Monday, 28 April 2008


By John Crook

A romance package.

Enjoy Moet Chandon champagne and decadent chocolates on arrival at Sofitel’s Werribee Mansion. The deal includes breakfast for two at Joseph’s Restaurant and entry to the historic mansion and the sculptured gardens. The tariff is from $418 per room night. For reservations, telephone (03) 9731 4000.

A real escape.

Start planning right now for an escape to Thailand. Escape Travel offers two nights accommodation in Bangkok and three nights in Phuket. Priced from $1099 per person, twin share, and yes, the return airfare is also included. By the way Thai International now has a triple daily service ex Sydney, double daily from Melbourne and one daily ex Brisbane. For reservations contact 1300 556 855 or check the website

Sunshine Coast special

Book before May 31 2008, travel until June 20 2008 and pay from $169 per apartment per night and lap up all that Queensland’s Sunshine Coast has to offer. The deal is based on a minimum stay of two nights. The stylish Mantra Sand Dunes at Marcoola offers a rejuvenating package of sun, surf and sand. To check on the weather and the offer, call 13 15 17, or visit

Bike and boat cruises.

A mix of moderate cycling and river cruising opens the window to Canadian heritage cities and beautiful villages. The price is from AUD$2090 per person twin share. That includes eight days, seven nights touring for their Quebec, Montreal and St Lawrence River tour, with all meals (picnic lunches), cabin accommodation, experienced tour guide and bike hire included. Outdoor Travel packages are mostly for over 45’s. To check on inclusions email or call toll free 1800 331 582.

Hunter Valley calls.

The Branxton Hotel in the Hunter Valley is a boutique heritage-listed property with 100 years of history, offering ‘you-beaut’ deals with midweek rooms from $85. Or if you should elect to sample the comforts of the King Richard room with a private ensuite, you pay from $155 per night, midweek. Conditions apply. For bookings and further information go to

Win a refrigerator.

One of the prizes on offer from Europcar is a 240 litre fridge, just one of a range of goodies including LCD screens, ocean scooters, through to a free Virgin Blue airfare. Check out the prize list before renting your next car, book your Europe rental car at any one of the 200 locations in Australia/New Zealand and then peel back the lucky door sticker on the driver’s side door. You could be lucky.

Alaska calls

More Aussies are exploring the wilderness . Princess Cruises has just released its latest Alaskan program with cruises priced from $969 per person and that’s for a seven-night cruise through the Inside Passage. In 2009 you will have more than 5000 balcony cabins on offer. Check the full program by calling 13 24 88 or visit

Conditions and price fluctuations apply with each of the above packages.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Dawn Princess to Visit Gallipoli

Distribution W/c Monday April 21 2008


By John Crook

Anzac Cove

Sail the historic waters of Anzac Cove on the Gallipoli Peninsula next year, as part of an epic 104 night world voyage. Thirty-five ports are included in this departure ex Sydney July 5 2009. Fares are from $22,606. I did mention that it is a 104 night cruise! Contact Princess Cruises 13 24 88 or

Victorian Retreat

A romantic get-away is on offer from Birchwood Retreat in the Strzelecki Ranges. Birchwood is a two hour drive from Melbourne. The two-night package includes accommodation for two in a self contained cottage, a $60 dinner voucher including transfers for the Grand Ridge Brewery, continental breakfasts daily, plus beer or wine with chocolates. The price is $330. Terms and conditions apply. To book ring (03) 5668 1757 or try

Galapagos indulgence.

A Galapagos Express package is available, priced from $1903, which includes a three-night cruise on the four star 90-passenger Santa Cruz. The price includes coach transfers, bilingual guides, two nights at the Quito Hotel, eleven meals and shore excursions. Air fares not included. Bookings through Tempo Holidays 1300 558 987.

The Riesling Trail

Wineries such as Jim Barry Wines, Penna Lane Wines and Tim Adams Wine, feature in Clare Valley’s Riesling Trail which provides cyclists and bush walkers with around 25 kilometres of well prepared tracks between Clare and Auburn. Set right beside the trail is a group of cottages which says it all, - Riesling Trail and Clare Valley Cottages. To check on tariffs, availability and conditions telephone 0427 842 232 or take a look at

Vietnam from under $2000

Include South East Asia’s oldest city and make savings with a special package. A seven-night package includes return airfares with Vietnam Airlines, domestic air in Vietnam, accommodation with breakfasts and sightseeing with an English speaking guide. The package is for travel May 3 to June 22 and also from July 14 to August 31. Conditions apply. For prices from your nearest capital city departure point, contact Adventure World on 1300 363 055 or check details on

Great Ocean Road deal

Boomerangs at Johanna is a great base for those seeking relaxation and value for money. A wonderful spot from which to enjoy the Great Ocean Road. Self contained cottages are on offer at $180 per cottage per night, on a four night basis. Fresh flowers on arrival, a complimentary bottle of wine and a late checkout. The deal is valid Sundays to Thursdays through to December 2008. Bookings and more details by going to

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Monday, 14 April 2008

Scenic Swiss


By John Crook

Scenic Swiss

If Switzerland is on your list for travelling in 2008, check out the Rail Plus deal which offers free travel on public transport in 37 cities and towns. A 15-day Swiss rail pass is $520 for second class travel. A flexi-pass is from $402 per person. Special deals for children. Get the good news by ringing Rail Plus 1300 555 003.

Sounds of Silence a must

One of the most memorable dining experiences is to be found in Central Australia. However, to do the Sounds of Silence dinner reservations need to be made prior to arrival at the Voyages Ayers Rock Resort. This silver service event is priced at $153 per person and is valid to March 31 2009. For bookings email

Volunteering in India

A two-week volunteer program in India could make a lasting difference. The offer to work as a volunteer not only opens the door to a fascinating country, but at the same time a chance to interact with villagers. Volunteer activities include repairing houses of families below the poverty line, through to addressing social issues such as hygiene and health care. Prices start from $1816 per person, twin share. International air fares not included. Ring Overseas Working Holidays for more details on 1300 651 639.

Rydges Bell City opens in August

The Melbourne inner suburb of Preston is home for the latest Rydges operated hotel and residences, due to open in August. Totalling 826 rooms the complex will feature a 4.5 star Rydges Hotel, Rydges Residence, along with student and short-stay accommodation with all the facilities one would expect in such a complex. It’s a case of watch this space.

Last minute deal

Savings of up to $1000 per couple make a Russian cruise all the more attractive. Departing July 10, this last minute deal includes 12 nights aboard the Russia’s most luxurious river ship, the Viking Surkov. Also included are Russian language lessons, all meals with wine, gratuities and airport transfers. Airfares are extra. Prices from $5030 per person, twin share plus port charges of $300 per person. Contact Cruiseabout on 1800 007 131.

Grampians back in business

The Grampians were wiped out several years ago when bush fires ravaged the Victorian national park. The region is alive again and the welcome mat is out at the 4.5 star Tuscan look-alike Marwood Retreat in Halls Gap. Talk to Ian Martin for the deals. For more details email or telephone (03) 5356 4231.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Provence made so easy

Your FREE weekly travel tips – released Monday April 7th 2008


By John Crook

Provence made so easy

An aqueduct built in 19 BC, a wine tasting at Chateauneuf du Pape , and the French Riviera feature in a cram packed nine-day Paris to Provence tour. Then a fast return journey by TGV train to Paris. First class accommodation, touring by air conditioned coach, local guided sightseeing, hot breakfasts daily, a farewell dinner with wine in Paris, some dinners and airport transfers. Priced from $2499 per person, twin share and with departures through until October 4 2008. Conditions apply. Book Trafalgar tours through your travel agent or check

Special South Oz package

Around three dozen wineries have steadily built the reputation for Clare Valley wines, particularly Riesling.

One of the big drawcards these days is the Riesling Trail. Try it one weekend with a package priced at $330 for two nights accommodation for two persons in a one bedroom self contained cottage. The deal includes provisions for a cooked breakfast, bottle of Clare Valley wine, local gourmet food platter, port and chocolates and locally made soaps and jams. Contact Riesling Trail & Clare Valley Cottages 0427 842 232

Bring on the beer

Not long to wait until Oktoberfest in Munich when a five-day package swings into action. Priced from $1129, return airfares are included from London to Stuttgart, four nights accommodation at Wombats Hotel, transfers to the beer grounds and a tourist guide, free welcome drink and a souvenir t-shirt. Conditions apply and prices subject to change an availability. Student Flights, 1300 554 175.

Learn to Surf

Noosa is the place and the three day surf package priced from $150 soon gets you hanging five. The location features the best beginner waves.

There are three morning or afternoon lessons, each of two hours duration. The offer includes pick-up and return to accommodation, use of surfboards, wetsuits and rash shirts. Conditions apply. Price does not include accommodation. Check the website

An exclusive collection

Twelve departures between March and October 2009 provide access to the Magnificent Europe series of cruises sailing the Rhine from Amsterdam to Budapest, visiting riverside cities of Germany, Austria and Slovakia. Priced from #3937 per person twin share, the cruise offer is offered solely to Australian and New Zealand passengers. The exclusive selection also includes gratuities. Check out the conditions and the special discount details through travel agents, or have a look at


The historic village of Hahndorf, in South Australia, has become even more popular since Sophie and Peter Zervas moved into town with their first class coffee and chocolate shop. Chocolates are sourced from around the world. The coffee is brilliant. They even boast their own resident ghost in the quaint little 1850’s cottage, - obviously another chocolate lover.

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