Canada as a destination holds many attractions for Australian travellers but foremost is Vancouver. Aussies and the Canucks have much in common but the similarities stop with the weather, geography, activities and even the food.
Canada’s West Coast has traditionally been the magnet for Australians with the lure of squeaky clean Vancouver and just an hour from arguably the world’s best all season mountain resort, Whistler Blackcomb, and then there’s Vancouver Island, the mighty Fraser River, the Okanagan Lakes and vineyards; there’s much to see and do.
Over the past decade Australians have answered the call to the East to destinations like Toronto, Halifax, the Maritimes and Niagara Falls but it’s the West Coast that is the big draw card.
The latest Canadian stats show over 19,500 Australians entered Canada in January 2016 up 5.7 per cent on the previous year. It’s a sign of the times but the big mover is China recording over 30,000 visitors in January, up a massive 27 per cent on 2015.
Vancouver never fails to find a place in most traveller’s hearts as it constantly updates itself with new attractions, hotels, restaurants and bars.
American billionaire, White House hopeful and a man who has certainly made a name for himself, Donald Trump’s new CAD$360 million, (close to parity with the Australian dollar) 63 story, 147 room hotel in the heart of Vancouver is on track to open in the fall. It will feature Vancouver’s first pool-bar nightclub.
Sticking with lights, camera and action, Vancouver is “Hollywood north” with the movie moguls heading north from Hollywood to drastically cut their production costs. Recent credits include X Files, Star Trek, Deadpool, Fifty Shades of Grey and the women of the world’s golden boy, George Clooney’s, Tomorrowland. George’s intermittent appearances in Vancouver would surely boost female visitation.
Vancouver has temperate weather all year round: January to March, there may be some snow on the ground. April to June, the Festival season with Spring in full swing, July to September the Celebration season starting with Canada Day on 1 July, and October to December when the leaves start to fall, it’s time for a celebration of culture, sport and food.
Get a mini-water bus across False Creek to famous Granville Island, Canada’s second most-visited tourist attraction, where they sell fresh local produce and you can take a five star rated Granville Island Market Tour and savour foods from independent farmers and food artisans: www.Foodietours.ca
For naturalists there is the Reifel Bird sanctuary where more than 300 species have been recorded and which is a major stop over on the north-west migration route. It is the most northerly wintering home for the magnificent Snow Goose.
As befits a major harbour city there is the Maritime Museum where the prize exhibit is the vessel St Roch, commissioned by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to bring the far north with the reach of the law and which was the first vessel to circumnavigate North America and the second sailing vessel to traverse the Northwest Passage.
You can delve into the history of Vancouver’s famous Chinatown with the charming and passionate Judy Lam Maxwell who has a Master’s degree in Chinese Canadian History and who has exclusive access to some of the magic architecture of the heritage buildings situated in Vancouver’s vibrant Chinatown: www.chinatowngirl.ca
Accommodation in Vancouver is abundant and well-priced. Times Square Suites, on iconic Robson Street is a great stopover spot, close to the popular acres of Stanley Park, the Sea Wall and Coal Harbour. Robson Street was nicknamed “Robsonstrasse” in the 50’s because of the German restaurant influence. It is a vibrant area of the West End and you can enjoy an easy shopping walk in Robson to the CBD: www.timessquaresuites.com or www.tourismvancouver.com
Written by John Savage