Snaptastic in Kakadu, Cape York hooked up and Queenstown communes: Takeoff travel news



TECH
Snap to it!
Ditch the hard drive of photos you’ll never look at and go retro with Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 8 cameras, for instant gratification from instant photos. The camera runs on two AA batteries and pops out instant pics at a wallet-friendly 62x46mm. Accept its limitations – no zoom, no macro mode and, incredibly, you have to look through a viewfinder – it’s ideal for cute wedding snaps or of you ’n’ your bestie, and has a cult following that includes Katy Perry and Taylor Swift.  Available in seven colours including the new raspberry and grape, the camera come with a 10-pack of film, and additional packs costs $15-20. Yes, it does come in macho black. The grape-coloured camera is exclusive to Target, all other colours available in Ted’s Camera Stores, Harvey Norman, Big W, Officeworks and Kmart, $99. See fujifilm.com.au.

AIRLINE
Cape York
Cape York once again is linked by air with Cairns following the launch of new flights to the regional hub of Bamaga, population 1000. The weekday flights are operated by Regional Express, running a Saab 340 to the Northern Peninsula Area airport, 35km from the tip of Cape York. The flights will appeal to time-poor travellers aiming for the northernmost point of mainland Australia, choosing a two-hour flight over a two-day, 850km drive. The Cape is a tourist hot spot in the dry winter months and renowned for its spectacular fishing. The newly refurbished Cape York Peninsula Lodge (formerly the Bamaga Resort) has 44 suites, rooms and eco-tents and is part-owned by ATSI communities, so all profits go directly back to local schools, health programs and its hospitality training program (from $309 a night, B&B, see cypeninsulalodge.com.au). Hire a 4WD in Bamaga, Weipa and Lockhart, or ferry through the Torres Strait Islands and back to Cairns from nearby Seisia, (phone 1800 424 422, see seaswift.com.au). One-way flights from Cairns to Bamaga cost from $248. Phone 131 713, see rex.com.au.
Photo: Paul Arnold
PHOTOGRAPHY
Shoot to thrill
Smile at a crocodile: it’s a snap with professional photographer and bushman Paul Arnold, who is running new photography tours in Kakadu during the dry season until November. Arnold will lead groups of seven out onto Yellow Water Billabong for a two-hour cruise to spot crocs, learn to frame Kakadu’s dramatic landscapes and capture its teeming birdlife ($250 a person). Otherwise, join a two-hour walk to the billabong from Cooinda Lodge Kakadu ($50) or take a two-hour course that helps get your DSLR camera off auto mode ($110). Arnold will also be holding photo nights, sharing tips and his secret locations, at the lodge (one hour, $30). “I've spent the last 20 years exploring Australia's unique countryside, and that is where my interest in photography began,” he says.  See paularnold.com.au or kakadutourism.com. Stays at the indigenous owned Gagudju Lodge Cooinda cost from $179 a night or $41 for a campsite. See gagudju-dreaming.com. 

GEAR
Glam metallic
You can be sure that’s your luggage, shimmying down the carousel. Amongst a sea of black, the new Altitude range from Australian luggage brand Paklite is hard to miss, with its glossy copper or gun-metal metallic finish. Made from lightweight polycarbonate composite, the range comes in three sizes, large (weighs 4.2kg, packs 115l), medium (weighs 3.5kg, packs 85l) and the cabin bag, which has a quick-access front pocket and padded laptop compartment (weighs 2.8kg, packs 40l). All include heavy-duty handles, TSA locks and combinations and four wheels, and the two larger bags expand generously to accommodate in your shopping finds. Phone 1300 303 021, see paklite.com.au.



FOOD
Beyond the cellar door
Enter a wonderland of wine when you visit Vasse Felix, the founding wine estate of the Margaret River region and the newest member of Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia (UWEA).       Vasse Felix has launched two bespoke experiences, the Vasse Felix Original tour, $45, which goes through the history of the label and winds up with a private tasting, and the Vasse Felix Epicurean, $185, which adds a three-course meal with matching wines. Experiences at other wineries in the group include being a winemaker for a day, taking a helicopter flight over Tasmania’s wine-producing Tamar Valley or tasting and interpreting MONA. See ultimatewineryexperiences.com.au.
Vasse Felix winery, Western Australia

HOTEL
Community in Queenstown
Recently named the top tourist destination in the South Pacific by the TripAdvisor community (bumping off Our Sydney), Queenstown hotel newcomer Sherwood pitches itself as a creative hub for travellers. The eco-friendly hotel’s 78 rooms welcomes all comers, from lakeview studios to budget-conscious double-bed bunks in dorms. Tapping into the clean, green vibe, there’s a wholefoods restaurant fuelled by its own biodynamic garden, a yoga studio, bikes and winter ski hire. Sherwood is unashamedly Kiwi, stocking local craft beers in the mini-bar, woollen blankets from the South Island, manuka honey and myrtle soaps and local artists’ work on the walls. The hotel overlooks Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables Mountain Range, is five minutes’ drive to the city centre and 30 minutes to the Coronet Peak ski fields. Rooms range from NZ$165 for a standard king to NZ$285 a night for the two-bedroom terraced loft, which sleeps two adults and up to five kids.  See sherwoodqueenstown.nz.
Sherwood, Queenstown

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

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