programs planned for the upcoming School Holidays.

Come let your hair down! Rock out and dance along at Scone library on Wednesday 28th September at 11am at the Rock n Roll Dance class. This is aimed at children of ages 6-12 years old.

If dancing is not your thing, why not come along to the Pom Pom craft session on Wednesday the 5th October at 11am instead.

Please let the library know if you are coming by contacting the library on 6540 1183 or come in and visit the library at 130 Liverpool Street, Scone.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Flying Expensive With Bags

Gone are the days of packing half of your belongings in bags to take on holidays with you. Gone are the days of bringing bags of souveniers home with you from your dream holiday or business trip. 

A survey by USA Today of airline fees shows that some carriers have hit or surpassed the $400 mark for international passengers travelling with overweight baggage.

For example, Continental is charging $400 for a bag weighing 71-100 pounds on most international flights. United Airlines similarly charges $400 for bags weighing 71-99.9 pounds on intercontinental flights. American Airlines will charge you $450 for overweight luggage bound for Asia. The reason Tim Smith, AA spokesman said, was to both defray fuel costs and to dissuade passengers from checking such heavy bags in the first place.

The annual USA TODAY survey of 13 U.S. carriers also found fees for a first checked bag are up to $38 for domestic flights and $43 for international.

To avoid a checked-bag fee some people take their belongs on board with them. Airlines like Spirit still charge a $40 fee for carrying your own bag on board, though they'll give you a $30 break if you warn them in advance via their website.

The survey found fees to make a change to a ticket vary. Frontier Airlines charges $50 for an international flight change; Delta Air Lines and United charge $150 for domestic, approx. $250 for international.

Booking a "free" frequent flier rewards ticket? It'll cost you. Most airlines charge for booking a rewards tickets with an agent over the phone; some will still charge if you book it yourself online. The highest reward ticket booking fees are US Airways', from $25-$50 (online) to $55-$90 (on the phone).

Airlines say that their fee structure helps keep ticket prices low, and allow fliers to pay only for those services that they use.

In Australia, as in other countries, many of the low cost airlines make their money out of the charges they make for extra services. It pays to look at the small print to work out the total cost of your cheap flight. Paying with a credit card, booking with a real person on the phone, checking in a bag, having a meal on board, using the entertainment system, are all items that could make your cheap flight an expensive flight. However, for those who just want a cheap flight, and not wanting the extra services, it means that it is possible to fly on a budget.

Art & Photos On Show in Muswellbrook

Come along and be inspired by viewing one of the current exhibitions at the Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre. These exhibitions will be on show up until the   23 October 2011

Eutick Memorial Still Life Award 2010
This is a touring exhibition from the Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery. The Eutick Memorial Still Life Award (EMSLA) 2010 is an exhibition of still life  art works. The EMSLA is fast becoming the Archibald Prize of still life painting. The EMSLA, with prize money of $15,000, has attracted entries from across Australia and from across the world with many different and challenging approaches to the tradition of still life painting. This is an exhibition with something for everyone        

Nearground Rearground: Muswellbrook And Districts Camera Club
This exhibition features the photos of members of the Muswellbrook & Districts Camera Club in an exhibition that presents contemporary local photography as a gateway to creative expression. The subject of the exhibition is not a place or an object but the exploration of the technical photographic tool known as ‘depth of field’ as well as the philosophical investigation of what this might mean in visual terms. The approach of the artists is as varied as photography can get and the exhibition is a rewarding experience for the viewer.

Davson: Turning Points, Sharon Davson on Paper
Works from this exhibition have been donated by the artist to the Muswellbrook Shire Art Collection.     

50+ The Lure of the Four Elements
The Lure of the Four Elements is a themed exhibition based on the second chapter of the book on the Arts Centre’s collections Fifty Plus: Half a century of collecting at Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre by Katrina Rumley. It is a selection of works from the collections that illuminate the variety of approaches that the artist may take when confronting the four elements that the ancients believed make up the material world: earth, wind, fire & water. This exhibition features works by renowned Australian artists such as Marion Borgelt, James Clifford, Janet Laurence, William Peascod, Henry Salkauskas & Michael Taylor.

The Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre is located on the corner of Bridge and William Streets in Muswellbrook NSW Australia. The opening hours are Tuesday to Friday 10.00am – 5.00pmand Weekends 10.00am – 1.00pm

They can be contacted by Phone: 02 6549 3880, Fax: 02 6543 4150 or Email:  For further information see the web site

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Bibao Revived City in Spain

Some say that Northern Spain's most exciting city is Bilbao which is an urban phoenix that as late as the mid-Nineties was mainly just an industrial city in decay. But less than 20 years on, chic restaurants and dramatic architectural statements dot its centre.

The opening of its artistic totem – the Museo Guggenheim in 1997 was the catalyst for this regeneration. This week saw the launch of its new exhibition, Laboratories, which looks at local photographer Aitor Ortiz (until 13 November). To see the city at its most flamboyant, visit between 28 and 30 October, for the Bilbao Tango Festival (

Pitched 10 miles inland from Spain's north coast, Bilbao is the largest city in the Basque Country. It is till a busy port, lying in a valley on the estuary of the Nervió river. The city spreads out on both sides of the water: The Old Town (Casco Viejo) is on the right bank; "newer" districts such as Abando and Indautxu are on the other shore.

Though the centre is small enough to see on foot, transport is superb. The metro (00 34 94 4254025; metrobilbao. com) is a recent arrival, opened in stages since 1995. Single fares in Zona A (which contains most key sites) are €1.40. Two other networks – the Euskotren tram;; Zona A fares €1.30) and Bilbobus;; fares €1.20) – mop up the non-metro-linked areas.

Two travelcards make life simpler. The Creditrans pass, which can be purchased from metro stations in pre-paid sums of €5, €10 and €15, lowers Zona A fares on the metro, tram and bus. And the Bilbao Card covers all public transport and gives 50 per cent discounts on 10 museums (though not the Guggenheim). This costs €6 for 24 hours (€10 for 48; €12 for 72) via the tourist office on Plaza Arriaga; bilbao. net/bilbaoturismo;  – or from its counterpart, which is next to the Guggenheim Museum at Avenida Abandoibarra 2. 

What is there to do in Bilbao?

Window Shopping
A shopping stroll is an ideal way to familiarise yourself with Bilbao's historic core. The most intriguing stores are clustered in the Casco Viejo, on the likes of Calle Artekale, Calle de la Tenderia and Calle Bidebarrieta – with the latter, at number 9, hosting Alma, a decadent chocolatier; peruse the fresh meats, fruits and merry local hubbub at the Mercado de La Ribera, at Calle de la Ribera 20.. A market has occupied this hallowed site since the 14th century, although the current neo-classical pile dates to 1929. For those who prefer 21st-century sheen, Zubiarte is a vast mall overlooking the river at Calle Lehendakari Leizaola 2;

In the Casco Viejo there is the grand expanse of the Plaza Arriaga  – a traditional gathering point for the city, home to the elegant 1890 Baroque bulk of the Teatro Arriaga. Forge up the right bank of the Nervió on Paseo del Arenal, where ships docked as late as the 1960s. Half a century on, it enjoys retirement as a promenade, yet the Iglesia de San Nicolás, an 18th-century church dedicated to the patron saint of sailors, still keeps watch.

Upstream, past the Ayuntamiento, is Bilbao's 1892 peacock of a town hall, at Plaza Ernesto Erkoreka 1. Its companion is the Puente del Ayuntamiento. At the next crossing point of the river the Zubizuri bridge, with its arcing white fin, shares its genetics with the airport as a flash of Calatrava magic. This brings you to Paseo Uribitarte, from where it is a short hop west to the Guggenheim Museum
Bilbao's most celebrated landmark is not just "unmissable" in a visiting sense. The eye is drawn to the Guggenheim (Avenida Abandoibarra 2;; €8) – as, it seems, is sunlight, which bounces off Frank Gehry's outlandish concoction of limestone, glass and titanium. Depending on viewing angle, the building resembles a boat, a chimney or a fish, and outshines the contemporary art held within. That said, Puppy, which waits by the front door – a 43ft hound crafted from flowers pinned to a steel frame (by US artist Jeff Koons) – has charm galore.

A quick stroll away at Plaza del Museo 2, the Museo de Bellas Artes does a more classical take on art, with paintings by Van Dyck, El Greco, Goya, Gauguin and Cézanne, as well as pieces by 20th-century Basque luminaries Eduardo Chillida and Jorge Oteiza, €6).

Meanwhile, in Indautxu, the Alhondiga, at Plaza Arriquibar 4, is another of Bilbao's daring projects: a 1909 wine warehouse reshaped by French designer Philippe Starck. Its brick shell shelters exhibition rooms, a cinema, a glass-bottomed swimming pool and 43 supporting columns in varied colourful styles;;free; pool entry €5.80).

Deeper into Indautxu, is where the increasingly thriving blocks around the western end of Calle Licenciado Poza are blessed with lively bars. Ziripot, at number 46, has splendid mosaic décor, and beer for €2. .

The very heart of the Casco Viejo at Plazuela de Santiago 1, the Catedral de Santiago; daily services at 10.30am) is evidence that good things come to those who wait. It was completed in 1379, but crowned as the city's cathedral only in 1950. It exudes a soft piety, all incense aroma and gloomy interior, while casting a jealous eye at its 17th-century Gothic rival the Basilica de Begoña, which does for Bilbao what the Sacré Coeur does for Paris: majestic on its hilltop at Calle Virgen de Begona 38;; services every day at 9am, except Sundays – 10am).

Near the Basilica, the Parque Etxebarria is further proof of Bilbao's revival. Until the mid-Eighties it was the site of a belching steel plant. But now it does fresh air and simple beauty, a lone smokestack kept as a reminder of harder days. It differs hugely from the westerly Parque de Doña Casilda, where tinkling fountains recall a more gilded Bilbao.

At the top of the Casco Viejo, the Plaza Nueva also echoes the past, the colonnades and tall buildings that enclose it making it a sibling (though a younger, 19th-century one) of Madrid's Plaza Mayor. Several cafés here are stalwarts of the Basque pintxos (tapas) scene.

Summit Ride
A quaint relic in this city of aesthetic revolution, the Funicular de Artxanda; clanks slowly up the Artxanda hill, one of the crags that help to give Bilbao its valley setting. This elderly gent first saw service in 1915, and still runs every 15 minutes from its base station on Plaza del Funicular. The €1.80 return fare buys you a four-minute ride to the summit and back, and remarkable views out to the hazy Atlantic.

Transporter Bridge
Drop into Abando and board the metro at Moyua station, adjacent to the Hotel Carlton, taking Line 1 (the red line) 11 stops north to Areeta station (€3.20 return, or €1.72 with the Creditrans pass). Then aim your camera at the Puente Vizcaya, the planet's first transporter bridge, and a Unesco World Heritage site; Constructed in 1893, its hanging shuttle still ferries vehicles across the Nervión. Foot passengers can ride along for €0.30 or, for €5, clamber up to the 50m-high walkway and stride over the river at a (perhaps) vertigo-inducing elevation.

Floriade is a Feast of the Senses in Canberra

Thousands of people are flocking to the national capital city of Australia to see the annual Floriade exhibition. In spring each year Canberra hosts an amazing arrange of flower displays in Commonwealth Park next to Lake Burly Griffin in the centre of the city. It commenced on the 17 September and will run until the to the 16 October 2011.

This year’s Floriade theme is a Feast for the Senses, with each of the major flower beds inspired by flavours that stimulate peoples senses. The flower bed designs include Coffee Break, Chocolate Paradise, Cheese Platter, Spice Market, A Drop of Wine, Red Hot Chilli Pepper, Citrus Basket, Cup Cakes, Watermelon Wedge, Farmers Market, Ice Cream Swirl, Bento Box, Chef De Cuisine and Flaming BBQ.
More than one million blooms will be on show, as well as special exhibitions and displays.There will be fashion displays, floral art, crafts and fine art, horticultural displays and practical tips and advice on home gardening and outdoor living from noted celebrities and experts. Entertainment will be provided with music acts, street performers, comedy acts, community performances and dance.

The Interflora Exhibition Marquee will show theatre costumes and fashions from ‘Concept to Catwalk’ matched with flowers. Here there is also demonstrations by leading floral artist.

The Showcase Garden Competition is where several themed gardens are designed and prizes awarded to the best.

Carnival in the Park on 2 and 3 October will bring the biggest showcase of Latin culture ever staged in Australia. People will be able to join a Latino banquet of sounds, colours and flavours for the weekend.

Floriade admission is free, and is open 9.00 am – 5.00pm Monday to Friday, 9.00 am – 5.30pm weekends and public holidays with the last entry to 30 minutes before closing.

For more information see the website

Saturday, 24 September 2011

World Tourism Head Urges Travel Barriers to be Removed

David Scowsill
David Scowsill, CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has called on governments to make travel easier. He recently said that governments must speed up the introduction of visa waiver and trusted traveller programmes.

He said the “aggravation factor” for travellers has increased too much since the terrorist attack on the USA on 9/11. “The enhanced security processes put in place post 9/11 were entirely appropriate as a short-term response to a very dramatic situation,” said Scowsill. “Over the last ten years, however, the barriers to travel have become even greater, rather than diminishing through better use of technology and passenger profiling.”

Scowsill said processing times for visas to visit many countries can be hundreds of days, and airport security has become an “unpleasant experience”. He called for a “fundamental change” in the minds of governments, who should be promoting travel as a driver of economic growth.

In particular, countries should look at smarter visa and border security policies, said Scowsill, including visa waiver and trusted traveller schemes. “Tourism accounts for 258 million jobs and 9% of the world’s GDP - it is a driver of global economic recovery,” he added. “It is vital that countries take the necessary steps to protect their borders; but equally important that governments recognise that smarter policies exist to achieve that aim.”

School Holiday Fun at the Sydney Children's Festival

With the September school holidays coming up in Australia, many parents are pondering what to do for entertainment for their children. For families living in or near Sydney, NSW, Australia, part of the answer may be the Sydney Children’s Festival produced by CarriageWorks in association with The Daily Telegraph newspaper.

The Children’s Festival will run from 26 September to 8 October 2011 and will include art, books, circus, craft, film, music, mayhem, performances, workshops, free play and loads more.

Most of the activities are based at the CarriageWorks Monday 26 September to Saturday 8 October from 10am-4pm. However, the Children’s Festival is also at:
- the Seymour Centre, Chippendale Tuesday 27 September to Saturday 1 October from 10am to 4pm;
- Riverside Theatres Parramatta Tuesday 27 September to Saturday 1 October from 10am to 4pm;
- Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Penrith Friday 7th and Saturday 8 October 10am to 4pm
- Newcastle Museum Tuesday 27 to Thursday 29 September from 8.30am to 5.30pm

Featured Free Activities
- Circus Drop Zone with Circus Monoxide’s Half High Circus
The circus is in town and it’s time to take a slice of the spotlight! The Circus Drop Zone has got all the gear and gadgets you need to become a (ground based) circus aficionado - hula hoops, spinning plates, juggling balls, unicycles, flower sticks and rola bola.   In this free come-and-go space you can pop in anytime to work with experts from Circus Monoxide’s Half High Circus and surprise yourself by learning a new skill! It's festival fun for children and grown-ups - everyone is welcome to have a go in the Circus Drop Zone.

- Good Morning Emma Magenta
Emma Magenta is an author and illustrator. If you have ever been to Berkelow Books in Paddington you will have seen her wonderful, whimsical drawings. Emma will welcome everyone to the SCF Literature Festival, a day-long special event that celebrates books, stories and pictures for children. You’ll have the chance to hear how Emma makes her drawings, and join in a little drawing workshop where you'll make a drawing on a paper bag just like Emma does.

- Zilla Villa
Put on your builder’s hat and help build the Creation Nation town! Using a variety of recycled materials you’ll create a community made entirely from your imagination. From the plants and flowers to the trains and houses right through to crazy oversized monsters and magical wizards! Take on the challenge and ask the question: What will be in your town?

What Makes the Sydney Children’s Festival so Special?
The Sydney Children’s Festival emphasizes participation, focusing on the Child as the Artist. The program is a mixture of performance, workshops, exhibitions, tangible experiences and special events led by experienced professional practitioners, artists and companies.

The focus at Sydney Children’s Festival is on encouraging community participation, and inspiring creativity and imagination in children (and the child in all of us!). The Festival nurtures a love for the arts amongst Australia’s youngest generation of artists, patrons and cultural contributors.

It is designed for all kids up to the age of 12 to participate in with their families.  Everyone can take part in theatre, circus, visual arts, storytelling, music, film, creative sustainability and dance activities.

Over 75% of the entire program is FREE, all tickets are classed as low cost. The aim is to grow the Sydney Children’s Festival to become an iconic event, a permanent fixture on every Sydney family’s social calendar, and it will be an event that Sydney kids love, and look forward to all year around.

Tory London, the Creative Producer of the Sydney Children's Festival said "We wanted to make the Festival as accessible as possible to as many people as possible. You can come down and try things for free, you can spend a whole day without spending a cent. But then if you want a more hands-on experience you can book a workshop or then you might be inspired to see a performance. Every days there's something different; its designed so that you can come back multiple times."  This is more than a Children's Festival, it is more like a Family Festival. Tory said "One of the nicest things about the Festival is seeing adults have as much fun as children".

History of the Sydney Children’ Festival
In 2008, CarriageWorks launched the first ever Sydney Children’s Festival and it was a huge success! Over 10,000 people came and enjoyed our inaugural Festival. In 2009 Sydney Children’s Festival returned with a range of programs across various art forms. More than 17,000 people visited the festival over 2 weeks. In 2010 the Sydney Children’s Festival expanded across the city, from Mosman all the way out to Wollongong, reaching over 40, 000 people.

In 2011 the festival is establishing a series of festival hubs across the city with performances, events, workshops and free activities for families to explore.

About CarriageWorks
Opened in January 2007, CarriageWorks is the new home for contemporary arts and culture in Sydney. Built on a vision of a vibrant cultural life for our people and artists, it’s a place for creativity and innovation, where artists are given the opportunity to conceive, develop and present their work in an inspiring and creative atmosphere.

CarriageWorks has become an established and exciting destination of the Sydney arts and culture scene. Audiences at CarriageWorks have grown year on year, in 2009 alone 112,000 people attended events at CarriageWorks.  In the three years since opening in January 2007, over 261,000 people have come through the doors and engaged with CarriageWorks’ programs and events

Adding to the rich cultural atmosphere at CarriageWorks are a number of Resident Organisations, all working within the contemporary arts sector: Erth, Force Majeure, Performance Space, PlayWriting Australia, Reeldance, Stalker and Version 1.0. CarriageWorks and the Residents work together to diversify and broaden the arts events on offer. To find out more about CarriageWorks, and what we do, visit

For more detailed information see the web site