Destination meditation – David Cooke
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For Cooke, managing director of Konica Minolta Australia and a meditation practitioner for 46 years, travel is about “immersing myself in different cultures, exploring ancient civilisations and having more time for my daily meditation practice”. Cambodia is a favourite destination, particularly its 12th-century jewel, Angkor Wat. “A lot of people go to the main temple, spend an hour or two and think they’ve seen it. But it’s a 160-hectare complex with multiple temples. I’ve been to seven or eight of them but I feel I’ve only scratched the surface. My favourite experience is arriving before dawn, meditating then opening my eyes to the sun rising above the temples."
Making tracks – Ellyse Perry
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In Australia, Perry, a dual international sportswoman in cricket and soccer, enjoys the grass track near Canberra’s Mount Stromlo Observatory, where runners often encounter “friendly local kangaroos”. Internationally, Annecy in the French Alps can’t be beaten for an active getaway, she says. “The town has incredible scenery. People are constantly running, swimming, hiking, riding or strolling in summer, and in winter it turns into a ski town.” Perry first visited Annecy in 2011 to watch a Tour de France stage and stayed for three extra days, just to explore the nearby tracks. “The Old Town is also lovely to walk around and find a meal of an evening.”
Desert stargazing – Professor Bryan Gaensler
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As a radio astronomer, Gaensler, Director of the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Toronto, usually “listens” to the stars rather than watching them, ideally at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory, 800 kilometres north-east of Perth. Here, far from mobile phone signals or other interference, “the faint whispers of static that can tell us how the first stars formed” are discernible. For more conventional celestial gazing, Gaensler’s ultimate location is Chile’s Atacama Desert, where “the stars shine more clearly than just about anywhere else on the planet. The landscape looks like Mars, and the Milky Way is so bright that you find yourself instinctively ducking to avoid bumping your head on the sky.”
Lapping up the harbour – Ian Thorpe OAM
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“You can’t go past a dip at the Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool on Sydney’s Woolloomooloo Bay. It’s perfect for a relaxing swim and the best part is it’s still relatively unknown. With its views of Sydney Harbour – and The Royal Botanic Garden just behind – we Sydneysiders don’t know how good we’ve got it.” Ian Thorpe, Australian Olympic swimming champion and G'Day USA ambassador.
Ancient wonders – Kim McKay AO
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McKay, director & CEO of the Australian Museum, first fell in love with Egypt as a child en route from Australia to England by ship. At age five, she was struck by the inside of the country’s pyramids: “The musty smell of ancient history mixed with the searing summer heat and, later, the heady smell of jasmine-laced perfumes mixed with car exhaust and camel dung!” As an adult working on National Geographic film expeditions to the “beautiful, colourful tombs” of the Pyramids of Giza and Luxor’s Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens, she was struck anew by the powerful presence of those ancient lives “as I imagined myself sailing down the Nile on a felucca to meet my destiny”.
Remarkable sightings – The Honourable Diana Bryant AO
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“Australia is blessed as a birdwatching destination,” says Bryant. “I love going into remote desert areas looking for hard-to-find birds like grasswrens, chats and gibberbirds.” Internationally, Africa is a perennial drawcard, thanks to the range of species and habitats. “Kenya has diverse birdlife in its high mountains, forests, Rift Valley lakes and the Maasai Mara National Reserve, while Tanzania has Mount Kilimanjaro, the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti, with the bonus of other wildlife. On my wish list are safari camps in Botswana’s Okavango Delta – Africa’s last Eden – and the deserts of Namibia.” The Honourable Diana Bryant AO, Former Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia and keen birdwatcher.
Golf with a view – Karrie Webb AM
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In her 23 years as a professional golfer, surely Webb, winner of more than 40 LPGA events and member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, has played at every possible dream destination? Surprisingly, no – she still has many places on her wish list, including Barnbougle on the wild north-east coast of Tasmania, an hour’s drive from Launceston. “I’ve heard so much about it. The Dunes and Lost Farm courses look spectacular.” And then there are the distinctive, historic local courses in rough, grassy coastal areas scattered throughout Scotland and Ireland. “Having two Scottish caddies for the past 17 years, I’ve heard about the famous and not-so-famous great Links courses and I’d love to go play them all... as long as the weather is all right!”
Fantasy drive – Warren Brown
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“Anyone who knows anything about driving destinations knows that the Stelvio Pass in Northern Italy is the Holy Grail. To have the road to yourself in a car that could handle it, such as an Aston Martin DB4, would be a mind-blowing experience.” Warren Brown, cartoonist, author and former Top Gear Australia presenter who re-created the 1907 Peking-to-Paris race in 100-year-old cars.
Ultimate garden immersion – Charlie Albone
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In the garden of Villa San Michele, high in the hills on the Italian island of Capri, “the mature trees create a beautiful canopy and there are lots of herbs and aromatic plants and the most fantastic views. Go early to beat the crowds.” Charlie Albone, landscape designer, Selling Houses Australia co-host and winner of silver-gilt medals at the 2015 and 2016 Chelsea Flower Shows
Spectacular dives – Liz Ann Macgregor OBE
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Heading Macgregor’s must-visit list is Western Australia’s Exmouth Navy Pier, home to “weird creatures that you see by muck diving at the bottom of the ocean”. But it’s Uepi Island Resort in the Solomon Islands that calls the director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and diving enthusiast back time and again. Its dives include “an amazing experience where you drop down through the green, green water of the lagoon, go through a tunnel and emerge into the ocean”, as well as a 2000-metre abyss nicknamed The Slot and the “extraordinarily beautiful” Penguin Reef. “And the island itself is idyllic. If you have a partner who’s not a diver, it’s lovely for them, too.”
A world of architecture – Tim Ross
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“Architecture in cities should be like your record collection: the best of now, the best of then and some rubbish in between to remind you where you’ve come from. London has that really interesting, eclectic mix. It’s got amazing Brutalist buildings, such as the Barbican Centre and the council estates that Ernö Goldfinger designed, but a visit to Westminster Abbey is just as interesting as a visit to the Barbican. Both are gloriously beautiful.” Tim Ross, radio presenter and author who explores his passion for architecture in TV’s Streets of Your Town and his touring show, Man About the House.