Monday, 17 December 2007


YOUR WEEKLY TRAVEL TIPS for Week beginning 17 December 2007

travellers good buys: with david ellis


IT sounds suicidal but we're assured its quite safe: a culinary tour
of Japan to learn many of the tricks of Japanese cuisine, includes
tasting the poisonous fugu puffer-fish. The 13-night tour begins in
Tokyo and visits Takayama for a Sake tasting and discovering the
secrets of miso, hida beef and soba noodles, there's a stay in a
monastery in Koya-san to cook traditional vegetarian cuisine with the
monks, Okonomiyaki cuisine in Hiroshima, and a visit to Kyoto. The
fugu fish will be tried in Osaka where its prepared by licenced chefs
who've survived a long apprenticeship; price starts from $3265pp
including twin-share, transport, tour guide, breakfasts daily,
2-lunches, 7-dinners and cooking classes. Air is extra; available 20
March to 25 October. Phone Escape Travel on 1300 799 783.

STAY 5-nights or more at the Mantra Sand Dunes Resort at secluded
Marcoola on the Sunshine Coast from $180 per night for a 2-bedroom
apartment between now and March 31 (some blockout dates apply.)
Marcoola is within easy reach of Noosa, Mooloolaba, Montville, and
Maleny and has a patrolled beach, play-grounds, picnic areas and good
fishing and surfing. The Resort has a 75m lagoon style pool, heated
spa, gym, BBQ area and tropical gardens; phone 13 15 17 or visit

A MINI-stay in Rome from $472pp includes visits to the Etruscan
tombs, Imperial temples, early Christian churches, Renaissance
palaces, baroque basilicas and the Vatican Museums and Sistine
Chapel. It includes 3-nights in a 3-star hotel with breakfasts daily,
arrival transfer, and the historical building visits. It's on sale to
December 31 from Flight Centre on 131 600.

A RANGE of accommodation in Sydney for those visiting for the 2008 Sydney Festival that runs for three weeks in January, is priced from $160 per night in a Deluxe Queen Room at the Citigate Sebel Sydney, including breakfast. Phone 1800 005 125 or visit

THREE day packages to next year's Edinburgh Military Tattoo in August are priced from $615pp through Tempo Holidays. It includes 2-nights twin-share with full Scottish breakfasts, tickets for the Saturday Evening Tattoo with its fireworks finale, return coach transfers from hotel to Edinburgh Castle, service and VAT. Accommodation is in former manor houses and a country club 20-minutes out of Edinburgh.
Details on 1300 558 987 or

HERVEY Bay, 3-hours north of Brisbane, has something for everyone
from fishing, sailing, kayaking and swimming, to taking to the wine
trails in the South Burnett, Fraser Island, Lady Elliott Island,
historic Maryborough and the Great Barrier Reef. Minimum 7-night
stays at the five, 2-storey Sereno Luxury Beach Villas start from $241
per night. Villas have gourmet kitchens, 2-person spa baths, and
private courtyards 50m from the beach. Details

TRUE: A guest phoned House Keeping at a New York City hotel and asked if he could have an extra twelve pillows sent to his room.

(Missed a holiday idea? We're archived on

Monday, 10 December 2007


YOUR WEEKLY TRAVEL TIPS for week beginning December 10 2007

travellers good buys: with david ellis


FOR something really different in cruising, join adventure operator
North Star Cruises' True North and go swimming in January with
man-eating White Pointer sharks. Guests are lowered into the water in
a metal cage in the waters off Port Lincoln, South Australia…. where
scenes for the movie 'Jaws' were filmed… and within minutes the White
Pointers begin circling. Price for 8-nights aboard the 36-passenger
True North start from $6,995pp and includes all meals and excursions;
she sails from Ceduna for Cape Jervis to visit the McLaren Vale wine
region, Kangaroo Island, Port Lincoln, Coffin Bay, the Pearson
Islands, and Saint Francis Island. The shark swimming is a free
option; for details phone (08) 9192 1829 or visit

LET Santa get the Christmas rush out of the way and visit him in his
"official home" at Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland in February. Student
Flights' 7-night package from Helsinki includes breakfasts daily, a
Sauna Party, an icy river swim, a visit to the Kemi Snow Castle, and a
meeting with the Jolly Old Man at his Santa Claus Village. The tour
departs Helsinki on February 10 and is priced from $1159pp; air to
Helsinki is extra. Phone 1800 069 063 or visit

THOSE visiting Alice Springs by rail will find a pleasant new entrance
to the town from the end of this year: a 400m interactive Discovery
Walkway from the railway station to the CDB will be lined by exhibit
boards featuring the art, history and topography of Alice Springs.
There'll also be seating amid native plants along the Discovery
Walkway, that's costing the Territory Government $330,000 and Great
Southern Railway $100,000.

TRAFALGAR Tours have released 41 Europe and Britain holidays under
their CostSaver 2008 banner. As an example an 11-day The Elizabethan
takes-in London, Plymouth, Cardiff, Glasgow, the Scottish Highlands,
Edinburgh, Leeds, Cambridge and other popular destinations and costs
from $2099pp twin-share. There are departures between April 22 and
October 14 2008; air to the UK is additional. See travel agents or

GET around the Greek Islands on fast-ferry Island Hopping packages
from Tempo Holidays between April and October next year. They start
from 10-nights priced from $1286 (plus air) including 2-nights in
centrally-located hotels in Athens, three in Mykonos, and four in
Santorini, breakfasts, transfers and fast-ferry tickets. Phone 1300
558 987 or see

FOUR nights in a 2-bedroom BreakFree Reef Club apartment at Port
Douglas costs from just $376 per adult, with children 3-12 years free,
on select dates between January 4 and March 31 2008. This package is
available through travel agents, or Qantas Holidays on 13 14 15 who
can also arrange best-possible seasonal airfares.

TRUE: Several hundred Brits have just paid up to $16,000 each for a
two-week cruise on which they didn't know where they were going. They
were told only that the boutique Saga Rose would sail from Southampton
for eight ports not on the UK mainland, and which would remain a
mystery until they got there. The inquisitive cruisers snapped-up all
cabins in several days.

Monday, 3 December 2007


YOUR WEEKLY TRAVEL TIPS for week beginning 3 December 2007

travellers good buys: with david ellis


NOT one, but two 77,000 tonne superliners are to be based in Australia
to cater to a booming cruise market that's grown 18 per cent in the
past year – twice the growth rate of the North American cruise market.
Princess Cruises brought Sun Princess to Sydney early in November, and
Dawn Princess that will arrive late in 2008 for what was originally
intended as a 5-months Australian season, will now be based here
permanently from next November. Between them the two superliners, that
each carry nearly 2000 passengers, will cruise to the South Pacific,
New Zealand, around Australia – and Dawn Princess will do a first-ever
round-world originating from Australia in 2009. For these superliners'
itineraries and prices see travel agents.

FLIGHT Centre has a package to the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens from March 28 to 30 next that from $1848pp includes return air from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, 4-nights twin-share hotel, Welcome Drinks with former Wallaby, Gary Pearse, and daily entry to the Rugby. There's also an official polo shirt and cap; local taxes are included but air
taxes are additional. Phone 131 600.

WATCH former world number one, Lleyton Hewitt play international greats including Frenchman, Richard Gasquet at the final staging of the Next Generation Adelaide International from December 31 to January 6. has a stay 4-nights, pay-3 at the Miller
Apartments in the heart of Adelaide's CBD and shopping district, with
prices from $483; details on 1300 72 70 72 or
; tennis entry is extra.

BOOK by January 31 and a 3-night package at Fiji's Lomani Island Resort is available any time up to June 15 2008 from just $505pp
twin-share including full American breakfast in your suite, or at the
resort's signature The Flame Tree restaurant. The offer also includes
return airport transfers; air to Fiji is additional. The resort, whose
name means 'love' in the local language, has just twelve luxury
beachside suites. Details on

AVOID the pitfalls of renting cars when you arrive at your destination
by pre-booking through an Australian operator like globalCARS which
currently has Hertz rental cars available in the United States from
as little as A$48 a day or A$259 a week. The rates are available
until December 14 for bookings up to March 31, 2009. globalCARS is
also offering Earlybird deals such as free upgrades to bigger
vehicles for bookings from 1 April 08 onwards. Hertz also has "GREEN"
vehicles including Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion, Buick LaCrosse and
Hyundai Sonata which have fuel economy of 28mpg or better.
globalCARS are available at 50 locations across America at fully
inclusive rates offering unlimited miles, loss damage waiver with zero
excess and all local taxes and airport surcharges. More details from
1300-789-992 or visit

A UNIQUE 15-day coach tour from Munich to Venice includes Salzburg
(Mozart's baroque city of cobblestoned streets,) The Holy Mountain in
the Bavarian Alps with its 14th century abbey, Hitler's WWII retreat
at Berchtesgarten (The Eagle's Nest,) the Austrian Tyrol, and a stay
on the shores of Lake Bled in Slovenia. There's also Opatija in
Croatia, once referred to as the Nice of the East, and a stay in an
Italian castle, Castelbrando in the Dolomites; cost is from $4789pp
including 14-nights twin-share, all breakfasts, 12-dinners, entries,
coach travel, guides, tips and porterage. Air is additional. Phone
1300 135 015 or see travel agents.

TRUE: A UK-based airline has blamed a "rostering problem" for one of its planes flying from London's Heathrow Airport to New York recentlywith no flight attendants – and no passengers. London newspapers
dubbed it the "Ghost Flight," while environmentalists raised eyebrows
at it occurring at a time the airline had just announced increases in
fuel surcharges.

Monday, 26 November 2007


26 November 2007


Book by December 14 but not take your Mediterranean cruise holiday
until any time between April 13 and November 23 next year, and will extend Early Booking discounts on weekly
sailings aboard the luxury Costa Concordia from Rome to Spain,
Tunisia, Malta, and back to Rome.

These 8-night packages include a night pre-cruise at the Crowne Plaza
St Peters in Rome, 7-nights onboard Costa Concordia with all meals,
entertainment, port taxes and onboard gratuities, and return air from
mainland capitals as well as Cairns, Coolangatta and Darwin; air taxes
applicable at time of booking are additional.

All Concordia's cruises visit Savona in Italy, Barcelona and Palma in
Spain, Tunis in Tunisia, La Valletta (Malta) and Palermo (Italy,) and
are priced from $2749pp twin-share with Early Bird Booking discounts
– and children up to 18 years cruise free, paying only port charges,
if sharing a cabin with two adults.

For full details phone 1300 369 848 or visit

COSTA Concordia is one of the largest ships in the Costa fleet at
112,000 tonnes, has five restaurants, thirteen bars, four pools (two
with retractable roofs,) 5 jacuzzis, a multi-purpose sports deck,
jogging track, and a Wellness Centre extending through two decks with
gym, Thalasso Pool, treatment rooms, sauna and steam room.

There's also a 3-deck high theatre, giant screen on the pool deck,
casino, disco, video arcade, and internet café and library.

Monday, 19 November 2007



Week beginning 19 November 2007

travellers good buys: with david ellis


AN 11-night tour of India With A Difference includes travel in
private vehicles with a dedicated guide, a stay in the luxury Amar
Villas while visiting the Taj Mahal, another at the 5-star Imperial
Hotel in Delhi and Taj Lake Palace at Udaipur, and one at the
all-suite hilltop Devi Garh Hotel. Highlights include the alleys and
markets of Old Delhi and by contrast modern New Delhi, the Taj, the
old desert town of Fatehpur Skri that was abandoned when its water
supply failed, the Pink City Jaipur, and an elephant ride up the
ramparts of the Amber Palace. Price starts from $5675pp twin-share
with breakfasts, private vehicle, guide and sightseeing; details from
Icon Holidays on 1300 853 953. Air is additional.

SAVINGS of between $400 and $1000 a couple are on offer from
Australian Pacific Touring for its 2008 tours in Western Australia
and Queensland. The offers apply to four tours in each program, and
in some instances to specific departures. As an example a 21-day
Perth-Darwin West Coast Discovery starts from $6795pp (normally
$7295) for select departures in March, April and October 2008, and a
13-day Sydney-Cairns Great Barrier Reef Small Group Island Wanderer
starts from $4795pp (normally $5295) for select departures in April,
June and December 2008. Bookings need to be made by February 28; see
travel agents, phone 1800 335 003 or visit
Airfares are extra.

A 23-day garden tour of Europe includes London's Chelsea Flower Show,
the Keukenhof Gardens in Amsterdam that are the world's largest
flower gardens, Claude Monet's House and Garden in Paris, garden
walks in Versailles, shopping in Paris, and sightseeing in London and
Wales. The tour that departs on May 1 2008 will be led by
horticulturist, Brian Sams from Toowoomba in Queensland. Prices start
from $9983pp including return air and taxes from mainland capitals,
twin-share, most meals, transport on tour, arriving transfers and
excursions. Details from Flight Centre Group Travel on 1300 737 441.

BRISBANE's dress-circle Terraces on Wickham has a current special of
$109 a night for a room in this peaceful near-city property that
overlooks the spectacular Roma Street Parklands. The hotel has a
Restaurant and Bar, pool, and 170 guest rooms that are being totally
renovated at a cost of $5m. For reservations call (07) 3831 6177 or

FICKLE Mother Nature: After having to cancel one of the most famous
downhill ski races on the World Cup circuit, the Hahnenkamn Race at
Kitzbuhel Resort in Austria last year because of a lack of snow, the
Resort this year has opened six weeks ahead of schedule – because
there's so much snow. It's the earliest in the Resort's 80-year
history that it's kicked-off the ski season in the first week of
November, and other European resorts are reporting equally good falls
to start the season. Package prices from Ski Max Qantas on 1300 136

TRUE: A guest asked at the Purser's Desk of a cruise ship in the
Mediterranean the whereabouts of "the coach doing the Capri Walking

Monday, 12 November 2007



Week beginning 12 November 2007

travellers good buys: with david ellis


IF shopping's not your go, but you've a special someone you want to give a special something, Accor Hotels has a Christmas Gift Card they can use towards stays in any of its ninety hotels and resorts Australia-wide. The Card can be bought for any value from $100 to $1000, and used in one go, or spread over a number of stays within a 12 months period, the cost of each stay deducted from the Card until the value is fully used. Cards are available by phoning (02) 9280 9764, online from and from most Post Offices.

TOURS of the Kremlin and the Hermitage Museum, and a cruise on the canals of St Petersburg are part of 9-day small-group packages of Russia priced from $3200 through Russia & Beyond in 2008. Twelve tours are scheduled between May and October, and a Winter Special on December 19, with accommodation in centrally-located western-managed hotels. The tours also visit Vladimir, Suzdal, and Sergiev Posad; hotels, most meals, coach and rail transport, gratuities to English-speaking guides are included. Air is extra. Phone 1300 363 554 or visit

ESCAPE to a 4-star luxury cottage at Tasmania's Greens Beach that sleeps up to four and is priced from $215 per night for 7-night stays between December 1 and June 30 2008. The cottage looks out to the mouth of the Tamar River, Low Head Lighthouse, Bass Strait and the Narawantapu National Park and is roughly an hour from Launceston Airport and Devonport Ferry Terminal; stays include a breakfast hamper on arrival that's stocked with local wood-smoked bacon, eggs, fresh brick-oven bread, Tamar Valley yoghurt, fruit preserves and cheeses. Guests also get two days free use of eco-friendly electric bikes or scooters to go exploring (no licence required.) Full details

A 5-star 40-day cruise aboard Prinsendam from Cape Town to Lisbon includes a dozen ports in South Africa, Reunion, Mauritius, the Seychelles, Kenya, Oman, Egypt, Spain and Portugal. The cruise departs on April 13 next year and is priced from $13,623pp twin-share including all onboard dining and entertainment; air is additional. Details from 1800 044 066 or

DON'T get stumped for a hotel room if you're planning on going to Melbourne for the traditional Boxing Day Test – Flight Centre Hotels has Superior Rooms from $147 per night and 1-bedroom city apartments from $269 per night. Phone 1800 005 125 or check-out for this and other deals.

TRUE: THE GUINNESS Book of Records has stripped Italy's Leaning Tower of Pisa of its title as the world's most out-of-kilter structure: its given the accolade to a church steeple in the German village of Suurhusen that leans at 5.07-degrees, compared with just 3.97-degrees for Pisa's famous Tower.

Monday, 5 November 2007



Week beginning 5 November 2007

travellers good buys: with david ellis


WRAP up the Christmas shopping with a shortbreak at the same time to
Norfolk Island's annual Christmas Shopfest from December 11 to 14.
Low tax-rates mean imported clothing, footwear, cosmetics, perfumes,
cameras, toys and even diamonds are cheaper there than in Australia,
and during Shopfest there's a further saving of at least 25 per cent.
As well those who fly with Norfolk Air and shop at the discount
Twilight Markets will earn shopping vouchers to the value of $100;
3-night fly/stay packages start from $789pp twin-share ex-Brisbane
and $849 ex-Sydney. Details 1800 111 653 or

THE laid-back village of Nelsons Bay on Port Stephens, just over
2-hours north of Sydney, is an ideal retreat for those looking to
fish, sea kayak, surf, scuba dive or spot dolphins and whales.
Between now and December 13, the exotic Bali at the Bay resort has
two 2-bedroom apartments from $235 per apartment per night –
including on the first morning breakfast with plunger coffee, fruit
juice, cereal, champagne and biscuits, dips and fresh fruit, and even
complimentary Bintang beer. Apartments have spas with gels and oils;
details on

PORT Vila's Erakor Island Resort & Spa has plenty to boast about: its
Chef Johnny Toara has been named Vanuatu Chef of the Year in the 3rd
Air Vanuatu National Salon Culinaire competition, and it's Lina Singo
the Junior Chef of the Year. More than seventy chefs took part in the
competition; see

GUESTS virtually have the Coral Sea lapping at their doorstep at the
Ellis Beach Oceanfront Bungalows 5-minutes from popular Palm Cove.
Prices start from $125 per night in a secluded bungalow with private
balcony, queen bed, ensuite, air-conditioning and TV, and there's
good access to the Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest; details 1800
005 125 or

A 10-day tour of South India by private air-conditioned car takes in
the extensive British Raj edifices in Chennai, the old trading port
of Kochi (Cochin) and a cruise through the Kerala backwaters. Price
from $1575pp includes twin-share, 9-breakfasts, one lunch,
English-speaking guides and entry fees. It operates all year from
Chennai, and finishes in Kochi; see travel agents, phone 1300 558 987
or see

CANADA'S Rocky Mountains snow season is expected to open this week,
with Australians continuing to be amongst the region's most
enthusiastic visitors: Australian company Ski Max says bookings from
here are up 20 per cent on just a few years ago, and with our dollar
at a 23-year high it expects even greater interest this year.
Fly/stay/ski details on 1300 136 997 or

TRUE: THE 63,000 people who live within the inner commune of the
300-odd islands that make-up Venice, endure 20-million visitors a

Monday, 29 October 2007



Week beginning 29 October 2007

travellers good buys: with david ellis


VIRGIN Blue is introducing a new class of wider seat with more legroom
called Premium Economy to attract those who want better than Economy,
but don't want to pay full Business Class. The first three rows of its
Boeing aircraft, and some rows in its Embraers, will be fitted with
the red leather seats that will give two on each side of the aisle
instead of the present three in Economy. Those who book Premium
Economy will also receive free access to the Foxtel Inflight
Entertainment Channels, increased baggage allowance of 32kg,
complimentary entry to The Lounge facilities in Sydney, Melbourne,
Brisbane, Adelaide and Canberra, and flexible and refundable fares.
Installation of the new seats will begin this year, with the entire
fleet fitted out in time for an official launch in 2008.

FAMILY-holiday company Travel With Kidz says Africa's not just for
adventurous adults, and has a package for a family of four at the
Honeyguide tented safari camp on the edge of South Africa's Kruger
National park from $13,280. It includes return air from Sydney, four
nights in permanent tents at the child-friendly Khoka Moya Camp with
ensuite and private verandah, all meals and drinks, game-viewing
drives and bushwalks, a night in Johannesburg and domestic air within
Africa; details 1300 729 541 or

BEAT the Christmas rush with pre-Christmas specials at Accor resorts
in Coffs Harbour from $179 per night, Surfers Paradise from $327 a
night, the Sunshine Coast from $240 per night and Cairns from $155 a
night. Phone 1300 65 65 65 or visit for
bookings and available dates.

HUNDREDS of dollars can be saved on self-drive holidays in Europe if
booked through globalCARS by December 31 for leasings throughout 2008.
They have 40 different model compacts to people-mover Citroens costing
from $28 a day with extra 7- to 9-days free on certain models, 50 per
cent off collection and return fees in Europe and a $150 credit off
the invoice. All come with new car warranty, full insurance and third
party with no excess, free first service and free pick up and return
in France. Details 1300 789 992 or

BREAKFREE has one-bedroom apartments from $118 a night until December
22 at its Great Sandy Straits Marina Resort at Hervey Bay – which is
says is a refreshing alternative to some of the more tourist-trodden
holiday spots on the Queensland Coast. The resort has uninterrupted
views of the bay, exclusive direct beach access, a marina, 25m lap
pool as well as a tropical style pool, tennis, cycle hire, sauna, and
kids' playground. Phone (07) 4128 9999.

TRUE: A British travel writer has complained in her newspaper that on
a recent visit to St Petersburg in Russia, with eleven cruise ships in
port on the one day, the 15,000 passengers they disgorged required
over 600 motor coaches to get them around town – and with
near-three-hour queues she gave up on trying to see most major

Monday, 22 October 2007



Week beginning 22 October 2007

travel tips: with david ellis


SAVE $250 a couple on Gray Line of Alaska coach and rail tours of six
days or longer in 2008 by booking and depositing through Adventure
World before December 31. Options include the McKinley Explorer Tour
from Anchorage to Denali National Park and Fairbanks that's now priced
from $1475pp twin-share, or a 10-nights Yukon Highlights that from
$3633pp twin-share travels through historic Alaska gold rush areas and
includes a cruise on the Yukon River from Eagle to Dawson City.
Details 1300 363 055 or

A RECORD 11,000 cyclists are expected to start in the 26th Sydney to
the Gong Ride on November 4 to raise money for MS – how many finish
the 90km event is another matter. The ride will start at St Peters in
Sydney's south-east and wind around Botany Bay, through the Royal
National Park and across the spectacular new Sea Cliff Bridge to
finish in the heart of Wollongong. Organisers hope it will raise
$1million for treatment, specialist services and advice for those
living with MS; to join the ride phone (02) 9413 4166 or visit

FORMER airline airport manager in Brisbane, Wendy Johnson has turned a
love of overseas shopping into book form to help fellow shop-a-holics:
her first pocket-size tome, Hot Spots to Shop in Bangkok advises where
to find specific products or services, details western clothing sizes
and equivalents in Thailand, lists shopping centres, hidden must-visit
stores, trading hours, phone contacts, and transport information. It
costs $19.95 online through ; Wendy plans to
follow it up with Hot Spots to Shop in other Asia-Pacific cities.

A HIDDEN river retreat on the NSW coast 2.5-hours from Sydney or
Canberra offers nine self-contained luxury bungalows with spas that
have bush views, ensuites with double showers, gourmet kitchens,
air-conditioning, queen beds and balconies with BBQ. The 4.5 star
Bewong River Retreat is a short drive from Jervis Bay where guests can
go dolphin or whale watching, and at the resort swim, fish, bushwalk –
and use each bungalows' canoe. Price starts from $180 per night
including late check-out; book through

TWENTY-FOUR nights cruising from Beijing to Sydney on the 5-star Sun
Princess in September next year will include calls at Shanghai, Hong
Kong, Nah Trang, Vung Tau, Sihanoukville, Singapore and Darwin, all
meals, entertainment, return air and taxes and port charges. Prices
start from $6279pp twin-share ex-Sydney, $6316 Melbourne and from
$6341pp twin-share ex-Brisbane; phone 1800 044 066 or visit

TRUE: ECCENTRIC American billionaire businessman, aviator and film
producer, Howard Hughes once filled the cargo compartment of his
personal jetliner with thousands of tennis balls – so it would float
if it crash-landed on water.

Monday, 15 October 2007



Week beginning 15 October 2007

travel tips: with david ellis


THE imminent arrival in Australia of the first superliner ever to be
permanently based here, P&O's 70,000 tonne Pacific Dawn saw the
company take a record near-3000 phone enquiries at its Australian call
centre in just one day last week. It was 30 per cent more than
average, and the company says was a combination of increased marketing
of Pacific Dawn that will make her inaugural voyage from Sydney on
November 9, and an 18 per cent growth in the past year in Australians
opting for cruise holidays.

CUNARD meanwhile have ordered a new 92,000 tonne liner to be named
Queen Elizabeth to keep up with world demand for cruise holidaying.
She'll replace the QE2 that will become a floating hotel in Dubai at
the end of next year, and will be launched in 2010 with a capacity for
2092 passengers.

QANTAS Holidays has a night's accommodation at the Hotel Ibis World
Square in Sydney and an 'A' Reserve ticket to Billy Elliott the
Musical from $213pp. The musical is scheduled to run at the Capitol
Theatre from November 13 to February 24; book through travel agents.

TRAFALGAR has 8-day Northern California coach tours between May and
October 2008 that include San Francisco, Sonoma and Napa Valleys, Lake
Tahoe, Yosemite National park, Carmel and Monterey from $1985pp
twin-share. It includes breakfasts daily, some other meals,
first-class hotels, air-conditioned coach travel, professional tour
guide and airport transfers; air travel is additional.

Highlights include wine and dinner aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train,
Gold Rush Old Sacramento, the historic Old Mission San Juan Bautista
and giant redwood forests; see travel agents or visit

AUSTRALIA's biggest outdoor festival, the Big Day Out returns to the
Gold Coast on January 20, Sydney on January 25 and Melbourne on
January 28 and Student Flights still has accommodation and ticket
packages to suit all budgets and group sizes; Gold Coast packages also
include transfers to the festival. Details on 1800 069 063 or visit

DOCTORS at Mackay in Queensland are reported to have drip-fed an
Italian tourist with a full case of vodka over three days after he
swallowed anti-freeze. The vodka acted as an antidote to the ethylene
glycol poison in the anti-freeze, and doctors say because he was
unconscious when he arrived at hospital and was kept in a
medically-induced coma, the man reported no hang-over and made a full

Monday, 8 October 2007



Week beginning 8 October 2007

travel tips: with david ellis


STAY at Fiji's Hideaway Resort any time between now and March 31 next
year and you could find yourself $1m richer: the resort is giving
guests a ticket in a $1m draw when they stay four nights, and ten
bonus tickets for each additional night. As well, for every $50 they
spend in the resort's restaurant, bar or shop they'll get more bonus
tickets. Hideaway is on the Coral Coast of the main island of Fiji
Levu, about 80 minutes by road from Nadi, and as well as the chance to
win $1m by staying there, parents can take children aged 5-12 for a
free stay, play and eat holiday; the $1m draw will be made on April
19th 2008. Details from travel agents or

EARLY Bird savings on a 7-night cruise of the Straits of Malacca
aboard SuperStar Gemini bring the price down to a low $1226pp
twin-share including all onboard meals, entertainment and port
charges. Gemini will sail 25 cruises in 2008 from Singapore to Kuala
Lumpur, Penang, Krabi, Phuket, Langkawi and back to Singapore, with
Early Bird bookings on sale until February 28; details from 1300 131
633 or

VALUE-priced hotel stays during Dubai's famed month-long Shopping
Festival are on sale through Flight Centre Hotels. The Festival runs
from January 24 2008 and features discounts on a vast range of items
from jewellery to fashion, electrical goods and carpets, and is
supported by a big program of cultural events. Hotel rooms start from
$131.50 per night in the 2-star San Marco Hotel including hot
breakfast, and range up to $265 per room per night at the 5-star Royal
Ascot, again including breakfast. Book on 1800 005 125 or

A LUXURY stay at Peppers Balé Resort in Port Douglas features
contemporary South East Asia-style pavilion accommodation, breakfasts
daily, a private plunge pool with poolside day bed, full kitchen,
lounge, and dining facilities. There's also LCD TV, a DVD player and
sound system; two nights starts from $825pp twin-share plus return
airfares from $383pp ex-Brisbane, $444 from Sydney and from $695pp
from Melbourne. Packages are available to March 31 2008; phone 1800
044 066 or visit

TEN days in Turkey in November this year or again in March 2008 costs
under $100 a day and includes Istanbul, Gallipoli, Troy, Ephesus,
Pergamum, Pamukkale and Cappadocia. Highlights include lunch at the
WWI battlefields of Gallipoli, a leather-goods factory at coastal
Kusadasi, and the troglodyte villages, subterranean churches and
fortresses of Cappadocia. From $999 includes 9-nights, arrival
transfers, breakfasts daily, some other meals and English-speaking
guides; air is extra. Phone 1800 069 063 or visit

TRUE: A cruise-goer in America asked if her queen-size bed could be
put on her stateroom balcony at night, so she could go to sleep to the
sound of the waves…

Monday, 24 September 2007



Week beginning 24 September 2007

travel tips: with david ellis


PAPUA New Guinea is enjoying new prominence amongst more adventurous
holidaymakers, with Kokopo on New Britain finding itself in the
limelight with those wanting to see the shattered remains of the-once
thriving town of Rabaul that was decimated by a massive volcanic
eruption in 1994. With most of Rabaul buried under ash, Kokopo 32km
away became New Britain's new administrative and commercial centre,
and today offers exceptional fishing, diving, Pacific War sites,
history (the remains of 'Queen Emma's' 1880s Gunantambu Mansion is
nearby,) picturesque villages, rainforests, produce markets and of
course tours of what's left of Rabaul. Kokopo Beach Bungalows has 28
bungalows, a licenced restaurant and bar, massage studio and tour
desk; price starts from 363-kina (about AU$160) a night. Details ++
(675) 982 8870 or

THOSE thinking of a sea-change can take inspiration at the place that
gave new meaning to the word for Australians: Barwon Heads at the
mouth of the Barwon River 18km south-east of Geelong, where the local
bridge, shores of the estuary, fishermen's jetty and the Beach House
became features of the popular ABC-TV program. has
self-contained suites at the Hawthorn Suites at 13th Beach Golf Links,
with Spring pricing about to be announced. Phone 1800 002 333 or log
onto for details.

WAGNER and Mark Twain didn't bother autographing the menus at Vienna's
Griechenbeisl Inn in appreciation of the fine dining they'd enjoyed
there, each autographed the walls instead. The Inn is included on a
10-day Albatross Travel Group Austrian White Christmas tour from
Vienna to Salzkammergut Lake District (backdrop to the movie Sound of
Music,) Salzburgerland, Innsbruck and Luzern on December 19. Price
starts from $4489pp twin-share including touring, tips, all
breakfasts, eight dinners and Christmas lunch; air is extra. Details
1300 135 015 or

A BEIJING Olympics package for swim fans includes 4-nights twin-share
at the Novotel Peace Hotel, poolside entry to 20-plus swimming events
including the Women's 200m Freestyle Semis, Men's 200m Freestyle
Final, and heats for the Men's 100m Freestyle and Women's 4 X 200m
Freestyle Relay. There's also sightseeing, most meals and beverages,
airport transfers, bilingual hosts, transfers to and from events, and
a pass to the CoSport Hospitality Centre with its internet café,
lounges, TV live feeds, and food and beverages. Price starts from
$5967pp plus air. Phone Flight Centre 131 600.

TRUE: THREE Norwegian tourists proved not to be exactly Rhodes
Scholars when they decided to book a holiday on the internet to the
sunny beaches of Rhodes in the Greek Islands. They mistyped their
airline booking form and found themselves in Rodez, a medieval town in
inland south-western France that has a 13th century cathedral, a
market place, a factory that makes plastic spoons and kitchen gloves,
and not a beach in sight.

Monday, 17 September 2007



For Week Beginning: 17 September 2007

travel tips: with david ellis


GUITARS made out of oranges and chickens made with lemons are amongst
the many colourful 'street sculptures' that will be a highlight of
this year's Festival of Gardens at Griffith in the NSW Riverina. The
out-size sculptures are made by attaching thousands of pieces of
citrus fruit to 3-dimensional wire frames, and supplement the numerous
private and community gardens that are thrown open to garden lovers
during the Festival that will run from October 12 to 15; there'll also
be a Festival Dinner Dance, art displays and sales, and floral art and
quilt exhibitions. Entry to gardens is $4 per garden or $30 for an
all-gardens pass; details from 1800 681141 or

A FOUR-day stay in Ypres, where the Last Post is sounded beneath the
Menin Gate every evening in remembrance of the tens of thousands of
ANZAC, British and French troops who died defending the city between
1914 and 1918, is a feature of a 10-day Western Front Tour on November
2 this year. The tour will end in Paris where the 90th anniversary of
the end of World War I will be celebrated at 11am on November 11th.
Price starts from $2589pp including twin-share, most meals, guides,
entries, gratuities, and war history talks; air is extra. Phone 1300
135 015 or visit

WHAT better place to learn to ride a surfboard than Sydney's Bondi
Beach? The Bondi Surf School keeps class numbers to just six per
instructor and provides soft surfboards, wetsuits, UV rash vests,
sunblock, and a surfing certificate; price starts from $75 for adults
and $65 for children 12-16. Details from travel agents, 1300 737 222

BEER and chocolate top the list of a Tastes of Dunedin package at the
boutique Mercure Hotel Dunedin on New Zealand's South Island. From
$250 gets overnight accommodation, full breakfasts for two, two tour
tickets to Cadbury World and Speight's brewery, and a gift pack that
includes two bottles of Speight's beer, a small box of Cadbury
chocolates and a Happy Hen. More details on ++ (64 3) 477 1145 or

THE annual Dubai Shopping Festival from December to February is one of
the world's biggest shopping, entertainment and cultural
extravaganzas, and includes fashion shows, children's events, street
performances, nightly fireworks and millions of dollars in prizes.
Tempo Holidays has a 3-day Taste of Dubai package that from $321pp
gives twin-share, two breakfasts, a half-day tour of the city's
highlights, arrival and departure transfers, and meet and assist on
arrival. Phone 1300 558 987 or see

TRUE: A PIPE-puffing German entrepreneur is planning the world's
first airline exclusively for smokers. He says 25-per cent of Germans
smoke and a third of Japanese, and that "twelve hours in the air is a
long time to go without a puff." The Boeing 747 he's planning for his
Smokers International Airways (Smitair) will have other comforts: it
will be all one-class, with no Economy seats, just 138 Business Class
with all the extras of Business Class service.

Monday, 10 September 2007



Week beginning 10 September 2007

travel tips: with david ellis


CATHAY Pacific that just a month ago announced it was adding an extra
daily flight from Melbourne to Hong Kong from October 1 to make it
three a day, increasing flights from Adelaide to a daily service, and
Perth to five a week, has now said it will add a further four flights
a week from Sydney from February 3 next year. This will give the
airline 71-flights a week from mainland capitals and Cairns to Hong
Kong, with connecting services from there through Asia, and to North
America, Europe, the UK and South Africa. Details from travel agents.

IF you're still looking for a tropical Christmas getaway that won't
break the bank, Flight Centre Hotels has accommodation at the 3-star
Whitsunday Wanderers Resort at Queensland's Airlie Beach from just
$117 per room per night for minimum 3-night stays. The Resort has good
access to the many beach, rainforest and Barrier Reef activities in
the Whitsundays area; for this and other value-priced options phone
1800 005 125 or visit

CROATIA's fast gaining a new popularity with holidaymakers captivated
by its beaches and medieval towns, and Russia & Beyond Holidays has a
novel way of exploring these – by motorised 30-passenger sailboats
known as 'Old Timers.' Seven nights return from Dubrovnik in a
twin-share cabin, home-made Croatian-style breakfasts and lunches, and
services of a captain and crew cost from just $534pp; there's ample
time for exploring towns like Hvar, Mlijet and Sipan, dozens of
islands, and go swimming, snorkelling or diving. Book by September 28
for holidays up to October 6 this year, or get details about next
year's sailing program on 1300 363 544 or

FLY high over cattle stations, kangaroos, scrubland and spinifex
country and the timeless beauty of the Aussie Outback on dawn hot air
balloon rides from Alice Springs. A 5-hour excursion that includes
transfers from Alice Springs hotels, 30-minute balloon flight, gourmet
bush breakfast and a flight certificate costs from $230 per adult and
$184 per child; a $25 insurance fee pp is payable at time of flight.
Details on 1800 872 835 or

FIJI's newest luxury resort, Likuliku Lagoon Resort has an opening
special that includes 4-nights in a beachfront buré, all meals,
helicopter transfers and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champers on
arrival, a night pre and post at the Sofitel Fiji Resort in Denarau
with breakfasts, and return air from Australia. Prices start from
$3349pp ex-Brisbane, $3379 Sydney and from $3489pp twin-share from
Melbourne; book before October 31 for travel until March 31 2008.
Phone 1800 044 066 or check-out

TRUE: When Robert Louis Stevenson visited Noumea in 1890 he described
it in a later travel article for an American newspaper as "an
unimpressive place built by the French from Vermouth cases."

Monday, 3 September 2007



Week beginning 3 September 2007

travel tips: with david ellis


CUNARD's Queen Mary 2 that caused traffic chaos when she visited
Sydney in February this year with 'older sister' Queen Elizabeth 2
will re-visit again on February 26 2009 as part of a 90-day Round
World Cruise. And Cunard's newest "Queen," Queen Victoria that will
make her inaugural visit to Sydney in February 2008 will also visit
again in 2009, calling first at Hobart on February 17 that year,
Sydney on February 19 and 20 and Cairns on February 23 2009 as part of
a 107-night circumnavigation of the globe. As an example, 15-nights
from Los Angeles to Sydney on Queen Mary in 2009 will start from
$5489pp twin-share plus air; details from travel agents, 13 24 41 or

A DIFFERENT way of taking-in the sights of Cambodia is by pushbike: a
9-day cycle tour through the country's rural heart includes Angkor
Wat, other ancient temples, traveling past ride paddies, through small
villages, the town of Kampot and seaside Sihanoukville. Price starts
from $1160pp plus a US$100 local pay-ment, including twin-share,
internal domestic air travel, some sightseeing activities and luggage
transportation; international air and bike hire are extra. Phone
Escape Travel on 1300 799 783 or check-out

SAVE $70 a night at Port Douglas with a current special at the Mantra
on the Inlet Hotel that starts from $112 per room per night for
minimum 3-night stays if booked by September 15 for travel on select
dates from October 16 to March 31 2008. Port Douglas offers secluded
beaches, fine restaurants, boutique shops, access to the Barrier Reef
and Daintree Rainforest, and the legendary Sunday Markets are a
must-do. Call 13 15 17 or visit

FRESHEN-up your foxtrot or learn the latest dance steps on an 11-night
South Pacific cruise that will include dance lessons by professional
instructor John Paul Collins who recently won TV's Dancing with the
Stars with partner Kate Ceberano. P&O's Pacific Dawn sails from Sydney
on October 12 2008 for Luganville, Wala, Vila and Mystery Island in
Vanuatu, and the Isle of Pines in New Caledonia; price start from
$3058pp including twin-share in a Balcony Cabin and all meals, five
hours of dance lessons, a cocktail function, $100 onboard credits and
some sightseeing. Details from Ashmore and James Travel Associates on
1800 460 462 or

HONG KONG's The Luxe Manor Hotel with its eclectic mix of
Post-modern, European and Oriental décor has a special of $99pp
twin-share per night from November 18 to December 31 and February 1 to
March 7 2008, including breakfast. It's the only boutique hotel on the
Kowloon side and is in the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui; phone Orient
Express Travel Melbourne on (03) 9668 8739.

TRUE: The nine engines on Cunard's 70,000 tonne QE2 burn nearly 300
litres of diesel every kilometre she cruises; so she'll never be
caught short, her fuel tanks hold 4,500,000 litres.

Monday, 27 August 2007



Week beginning 27 August 2007

travel tips: with david ellis


THERE's still time to save on a family getaway to the Towers of
Chevron Renaissance in Surfers Parade: from now until September 20
stay four nights but pay for only three – and families also get one
complimentary use of the resort's private 18-seat movie theatre, a VIP
discount shopping voucher at the resort's shopping centre, and if they
opt to go to the Infinity special effects and illusions attraction
(entry is $67.50 for two adults & two children) families get a free
souvenir photo. Price starts from $228 a night for a family in a
2-bedroom apartment. Details (07) 5584 8100 or

SAVE $348 per person by booking and paying by November 28 this year
for Adventure World's "Glories of Turkey" tours in 2008. The 13-night
packages include Istanbul, Gallipoli and Anzac Cove, Troy, Ephesus,
Cappadocia and other famous sites, 4- and 5-star hotels, breakfasts
daily, most dinners and English-speaking guides. Select departures
January to March begin from $1083pp twin-share if booked by November
28; air is extra. Details 1300 363 055 or

NSW Holidays has a night's stay for two adults and two children 4-12
years in Wollongong, on the coast an hour south of Sydney, from $299
including a 2-bedroom unit at the Park Street Serviced Apartments,
dinner at Bombora Restaurant to the value of $80, and a day's entry to
Jamberoo Action Park that has a near-dozen rides and attractions. Its
available September 1 to March 31 next year; phone 1300 737 222 or

SIXTEEN days in the real Wild West includes Yellowstone National Park,
Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane's Deadwood, the Grand Canyon, the
Painted Desert, Grand Teton National Park, Mount Rushmore and many
other Wild West legends. Available various dates in 2008 from $4165pp
twin-share plus costs of air to America. Details from travel agents,

A SELF-drive holiday from Los Angeles to San Francisco includes
5-nights for a family of four and 5-days Hertz car hire, and is priced
from $1134 until March 31 next year through Flight Centre. Air is
additional and tickets to Disneyland, Universal Studios and other
attractions can be arranged at extra cost before leaving home. Details
131 600 or

TRUE: Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer has racked-up
over 3.5-million frequent flyer points with Qantas, but says he can't
use most of them: as they were earned on official business, they can
only be used for official trips, and like most of us, he finds that he
can never get on the flights he wants. So he has to keep buying
tickets for most of his travels – which of course earns him more
frequent flyer points, that like those he's already got, he'll most
likely never use.

Monday, 20 August 2007



Week beginning 20 August 2007

travel tips: with david ellis


VISITORS to Cairns can get a taste of rainforest wildlife without
having to leave their 5-star hotel: the Sofitel Reef Casino Cairns has
a unique 20-metre high glass Rainforest Dome on its roof that's home
to around 100 wildlife species including free-flying birds, koalas, a
cassowary and a 4-metre crocodile. The hotel has a current 2-night
package that includes twin-share and breakfasts daily from $470 per
couple; the hotel has four restaurants, bars, gym, spa, rooftop pool
and casino; details 1300 65 65 65 or

ADVENTURE World have a new selection of small group tours of India,
Vietnam, Turkey and China for a maximum of just 15 guests; they
include major attractions of countries visited, return air, 4- or
5-star hotels (some of them heritage palaces,) transfers, most meals,
sightseeing, entries, and an escort and local guides. As an example a
14-day India package is priced from $5827pp twin-share. Get a brochure
on 1300 363 055 or

BOOK 5-nights at the family-oriented Turtle Beach Resort on the Gold
Coast between October 8 and December 23 and from January 21 to March
18 2008, and kids up to 14-years will stay free, get some meals – and
to top it off the resort will give you a $30 petrol voucher. The
5-nights costs from $875 for two adults and children sharing a
2-bedroom apartment; the resort has four pools, spas, tennis, saunas,
theatrette, putting greens, gym, games room, children's playgrounds
and licenced café. Details 13 88 33 or

KIDS getting out of school for a holiday in Fiji can find themselves
back in the classroom: Treasure Island Resort just off Fiji's
'mainland' has a children's program that includes visiting a
'mainland' Chief's village and spending a day in class Fiji-style. The
program also includes many watersports, mini-golf, volleyball, spear
throwing, dancing, treasure hunts and games; a family package for two
adults and two children under 12 years sharing an Ocean View Buré
starts from $2122 for 5-nights, including all meals, soft drinks for
the kids, morning and afternoon teas, canapés, and a Weekly Cocktail
Party. Available to 15 December with air extra; (02) 9997 1515 or

NINE days from St Petersburg to Moscow includes Nevsky Prospekt, the
Hermitage at the Winter Palace and the Summer Gardens at Peterhof in
St Petersburg, the Kremlin, and Red Square, Gorky Park and Sculpture
Park in Moscow. From $1349pp includes 7-nights twin-share in 3-star
hotels, an overnight sleeper train, breakfasts daily, tour leader and
a Moscow Metro Card; available on select dates to October 2008 with
air extra. Details 1800 069 063 or

TRUE: Today's average mega-liner uses as much electricity in a day as
a city of 50,000 people.

Monday, 13 August 2007



Week beginning 13 August 2007

travel tips: with david ellis


CATHAY Pacific's showing it plans on being around for a long time to
come, announcing orders for five more wide-bodied Boeing 777-300ER
aircraft that will give it twenty-three of the extended range planes
and a total fleet of over 130 by 2011. Airline CEO, Tony Tyler says
the new purchases will cement the company's Hong Kong base as a
leading international hub for passenger and freight operations, and
will give Australian travellers access to over 120 destinations in
Asia, North America, Europe and South Africa.

THEY could probably be called quite rightly the birthplace of
Queensland, but the hamlets of quaintly-named 1770 and nearby Agnes
Waters on the state's Central Coast are hardly the focus of mass
tourism (which is probably what gives them their appeal, and how the
locals want to keep it.) But there's plenty to do in and around both
tiny settlements, including visits to Lady Musgrave Island, national
parks, secluded beaches considered Queensland's most northerly and
least-crowded surfing destinations, and classic fishing. Mantra
Pavillion Mirage on 1770 offers a taste of luxury with prices from
$145 per room per night for minimum 3-night stays to March 31 2008 –
excluding December 14 to January 16 – if booked by September 15.
Details on 13 15 17 or

FOURTEEN nights on the rare 6-star, 940-passenger Crystal Symphony
from Miami to Los Angeles by way of the British West Indies,
Colombia, the Panama Canal, Costa Rica and Mexico, is selling from
$8180pp twin-share next February. Price includes return air from east
coast capitals, a night in Miami pre-cruise, transfers, shipboard
tips, and an onboard spending credit of up to US$100pp; details 1800
266 190 or

BRISBANE's 4.5-star Terraces on Wickham overlooking the Roma Street
Parklands and city centre, has a romantic's special until September
30 of $189 for a night's deluxe accommodation for two on either a
Friday, Saturday or Sunday, massage oil, sensual candles, car parking
and buffet breakfast. There's a pool, restaurant and bar; 1800 777
789 or

AN adventurer's getaway in Thailand includes a 4WD safari from Chiang Mai through hilltribe communities in the Mae Hong Son Valley, a bamboo raft trip on the Tham Lod River, a jungle walk to the Mork Fah Waterfall, and a visit to the Burma border. With 2-nights twin-share, breakfasts, all touring and admissions

it costs from $713pp. Air and land travel to Chiang Mai is additional. Details on 131 600 or

TRUE: A WOMAN in Poland returned home from a holiday to find the
local council had put a road through her backyard. When she objected
she was told not to complain, as all she had to do was cross the road
to get to what was left of her vegie garden.


Monday, 6 August 2007



Week beginning 6 August 2007

travel tips: with david ellis


KIDS get their accommodation and meals free at the Resort Quest
Waikiki Banyan, and free entry with each paying adult into the
Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park, Atlantis Submarine Tour and Sea Life
Park, as part of a family Honolulu package with Escape Travel between
August 24 and December 20. Families also get a bonus Aloha book of
discount vouchers for meals, shopping and golf; 7-nights for a family
starts from $1539 in a 1-bedroom standard room, plus air. Phone 1300
799 783 or visit

BOOK before September 15 and there's $40 a night off at the Port
Douglas Mantra Aqueous on select dates from October 16 to March 31. It
brings a Spa Room down to $128 a night for stays of three nights or
more; the resort is just 200m from Four Mile Beach and has four lagoon
pools, BBQ facilities and a balcony Jacuzzi in every apartment. Tours
are available to the Daintree Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef;
details 13 15 17 or

BRUSH up the golf with three half-days of lessons as part of a holiday
package to the Springfield Village Golf & Spa Resort at Hua Hin on the
Gulf of Thailand. Lessons at the 7063-yard, Jack Nicklaus-created
course are designed for beginners and advanced players alike. A
4-night package is priced from $1620pp plus taxes starting from
$223pp, and include return air from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane,
buffet breakfasts, 3-hours of lessons a day with range balls, caddy,
golf cart and green fees. Details AW Royal Orchid Holidays on 1300 369

ALTHOUGH hotel rooms are selling fast for this year's NRL Grand Final
in Sydney on September 30, Flight Centre still has options available
from $70 per double per night at Nomads Maze Backpackers, $205 per
room per night at the Hotel Ibis at Darling Harbour, from $287 at the
Radisson Plaza Hotel, $265 at Sydney Marriott and from $307 per room
per night at the Sheraton on the Park; book on 1800 005 125 or online

GARDEN buffs can join an 8-day river cruise from Amsterdam to some of
the most colourful Spring tulip fields in Holland and Belgium in April
next year. The tour visits Arnhem, Antwerp, Ghent, Middelburg
Rotterdam, Veere and Volendam to see millions of plants in bloom;
7-nights twin-share, breakfasts, six lunches, seven dinners with
wines, and a cocktail reception is priced from $2025pp, plus air.
Phone 1800 044 066 or visit

TRUE: A hotel at Brighton in England has had to pay compensation to a
guest after housekeeping staff ate half his chocolate 50th birthday
cake the day before he was to celebrate the big event.


Monday, 23 July 2007


YOUR WEEKLY TRAVEL COLUMN "travellers good buys"


Week beginning 23 July 2007

travel tips: with david ellis


STAY seven nights but pay only for five at Samoa's laid-back Coconuts Resort and Spa through Adventure World on select dates until March 31 2008, if booked by October 31. The Resort has a private white-sand beach, pool with swim-up bar, indoor/outdoor dining, and entertainment including firewalking. Seven nights in a Garden Suite, return air and airport/resort transfers starts from $1641pp twin-share ex-Sydney, $1716 Melbourne, $1717 ex-Brisbane and from $2141pp ex-Cairns. Details 1300 302 591 or check-out

TAKE advantage of the best start in years to the ski season in the NSW Snowy Mountains, with a self-contained apartment stay at the Novotel Lake Crackenback Resort that includes hot buffet breakfast, a 2-course dinner per person, sporting and fitness facilities, and 2-day ski, clothing hire and mountain pass. Prices start from $506 per room per night; details 1800 020 524 or

FOUR nights at China's annual International Beer Festival is priced from $262pp twin-share at the Gloria Plaza Hotel in Beijing if booked through Student Flights. The 16-days of celebrations are based on the famous Tsing-Tao brewery in the coastal town of Qingdao, and run from August 14; air fares are extra. Full details of inclusions on 1800 069 063 or

MELBOURNE will get an extra Cathay Pacific daily flight to Hong Kong from October 1, giving it three flights a day and bringing the airline's total each week from Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth and Cairns to Hong Kong to sixty-four. Full details of schedules including connections to Asia, throughout China, to London, Europe, the USA and Canada from travel agents.

ROMANTICS taking a Blue Lagoon 'Gold Club' cruise in the Mamanuca or Yasawa Islands can now treat themselves to a candle-lit dinner on a private screened-off section of the decks of boutique cruise-boats Mystique Princess and Fiji Princess during their 4- and 7-day sailings. Dinner includes appetiser, entrée, main course, dessert, port, cheese platter and a bottle of wine, and costs from FJ$150 per couple (about AU$111) on top of the $1399pp twin-share cost of a 4-day sailing and from $1949pp for 7-days; air is extra. These private candle-lit dinners are available only once per cruise on 4-day sailings and 3-times on 7-day cruises, and have to be booked on arrival at the company's departure lounge in Lautoka; details ++ (679) 666 1622 or email

TRUE: English couple Eric and Doris King-Turner of Hampshire have booked themselves on the British liner Saga Rose next January to New Zealand as part of plans to start a new life on the other side of the world. Probably nothing unusual about that – except that Eric is 102 and Doris 87.

Monday, 16 July 2007


YOUR WEEKLY TRAVEL COLUMN "travellers good buys"


Week beginning 16 July 2007

travel tips: with david ellis


VISITORS to Sydney seeking the ultimate add-on coastal escape can get three nights for the price of two mid-week until August 31 at the boutique Kims Beach Hideaway just over an hour's drive north of the city; quiet and private bungalows tucked away amid sub-tropical gardens under the pines a few steps from Toowoon Bay, are complemented with gourmet dining, an extensive wine list and Kims' renowned evening cheese platters. Three-nights-for-two from Sundays to Thursdays priced from $1196 per couple includes all lavish buffet lunches and dinners featuring fresh local seafoods, full Australian breakfasts, pre-dinner hors d'oeuvres nightly and free DVD hire. Details (02) 4332 1566 or

PAY before July 30 but travel any time up to December 7, and river- cruise company Russia & Beyond has savings of $1300 a couple on a choice of 20 itineraries in Europe, Russia and China that range from 7- to 15-nights. Examples are 7-nights on the Danube from Passau to Vienna down to as low as $1101pp if booked by July 30, or 11-nights Berlin to Prague from $2428pp twin-share; details from 1300 363 544 or

TRAIN yourself to enjoy the best of rail travel with the super-luxury Royal Scotsman that offers 2- to 7-night train journeys out of Edinburgh. It doesn't come cheap, starting from $4667pp twin-share for 2-nights, but for true rail buffs it's the ultimate with just 36-guests indulging in mahogany-lined cabins with private bathrooms, all grand dining, drinks from the bars and with meals, visits to castles and distilleries, and at the end of the day a rare malt whisky in the Edwardian Observation Car. The train overnights in sidings so guests enjoy a peaceful sleep; see travel agents or check-out

THIS year's annual Sydney Marathon on September 23 is expected to attract 13,000 runners, with tens of thousands of spectators watching from the sidelines; has a range of accommodation from budget-to-best still available for the Marathon weekend, starting from $62 per night for a double room at Nomads Maze Backpackers to $265 a night at the Sydney Marriott Hotel. Phone 1800 002 333 or log onto

UNCORK the fun with a NSW Hunter Valley Experience for wine buffs that from $337pp mid-week ($351 Friday or Saturday) includes 2-nights twin-share in a Studio Room at the 4.5-star Tallawanta Lodge with full breakfast, a half-day wine tour and entry to Hunter Valley Gardens; the Lodge has an open fire in the library, heated pool, spa and sauna and is walking distance to many Hunter Valley Wineries; travel agents, 1300 737 222 or visit

TRUE: A hotel in northern Russia is attracting drinkers during the bitter northern winter that's due in a few months time, with the offer of free reindeer parking.


Monday, 9 July 2007



Week beginning 9 July 2007

travel tips: with david ellis


STAY four-nights in Singapore's luxury Shangri-la Hotel for a Lion City shopping spree, and back at the hotel when you need to revive with some canapés, a beer, soft drink, a glass of wine or even Moet & Chandon Champagne, all you need do is ask – between 11am and 10.30pm daily it's all included in the price. Travel Associates is selling this unusual offer until August 31 for travel up to October 31; four nights twin-share costs from $1215pp and includes Welcome Chinese Tea, a fruit bowl, and unlimited beverages including beer, wine and Moet & Chandon; air travel is extra. Phone 1800 044 066 or visit

VICTORIA's Falls Creek is boasting its best early-season snow in years, with the white stuff over a metre deep across the mountain and all fourteen ski lifts now operating. A spokesman described conditions last weekend as "almost perfect" after several days of non-stop snowfalls at what is Victoria's largest alpine resort. To check conditions and make bookings phone 1800 45 35 25.

REAL adventure awaits on a Dragoman 19-night package from Rio de Janeiro to Salvador (or vice-versa) that also comes with a saving of over $270pp if booked through Adventure World by August 31 for travel until February 2008. The tour travels through the Brazilian Highlands and the Atlantic coast, and goes into Chapada Diamantina, with prices starting from $1543pp including hotel, hostel and camp stays, local guides, Dragoman crew and safari truck, and all camping equipment. A local fee of $630 is also payable on arrival and airfares are additional. Phone 1300 302 591 or visit

THIS year's annual festival that welcomes the arrival of scores of humpback whales to Hervey Bay in Queensland as they escape the Antarctic winter, will also include a Teddy Bears' Picnic, Blessing of the Fleet and an Illimuninated Street Parade. Flight Centre Hotels has accommodation during the August 10 to 12 Festival from $153 per room per night at the Kondari Resort. Phone 1800 005 125 or check

THAILAND's colourful Koh Phangan Full Moon Party is an annual festival of music, dancing, eating and drinking, with 5-night party packages through Student Flights including twin-share at the Drop Inn Club, breakfasts daily, return transfers from Koh Samui Airport to the pier and ferry to Koh Phangan, and Festival entry. It's priced from $345pp and on sale to August 31 for travel on August 24, September 22 and October 23; air is additional. The Full Moon Party celebrates the setting of the and the rising of the moon; phone 1800 069 063 or check

TRUE: Staff aboard legendary QE2 that retires next year after nearly 40 years at sea, say the most often-heard phrase on board is: "He would have wanted me to enjoy myself…"