Monday, 31 October 2011

Wurlitzer Wonder - Beverley Harvest Festival - Outback Adventures - Sunshine Coast


John Crook
The Wurlitzer is back
Here's the chance to catch the music of the mighty Wurlitzer.  As a kid I made a beeline each weekend to witness the offerings of Knight Barnett at the console of the Regent Theatre in Adelaide.  These instruments of glory got lost midst the music of the rock 'n roll era.   However, there are a number of outlets which feature the Wurlitzer.  One in particular has Thomas Heywood in concert at the Kingston City Hall in Melbourne.  The date – Saturday November 26, at 2-00pm. For more information telephone (03) 9556 4440.   Heywood took lessons when he was just four and performed at five.
Beverley Harvest Festival
Thanks to the good folk at York in Western Australia, I am being kept informed on some of the events and activities happening in the west. Beverley is only a short drive from Perth and you are invited to include their big festival on November 19 and 20.  The festival kicks off with a concert featuring Daryl Braithwaite and his full touring band.  For more information on this part of the world, go visit
Check these out
APT has just released its 2012 Outback wilderness adventures which carry discounts of up to $900 a couple,- with the condition that bookings are made prior to February 29 2012.  Small group 4WD adventures include Kimberley, Cape York, the Red Centre, the Top End, the gulf country, Birdsville, the Pilbara, the Flinders Ranges and Lake Eyre, during the April to October season.  For touring information, prices and conditions telephone 1300 229 or go visit  Your travel agent should have relevant information.
Sunshine Coast
Things are on the move in the high country west of the Sunshine Coast.  Mention Maleny, or the Tamarind, and luxury.  If that's a question, then the answer must be a real beauty.  Popular Sunshine Coast hinterland property, Spicers Tamarind Retreat, has continued its expansion with the addition of six new two-bedroom pavilions.  Truly, a slice of heaven. If there's a glimmer of interest, take my advice and go straight to or telephone 1300 311 429.  Spicers Tamarind Retreat is located at 88 Obi Lane South in the Sunshine Coast hinterland.  See you there!
* 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, 24 October 2011

National Circus Centre - Phillip Island - Free Air for Gold Cruise - Asia Cruise Deal - Fiji Resort Deal

Travel Briefs

John Crook

Catch a rising star

Graduating artists shine in a stella finale performance season at the National Institute of Circus Centre in Prahran from November 23 to December 3, 2011.  Ticketing is available and bookings may be made  For general enquiries telephone (03) 9214 6975.

One heck of a place

I refer to Phillip Island where there is coastal-style adventure, wildlife galore, and such an array of local foods and wines.  Fishing is one of the popular pastimes.  Grab a rod, check  out the type of bait which is recommended and with sea breeze in your face, go out after the big ones.  If you are really keen, try one of the charter boats on offer at Rhyll and San Remo.  For information on accommodation, attractions, events, go visit or telephone 1300 366 422.

Free air fares for 2012 Europe golf cruises

Sounds pretty good to me, so how about you ?  Rounds of golf at three courses in Scotland, three in Germany and one in Austria, are now part of a new series of APT Magnificent Europe luxury river cruises with land extensions next year.   These have been launched with a free airfares offer, including air taxes of $850.  Deal bookings must be made before January 31, 2012.  The 20-day package starts in Glasgow on May 1 and September 23, while the 15-day cruise only version starts in Amsterdam  on May 6 and September 28.  All finish in Budapest.  For the full story, go visit or telephone 1300 229 804.  Visiting your travel agent could also be a good thought.

Unbeatable voyages - Sydney and UK

There are hugely-discounted prices for last-available cabins aboard the 650-passenger Discovery on a sailing from Bangkok to Hong Kong on December 19, this year.  It's now available from a low, low $2060 per person twin share for 16-nights, as well as on six sectors of Discovery's cruise from Sydney back to the UK between February and April 2012.  Conditions apply, and I would suggest you make a move as soon as you can.  This is sailing at its best, -so contact your nearest Cruiseco-specialist travel agent  by visiting

Stay four pay three

Australians visiting Fiji should check out the great stay four, pay three deal on the tropical paradise located on the island of Malolo in the beautiful Fiji islands.  Enjoy the famous Fijian hospitality from only $210 per bure per night, with the price based on a one bedroom bure, which sleeps two adults.  The offer  applies to all accommodation types and is valid until 31 March 2012, including school holidays and Christmas.  You really should check out Fiji's Walu Beach Resort.  Conditions do apply, so if you are interested, check with your travel agent, 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, 17 October 2011

Hyatt Regency Coolum - Germany at Christmas - Sydney Fish Markets - Turkey Cave Hotels - Europe Earlybirds


John Crook

Friends double up
For a spot of luxury which is a shared experience the good folk of the Hyatt Regency Coolum offer the 'lap of luxury' package for friends, offering all the privileges of its Ambassador Club.  This means that four people may share  This means two king size bedrooms, two spa bathrooms and stylish living areas.  The package is priced from AU$378  per couple per night. To learn more about the inclusions
 telephone 1800 266 586.
Germany and a Christmas Fantasy

There's a seven-day and a five-day package on offer.  Accommodation is in 3-4 star hotels. Just check out the inclusions and conditions by calling 1300 558 987.  The seven day Christmas Fantasy tour, departs Munich and is priced from $1432 per person twin share.  The five day tour departs Frankfurt and is priced from $891 per person twin share.   What a wonderful way to spend the Christmas season.

Sydney Seafood School's summer program.
Australia's largest cooking school  offers hands-on facilities for 50 guests. For those who want smaller, more intimate classes check out the packages catering for those smaller groupies.  There is a 3-course dinner school with matching wines.   Giovanni Pilu of Pilu at Freshwater and his award winning sommelier, Lara Caraturo, have their guests working in pairs to prepare three Sardinian inspired courses.  OK! For more information and bookings telephone (02) 9004 1111.  For all the info on upcoming programs go visit
Stay in cave hotels

Accommodation from cave hotels, to Ottoman mansions and historic boutique hotels provided so many different options for those joining  small group tours of Turkey.  Eastern Turkey, to be more precise.  The tours operate between May and September next year.  Priced from $1834 per person twin share the itineraries range from Troy, Anzac Cove, the lime cascades, these tours must surely be amongst the most memorable on offer.  It would pay for you to go visit   Or, why not ring 1300 853 953  ?
Earlybird airfares
There is a choice of European cities with special earlybird airfares awaiting those travellers heading into Europe.  The fares, with Cathay Pacific are available from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and yes, also from Adelaide and Perth. Destinations are London, Paris, Rome, Milan, Frankfurt and Amsterdam.  For the full story  telephone 1300 303 343 or visit

By the way, please note the airfares are for sale until March 31 2012.  There are also accommodation packages available to all six cities ranging from between $456 and $934 per person, twin share for seven nights with daily breakfasts and with some guided sightseeing.
* 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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Sunday, 16 October 2011

Amazon Cruise - Amalotus Mekong - Last Minute Hotel Deals - Northern Europe Cruise


FAR Horizons is offering an extraordinary holiday package aboard Sea Dream II, with Business Class air from Sydney for two nights each in Santiago in Chile, Bogota and colonial Zipaquira in Colombia, a further two in Barbados in the Caribbean – all with organised sightseeing – then 21-days on the inaugural Amazon cruise by award-winning SeaDream II* that carries just 112-guests, including seven days cruising south to Tobago and Devil's Island then an amazing 14-days cruising up the Amazon River.

On Sea Dream's arrival at Iquitos the tour continues by air to Lima for 2-nights at the 5-star Lima Country Club that's now a National Monument, then to Cuzco for three nights in South America's oldest continually inhabited city, with visits to the Pisac Indian Markets in the Urubamba Valley and an excursion to Machu Picchu on the luxury Orient Express train named Hiram Bingham after the man who discovered the Lost City of the Incas in 1911. 

The tour is fully-escorted by Martin and Auriel Wright, founders of Far Horizons tours in 1976. Price for the full 37-days departing on February 4 2012 starts from $43,500pp twin-share including all meals, five-star or best-available accommodation, sightseeing, and much more; spaces are limited and booking deadline is 31st October. For a fully-detailed itinerary phone 1800 083 141 or visit

*SeaDream II has just been given top rating by the Berlitz Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships in the Boutique Ships category; SeaDream II includes all 5-star onboard gourmet dining, wines with lunch and dinner, no-charge bars, nightly cocktail gatherings, a 30-course golf simulator, and gratuities. Most other meals and daily sightseeing during the tour are also included.


APT's new 62-suite luxury river ship AmaLotus has begun her career cruising Vietnam's Mekong River.

The vessel is owned and operated by APT, AMAWATERWAYS of Europe and APT's Vietnam partners, Indochina Sails.

"(She) is the most modern and beautiful ship to sail the Mekong River," said APT owner Geoff McGeary.

AmaLotus offers the largest suites on the Mekong, 90% of which have APT's unique twin balconies that give an outside balcony and glass-sided indoor conservatory that opens to create another balcony; she also has two lounges, a library, sun deck with pool and bar, spa, fitness centre and restaurant.

Passengers have a choice of Asian and Western cuisine, regional wine is included with lunch and dinner and soft drinks and local beers and local spirits are served all day.

Eight-day cruises on the Mekong River feature in nine out of 10 fully-inclusive tours in APT's Vietnam and Cambodia 2011-2012 brochure.

The eight-day Mekong River Cruise package is priced from $2995 per person twin share (based on Apr 2 departure), which includes cruise, 21 meals on board the ship, local wine with dinner, local beer, soft drinks and spirits on request, onboard entertainment, APT Tour Director, port charges, transfers and tipping.

Call 1300 229 804, see or see a travel agent.


THE downturn in domestic tourism in Australia has seen more hotels turn to bargaining directly with consumers to fill rooms.

New last-minute deals have been released on Australia's first hotel haggling site,, with properties and consumers able to bargain with each other via the website to strike confidential rates lower than available on other booking sites. Confirmation of bargained rates is received within three hours, often minutes, for accommodation up to three months ahead.

More than 1100 properties around Australia and New Zealand are willing to negotiate with consumers on Ubid4room's no-auction, no-blushing website.

Latest deals on include:

Ballina, NSW North Coast

Stay at the deluxe four-star Ballina Beach Resort, nestled by the beach in lush tropical gardens on the NSW North Coast. Offer the resort less than the already reduced rate of $155 for two per night including continental breakfast.  The full rate is $290 per night.

Gold Coast

Stay in a one bedroom apartment at the 4½-star Towers of Chevron Renaissance on the Gold Coast and offer the hotel a rate less than the already discounted tariff of $215 per couple per night (three-night minimum). The full rate is $500 per night.



HISTORICALLY rich St Petersburg, Estonia's Tallinn, Amsterdam and its interesting network of canals, and Copenhagen with its royal links to Australia are among a host of fascinating ports on MSC Cruises' ever-expanding Northern Europe program.

From the ancient routes of the Vikings to the breathtaking Norwegian fjords and the heritage-listed sites in the Baltic, the leading family-owned cruise line has a range of cruises for Australians looking to alternative programs to the more traditional Mediterranean cruises.
The 2012 Northern Europe program runs from April until October, four-night cruises beginning at $509 per person, twin share – or a little more than $125 a night.

Seven-night cruises begin at $869pp, twin share while 11 nights start from $1489.

For holidaying families, children under 18 years cruise free, providing they share a cabin with two adults, a policy adopted by MSC Cruises on all its cruises (children need only pay port charges). "When you consider the impressive ports of call and how well cruises are priced, the Northern Europe program is an exciting one," said Lynne Clarke, managing director of MSC Cruises (Australia and New Zealand).

"The itineraries provide cruise fans with the opportunity to explore a new region and experience something glorious and wonderful," she said.

Four of MSC Cruises' 11-strong fleet are engaged in the Northern Europe program with cruises ranging from four- to 14-nights.

Prices are inclusive of on-board meals and entertainment, invitations to a Captain's cocktail party and gala dinner, and port charges.

Details MSC Cruises on 1300 028502 or