Our Happy Place, in paradise

by Friday, September 7, 2018

Well, I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know whether I’m Arthur or Martha this week. I’ve flown for two days, straight from across the world, over the Date Line, to get back home from The Arctic Circle (God I loved that trip), to race up to Sydney to talk with a French delegation speaking to Aussie travel agents about about the joys of Bordeaux and Paris. Yes, that was effortless. Couldn’t shut me up. Back to the farm to unpack my thermals and pack my cozzie, then whopbamboogie, I’ve brought my whole family up here to Hamilton Island, to wrap up the week.

Every year, I’m able to bring my tribe to the Whitsundays, to what is now our Happy Place (so many activities!), to celebrate some of Australia’s finest ballet dancers for what we call ‘Pas de deux in Paradise’.

This is a sell-out event, that came together 11 years ago when the owners of Hamilton Island, the Oatley family – long-time admirers of The Australian Ballet and its Artistic Director David McAllister, thought wouldn’t it be amazing to bring together truly passionate ballet fans to watch our finest dancers perform under the stars, open air, on The Great Barrier Reef.

Well, I think that idea alone should explain why this event sells out. It’s a spine-tingling weekend. I can’t wait to show you photos. Every detail of the event is first class, but it’s just a joy to be surrounded by so much beauty. From Hamilton Island itself, to the talent of the dancers. Beyond!

Just a tiny note, I know one of you may find interesting: My jet-lag has been only half as bad as that coming back form Europe. Heading home a few months ago from Croatia, I was a mess for a solid week, even with all my cure-all’s. But from the other side of the globe? Well, my circadian rhythms are much happier. I know there are many travellers reading this who are like me and become a bit obsessed with jet lag…
How to avoid it… Is it worse going over or coming back… We can chat about this for hours. So, I’m throwing my two bob in now to contribute my observations.

Ok, now I’m raving and it’s not fair to monopolise your time, with so many wonderful people ready to share their stories with you this week.

“I love road-tripping with my husband through Provence in the south of France. We travelled two road trips, a year apart, in the same region arriving in Avignon and basing ourselves at La Bastide Marie in a tiny village called Menerbes. Everything is so picture-perfect in this region.” READ MORE

PODCAST: Gourmet Food Safaris with Maeve O’MearaIn this week’s episode of Journeys to Come, Catriona Rowntree speaks with Maeve O’Meara from Gourmet Food Safaris. ‘Gourmet Safaris’ offers a program of culinary adventures into exotic cuisines readily available in some of Sydney’s most flavoursome food precincts. LISTEN HERE

GUEST TRAVELLER: Reaching higher ground, in Sri Lanka

“Ella is a small but popular town due to its position along the famous Sri Lankan rail route. This is truly one of the most beautiful rail journeys in the world. Many people travel from Kandy in the north or Colombo in the west, or pick up the train part-way along the journey at one of the many gorgeous train stations.  Either way, it’s an incredibly cheap and picturesque journey.” READ MORE

ASK THE CONCIERGE: Insights from an expert in Tokyo

Mandarin Oriental Tokyo’s Director of Concierge Services is Masumi Tajima. She has worked at the hotel since it opened, 13 years ago. She was born in Gunma prefecture, which is famous for traditional hot springs of the highest quality; a unique combination of nature and industry; and winter sports, like skiing and snowboarding, close to major urban centres like Tokyo. She loves her job because “It is always an interesting, exciting and challenging routine. There are many situations that you don’t expect to encouter every day.” READ MORE


Q&A: Anxiety be gone! Catriona’s Top Tips for Conquering Your Fears…

Carol asks: Do you have any recommendations for coping with travel anxiety? I get really stressed about taking family holidays overseas. I am worried about both the flight and the place we are travelling to. We leave quite soon so I hope you can help!  READ MORE