Good News for Travellers to Australia

With a bit of luck, the time spent in the queues to get through customs has just been dramatically shortened.

Airport Joy for Fed Up Australian Travellers

The new regulations mean that processed and prepackaged foods will not need to be declared on arrival. Biosecurity will now

“focus on looking for goods such as raw meats, live plants, seeds and fresh fruit and vegetables, which have a much greater potential to bring diseases and pests to Australia.”

A move which will no doubt be welcomed by homesick Kiwis wanting to bring home their favourite flavour of Hubbard’s Cereal!



More tips for travelling long distances with kids

Gummy Bears
Image by wishymom via Flickr

Kid Friendly has just published some tips for travelling long distances with kids. They have also done a comparison of the low cost carriers who fly from Australia. Both are good articles worth reading.

The best tip I have ever heard for dealing with long car trips with kids is to buy a bag of sweets before the trip starts. Every time the kids misbehave in the car or get rowdy, simply roll down your window and throw one of the sweets out! Make sure of course that the kids notice you throwing the lolly away! When you reach the destination, the kids may share whatever is left in the bag of lollies.

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Where have you been all my life?

Two pails and troweld on Asilomar State Beach
Image via Wikipedia

There’s no shortage of wonderful travel sites out there, but there are also a plethora of them that totally fail to live up to their own hype. You know the ones – you think you’re going to find great world wide accommodation deals, only to discover they  cover a whole three states in the USA. Or they have loads of wonderful places – it’s just that the site is written in ancient Polish. 

Yesterday thanks to Mashable I discovered a fabulous, fabulous site that focused on vacation / holiday rental properties world wide. Vacation rental properties are one of the key ways to have an affordable family holiday, and this fabulous site delivers in buckets. You can search by name or drill down on a map. It’s fast, it’s slick, it’s… it’s… fabulous.

Not perhaps the world’s most memorable site name, make sure you bookmark Otalo for planning your next vacation. I love the fact that it starts your breadcrumb trail with “Earth” as if there’s some future chance of it starting with “The Moon” or “Mars”. Gotta keep potential expansion opportunities in mind! I love the fact that not only can I find properties overseas but also right here in Australia. We certainly could have done with a site like this the last time we went to NZ. *sigh* Better late than never, huh? You can mark favourite properties with a little heart. I can tell you right now, I Otalo.

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How fragile life is

I don’t have the words to express what a horrific weekend this has been for so many in Australia. The bushfires in Victoria have been the worst ever and the devastation is massive. If you haven’t seen the news, there are accounts on all of the major Australian online news sites:
Herald Sun Frontpage
The Age Frontpage

This is a map of the fires

View Larger Map

Another interactive map here.

This is a terrifying and wrenching account of being caught in the bushfire and surviving

While we ourselves have been safe it is a very surreal feeling to have been so close and yet to have come through unscathed. (For which we are eternally grateful). We live about half an hour away from the closest fires. It has been like watching a huge rock being dropped in a pond and watching the ripples spread further and further out. At the centre you have the people who have lost their lives or families and their homes. They have suffered the most and are the ones counted by the news reports in the terrible tallies. But then you have the ones next to the epicentre, the ones who have suffered terrible burns and injuries, who fill up the emergency departments. Then there are the people who don’t live where the fires are but who have lost relatives or friends. There are the people who can’t contact their relatives or friends and who don’t know what has happened. And there is the huge toll on animals that is so easy to overlook, including farms being wiped out, and Healesville Zoo evacuated. On Saturday when temperatures reached 46 degrees (115 F) one of our hens died just from the heat.

And then you have the people who are tourists or travellers who have been affected. My Aunt and cousin are over here visiting from New Zealand. They went to stay with another Aunt over the weekend who lives in rural Victoria – they haven’t been able to get back to Melbourne because the highways and back roads have been closed. The train isn’t expected to run again until later this week. Yea and Healesville are very popular tourist destinations with lots vineyards. On Saturday there were weddings planned to take place in these locations that were severely impacted. In Yea the town was cut off on three sides by fires. A good reminder that travel insurance is a really good thing.

Notes here on Bushfires for Tourists

The fires are still going and the toll is rising all the time. I am sure the ripples will continue to be felt for quite some time to come.

Links are here for people wanting to help survivors:
Bushfire help
Bushfire appeals

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Doing the Happy Chicken Dance


It’s safe to come back, I’m as happy as Chicken Little with a crate of Red BulliWork 09 and iLife 09 arrived!!!!

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[amtap amazon:asin=B0014X4O7C]

The first thing I launched was iPhoto 09… holy map-making-photo-software Batman!!! After installing it asked me if I wanted to add locations for my photo library. The next thing I know I’m looking at a map of our corner of Australia with pins in all the places I’ve taken photos with my  iphone. Clicking on the pin showed the photos taken at that location. 

I haven’t even had a chance to look at the new photo books but apparently there are now travel ones that include maps or locations. This is going to be fabulous for any traveller who wants to document their adventures. 

I also had a quick delve into the face recognition aspect. I was fascinated by who the program thought looked most like each other – might settle a few family debates!

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