Farewell, toxic world: Takeoff travel news

Farewell, toxic world
Learn to achieve true wellness in a world where we are exposed daily to toxins, in a once-off retreat at the luxurious Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat. The two-night retreat on the Gold Coast hinterland is led by Professor Marc Cohen, head of Wellness Discipline in the School of Health Sciences at RMIT University. With simple solutions to reduce your exposure and increase your wellbeing, ‘Wellness in a Toxic World’ runs May 22-24. The weekend includes two nights’ eco-accommodation, all organic food and drinks, transfers from Gold Coast airport and a 50-minute massage in the indoor/outdoor Spa Sanctuary. Costs from $1175 a person, twin share. Phone 1800 219 272, see gwinganna.com.  

Master host
Eat like a local, with a local, on a new food tour by Masterchef winner and proud Tasmanian Ben Milbourne. Like armies, adventurers travel on their stomachs and we have an appetite for Tassie’s burgeoning food tourism scene, unsurprising given that the isle produces not only apples, but also truffles, wasabi, rare-breed meats, single malt whiskey and chocolate. And that’s aside from the staples of salmon and wine. On the One Degree Experience tour, Ben wines and dines up to eight guests at his residence, Fairholme, a 1920s farmhouse in Spreyton, 10 minutes from Devonport. You’ll hit the big guns, such as Hellyer's Road Distillery and Anvers House of Chocolate, but also go off-piste in north-west Tasmania to dig out boutique beer, ginseng and dairy from the hands of the producers themselves. The tailor-made tours include lunch, a take-home hamper, cooking demo and five-course degustation dinner. From $550 a person.  Phone 0428 266 545, see benmilbourne.com.au.

Light and bright
The old design maxim, "Say it in French, it always sounds better," also rings true for visual appeal – the Lipault Paris luggage range is sure to brighten the world’s baggage carousels with its two new spring-inspired colours, duck blue and orange. Taking cues from Parisian catwalks, designer Fran├žois Lipovetsky has ultra-lightweight luggage cred, having created baggage for Air France. The Original Plume is a soft-sided wheeled trolley that comes in three sizes, 55cm (2.8kg), 65cm (3.4kg) and 92cm (3.8kg), from $229. Best of all, it’s foldable, so your storage cupboards aren’t full of bulky suitcases between jaunts. Match it up with the Lady Plume carry-all, $99. First launched in 2005 and recently purchased by Samsonite, the Lipault Paris range has been available in Australia only since November. Snap up in all the best places; Selfridges in London, Galeries Lafayette in Paris or Myer in Australia, or phone 1800 331 690.

Bird's eye view
Think staycation, think walking past your office on a weekend? Sail to a secluded island with world-class views, but still use your metro card to get there when you stay on Cockatoo Island. The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust has added a new two-bedroom apartment to the accommodation on the UNESCO World Heritage site, which is on the Balmain ferry route. The new self-contained apartment has a balcony facing the harbour, an enclosed garden and sleeps up to four. Formerly a police station, learn about the Federation-era building on an audio tour of Cockatoo Island’s history or call for cocktails beneath striped umbrellas and watch the sun set at the Island Bar. The Cockatoo Island Garden Apartment has a full kitchen, laundry and all linen. Costs from $370 a night, midweek, or $280 as a one-bedroom stay. See cockatooisland.gov.au.

That's the Spirit
A new restaurant, more bars, two new cinemas and new recliners are on the cards when the hardworking Tasmanian ferries, the Spirit of Tasmania I and II, undergo major makeovers over the coming months. It’s the first time in 13 years the ships will have had a major refit since they started working the Melbourne-Devonport route in 2002. All decks will have changes, including refurbishment of the deluxe cabins and a refresh in all other classes, a new kids’ zone and teen area, and new lounge areas to showcase Tasmanian wines, ciders and beers. Some things don’t change. “We’re still going to have the same ocean views, relaxing atmosphere and sensational Tasmanian cuisine,” says Spirit of Tasmania CEO Bernard Dwyer. The refurbishment will be complete by September. The Spirit of Tasmania ships are also increasing day sailings this year, and offering half-price travel from May 16 to September 17 when you book by April 4. Day sailings cost from $43 one-way, night sailings from $48 one-way in an ocean recliner. Phone 1800 634 906, see spiritoftasmania.com.au.

A novel idea
What’s the quintessential read of New York, Vietnam or even Brisbane? Find a book that captures the soul of your destination with tripfiction.com, which links up books and the regions in which they’re set. The British website was born in 2012 with just 1000 books, and now has five times that amount, covering fiction and non-fiction including memoirs, across 1100 locations. It’s free to register, which will allow you to create your own must-read list. You can also add your own books and reviews, which are moderated by the site’s founders, Tina Hartas and Tony Geary. The discussion board turns up some interesting topics, from ‘best Scandiavian noir’ to ‘new Yemeni thriller’, and is sure to guarantee itchy feet. For those who travel by airplane or armchair. See tripfiction.com.

The Takeoff travel news, by Belinda Jackson, is published every Sunday in Sydney's Sun-Herald newspaper's Traveller section.  

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