Bring on the bubble: airlines plan trans-Tasman take-off

Picnic with Bedouin by the Beaches.
Picnic with Bedouin by the Beaches.

New Zealand expects to open a travel bubble with Australia from March next year - and our major airlines are already planning the take-off.

"It is our intention to name a date in the New Year, once remaining details are locked down," New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced this week.

Quarantine-free travel will also require Australian government approval, which Health Minister Greg Hunt said was likely.

Qantas, which is currently operating two flights per week between Sydney and Auckland, said there was "a huge amount of pent-up demand".

Virgin already has about 70 flights per week scheduled to New Zealand from late March in anticipation of a bubble opening.

Find a farmstay

Airbnb has partnered with Australian Regional Tourism to promote agricultural tourism and uncover the best farmstays and experiences across the country.

Hosts are chosen who offer incredible country hospitality across rural and regional Australia.

Stargaze beneath a brilliant night sky, breathe in the fresh air and enjoy delicious produce harvested straight from the farm. The new partnership makes it easy to find the best of the bush and support those in need this summer and beyond.

Art attack: Melbourne

Exploring some of the most globally relevant and pressing issues of our time, including isolation, representation and speculation on the future, the National Art Gallery Victoria Triennial will present a large-scale exhibition of international contemporary art, design and architecture.

Featuring 86 projects by more than 100 artists, highlights include a video work spanning 10 metres high and wide, which uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and quantum computing to visualise our digitised memories of nature and a larger-than-life mirror-polished sculpture of Venus, Roman goddess of love. Entry is free.

Explore more:

Bedouin on the beach

Snuggle up in a tent with a view.

Snuggle up in a tent with a view.

Spend a night at a pop-up outdoor hotel in one of ten luxurious bell tents dotted around the usually private grounds of St Patrick's Seminary at North Head, Manly. The headland estate is perched above Shelly Beach and is an easy walk to Manly's lively heart.

Taking inspiration from Bedouin nomadic peoples, you can expect Persian rugs and luxurious linens juxtaposed with stunning ocean views. This pop-up event will only be running this summer holidays, with limited spots available from Boxing Day through to January 31.

Steaming up in Tassie

History buffs and steampunkers rejoice, the Sheffield Steamfest is returning for 2021. Taking place on Tasmania's long weekend in March, there will be three days of steam trains, machinery, old-timey gadgets, demonstrations, entertainment, food and festivities. The train extravaganza is loved by children and adults alike.

Steampunkers are a creative and whimsical bunch who really love to get involved and dress from tip to toe in attire that combines 19th-century Victorian style and futurism.

Jazz and G&Ts in vineyards

In a new spin on the annual Jazz in the Vineyards, Hope Estate will play host to the first annual Hunter Valley Gin & Jazz Festival on April 10. The Hunter's newest distillery, Tower Distillery & Winery, will be launching its range of premium gin at the festival and visitors can sip on botanical cocktails while enjoying the soothing sounds of John Morrison's Swing City Band featuring Jacki Cooper, The Aston Martinis, The Djangologists and more.


Mardi Gras warm-up

It's time to party in Port Douglas.

It's time to party in Port Douglas.

Shining brightly as an example of diversity and inclusion of the LGBTQI+ community in Far North Queensland, the Hot and Steamy Festival at Port Douglas has been confirmed for 2021. The festival runs February 19-22, and will be the only LGBT festival to be held this summer in Australia in the lead up to Mardi Gras, making it the ultimate pre-party.

Major festival events include a sunset booze cruise, vintage swimwear show, white party, Mad Hatter's tea party, soaked pool party and more.


Spot the devil

Sea Life Sydney Aquarium and Wild Life Sydney Zoo have teamed up to launch the Aussie Animal Passport. The physical and digital passport allows local and interstate visitors to stamp off meetings with an array of Australian animals and sealife. Encounters include turtles from the Great Barrier Reef, Frankie the numbat, a Tasmanian devil called Dharra and more. The passport is available online and can be printed ahead of time, ready for your "holiday here".

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