Our cor­re­spon­dents look at what’s new for 2008 across the states and ter­ri­to­ries

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL -


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.vis­itvic­to­ 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.vis­ Michael Ge­bicki

The wheel thing: An artist’s sneak preview of Melbourne’s Lon­don Eye-style at­trac­tion, open­ing at Wa­ter­front City later this year

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