Destination: Australia with Susie Boswell

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As much as we love our neighbouring getaways of Fiji, Bali and so on, Aussies travelling at home in three sectors – on holidays, visiting friends and relatives (VFR) and for business – are at their best level for four years. Statistics released last month show trip numbers other than day trips up five per cent, nights stayed up six per cent to total 279 million and expenditure by the three sectors leaping 10 per cent to $50 billion. More than half the total derives from independent holidaymakers. Admittedly, VFR travellers and mining-related business travel have shown greater growth than independent holidaying: nevertheless the sector is also up. Despite the high A$ making international travel attractive, domestic travel has returned to pre-GFC levels.

Australian tourism’s other income, from international visitors, is stimulated in large part by Tourism Australia’s overarching promotional campaign “There’s Nothing Like Australia” (a $250m marketing spend over the next three years). Its latest incarnation cropped up in the form of a 90-second commercial on our TV screens last month at the same time as it was launched in Shanghai. The new campaign’s not only being seen in the US, UK and China (our fastest-growing, most lucrative market) – and to run in 18 markets in all – but is scheduled nationally at home to give us a “feel good” vibe about our own country possibly not experienced since Paul Hogan’s 1980’s “Shrimp on the barbie” TV and cinema commercials. These days the delivery medium is augmented by “online advocacy” or “word of mouse”, via email, websites, blogs, video sites like YouTube, social networking via Facebook and Twitter, and apps. And in line with current-day affluence and demand (larrikin “mate” Hogan and Lara Bingle in bikini so last-century), the new creative theme showcases “a more contemporary, sophisticated, energetic and inspiring Australia”, and presents a stronger image of the quality – against traditionally okker – experiences our country has to offer.

Twelve standout locations showing off our best natural and man-made attractions feature in the new music-video compilation: in WA’s Kimberley – Purnululu in the Bungle Bungle Ranges; Cape Leveque on Dampier Peninsula; and El Questro Wilderness Park. In Qld – Surfers Paradise/Gold Coast, the Whitsundays’ Hayman Is, and the Great Barrier Reef’s topmost resort, Lizard Is. In SA – Kangaroo Is. In Tasmania – Saffire Lodge on Freycinet Peninsula. In Vic – Southbank on Melbourne’s Yarra (and in online versions, the Great Ocean Road and Twelve Apostles). NSW has Sydney Harbour and the Blue Mountains’ Wolgan Valley Resort. The NT, naturally, is represented by Uluru. Canberra gets a look-in on digital versions. These are our top-line resorts and locations … others such as Broome, Kakadu, Margaret River and Wilson Island were possibly discarded short of making a feature-length movie. The soundtrack, It’s Like Love, has attracted popular interest and acclaim and is the result of a competition, Making Tracks, devised by TA with YouTube and Google last year. Four international classical musicians were invited to Australia, each paired with a promising local musician to travel the country and create a composition inspired by their journey. It’s Like Love was chosen from the four resulting collaborations. It was written by Aussie singer-songwriter Dewayne Everettsmith and American viola player, 22-year-old Jasmine Beams. Dewayne, from Hobart, is descended from the Aboriginal community of Cape Barren Island and Victoria’s Gunai-Kurnai people. His singing and guitar-playing has taken him to New Zealand, American Samoa, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and many parts of Australia; he has supported John Farnham and performed with Paul Kelly. The song’s refrain runs: “It’s like love, Cleanse your soul, Feel it in your veins, Breathe it in – your lungs will stain. It’s like love, For the first time, It’ll all make sense, You know you know it.”

Not all of us can afford the luxury resorts featured, although we can experience the same essence in countless other locations. But if you’re stimulated to patriotism and to try the best:

Hayman has a Romantic Escape offer of four nights’ accommodation for two in a Pool room with breakfast daily in Azure (one of Australia’s best brekkies), French champers and chocolates on arrival, a three-course dinner with wine and couple’s spa massage from $1292pp twin share. Included are paddle-skiing, windsurfing, cat sailing, gym, sauna, steam room, tennis, squash, croquet, golf putting and chipping and yoga. Nothing matches Hayman’s restaurants, private dining, beach, pool, island picnics and general chi-chi ambience, a very special “one off” feeling. Fly to Proserpine (Airlie Beach/Shute Harbour) or Hamilton Island (Great Barrier Reef Airport) for launch transfers, $290 adult return. 1800 075 175.

For a rock star experience on exclusive Lizard Island, free return flights ex Cairns worth $1156 each are offered for twin share bookings, five nights, to December 20. Peerless. 1300 863 180.

This story was published in issue 80 Greater Port Macquarie Focus

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