Monday, 30 July 2012

Fraser Island - Casella Lager - Schonbrunn Palace - Cairns Indigenous Art Fair


John Crook

Whales do warm-ups near Fraser Island

It's that tome of the year again when Fraser Island is the best place to catch sights of the whales as they travel north to give birth to thousands of humpback whales and to join the manu southern visitors (of the human kind) set for holidaying at an ultimate playground.  More information: Fraser Island.

Arvo is new premium lager

Casella is a  family-owned  Australian business, famous for its wines.  Now, it has launched the perfect lager project. Part of its overall success in Australian markets is its fruity aromas, subtle malt characteristic, - all in all an easy drinking option.
The exciting new product should be available in all leading liquor retail outlets.  Just keep the eyes opn fr the new kid on the block.  You could go visit whilst you're waiting for a taste test.

Schonbrunn Palace – an Austrian gem

One of the highlights to be included in any Austrian itinerary is the Sisi Museum.  In this, the anniversary year, prepare for your visit.  As from September the Sisi Museum will feature a look at the lives of the children of the Empress. Also catch a glimpse of the Imnpreial Carriage Nmuseum wuth the Sisi Trail.  Go visit

300 artists gather together

More than 200 artists, representing 24 indigenous art centres and commercial gallery in North Queensland, are set to showcase a range of brilliant new work at this year's display at this year's Cairns Indigenous Art fair which runs from August 17 – 19. One terrific highlight this year is a musical performance, sung in the Kuku Yalanji language by the Briscoe Sisters, with the backing of the Torres Strait Islands Choir.

* 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, 23 July 2012

Insurance, Kapunda Cake, Arcadia

P&O Arcadia in Sydney

John Crook

Look for a switched on insurance broker
Those under 70 can just file this report away until that magical age change occurs.  Try going overseas and looking for insurance. It's all there, but what a fright also waits.  I've been checking on insurance and sorry to say that the best deal which is on offer, so my insurance man suggests, -go find a good broker and that should help out when looking for OS cover.      Whatever you do, please PLEASE make sure you do have insurance.       

Kapunda - home of the best German cake in the country.

Well, that's my story anyhow.  This product has been produced for at least 50 years and whilst the South Australian town has been struggling to keep sales figures up of recent time' I would think that their new production base of nearby Kapunda, they'll be looking after my interests next time I'm in Kapunda.  I vote this German product will  do well over yet another 50 years.

Five weeks aboard the 83,000 tonne Arcadia
If time is of little consequence you should check out what's on offer with a superb holiday  which includes Buenos Aires on January 28. travelling to Brisbane (or Sydney), with so much in between. Some of the highlights along the way include the rounding of Cape Horn, Papeete, Bora Bora and Suva – just to name a few.  Get the facts by contacting  the cruise specialist people 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.   

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Friday, 20 July 2012

Struth! Smokehouse Bay a Welcome wash-out

IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says that three rotary clotheslines and two mangles on wash tubs on the foreshore of a remote island beach might appear a blot on the landscape, but they signal a welcome for those cruising around New Zealand's Great Barrier Island.

Up the coast from Auckland, uninhabited Smokehouse Bay welcomes boaties ashore to a DIY hot bath, to wash and dry their clothes, smoke fish catches in a steel fire shed, cook a barbie, boil the kettle, or tie-up the yacht for low-tide hull cleaning.

The bath's hot water comes from a heater fuelled by wood stacked under the verandah of a shack that also houses everything from spare fan belts to paperbacks, axes, pots and pans. And while our correspondent says the bath refreshingly got rid of the salt of several days sailing, it didn't quite match the luxury of his previous one some days before at Auckland's Accor Mercure.

The Webster family provided Smokehouse Bay's facilities back in the 1960s and family, friends and boating clubs have maintained them since. The island comes under a covenant that deems it open space available for public use in perpetuity, while remaining in private ownership – when a storm washed away the beach it cost $25,000 to restore it, the money coming from the Smokehouse Bay Restoration Fund (PO Box 36117 Northcote, Auckland for details and donations.)

And for bath-users a sign suggests: "Clean the bath when finished, and tell the next dirty person in the queue you've finished".


Monday, 9 July 2012

Castlemaine - Indigenous Top End - SeaDream Aussies


John Crook

Castlemaine its gold
I fist visited Castlemaine back in 1963, as the host of a TV series (yep, in the black and white days).  More recently just a week ago.  Then, I called in to check on dining options.  I was most impressed with one restaurant in particular.  Full makes to  Alexander Perry. This young chef has turned the town upside down.  So good, I will return. It does under the name of The Good Table.  Local produce to the fore.  Served  Tapas style, so  share if the sensible approach.  Should your dining partner prefer to be boring and prefer to go solo, then he/she can be catered for.   Bookings recommended.
Telephone The Good Table (03) 5472 4400.

Top End tourism

If you are interested in tourism activities which are on offer in the Top End, yourself a favour and spend some quality time downloading the following link.
What a colourful group. With thanks to
(Photograph: PLEASE CREDIT Wayne Quilliam Photography / Yothu Yindi Foundation.  Yolngu people preparing for traditional ceremonies at the 2011 Garma Festival in Arnhem Land.)

SOMEONE obviously forgot to tell a group of Australian holidaymakers aboard the world's highest-rated boutique passenger vessel earlier this month that we're supposed to be tightening our economic belts – Aussies were the biggest group by nationality and made up more than a quarter of all passengers on a sailing aboard the maximum-112 guest SeaDream I from Rome's Civitavecchia to Venice.

With a total of just 100 guests and 95 crew on this sailing, Australians numbered 26, followed by 18 from Brazil, 14 the UK, 12 Norway, 11 the USA and with the remainder from various other countries.

SeaDream Yacht Club's President, Bob Lepisto said he wasn't surprised at Aussie's outnumbering all others aboard the Civitavecchia-Venice sailing. "Since 2003 Australians have jumped from under one per cent of our guests, to now close to 10 per cent annually on SeaDream I and SeaDream II," he said.

Maybe its because all 5-star gourmet dining, wines with lunches and dinners, and that drinks from the open bars are included in the price, together with nightly cocktail gatherings, use of a 30-course golf simulator, power and sail watersports (in ports where permitted,) mountain bikes for shore excursions, and even onboard gratuities.

If you are interested in knowing more, see travel agents or visit

Please note conditions may apply to these packages and are subject to change and availability. This information is provided as a guide, Check with your travel agent.  Block out periods may apply.

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Monday, 2 July 2012

Darwin Cup - Taste Orange - Melbourne Cup

John Crook
The Top End continues to excite
Their winter season includes one heck of a line-up. August is the mainstay with events such as the Carlton Mid Darwin Cup scheduled for August 6. The Darwin Festival with theatre, dance and the visual arts. That particular  event starts August 9 and runs through August 26. For the full list of what's happening go visit the Territory.  The address is TRAVELNT.COM/FESTIVALS
Frost Fest Orange

I'm heading into Orange and surrounding districts cum August 3 'til 12th, even if it is the chance to try  a pie by the fire .That's just one of the events scheduled for Sunday August 12 at the Mandagery Creek Farm Kitchen.  Get the facts on this one and the by calling 0400 032 326.  EntrĂ©e for this event  is $15.  Here  is a snapshot of events hopefully to encourage your attendance.   The Orange Mountain Movie Night;  the Black Tie Gumboot Truffle Hunt and Dinner; Cool Night Hot Band; and of course the Warm Casserole and Soup.  Contact the organisers by visiting

Melbourne Cup
The racing world is preparing for the 152nd Melbourne Cup, Tuesday November 2012.Keith Prowse Sport and Entertainment Travel offers all the excitement that is associated with this major world event. There are heaps of packages for you to consider.  For instance, a two-night package starts from $513 per person, twin share.  That includes accommodation and a general admission ticket.  The package  includes breakfast daily and  coach transfers to and from Flemington.
For more information telephone 1300 730 023  Better still, go visit
Please note conditions may apply to these packages and are subject to change and availability. This information is provided as a guide,  Check with your travel agent.  Block out periods may apply. Need a holiday ? We are archived on