Emirates Airbus A380 superjumbo takes off with all passengers and crew vaccinated against COVID-19

Middle-East airline Emirates has flown a special Airbus A380 superjumbo flight with almost 400 passengers on board, all of whom had been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Flight EK2021 took off on Saturday, aimed at drawing attention to the success of the UAE’s vaccination program and encouraging confidence in travel.

Along with the vaccinated passengers, all flight and ground crew were also vaccinated. The UAE has administered nearly 9 million vaccine doses thus far to its population of 9.7 million residents, the vast majority of whom are expatriates. The UAE has one of the world’s highest rate of vaccinations at 90.22 doses per 100 people.

“Today’s flight is a showcase of the combined efforts and dedication of all stakeholders in supporting the vaccination programme, and the implementation of protocols in the past 12 months to ensure a safe travel journey, stimulate passenger traffic and set the groundwork for the ramp up of air travel in the near future,” Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates’ chairman said.

Passengers were able to check-in and board using contactless technology introduced last month, including biometric facial recognition and the ability to control the check-in kiosk from  their mobile devices. They also received rapid COVID-19 tests.

Maggie and Simon Neil, who have lived in the UAE for 20 years, were among the passengers who paid Dh2000 ($A717) each for their business class seat on board.

“We hadn’t been on a plane for over a year and we really wanted to be a part of it. We are both vaccinated which we believe is important for safe travels and to top that, our fare will go towards helping those in need,” they told Dubai’s Khaleej Times.

Proceeds from the flight went to the Emirates Airline Foundation, a non-profit charity that supports projects for disadvantaged children around the world.

The Emirates flight follows a similar trip by Qatar Airways last Tuesday, the world’s first flight to carry a full-vaccinated complement of passengers and crew. The Qatar Airbus A350 took off from and returned to Doha’s Hamad International Airport after a three-hour scenic flight.

Qatar Airways’ chief executive Akbar Al Baker said the airline’s special flight “demonstrates the next stage in the recovery of international travel is not far away.”

Both Emirates and Qatar are trialling the International Air Transport Association’s Travel Pass, which will allow airlines to confirm passengers have tested negative for COVID-19 or been vaccinated against the disease before they fly.

Qantas is trialling a similar vaccine passport app and also has plans to trial IATA’s version.

See also: What you need to know about the new ‘OK to travel’ pass airlines are adopting

See also: The last A380 superjumbo takes off on first flight

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Locals threaten Glenelg council with court in Cape Bridgewater beach battle

A group of south-west Victorians is threatening to take a local council to court to stop a rock wall from being built at a popular beach.

About 30 Cape Bridgewater residents marched to the Glenelg Shire council offices in Portland yesterday, demanding an independent assessment of the project, which is due to start construction next week.

The council said it hoped the 410-metre-long rock wall would stop erosion and protect a cafe, surf lifesaving club and amenities from rising sea levels and storm surges.

Protesters claim the wall was added in recent months to a 2014 master plan with minimal consultation and risked destroying the beach.

Opponent Doug Cahill said there was very little erosion, making the seawall not worth the risks.

“Given the nature of the beach, if you put a rock wall there, it could drain all the sand,” Mr Cahill said.

“If you start fooling around with tidal flow and tidal direction you’ve got no idea what could happen.

“I just think the council is in a good position to get an independent assessment, come back to us and we can sit down and talk about it.”

Mr Cahill said protestors were willing to lodge an injunction with the courts to stop works going ahead.

Adelaide McLeod, a local civil engineer working with the protesters, said residents wanted assurances enough research had been done.

“We’ve seen it on so many coastlines. They put these walls up as a last line of defence to protect infrastructure and so many beaches have been lost because the beach can’t recover,” Ms McLeod said.

“Sometimes that’s necessary.

“But in a case like Cape Bridgewater is it necessary to risk that and to lose the beach over a cafe, a surf lifesaving club and a small car park?

“That’s our question to council. Have we got this balance right?”

“If we can be told that, No, it’s all OK, [it can be] done well with minimal risk of impacting the beach’, then I think everyone will be happy, but at the minute no-one can tell us that.”

Glenelg Shire mayor Anita Rank said the rock wall was a “tremendous” project that was based on expert advice.

“Council had comprehensive engagement throughout the whole process and it may be that because it’s now got to the construction phase, people are starting to ask questions,” Cr Rank said.

She said the council was committed to answering those questions.

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Scott Morrison wants overseas vaccination travel plan

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is urgently asking medical experts to formulate a plan on how vaccinated Aussies can travel overseas and skip hotel quarantine upon return.

The PM said the country’s “main goal” was vaccinating the most vulnerable parts of the population, but said an international travel plan was “what I’d like to see happen next”.

“This is what I’ve tasked the medical experts with, is ensuring that we can know when an Australian is vaccinated here with their two doses, is able to travel overseas and return without having to go through hotel quarantine,” he told 6PR Perth Radio.

“I think we’re still some time away from that. The states, at this stage, I’m sure wouldn’t be agreeing to relaxing those hotel quarantine arrangements for those circumstances at this point in time.

“But what we need to know from the health advisers is what does make that safe and what does make that possible.”

Mr Morrison warned reopening the international borders now could result in more than 1000 cases of coronavirus a week.

“Vaccinations are not a silver bullet. We’ve never said they are,” he said.

“Australians have become very used to the fact … of having zero case numbers and zero community transmission.

“I don’t think Australians … would welcome restrictions and closures and borders shutting and all of those things, again, out of states concerned about the rising numbers of case numbers.

“So everyone needs to get on the same page with that. And so they’re the important threshold issues we’ve got to work together through as a national cabinet.

“And that’s why I’m calling them back together again to work on that same operational tempo that we were during the pandemic, because these are the challenges we need to solve together now.”

Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton backed the PM’s plan and said he hoped for a home quarantine setup for vaccinated Aussie travellers “soon rather than later”.

“As quickly as we can and as the Prime Minister pointed out, if people have had properly recognised the vaccine, if they are living in London or the United States or anywhere else in the world and they want to come back home and see family or see their grandparents, bring their newborn grandchild back home, then we want to facilitate that as quickly as possible,” he told the Today show on Friday morning.

“But we just need to do it in a safe way.

“And if we are having a situation where people are coming back and bringing the virus back with them, then we will see community transmission – So again it is trying to get that balance right.

“But if we can get people away from hotel quarantine into home quarantine and people do the right thing, then you can scale up the numbers obviously much more significantly than if we are just relying on hotels.”

But Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said Australians should have been home already.

“There are more than 40,000 Australians still stranded overseas,” Mr Albanese said.

“Scott Morrison said that Australians would be home by Christmas; that‘s Christmas 2020.”

Australia slammed its borders shut in March last year when the global coronavirus pandemic first began to unravel.

Just two weeks ago, Australia entered into an agreement with New Zealand allowing travel between the two countries.

Mr Morrison hinted at a travel bubble agreement with more countries ahead of the trans-Tasman travel arrangement’s official start on April 19.

“I think I can see a future where we could be in a similar arrangement with Singapore and we’re working on that now,” he said.

“Other Pacific countries, that’s possible. But when you’re talking about countries, you know, for example, like Indonesia or India or Papua New Guinea or countries where we know that the virus is in a very strong form, including in Europe and even still the United Kingdom, the United States. Australians, I don’t think would welcome the incursion of the virus into the country. So we have to weigh all of that up.”

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Take a longer break after COVID-19 is over

If you’re eager to make up for lost travel time, then you might want to dust off your boots and hike the Great Himalaya Trail through Nepal.

The whopping 1700-kilometre trek through steep, rugged terrain and across glaciers gets you within gazing distance of all Nepal’s 8000-metre-plus peaks. Serious fitness is required, and stamina too. You trek for 145 days. The tour lasts 150 days.

World Expeditions has run the “Great Himalaya Trail Full Traverse” every year since 2014, except during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now new departures are scheduled for early 2022 and 2023.

The company’s longest tour, according to public relations manager Michele Eckersley, “could also well be the longest guided commercial walking tour in the world” . As far as we can determine, it’s currently the longest land tour of any kind.

As hope for a resumption in international travel blossoms, travellers are making long travel plans on the back of pent-up demand, unspent travel budgets and determination to make up for lost time.

“We’re finding that those who are booking, across all ages, are now looking for much longer trips, or putting together back-to-back trips,” says Vanessa Budah at The Travel Corporation, which represents 40 brands.

“Travellers once booked 10 or 12 days, but now they’re wanting much longer.”

Budget is the only limit to tour length, since bespoke travel companies can put together anything. In 2013, Britain-based Hurlingham Travel Services famously created a two-year tour that took in all 962 World Heritage sites and cost £1million (A$1.7 million).

But even regular organised group tours allow you to pack in amazing destinations over more than just a week or two, with some already revving their engines.

Adventures Overland hopes to depart in September this year  from Imphal in eastern India on a 52-day, 16,000-kilometre drive to London via China, Central Asia and Russia.

The company also offers “the biggest, the grandest and the most epic bus journey in the world” between Delhi and London. It follows a similar route over 70 days, with a departure currently scheduled (perhaps improbably) for August 2021.

Intrepid Travel has a 64-day “Africa Encompassed Northbound” open-truck journey with many departure dates in late 2021 and 2022. It takes hardy travellers from Cape Town to Nairobi and includes Okavango Delta and Serengeti safaris, the Victoria Falls, gorilla-spotting in Uganda, and a surely welcome rest on Zanzibar’s beaches.

Intrepid ran one of the longest organised tours ever in 2016, an “Ultimate 365-Day Adventure” that took in Asia, Africa, the Americas and Antarctica, and says it will consider running it again.

Contiki is hoping to revive its 82-day “Seven Wonders of the World” tour in 2022 or 2023, which ticks off big bucket-list sights such as the Taj Mahal, Great Wall, Pyramids and Machu Picchu. G Adventures’ 65-day “Great South American Journey” already has 2022 departures.

Meanwhile, if you’re missing cruising, then there are super-long options on the high seas too. Demand has been extraordinary among recently cruise-starved travellers.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ 143-night world cruise in 2023 is already sold out, and every cabin on Oceania’s ever-popular “Around the World in 180 Days” cruise in 2023 was snapped up within 24 hours in January this year.

The cruise will visit 33 countries, 96 ports and 60 World Heritage Sites. But for some, 180 days simply isn’t enough. Oceania says 20 per cent of its world-cruise guests opted to extend their voyage on either side, bumping their journey up to 218 days.

That has Oceania offering the longest cruise by far, but many cruise lines such as Cunard and Crystal Cruises offer world itineraries well over 100 days long, with departures both in early 2022 and 2023. Viking’s longest cruise is 138 days from Fort Lauderdale in Florida to Greenwich (London) by way to the Pacific, Australia, Asia and the Mediterranean.

Viking has previously come up with something even more extravagant. In 2019, it launched a 245-day “Ultimate World Cruise” return from Greenwich that was set to cover 55,700 nautical miles and visit 111 ports in 51 countries. It would have bagged a Guinness World Record for the longest continuous passenger cruise but was scuppered in Dubai on day 204 by the COVID-19 outbreak. The company has no current plans for a repeat attempt.

For the moment, Silversea is capturing the headlines with the launch of the first expedition world cruise. The “Unchartered World Tour” departs from the tip of South America in January 2022 and arrives in Norway 167 days later. Along the way, it visits 30 countries, 107 ports and truly remote places including the Antarctic Peninsula, South Shetland, Easter Island, and Svalbard above the Arctic Circle. That should be enough to satisfy anyone’s pent-up lust for travel.

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Woman claims Walgreens photoshopped hair bun out of passport photo

A woman was left in hysterics after receiving a very baffling passport photo due to an awkward Photoshop job.

TikTok user Katie was told that her large bun was too big for the picture when visiting a US Wallgreens store, so staff edited it out – leaving her unrecognisable to friends and family.

Katie, who posts under the TikTok username @katiefiore898, shared the photo on TikTok and it has since gone viral and been viewed over 300,000 times.

She explained: “Wore a bun to get my passport pictures but they said it was too big so they just had to cut it off.”

After the blunt bun removal, Katie was left mortified at the finished result.

However, her passport mishap appears to have entertained internet users, with one person joking: “Went from Katie to Kyle.”

Another added: “Why would you wear a bun for a picture that’s going to last at least ten years.”

A third joked: “I’m dead. I’m sorry for laughing so hard at this.”

Another person said they had a similar dilemma and staff told her she couldn’t have hair on her shoulders after she tried to take her bun down.

In Australia, the required standard for passport photos means images cannot be retouched in any way and the size of the face from chin to crown can be up to a maximum of 36mm, with a minimum of 32mm.

In the US, however, passport photo regulations state that hair cannot obscure a person’s face and the head must be sized between 25 and 35mm.

It is understood that Katie went in for a new set of photos, this time without a bun.

With The Sun

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Wellington Travel Guide | Plan Your Holiday in Wellington

Beautiful and elegant, Wellington is the artistic, cultural and political centre of New Zealand. It boasts of museums, shops and cafes. Catch the cable car to Kelburn and make the journey back through the Botanic Gardens; admire the best city views from the Mount Victoria Lookout; stroll along the boardwalks and the foreshore; and try authentic Maori cuisine. This is a city with true British origins.

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Hampton locals believed to be behind tree poison vandal attack on Beach Road in Melbourne

Locals in a bayside suburb in Melbourne’s southeast looking for a better view of the water are believed to be behind a devastating vandal attack.

Around 26 trees and 120-metres of underbrush along Beach Road on Hampton’s foreshore were poisoned and killed with herbicide.

Bayside City Council Mayor Laurence Evans said they believed the vandals drilled into the trucks to put the poison deep inside the trees and is believed to have been happening over many months.

“They are not community people. They are very selfish and I would say pretty arrogant that they just want their view,” Evans told 7NEWS.

Local resident Graeme Disney said it was a “slap in the face” to the local volunteers and conservation groups who work along the foreshore.

Bayside Council have considered installing CCTV cameras, but the area is too large and does not have enough lighting to see at night.

They are instead urging locals to dob in their neighbours and are offering rewards.

“Keep an eye open,” Evans said.

The vandals face fines of up to $200,000 and a criminal conviction.

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Virgin Australia offering triple Velocity points for flights booked before Anzac Day

Pandemic lockdowns, border closures and suspended international travel has made it pretty difficult to earn frequent flyer points over the past year.

But for the next couple of weeks, Virgin Australia’s Velocity members will be able to give their points tallies a massive boost.

Velocity members can earn triple the usual number of Velocity Points on eligible domestic flights they book between today, April 12, to Sunday, April 25.

This means members will earn 15 points for every $1 spent on the flights.

While there are only 13 days to take advantage of the triple points offer, the flights booked during that period can be taken any time between June 1, 2021 and March 8, 2022.

So you’ll have to jump in quick to book, but you’ll have almost an entire year to take the flight.

There is no limit on the number of flights members can book, however the promotion only applies to “eligible” flights.

RELATED: Why most Aussies won’t get Anzac Day off this year

RELATED: Hundreds of flights to NZ go on sale

According to the terms and conditions, an eligible flight is a “domestic flight marketed and operated by Virgin Australia, except where a domestic flight is flown as part of an international journey”.

It also must be booked and ticketed in a fare class that normally accrues Velocity points.

To take advantage of the offer, Velocity members will need to activate it on the Velocity website or app, and simply book an eligible flight by April 25.

The offer is one of the ways airlines are looking to get passengers back in the air after the COVID-19 slowdown.

“Velocity Frequent Flyer is continuously looking at ways to reward our more than 10 million loyal members and our triple points offer is a really great example of that,” the airline said in a statement.

“Loyalty works both ways and just recently we had our largest number of domestic flight bookings in the one day in our 20-year history and so we’re saying thank you by offering this fantastic offer to encourage Velocity members to explore Australia.”

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City of Gold Coast | Our Beaches – KIDS Jala Yoga and Beach Clean

Listen Events Keyword Search Select Category All categories Art & Culture Business Community Centres Family & Children Food & Wine General Markets Music Nature Seniors Sport & Recreation Youth Select Region All regions North South Central Hinterland From Date → To Date Show only free events Submit Search Our Beaches – KIDS Jala Yoga and Beach Clean This image opens up in a popup window. To close this window please push the escape key on your keyboard. Click to enlarge The City’s ‘Our Beaches’ program has teamed up with Jala Yoga for a morning of kids Yyoga, followed by a beach clean-up. The yoga class will be led by Caity, and is suitable for ages 4 to 13 years. Best of all it’s free and a great way to get the kids active and involved in caring for our environment! When: From: 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM, Wednesday, 14 April 2021 Where: Len Wort Park, Currumbin Cost: Free Type: Public Contact: Rebecca Bruce Organisation: City of Gold Coast Phone: 07 5667 3850 Email: beaches@goldcoast.qld.gov.au Web: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/free-kids-yoga-beach-clean-up-tickets-143002519385?fbclid=IwAR1CvkMG7GQScQ99WvCrCBb-HSeOUz4gFmRuTlMkA4oJtZBtU3iJqO34yaY

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Best day-trip lunch restaurants from Sydney and Melbourne

A good meal always tastes better when accompanied by a side serve of salt air and the sparkle of sunlight dancing on the water. Make lunch at one of these waterfront restaurants – all an easy drive from Sydney or Melbourne – the main course in a memorable day trip.



It’s the bush view across the sun-dappled water. The sandstone, glass and tin-topped building by Glenn Murcutt. The arrival by boat – or, if you want to make a real splash, by seaplane. All these things have helped make Berowra Waters Inn, set on the tranquil shores of the Hawkesbury an hour out of Sydney, one of our most memorable lunch spots. What really sets this place apart, however, is the kitchen’s creative approach and rigorous technique, evident not just in showstopper dishes such as the crab custard with miso, but also in the complimentary bread and butter, upscaled here into a brioche bun served with whipped treacle butter.

See berowrawatersinn.com


Woy Woy Fisherman's Wharf.

Photo: Nikki To

The third generation of the Cregan-Clayton clan has now stepped up to run this Central Coast landmark, and it shows. While locals still cruise past to pick up some fresh fish or a serve of fish and chips, the famously laid back restaurant is looking more stylish than ever and the wine list now has some serious chops thanks to the resident sommelier. The short-but-sweet menu has some unexpected offerings, including barramundi spring rolls and spicy tuna tostadas, but regulars will tell you that you can’t beat a bowl of unpeeled prawns followed by the classic fish and chips.

See woywoyfishermenswharf.com.au


Six waterfront lunch spots worth the trip from Sydney
Seats with a view at The Boathouse Patonga

A long and lazy meal at one of the many waterside Boathouse properties, with their trademark blue-and-white, driftwood-dotted interiors, has become something of a Sydney institution. This newest outpost – the first on the Central Coast – has a truly special location in the sleepy hamlet of Patonga, reached by a 90-minute drive from Sydney or a 30-minute ferry ride from Palm Beach. The menu offers something for every palate, from burgers and pizzas to kingfish ceviche nachos and the famed Boathouse trout board, laden with pate, smoked trout and sourdough. Wash it down with a frozen watermelon margarita.

See theboathousehotelpatonga.com.au


Six waterfront lunch spots worth the trip from Sydney
Views to the horizon at Merewether Surfhouse

So much has changed in Newcastle over the last 10 years or so: the pavement cafes, the street art, the artists’ studios, the microbreweries and specialist roasters are all hallmarks of the new Newcastle. What hasn’t changed are those magnificent beaches. No place is better positioned to drink in that ocean view than the Merewether Surfhouse. For a memorable meal, skip the pizza and café offerings on the lower levels and head straight to the top, where Merewether Surfhouse Italian rules the waves. Start with a cannelloni of avocado slices wrapped around spanner crab and topped with salmon pearls, before moving on to a chargrilled swordfish accented with fennel, capsicum, tomato, olive and capers.

See merewethersurfhouse.com.au


Thank you, Rick Stein. It’s not that we didn’t love your charming Mollymook getaway – it’s just that the drive was a smidgen too far for a day trip. Now we have the Port Stephens property, we can treat ourselves to one of your memorable meals and still have time for a touch of post-prandial dolphin-spotting. Book a seat on the terrace and take your pick from the inviting menu, which features everything from Singapore-style chilli crab to fish pie. If you haven’t yet tried Stein’s oysters Charentaise – oysters with spicy sausages – now is the time to indulge yourself.

See bannisters.com.au


Let’s talk strategy. Do you like to reconnoitre your meals, perusing the menu online and pondering your choices before you arrive? Or do you take it on the fly, guided by the mood of the moment? Planners have a distinct advantage when it comes to dining at Crusoe’s on the Lake. It’s wise to book ahead if you want to get your hands on one of Crusoe’s seafood platters, laden with blue swimmer crab, tiger prawns, Sydney rock oysters, lemon pepper squid, panko-crumbed prawns and battered sweetlip snapper. If you wait to order on the day, you may miss out.

See crusoesonthelake.com.au



Six waterfront lunch spots worth the trip from Melbourne
The Beach House, Geelong

At the Beach House Geelong, it’s all about getting the timing right. Don’t book your lunch too early; you might want to leave room for a quick dip in the pools at Eastern Beach beforehand. Then again, you don’t want to leave it too late, either, and miss out on a post-prandial waterfront stroll? And of course, you don’t want to rush your meal, either. As you’d expect from any Mulberry Group (Liminal, Common Ground) outlet, this grand dame of a seaside pavilion has plenty of enticing options on the menu, from local mussels cooked in white wine sauce and served with charred toast to a chicken burger with house-made kimchi on a brioche bun.

See thebeachhousegeelong.com.au


Nostalgia is best measured out in small doses, and The Rocks gets it exactly right. The setting may be wonderfully yesteryear – who can go past a classic clapboard house, particularly when it is perfectly positioned to watch the boats sail past? But the food, critically, is utterly contemporary. Raw bar choices include sashimi and fresh-shucked oysters or a Vietnamese salmon salad and a trio of tartares – tuna, salmon and kingfish – served on betel leaf. If you fancy something heartier, try the red duck curry or the sticky BBQ pork ribs in a sesame hoisin sauce.

See therocksmornington.com.au


Six waterfront lunch spots worth the trip from Melbourne
Drink in the view at the House of Jack Rabbit

You don’t have to be in the mood for wine tasting to pull in at boutique vineyard The House of Jack Rabbit – although if you are, give the pinot noir a go. These days smart wineries are multi-tasking, and The House of Jack Rabbit has made sure its restaurant and café are as much an attraction as the cellar door. The views across the bay to Geelong, the You Yangs and Melbourne are panoramic, and what’s on the plate is just as enticing. Good options include the wallaby shank salad and the fried local squid, or tuck into a buddha bowl of black bean and brown rice with avocado and capsicum.

See jackrabbitvineyard.com


Six waterfront lunch spots worth the trip from Melbourne
The Cape Kitchen and its room with a view

No-one plans a seaside lunch and hopes for bad weather. However, if your booking is at The Cape Kitchen at Newhaven, looming clouds may be the best thing that could happen. While this restaurant is glorious on a sunny day, its front-and-centre views of Bass Strait can be even more magnificent when the weather is tumultuous and the ocean turns up the drama. As for the food, choose between grazing on share plates on the deck – think grilled Skull Island prawns or spiced lamb kofta – or opt for the two- or three-course set menu inside.

See thecapekitchen.com.au


Same same but different. Surrounded by glorious Apollo Bay views instead of street art, Movida’s Lorne outpost delivers that inimitable Movida vibe, while playing up the seaside feel with a menu showcasing local seafood. Start small – perhaps with a serve of concha, a pastry shell stuffed with tuna sashimi and charred citrus – so that you can indulge yourself with the whole flounder served with saffron butter sauce. If you need to walk it off, add an after-lunch stroll to Teddy’s Lookout or Erskine Falls to the agenda.

See movida.com.au


The Age, News. Waterfront lunches worth the drive. Pic shows waiter Nathan derix- brown at Crittendon Estate. Pic Simon Schluter 15 January 2020.

Photo: Simon Schluter

With a bucolic setting overlooking a willow-fringed lake – there are even ducks, for goodness sake! – Stillwater at Crittenden Estate Winery has the long lunch feel sorted. The kitchen teams seasonal produce from the kitchen garden with the latest harvest from local organic growers, and dishes draw on a range of flavours from around the globe. Start with spiced quail tempura teamed with roast sweetcorn and puffed rice or zucchini flowers with heirloom tomatoes, basil oil and olive crumbs, before moving on to a tender sous vide lamb rump or a perfectly roasted turmeric cauliflower.

See stillwateratcrittenden.com.au

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