Monday, 23 August 2010

South Africa - Macedon - Norfolk Island - Escorted Turkey Tour

Kingston, Norfolk Island

John Crook

Free safari for kids

South Africa: the destination. Honeyguide Khoka luxury tented camp is the Manyeleti Game Reserve, adjoining Kruger National Park. This is a three night package costing from $1295 per person and that includes accommodation, all meals, local beverages, game viewing and return road transport from Hoedspruit airport. The deal, allows for two children aged 12, who get to stay free with the free offer until September 30. For all the details and conditions ring 1800 221 451 or go visit

A winning combo

Arguably one of the gems of Australian travel and tourism, the Macedon region of central Victoria offers a stunning slice of regional Victoria. Here’s a combination of some of the high spots which I sampled last week. My recommendations include accommodation in an historic hotel, a winery with a difference and one of the best restaurants around. The Lord Admiral House is the result of some wonderful architecture of the 1860’s, brilliantly restored and today operating as a B&B ( The tariff is from $135 per night and includes a cooked breakfast and afternoon tea on arrival. Call (03) 5422 6862 The recommended restaurant, is just a few minutes drive to historic Kyneton and delightful Piper Street, ring (03) 5422 2777 or visit (, I reckon one of the best dining spots in regional Victoria.

The winery, almost a neighbour, is Paramoor and it is an attraction in its own right, set on picturesque farming land ( For further info ring (03) 5427 1057.

You could try to combine a trip this way on September 5th and be part of the one day Paramoor Farm Fayre, a bush festival. Admission is $5 per adult. Could be great fun !

Value packaged stay

Norfolk Island is yours, staying for seven nights at Christians of Bucks Point, a beautifully restored three bedroom home. Included is hire car, airport meet and greet, three Baunti Escape island tours and all pre-payable taxes from $1515 per person quad share, bookable now for travel from September 1 to March 31 next year. Worth following through, so first step is to check out all the details, inclusions and conditions by calling 1800 111 653 or go visit

A good deal

Earlybird prices for twin-double bookings made before December 1 2010 should attract your attention. Transglobal Destinations offers 14-day Glories of Turkey, fully escorted coach tours, from $1349 per person twin share and that includes four to five star hotels, travel aboard new air-conditioned coaches, 26 meals and English speaking guides. Highlights include Istanbul, Gallipoli, Dardenelles, Troy and Ephesus. Just to mention a few. The earlybird prices represent a discount of about $310 on scheduled rates. Check it out by calling 1300 552 848 or local travel agents.

* 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.

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Monday, 16 August 2010

Arabian Odyssey includes Muscat

w/c August 16 2010


John Crook

Paths of the Alps

If travelling into the Geneva region of Switzerland, here's an offer which provides the key to  1,000 kms of walks at 5 centimes per km.   This one deserves checking out.      Check into, and stay for a couple of nights to become eligible for a free backpack, a map, a bottle of wine and a piece of local cheese.  Obviously accommodation and meals are at your cost.  To get the full facts and conditions it's just a matter of visiting  

A favourite of mine

A beautiful land, which doesn't lose its charm is now available as a special offer.  Vanuatu is the destination. Once visited, never forgotten.  Priced from just $288 per person, the package offers real value for an overseas escape.  Seven- nights for the price of five in a twin share room, continental breakfast daily, use of snorkel gear, kayaks and Maricat sailing.  There's more, so check that you can travel from November 1 to December 15 2010, or from January 15-31 or again, from March 15-31 2011. This slice of paradise is at Hideaway Island Resort and Marine Sanctuary.  Conditions apply and the price is per person and based on two adults.  Log onto  

Small group touring

The world's longest established travel company, Cox & Kings has on offer one heck of tour.  Priced from $2208 pr person twin share, this is an eight-day Arabian Odyssey departing Muscat on November 21 2010, with other departures throughout next year.   Tours by this company generally use first class four or five star hotels, lodges and camps.  Touring  is via air-conditioned vehicles, there's a tour escort, and included in the price are entrance fees and seven-nights accommodation. Ring the operators on 1300 836 764, or email or go ahead and  visit your local travel agent.  Terms and  conditions apply. 

Why Monto ?

When in the Bundaberg  North Burnett region of Queensland, do ourself a favour and head towards Monto,- a slice of pioneering Australia, yet with all the facilities expected by latter-day explorers.  Whilst this is a service town the big drawcard is Lake Cania and Cania Gorge.   Some of the oldest country in the world, and indeed one of the most attractive for those who like to get out into the bush.  For a slice of the real Australia, arrange to spend a few days in the area.  Rocky formations, spectacular escarpments, with sandstone cliffs 70 metres high.  Caravanners and those who get a kick out of sleeping under canvas have the choice of two excellent holiday parks at the gorge   This is heaven on earth.    For all the bits and pieces you need to know about the region,  telephone (07) 4153 8888 o go visit  

A touch of culture

Either living in, or heading towards Melbourne on or around September 3-4, insert a slice of culture into your plans and book for Don Giovanni which is playing at the National Theatre.     Book online at or telephone (03) 9525 4611. This is a brand new production produced by the he Opera School Melbourne and set in the swinging sixties. 

* 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.   

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Monday, 9 August 2010

Splendours of Jordan - Sled Dog - Rugby World Cup - Narmbool - Adelaide


John Crook

Inaugural sled dog event

Dog sled teams head towards Falls Creek on Tuesday August 17.  It's an inaugural exhibition event which gets under way at 7-00pm, starting in Slalom Plaza at one minute intervals.   Dog sled events will include Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes and Alaskan Huskies.  There is free resort entry after 2-00pm for this event which is a must-see.  Guests may stay overnight.  Quay West Resort & Spa is offering discounted overnight packages in luxury two bedroom (four share) apartments from $229 per person, including breakfast.  For all the details go visit

It may be a year away,..but

Australian rugby fans need to check out the deals which are available for the 2011 rugby world cup.  DriveAway Holidays chief executive sales and marketing, Chris Hamill,  advises the company is almost out of campervans and motorhomes throughout the seven week event and there's also a rush on rental cars.  Availabilities are also scarce for a fortnight pre-cup and four weeks after the last siren sounds.   So, get the brain into action and check full details and availabilities. For a free guide which includes a mass of useful info, go visit    I did say, free!

The year of biodiversity

A unique opportunity to visit the secretive world of insects awaits you and your kids.  A free two-hour program is scheduled for Saturday August 21 and again Saturday October 2 to a place called Narmbool, which is a 30-minute drive from Ballarat's Sovereign Hill, at Elaine.  (That's the name of a town, not a person)

To ensure you have a spot on the exploratory team,  whip off an email to     The event is supported by The Bug Blitz Trust, the Sovereign Hill Museums Association, Museum Victoria ad the University of Ballarat.  Come prepared with good walking shoes and suitable clothing for protection from rail or sunshine.    Groups depart at 10-00am and 1-00pm.   Whilst admission is free. Visitors can book in advance to attend a BBQ,- at $15 a head.    Group numbers strictly limited, so booking in advance is a must!

Jordan in small groups

Some of the spectacular sites of Jordan, including biblical sites and the 'red rose' city of Petra, are included in the Splendours of Jordan tour.  Tour prices start from $1850 per person, sharing a twin bedded room and including seven night's accommodation and meals as per published itinerary.  There are other packages on offer, so for all the info telephone 1300 836 764. You could also visit

Visiting Adelaide ?

Top recommendations include the properties under the banner of  North Adelaide Heritage Group.  Rodney, Regina and William Twiss own and operate this group of  'mansions' in the classy tree lined northern suburb.  It's always good to have somebody make a personal recommendation.

I can do that in respect of the Fire Station Inn (with its own fire engine), the Bishop's Garden, the  Residency Penthouse,  along with George Lowe Estate which is part of Buxton Manor.    I still have a dozen or more to include with personal visitations.   The properties feature in Fodor's 2009 Guide or Australia, and in Frommers Guide to Australia. Twenty extraordinary properties  Telephone (08) 8272 1355 or visit       Class all the way!

* 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.  

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APT Canada-Alaska, Seadream, Queen Mary 2, Hong Kong, Princess Cruises,


APT is launching its 2011 Canada-Alaska tour-cruises preview flyer with three fly-free-to-Canada offers for bookings made by October 15, 2010.

The first offer is free return airfares to Canada when booking a Majestic Rockies & Alaska cruise (valid for all departures), the second is fly-free for April 2011 departures of packages of 21 days or more, and the third is a companion fly-free offer for May to September 2011 departures of packages 21 days or more. In all cases, air taxes of $400 are included in the free return airfares.

For example, the free airfare deal applies to the fully-escorted 21-day Rockies Explorer and Alaska Cruise package departing April 27, 2011 which is priced from $9445 per person, twin share, departing from Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

The price includes 11 nights' accommodation (two-night stays at Victoria, Vancouver and Banff plus one-night stays in Whistler, Sun Peaks, Jasper, Kamloops and Lake Louise), two-day Rocky Mountaineer train journey in GoldLeaf Service,  seven-night Alaskan cruise in a Verandah Stateroom onboard the Holland America Line, 39 meals, port charges and tipping for cruise and land staff.

Among activities are a guided tour of Vancouver, including the spectacular Waterfront, ride a gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain in Banff National Park, join a Mountain Heritage Guide for an unforgettable walk along the shore of Lake Louise, travel the Icefields Parkway and board an Ice Explorer for a journey onto the Athabasca Glacier.

Breakfast is included at the renowned Butchart Gardens in Victoria, discover Jasper, Banff, Yoho, Glacier and Mt Revelstoke National Parks, see Moraine Lake located in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, and visit the ski resort town of Whistler, still buzzing from the 2010 Olympics

Phone 1300 656 985, see or ask travel agents.


Cruise Specialist Holidays has an unusual opportunity to sail half as long again on a holiday in the Mediterranean this October, but at almost half the normal price, aboard the world's highest-rated boutique motor-cruise yacht, SeaDream I.

It's because SeaDream, that has just 56 staterooms for a maximum 112 guests pampered by 95 officers, staff and crew, will transfer from Athens across the Mediterranean to Malaga in Spain, in preparation for her annual Autumn re-positioning from there to the Caribbean.

SeaDream I departs Athens on October 2 for twelve nights (compared with normal sailings of seven nights,) visiting eleven of the Mediterranean's most desired ports – many of them too small for larger cruise ships to access – and a transit as well of the historic Corinth Canal that only small ships can access.

And prices start from US$5731pp twin-share (down from previously advertised US$11,132pp) including all onboard gourmet 5-star dining, drinks from the no-charge bars, wines with lunches and dinners, nightly cocktail gatherings, use of a 50-course golf simulator, power and sail watersports  where allowed by local authorities, port taxes, and even onboard gratuities.

For full details Cruise Specialist Holidays toll-free 1300 79 49 59.

PORTS that SeaDream I will visit after departing Piraeus (the port for Athens) are Aigina Island and Mykonos (Greece,) through the Corinth Canal to Itea and Fiskardho in Greece, Taormina (Sicily,) Valetta in Malta, La Goulette in Tunisia, Palma de Mallorca (Spain,) Ibiza and Motril in Spain, and Malaga where there is a night aboard ship.


BOOK a 20-night cruise aboard the grand Queen Mary 2 from Cape Town to Sydney in January 2012 and if you do it through your holiday will amazingly include a further 12-nights pre-cruise in Dubai, East Africa's legendary Masai Mara National Game Reserve with a morning hot air balloon ride over the wildlife, a visit to South Africa's Winelands and Cape Town.

And through it's priced enticingly from just $14,269pp twin-share, more than 50-per cent below the originally advertised.

This rare all-in-one opportunity includes air and taxes from mainland capitals to Dubai, 2-nights at the Raffles Hotel Dubai, a flight to Nairobi for a night at the Fairmont Norfolk Hotel with breakfasts, a scenic flight over the Great Rift Valley, and transfers to Masai Mara National Game Reserve for 5-nights at the Fairmont Mara Safari Club with all meals included, daily game rides and an early morning hot air balloon ride over the vast plains of wildlife.

There's another night back in Nairobi (room and breakfasts,) a private plane flight* to Cape Town for 3-nights at the One&Only Cape Town Hotel (that Travel+Leisure Magazine rated "one of the year's top new hotels/resorts") with breakfasts included, and a full day's Winelands and Table Mountain tour.

Guests then join Queen Mary 2 for a grand 20-night cruise that begins with a night and a day in Cape Town, then Durban, Port Louis (Mauritius,) Perth, Adelaide and Sydney with all onboard dining and nightly big-show and other entertainment. *Private plane subject to availability in 2012.

Full details 1300 369 848 or


AS growing numbers of travellers seek a smoke-free environment, from this month (August) the Cosmo Hotel in Hong Kong has gone 100% smoke-free in all guest rooms and indoor areas, saying it's now the only 4-star smoke-free hotel in the city.

Located within the hectic business and entertainment area of Causeway Bay and Wan Chai, the Hotel says a choice of smoking/non-smoking rooms is no longer adequate, as third-hand smoke – the residue of tobacco smoke that settles in the air even after a cigarette has been extinguished – affects human health on an equal level.

So it's decided on a 100% smoke-free policy for all guest rooms and indoor areas, while retaining the outdoor Breeze area to still be available for smokers. "We can now guarantee our guests the best quality environment to stay in, and therefore a real oasis," said Anita Chan, General Manager of the Cosmo Hotel Hong Kong.

And she says the benefits will be felt not only by guests, but staff as well.

The Cosmo Hotel Hong Kong is at 375-377 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai. For reservations phone Hong Kong 3552 8388 or email


Princess Cruises has released details of its largest ever Australian cruise program, spanning three locally-based ships for the first time and offering summer sailings from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in the summer of 2011-12.

Featuring a total of 48 cruises to Asia, the South Pacific and Australasia, the new program includes more New Zealand cruises than all other visiting cruise lines combined, with 27 departures on offer.

Travellers can also save up to 45 per cent on all bookings made before September 30, 2010.

The latest Princess superliner to be based in Australia, Sea Princess, will offer 12 cruises from Sydney between October 2011 and March 2012 during her maiden Australian cruise season.

A highlight of Sea Princess' season will be a 42-night sailing to Japan to experience all the magic of its spectacular cherry blossom season, departing Sydney on March 4, 2012. The superliner will sail north via Queensland, Darwin, the exotic port of Kota Kinabalu and China before returning via Guam and Rabaul. Fares start from $6999* per person twin share, with balcony cabins priced from $10,999*.

Sea Princess will also offer nine 13-night cruises from Sydney to New Zealand priced from $2279* per person or from $3459* for a balcony cabin. Passengers will enjoy sailing through the stunning Fjordland National Park before returning via Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Napier, Tauranga, Auckland and Bay of Islands.

Also on offer are a 14-night cruise to Fiji and the South Pacific and an eight-night sojourn to Tasmania including a call at Melbourne.

Meanwhile, Princess Cruises' fleet expansion means Brisbane will welcome a Princess superliner of its own in the 2011-12 summer season, with Sun Princess sailing her maiden Queensland cruise season.

Sun Princess' season will begin with a 42-night cruise to China and Japan in September 2011, with the superliner also offering seven 14-night cruises to New Zealand and two 11-night cruises to Fiji and the South Pacific throughout the six-month season.

Fares for an 11-night South Pacific sailing visiting Noumea and Isle of Pines as well as Vila in Vanuatu and Fiji start from $1999* per person or $3099* for a balcony cabin.

Dawn Princess will return to Melbourne for another summer season from December until March 2012, offering seven 13-night cruises to New Zealand, a 25-night circumnavigation of Australia and a two night coastal cruise to Sydney. The superliner will also sail a 35-night cruise to Tahiti and Hawaii from Sydney departing April 13, 2012.

Princess Cruises' locally-based fleet of Sea Princess, Dawn Princess and Sun Princess all feature Australian onboard currency and entertainment designed for Australian tastes, as well as Movies Under the Stars, a child-free Sanctuary and more balcony choice than any other cruise line in the region.

For more information visit, phone 132 488 or see a licensed travel agent. *Prices are per person, twin share. Subject to availability, conditions apply.