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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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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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.
BEROWRA WATERS INN, BEROWRA WATERS
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.
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.
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THE BOATHOUSE HOTEL, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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A one-stop school holiday destination that keeps the entire family entertained and active doesn’t get much better than Victoria Park, centrally located in Herston and perfect for all ages.
The driving range, with stunning views across the Brisbane city skyscape, is a great option for the tweens or teens who wish to hone their golfing techniques or just have a bit of fun. The range is open day and night, making it perfect for early morning or evening activities to beat the heat. Children using the driving range must be accompanied by an adult.
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Bring the kids down and get them involved in caring for our beaches in the school holidays. We’ll teach them about the native plants that grow in our dunes and then get our hands sandy and plant some. They’ll also learn about the critters that call our dunes home and the ways we can help care for our beaches.
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Australians who are vaccinated against COVID-19 could be able to travel overseas without going into hotel quarantine or even being asked to quarantine at home.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed on Friday that the health advisory committee had been tasked by the national cabinet to come up with a blueprint on options.
“What we are asking the medical expert panel to tell us is what are the thresholds that we need to be able to meet to do things such as the following – Australians who are vaccinated being able to travel overseas and return to Australia and not go into hotel quarantine, potentially not even into home quarantine at all,’’ the Prime Minister said.
“That will be a major change and to extent to which Australians returning from overseas who have had recognised vaccines also approved here in Australia with appropriate accreditation can return to Australia on that same basis and to enable potentially down the track travel from low-risk countries with similar vaccine arrangements.
“No one is saying that any of those things are coming in today but what we are working and planning for and have tasked the medical professionals who advise us on is what are the marks we have to meet to enable us to start opening up Australia more than we are now?”
Australia has already established a ‘travel bubble’ with New Zealand that was finalised in the last week and the PM hinted Singapore could be next.
“That will give us a greater deal of confidence about when we can move to other countries,’’ the PM said.
“I have mentioned Singapore before as an obvious next choice but at this stage it is still some time away. The message from the National Cabinet is we want to open up more, we want to do it safely, we want to ease restrictions, we want to do that in a consistent way across the country.”
There has been some speculation that in the early days of the international border reopening that priority will be given to business travellers and international students ahead of holidaymakers.
“You’re right, the risk may be such you may limit it to exempt categories,’’ the PM said.
“And that would be the sort of thing we would currently allow people to travel for, which is occurring right now, but that could be done with greater confidence because of the vaccination and when they return they may not then have to take up valuable places in hotel quarantine.
“Or it could be more broad as you say. But I can tell you one thing..the more Australians who are vaccinated, the more likelihood there is of being able to have the types of arrangements that I mentioned. If the vaccination population is lower, then that of course limits to options of borders, and of the other things that we’ve spoken about. So all of those options are on the table.”
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When the Currowan bushfire ravaged the NSW south coast last year, Silos owner Rajarshi Ray and his wife, Sophie, opened their winery doors at Berry to provide free food and board to evacuees and their pets. Then floods damaged the bulk of their grapes, so as well as a smaller vintage, they bottled hand sanitiser when COVID-19 hit. Roadwork from the Berry to Bomaderry Princes Highway upgrade right at its front gates has meant one of the best views and cellar doors in the Shoalhaven has been easy to miss. No more. Sip wine (the tri colore of dessert wines makes a great souvenir) or visit the alpacas and purchase their woolly products. See silosestate.com
FEAST AT PILGRIMS
Pilgrims is a 40-year-old Milton icon, now with several outposts including one recently opened in Bronte. The mothership on the main drag in Milton remains a mecca for vegetarians and vegans. Will it be a Bliss burger (mixed grain pattie) or a millennial (curried lentil pattie) for lunch? Buy a big bag of home-made granola so you can take home some South Coast crunch. All this food can fuel your shopping spree to help revitalise the local economy – still hurting since the bushfires. Think of each purchase as a community service. Pop into fancy frock shop Sarah Gabrielle, for Saturday afternoon bubbles while you peruse the sale rack. See pilgrims.cafe
TOUR AND TIPPLE AT CUPITTS ESTATE
Photo: Destination NSW
Former landscape gardener Rosie Cupitt used to run her own garden tours of France until she and her husband, Griff, who ran the Bowral pub, bought this Ulladulla farm in 2003. They converted it to a winery, restaurant, brewery and fromagerie with one of the region’s best views over the Budawang Ranges’ Pigeon House Mountain. Now chief cheesemaker, Rosie and her family are the main cheerleaders of the Slow Food South Coast movement. Sons Wally and Tom make the wine and beer. Daughter-in-law Libby, Tom’s wife, runs the restaurant. Take a tour of the cool stone underground cellar forged from local Milton monzonite rock, to taste any of its 24 varieties or enjoy their brews with views. See cupitt.com.au
MOSEY INTO MILTON’ HOTEL’S MICROBREWERY
Former chef and professional bodyboarder Damian Martin started brewing beer for a family wedding. Now he runs microbrewery Dangerous Ales, out of the 1870 Milton pub. The beautifully restored building re-opened after three years of work in December 2019, just before bushfires devastated the region. A variety of beers (stout, pale ales and even gluten free) are on tap, and are a great accompaniment to the pub’s home-made bread, house marinated olives and tasty counter meals. A new children’s playground will keep the kids happy, while you take in the view to Narrawallee from the new timber deck. Raise a glass in memory of Laurie Andrews who died fighting bushfires at nearby Yatte Yattah during the fires. This was his last timberwork. See themiltonhotel.com.au
RICK STEIN AT BANNISTERS
If there is a more beautiful view than Bannister’s pool bar where you can see frolicking dolphins at sea, it’s yet to be discovered. Come for cocktails or pre-dinner drinks before dining at Rick Stein’s onsite restaurant at Mollymook Beach. The menu changes with the seasons and attentive staff will find you the perfect accompaniment to whatever you order. It’s hard to beat the platter of fresh oysters and prawns. The blue tiled feature wall looks more like Morocco than Mollymook, but taste the fresh seafood and you will understand why foodies flock here for its freshness. See bannisters.com.au
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The penthouse pool is the go here at the Rooftop Bar and grill. Lounge poolside and just gaze at the canopy of gumtrees from this elevated position among the treetops. Or sip ‘n swim, order a coffee or cocktail post-plunging into the pool. You can order fresh baked goods for breakfast, a la carte, or binge at the buffet. Mediterranean- Australian fusion food for lunch or dinner (burrata with grapes and charred sourdough are recommended.) Even though it is just 80 metres from Mollymook Beach, it is hard to leave the comfortable reclining sun loungers. See bannisters.com.au
Helen Pitt stayed as a guest of Bannisters Pavilion.
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A plane carrying Pakistan’s parliament speaker and a number of politicians was forced to turn around on Thursday, after explosives were found in the airport in Afghanistan where the aircraft was set to land.
According to local media, the plane was about to descend when the pilot turned around from landing at Kabul after explosives, apparently years old, were found near an airport building.
While it was not immediately clear who the explosives belonged to, General Reyaz Arian, the commander of Kabul’s international airport, said the explosives were placed at the airport some years ago during construction work.
As a result of the shock discovery, the airport was shut down for several hours on Thursday and all flights in and out of the Afghan capital were either delayed or turned around.
The flight carrying Pakistan’s parliament speaker will be rescheduled rather than cancelled.
Mohammad Sadiq, Pakistan’s special representative for Afghanistan, tweeted about what he said was a “security threat” to the Pakistani delegation.
“The plane was about to descend when the control tower informed the pilot about the airport’s closure,” he said. “New dates for the visit will be decided after mutual consultations.”
It is understood the Pakistani delegation was to stay in the Afghan capital for three days under the leadership of Asad Qaiser, speaker of the lower house of parliament.
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