Locomotive 3801 Restored in Sydney

Locomotive 3801 Restored in Sydney

One of Australia’s iconic stream locomotives has reportedly been restored and train journeys relaunched across the state of New South Wales.

Check out other great steam locomotive journeys in Scotland, Austria and the USA in our series Tough Trains and Great Railway Journeys of Europe, also available on DVD.

Written by Ian Cross, edited by Kaz Bosali

Australia Day 2021

Australia Day 2021

This month Australia has commemorated Australia Day!

On January 26, 1788, the first fleet of convicts arrived in Australia from England . The commemoration has become increasingly controversial . The Aboriginal population of Australia regard it as Invasion Day.

Check out our extensive content on Australia on our destinations page here, our DVDs and downloads on Convict and Colonial Australia here and some fabulous Instagram images here.

Written by Ian Cross.

WWII Battle of Crete Nominated for Award!

WWII Battle of Crete Nominated for Award!

We are very pleased to announce that following the very positive reception of our show Ultimate Blitzkrieg: The WW2 Battle of Crete, the 3-part series has now been nominated for the prestigious award of Best Documentary/Factual Program by the Australian Academy for Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA).

The show, which was released in May of this year, was written, produced, directed and narrated by our very own Ian Cross!

The nomination comes following high praise from both Foxtel and the Weekend Australian Magazine, too!

Check out the series page for the show, the DVD, and our episodes On Demand below!

Episode 1: Invasion
Episode 2: Evacuation
Episode 3: Occupation

By Sofi Summers

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
September 14, 2020

Israel returns to full lockdown

Israel is to impose a new three-week nationwide lockdown from Friday in a bid to again slow down the spread of COVID-19. Daily new infections are currently closing in on nearly 3000 a day.

The move has attracted criticism from some of the nations’s conservative religious leaders due to the coincidence of the lockdown with two of the most important events in the Jewish calendar – Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and the most holy of all, Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement).

Others have heralded the move as crucial in order to protect the nation from even more deaths, which currently stands at 1,126.

The logistics of shipping a vaccine around the world

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has suggested that over 8000 Jumbo Jets would be required to ship a vaccine for the coronavirus around the world.

Most vaccines require storage temperatures of between 2C – 8C, excluding a number of other aircraft from the task at hand.

While no vaccine has yet been fully developed, a global airlift plan is being developed between airlines, the IATA, governments and scientists to deliver the vaccine, on the basis of one dose per person.

Tensions are rising in Australia

Over the weekend, Melbourne saw clashes between the authorities and the public during two anti-lockdown protests. Over 80 people were arrested during the protests for breaking the current stay-at-home legislation.

The protests come as the state of Victoria has extended its ‘state of disaster’ for another month, giving the authorities extended powers to enforce public health orders. The state has been on lockdown since early July.

Meanwhile in Queensland, the cheif health officer has been given police protection following death threats which come after strict state rules prevented a young woman from attending her fathers funeral.

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison has expressed concern at the extremely tight border restrictions upheld by Queensland and other state legislatures, and has since agreed with the suggestion that Australia is losing its humanity in the face of the public health crisis.

Other Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • England has imposed stricter measures on the size of gatherings, limiting them to just 6 people. This comes following criticisms of young people for allegedly not respecting the social distancing measures already in place.
  • Canadian airline refuses to take off because of a 3 year old child allegedly not wearing a face covering. The airline’s (and the Canadian government’s) policy requires all children over the age of 2 to wear a face covering.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

Main image: Tel Aviv, RG in TLV, Flickr Creative Commons

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
August 18, 2020

Italy closes nightclubs after a surge in infections

The government of Italy have ordered nightclubs and other dancing venues to close following a spike in infections leading back to evening entertainment venues. The government have also advised that anyone out and in a public space between 6pm and 6am should wear a face covering.

Roberto Speranza, Italy’s health minister has also urged young people to be more cautious due to the risk of causing “real damage” to their parents and grandparents by transmitting the virus to them.

Infection discovered at Utah mink farm

Mink at two farms in Utah have tested positive for the zoonotic virus which causes covid-19 in humans. Employees at the farm have also tested positive for covid-19. Researchers are currently trying to determine whether the humans passed the disease onto the mink or vice-versa, and if any other mink have been infected at other farms.

Bali’s reopening pushed back to September

Heavily reliant on tourism for income, Bali has been hit very hard by the coronavirus. Inviting in a record-breaking 6.28 million foreign visitors in 2019, covid-19 has put pay to the island’s tourism winning streak this year with only 880,000 foreigners arriving in the first half of 2020 .

Many of Bali’s 4 million residents have been relying on the tourism industry for generations, with tourism making up over 80% of Bali’s local economy. With people staying home due to the coronavirus travel restrictions, its residents are struggling.

Bali resident and Aussie expat Jon Gwyther, who has lived in Bali for 20 years, has documented the eerie streets of tourist hotspot Kuta, where “Only Echos Remain”

Only Echoes Remain

Posted by Pilot Guides on Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Norway ‘recommends’ mask wearing

The Norwegian government has introduced guidance encouraging people to wear masks on public transport when a safe distnace of 1 metre cannot be maintained, such as rush hour. Somewhat late to the mask-party, this face mask recommendation is the first the government has made since the beginning of the pandemic.

Norwegian health officials are certain that the population understand the magnitude of the situation and will choose to follow guidance, and do not expect to have the rules enforced by the police.

Oslo’s bus operator, Ruker, along with Vy, the national rail operator, have said that they will not ask people to disembark if the do not wear a face covering, and that it is every individual’s responsibility to wear their mask and keep their distance.

Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • Amazon today unveiled plans to create 3,500 new jobs as it gears up to return to office life with an expanded physical presence across the US. The firm will again buck the global trend and will be extending its office space in 6 major US locations.
  • The four-day Democratic National Convention is being held virtually this week, with live and prerecorded speeches coming from across the country along with virtual events.

Main image: American Mink, Kary Nieuwenhuis, Flickr Creative Commons

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
August 13, 2020

The Good News

Are you missing cruises this year? One Dorset ferry owner is taking nostalgic customers on mini-cruises to see the huge number of ships anchored between Portsmouth and Plymouth whilst they are out of service due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Not So Good News

Disruptive and challenging border rules in New South Wales, Australia have been criticised and branded ‘a political stunt’ by a hospital who can’t get their staff over the border to work. Lismore Base Hospital, NSW, which is around 70 miles from the border with Queensland, said over 100 doctors who reside the other side of the border are unable to travel in to work, leaving the hospital short staffed and relying heavily on relief doctors.

The United Kingdom have officially declared a recession – the first in 11 years – due to the impact of the coronavirus. The chancellor has stated the nation’s largely service based economy as the reason for the lockdown’s severe impact on GDP, which fell by a fifth in the 3 months to August.

New Zealand returns to lockdown after 5 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, the first ‘community transmitted’ cases in over 100 days. Prime minister Jacinda Arden has also announced that the September 29 election date is under review following pressure from the opposition to move polling to a later date.

Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • Spain remains in the European spotlight as cases continue to rise at quite a dramatic rate, topping the charts for infections within Europe.

  • President Trump has this week attempted to re-write history, claiming that the “1917 Flu” ended World War II…

Main image: Welcome to New South Wales, Yun Huang Yong, Flickr Creative Commons

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
August 5, 2020

Come Fly With Me

Virgin has unveilled designs for a new supersonic plane capable of travelling three-times faster than the speed of sound. A flight leaving London could reach Sydney in just 5 hours, though the jet would remain very exclusive, carrying only a handful of passengers, and is obviously not on 2020’s list of priorities. Back in the real world, uncertainty in the industry is causing Virgin huge financial worries, leading them to file for chapter 15 bankruptcy protection in the US this week, in the fear that cash reserves will dry up if a rescue deal isn’t struck on August 25th.

While demand for long haul flights looks very uncertain, short trips around Europe appear to be on the uptick, with budget airline Easy Jet laying on more flights to meet demand for holidays. This comes in spite of the extremely volatile and quick-changing travel guidance issued by governments. All this swivel-hips, flip-flop, u-turn madness has taken its toll on citizens, leading people to make their own decisions and take the risks into their own hands!

Departures and arrivals are still pretty much nonexistent in Australia, even for travel within its own shores, as lockdowns continue to intensify. In fact, our award for world’s strangest lockdown this week goes to Aussie state of Queensland which has banned People from travelling to the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) where there are no cases

Go Quietly

According to Anchorage Daily News, Alaska’s first cruise sailing of 2020 departed Juneau on Saturday, carrying 30 crew and 37 passengers, for a weeklong voyage in Southeast Alaska. The cruise operators are planning a handful of additional voyages for the remained of 2020.

Tag; you’re it!

Singapore has introduced a tagging system to help assist in enforcing quarantine, whereby foreign visitors must wear a tagging device to ensure that they do not break the rules. Current rules dictate that only business and official travel is permitted to the country, subject to testing. It is reported that 2,200 vistors entered Singapore in June, down from 1.6 million the same month last year.

Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • According to a report by the World Health Organisation, COVID-19 has provided the perfect opportunity for Suriname to identify its health industry’s shortcomings, and to put a plan in place to address them.

  • The International Finance Corporation’s (World Bank Group) new $4 billion financing platform will help increase the supply to developing countries of health supplies needed to fight the pandemic.
  • After months gone by with no coronavirus deaths, Vietnam have reported a fresh outbreak of COVID-19.

Main image: Melbourne Airport Flight Information… Non-existent! Pilot Productions

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
July 8, 2020

Lockdown returns to Melbourne…

Australia has been largely applauded for its rapid and effective response to the global Coronavirus outbreak and has seen success in containing the virus and stopping the spread by using a strict lockdown.

The state of Victoria, home to Australia’s second largest city, Melbourne, had some of the nation’s most stringent lockdown measures and was among the last to lift its restrictions when the worst of the outbreak seemed to have passed.

But as much of the country emerges from the restrictions following their success, the virus has resumed spreading at an alarming rate in Melbourne, with a record 191 new infections just yesterday.

The city has today announced that it will re-lockdown for six weeks in a bid to once again stop the spread.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said the city and some of its surrounds will be locked down under tougher restrictions than were imposed during the first shutdown which only began to lift on June 1. The borders between Victoria and its neighbour states will remain shut for the duration.

“We are in many respects in a more precarious, challenging and potentially tragic position now than we were some months ago,” Andrews said.

…and to Israel

In a bid to spare the nation another total lockdown, Israel’s government has today announced that bars, gyms, nightclubs, swimming pools and event halls will all be closing again.

Israel lifted the initial lockdown on May 28 following a low of just 5 new cases reported on May 24. By July 1, new infection numbers had returned to pre-lockdown levels of 1000 new infections per day.

Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • The United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics reports that 80% of people who test positive for COVID-19 are asymptomatic on the day of the test., further highlighting the danger of asymptomatic transmission.
  • The United States surpassed 3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 this week, a number which is almost equal to population of Madrid, Spain’s most populous city and capital.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

Main image: Melbourne Town Hall, Pilot Productions ©

Bravo! New show “Ultimate Blitzkrieg” praised by Australian media

Bravo! New show "Ultimate Blitzkrieg" praised by Australian media

Following the broadcast of our new 3-part miniseries Ultimate Blitzkrieg: The WWII Battle of Crete, the show has caught the attention of many, including both the Foxtel Insider team and Weekend Australian!

In their review of Ultimate Blitzkrieg, Foxtel Insider called the show both powerful and gripping, and describe Executive Producer Ian Cross’ fascination with the events of May 1941.

Our show also made an appearance in the Weekend Australian newspaper, who described the show as Riveting!

We are excited to announce that the Ultimate Blitzkrieg: The WW2 Battle of Crete DVD is coming soon! To register your interest for the DVD please use this Contact Form!

 

 

Forgotten Seafarers

Forgotten Seafarers

According to the International Chamber of Shipping, 1.6 million seafarers are stranded at sea and are unable to go home, while relief crews cannot be brought in.

The UK Chamber of Shipping said up to 2,000 – or around one in 13 – of the UK’s 25,750 seafarers were among the stranded.

In a letter written to Shipping Minister Kelly Tolhurst, the trade association has asked the UK government to sign up to and acknowledge the International Maritime Organisation COVID-19 guidance for personal protective equipment and for interactions between ship and shore-based personnel to ensure crew changeovers can resume. Getting them home is “increasingly taking on a humanitarian dimension”, it adds.

Working at sea often entails consecutive shifts over weeks or even months with few days off, followed by a rest period of weeks or months between trips. While these seafarers are unable to return, work will resume even for those in need of a break.

Discover the seafarer way of life with our series Tough Boats

Mark Dickinson, general secretary of seafarer union Nautilus International, said many UK seafarers were working 90-hour weeks.

In an interview with the BBC, he said: “It’s a confined workplace – not the Hilton Hotel – for three, four or five months. The accommodation is fairly basic and you’re with a small group of people.

“You get into a situation where you think, ‘I’ve got six weeks to go,’ ‘I’ve got four weeks to go,’ and even when this is extended by 24 hours it’s pretty awful. It’s worse when it’s so open-ended.”

Despite uncertainty, seafarers have been honoured for their hard work and professionalism throughout the global pandemic by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).

More information:

Watch: Tough Boats – The Arctic

Download: Tough Boats – Great Lakes

Read: Major Shipping Firms Dedicate $5bn To Clean Fuel Research

Read: Phobic Traveller: The What, When & How of COVID-19 Travel

Read: All-Female Sailing Team ‘eXXpedeition’ on a Mission to Clean Up Our Oceans

Main image: Container ship leaving bay area, Derell Licht, Flickr Creative Commons

By Sofi Summers