Australian News

Luxury escapes: Aussies book Orpheus Island, Hamilton Island, Lord Howe Island and more

High-end travel is surging as direct result of coronavirus, with Australians who feel they deserve a special break post-lockdown trading up and splashing hard-earned dollars once intended for overseas trips on luxury domestic holidays.

Luxury lodges, retreats and hotels are filling up fast for months ahead, with some service providers recording a ten-fold jump in bookings year-on-year.

Luxury Escapes, who package special locations together with VIP inclusions, have booked more than 1000 trips with a nightly rate exceeding $1000 in the three months to September, compared to less than 100 this time last year.

Chief customer officer, Jason Shugg, said strong booking numbers show the Aussie desire for travel is alive and well — a trend reflected across the price spectrum and highlighted by the Go And Get campaign backing domestic tourism.


“The behavioural change we are seeing is twofold,” Mr Shugg said. “People are either upgrading their experiences within Australia or they’re travelling for longer, as this is now their primary trip of the year.

“In the end Australian tourism will be the winner as they’ve got a captive market for the next six to 12 months at least.”

Packages to the exclusive Berkeley River Lodge in Western Australia and Orpheus Island in Queensland sold out within a week and immediate weekend availability at Jamala Wildlife Lodge in the ACT was gone within a day.

Orpheus Island in Queensland.

Berkeley River Lodge in WA.

Demand has kept occupancy at the exclusive qualia resort on Hamilton Island at around 85 to 90 per cent and has led to an increase in flights with a daily direct flight from Brisbane recently added.

Capella Lodge on Lord Howe Island has bookings well into autumn 2021 and Tim Stanhope of Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley in the Blue Mountains said the domestic market has filled the gap left by international visitors.

Supplied Editorial Capella Lodge, Lord Howe Island

Capella Lodge at Lord Howe Island.

Emirates One&Only Resort Wolgan Valley in NSW.

The “trade-up” effect is being reported anecdotally at all levels of the travel market, fuelled by those whose incomes have not been impacted by coronavirus and who have saved money by reducing leisure activities in recent months. Janelle Boyd from NRMA Parks and Resorts said a new market of “five-star campers” has emerged, opting for glamping tents and cabins over campsites.

RELATED: Australia’s hot travel deals right now

However it’s at the top end that the figures are most noticeable.

View Retreats, an online travel booking service that focuses on grander properties, reports customers are paying double on this time last year.

“If we look at the average price people were paying per holiday before COVID-19, it was around $1400 to $1500,” said spokesperson Stoewie Van Den Bulk. “Now it is almost $3000. Property owners are telling us they are overwhelmed with enquiries and bookings, they’re taking bookings as far ahead as August and September 2021.”

Jamala Wildlife Lodge in the ACT has also been popular.

Mark and Jacqui Buckley of Avalon on Sydney’s northern beaches had to cancel a family trip to South America this year due to COVID-19. They have turned their focus to exploring Australia and recently returned from a week at Elements of Byron at Byron Bay.

“We loved it so much there we have booked to go again in the Christmas holidays,” Jacqui said. “I’d love to visit The Pearle at Cable Beach in 2021 and Longitude 131 in the Northern Territory.

“Though it was disappointing to have our South America trip cancelled, Australia has so many amazing destinations.”

Join in the #EscapeSnaps celebration of Australia’s best holiday spots and experiences this weekend — part of the Go And Get It campaign to support domestic tourism. Share your favourite memories or future Aussie dream destinations on Instagram and tag and #escapesnaps.

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Local News - Victoria

The lord mayor candidates competing for the keys to Town Hall

The Victorian Socialists won first position on the ballot drawn by the Victorian Electoral Commission, followed by Nick Russian’s Bring Back Melbourne, Team Zorin, Labor, the Greens, Cr Wood, Cr Capp, Ms Yang’s Back to Business team and lastly the Morgan-Watts Team.

Here’s a look at the candidates.

Melbourne deputy mayor Arron Wood is challenging for the top job.

Melbourne deputy mayor Arron Wood is challenging for the top job.Credit:Joe Armao

Team Arron Wood

Cr Wood, who entered council on a ticket with former lord mayor Robert Doyle, is shaping up as Cr Capp’s toughest competition.

He has picked Lisa Teh, founder of CODI Agency digital marketing, to run for deputy. Businessman Jason Cheng is first councillor candidate, followed by property consultant Peter Clarke from Nillumbik Shire Council, formerly a City of Melbourne councillor. Incumbent councillor Beverley Pinder is also on the ticket with Abdirahman Ali and Beverley Honig.

Team Arron Wood wants mini-festivals in the CBD, relaxed planning rules and extended rate relief. Cr Wood has also opposed plans for a safe injecting room near the Queen Victoria Market.

Apsara Sabaratnam, Greens candidate for lord mayor, pictured on Tuesday.

Apsara Sabaratnam, Greens candidate for lord mayor, pictured on Tuesday.Credit:Joe Armao

The Greens

Academic and unionist Apsara Sabaratnam is the Greens’ lord mayoral candidate, with health worker Roxane Ingleton for deputy.

Ms Sabaratnam, a Tamil woman who has lived in the municipality for 19 years, teaches marketing, management and human resources at RMIT University and Box Hill Institute.

Rohan Leppert will remain first councillor on the ticket, while Cathy Oke will be replaced by Olivia Ball in second position.

The Greens have promised to double rates for casinos in the City of Melbourne and halve them for hospitality and arts venues. The party also wants full lockdown-period rate rebates for bars and restaurants.

Back to Business

Jennifer Yang is running as an unofficial Labor candidate for lord mayor, with Sandra Gee (who owns Alpaca Connection in Block Arcade) as her deputy.

The Back to Business team includes Moti Visa (a former Liberal member turned Transport Matters Party candidate), former Manningham mayor Charles Pick, Elizabeth Doidge and Bedri Sainovski.

Ms Yang wants to overhaul planning rules to encourage construction and to introduce a “nightlife office”.

Labor for Melbourne

Labor has endorsed Phil Reed, from law firm Slater and Gordon, for lord mayor and cultural diversity consultant Wesa Chau for deputy.

Former Melbourne MP Jennifer Kanis’ partner Davydd Griffiths, Glen Eira councillor Mary Delahunty and Carlton Legal Service co-ordinator Hamdi Ali are vying for council spots.

Mr Reed has proposed a rate holiday for new built-to-rent developments that include at least 30 per cent affordable housing. The concession would be provided for 20 years, for up to 20,000 homes built in the next four years.

Bring Back Melbourne

Prominent nightclub owner Nick Russian is running on an unofficial Liberal ticket with psychologist Michael Burge as deputy.

Mr Russian wants an industry taskforce and more business grants and discounts. Bring Back Melbourne also plans to halve parking fees in the CBD for two years and is against any safe injecting room in the municipality.

Philip Le Liu is recontesting as the first council candidate, followed by Serena Jiang, Darin Schade and Lauren Sherson (a Liberal candidate in the federal election).

Morgan-Watts Team

Pollster Gary Morgan has nominated for lord mayor for the fifth time. He has teamed up with Queen Victoria Market activist Mary-Lou Howie as his deputy and their first council candidate will be long-term councillor and Labor member Jackie Watts.

Morgan-Watts Team wants to extend the free tram zone and has campaigned against the proposed safe injecting room. They want to repurpose vacant buildings as social housing or shelters.

Michael Kennedy, Haya Al-Daghlas, and Dashi Zhang are also on the council ticket.

Victorian Socialists

Kath Larkin, a delegate for the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, is leading the Victorian Socialists’ bid.

The party has already announced plans to seize empty apartments in the CBD for the homeless and wants to build enough public housing to clear the wait list. The Socialists are campaigning to strip businesses of their votes and slash the lord mayor’s salary.

Youth worker Daniel Nair Dadich, a delegate with the Australian Services Union, is running for deputy. Chris Di Pasquale, who teaches English as a second language, is contesting a councillor position.

Team Zorin

Ex-Liberal member Wayne Tseng and his deputy Gricol Yang are running as Team Zorin.

Mr Tseng, founder of multicultural communication firm eTranslate, has previously contested for the Liberal Party in state and federal elections.

Team Zorin has come out against stimulus packages for the COVID-19 recovery and instead wants to provide more rate relief. Mr Tseng also plans to hand residents a vote on council issues using a participatory democracy platform.

Team Capp

Cr Capp, a former Liberal Party member and Property Council chief, has launched a joint unity ticket comprising Labor, Liberal and former Team Doyle members.

She has picked councillor Nicholas Reece, a former ALP state secretary and adviser to former prime minister Julia Gillard, as her deputy.

Number one on Cr Capp’s councillor ticket is well-connected councillor Kevin Louey. Other candidates include barrister and senior Liberal Party figure Roshena Campbell.

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Local News - Victoria

Lord Mayor under fire from deputy over ‘captains of industry’ advisory group

Melbourne’s lord mayor has come under fire from her deputy for convening an unofficial “captains of industry” group to guide the city’s pandemic recovery and including the family member of two financial donors to her previous campaign for Town Hall.

The pair’s relationship has been strained recently, with Cr Arron Wood still considering a run against lord mayor Sally Capp. He is, however, yet to announce whether he intends to make a tilt for the lord mayoral position at the October election.

Melbourne lord mayor Sally Capp.

Melbourne lord mayor Sally Capp. Credit:Simon Schluter

Earlier this month Cr Capp established an unofficial advisory group of business leaders, the Bringing Melbourne Back Better Advisory Board, which meets weekly. Her office says the positions are voluntary and unpaid.

Its members include Lindsay Fox, whose family donated $20,000 in two separate payments to Cr Capp’s campaign in 2018, leading business figure Elizabeth Proust, Arts Centre chief executive Claire Spencer and National Gallery of Victoria director Tony Ellwood.

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Local News - Victoria

Building near Queen Vic Market was not obvious site, Lord Mayor Sally Capp says”

“That’s why sadly, tragically, the City of Melbourne has the second highest levels of heroin-related deaths on its streets behind the City of Yarra.”


The Department of Health and Human Services had been scouring sites for two weeks before the government announced it had identified Cohealth Central City, opposite the Queen Victoria Market, as the site of a new safe-injecting facility.

Cr Capp said it “doesn’t seem obvious” why the site was chosen.

“Well, it’s our fastest growing neighbourhood in terms of residents, and that includes a lot of international students,” she said.

A residential building adjoining the proposed facility includes affordable housing and a number of residents who are transitioning from homelessness.

“Look, we’re a big enough municipality to think that we can find an appropriate site,” Cr Capp said.

Lack of consultation: Lord Mayor Sally Capp said Melbourne council should have been involved in the site's selection.

Lack of consultation: Lord Mayor Sally Capp said Melbourne council should have been involved in the site’s selection.Credit:AAP

“It’s just that we’d like to be involved in that discussion, we want to be able to represent the best interests of our community.”

On Friday, Premier Daniel Andrews said the site of the second facility had been chosen because the City of Melbourne had recorded 51 public overdose deaths between 2015 and 2019, second only in the state to the City of Yarra, which recorded 93 deaths.

“This is very important because it will save lives,” Mr Andrews said. “I am convinced of that.”

Plans for a new injecting room come after a two-year review of the service found the North Richmond centre had safely managed 3200 overdoses and saved “at least” 21 people’s lives since it opened.

There have been an estimated 119,000 visits to the centre and 271 “extremely serious” overdoses, none of them fatal.

The review – led by Professor Margaret Hamilton, an executive member of the Australian National Council on Drugs – was expected to consider whether to extend the trial for another three years, or to close the centre.

But Professor Hamilton recommended the government open a second facility, given the overwhelming demand at the existing centre at North Richmond.

Mr Foley did not directly answer questions on Monday about why he had not brought the City of Melbourne into the search for a new site, but said he had told Cr Capp of the plans shortly after the plan was signed off by cabinet on Thursday.

The extent to which injection facilities were used was highly dependent on their location, Mr Foley said, and it was important the facility be close to places drugs were purchased, and close to services.

“This is about getting on and saving lives, and making sure that we deliver this facility in a location that is already providing alcohol and drug services to Victorians who need it, so as to make sure that the 50-plus lives that are lost in miserable circumstances on the streets of Melbourne is stopped.”

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Local News - Victoria

Melbourne Deputy Lord Mayor Arron Wood ‘delighted’ with award

Melbourne’s deputy lord mayor, Arron Wood, says he’s overwhelmed and delighted by the news he has been appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM), for his service to local government, the environment and his local community.

The Kensington resident, 44, is a high-achiever. He started his business – resilience building program Kids Teaching Kids – with his father 20 years ago. He is a current or past board member at South East Water Corporation, Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority, Sustainability Victoria, and the University of Melbourne’s Sustainable Society Institute advisory board.

Deputy Lord Mayor Arron Wood at home last week, being interviewed via video link.

Deputy Lord Mayor Arron Wood at home last week, being interviewed via video link. Credit:Joe Armao

Cr Wood has been on the City of Melbourne since 2012, deputy lord mayor since 2016, and is a twice-published author.

He was a Young Australian of the Year (environment) in 2001, and has a young family with his wife, Stephanie.

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Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner wins despite results meltdown – Courier Mail

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