Combined map.

16 10 2009

Have a look over here and see our stories spread across the world. Bali’s got a pin through it, Tasmania too. Look how far we’ve travelled with only a few stories. The pink pins relate to Maria’s story, the orange to Karla’s, yellow to Devi’s and the green to Rebecca’s.


Coffee brews controversy

15 10 2009
One of Melbourne's well-known coffee lanes, Degraves St

One of Melbourne's well-known coffee lanes, Degraves St

Some of Australia’s renowned coffee connoisseurs raise concerns over the international reputation of Melbourne’s coffee standard and culture following recent controversial claims in an article published in The Age.

John Bailey, in his article, True Brew, published on 22nd of August 2009, wrote ‘Melbourne: you don’t know coffee.’ The article, reporting on Melbourne losing out to Sydney with regards to coffee standards and culture, was brought to the attention of many like Steve Agi, the director of Melbourne Coffee Review.

He said, “Whoever who made the statement is just trying to stir the pot. A blanket statement like that is totally inappropriate as far as assessing a state’s or a city’s abilities.”

Maria Paoli, an accredited barista judge and cafe reviewer, also dismisses the claims, saying, “Melbourne is now barista training capital of Australia. Baristas come here for training because the standard is better. The coffee houses are growing. Cafes are growing. You only need to get into Brunswick, Doncaster, Westfield shopping centre to see the sort of roasting houses we have here. To make a flippant comment like that shows ignorance, shows that these people haven’t actually gone down to doing any sort of comparison. They’ve just come to that thinking to cause controversy.”

Despite the growing coffee standard and culture in Melbourne, it was reported in the article, that the general standard of coffee in Melbourne, instead of improving, has worsened over recent years.

“That’s just ridiculous. No one does it better than Melbourne. Both coffee culture and coffee standard. You don’t have these alleyways with cafes or like Degraves where you’ve got whole strips of cafes, that sort of culture in Sydney. Given that Melbourne has one of the only three Slayers in the world, a top end coffee machine, it says a lot about the standard of coffee in Melbourne and also about how seriously we take coffee here in Melbourne,” said Steve.

Many like Steve Agi, though, would like to see Australia uniting to produce better coffee quality and culture instead of states trying to outdo one another, only to hamper the learning process.

He said, “The comparison is ridiculous. Those people need to get over talking about Melbourne versus Sydney and talk about Australia’s coffee culture as a whole in general. Rather than being divisive, they should be talking about unifying the industry and stop being childish about this Melbourne, Sydney thing. Leave that to the football. We’re only hampering our own learning process.”  

Agreeing with Steve, Ross Quail, the President of AustralAsian Specialty Coffee Association(AASCA), said that judging coffee should be saved for actual competitions where there are clearly defined parameters.

He said, “As a president of a national association, what I would like to see is that Australia has a unified presence in the coffee community. I think what we have to do is to recognise the good in all of our areas and avoid this Australian trend of knocking one place over another. I would say, on a personal level, yes, I would like to see a Victorian win a national barista championship but none of us could do this journey on our own. We need all the help of everybody involved. Then, it’ll be truly national. We’ll then be able to say Australia is a powerhouse on the world stage for coffee knowledge and specialty coffee production and roasting.”

Here are some of Melbourne’s prominent hot spots which will brew your senses with their aromatic coffee and funky culture:

To watch the upcoming national barista championship live on January 29th, 30th and 31st 2010, click on the following link:

Details of intra-state barista championships are as follows:
New South Wales: 24th October 2009
Western Australia: 7th November 2009
Queensland: 12th December 2009

Watch St Ali , a prominent cafe in Melbourne’s coffee scene, welcoming the arrival of one of the only three Slayers in the world here:

Devi Rajaram

The Schoolies Tradition

9 10 2009

first run to the beach

What started in the 1970’s Schoolies has become a very popular Australian tradition. Schoolies week, or better known as Schoolies is the custom where highschool graduates travel predominantly to Queensland and other bay areas for a week long party. Although many travel to Queenland’s Gold Coast, by the 1990s Schoolies destinations have extend past the Gold Coast to other bay areas within Queensland and out of Queensland such as New South Wales’ Byron Bay and South Australia’s Victor Harbor. In the current years, overseas destinations such as Bali, and the South Pacific Islands have become increasingly popular.

Schoolies at Lorne

Over the decades, schoolies has been associated with the rowdy antics of youths consumed by alcohol, and the consequences it has on the local community as well as the Australian government. However, Schoolies started as a rite of passage transitioning from being youths to the emergence into the adult world. The ritual ‘first run to the beach’; whereby the run to the beach into the ocean after school has finished, symbolizes the freedom that is the essence of schoolies. Being the first trip these youth’s have taken without parental supervision, can at times cause havoc especially if alcohol is added into the equation. But schoolies has the potential to be enjoyable without it being destructive.

As mentioned previously, with the arrival of Australian youths from all over Australia congesting in one area, it causes problems for the local community. The main problems that arise from Schoolies week is the issue of Violence and property damages due to alcohol intoxication. Millions of dollars have been spent annually by the Queensland government to help crackdown on alcohol violence and prevent damages to local property.

violence at schoolies

read the accompanying story here glassing, stabbing in night violence 

Schoolies 2007 highlighted the dangers that came out of schoolies. Raymond Liu, a 2007 graduate attended schoolies with one thing in mind, “Me and my mates just went there to get as drunk as we can, to party, celebrate the end of high school and relax”. This is what schoolies has become renowned as in today’s terms.

“Everynight was a party…you’d be able to see a brawl every night, mostly small ones, but it was crazy”, Raymond said, “these people would get riled up over the smallest things when intoxicated. You could accidently bump into them and they’d find an excuse to start something with you.” But schoolies is not all about the parties and the alcohol culture that Australian youths have come accustomed to, “The media has the tendency to sensationalise minor events. They concentrate on the negative aspects of schoolies and barely on the positive. Even is they did, they’d put it back to back with a fight where 20 people got injured so all the public would see about schoolies is the binge drinking and the violence, which is really not what schoolies was like.”

When asked about he’s son participation in Schoolies, Michael Liu replied, “I was worried at first knowing the history of youths and alcohol, with no parents too, but I said to myself ‘Raymond has to grow up eventually’. This was a big test to see if I could trust him with he’s new found freedom and independence. I’m glad Raymond didn’t get into serious trouble.” Parents and their children now are able to find informative websites like Youth Central set up by the Australian Government which covers topics such as getting organised for schoolies, accommodation and how to take care of yourself during schoolies.

Problems that arise from schoolies is not just alcohol alone. Sexual assault, drink spiking, drugs, and toolies are other problems that those attending schoolies might face.

For more information about having a safe yet fun upcoming schoolies 2009 visit Schoolies by the Queensland Government.

The map below, pinpoints destinations of interests for those attending schoolies. Along with that, it also shows accommodations that accept schoolies, as not all accommodations accept schoolies week participants.

View Larger Map

Schoolies Survival via The Morning Show @ Channel 7

To buy or not to buy?

9 10 2009

Travelling is one of the most common activities people engage in when they want a break from the routines of life or just a short escape with a loved one.

While most holidays are enjoyable and leaving you wanting for more, it isn’t always the case. In Rockhamptoner George Dobson’s case, his trip to Mussoorie, India ended with an unfortunate fall on a steep mountain track. This left him hospitalised and stranded in the country because he did not have travel insurance cover to pay for all his medical expenses and bring him back.

The issue of travel insurance has been a long standing one and industry workers say that about 15 to 20 percent of people do not buy travel insurance for trips 10 days or less. This number is made up largely by the number of Australians who go on those popular short interstate trips every year. We now go to the public and hear their personal opinion on travel insurance.

Unfortunately, travel accidents seem to be on the rise, with the recent earthquakes in Samoa and Indonesia also adding to the number of incidents affecting tourists and travellers. India itself has had a long history of travel accidents, but that doesn’t seem to deter the flocks of tourists who visit the exotic home to the famous Taj Mahal every year.

Travel insurance seems to be all the more necessary in lesser developed countries like these. Arti Mandhyan, an Indian from Mussoorie now living in Melbourne, highly recommends travel insurance to any traveller to the area. “In Melbourne, the roads are much better and the tourist friendly facilities are much. If you intend to go on a mountain hiking trip, its essential that you hire a guide.” she shares.

Recent traveller to India, Sarah Wong, says “the streets and roads are still very uneven and un-tourist friendly” and road signs and lighting are very poor which makes it hard to travel at night. While in India, she also lost her mobile phone so she counts herself lucky that she had insurance cover for it.

People thinking twice about buying travel insurance should now listen up as Travel advisor Madeleine Coyle from STA Travel Caulfield imparts further information about travel insurance.

George and his daughter Liz on her wedding day

George and his daughter Liz on her wedding day

Very unfortunately, George Dobson passed away last week on the 9th of October in India, just days before his scheduled flight back to Queensland. Further details and updates can be found on the website set up by George’s family to appeal to the public initally to raise funds to bring him back. They successfully managed to raise about $65,000 through generous donators. They have said that they will still honour the public’s generosity and pay for his medical bills in India and give the rest to a charity. A more detailed report on this can be found on The Age and The Brisbane Times website.

We’ll leave you with that, and Globetrekker’s advice is to always cover yourself with insurance regardless of the duration of the trip. It is always better to spend some money now then to spend a colossal bomb after that. Bon Voyage!

Firey debate over who can claim the Bay.

8 10 2009

110827640_decd8fa19cOwnership of Tasmania’s Bay of Fires has been at the centre of hot debate. Tasmania’s State Government is endeavouring to declare the area as National Park. The local Australian Aboriginal population fears this could remove any claim they ever had on the land.

Melissa Castan, a Monash University lecturer and expert in Indigenous legal issues, has stated that the “state Government has a lot of power…land rights are granted by parliament” and that they can essentially “just take [the land] away”. She went on to explain the Aborigines’ apprehension, “when you make [land] a National Park you exclude all previous property owners”.

Castan suggested that the war over land is similar to land right issues in Queensland. Acknowledging that the fight has been hard for the Aboriginal people in Queensland, Castan has suggested that it may be just as hard in Tasmania.

The Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania (TICT) has expressed their concerns about the fate of The Bay of Fires. The TICT has said they would be interested in what the Aboriginal peoples propose will happen with the land, if they are to gain rights to it. Daniel Hanna, the Chief Executive of the TICT, has stated that their main concern is they “don’t want anything to block flow of people [into the area]”.3687910716_e7626f6ebd

When asked about the TICT’s response to the proposal to turn the land into a National Park, Hanna stated that “proposal came out of left field”. He said that no consultation had taken place between the tourism industry and the Government, as far as he could tell. He went on to say that if the land is to be converted into a National Park, “it [could] impede the capacity for future tourism, [and that Tasmania already has a] pretty heavy stock of land in National estate…[and there is] insufficient funds to upkeep them.”

Hanna is certain that there will be visitor access to the area if it were to become a National Park. This may be for a fee. He has stated that: “usually [there are] park fees park fees but [the TICT] is not against it if it park fees go directly back into the management of that park.”

The Bay of Fires has been named Lonely Planet’s hottest travel destination for 2009, with a rise in the number of tourists along Tasmania’s North East coast. The near by town of St Helens has seen a jump from 120 000 tourists to 170 000 in the last twelve months.

It is this number of tourists that has raised 3132620262_0f2e06bd0bconcern about maintaining the current state of the Bay of Fires. Both the Aboriginal people and State Government agree that the land needs to be protected, but are yet to agree on how this should be done. The debate is still raging, without resolution.

When asked if there were any other little known destinations in Tasmania that would be worth investigation, Hanna suggested Cradle Mountain, the Great Southern Forests and Port Arthur among others.

Just below is a map collaborating all the places mentioned in the above story, including some suggested travel destinations.

Karla’s news report proposal

17 09 2009
The Gold Coast lit up at night

The Gold Coast lit up at night

I will be researching on the annual schoolies weekend, whereby year 12 graduates from all over Australia go to the Gold Coast to rest, relax and enjoy the after dark culture that has for many years been a tradition with year 12 graduates in Australia.

Every year, students who attend Schoolies week cause all kinds of havoc within the community. Due to the amount of alcohol in their systems, they are more prone to causing violent fights which in turn leads to damaged properties. Vandalism due to alcohol is also a problem.  However, the amounts of people that attend schoolies have also been debated to help with the economy of the Gold Coast. This article will not withhold interested year 12 graduates from attending schoolies week, but instead, it will allow them to take precautions on how to drink responsibly, a campaign that the Australian government have been investing millions of dollars in; have fun while being safe, and allows parents to gain more information about Schoolies week.

Schoolies is not only concentrated in Gold Coast; there are other alternative places that students can go for schoolies as well, such as Byron Bay, or Lorne. These places are much different and quieter in comparison to the Gold Coast. For worried parents whose children still want to attend the schoolies weekend, these places make a good alternative and will be researched in this article.

In previous years, issues surrounding schoolies can be seen on news programs such as Today Tonight, A Current Affair, and various newspapers. These articles discuss the concept of Schoolies week, the changes it’s gone through in comparison to previous years as well as new regulations and precautions to take if one were interested in attending Schoolies week. Due to the amount of coverage surrounding weeks leading up to Schoolies, during schoolies and the aftermath of schoolies, is what has gotten me interested in writing an article about schoolies and how to safely enjoy schoolies. Past links to articles that discuses the impact of schoolies will be available in the article.

The Queensland Government have erected a website on schoolies with files on how to ‘survive’ schoolies. There are also many other websites as well as articles from The Age that circle around the Schoolies Weekend, that I find will be helpful towards this article. Website and articles vary from attractions and events that happen during the week as well as hazards and ways to ‘party safely’.

Interviewees for this will be a current year 12 who is planning on going to schoolies, an already graduated year 12 who has experienced Schoolies week, as well as current year 12’s or a graduated year 12 that did not attend the schoolies week.  This will enable an unbiased look into the schoolies week.

Tools used for this would be 1 or 2 videos from a news agency. Vox pop would be used to ask random people on the streets what they think of schoolies, do they think it should be banned; this will enable us to see the views of the general public across a big age range, and are able to see how they view schoolies. Other than a vox pop, a survey can also be conducted and be given out to people. As well as that, I will also be using google maps to outline places to stay for those interested in schoolies, and other places besides the Gold Coast where one can go for schoolies too. For example, not all accommodations in Byron Bay accept schoolies, so by highlighting those that do, it will make it easier for those interested.

Various studies and statistics surrounding schoolies week will be used to further investigate my research, talking to people about schoolies too will help deepen it. Trying to find out what the government is going to do about schoolies, will also help with the investigation towards the article. Various links to more information and reviews about schoolies week will be provided for parents and youths.

Maria’s news report proposal

17 09 2009
Bustling India

Bustling India

The news report that I am going to research and develop on is about the disabled Australian tourist, George Dobson who was stranded in India after an accident. With no money to go back to Australia after not purchasing travel insurance, the 65 year old Rockhamptoner is now relying on his family to bring him home.

The two main documentary sources that I intend to use are video news reports on the story and the website, which his family members set up to raise funds to bring him home. The website also provides photos of George and the family and substantial information on the incident and even current updates to his condition in India as well.

One of the two confirmed face-to-face interviews that I intend to use is Melissa from STA Travel, who works as a travel advisor there. The second person that I will be interviewing would be Sarah Wong, a student who just returned from a three week trip to India. However, I am considering also interviewing either an Indian from the area who is currently in Melbourne or a representative from the Australian Embassy in India or a representative from the Indian Embassy in Australia for more views on this issue and also to find out more about how the governments are dealing with the situation.

One news values of the story is proximity. With the victim coming from Queensland, it will also strike a chord with fellow Australians emotionally and add the element of humanity into the story when they read about the donations coming in from other Australians. Other news values are human interest and conflict because the issue of being stuck in India due to the lack of insurance is definitely a debatable one.

There is a combination of tools that I intend to use for researching and developing my story. The first would be various video news reports. Videos are also useful as they would be able to show me visuals of the family, the accident site and maybe even interviews with George himself. Visual to the reader, it allows the website to be more interactive and would definitely have a higher level of engaging the audience. I could also add a video on travel insurance to educate readers and potential travelers on how to obtain their own insurance should they need it in the future.

Another tool that is of great help for the development of the story would be the website as well, because it will reveal possible new angles and allows me to contact the family for more information as well. The website also has large amounts of substantial information on the current situation, providing constant updates and essential background information of the whole incident. This mix of media would be able to provide engaging and comprehensive information for the reader and add layers of interest to the story.

The other resources that I intend to use are written news articles on the incident, to view different angles of the story and in doing so be able to form my own angle as well. I will also research on past incidents of a similar nature and add the hyperlink of those articles on the website so that readers can explore more for themselves, increasing the level of interactivity between the blog and the reader and also increasing the provision of information.

Another tool I can use would be Google maps. Including a map on the location where the accident happened can also give readers a more visual experience of the story and give them a better idea of the whole scenario. Vox pops can also be conducted to gather different opinions of the general public or of tourists and travelers in Australia to show various views towards the incident. Based on this, I can also add a feedback forum or poll on the blog to get readers’ opinions towards the issue (e.g whether they think George was wrong in not buying Insurance or just a harmless tourist who should be let home), creating human interest to the story at the same time.

Using the interviews mentioned above is also crucial to the research and development of my story, as including these interviews would add credibility and authority to the story as well.