80th Anniversary of Battle of Crete

80th Anniversary of Battle of Crete

This week marks the 80th anniversary of the decisive battle in World War 2.

In May 1941, 14,000 German paratroopers supported by nearly a thousand aircraft were dropped on the island in a unique blitzkrieg operation. An airborne invasion of this scale would never be repeated. Several thousand elite paratroopers, the pride of the Nazi Luftwaffe strikeforce, were killed and hundreds of planes lost in 10 days of fierce fighting. Despite the huge cost, the Germans defeated 30,000 British, Australian and New Zealand troops supported by Greek partisans.

It had a devastating impact on all sides and led to a four year German occupation of the Greek island of Crete.

To learn more, watch our 3 part documentary, ‘Ultimate Blitzkrieg: The WW2 Battle of Crete‘ that tells the story if The Battle of Crete’s invasion, occupation and evacuation.

Covid-19: Australian Borders

Covid-19: Australian Borders

Australia’s tough border policy – in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, which denies entry and exit from the country for all but a few – is known as ‘Fortress Australia’ and the country is now being described as the “Hermit Kingdom”.

To some commentators, this stance is  drawing reminders to the country’s harsh history of locking people up! Explore our program A Short History of Convict Australia, which examines how 160,000 British and Irish convicts were incarcerated in Australia over a period of 80 years.

Written by Ian Cross, edited by Kaz Bosali

Travelling to Australia During the Pandemic

Travelling to Australia During the Pandemic

Outraged tourist operators are describing Australia as the the Hermit Kingdom of the South Pacific – given its extreme anti Covid-19 measures and ongoing closed borders in the face of the pandemic.

They say the “lucky country” could lapse into semi permanent isolation.

Have a read of our article, ‘Extreme Australia‘. Australia is a land of extremes. Extreme nature, weather ranging from scorching desert hear to below freezing, extreme geographical wonders, vast landscapes, hair-raising history and colorful characters that make it such a fantastic destination. Check out our list of Australia’s extremes here.

Anzac Day in Australia and New Zealand

Anzac Day in Australia and New Zealand

The 25th of April each year marks Anzac Day in Australia and New Zealand, the biggest wartime commemoration event and an important day. This annual national day marks the anniversary of the first military operation by Australian and New Zealand soldiers in the First World War in 1915.

The term Anzac stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, a group of fighters who landed at Gallipoli Cave in the Allies’ bid to capture the Gallipoli peninsula from the Ottoman Empire.

The battle lasted for eight months and resulted in heavy losses on both sides including 8,000 Australian soldiers.

Anzac Day honours the sacrifices made by the soldiers and commemorates their lives. More than a century on, it’s come to be a source of pride, patriotism and a day of great importance.  

To learn more about Australia and New Zealand’s involvement and their losses in the world war, check out our three part ‘Ultimate Blitzkrieg – The WW2 Battle of Crete’ documentary here.

Read our article on The Gallipoli Campaign on its 100th anniversary here.

Read about the Kokoda Trail, the first time when Australia’s national security was threatened.

Read our study guide on World War 1 and what caused it here.

We have three study guides on World War 2 for you to enjoy. To learn about the Battle of Crete, click here. Have an in-depth understanding of WWII in Europe here. And specifically, click here to read about WWII in the Pacific.

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