11 March 2011
Each week Luke McCormick, Wexas Channel Editor, provides an inside look at the latest headlines and gives his independent, expert comment.
This week: Cultural Tasmania and explosive Hawaii.
The opening of MONA - the £100 million Museum of Old and New Art - has made Tasmania's waterfront capital seriously hot property. David Walsh's extraordinary museum opened in January and immediately caused shockwaves in Tasmania, with the Sunday Times calling it ‘the most exciting addition to the Australian cultural landscape since the Sydney Opera House'.
MONA is not far from Hobart's city centre on the Moorilla Estate, the site of Tasmania's first modern vineyard and today considered one of the state's finest wine producers.
Mona has 6000 sq m of gallery space and the total collection of artwork numbers 2210 pieces, worth an estimated £60 million. Three subterranean levels have been dug out of the Triassic sandstone of the riverbank, to a depth of 56 feet below ground. Entry to the museum is free and the first things visitors come across is the bar.
The museum's current exhibition, Monanism, runs until 19 July 2011. The collection's oldest piece is a black-topped jar which dates back to 4000 BC, while the newest, Cloaca by Vim Delvoye (2010), was one of a number commissioned for the exhibition.
Contemporary works include a number of young British artists whose works never made it to Australia after the National Gallery of Australia cancelled Charles Saatchi's Sensation exhibition in 2000.
The super luxury Saffire Freycinet lodge, which opened late last year, has also brought a new level of class to the Australian luxury lodge experience.
Located just two hours from Hobart on the iconic Freycinet Peninsula, the lodge is blazing a trail as Australia's latest darling in the luxury market. The resort's experimental stingray-like canopy architecture is mould breaking and Saffire is quickly becoming a ‘must-visit' on the Australian luxury lodge circuit.
One of the great walks of the world, the incredible Maria Island Walk has just been selected for the fifth annual Australian Gourmet Traveller Awards. It is the fifth year in a row that the four-day wildlife and gourmet walk has been selected for these prestigious awards, this time in the Best Adventure category. The Maria Island Walk is also in the running for an award in the same category at the Australian Tourism Awards.
Elsewhere, Michelin-starred British celebrity chef Shaun Rankin, winner of the Great British Menu for his treacle tart, is heading for Australia's culinary event of the year, Savour Tasmania from 25 May to 06 June 2011.
Rankin says of his participation in Savour Tasmania: "This is a fantastic opportunity and I am proud to represent Great Britain at Savour Tasmania 2011 and share the British dedication to produce and my own philosophy on sustainable culinary excellence. There is a real synergy between the way Tasmanians respect and handle food and how we celebrate our great produce and suppliers in the Channel Islands."
Meanwhile F1 racing driver Mark Webber has announced that he is to hold his six-day adventure race, The Mark Webber Challenge, in November. Anyone with enough fitness and the cash to support a good cause is welcome to join Mark and his celebrity mates raise money for charity and wildlife initiatives.
Who says volcanic eruptions are bad for tourism? After the travel chaos Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull Volcano brought to Europe you'd be forgiven for thinking they most certainly are. Tourism chiefs in Hawaii however are counting their blessings this week after an eruption on the east rift of Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano has created a boost in visitor numbers.
The eruption, which began on Saturday, has been spattering lava 65 feet in the air and as a result visitor numbers to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park have increased and extra flights have been organised by air-tour companies to accommodate demand, although a 1,500-ft temporary flight restriction has been imposed around the eruption.
The park's most popular regions remain open, despite the closure of the Chain of Craters Road, a campground and some coastal trails. Another eruption that has been ongoing for years is also visible from several viewing areas, including the air, walking trails and the sea.
Many people are surprised to learn that explosive Hawaii is made up of more than 160 islands. Only six of those can be visited though, so what else can you do in Hawaii?
The islands of Hawaii
Oahu is the heart of Hawaii and where you'll find pulsing Waikiki and Honolulu. The island is a mix of American and Polynesian, modern and historic, small town and urban.
Away from the high rises of Waikiki you will find Pearl Harbour, the powerful swells of the North Shore, the beautiful landscapes and waterfalls of Waimea Valley and the Polynesian Cultural Center at Laie, Hawaii's most popular attraction.
Maui, Lanai & Molokai
Maui offers Hawaii's best whale watching and wind surfing as well as brilliant sun rise hiking opportunities to volcanoes, through green-flanked mountain slopes, past waterfalls, refreshing pools and deep valleys.
The Road to Hana is one of the world's most scenic drives with more than 600 curves! Luxury resorts, sparkling boutiques and five-star dining spots abound. Lanai Island is the best for luxury and relaxation, while Molokai has no roads and is the most peaceful and undisturbed.
The Big Island
Hawaii's Big Island is best known for its wide-open spaces, uncrowded landscapes and adrenaline-fuelled adventure opportunities.
The western Kohala Coast is the sunniest in the USA, while the interior has brilliant stargazing and even glacier skiing. The Kilauea Volcano has been erupting since 1983 - a unique experience is to take a boast ride to watch lava sliding into the ocean.
The Big Island is also favoured for its Kona coffee plantations (Kona is one of the most expensive in the world) and green and black beaches. With 11 of the world's 13 eco-systems on the islands it's certain you'll find something to your taste.
Kauai is the most romantic island and certainly the best for honeymooners. It is Hawaii's oldest island and most filmed (more than 80 movies have been filmed here).
The remarkable Napali Coast is Hawaii's best-known stretch of mountains and sea - accessible only by air, boat or on foot. This emerald isle has endless shades of green, soaring cliffs and dramatic canyons.