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The Australian Hot List 2018

April 12, 2018 Tourist Boards No Comments Email Email

Wine + Design Experiences
A series of high-end conceptual art and design experiences is currently sweeping Australia’s vineyards, the most hotly anticipated of which is the avant-garde d’Arenberg Cube in South Australia’s McLaren Vale wine region. Set to open early 2018 at the d’Arenberg winery, this multi-storey feat of architecture will house public and private tasting rooms, virtual fermenters, bars and a restaurant in a structure resembling a half-solved Rubik’s cube. The cube is crowned with 16 hydraulic umbrellas – 15 black and one red – which open in a playful, choreographed sequence of movement.

The d’Arenberg Cube joins several other “wine + design” experiences around the nation, including the brand new, $50 million sculpture park, cellar door and fine dining restaurant at Point Leo Estate vineyard, on Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula, which opened October 2017. Featuring over 50 large-scale contemporary works from sculptors such as Tony Cragg, Zadok Ben-David and Inge King set against ocean views, vines, cattle and native gardens, the vineyard also boasts a stunning, barrel-shaped main building housing an oversized cellar door and 110-seat destination restaurant.

Mornington Peninsula is also home to Australia’s hottest new vineyard hotel, the whimsical 46-room Jackalope, which opened in April 2017. Named after a mythical creature, the hotel fuses art, design, food and storytelling in a visually stunning experience that has just been shortlisted at the World Architecture Festival awards (winners to be announced November 2017). Many more new and innovative wine + design experiences, such as MONA’s “Moorilla sleepover” and Leeuwin Estate’s Art Series Dinner can be found at Ultimate Winery Experiences of Australia.

Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games
Queensland’s Gold Coast might be best known for metropolitan hub Surfers Paradise, but the 57-kilometre stretch of coastline is undergoing rapid change, in part thanks to its upcoming role hosting the Commonwealth Games. From 4-15 April 2018, athletes from 70 nations and territories will descend on the city for the largest sporting event in Australia this decade.

The Games coincide with Festival 2018 – an arts and cultural festival that will unfold across 20 locations in a celebration of the Games – and the unveiling of a brand new luxury suite hotel at multi-million dollar entertainment precinct, The Star Gold Coast. Formerly Jupiters Casino, the site is also the new home of a refurbished 596-room hotel and six new dining venues.

The Gold Coast is also enjoying a flourishing craft cider and beer scene infused with the local surf culture, with around 20 breweries now open. Balter (launched March 2016) is co-owned by seven local surfers, including world champions Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson, while Black Hops was launched by “three blokes” and a crowd-funding scheme to wild success. They are set to be joined by the launch of Lost Palms Brewing Co in early 2018.

Spotlight on Perth: A new global city
With increasingly sophisticated dining and arts scenes, and several major new openings and developments slated for 2018, Perth is in the grips of a rapid evolution from laidback remote city to innovative global hub. Of major significance is the world’s first direct flight between Europe and Australia, which launches between Perth and London on 24 March 2018. The long-haul Qantas flight will take 17 hours on a 236-passenger Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, with inbound passengers able to stopover in Perth without incurring a fee.

The city is also experiencing three major cultural trends at present: firstly, its street art has flourished, with more than 80 city laneways, buildings and walls now covered in visually captivating works (viewable on this interactive map). Secondly, its small bar scene has exploded. The city has embraced over 100 new openings since 2007, many of which champion the exquisite local, natural and organic wines of Western Australia such as New Normal, which opened 2017. Finally the city is experiencing a major hotel ‘room boom’. Design-led luxury brand QT Hotels will open QT Perth mid-2018, The Westin will open an ambitious city hotel on April 27, the Hilton will open three DoubleTrees by 2019 and a Ritz Carlton will open in 2019 at the new Elizabeth Quay precinct.

The Intercontinental Perth also launched October 2017 with 300 pieces of commissioned art throughout public spaces and in guest rooms. Additionally the city is experiencing major urban redevelopment, with large-scale changes including the $100 million foreshore redevelopment of Scarborough Beach, a popular white-sand surf beach set to open in April. The new-look foreshore incorporates a beach pool, cafes, restaurants, kiosks, public art and a skate park. Yagan Square, opening early 2018, will connect Perth’s city centre with the buzzing nightlife district of Northbridge. It will feature Aboriginal artworks, hospitality and retail outlets and gardens of native Australian wildflowers.

Wildlife without walls: the ‘Un-zoo’
A new “cage-free” wildlife experience is set to open in late 2018 in western Sydney. The private $36 million Sydney Zoo will feature 30 animal exhibits. Visitors can view the native and exotic species from elevated boardwalks. The zoo signifies another major trend happening across Australia: wildlife experiences “without walls”, offered in intimate, natural and wild settings.

At the Tasmanian Devil Unzoo, an hour’s drive from Hobart, guests can experience animals (such as Tasmanian devils, golden possums, kangaroos and eastern quolls) in natural habitats in which barriers are removed or concealed.

Other ‘un-zoo’ experiences are on offer at the world’s largest open-range zoo, Monarto Zoo (near Adelaide), Werribee Open Range Zoo in Victoria and Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo.

New wildlife experiences in Australia can also be found at Wilsons Promontory, where Wildlife Coast Cruises has launched a new six-hour whale cruise departing from Port Welshpool. An additional cruise experience by award-winning operators Pennicott Wilderness Journeys will also commence tours to the area’s colony of Australian Fur Seals, in the second half of 2018.

Finally a new industry collective, Australian Wildlife Journeys has been created to offer a one-stop shop for visitors who want to see Australia’s extraordinary native animals in their natural habitat.

The Great Barrier Reef’s Great Eight
Africa might be home to the Big Five but Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef now boasts The Great Eight – a list of weird and wonderful marine creatures to tick off while on an underwater safari. Making the list is the clownfish, giant clam, manta rays, Maori wrasse, potato cod, sharks, turtles and whales.

Seeing clams and clownfish can be as easy as taking a day trip out to Green Island off Cairns. Port Douglas-based vessel Silversonic offers trips that may include swimming with dwarf minke whales. Lady Elliot Island, in the Southern Great Barrier Reef near Bundaberg, is known as the home of the manta ray.

Reefworld, a pontoon permanently moored at Hardy Reef in the outer reef near the Whitsunday Islands, offers guided diving and snorkelling trips that offer easy viewing of charismatic Maori wrasse. Landlubbers can see turtles nesting, and baby turtles hatching, at Mon Repos on the mainland near Bundaberg.

The complete Great Eight can be experienced in the Southern Great Barrier Reef region, including the iconic manta ray experience at Lady Elliott Island. Many of the Great Eight, including sharks, are also in residence at the brand new, multi-million dollar Cairns Aquarium that opened in September, 2017. The attraction includes a deep-reef exhibit, 10 eco-systems and 71 habitats.

The world’s new mountain biking destination
The international mountain-biking community has begun to pay serious attention to Australia, which has a series of new, world-class ridin…

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