Saturday, 29 March 2008

Ruggers Sydney, Brisbane and Perth

Travel briefs/tips March31-08


By John Crook

Ruggers Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

In the world of rugby the big one is the Bledisloe Cup. That’s when the Kiwis and the Aussies battle it out. This year the Wallabies and the All Blacks grunt and groan in Brisbane on September 13. Other flag waving events include the Wallabies and the Springboks meet in Perth. That’s July 19. France and Australia feature in the Test Match in Sydney on June 28th with the second grudge match in Brisbane on July 5. Prices and availabilities through Keith Prowse Sport and Entertainment on 1300 730 023.

The Kimberley awaits singles.

There’s a real saving to be made for singles on 2008 departures for the Kimberley 4WD tour, with the operator dropping the $980 single supplement. The itinerary is from Broome to Broome and includes helicopter flight, visits to Windjana Gorge, hiking adventures into the north west and cruising on Lake Ord, Lake Kununurra and Geikie Gorge. This is a real soft-adventure tour. Accommodation includes the award winning Bungle Bungle Wilderness Lodge. Conditions apply and airfares additional. Telephone APT Wilderness Adventures 1300 656 985.

Airline credits or a free land package.

The magic of river cruising between Amsterdam and Budapest has become even more enticing with the operator offering flexible options. First option is an $1100 European air credit. Option two is a free land package, -three night’s accommodation in a four star Prague property and a city tour, plus tickets to a Black Theatre performance.

The cruise costs from $3504 per person twin share, and must be booked and paid for by May 30 2008 and conditions apply. To access the free options contact Beyond Travel, telephone 1300 363 554.

Canberra for the works of Monet.

You have up until June 9 to catch the brilliance of artists from Turner to Monet, proof again of the many facets of touring the national capital. Do the exhibition in style by booking a package on-line. The price starts from $189 per night and includes overnight accommodation at the Pavilion on Northbourne, breakfasts and tickets to the National Gallery. Conditions apply. Log onto

Salami and cheese tastings.

An 18-day fly, cruise and stay package from Rome to Istanbul features unforgettable experiences. A program of shore-side activities puts this cruise in a class of its own. Wine tasting in Siena and a cooking school are listed amongst the highlights. Then it’s off on an 11-nights ultra-luxury cruise which includes on board gourmet dining, beverages, entertainment and gratuities. The all-suite Seven Seas Navigator has 90% of its suites with balconies. The tour departs Australia June 14. For prices, conditions and reservations contact Wiltrans International on 1800 251 174.

Noosa swings.

A most fantastic weekend is the only way to describe the Dingo Creek Vineyard jazz and blues festival, April 26 – 27.

Nearby Noosa has a range of accommodation with deals coinciding with the festival. Grantlea Holiday Lodge offers one bedroom apartments with full kitchen facilities from $115 per room/night. Conditions may apply. Top acts are scheduled to entertain. For bookings and further information check

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Sunday, 23 March 2008

The almost unheard of destination


With John Crook

The almost unheard of destination

Apart from a handful of Queenslanders in the know, Bargara remains a pretty good secret. However, with the huge reduction off its rack price, Don Pancho Beach Resort, east of Bundaberg, is about to raise the profile of the central Queensland beach. The beachfront resort is cutting the tariff of a seven-night holiday for two people from $840 to $400, an incredible saving of $440 or 50% off. The package includes a daily continental breakfast. The only catch is bookings need to be made prior to April 30 and travel is valid through until June 30th 2008, and that includes school holidays. Bookings and conditions contact

Coffee and cake at Innsbruck

The Austrian ski resort area in the Tyrol region is picture perfect. Leading into its summer months one travel group is offering a coffee and cake voucher at Café Sacher, along with a 48 hour Innsbruck card per person for unlimited public transport access. Savings galore with the three-day package price from $327 per person, twin share. Contact Tempo Holidays on 1300 558 987.

Make a Date

There is always something happening in the national capital and the weekend of April 5 and 6 will continue the run of fun schedules. It’s the annual Canberra District Wine Harvest Festival, showcasing quality wines, sterling cuisine complemented by music of the jazz genre, Irish too through to bluegrass and folk.

Romance is in the air

The Taj Mahal arguably is the most romantic building on earth, the drawcard for all romantics and add the flavour of royalty for yet another dimension.

There’s an Indian summer package on offer which includes accommodation at the Rambagh Palace in Jaipur and the Taj Lake Palace Hotel in Udaipur. The tour also includes a full day tour of Mumbai, a trip across the harbour to Elelphanta Island and its caves. The price from $4127 per person twin share includes accommodation, daily breakfasts, flights in India, private vehicle transportation, sightseeing with local guides and airport transfers. The deal is valid between May 1 and September 30. More details by ringing Icon Holidays on 1300 853 953

Bill loves Port Douglas

President Clinton is one of the best promoters of Port Douglas, having spent time holidays in the tropics. Wander the streets of the resort village and you never know who you will see. Secluded beaches, some of the most scenic landscapes in the country, and now a great deal from Mantra PortSea, just a minute’s walk from Four Mile Beach in one direction and in the other, dining and shopping. The value plus offer is three nights in a hotel room from $384 per room per stay. It is valid through to April 30 2008. Conditions, minimum stays and block out period apply. Check it out by ringing 13 15 17.

The treasures of the Orient

With itineraries including return air from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, a taste of the Mediterranean in Asia is guaranteed. Cruise the gems of Asia aboard the luxury Italian liner Costa Allegra with cruising options scheduled from March to November. Packages are priced from $3089 from Perth and from $3259 (per person, twin share). All on board meals, entertainment, taxes and tips are included, along with the Costa’s renowned Italian flair. Telephone Creative Cruising on 1300 362 599.

Sunday, 16 March 2008



With John Crook

A guaranteed job in skifields

Anyone looking for an overseas working experience should consider the options which are now on offer in Canada. The word is that there will be more jobs on offer this year than ever before. That certainly is the case with the Ski Canada program, which includes a guaranteed job prior to leaving Australia, pre-departure orientation, first night accommodation in Vancouver, arrival transfer, on-site staff accommodation through to visa assistance and travel discounts on flights. Conditions apply. Contact OWH on 1300 651 639.

Luxury plus

Stand by for a Barossa experience of a lifetime, staying at the super luxurious vineyard retreat, The Louise. Suites for couples start from $ 565 per night. It’s class all the way. The Brilliant Blend signature package includes two nights accommodation, in-suite breakfast, a hands-on wine blending experience at nearby Penfolds, and a labelled bottle of personally blended Grenache-shiraz-mouvedre wine. The highlight is inclusion of a degustation tasting menu dinner. Bookings by calling (08) 8562 2722.

Tea, anyone?

Princess Diana all the way back to Queen Victoria, spent time at Kensington Palace. Join the list of royals by taking a typical English afternoon tea in the Orangery at Kensington Palace. Then spend a night or two just around the corner at the refurbished historic and affordable townhouse apartment at 51 Kensington Court. Surprise yourself and check on the competitive tariff. The website address is

A wicked weekend

For those itching to spend the total weekend in party mode, it could be worthwhile booking into the Snowy Valley Resort at Jindabyne. Skiing the Australian slopes has never been easier, or cost effective.

Prices start from $229 per person, twin share and included are national park entry fees, return coach transfers from Sydney/Canberra to Jindabyne, two hot breakfasts, a three-course dinner at Lakeview bistro and also party night. Conditions apply. Check it out on or ‘phone 1800 002 333.

Just the place to spend Christmas

Setting sail from the far southern tip of South America, heading to the Falkland and Shetland Islands and then into Antarctic waters will make Christmas 2008 totally different to any previous festive season. The four-star Marco Polo’s 11 nights cruise ensures an icy Christmas. Christmas pudding has never tasted so good! Prices start from $4108 per person twin share. Telephone travel agents 1300 362 599 or check details on

April in the Top End

Darwin City Apartments has slashed $500 off the price of seven nights accommodation in stylish two and three bedroom apartments valid during the month of April. Sleeping up to six people makes the reduced tariff from $1950 becomes very enticing. The online travel marketplace has the key.

Paradise is Mauritius

Claimed to be the best golf resort in the Indian Ocean, Paradis Hotel & Golf Club is the latest in-place for Australians seeking escape. The Paradis package includes return economy flights, applicable taxes, transfers, superior room accommodation, breakfast and dinner daily, nightly entertainment, a range of water and land based activities.

The first round of golf is free. A six night package, is priced at $3750 ex Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide, if booked by April 30th 2008. Call 1800 624 268

Monday, 10 March 2008

A cricket lover’s tour

Your FREE weekly travel tips column w/c March 10th

With John Crook

A cricket lover's tour
Tickets to two Test matches in the West Indies are part of a 15-day
vacation hosted by former West Indies captain Richie Richardson.
Inclusive in the tour are return airfares from Melbourne to Miami,
airfare from Miami to the Caribbean, internal flights, accommodation,
quite a few meals and drinks, plus the services of a tour guide. The
price starts from $8650 per person, twin share. Tour dates are from
May 21st to June 4th 2008. For bookings and further information
contact Wilson & Turner Travel Associates, 1800 039 998.

Trip around Spain to brush up your Spanish
Here's a chance to learn Spanish whilst on holidays in Spain. These
are daily classes for those on the move. Classes can commence any
week of the year with prices starting at $486 for one week, through to
a four week package at $1434. The prices include classes, enrolment
fee, relevant study materials, unlimited internet access at the school
along with a certificate of attendance. Accommodation can be
combined. Check it out by calling 1300 558 987.

The Hunter's long lunch
The weekend of May 17th and 18th 2008 marks the 15th annual Lovedale
Long Lunch. To participate you will need to purchase a commemorative
tasting glass ($5) at any of the participating Lovedale wineries.
Then it's just a matter of selecting the gourmet meal ($20) from one
of the region's most talented chefs. To coincide with this major
event Peppers guest house is offering an accommodation and dining
package. You pay $466 per person for the classic Hunter escape
package and that includes two nights accommodation, full country
breakfast each morning and a three-course a la carte dinner for two
people in Chez Pok on one evening.
To book the package email

The Yukon's calling
Make a bee-line for Canada's Yukon, arguably the world's last true
remaining wilderness. Local architect cum tour operator, Charlie
McLaren, is the man to contact in the town of Whitehorse. He offers
4x4 wild country touring, rafting the Yukon River, to spotting bear
and other wildlife. Shadow Lake Expeditions has a range of
wilderness soft adventure touring options. His are not to be missed
experiences, with tours priced from around $600 Cdn. Contact
Charlie direct on

Rock 'n roll on the Sun Princess
Mike Brady and his band, Wilbur Wilde and Frank Holden have signed to
perform aboard the Sun Princess. There are four exclusive concerts
planned for February of next year. Departure date is February 18th
with the cruise heading for New Zealand. Ticketing through
Cruiseland guarantees access to the blues and rock 'n roll concerts
and also offers per person, $100 in on-board spending credits as
well as gifts and other inclusions valued at $150. Prices start at
$3296 per person twin share. Get the details by ringing 1800 800

Mum's the word
'Some mothers do have them' but conversely few companies can boast
they're run entirely by mums. The Flight Centre store in Brisbane's
Moggill Road is exclusively staffed by mothers who divide working from
home raising a combined 22 children and doing one or two days in the
shop. And, is it working ? Absolutely, with team leader Alison
Burgess claiming profitability since it began business in September
last year.

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Monday, 3 March 2008

Summer package in Dubai

with John Crook

Summer package in Dubai The hot spot for soft adventurers is
Dubai. After all, shopping can be quite an adventure. A three-night
summer package is on offer until April 1st, with departures from
Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney. The deal includes
Singapore Airlines airfare, twin share accommodation, free access to
Wild Wadi Water Park and if the kids are in tow, Jumeriah Madinat at
Jumeria Beach has good news. One child under 12 stays free, while a
second child under 12, also staying in adult accommodation, pays only
$30 a night. The package, for each adult, sells for $2,349. Orient
Express Holidays contact 1300 674 368.

Suzanne's Hideaway.
Once a hub of activity, this intimate luxury resort property in the
Northern Rivers of New South Wales offers an 'udderly' different kind
of holiday. Today it's a relaxing getaway, a far cry from its
prime business activity of the 1920's, when cows ruled.
Accommodation options include one, two and three bedroom deluxe
studios. In keeping with days of yore, the 1 bedroom Bails
accommodation reflects its rich milk-producing past. Prices range
from $180 per villa per night, with a two night stay. For more
details check Suzanne's Hideaway at

Vila short-breaks.
Vila deserves more than a short break, but when time is scarce there
can be no better deal than a few days in Vanuatu. Pay from $839 per
person and that gets you four night's accommodation (including two
nights free) at Port Vila's Mangoes Resort and restaurant, return air
and taxes from Sydney, transfers in Port Vila, and light breakfasts
daily. Bookings need to be made by April 10th for travel between
April 25th and June 25th this year. For availabilities, conditions
and bookings contact Coral Seas Travel 1800 641 803.

Luxury galore during refurbishment at Grand Hyatt Melbourne.
Through until March 30th 2008 guests of the Grand Hyatt Melbourne can
obtain the keys to a grand night with an accommodation package for
movie buffs. The package includes unlimited in-room blockbuster
movies, a gourmet cheese platter, a bottle of premium Victorian wine,
even popcorn and ice-cream, delivered to the room. Priced from $307
per room, valet parking and guaranteed late check-out to 2.00pm is
also inclusive. For bookings email

Queensland au naturale adventures in new Lonely Planet booklet.
A 64-page Queensland guide featuring stunning photography and good
solid adventure suggestions can be ordered on-line from

Whilst on that
site check out how you could win a trip for two adults on a 12-day
Cape York 4WD adventure.

A blind date! A restaurant in Zurich was first to keep diners in
the dark and due to its success as a dining experience, Blindekuh
(blind cow) restaurants now operate in a number of other locations.
The majority of staff are sight impaired. Diners get to know what
life is like without sight, as the restaurant is pitch black. Mains,
which are cut into mouth size pieces, are priced around AUD$35.

Worth a mention.
From Cape Otway to the Danube Delta,- and a whole world in between
which travel author Matthew Brace uncovers, featuring adventure
through hot spots of the future. This well written and solidly
researched book will open a whole new world for intrepid travellers.
By the way his forecast re the next hot spot for travellers is
Denmark. Published by Ebury Australia the travel book sells for

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