Have A Go News newspaper recently published my list of the Top Ten No Tech Travel Accessories that you should have on every trip. They’re also all lightweight and easy to store.
Aquatabs are as close as I get to panic prep packing but because they are easy to tuck in your toiletries bag with other medications they’re worth having if you ever doubt the safety of the water you’re drinking.
Have a Go News is distributed throughout Western Australia to nearly 2000 community centres, recreation centres, supermarkets and more.
So, my Top 10, in no particular order but I must admit the first thing in any of my bags is a pen . . .
Are you a tourist? Are you a local? Are you interested, curious, amazed or attracted to learning more about the oldest living culture on Earth?
Here are my Top 10 Aboriginal Tours and Experiences in Western Australia, a state that stretches across a land that is over 2.5 million square kilometres with the worlds most beautiful beaches, remote deserts and ancient forests:
Six Seasons Tour at Pullman Bunker Bay Resort (see featured image with local Elder Nina Webb showing Tom Parry how to use the guidebook while Pullman Bunker Bay Resort General Manager Leighton Yates watches on).
Camping With Custodians (Pilbara and Kimberley Regions)
Bindjareb Park (Pinjarra, South West Region)
Black Tracks (Kununurra)
Wuddi Cultural Tours and Centre (Dumbleyung, Wheatbelt Region)
Laverton Art Gallery (Laverton, Northern Goldfields)
Nyungar Tours (Perth)
Yamaji Art Gallery (Geraldton, Mid West Region)
Mandjoogoordap Dreaming (Mandurah)
Jacks Story Telling Kojonup (Don’t let Jack tell you the tea is made from bush plants. He gets it from the local supermarket up the road.)
These are experiences for the world to be proud of.
I recently spent a brilliant evening on Radio Melayu chatting about my recent adventures and how we all need to find a way to get packing and escape winter by getting overseas or embracing winter and snuggling into a gorgeous resort down south.
The link below features descriptions for a few of my new favourite things, including Bali’s spectacular new resort the Apurva Kempinski Bali, Hong Kong Star Ferries and markets, Hong Kong Disneyland, Pullman Bunker Bay Resort and amazing airlines for travelling with children, including Malindo Air, Batik Air and Cathay Pacific.
Some of those golden rules about travel are still gold standard today. The featured image for this story comes courtesy of my son Tom who took the photo while I was trying antigravity yoga at Four Seasons Jimbaran, a very safe and very luxurious resort in Bali.
Travel should increase your sense of daring but not heighten your sense of stupidity. When we travel we should do things outside our comfort zone but not at the risk of needing a helicopter medical evacuation.
Similar to the choices we make when we travel, we need to consider what we travel with. These days it’s the SIM cards, power banks, cables and chords to provide the life support systems for your phone which carries the apps, emails and photos of everything you need. Or does it?
Back in the day, but still for me today, I have a standard list of ten things ready to go in my favourite bag. I know they’re there if I need them and none of them need charging.
Pen – Even if it’s just to complete the arrival card while you’re flying, it’s worth it.
Alcohol swab – not to suck on if the bar prices are too high but for any scratch you get, particularly if you’re doing a bit of trekking. Light to carry and easy to store in a pocket or wallet, just a quick wipe and you know that you’ve cleaned your little wound. Also handy if you really need to touch a dodgy tap or door handle.
Bags – Little zip lock bags and scrunched up shopping bags may be frowned upon these days but they have endless valuable uses when you travel. They’re a quick and easy sick bag, storage for a phone if you’re heading near water, you can store wet clothes and unexpected things you’ve bought and you can safely store those stolen buffet breakfast items.
Aquatabs – This is as close as I get to doomsday prepping when I travel but given they are light and easy to store it’s not like I’m stocking up on cartons of tomato soup for a nuclear winter. If you get caught without a safe water supply these little tablets can save you and whoever you are travelling with. In not much more time than it takes to dissolve, they turn a dodgy water source into a lifesaver.
Safety Pin – This will make you look more presentable if you bust a button or zip and you can use it to carefully scratch at a splinter.
Hard copy – Yes you’ve got all your passport copies, itineraries and bookings in your phone but what happens if the phone can’t save you because it’s broken or stolen? Save yourself by having copies (in a zip lock bag of course) and put them in the bottom of your bag hopefully never to be needed but they won’t take up any weight or space. Countries like South Africa will want to see hard copies of travel documents, particularly if you’re travelling with a child.
Tissues – Remember Elaine in Seinfeld being caught in a toilet with no paper and the lady in the next cubicle saying, “I haven’t got a square to spare.” Last year in Italy I found myself in a cubicle with no paper and lets just say it was too late to back out of that situation. Thankfully I remembered that in my little day bag I have a couple of tissues (in a zip lock bag of course) for that unexpected sneeze …. or worse.
Spare glasses – If you need glasses you need to take a spare pair. Why travel to see the sights if you can’t see the sights?
Cut up photos in envelopes – This isn’t a dad joke bit it is the dad traveller in me. When tech fails and there’s a flight delay or other unexpected period of boredom, a few envelopes that have got cut up photocopies of photos make great jigsaw puzzles and keep young minds occupied for precious minutes. Again, they’re light and easy to store.
Repack – Not an item but a travel procedure. Make time in your travels to repack and refamiliarize yourself with your belongings and where they are located in your bags. Work out what you need for the next day and whether you need to keep the bundle of receipts from the days shopping. Is there anything you now realize you don’t need that you can donate to a local charity or post back home?
That’s my ten. I like to think I’m a good traveller and that I cover bases for myself and those I travel with. Remember it’s not just about what you’re prepared for but what those you’re with are prepared for.
The picture below is an example of where I possibly didn’t consider the wants of my travelling companion.
In a recent Friday night conversation with Chris Ilsley on 6PR Perth Tonight we had a great conversation about undiscovered lands in well discovered countries, particularly Puglia in Italy and Kerala in India. If you’d like to listen, the link below should take you to the 6PR website.
Discover these regions before everyone else does. In Puglia do a walking tour with Exodus Travels through olive groves and ancient towns. In Kerala, explore the quiet streets of Fort Kochi and be surrounded not by the crush of congestion like India’s north but by the scent of spices being harvested and dried in the laneways of this peaceful and beautiful region known throughout India as ‘God’s own country’.
Pic above: Matera in Puglia is one of Europes most ancient cities and is the 2019 European City of Culture.
Pic above: As busy as traffic gets in Fort Kochi, Kerala. Visit the spice traders of Fort Kochi, watch the Chinese Fishing Nets be raised at sunset, recline in the gondolas of the Allepey Backwater canals and walk through the tea plantations of the Munnar Highlands.
What a great chat on Saturday morning ABC Breakfast with Christine Layton, discussing the Australia Day events from Broome to Albany to keep you entertained and then a few suggestions for daytrips and overnighters throughout Western Australia. Get out there and find new adventures even on the most well trodden path.
Below are some pics to help you pick your next regional day trip or overnighter. Have you been to Bridgetown or Rockingham recently?
Above: Go down The Rabbit Hole on the main street of Bridgetown for an amazing range of local artist workshops and galleries.
Above: There’s no way you will leave the lolly shop in Bridgetown without a smile on a face and a bag full of sweet treats.
Above: Get to Rockingham which has the best range of aquatic activities in Western Australia. Kite surf in Safety Bay, visit the penguins and dolphins on Penguin Island and in Shoalwater Bay, swim with dolphins off Palm Beach, hire jet skis, jet packs, stand up paddle boards, kayaks or cast a line on the beach and flick in some whiting and flathead.
They make movies here. It’s a land that gave birth to one of the worlds greatest crooners and one of the worlds greatest songs. Below are some links to my story, published in The Starfish and also by Have A Go Newspaper. This is a love story. This is a story about Puglia, a land with towns that one junior reviewer of my work described as, ‘being full of towns with funny names’. He’s right. Puglia does have lots of towns with names you just want to keep on saying, not just for the memories but for the mood it puts you in, just like humming a few bars of ‘Volare’.
The following story, as published by Karryon (www.karryon.com.au), shares with you the exploits of my daughter and I in a remarkable part of South Africa:
As my daughter Matilda and I touch down on a little airstrip in the Madikwe Reserve in South Africa for a safari with Sanctuary Makanyane Luxury Safari Lodge, the next ten minutes are as imprinted on my mind as the birth thirteen years ago of the girl beside me. Every second as vivid, exhilarating and heart thumping as life can throw at you.
Just seconds after departing the airstrip an impala leapt lightly to the side of the track and the gasps of Matilda led our guide, Kaiser, to turn his head to check if we were OK.
Imagine our behaviour less than ten seconds later when a big bull elephant was standing alongside the track. A real elephant in the real wild. Then at our first river crossing we saw zebra, waterbuck, warthog, impala and a monitor lizard. I was looking for Elton John to start singing the Circle of Life.
CHECK-IN & BEYOND
As we approach the Makanyane Safari Lodge I notice a gathering of people at the entrance and think that we must have arrived at a busy time with people checking in and checking out, the usual commotion of a hotel reception area.
Remarkably, the gathering was the management team of Makanyane Safari Lodge, out to welcome us. I had thought a free iced tea on arrival at some of the South East Asian resorts I’ve visited was pretty flash but this was taking things to another level.
Furthermore, it wasn’t because I was travelling with the most gorgeous girl in the world, it is just what they do for all of their arriving guests, for which there are no more than sixteen at any time. For the next few days we experience not just a luxurious way of life but a level of service that was more akin to friendship than customer service.
Accommodation is spread across just eight luxurious suites that are more like small houses. Each suite is well spaced from the others and built from thatch and stone. The air-conditioned bedroom and bathroom have floor to ceiling windows overlooking a river but I highly recommend the outdoor shower to instantly get you back to nature.
While they are mostly intended to be occupied by couples, the suites pass the rigorous privacy test of a father and daughter. There is plenty of space to do what needs to be done without cries of, “Gross!”
In between game drives and meals, we sit and watch the environment that is just outside our suite. We spot snakes in the trees, monitor lizards, birds and monkeys while other travellers we meet have watched zebra, elephant and kudu make their way along the riverbank in front of their window.
For meals at the lodge there is always plenty of choice and Matilda and I are quick converts to South African cuisine. We loved the gamey flavour of ostrich skewers and tang and spice of chakalaka and love saying it almost as much as bobotie. Chakalaka is a vegetable relish that can used alongside anything while bobotie is a spicy mince dish that is baked with an egg topping.
Matilda and I are warmly included in forming a larger group at mealtimes despite her being the only child at the lodge and all of the other guests being honeymooners. She probably hears a few stories that aren’t quite age appropriate but having heard some of her exclamations upon getting close to roaring lions and charging elephants perhaps I need to reassess her ability to understand the world around her.
We depart Makanyane Safari Lodge in much the same way as we arrived, in the company of the staff who embrace us. Around our vehicle are the friends we have made and as we take a final look at the faces who have pampered us, fed us, protected us and taught us, I hope they truly understand the impact they have had on our life. Experiences that I hope my daughter will describe to her children one day and inspire them to add this remarkable land to their travel bucket list.
The Sanctuary Makanyane Luxury Safari Lodge is located within the lost world of the Madikwe Reserve and is one of the few Malaria free safari locations in South Africa.
Madikwe Reserve is in South Africa’s North West Province, close to the border of Botswana and just a short flight by light aircraft from Johannesburg. It is surrounded by a ridge of hills and well protected by antipoaching patrols.
South African Airways is the flag carrier airline for South Africa and flies regularly to Johannesburg’s O.R Tambo International Airport. From the airport, it’s a one hour flight with Federal Airlines to the Madikwe Reserve or a three hour drive, renting a car from the airport.
Prices at Sanctuary Makanyane Safari Lodge start from ZAR 7,500 per person per night, twin share, for 1 – 3 nights, including all meals and drinks (excluding premium brands) and transfers to and from the airstrip to the Lodge plus a choice of daily shared game viewing activities.
But for even better savings, take advantage of Sanctuary Retreats’ extended stay offer 2018, when you stay at one or more of our properties including Sanctuary Makanyane Safari Loge depending on your season of travel.
Stay 4 – 6 nights and save up to 30%.
Stay 7+ nights and save up to 40%.
Terms and conditions apply.
For more information about Sanctuary Retreats visit:
South Africa has very strict anti-child slavery rules. It is important to ensure that if you’re travelling as a single parent with a child to South Africa that prior to your travel you complete the immigration form and have it correctly signed by a valid certifying agent and, if possible, correspondence from the other parent of the child that certifies permission to travel to South Africa.
Be conscious of the timing and detail provided in social media posting of your safari experience as poaching is a serious issue throughout Africa and any notification of where an animal is located may be of use to poachers.
“I found out long ago, it’s a long way down the holiday road”
That line, from Lindsay Buckingham’s, ‘Holiday Road’, theme tune for the movie, ‘Vacation’, is so evocative of those road trips from the past and the present.
Peeling mandarins, playing travel games based on the colour of oncoming vehicles, the stench of spilled milkshakes and the music that never suited every passenger in the car so it all got turned off.
My discussion on the ABC Saturday Breakfast Show about roadtrips turned into more of a nostalgic romp through time for Charlotte, Jamie and I and we almost forgot to mention some of the good road trips from Perth that can take you to so many wonderful places.
The Avon Valley, the Ferguson Valley and Dryandra Forest are all ideal day trips from Perth that make even better overnight mini vacations.
A good road trip is all about the journey as much as the destination so make sure you pull off the road and discover a new roadhouse sausage roll or a granite outcrop full of lizards basking in the sun.
Enjoy listening to our roadtrip discussion in the link at the top of this page. Hopefully it brings back fond memories and is just a little bit inspiring for when that next long weekend comes around.
The file above is from a conversation on ABC radio, The Breakfast Show with Charlotte and Jamie, about virtual reality tourism. I hope you enjoy listening to it.
Virtual Reality Tourism has the potential to shake up the travel industry in a lot of good ways.
I had the opportunity last year with my son to be the first to experience the Virtual Reality Roller Coaster at Legoland Malaysia and the combination of reality and virtual reality made an entirely new sensory experience that was exciting and wonderful.
Over the years, I’ve described to people on radio, to students in classrooms and to my friends and family the experience of trekking the jungles of Borneo, retracing the footsteps of Australian and British Prisoners of War. While slipping on a pair of goggles in the comfort of your sofa will not give you a sense of exhaustion and emotion, it will give you an experience that is different to listening to reading. Seeing in your goggles the clinging vines, sucking mud, slippery slopes and rocks will inform your mind and help create new ways to understand a story you have been told or read about.
Virtual Reality tourism may create a whole new binge opportunity. Rather than spending the whole day watching every series of a favourite tv show, you could scuba dive all day long and all around the world, or wander the great museums of the world.
The cultural sensitivity of many areas may create amazing virtual reality opportunities, such as climbing Uluru.
Virtual reality tourism will help those with disability and affordability issues to join in experiences they may otherwise not be able to do. Virtual reality tourism will enable the tourism industry to offer more, on a scale that is inclusive and safe.