High on the Gold Coast
Queensland's Gold Coast playgrounds unveil new attractions this summer. Warner Bros Movie World will open the Green Lantern roller-coaster in time for Christmas, featuring the southern hemisphere's steepest drop, speeds of up to 66km/h along electric-green rails, hairpin bends and an inverted spin. Theme-park enthusiasts can combine two of three parks (Movie World, Sea World or Wet'n'Wild Water World) in a $99 Escape Pass, allowing unlimited entry in a 14-day period. See myfun.com.au.
In January, the Q1 skyscraper at Surfers Paradise opens a rooftop adventure walk. Climbers take the lift to the hotel's SkyPoint Observation Deck 230 metres above ground and are hooked on to a safety rail. Almost 140 steps later and at the equivalent of 80 storeys high, climbers pause at the top of Q1's glass crown to take in 360-degree views of beaches, islands to the north and the hinterland. Twilight climbs cost $129 adult/$109 child and day climbs $99/$79. Children must be at least 12 years old. See skypoint.com.au.
Not to be left out, Brisbane last month added abseiling to its Story Bridge climbs. After climbers reach the bridge's summit, 80 metres above the Brisbane River, they can skip the stairwell by abseiling the Anchor Pier into Kangaroo Point's Captain Burke Park 30 metres below. It costs from $119 adult/$101.50 concession.
Step into the past
Undeterred by a little snow and frost, the National Trust in Britain continues its themed walks throughout winter. On December 10, the day of a lunar eclipse, a storyteller will share the tale of Beowulf and other monster stories on a walk through the Stonehenge landscape. At Yorkshire's Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden on December 10, 11 and 27, you can watch wild deer feeding in the mediaeval deer park. Suffolk's Flatford Bridge Cottage is holding a Boxing Day ramble through the Stour Valley to see the fields and woods that inspired the landscapes of John Constable. The organisation also provides free downloadable maps to walks grouped by region (Midlands, Northern Ireland, Wales etc) and by theme (car-free walks, "silly walks", ancient tree walks, coastal walks).
It has been five years since authorities foiled a terroristplot to detonate liquid explosives on trans-Atlantic flights from Britain, prompting worldwide restrictions on carrying liquids on international flights.
In 2013, passengers flying from Australia will again be able to take bottles of wine, perfume and water on aircraft when the container limit of 100 millilitres is lifted. Every month at Sydney International Airport, about 1250 duty-free items and 8000 non-valuable items, such as water bottles, are surrendered or confiscated. The new rules follow successful trials of detection machines at Sydney and Melbourne airports.
Contiki in Asia
After several Contiki Asian tours sold in a flash this year, the company, which specialises in travel for 18- to 35-year-olds, increased the number of departures for 2012/13. Seven tours now cover Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and China, ranging from the nine-day Thai Island Hopper East tour to the 25-day Big Indochina Adventure.
Hollywood's day at the zoo
A modest Devon zoo, Dartmoor Zoological Park, will face the spotlight when the film We Bought a Zoo, starring Matt Damon, opens on Boxing Day. Director Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous, Jerry Maguire) might have set his film in California but it's based on the best-selling book by journalist Benjamin Mee, who bought a rundown zoo eight kilometres from Plymouth in south-west England in 2006. Mee's wife, Katherine, died before the zoo reopened in 2007. The zoo is home to lions, tigers, wolves, bears and tapirs. Dartmoor is open daily, 10am-4pm, November to April; 10am-6pm in warmer months. Entry is £10.95 for adults, or £6.50 for single parents on Tuesdays.
The federal government's Smartraveller travel advistory website has had a makeover and a new app has been launched that updates travel advice on the go. Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is encouraging travellers to register their plans on the website and take out travel insurance. See smartraveller.gov.au.
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