Celebrate Indigenous culture
The Barunga Festival will return from June 7-9 to 80 kilometers south-east of the Northern Territory town of Katherine, maintaining its long and proud position as one of Australia's most important cultural events, and celebrating the best of Indigenous art, sport, cultural activities, and contemporary and traditional music from remote locations. This year will welcome three generations of Gumbaynggirr musicians, with the quickly rising star Tasman Keith, reuniting with his legendary father Wire MC and distinguished grandfather Billy Jack. This year, the people of Barunga will also welcome singer Sang Mei-Chuan from the Taiwanese Paiwan tribe. Sang is the youngest child of her family, and due to the senior age of her parents only spoke in her native tongue until schooling age where the government enforced a policy forbidding her to speak in her mother language. Now, she works from her studio in Chingshan village teaching children the traditional songs of the Paiwan people and will bring the story of that unique experience to Barunga. Visit www.barungafestival.com.au.
Art Series comes to Perth
Accor will open its first Art Series hotel - a 27-storey building in Hay St - in Perth's CBD in October, the brand's ninth Australian property. Dedicated to Australia's contemporary artists, the fundamental design concept of the 250-room hotel will draw inspiration from its namesake artist, with custom contemporary furnishings and original artworks and prints adorning the walls and halls of the hotel. It will also be home to a new food-and-beverage destination serving Mediterranean cuisine and centred on the hotel's pool area on level one, directly above Hay St. The name of the hotel's namesake artist will be released shortly. Visit artserieshotels.com.au.
Kirkton Park refreshed
Voco Kirkton Park Hunter Valley has reopened its doors following the completion of a refresh and rebrand to IHG's newest upscale brand. Renowned as one of the Hunter Valley's most prestigious estates, the 70-room property now embodies the bold characteristics of Voco, with features ranging from its bright yellow accents to onsite beehives. The estate is located on 70 acres of rolling countryside with outstanding mountain views. The hotel's voguishly appointed rooms include touches such as Aveda accessories, high-speed wi-fi and cosy bedding. Locavore Dining and Epoche Lounge Bar provide lunch and dinner, while The Conservatory is home to the iconic high tea experience overlooking the rose garden. The interactive vegetable garden is utilised daily and celebrates the connection between farmer, gardener and chef, with several beehives also onsite to produce honey for various uses in the restaurant and bar. Visit www.ihg.com/voco/kirktonpark.
African beasts and where to find them
With 30-something trips to southern Afrca under his belt, Abercrombie & Kent's Patrick Clementson is better qualified than most at spotting good leopard country. Of course, the Masai Mara comes near the top of his list but there are a couple of lesser known areas on that list, too. The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, one of Africa's conservation success stories, is right next to the Mara, and home to all of Africa's iconic species, including both black and white rhino, and cheetah. The area is also one of the few places in Kenya where you can see the northern specialty species: the reticulated giraffe, the somali ostrich, the beisa oryx, the gerenuk and the grevy's zebra. In Zambia, Clementson nominates South Luangwa as having very high densities of leopard. "The fact night drives are allowed within the park vastly increases the chances of viewing these famously secretive cats," he said. It's the place where walking safaris were first pioneered, and is also one of the best parks in which to see huge pods of hippo, especially during the height of the dry season when real estate in the ebbing South Luangwa River is at a premium. Visit www.abercrombiekent.com.au.
Walk the Kumano Kodo
World Expeditions reports surging interest in its range of Japanese pilgrim trail walks, such as the Kumano Kodo route. Like the well-known Spanish Camino de Santiago, the Kumano Kodo is an ancient pilgrim route that offers walkers opportunities to walk historic trails - in scenically stunning surrounds - at their own pace. The company's CEO, Sue Badyari, said the Japanese trails are rapidly gaining in popularity, with confident trekkers attracted by the historical and cultural significance of the trails, the delicious food, polite and friendly locals, as well as opportunities to stay in traditional ryokans along the way. The connection between the Camino and the Kumano has been recognised through the Dual Pilgrim program, which was set up to recognise the achievements of people who have walked both. World Expeditions offers a range of guided and self-guided Kumano Kodo walking holidays that qualify for the Dual Pilgrim program. Phone 1300 720 000 or visit www.worldexpeditions.com.
Free flights to Scenic cruises
For its 2020 program of European river cruising, Scenic is offering free flights to Europe on all cruises of 11 days or longer. Guests can also select from a range of new Scenic Freechoice options and Scenic Enrich experiences, including: a choir performance in the magnificent Temple Crypt of the St Sava Cathedral in Belgrade; a tour of the Palais Garnier in the heart of Paris; a tour of Château Malmaison in Conflans, the former residence of Napoleon Bonaparte and Josephine; and meeting the locals in Miltenberg, Germany. The company's 15-day 'Jewels of Europe' itinerary between Amsterdam and Budapest, for instance, is priced from $6695 per person twin-share. Phone 138 128 or visit www.scenic.com.au.