I find it odd that Singapore Airlines is storing planes in central Australia yet Qantas sends planes from here to California. Any explanation of how different deserts make it worth the long trip to the US?
Daniel de Vries, Bendigo, VIC
Editor's note: We were also curious, so we asked Qantas and here's what they had to say: "The key reason we have chosen California is the climate (it's more humid in Alice Springs). We also have engineers and equipment for Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 maintenance at LAX, which is only a 2.5 hour drive away."
ON A ROLL
My wife and I just emerged from 14 days quarantine at the excellent Parkroyal at Darling Harbour. We were impressed with the professionalism, friendliness and helpfulness of all concerned from the moment we left the plane at Sydney's international airport terminal to our departure from the hotel.
Like other quarantine hotels, the Parkroyal organised a Facebook group for the "inmates" which was very helpful for questions and dissemination of information, as well as for fun stuff to help pass the time. You have no idea how much fun the group had with "Bob" the bread roll.
Speaking of Bob, some kitchens in Australia are producing the worst bread rolls ever. Eat one of them for breakfast and the day can only get better. But Sydneysiders, be confident that security is strict and be proud of the police, soldiers, medical staff and of course, the hotel staff. They are doing a great job.
Ray Perry, Urangan, QLD
FROM WINE TO WHINE
I guess I am a "wine tourist", having planned winery visits during holidays for decades., but I was irritated by your cover story (Traveller, August 8) on the subject.
Years ago, I remember visiting wineries in the Napa Valley, California, where palace-like gift shops full of wine-related kitsch were bigger than the wine tasting areas, a big contrast to the corrugated iron sheds of many Australian cellar doors then. Now, we have adopted the same crazy architectural monstrosities and weird merchandise as the main attraction, not the actual wine.
If you believe that Australia's wineries are "all ostensibly offering the same product" and that "many wineries don't realise they're also in the entertainment business", I think you are missing the point. I will be happy to avoid the winery theme parks listed in the article in favour of real wineries, large and small, whose main business is offering quality wine made with care and a serious attitude to wine tasting at their cellar doors.
Jan Martin, Yarra Glen, VIC
DARE TO CREAM
If T. Saunders (Traveller Letters, August 15) wants to experience a real Devonshire tea he will have to wait until international travel reopens. The Devonshire tea now enjoys protected status and can only be truly served in Devonshire. Another reason why, aside from jam and cream differences, a Cornish tea is a Cornish tea is that it is eaten in Cornwall. The rest of the UK is served cream teas. Clotted cream is hard to come by in Australia. He might consider the do-it-yourself option to procure the cream, it is available from some retailers.
Kim Openshaw, Killara, NSW
Russell K. Coburn (Traveller Letters, August 9) refers to how AFCA (Australian Financial Complaint Authority) provided helpful advice that eventually led to the cost of flights cancelled due to COVID-19 being refunded in full. I had a similar experience with my travel insurance. I had a gold cover policy with Insure and Go for a trip to South America.
Qantas, Qantas Hotels and Ponant Cruises swiftly provided future credit vouchers but Insure and Go considered it for five months, then declined. I persisted and was offered a future credit voucher for $20. I then wrote to the AFCA and the offer was revised to the full amount of what I'd initially paid. So thank you, AFCA, for being there for consumers, and while Choice did at one time recommend Insure and Go, they have since revised this to "not recommended".
Petra O'Neill, Paddington, NSW
REFUND AND GAMES
Unlike Russell Coburn (Traveller Letters, August 8) my numerous attempts for a refund due to COVID-19 from &Beyond for an African safari in April failed. I approached my travel agent initially, American Express three times, NSW Fair Trading, AFCA, ACCC, ASIC and Joss Kent, executive chairman at &Beyond also three times. Amex did a chargeback but I only got an extension to April 2023 from &Beyond. A part refund was also rejected by &Beyond.
It seems unfair that a financially robust company can refuse a refund. I also recently contacted the Consumer Goods & Services Ombudsman in South Africa and await a reply. Given the continuing ongoing uncertainty, I see no reason to book any travel unless cash refunds are offered in a timely manner.
Lindsay Somerville, Lindfield, NSW
Those hankering for passage from an Australian port might well consider the plight of some people who, after months, remain stranded Down Under. We recently caught up with a former work colleague and her Californian husband. They headed to Hobart in February and since March 13, when travel from Australia was banned, they remain in this country, currently in Port Macquarie close to family. A window for a flight home in May didn't open and the next chance may occur next month. In the meantime they wait, and ponder if they will ever know the way to San Jose.
Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook, NSW
LEGENDS OF THE FLYING KANGAROO
Regarding the article about the last Qantas 747 from Australia, I would like to point out an error in your story. The oldest living former Qantas employee is not 94-year-old Noel Taylor. My father, Dudley Tunks, is 97 years old. Dad joined Qantas in 1940. He was a traffic officer at Rose Bay with the flying boats and then posted to Surabaya, then to Singapore to establish the Qantas office there. He was Chief Passenger Officer, then became Chief Cargo Officer in Singapore. He married my mother in Singapore - she was the daughter of the Australian Commissioner to Malaya. In 1951 He returned to Sydney and was subsequently in charge of the Qantas Traffic Training School at Double Bay. On his retirement from Qantas in 1979, he held the position of Commercial Agreements Manager. This involved him in international conferences as a Qantas negotiator on fares, cargo rates and related matters (after his retirement, he continued working for International Air Transport Association as chairman of worldwide airline conferences).
Linda Skinner, Chatswood, NSW
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