Monday, 23 February 2009

Paradise for sure

Travel briefs for week commencing Monday Feb 23 2009. 

By John Crook 

Round Australia cruise

Here's the chance of a lifetime to explore the dramatic coastlines that frame the lucky country. It's a 34-night cruise departing from Sydney March 14 2010.  Visit each of the six capitals along with Torres Strait, Hamilton Island, Cairns, Darwin as well.  In fact this is a real history lesson, undertaken while touring the Australian coastline aboard the MS Volendam, with all meals and entertainment included.  Flights to the cruise start and end are not included.  Telephone Travel Associates on 1800 044 066. 

Aussies only!

A cruising company has chartered the award-winning Viking Surkov to sail a series of 12-night cruises taking in such highlights as St Petersburg, the Volga-Baltic waterways, the Moscow Canal and magical Moscow.  Daily sightseeing excursions will be led by English speaking guides.  The Viking Surkov was recently refurbished at a cost of US$6m. The twist is that the four cruises are exclusively for Australians.  Departures are set for May 6, July 5 and 29 and September 27.   For more details telephone 1800 225 656 or visit  

France Rail with bonus

There are some value-add offers for Rail Plus travellers.  Their France rail pass carries a range of offers including free underground train between St Charles de Gaulle Airport to Gare-du-Nord station, discounts on some ferry services range of between 20% and 50%, in Italy, Ireland and England.  There also are discounts on Eurostar between Paris and London.  The France Rail Pass is available only in Australia, with the bonus offers only available in Europe.  Conditions apply and to get the full details and prices bisit  

Paradise for sure

If you're quick you may head off a stampede by other holiday makers set to reserve accommodation at  Kings Beach Retreat, near Victor Harbor.  A real wilderness location, but studded with luxury.  Close to wineries at Langhorne Creek and also at McLaren Vale.

There is nothing which comes to mind that surpasses the quality and the R&R on offer by Ian and Rose at Kings Beach Retreat.  It's a stunning property, private and ideal for those wishing to enjoy luxury and solitude.  Currently the rates are $190 per night in low season, $250 per night at Easter, long weekends and South Australian school holidays. To get the facts and to make a booking  check the website or telephone (08) 8552 5983.   


It has to be one of the very best experiences and judging by reports from past passengers that claim can be changed to 'THE very best'.  I refer to SeaDream, the luxury mega motor-yacht.  Book a cruise between now and March 15 2009 and take your holiday anytime up until April of 2010.    The Caribbean, between November and April, the Mediterranean from May to October, and an 11-night repositioning sailings across the Atlantic, with each cruise accompanied by price reductions.     Prices which have already been cut will reap further discounting of 15%, that is, if booked before March 15 this year.  Travel agents have the details and the conditions which also may be checked by visiting    

Getalong to Ettalong

Mantra Ettalong Beach is one of the prize spots on NSW's scenic Central Coast. It's a premium beachfront resort providing the ultimate seascape escape.  Valid for sale up until March 15 2009 and for travel to March 31 2009, guests who book four nights in a one-bedroom suite will pay from $203 per room, per night, but in fact only have to pay for three nights,  The fourth night is a bonus.  Take a moment off and check it out by ringing 13 15 17, or by visiting  

* Please note conditions may apply to these packages  and prices are subject to change and availability.  This information is provided as a guide only.  Check with your travel agency.   Block out periods may apply.    Need a holiday ?  We're archived on 

END    The courtyard overlooking Kings Beach.    Kings Beach Retreat,- Victor Harbor.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Holiday at home – Barossa Valley

W/c February 16 2009 


By John Crook 

Holiday at home - Fleurieu

South Australia's Fleurieu Peninsula is one of Australia's prettiest seaside destinations. Discover its magic by headquartering yourself at Cheri sur Mer with its magnificent ocean views. The Victor Harbor apartment is yours from $200 per night.  That includes a continental breakfast, chocolates, cookies and a bottle of sparkling wine. Activate yourself swimming, beach walking, take the horse drawn tram across the causeway, taste the local wines.   Select your dining spot from a terrific range of nosheries.    Best coffee in town at The Anchorage in the main street.     Check availabilities by emailing  

Holiday at home - King Island

Check out the historic shipwrecks, taste the scallop pies, step into the life of a fisherman (even if only for a day), try the dairy products (naturally), and still some time for exploring.  This self-drive tour of King Island includes three-nights accommodation and car hire.  Prices start from $291 per person, twin share and are available for travel until August 31 2009.  Airfares not included.   Contact Travel Associates on 1800 044 066 for more information. 

Holiday at home - Broome

Not many Australians have experienced Broome.  Join the chosen few and head that way with the family.  This package includes four nights accommodation for a family in a 4.5 star Blue Seas Resort from $479. That's for two adults and two children sharing and using existing bedding.  The offer is valid for sale until February 28 2009 for travel until March 31 2009.    Airfares not included.  Check the conditions by ringing 1300 799 783 or visit  

Holiday at home - Solar Springs

Participate in the three-night special from Good Friday until after breakfast  on Easter Monday and there's a chance of winning another weekend at Solar Springs for free.  The Easter package is priced from just $820 pp. 

That includes twin-share accommodation, all well-balanced meals, a massage and face 'n' feet treatment and join the fun people in any of the special activities.  These include games, swimming, meditation classes and health talks, cycling, tennis, archery and bush walks in adjacent Morton National Park.  Solar Springs is around 2 hours from Sydney, a little longer from Canberra.  Vegetarians also well catered for.  Telephone 1800 044 944 or visit  

Holiday at home -  Hilton savings

Sounds remarkable and it is. has done a deal which gets you accommodation at Brisbane's Hilton Hotel from just $98 per person per night.   The Hilton Brisbane is luxurious and right in the heart of the city. The deal is valid for travel up to March 8 2009, and for sale  until sold out.  Log onto or 'phone 1800 002 333.    Airfares not included. 

Holiday at home – Barossa Valley

The Barossa Valley still remains one of the most favoured destinations,- not only for great wines, but also for a slice of German heritage.  One of the cutest communities is that of Bethany, just a few k's from Tanunda.  There are still some old timers who speak the local dialect of Barossa Deutsch. Bethany is also the oldest German community in Australia. Nuriootpa, Tanunda and Bethany,- not to be missed. 

* Please note conditions may apply to these packages  and prices are subject to change and availability.  This information is provided as a guide only.  Check with your travel agency.   Block out periods may apply.    Need a holiday ?  We're archived on 

Visual is :  Lutheran Church in Australia's oldest German settlement,- Bethany.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Daydream Believer

Please note this is for w/c February 9 2009 


By John Crook 

Judging Daydream

Several years ago I visited Daydream Island as a member of the Tourism Awards judging panel.   It's a relatively small island but cram packed with so many activities and I was impressed.    It's a magical place to visit, one which has a rather competitive price tag from now until March 31, but with travel through to June 30.  A four-night 'dream' offer is on sale for only $110 per person per night.  Note a rate change on April 1 and a block out period applies between April 9 – 14.  All dates listed apply to 2009.  Heaps to do but a highlight is the open-air picture theatre, sipping a cool drink, under the stars.  Check it out by calling 1800 075 040 or visit  

Save 10% on June sailing

The wonderful waterways of France call and with a special discount applicable on June sailings, the whole experience has moved up a notch.  Book by February 28 2009 and the discount applies. Each boat is self contained and sleeps  two, four, six or eight guests.  Travel the waterways and stop off when and where you want, explore quaint villages, take in the scenery, without ruining the plastic.  Check availabilities and conditions by ringing 1300 858 304 or visit  

Fancy a real escape?

Sail from Bangkok to Beijing, by way of Singapore, Vietnam, several ports of China and Nagasaki on a sixteen night luxury cruise aboard the superliner Diamond Princess.  Book through and pay from just $3299 per person, twin share.  There's a choice of  nine restaurants, Broadway-style showroom entertainment, late-release movies and of course the thrill of sailing the ocean blue. Check it out by calling 1300 369 848 or visit  

Sydney seafood school

A fabulous autumn program has been released on from March through June.  A range of terrific chefs present the courses.  For example in April, Giovanni Pilu at Freshwater presents seafood recipes from his homeland,  the Italian island of Sardinia. You really should access details of the 2009 schedule and you can do just that by contacting the school on (02) 9004 1111.    

Mexican magic

The ancient land of Mexico can now be accessed year-round at the discount price of $780 if booking deposits paid before March 31 2009.  That price includes hotels, daily breakfasts, transfers and land transportation, coach excursions with bilingual guide and also hotel pick-up and drop-off.  Air fares not included.  For all the facts check with or ring 1300 558 987. 

Tennis anyone ?

There's a good deal going with Flight Centre and Wimbledon, from June 22 to July 5.   A three-night package that includes accommodation in London, with full English breakfasts is priced from $2460 per person twin share. The deal includes admission to the Championship Club located opposite the show courts, complimentary tea /coffee and pastries, plus buffet lunch on both days. Two match day tickets, transfers from Southfields Underground station to the Championship Club.   Airfares not included. Ring 131 600. 

Three nights with one free

That's the deal on offer by Mantra Aqua at Nelson Bay.  Guests booking three nights accommodation in a two bedroom apartment will pay for just two, from just $250 per room, per night.  This deal is valid for sale up until 15 March and for travel until 31 March 2009. This is just the place for a bit of R&R,- at a competitive price too.

To check on availability and conditions, telephone 13 15 17 or visit 

* Please note conditions may apply to these packages  and prices are subject to change and availability.  This information is provided as a guide only.  Check with your travel agency.   Block out periods may apply.    Need a holiday ?  We're archived on 

Caption : A true magical island is Daydream.

Monday, 2 February 2009

The Passion of the Christ

Travel briefs for week commencing Monday Feb 2 2009.


By John Crook

A free night in South Africa

There is an exclusive free night's accommodation at the Makutsi  Safari Springs lodge, when you book a seven-night land only package.  The package is from $1,555 per person and that includes accommodation with daily breakfast and dinner, three game drives, a full day tour of Kruger National Park, sightseeing at Drakensburg mountain, a Blyde river canyon excursion, a tribal village visit and return road transfers. The deal is valid for sale until March 31 and for travel until October 31.  More information by ringing 1300 3623 055 or visit  

Mile high club on tennis court

Falls Creek is the location for outdoor summer fun, when Australia's highest tennis tournament takes over on Saturday 14th February.  It's a Valentine's Day weekend with the tournament scheduled at the Village Bowl,- that's about a mile above sea level.   Entries will be accepted  on-site, up until 8.30am on Friday 14 February.  For more information telephone 0438 458 726.

Garuda increasing routes

Fourteen new generation 737's from Boeing form part of the airline's expansion plans.  You will notice the changes as they occur as from mid 2009.  The airline had a highly successful Christmas/New Year load factor, hitting a super peak in passenger flow.   The expansion plans should make for good business over 2009 with the Indonesian carrier.

It's that time again

Every ten years the tiny village of Oberammagau opens its doors to the world with its passion play.  It's so big these days that there's an extension to its play-dates, - between May and October 2010.   Two thousand villagers participate in the re-enactment of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.  Travel company Globus, with its group of family brands,  offers a series of different tours. Remember though the tours fill up quite early in the piece.  For more details check with your local travel agent or go to or  

Ever considered teaching English?

It's now possible to participate in a program of teaching English to Peruvian kids.  Leading provider for students and young adults, STA Travel has organised programs which start in March and run throughout the year.  This is most definitely a cultural experience. Based in the legendary city of Cuzco at the gateway to Macchu Piccu, volunteers will work primarily with students ranging from 6 – 12 years, working five to six hours a day Monday to Friday. All other time is free.  Priced from $1765.40 per person for four weeks and $230 for each week thereafter.  Airfares not included Terms and conditions apply and to get the full details ring 134 782 or visit  

Wildlife galore

A seven-night Alaskan cruise should satisfy wildlife lovers, with waters filled with sea lions, sea otters. Migrating whales, plus moose, deer and bears are also the card with sightings along the way.  The tour visits ports of  Juneau, Ketchikan and Victoria British Columbia.  Guests will view rugged coastlines and glaciers.  Prices start from $1,645 per person twin share and include the seven-night cruise aboard the Norwegian Pearl, all onboard meals, pre paid gratuities.  Check it out by visiting or ring 1300 363 428.

Fish market cooking classes

The Sydney Seafood School offers a full range of cooking classes which include demonstrations by a leading chef or seafood educator, hands-on cookery, a seafood meal, complimentary wine tasting and a recipe kit.  Classes are held throughout most of the year, but to give an idea of what's in store, just check the March courses, but if interested move quickly as already some classes are full.  Take a look at 

* Please note conditions may apply to these packages  and prices are subject to change and availability.  This information is provided as a guide only.  Check with your travel agency.   Block out periods may apply.    Need a holiday ?  We're archived on

ENDS.  Visual Oberammagau Passion Play.