TALK OF THE TOWNS
Our correspondents look at what’s new for 2008 across the states and territories
YOU could say it’s a ‘‘ wheely’’ big year for Melbourne with the opening of the Southern Star Observation Wheel at Waterfront City. As tall as a 38-storey building, the London Eye-style wheel will convey 21 air-conditioned cabins, each carrying up to 20 people, in a scenic 25 to 30-minute loop.
The Melbourne Story at the Melbourne Museum, three years in the making, will open in March, featuring a look at the city during key periods in its development; there will be an early1900s house, a cinema showing films from the 1920s-’40s and treasures from the Melbourne Great Exhibitions.
In regional Victoria, taking the waters will be a focus with stage two of the Peninsula Hot Springs development on the Mornington Peninsula and the reopening of the Hepburn Mineral Springs Bathhouse.
Not to be outdone, Melbourne will see the Melbourne Aquarium unveil its Antarctica exhibition, featuring king and gentoo penguins.
Hot beds: Melbourne’s landmark Rialto building, a gothic-romanesque confection created in 1891, has been a hotel for more than 20 years, but it will gain new life as an InterContinental in 2008. At the other end of the city’s Collins Street, the Grand Hyatt is undergoing a $40 million renovation, while out of town the extravagant Glenn Murcutt-designed Moonlight Head Lodge will open a 75-room boutique hotel to share the Great Ocean Road property with the two luxury lodges already on the site.
And at Creswick, 20 minutes from the spa town of Daylesford, the $250 million Novotel Forest Resort will open in March among the fairways and greens of the 90-year-old Creswick golf course, which is being redesigned by top Australian golfer Robert Allenby.
What the experts say: Greg Hywood, chief executive, Tourism Victoria, says: ‘‘ The state has a deserved reputation for its innovative marketing campaigns.
‘‘ We will continue to build on the It’s Easy to Lose Yourself in Melbourne campaign, which encourages visitors to explore the city’s hidden laneways and creative underbelly.
‘‘ Regional campaigns for the Grampians and Goldfields will also be launched during this coming year.’’
www.visitvictoria.com Gary Walsh
IN 2007, Sydney maintained its starring role as Australia’s favourite destination for travellers from our fastest-growing visitor markets: India, the US, China and Korea.
Its appeal was further underlined when Sydney was rated No 1 Pacific Rim city by readers of Conde Nast Traveler magazine, a position it has monopolised since the ratings began.
The most intriguing development over the past year has been the consolidation of the New Tweed Coast. Several years since the first bucket-load of sand was hoisted, there are now two separate villages between Kingscliff and Cabarita: the Ray Group’s Salt Village and, a couple of kilometres to the south, Consolidated Properties’ Casuarina Beach Domain Resort.
Hot beds: Casuarina is close to its target of 600 apartments, villas and boutique hotels, but it’s Salt Village that has grabbed the headlines. The master plan carves the 72ha village into 433 home sites, while the focus of tourism interest is Salt’s resorts.
In order to underwrite employment opportunities for locals, the shire council insisted that the site also include major resort infrastructure. There are now three resorts built around the heart of the village; in ascending order of magnificence these are Mantra on Salt Beach, Peppers Salt Resort & Spa and Peppers Bale Salt.
The resorts add up to almost 700 rooms and such heft brings an impressive complement of leisure activities.
What the experts say: Lyndel Gray, director of marketing and chief operating officer for Tourism NSW, says: ‘‘ The fast-growing north coast region is emerging as one of Australia’s most popular holiday playgrounds. The $1 billion master-planned Salt Village on the New Tweed Coast, with its three resorts and other facilities, has brought thousands of visitors to the area.’’
www.visitnsw.com.au. Michael Gebicki
The wheel thing: An artist’s sneak preview of Melbourne’s London Eye-style attraction, opening at Waterfront City later this year