Gone drovin' and hanging loose: Takeoff travel news

Gone drovin’
Turn your horse’s head to the west on a new droving experience in the Riverina. There are just 20 places available on the new Long Paddock Cattle Drive, which sees you droving a mob of cattle along one of Australia’s iconic stock routes that’s still in use today. There’ll be plenty of big hats, billy tea and bulldust, but there’s also a ready-made camp to return to each night (with stretcher beds!) at Wanganella Creek Camp. Here, local Riverina produce is showcased at each meal, hot showers and horse wranglers on hand to help each rider, from beginners to seasoned hackers. The first two rides will take place from May 1-3 and May 8-10. Riders need to be 18 years and over, costs $2500 a person. See thelongpaddock.com.au/cattle-drive.

Taking care of YourSelfie
Unfortunately for the anti-selfie-stick brigade, modern travel is inextricably linked to technology, with split-second social media replacing more genteel, though less timely postcards. Learn how to digitally unwind with tech mistress Randi Zuckerberg and Celebrity Cruises. Zuckerberg is editor-in-chief of Dot Complicated, sister to Facebook inventor Mark, and the social medium’s former  director of market development and spokesperson. The year-long “Take Care of YourSelfie” campaign helps travellers navigate the delicate tech-travel balance, surely aided by cruise ships’ traditionally steep internet charges and limited access. But stop envisaging a bunch of rabid geeks on bandwidth withdrawal: unplug with spa and health treatments onboard Celebrity’s 11 ships at the Canyon Ranch SpaClub, including the InstaGlow detox ritual, fACEial Time facial, seaweed peat wrAPP and the Texitcure manicure. Phone 1800 754 500, see celebritycruises.com.au.

Wear your Aussie heart on your sleeve
Take a little piece of home on your travels abroad with this chunky eco bracelet made from Tasmanian timbers such as huon pine, myrtle and sassafras. The timber offcuts have been polished into beads and are offset with Tagua seeds from South American rainforests, which are collected by women in impoverished rural communities. The jewellery is available several colourways, and each unique piece is made by Tamika Bannister of Spotted Quoll studio in Launceston, Tasmania. Melbourne online retailer BitsOfAustralia ships free within Australia for purchases over $30, and $15 internationally. Spotted Quoll eco bracelets cost $45, eco necklaces also available, $55. See bitsofaustralia.com.au.

Hang loose in Sydney
The school holidays are over, but Taronga Zoo makes it easy to escape into the wilderness with its new Wild Ropes adventure. The treetop rope course crosses suspension bridges, zip lines and rope climbs. Happily, the ropes don’t hang over lions’ dens: you’ll be dangling over herbivores, either Australian native animals including kangaroos and koalas or its wetlands aviary, during the 90-minute experience, with views to our own Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Open seven days a week, Wild Ropes costs $35/adults, $30 children 10-17 years (minimum 1.4m tall) or $69/$45 with Taronga Zoo entry. See taronga.org.au/wildropes.

Aussies step aboard for Hong Kong
Two Australian natural skincare brands get a sky-high promotion when they are included in Cathay Pacific and Dragonair’s new first and business class amenity kits. Lucky first-class passengers can now slather on Aesop hand cream and lip balm, presented in stackable cases also by Aesop, while business class flyers will receive a perennial Asian favourite, South Australia’s Jurlique, whose hand, lip and day care creams are packed in a case by hip Hong Kong bag manufacturer Seventy Eight Percent. In May, the airline will also reopen its premium airline lounge, The Pier in Hong Kong airport, following a redesign by British design icon Ilse Crawford’s Studioilse. Word is that instead of an open space, it will feel more like ‘a luxurious apartment’. Cathay Pacific launches its Hong Kong-Zurich route on March 29 and Hong Kong-Boston on May 2, and this month adds additional seats on its Sydney-Hong Kong route when it deploys its larger Boeing 777-300ERs on the daily service. See cathaypacific.com.

I'm with the band
The Australian Chamber Choir is hitting the road on its fifth European tour, and this time, it’s asking its friends along. Yeah, you’re with the band. Departing on June 25, you’ll enjoy the sights of Berlin, Copenhagen, Hamburg and Sweden’s Ystad, as well as discovering the sights and sounds of Europe’s medieval villages. There are choir performances in 15th-century churches, Berlin’s Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church and at Denmark’s Sorø International Music Festival, as well as traditional sightseeing highlights such as a visit to Beethoven’s birthplace, in Bonn. The 15-day tour stays in four-star hotels including a converted monastery in Bavaria, and includes coach transport, guides, admission to all the concerts and a (non-compulsory) ‘Friends Choir’, for those who want to sing along. The Friends Tour of Europe 2015 costs $6950 a person, twin share, excluding flights. See auschoir.org.


Takeoff travel news is edited by Belinda Jackson and published in Sydney's Sun-Herald newspaper each week. 

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