Smart Traveller

Planetary vision

Although the Greeks in ancient times believed a solar eclipse to be a sign of angry gods, the people of far north Queensland are preparing to celebrate the phenomenon on November 14.

To see a total solar eclipse you must be in the shadow path, cast as the moon moves in front of the sun and completely covers it. On the east coast that path will be between Bloomfield south to Innisfail and inland on the Atherton Tablelands and Gulf Savannah.

Observers between Wonga Beach and Cairns will experience the eclipse for at least two minutes, according to the Astronomical Association of Queensland. But people are expected along the entire coast within the eclipse's shadow path.

Inquiries are strong with accommodation providers in all sectors, says the chief executive of Tourism Tropical North Queensland, Rob Giason.

"We are being bombarded with inquiries from interested astronomers from around the globe," he says. "The region is expecting around 40,000 visitors from Australia and overseas although superior and plentiful tourism and related infrastructure can cater for many more.

"Sixty per cent of inquiries are for stays of four-to seven days so visitors will be visiting the Great Barrier Reef, the rainforest and other regional attractions as well as viewing this spectacular natural event."

Wearing stacked sunglasses or exposed film will not protect your retinas; purpose-made eclipse sunglasses are essential, the Astronomical Association advises.

Port Douglas and the tablelands will host festivals and the Solar Eclipse Marathon will use the start of totality, when the moon appears as a black hole in the sky, as the starting gun for its 42-kilometre race.

While Cooktown isn't in the shadow path, David Barker of Cook Shire Council says the town is an ideal base from which to travel.

"Driving south, visitors will not be in the flow of traffic expected to be driving north from Cairns to the viewing areas around Palmer River and Lakeland," he says. The next total solar eclipse across Australia will be in 2028.


WOMADelaide anniversary

From small beginnings 20 years ago, world music festival WOMADelaide attracts up to 90,000 people to the annual four-day event at Botanic Park, a 34-hectare arboretum in Adelaide.

This year's anniversary festival on March 9-12 includes performance by Baaba Maal of Senegal, Australia's Dirty Three and Neil Finn's newest band, the Pajama Club.

The audience, more than half of whom are from interstate or overseas, can see acts performing across seven stages including at Moreton Bay, where musicians play in the shade of century-old fig trees. The event has roving artists, 40 international food stalls, a KidZone and a Sunday sunset parade and children's conga line that weaves around the park.

Started in Adelaide in 2004, the popularity of Taste the World - in which musicians swap instruments for cooking utensils using their country's recipes - has spread to the Abu Dhabi and New Zealand versions of similar music festivals.

A day-night entry costs from $112 (adult), $94 (concession); four-day festival pass is $304 (adult), $252 (concession). Children under 12 free.


Apps in Japan

While it is best known for its pocket-size travel guides, Luxe City Guides has been releasing apps since 2010, with Niseko and Tokyo among the latest releases. Apres-ski recommendations for Niseko include where to find the best gelati and sashimi; the Tokyo app lists shops with vintage and retro clothing and there are maps to help visitors navigate the challenging address system of the city in which many streets are without names. It costs $US5.99 ($5.80).


Hop in for a good time

Microbrewers around the country gather today for the inaugural Ballarat Beer Festival in Victoria's goldfields. More than 20 craft beer brands including Western Australia's Matilda Bay and Victoria's White Rabbit, Mountain Goat and Three Troupers brews will be available on tap, beer educator Kirrily Waldhorn will conduct blind tasting sessions and Clare Bowditch will perform. Festival director Simon Coghlan has a family connection to the liquid gold; his great-great-grandfather founded the Ballarat Brewing Company in 1895. Festival entry is from $35 for adults, $15 for children. Children under 12 free. Gates open at 11am.


Family deals

Discovery Holiday Parks has launched a membership card for use at its 34 Australian locations. The two-year membership costs $20 and entitles travellers to a 10 per cent discount, offers and cabin-booking deals. Twelve of the park sites are pet-friendly.


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