Monday, 29 June 2009

Each day better than the day before


John Crook 

Admin charges flown away

The low-cost AirAsia has made flights to Kuala Lumpur even more competitive.   They have dropped admin fees and that coincides with the release of their incredible regional fare promotion which includes flights to KL from the Gold Coast, Melbourne and Perth, with fares as low as $99 one-way.  Some of the connecting flights, such as from KL to Thailand and Indonesia from $17 one way KL to Penang and Langkawi are going from as low as $2, one-way.  They claim that's not a typo.    Get the conditions and all the details by visiting  

Buy a cruise, get one free

There's a good deal on offer from Cruiseabout which is offering a two-for-one cruise departing Venice on October 24, 2009 for its 17-night cruise from Venice to Port Lauderdale in the US.  There are some great stopovers too including Tunisia, Spain, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rica. The deal includes all meals, entertainment and port charges.   Prices start from $2,789. Conditions apply.  International air fares to cruise start and finish are not included.  Telephone 1300 363 428 or visit  

A deal from Perth

Grand Mercure Busselton, Accor Vacation Club Apartments which is just three hours drive from Perth is currently offering a good rate on their studio rooms with a continental breakfast basket delivered each morning  The tariff is from $165 (Sunday to Thursday) and $185 Friday-Saturday. Rates are per night and based on single/double occupancy. The deal is under offer until 30/09/09. Check out the conditions an availability by calling 1800 443 544 or email  

Each day better than the day before

Take it from one who know, South Africa is one heck of a holiday destination.  Add a cruise aboard Queen Mary 2 and a whole new world awaits. Depart March 8 2010 for a 17-nights cruise, to be followed by 7-nights sightseeing in South Africa and it's totally unbeatable.   

Also included are two-nights at Cape Town's Radisson Blu Hotel waterfront.  Return flight to Australia is included. This has to be the tour of the decade,- class all the way.  The price tag is from $9399 per person.  Get all the facts by calling 1300 305 920 or check  

'Skroo' does it again

Flight Centre founder Graham 'Skroo' Turner has launched the luxury accommodation brand Spicers Retreats, Hotels and Lodges.  The first in the range is Spicer's Clovelly Estate which opens its doors to the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast, from July 25.   Others will follow in both SE Queensland and the Hunter Valley. It's a case of 'watch this space'.     Spicers Clovelley Estate offers opening midweek rates from $199 per night for two people.  The deal is valid through to 31 October 2009.Visit  

For the train buffs

Holders of an International student identity card will get two extra days train travel for free, by booking an eight-day Eurail Select Pass Youth before July 31 2009.  This basically means that those under 26 can travel second class for ten-days during a two-month period in any of the bordering European countries and for as low as $532.  This is all part of Eurail's 50th anniversary celebrations.  Check  

Monday, 22 June 2009

Crafts at scarf festival


By John Crook 

The Bahamas' call

Pristine white sand at some of the best beaches in the world and now there's a great Caribbean accommodation package which includes a dinner cruise and a city/country tour.  Prices start from $1930 per person twin share and includes seven nights at the Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort.  Heaps of optional water sports. The package is available for sale until November 30 2009 and for travel January 29 2010 to April 8 2010.  Check it out by calling 1800 044 066.  Prices may vary and are subject to availability.  International airfares are not included. 

So does China await

There are savings of up to $2000 per couple on a selection of Viking river cruises in China, - that is if you book and pay by July 31.   There are three cruises that sail the Yangtze River with more than 30 departures from which to choose.  Now priced from $2569 per person travelling in July or August and that includes five nights 5-star hotel accommodation, an 11-day cruise in a balcony cabin, all meals, comprehensive sightseeing and return airport transfers.  Best to check conditions and availabilities by visiting or telephone 1300 363 554. 

Crafts at scarf festival

Craft and scarf enthusiasts will make for the National Wool Museum in Geelong through until July 19 2009. This is one of the biggest craft events scheduled for the year.  Obviously amongst the awards will be one to celebrate the 1509th anniversary of the Geelong Football Club. The National Wool Museum, along with some of the scarves are pictured.    For more information email  

Avalon awaits

Aussie travellers can make savings of up to $500 per person on selected European river cruises next year. Pay a deposit before the end of August and pay the remainder three months before the departure.   
I am impressed with the deal from Avalon on any of the 26 Magnificent Europe cruises sailing along the legendary Rhine and Danube rivers between Amsterdam and Budapest  from April 25 until October 17, 2010 by booking before August 31 2009.   Cruise fares include all meals on board, complimentary wine, beer or soft drinks with dinner,- and gratuities.  Conditions apply.   Take a look at  

Save on Kenya experience

Savings of between $700 and $1100 apply to an eight-day safari now costing $2995 and a 14-day package now priced at $5450 with departures between July 5 and October 25 2009.  Air travel is not included.  The tours include wildlife viewing, game walks, all accommodation, a professional guide and most meals.   A key feature is that the safaris are available for two to seven people travelling in a specially-designed safari vehicle.   Contact Bench International on 1800 221 451. 

Don't go hungry

You certainly will not go hungry on a South Pacific cruise which takes in New Caledonia. Fiji and Vanuatu.  It is a 13-night cruise aboard Dawn Princess and if booking through there's a bonus of up to $150 per cabin in onboard spending credits with selected cabin categories.  Prices for this 13-night cruise start fro ma low $2199  per person twin-share.  Dawn Princess offers –anytime dining with dishes created by some of the top chefs at sea. Check out all the facts 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


Monday, 15 June 2009

Hollywood, here I come


John Crook

Cheapest airfares in memory

Take off to London and chances are ticketing will be the lowest price in years.  Of recent times Flight Centre has been releasing secure return airfares for less than $1200 from the east coast, cheaper ex Perth.  Airlines such as Virgin Atlantic and Etihad have released a limited number of airfares for less that $1400.  Be ready to move quickly as other airlines will most probably follow the lead. Also, fares to the USA have been up to 40% cheaper than five years ago.  Certainly worthy of checking on a regular basis with Flight Centre.

Walk Hidden Peaks

The newest guided walks receiving Advanced Accreditation from Ecotourism Australia await your call.  Traverse the scenic trails of one of SE Queensland's largest private nature refuges and experience the Main Range National Park World Heritage areas.  Trek between five or ten kilometres each day and contribute to the preservation of Australia's natural bio-diversity by sustaining the refuge for native wildlife.  Choose from a classic three-day walk from $1550 per person or a four-day walk from $1800 per person.  Accommodation is at Peppers Spicer's Peak, with well appointed camping, fine food and wine.  For further information call 1300 773 425 or visit  

Hollywood, here I come

The American tour to end all American tours has been launched by show-biz commentator, John-Michael Howson. It's a fully escorted package which departs Australia January 27, 2010.  the tour takes in LA, New York and Las Vegas.  If anyone knows America, it's John-Michael.  Highlights include first class accommodation, coach excursions and transfers, most breakfasts and also two special luncheons and one special dinner. The itinerary includes seven nights in LA, five in New York City and four in Las Vegas.  International airfares additional.  Prices start from $5499 per person, twin share.   Get the facts by ringing 1800 800 640, or visit  

Escape to the high country

(a)  Mount Buller offers low-priced packages, with five-nights accommodation, breakfast daily, a three-day lift pass and three-day premium ski or snowboard hire.     The package is valid for travel from June 26 to August 2 2009.  Prices start from $1229 per person, twin share.

(b) Or, ski and stay at Mt Hotham for less than $150 per day.  This package offers five nights' accommodation, a five-day lift and lesson pass and five days' ski, poles, boots hire or snowboard and boots' hire.  Prices here start from $709 per person, twin share.    This package is valid for travel until June 26 and from September 13 to 25, 2009.

Check out either package by calling 1300 799 783 or visit  

Thanks be to Major Mitchell

It was those noisy swans which kept the good Major awake  all night, cursing the noise from his tent on the banks of the River Murray.  So Swan Hill was named. This is one of those communities which has the pioneer spirit alive and well.  The Pioneer Settlement Museum in Swan Hill is a must when travelling the Murray Valley towns. For information and bookings telephone 1800 981 911 or visit  

Tuscany here I come

Here's a chance to 'meet the locals' whilst travelling Italy's Tuscany and Umbria. A three-week small-group departs Rome on September 25.  The price tag of from $6975 per person, twin share includes accommodation, full-time tour escorts, coach, ferry and rail travel, all breakfasts and most dinners.  Air travel is not included in the price.   Accommodation is at quality family-owned and operated  hotels.  To get the full story I suggest you contact (07) 3396 8652 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


Visual :   Beverly Hills,- visit with John-Michael Howson.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Join the mega-liner


John Crook

The mighty Murray

Choose the package which best suits you and your budget and you are on your way to mighty memories, Murray River style. Here’s one from Willandra Houseboats, Mildura. Three nights on board a houseboat of your choice. Deluxe is from $750 pp, minimum of two people. Luxury, from $880 pp (minimum four people) or super luxury from $1050 pp (four people). The package includes superb riverboat accommodation, full breakfasts, Gol Gol hotel dinner, Trentham Estate winery lunch, dinner at Stefano’s restaurant and pre-dinner drinks at restaurants. All meals supplied and if you so wish, a pilot is available. Such is the experience, I’m going back for another few days. Get the facts by visiting or call 0417 814 312. It is ‘my pick’ for the week.

Prague awaits

There’s a three-night stopover in the Czech capital for just $354 per person, twin share. Valid for the summer months of June, July and August the package includes accommodation and breakfast at the Hotel U Krize, which is a fully restored building in the heart of Prague. The price includes a combined walking and coach tour of the city and the castle district, the old town square and the Jewish quarter. Also, there are tickets to an evening performance of the black theatre. More information by contacting or ‘phone 1300 363 554.

Farnham returns,.. again!

Jack returns to the Hunter Valley in September for his Live By Demand tour. Peppers Guest House celebrates with a two-night package priced from $1999 per couple. That includes full daily breakfast, two VIP Deck packages to the Farnham concert at nearby Hope Estate winery (Saturday September 19) with transfers to and from the concert. View the concert overlooking the main stage where a four course meal, is available, with premium Hope Estate wines, beer and soft drinks. For bookings contact 1800 777 444. Conditions and terms apply.

Join the mega-liner

Sixteen nights cruising the Pacific is on offer, including seven ports. The huge Pacific Jewel sails out of Sydney on September 6 2010 unwinding prior to the first port of call, Norfolk Island. The price starts from $2949 pp twin-share.

Depending on the cabin category has up to $100 in on-board credits. Some of the features include a 4.300 sq metre OceanView gym and health spa, hair and beauty salon, duty-free shops, a casino and special zones for the teens and children. Three restaurants, eight bars two pools and two whirlpool spas. For all the details telephone 1300 369 848 or check

More local options

Through until July 26 Ballarat’s Sovereign Hill offers all the usual attractions and for the winter months a special event, Frozen in Time, which has a host of magical experiences including, ice sculptures reflecting the gold rush period, a snow slide and simulated snow falling in the main street. The normal attractions continues, such as the fantastic Blood on the Southern Cross sound and light show. Remember, it’s Ballarat and it’s cold, so rug up ! For bookings and further information call (03) 5337 1199 or email

Eurostar links

Linking London, Paris and Brussels a special summer fare has been struck. The leisure select fare is from $150 one-way and from $232 return. This applies to first class travel through August 31, with bookings made from now until July 27 2009. The fares include a champagne welcome drink, choice of meal, power plugs and large reclinable seats. Remember that standard on-line booking fee of $35 is additional. Check out


Visual : Pacific Jewel.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Is the world going mad ?

Travel briefs for w/c June 1st 2009. 

John Crook 

Is the world going mad ?

Melbourne, Gold Coast and Perth residents looking at travelling to Asia or beyond could do no better than to consider the offer from    A suitcase of budget fares for immediate travel to Malaysia and more than 65 destinations across Asia, the UK and other options. For instance ex Perth fly to KL from $99 one way, or from the Gold Coast and Melbourne it's from $199 one way. Fly on to the Asian destination of your choice and pay from as little as $15.  To the UK from KL pay from $227 one way. Buy now, fly now fares include taxes and charges, but conditions apply and subject to availability or change.   Visit 

The Gold Coast's swinging

A great musical weekend is scheduled July 24-26 when musical talents will be up front.  Jazz, music theatre, rock to country make up the relaxing experience at Ruffles Lodge & Spa on Mt Tamborine.  Two-night packages for two people start from $1230 which includes a grazing dinner on Friday night, gourmet breakfast on Saturday morning, then a five-course degustation dinner with fine wines.  Sunday morning it's a leisurely brunch. Get the facts by calling (07) 5546 7411 or visit  

Human powered cycling

There's a half-day cyclo excursion available to guests on the 3-day Mekong Memoirs and the 8-day Mekong expedition tours.   Known in some parts of Asia as rickshaws or pedicabs, this is a unique way of exploring Pnom Penh.  These are not the drive-yourself style variety, as there is a trained driver with basic English available to do the leg work.   It is a part of touring aboard the 32-stateroom Pandaw Mekong river cruises.  Get full details and costs of the tours by calling (02) 8080 5622 or visit 
Tasmanian fly fishing

Most capital and major regional cities are participating in the world's largest fishing film festival, during June and July.  The festival will be followed by the annual two-day Tasmanian trout expo in August.  To get details of fly fishing in Tassie and screening details of the film, visit http://fishingtasmania/net/live/  


Worthy of a mention is the work of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and here's a chance to get up close and personal. Join a group of like minded Aussies and tour Broken Hill and the RFDS, aboard a Qantas Dash 8, Q400 series aircraft.  The tour includes a visit to the museum, a coach tour of the Hill, then lunch at the beautifully restored boutique Astra Hotel and there's plenty more.  A great way to support the RFDS. The one day tour is priced at $795. For more information contact Flight Centre (02) 9242 9000, or email  

Outer islands are in

If ever offered the choice of accessing the outer islands of Vanuatu,- grab it with both hands. For instance here's the chance to do just that.   A luxury ten cabin vessel will operate between now and October, with two five-day itineraries from which to choose.   Take a look at Ratua Private Island which has just opened and is known as 'primitive luxury'.  Espiritu Santo is the destination, with options to explore other islands and cultures.  Prices and conditions available by visiting  

Seventeen nights to paradise

Cruise Sydney to Perth and along the way call in to Port Moresby, Darwin are Queensland coastal gems, and at the same time experience one of the world's grandest liners.  Rhapsody of the seas is the 4-star super liner which is virtually a city-at-sea, with formal or cafĂ© stye dining, eight lounges and bars, a casino, a theatre with nightly Broadway shows.    Even those who are into fitness, fear not, because on board you also have a gym, spa and fitness centre, jogging and walking tracks, an outdoor pool and six whirlpools, a solarium and an indoor pool,- even a rock-climbing wall.  Depart Sydney October 17 and the fares from $2599 per person, twin share, also include return air from Perth on board dining, entertainment, gratuities, port charges and government taxes.

There's a surcharge for air taxes and fuel applicable at the time of booking.  Telephone 1300 369 848 or check with 


Visual : Rhapsody of the Seas