Blog Walkabout April 2016

Travel blog Walkabout Gourmet AdventureEuropean Spring 2016

Dear Walkabout Walkers and Friends,


Let's celebrate 30 years!
2016 is a big year for Walkabout.

It all began 30 years ago in 1986… when we launched Walkabout Adventure Tours at the Holiday and Adventure Travel Show in Melbourne. We had set up a display of our "sign post with cockatoo" logo complete with a picnic table and were surrounded by "big name" tour operators. At the stand next to us we met Tim Macartney-Snape who was promoting his tour company. Two years previously he had become the first Australian, together with Greg Mortimer, to climb Mount Everest. We have never forgotten how supportive Tim was when he introduced himself to us – it was very reassuring to have his encouragement on Walkabout’s very first day!

The exhibition proved to be a great launching pad for Walkabout – it was a 3-day exhibition and each day we returned home, rushing to the answering machine to check whether any potential customers had left us a message. Before the exhibition we had printed a small one colour brochure with our proposed walks for the following year – our 1st planned walk was to Fraser National Park at Lake Eilden in Victoria.

On the Sunday night when we returned home from the final day of the exhibition the red light was flashing on the answering machine and there was a message from Jeanie and Allan Todd who wanted to book our 1st tour together with their friends Margaret and Ken McArthur (Margaret has very kindly written an article about their association with Walkabout later in the Newsletter) – Walkabout was off and running!

Many of our guests often ask us where we got the idea in the first place… it really started already in 1984 in Germany before we moved to Australia. Initially we had the idea of organising “Surfing Safaris” and had even printed a brochure complete with a surfing kangaroo as our logo, which received a lot of interest. Our route included many beaches between Melbourne and Sydney but we quickly realised that it was difficult enough promoting the concept of Walking Tours and abandoned the idea of Surfing Tours!

The Walking Tours concept came one evening while showing European friends slides of Wilson’s Promontory National Park. Their questions, how they could possibly get there without a car made us realize that it was indeed very difficult and we saw an opportunity to change this.

Not only overseas guests but also many Australians wanted to join us on our Australian tours and of course later they convinced us that we should show them the nicest places to walk in Europe. On our Australian walks we were preparing all the food as well as leading the walks. Because our tours were based on healthy, creative and imaginative cuisine, our guests suggested that we had to emphasise the “food” side more and so we changed our name to Walkabout Gourmet Adventures.


Time to reflect
This year is going to be an opportunity for us to reflect on the many journeys and experiences we have had during these 30 years since we started Walkabout Gourmet Adventures. We look forward to welcoming back some of our former guides and those who have left their “footprints” on Walkabout.

We hope Birgitta, much loved by so many of you, with her “million dollar” smile, will join us on the Flavours of Bavaria Tour this year and it is high time to get Heather over here who helped us in the very early days preparing all the delicious food we took on our Australian Walkabout Tours! She remains the fastest worker in the kitchen we have ever met… may be now only challenged by her daughter Natalie who will be back this year to help us here in Forcalquier with our apartments… yeah!

Petra is waiting in Lazio to share the Flavours of Lazio with you and Gino, a fantastic Italian chef and very dear friend of ours, will passionately help us discover the Flavours of Piedmont!

We would also like to take the opportunity to not only thank our former guides but also make mention of the fantastic support we get from our current Walkabout team – without them Walkabout would not be where we are today – thank you Trish (23 years), Sabine (20 years), Gilles (15 years) and of course Pascal, Helmut, Milo and Fatih and the rest of the team.

Newsletter Print Version - PDF

walking tour Download print version (PDF)

Holiday & Travel Show

walking tour Walkabout's Launch 1986


Fraser National Park in 1987

walking tour First Walkabout Tour in 1986


First press cut in 1987!

walking tour First press cut in 1987!


First European Tour in 1988

walking tour First European Tour in 1988


WGA bus in Tasmania 1992

walking tour WGA bus in Tasmania 1992


Former WGA Guide Birgitta!

walking tour Former WGA Guide Birgitta!


Walkabout picnic near Dinner Plain

walking tour Walkabout picnic near Dinner Plain

Presentation evenings

These evenings are always a great place for reunions and getting to know new guests and this year we had an excellent attendance at all venues!

A big thank you for coming along… we hope we can soon show you some of our favourite places in this big wide world.

Video Preview walking tour Video Preview
Flavours of South India

Almost melting moments in India

After 9 hours plane travel, we moved from Winter to Summer, our first tour of the season was about to begin. It took us to Kerala, the “land of coconuts” in the south of India’s west coast. For centuries, South India's Malabar Coast has been the heart of the spice trade in the Indian Ocean.

In its thriving port cities, the confluence of Greek, Roman, Phoenician, Arab, Chinese, and European cultures remain visible in the architecture, religion, and daily life of the people. In Cochin, with its stunning location along the Arabian Sea, our walks revealed the legacies of its European past, from British mansions and Dutch cottages to a 16th century synagogue.

In the cool mountain region of Munnar our walks took us across the ridges and through the cool tea plantations where we learned a lot about the growing and processing of tea. The very sound of the word Thekkady conjures up images of elephants, unending chains of hills and spice-scented plantations.

In the Periyar forest of Thekkady is one of the finest wildlife reserves in India and on our walk with a tribal guide we saw lots of elephants and monkeys... very special!

An absolute highlight was our deluxe private houseboat with Kerala’s picturesque rural scenes all around us. Overwhelmingly we all decided that in next year’s itinerary we shall extend our stay on the houseboat for 2 nights - the most relaxing way to end and reflect on our Flavours of India tour before we say good bye.

The freshness of the local ingredients used was always a guarantee for flavoursome food and it is this philosophy that has kept the people so healthy. Their strong cultural ways are still practiced and much respected. At Nimi’s cooking school we learned how to prepare native dishes using spices from Kerala’s Western Ghats.

We enjoyed the early morning starts with yoga or meditation, the best way to get ready for the day. Nastassja Clarke helped working on the itinerary and wrote about her impressions below:

Guided Walking HolidaysOnce one dares to step into the unknown, there is always a guarantee that a reaction will occur, which will then lead to a transformation… Perhaps unknown at first, yet I promise you that the imprints will come out sooner or later. A few days in Kochi were exactly what were needed in order to adjust to the complete contrasts of lifestyles and of course, the jetlag! After exploring several powerful street scenes such as the wash house, the Paradesi Synagogue, and the Chinese fishing nets, we were all happy to get treated by a generous Indian flavoured dish as the evening rolled in. I didn't exactly know what to expect on my first encounter with India, but I knew that it would impact me on a grand scale. The deep inner connection of the Indian community made me realize that as human beings we sometimes forget that our greatest strength lies inside ourselves. This spiritual energy is immensely beneficial to anyone who is open to be swept into...
READ MORE - Nastassja Clarke, 2016

Guided Walking HolidaysFlavours of South India | Next departure: Feb 21, 2017 [12 days]

Public Ironing Station, Kerala

 walking tour Public Ironing Station, Kerala

 

Elephants, Thekkady, Kerala

 walking tour Elephants, Thekkady, Kerala

 

Tea plantation Munnar, Kerala

walking tour Tea plantation Munnar, Kerala

 

Kerala houseboat

walking tour Houseboat in Kerala

 

Flower shop at Munnar market

walking tour Flower shop at Munnar market

walkabout

30th Mornington Reunion

While Gabriela was in India, Graeme joined the annual reunion of our Mornington Peninsula group, which is always such a special occasion. Catching up with our first ever guests on a Walkabout Tour and their friends plus other guests who they met on our tours over the years, is such a happy gathering! Without any doubt, the most rewarding part of our work during the last 30 years has been meeting so many special and wonderful people. Margaret McArthur and her late husband Ken came on the first Walkabout tour in September 1986 and she has written a little story about our humble beginnings.

When it all began…

Guided Walking HolidaysIn 1986 our close friends Jeanie and Alan Todd had been inspired by Graeme and Gabriela of Walkabout Adventure Tours - which they were initiating at a tourism expo in Melbourne and suggested my husband Ken and I join them on a weekend to Fraser National Park..."
READ MORE - Margaret & Ken (Dec) McArthur WGA Guests from 1986 - 2010

Mornington Peninsula 2016

walking tour Mornington Peninsula 2016

 

Victoria High Country 1997

 walking tour Victoria High Country 1997

Eureopean Spring Walks
Andalusia and Morocco

Intriguing Spain and Morocco
Gabriela and Gilles have just left to begin the European Season with the Follow the Moorish Trail from Valencia through Andalusia and Morocco!

This tour offers a wonderful insight into charming Andalusia in Spain and has a distinctly Moorish flavour.

Our walking tracks take us through these intriguing, old-fashioned villages and constantly changing scenery. The views are truly unbelievable - from often snow-capped mountains to the glistening Mediterranean.

Morocco’s sensuous beauty is legendary, from imperial cities with labyrinthine souks to the awesome grandeur of the Sahara.

Our journey takes us through Fez, a walled city suspended in a medieval dream, the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert, ending in Marrakech.


Guided Walking HolidaysFollow the Moorish Trail | Next dep. April 3 2017 [12 days]

Sahara Desert Morocco

walking tour Sahara Desert, Morocco

 

Rose Valley Dades Morocco

 walking tour Rose Valley Dades, Morocco

Zingaro Nature Reserve Sicily
Splendid Sicily and the Aeolian Islands

In May we return to Sicily and the Aeolian Islands for another dose of Dolce Vita! Milo, our Sicilian guide will once again show you the best places of his homeland.

We discover Sicily on walks through the splendid Riserva dello Zingaro, pristine coastal land backed by steep mountains. The interior of the Madonie Mountains reveals Sicily’s deeply rustic culture - tiny mountain villages, farms, shepherds and freshly-made cheeses.

The Aeolian Islands offer excellent walking with some splendid vantage points over the other islands. They are named after Aeolus, the Greek god who kept the winds he controlled shut tight in one of the islands' many caves...

The 2,600 year-old heart of Siracusa, Ortygia, is set on an island. We walk the narrow streets; explore doric temples and the fabulous Greek, Roman and Christian ruins.

The majestic volcano Mount Etna, which dominates a large part of eastern Sicily, is the highest active volcano in Europe. Our walk takes us above 2000m and together with a local guide we discover this fascinating mountain.

Pantalica Gorge is Sicily's greatest necropolis. Along the path through the gorge we discover some of the 5,000 Neolithic tombs, hewn into the canyon walls.

In Piazza Armerina we visit the vast and sprawling complex of the Villa Casale, once a roman hunting lodge dating back to 286 and 305 Ad. The mosaics are virtually intact and the most breathtaking ones are those of the Roman-African period.

We enjoy delicious Sicilian dinners, which consist of a mixture of different traditions. Elements from Greek, Roman and Arab cuisines are still used.


Guided Walking HolidaysLa Dolce Vita | Next dep. May 21 2016 [15 days]

Fruit Market Siracusa Sicily

walking tour Fruit Market Siracusa Sicily

 

Mt Vulcano Aeolian Islands

walking tour Cefalu Sicily Italy

 

Dinner in Makari Sicily

walking tour Picnic in Zingaro Sicily

Lavender fields the Valensole Plateau Provence

Relax and Unwind in Provence
Starting our days on our recent Flavours of India tour with Yoga and Meditation has proven to be the perfect start for the day! In July (4–10th) we still have some places left on "Relax and Unwind"... a more spiritual journey through Provence.

Many of our activities are relating to the senses, especially taste and smell. In the walls of a converted 13th century convent is the UESS, the European University of Scents and Flavours where we learn the basis of a perfume composition and create our own customized and unique perfume.

At the end of the workshop we can take home our own "flacon" of self-made perfume. At the Prieuré de Salagon we visit the ethno-botanical and medieval gardens followed by a tour of L'Occitane to learn how they harvest and distil its organic ingredients from the area.

Under the gentle guidance of Nastassja Clarke, we attempt to gain an inner elevation through the practice of yoga and meditation. It will prove to be a perfect option to rejuvenate your soul, mind and body.

Everyone deserves a little quality 'me time' and holistic therapies are an ideal way to relax and unwind.

Expect an array of fragrant vegetarian dishes during the short cooking seminars with professional chefs, Gabriela from Walkabout and Virginie from Les Petites Tables, specialising in fresh local organic produce.

Our walks take us into the gentle hills of Provence with siestas in a field of wild thyme and through small hilltop towns.


Guided Walking HolidaysRelax & Unwind in Provence | Next dep. Jul. 4 2016 [7 days]

Siesta in the Contadour

walking tour Siesta in the Contadour

 

Dinner courtyard Forcalquier

walking tour Dinner under the stars, Forcalquier

 

Hilltop village Provence

walking tour Hilltop village, Provence

Black sand beach Reynisdrangar
2 spots left for Iceland in July
We are looking forward to our inaugural Iceland Tour this year and have had an overwhelming response since we announced this tour.

For 2017 we have 2 tours planned, which are almost fully booked. Due to a recent cancellation we now have 2 spaces available for our tour departing on the 27th July this year. Please contact us for further details.


Guided Walking HolidaysIceland Explorer | Next dep. July 27 2016 [14 days]

Skogafoss Iceland

walking tour Skogafoss Iceland

Eastern Circuit Walk
Majestic Polish and Slovakian Tatra's

We still have availability on our Eastern Circuit Walk, which will commence in September – a perfect time to experience the autumn colours in the mountains.

Unlike most of our Walking Holidays, which concentrate on the countryside, the Eastern Circuit actually spends some time in 2 of the great cities of Eastern Europe namely Prague and Krakow. Two nights in each of these cities is enough time to give you a good overview of the history and charm of these cultural gems and don't think that you won't do enough walking – both these cities are made for walking!

The majority of our the tour however is spent in the majestic Tatra Mountains – our walks take us through both the Polish and the Slovakian Tatra's, which is rich and alive with wildlife – marmots, chamois, eagles and even bears!

Don't miss the opportunity to experience a combination of history and culture with the breathtaking beauty of one of the truly great National Parks of Eastern Europe.

Guided Walking HolidaysEastern Circuit | Next dep. September 9 2016 [14 days]

Tatra Mountains Poland

walking tour Tatra Mountains Poland

 

Meet the locals Tatras

walking tour Meet the locals!

Forcalquier rental apartments
A Place in Provence facelift

While Graeme was busy with all the video evenings earlier in February, Gabriela was overseeing work on our new studio in Forcalquier, which is attached to a roof top terrace.

In Autumn it will be ready for rental!

The other three apartments also had a bit of a "facelift" with new painting, a new stove in apartment no. 1 (Eleonore), outside lighting on the terrace of apartment no. 2 (Sancie) and in apartment 4 (Marguerite) the television has finally moved into the lounge room.

Another big job was to repaint the stairway between Apt Nr 1 and 2 and it looks all fresh and new in this pretty light colour.

Three external walls of the house have been rendered and a new fountain in the garden invites for a relaxing siesta in the courtyard.

Just a few kilometres from Forcalquier is now a marvellous 9-hole golf course and golf enthusiasts are always very welcome to stay with us.



Guided Walking HolidaysRental Apartments | Forcalquier, Provence, France

Old Forcalquier Apartments

walking tour Forcalquier Apartments

 

Domaine des Sources Golf

walking tour Domaine des Sources Golf

Food & Wine Festivals

Upcoming Food & Wine Festivals

There are plenty of events in Australia from Food & Fine Wine Festivals to Gastronomy Expos throughout the year. These Events bring together Australian and world-renowned winemakers, chefs and industry insiders to entertain, educate and inspire, you may also visit farm gates and cellar doors, meet with local producers, attend degustation dinners, taste regional products or even attend cooking classes!

We have put a list of local and overseas gourmet events together, here is what's coming near you:

Australia

bullet08/04 F.O.O.D Week Orange [10 days] Orange, NSW
bullet30/04 Grampians Grape Escape [2 days] Hall Gap, VIC
bullet01/05 Tasting Australia [9 days] Adelaide, SA
bullet01/05 Hunter Valley Wine & Food [60 days] Cessnock, NSW

 

Overseas

bullet21/04 Grand Taste Experience [3 days] Durham, USA
bullet20/05 Les Epicuriales [17 days] Bordeaux, France
bullet20/05 The Food Show [7 days] Wellington, NZ
bullet26/05 New Orleans Wine & Food Experience [4 days] USA


See all Gourmet events for 2016

We look forward to seeing you on a walk with us soon and thanks again for being a part of our Journey during the last 30 years.

Our very best wishes,


Gabriela, Graeme and the WGA team


Contact us

Tasting Australia, Adelaide

walking tour Tasting Australia, Adelaide

 

2016 walking tour dates



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