The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel -

IT is no small se­cret Depar­tureLounge is a fan of all things In­dian and has even ap­peared as an ex­tra in a Bol­ly­wood movie, thanks to in­dus­trial quan­ti­ties of eye­liner, a well-placed bindi and a hairdo suf­fi­ciently hard and high to serve as a lamp­shade.

Luck­ily, as a work­ing knowl­edge of Hindi is not among Lounge ’ s in­creas­ingly out-of-date range of tal­ents (pen­man­ship, per­fect sponges), it was not a speak­ing part. Lounge was merely re­quired to look cheap and busty in a Wild West-style bar (this set dress­ing was not ex­plained; the script sug­gested we were in cos­mopoli­tan Mumbai) and flap her falsies (eye­lashes, not the other) at the lead ac­tor, who ear­lier was dressed as a doc­tor but changed into a cow­boy on the way to the bar.

It will be a re­lief to many that Lounge is not fea­tured in , which had its world pre­miere in Syd­ney last week. The stut­ter­ing ti­tle is typ­i­cal any­thing-goes Bol­ly­wood nut­ti­ness but the film, ac­cord­ing to Lounge ’ s well-placed sources, is enor­mous fun.

HeyyBabyy , which is based on the hit Three­Me­nan­daBaby , was shot in Syd­ney and NSW Tourism Min­is­ter Matt Brown and his de­part­ment heavy­weights have got be­hind its pro­mo­tion. Lo­ca­tions such as the Opera House, Syd­ney Har­bour Bridge, Martin Place, Bondi Beach and Dar­ling Har­bour are fea­tured in the film, which is ex­pected to be seen by al­most one bil­lion view­ers in In­dia and other in­ter­na­tional mar­kets. No won­der Brown and his tourism crew put on a lav­ish open­ing night at Syd­ney’s her­itage State Theatre, com­plete with show­ers of rose petals, sari-clad dancers and drum­mers.

Let’s hope some of those over­seas cin­ema­go­ers are so taken with shiny Syd­ney they head down here on hol­i­day. Brown reck­ons In­dia is our fastest grow­ing in­bound mar­ket, ex­pected to in­crease by 18 per cent a year dur­ing the next decade.

HeyyBabyy is now show­ing at Greater Union cine­mas.


STILL on the sub­con­ti­nent, one of Lounge ’ s favourite bolt­holes, the Galle Fort Ho­tel on the south­west coast of Sri Lanka, has landed an award of dis­tinc­tion for out­stand­ing con­ser­va­tion achieve­ments at the 2007 UNESCO Asia Pa­cific Her­itage Awards. Hote­liers Karl Stein­berg and Christo­pher Ong must be thrilled with the ac­co­lade: the Galle Fort area nar­rowly missed dev­as­ta­tion dur­ing the Box­ing Day tsunami in 2004 and on­go­ing up­heavals in Sri Lanka have meant hard times and low oc­cu­pan­cies for most tourism en­ter­prises.

Stein­berg and Ong, both Aus­tralians, were also lauded for ‘‘ the tem­po­rary adap­ta­tion of the ho­tel into an emer­gency shel­ter in the af­ter­math of the tsunami and the sub­se­quent con­tri­bu­tion of the ho­tel to the re­cov­ery of Galle through cul­tural tourism’’. www.galle­fortho­

AS fur­ther ev­i­dence of Sri Lanka’s tourism plight, Aman­re­sorts has re­duced rates by about 50 per cent at its two prop­er­ties there, Aman­galla at Galle and Aman­wella at Tan­galle on the south coast. In tan­dem with the spe­cial tar­iffs, Aman­galla has a new Ayurvedic pro­gram of three, seven or 14 days; daily con­sul­ta­tions, Ayurvedic treat­ments, all meals, daily yoga and med­i­ta­tion, and tem­ple vis­its are in­cluded in the deal.

Aman­re­sorts has also an­nounced the open­ing in Novem­ber of its fifth lodge, with 16 suites, in the moun­tain king­dom of Bhutan. The luxe group will also open in New Delhi in 2008, pre­sum­ably in time for the Com­mon­wealth Games in Oc­to­ber. www.aman­re­

TAMIL Tigers on the ram­page in Sri Lanka and rain­ing cats and dogs on the Queens­land Sun­shine Coast. Tourism Noosa has is­sued a press state­ment to as­sure trav­ellers that ‘‘ most pop­u­lar hol­i­day spots were spared any ma­jor flood­ing’’. Tourism Noosa’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Steve Cooper says the David Low Way at Sun­rise Beach will re­main closed for up to seven days af­ter the col­lapse of a pedes­trian un­der­pass due to the un­prece­dented rain­fall in and around the pop­u­lar hol­i­day town.

‘‘ The Sun­shine Mo­tor­way will be the main ac­cess point for any vis­i­tors trav­el­ling north from Bris­bane or Sun­shine Coast air­port dur­ing that time,’’ he says. Lounge sug­gests in­tend­ing trav­ellers should dou­ble-check con­di­tions with Tourism Noosa, (07) 5430 5000 or 1300 066 672; www.tourism­

AH, but Vir­gin At­lantic is not con­cerned about rain in Bri­tain: quite the op­po­site, in fact. The air­line car­ried 25 per cent more pas­sen­gers out of Bri­tain dur­ing the Au­gust long week­end, com­pared with the same time last year. The rise is at­trib­uted to ‘‘ atro­cious Bri­tish weather’’. An air­line spokesman com­mented that as ‘‘ Syd­ney moves to­wards sum­mer, it is an­tic­i­pated that thou­sands of Brits will es­cape the be­low-par weather as well’’. Not so much a barmy as a balmy army, then. www.vir­­lantic.

FIND of the week: Lovely lit­tle Or­pheus Is­land (42 guests; no chil­dren un­der 15) off the Queens­land coast has a free-flights pack­age valid to Jan­uary 28. Stay five nights and re­ceive com­pli­men­tary air trans­fers from Townsville (a sav­ings of $450 a per­son). www.or­

loves: One of Lounge ’ s favourite artists, He­len McCosker, will be ex­hibit­ing with Susan In­gram at Frog Rock Wines, Mudgee, NSW, un­til Oc­to­ber 1

LOUNGE (10am to 5pm). How con­vivial to com­bine wine tast­ing with view­ing of fine land­scape paint­ings of the re­gion. www.frogrock­

loathes: Pay­ing for bag­gage trol­leys at Syd­ney do­mes­tic air­port ter­mi­nals. It seems dou­bly dread­ful when ar­riv­ing from Ade­laide’s fab­u­lous new air­port, where trol­leys are plen­ti­ful and free.


Il­lus­tra­tion: Tom Jel­lett

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