Go big or go home

by Tuesday, November 6, 2018

I hope the world is treating you well.

We are in full Cup fever in ol’ Melbourne town right now. The race that stops the nation pretty much revs up this entire city. It’s exciting and fun and yours truly is going all out. ‘Go big or go home’, I say and that’s just my hat! It’s a whopper. I’ll send pics to my Instagram and you can hopefully embrace my mood.

Did you manage to see any of my Getaway trip to the Hunter Valley last week? I try to share stories and pics on my social media, really as a way of sharing the stories of the remarkable people I’m able to work with.

I just love people who are writing their own rule book, living life on their own terms, and I feel so proud of both Sydney and the Hunter, in what was my last domestic filming for 2018. One more ‘international’, then I wrap. I’m pooped. If you get a mo’, do take a look and I hope you’ll be inspired by the stories of people doing amazing things in regard to tourism, but just taking it all one step at a time.

Changing tack, I was just showing my sons a pic of my friend Paul Bangay’s garden and trying to explain how he does the hedging. It’s such an art and they’re fascinated. I know they’ll love a visit to his upcoming Open Garden.

Paul is having his Open Garden on 17-18 November at Stonefields (near Daylesford) and I really think you should take a child, preferably your own, to explore this garden. My children are genuinely in awe and in heaven when they go. Why? Let me count the ways…
1. They can run to their hearts delight, and
2. They will be inspired.

This garden started as a bare paddock, with a view and access to good water… then Paul started to draw, he used his imagination, he thought up wonderful things, changed his mind a few times, then drew some more and created a garden that not only he loves but people (and animals) of all ages and backgrounds enjoy.

Paul doesn’t credit any fancy-pants gardener with his success. It’s his Mum that receives his praise: Annette. His mother would encourage him in the family garden and, around age 10, he was offered a plot in the backyard to do with what he may.

He went on to not only redesign that garden several times over the years, but to be considered one of the world’s great Landscape Designers… go Mum!

Paul is a very kind person (no doubt due to his Mum, too), and the open garden will be supporting the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation, which is where you’ll also find info and tickets to book.

Please don’t wear high heels though if you go. You will look silly and the lawn is aerated enough. But do go, explore and be inspired.


In this week’s episode of Journeys to Come, Catriona Rowntree continues to explore Alaska and Canada while filming new shows for Getaway. In Alaska, Catriona goes salmon fishing with Captain Pat Simmons Jnr in Ketchikan after meeting Ketchikan tourism leader Carol Dooley. In Canada, Catriona explores the Yukon with Tina Dickson. And while waiting at an airport in Alaska, Catriona sits down with a special education teacher Debbie Hawkins. READ MORE

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Of course there’s more to do than just sit and sip hot chocolate in Whistler. There’s gluhwein, too. Just kidding! The JTC team did a bit of trawling through past Guest Traveller stories, Googling, and checking in with my dear friend Lydia Lassila who just loves Whistler, and came up with these tips… READ MORE

GUEST TRAVELLER: Baths, bars & bors in Budapest 

Guest Traveller Laura Hopkins and a friend travelled to Budapest, Hungary and found beauty in sunsets, music and escaping the crowds to some lesser-known thermal baths. Sound appealing? I agree. Let’s go!  READ MORE

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Matthew Hew is the Guest Services Executive (Supervisor) of the Concierge Team at the Mandarin Oriental Singapore. Born and raised in Singapore, he’s a truly excellent advocate for his hometown and we’re blessed to be able to share his recommendations for making your Singapore sojourn, well, sing. Enjoy!  READ MORE
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