Monday, 27 September 2010

Paris - Birdwood SA - Melbourne Millinery - Buenos Aires - Globus Italy and Spain


John Crook 

Things looking up in Paris

The news out of Paris is positive, particularly the deal which offers stay-four-nights but pay only three when booking Tempo's 3.5 star Hotel Le Royal or the 4-star Hotel Park Lane Paris.

You will need to check out the fine print, in that conditions and availabilities apply.  This is a great way to experience Paris and preserve the budget somewhat. Get the terms and conditions by calling 1300 558 987, or go visit  

Kids toys for grown ups

The location is Birdwood in the Adelaide Hills, home of arguably Australia's best motor museum. Check out the details of the upcoming 'model behaviour' exhibition by visiting   There's a schedule of action through 31/01/2011.  Great for those of us who would love a top model from yesteryear, yet the budget allows only for scale model reproductions. 

Millinery display in Melbourne

The Richard Millinery display showcases vintage and unique hats.  If hats are your game, then this one should not be missed.  The location for the exhibition is The Langham,- Melbourne's finest.

It is really a launch of the Melbourne Cup and Spring Racing  Carnival.   They can be viewed in the foyer of the hotel between from October 4 to November 7.  Part of the celebration includes a hands-on millinery workshop. Obviously early bookings are necessary.  There's even a High Tea. For enquiries and reservations telephone 1800 641 107 or email 

Start 2011 like no other year

There's a 20-night fly, cruise and stay package departing Sydney on February 23, 2011 – destination Buenos Aires to Santiago.  The package includes two nights in Buenos Aires, a two-night visit to the Iguazu Falls, and 14 nights of true luxury cruising between the two capitals which also has a further 2-night stay.  Return economy airfares and taxes are included as well as breakfasts daily,  at pre and post cruise hotels, and all transfers.  Travel is aboard Celebrity Cruises' Infinity.  All on-board dining, entertainment and gratuities on Infinity.  So, for all the details, prices and conditions go visit  

Visit the greatest treasures

The treasures of Italy and Spain await.  The itinerary includes the ancient ruins of Rome, the canals of Venice through to absolutely remarkable highlights from Spain,-  in the Globus 2011 program.  Take this one for example. The 13-day Italian Mosaic tour includes a terrific saving at the per person, twin share discounted price of $2529.  The savings are valid for bookings made until  December 15, 2010.  Check for details of other possible savings 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, 20 September 2010

Eastern Europe Tour - Adventure Jordan - Cricket Willow - Brisbane Festival - Cruise Amsterdam


John Crook

Discounts worth a mention

A 13-day ‘Eastern Europe’ tour featuring Vienna Budapest, and Prague (to mention but a few) is now priced from $2675 per person, twin share. This discounted price tag is valid for 11 guaranteed departures in May, June, July, August and October 2011, - with bookings and deposits by October 29 2010. This tour includes accommodation and daily breakfasts, with travel aboard a high quality air conditions coach. Get the facts by calling 1300 363 554, or go visit

For the adventure lovers superior class

Here’s a chance to explore the spectacular sites of Jordan. Tour Amman, including Mount Nebo from where Moses first viewed the Holy Land. The Dead Sea, and Petra are part of the itinerary. The advertised price is based on travel 5 – 19 December 2010. For the price and all the details all you need to do is to visit

Cricket willow too good to miss

If cricket is your forte then there’s one place not to be missed when in central Victoria. I refer to Cricket Willow, the home of cricket bats in Australia. Located at Shepherd’s Flat near Daylesford, Trish and Ian Tinetti extend a welcome. Be sure you do the cricket tour,- and do a run on the splendid oval and stop over for a cuppa and refreshments. For details ring (03) 5476 4277.

Orange Week

Get ready for it! Scheduled 22 – 31 October, this is one festival not to be missed. Wine, food and fun come together comes alive and in the beautiful Orange region of NSW. More on this a little closer to the event.

Spiegeltent – on show

A brilliant cast of Oz creators with new circus and a program of vaudeville, magic and music through until Saturday September 25 2010. The sixty minute show starts at 9-00pm each evening except Mondays at the Brisbane Festival. Ticketing is $40 adults, concessions at $30. Get the facts by visiting or ring for ticketing 1300 438 849.

Amsterdam to Bordeaux

Fancy a week aboard the world’s highest-rated boutique motor-cruiser sailing between Amsterdam and Bordeaux, and six nights touring the French winelands on a deluxe 90-cabin hotel barge. These are the highspots of a fully-escorted 21 day fly/cruise for just eight couples (or singles). To top it off the deal also includes return business class air travel from Sydney, Melbourne or Perth, There’s too much to try to include in this tour, so go for it. My part of the deal is to inform you that details are available by contacting on 1800 083 141.

* 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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Saturday, 11 September 2010

Cruise from Shanghai to South Korea and Hong Kong

Falls Creek or Aspen

Good snowfalls ensure that Australia's skiing capital will be attracting snow lovers for weeks to come. With well groomed slopes, all ski lifts operating and some very good deals on offer, Falls Creek is more than just a pretty postcard.  For instance the all-inclusive 'white space' packages are up to 50% off what it costs in peak season, at most ski lodges, hotels and apartments.  Sounds almost too good to be true, so I suggest you call 1300 136 997, or go visit

Use the same contact point for Aspen et al

Check out the North American deals, particularly the 'Stay 7 pay 6' which includes seven nights in a standard room at the Hotel Aspen.  The price starts from $1409 per person twin share.  That includes daily continental breakfast, a six-day lift pass.  Conditions apply. Book and pay by September 30 2010.  Valid for travel January 2 to 25, 2011.  Check out the 'kids ski free' deals. Get the facts by calling 1300 136 997.

Let the sunshine in

A private water salon poolside experience awaits at Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast.  Priced from $570 for two people the package includes a half day private cabana rental, Italian mineral water, chilled face spray, frosted black and white grapes, icy cold spears of seasonal fruits, 30+ sunscreen lotion, cold towels and a chilled bottle of Cloudy Bay Pelorus sparkling wine.  That's not all. Also included is overnight accommodation in a superior room and breakfast for two in Il Barocco.  For more information call (07) 5509 8000 or go visit You need to experience this kind of luxury at least once in a lifetime!

Friday night in Victoria's Lancefield

Burke and Wills walked this way en route to the Gulf of Carpentaria.  They stayed long enough to 'book up' a supply of meat from the local butcher.  Then, they did a runner.  The account is still in debit.  Lancefield's Farmers Arms Hotel was built around this time.  The historic ex-hotel is now a fabulous retreat in Dunsford Street.  Mine hosts are Diane Leorke and Edward Janus. If only this couple had been around in the days of B & W.  Quite probably the explorers never would have left.   That's how latter-day  guests feel about the property.  It's luxury accommodation, open fires, delicious breakfasts, cosy sitting rooms and even spa therapies and treatments.  According to the website, tariffs begin from $155 per night per room. Stay any night and be delighted, or if it's possible book in for a Friday night for that's when the local colourful people wander in for a drink.  Telephone (03) 5429 2288, visit or email

Fly out on ridiculously low fares

AirAsia offers flights to KL from as low as $149 one way and 20% off fares to some of the hottest spots in Asia.    Hey,- what about this red spot sale which runs from September 13 to November 15.  Travel period is from September 13 to November 15 2010.   One way economy fares to KL from the Gold Coast and Perth from just $149,  and ex Melbourne fro $199.  Conditions apply, so check out the deals by visiting     Best low cost airline for 2009 and 2010 !  That's AirAsia.


Love the sound of this one.  It's a 12-night cruise from Shanghai to South Korea and Hong Kong, and purchasing ticketing through pay from $4,419 per person twin share, including savings. 

Conditions apply including bookings by November 1 this year.   Travel is aboard the 690 passenger Azamara Quest.  The price incudes two-nights pre-cruise at the Hyatt on the Bund Shanghai,-  with a Shanghai day classic tour, night highlights tour with dinner, a river cruise and a night in Hong Kong  post cruise at the Peninsula hotel.  There's more. So do yourself a favour and telephone for all the details 1300 369 848.  Did I mention complimentary wines with lunches and dinners? Or,  go 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.   

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Monday, 6 September 2010

Travel Picks: Italian Alpine, Africa Golf, Hong Kong Cruise, Russian River Cruise, World Expo


SPECIALIST Italian small-group tour company, Carolinasusi Italia Tours gets off the beaten track into the country's romantic Northern Lakes region in Spring and Autumn of next year, and whilst embracing regional areas mostly overlooked by larger operators also includes exploring, shopping and dining in historic Verona, Vicenza and Venice.

These unique personally-escorted tours in May/June and again in September 2011 see guests based for the first week in the little city of Varese in the lower alpine highlands of the Italian Lakes, and the second in the smaller town of Bassano del Grappa at the foot of the mountains… with excursions out to often lesser-known towns and villages in which guests are embraced into the colour of daily Italian life.

Highlights include lake cruises, visits to the-once holiday villas of the 19th and 20th centuries' rich and famous, wineries and grappa distilleries, a day with a local chef whose family has lived here for 700 years, markets with famous-variety cheeses and seasonal fruits and vegetables, historic fortified towns, a walk along the streets of Romeo and Juliet's Verona, and fascinating Venice.

Each priced from $6485pp twin-share ex-Milan, these seasonal tours include 15-nights twin-share, breakfasts and most dinners, a lunch in an alpine or lakeside venue, coach transfers and tours, lake cruises, villa entries, walking tours of Verona, Vicenza and Venice, a rack-railway excursion, and full time Australian escorts with the back-up of local professional guides.

Full details (07) 3396 8652, (07) 3262 6332 or


AFRICAN holiday specialists Bench International have set up a specialist desk for travellers who want to combine an African safari with some golf.

The golf segments will be arranged through the South African group easyGolf,  an off-shoot of the company that has operated the Shongololo rail safari itineraries throughout southern Africa for the last 16 years.

South Africa has a wealth of world class golf courses, many of them designed by "Multiple major title holder" Gary Player, one of which is at the Fancourt Country Club Estate in South Africa's new golf capital George, along the east coast.

Cape Town and the Western Cape offer visitors a selection of excellent golf courses in majestic settings which are rated as some of the best courses in South Africa. The mild climate and the spectacular coastal scenery of the famous Garden Route makes this unique stretch of South Africa a golfer's paradise. Fancourt Country Club Estate is consistently ranked in the Top 10  South African courses.

The Eastern Cape offers visitors courses in scenic settings, with the sub-tropical coastline of KwaZulu Natal rated as one of the country's prime golf destinations. The Durban Country Club, one of the top courses in South Africa, has hosted more South African Opens than any other.

And Gauteng offers a wide selection of world class golf courses which will challenge the amateur and professional alike, while Johannesburg boasts a number of fine courses that have hosted PGA  events.

More details from Bench International at 1800-221-451 or 02-9290-2877


Cruiseco has 25-nights aboard the 5-star Holland America Line Amsterdam from Hong Kong through nine Asian and Australian ports to Sydney in October of this year at a saving of 44 per cent off brochure fares.

Now priced from as low as $4785pp twin-share it also includes air and taxes from Sydney, government taxes and two luxury hotel nights pre-cruise in Hong Kong.

Amsterdam will sail from Hong Kong on October 20 for Phu My in Vietnam, Laem Chabang (Bangkok) for two days and an overnight on board ship, Sihanoukville in Cambodia, Singapore, Semarang and Komodo Island in Indonesia, Darwin, an overnight on board ship in the Barrier Reef, Cairns for a full day and an overnight on board ship, Brisbane, and Sydney for a night on board ship.

For a fully detailed itinerary, ship facilities and services, and the names of Cruiseco's nearest 200-cruise specialist travel agencies Australia-wide, visit

MORE DETAIL: The two nights on October 18 and 19 are at the Regal Kowloon Hotel that's a blend of classical European elegance and Oriental hospitality.

The 1380-passenger Amsterdam offers the choice of a formal dining room, grill, restaurant and two caf├ęs  for dining, a variety of bars including one for wine-tasting, a theatre, cinema, two pools, health spa, beauty salon, tennis and basketball courts, a video arcade and a teen's-only activity area.


APT is offering free return flights to Russia for booking a 12-day river cruise next year.

The deal applies to the 12-day Russian Waterways cruise, for example, which operates from March and December and is priced from $5495 per person twin share. That includes cruising, shore excursions and entertainment, airport transfers and tipping, 32 meals on board, wine with lunch and dinner, Russian language lessons, selected Moscow and St Petersburg highlights and ballet performance in St Petersburg.

Cruising is on the newly-rebuilt 212-passenger river ship ms Amakatarina which boasts four decks and two restaurants. It cruises along the Volga, Svir and Neva rivers, exploring the forested islands, lakes and rural Russia.
Guests will find themselves amongst history and power as they walk across Red Square in Moscow, see the onion domes of St Basil's Cathedral in person, venture behind the walls of the Moscow Kremlin and become lost in a different era at The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.

On Kizhi Island, they'll stroll the open-air museum of wooden architecture and see structures that represent ancient Russian architecture such as the Transfiguration Church, built in 1714 without a single nail.

Cruising the Volga River, meanwhile, will offer the chance to discover the rural Russian way of life... and visit to a local family in Uglich for a home-cooked Russian meal.

Finally on the Trans-Siberian Express rail journey, they'll wind through tunnels and along cliff-side tracks while absorbing the grandeur of Lake Baikal, framed by snow-capped peaks, and enjoy a taste of Mongolia in a traditional Mongolian Ger (Yurt).

The deal applies to bookings made before November 30 and requires the traveller to pay airfare taxes of approximately $700.

Contact: call 1300 229 804, visit or see you travel agent


ALL the colour, buzz and pageantry of World Expo 2010 have just reaffirmed how much a leading light Shanghai is on the world stage.

To imagine that by the time the curtain is lowered on this six-month long celebration of culture and global achievements (October 31,) 70 million people will have filed through the 130 or more pavilions.

That's three times the population of this giant Chinese city, three times that of Australia.

More than 190 countries and 50 international organisations are represented in a "village" that covers over 5.28 sq kms, one fifth the size of Macau.

"World Expo is much bigger than the Olympics - and it lasts much longer," said Helen Wong, managing director of Helen Wong's Tours, the only private company authorised to sell World Expo tickets in Australia. "It's the greatest show on earth and it provides a fresh and even bigger opportunity to take THAT trip to China," she said.

In conjunction with the major event, which opened in a blaze of colour on May 1 and will ultimately stage 20,000 events, Helen Wong's Tours has a nine-night Shanghai Word Expo 2010 program which combines four nights in the host city – two days set aside to venture through Expo and marvel over the exhibits – with extra nights in Hong Kong and Macau, price starting at $2980 per person, twin share, including return economy class air fares from Australia and accommodation in first class hotels.

Daily breakfasts, transfers and tours with English speaking guides are also included along with China visa, travel kit, taxes and fuel charges, and each traveller is provided with a two-day Expo Pass.

For independent travellers seeking a stopover in Shanghai, Helen Wong's Tours has two, three and four-night packages with passes to Expo. This offer also includes airport-hotel transfers with English-speaking guide, transfers to Expo, daily breakfast and accommodation in a choice of four 4-to-5 star hotels.

Land-only price starts at $420pp twin share for the two-night package, from $570pp, twin share for the three-night package, from $730pp, twin share for the four-night pack.

Details: Helen Wong's Tours, 1300 788328 (or see your travel agent),

Yangtze River Cruise


John Crook 

Tall ships for wooden boat festival

The biennial Australian wooden boat festival awaits your visit when the festivities get underway from February 11, next year.  Unlike so many other festivals this one offers free admission.  There will be around 620 crafted wooden boats, an extensive model boat collection, through to boat handling demonstrations.  Too good to miss.  So whilst this may be an early plug, I'm so aware that it's events such as these which so often see the 'house full' sign.  More information closer to the event.  In the meantime google  Australian wooden boat festival.  

The Yangtze is one heck of an attraction

The 15-day Majestic Yangtze itinerary is on offer from $4235 per person, twin share. Departures from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth cover all the highlights including a four-night cruise.   This is an ideal tour for those passengers who want to get the most out of their China visit.  There are other packages on offer.  Check them out by calling 1300 727 998 or visiting  

Free holiday activities in Ballarat

The September school holidays mean that Sovereign Hill operates free holiday activities including panning for gold.  One of the real highlights for the kids is the junior red coats, - for conditions and inclusions,  check it out by visiting  

Lapland here we come

Time is running out to take advantage of a 20% discount on Bentours' 2010 Christmas Lapland tour.  It's a five-day tour based on Santa's home town of Rovaniemi from 23-27 December 2010.

The package combines  accommodation in a quality hotel, meals including a traditional buffet Christmas dinner and  a cram packed program of activities.  The offer is valid for new bookings made before 20 September 2010. Get in touch with Bentours on 1800 221 712 for details of optional extras or go visit  

Italy's lakes and alpine experiences

Avoid the beaten tracks of the romantic lakes district and the lower Alpine highlands, and be sure to do consider those tours which take in some of the smaller villages.  Experience Italian life, walk through the streets of Verona for a  touch of Romeo and Juliet.  So much to see and so much to do. For all the info, prices and inclusions go visit or call (07) 3396 8652. 


Visual : Yangtze River Cruise