Monday, 26 January 2009

Dawn Princess Desert Cruise

Travel Briefs – for week commencing Monday Jan 26 2009. 

By John Crook 

Magane Coupe

Renault Eurodrive offers a brilliant holiday travel option for those who like the excitement of driving  in Europe.   There are seven free days with all 21-day bookings, and even an upgrade from their smallest 3-day hatch to brand new four-door Megane Berline diesel coupe from just $51 difference in leasing costs.  Conditions apply so call 1300 55 11 60 for details, or visit 

Re-trace original flight route

December 14 1934 launched  air services between Australia and the UK. The history making event is remembered when, on March 18, twenty-two adventurers board a private prop-jet airliner in Sydney and take a three week journey to London flying as close as possible  to that original flight.  Normally carrying 44 passengers, this exclusive journey will be experienced by just 22 passengers.  The schedule includes seventeen centres along the way, including Singapore, Thailand, Burma, the Middle East , Turkey and France.  The return trip ex London  on April 8 offers another listing of exotic ports of call. Check the prices and conditions by phoning 1800 083 141, or visit  

Great Ocean Road beckons

The luxury property, Mantra Deep Blue, just has to be one of the best accommodation venues along Victoria's famous coastal road.  It's in Warrnambool which in itself is a delightful coastal city. A 'spa indulgence' pack come with a price tag of $490 per room, for two people and that includes one night's luxury accommodation in a Seascape room, two course dinner and full breakfast for two at the Water Table restaurant, two-one hour spa treatments at the Deepwater Baths and Spa, with a spa gift.   It's a winner, plus it's eco-friendly.  More information by ringing 1300 987 620, or email 

Wow !

I reckon I would book the Dawn Princess just to attack the poolside hamburger grill, the ice-cream bar and then the patisserie!  Then, at other times I'd take up the option to laze about the 77,500 tonne floating palace.  The Dubai-Sydney cruise sails from Dubai on September 21  for Mumbai, Goa, Cochin, Phuket, Langkawi, KL, Singapore, Darwin and then Sydney.   Hey, the price is also another drawcard.  Starting from as low as $4199, per person twin share, it includes one-way air fare from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Adelaide to Dubai.  Ring toll free 1300 369 848, or visit  

Fight fat

Here's the ultimate personal challenge which should have you trim, taut and terrific,- plus holiday escapes in between staying in traditional Balinese style bungalows. Bali 'bootcamps'  offer the chance to gain or improve fitness levels.  The scenery's not bad either!   Prices start from $1,095 per person twin share and that's with five night's accommodation, all meals and airport transfers.  The week long Bali Bootcamps operate on selected Sundays through March, April, May and June.  Airfares not included. Check it out by ringing 1300 799 783 or visit  

Will Ronald be there?

Should be, because the Homecoming 2009 Clan MacDonald tours will be awash with the Mac tribe.  The tours start at Edinburgh and the package is priced from $1344 per person twin share, which includes three nights accommodation, some meals and touring.  Battle sites and family history galore for MacDonald-folk.  Ok !  I hear you, what about the Campbells, the MacGregors, MacLeods and Camerons ?  Well, they too have dates set aside for their own clan tours.  Travel agencies should have all the info, - if not 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 of Dawn Princess

Monday, 19 January 2009

Ski New Zealand cheaper

Travel briefs for w/c Jan 19 2008.


By John Crook

A wild food fight

Spain’s township of Bunol runs red with rivers of tomato juice, on the last Wednesday in August, when 20,000 revellers pelt big squashy tomatoes at each other. There’s an eight-day tour which includes the tomato fights, along with Barcelona and Valencia. The tour departs Barcelona August 22, 2009, with prices starting from $1,069 per person, twin share plus a local payment if EUR250. That includes seven nights accommodation, La Tomatina festival, two days bus tour of Barcelona, tour leader and local guides. Airfares not included. Ring 131 600 for more details.

Post cruise night

The 20-night cruise from Sydney to Bangkok aboard the luxury mega-liner Diamond Princess includes calls by way of five Australian ports. Departure is February 22 2009 with a post cruise night at the Banyan Tree Bangkok, visiting Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide, Fremantle, Exmouth, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City and Sihanoukville. Time also to make use of the wonderful facilities aboard the ocean liner. Prices start from $2899 per person, twin share and that is a saving of $3400 a couple over normal prices. For all the details check or call 1300 369 848.

Gold Coast escape

The new year starts with a real bang, staying at Mantra Coolangatta Beach, where four nights comes at the price of three. Valid for sale up to February 15 and for travel until 31 March 2009, you pay from $170 per room/night. The Gold Coast is affordable,.. oh, and totally enjoyable. Get the facts by calling 13 15 17, or visit

Zurich Break, stay three pay for two

The longer the stay in Zurich, the richer the wealth of unforgettable experiences.

With the ZurichBREAK special offer, selected hotels, situated in a variety of locations from city centre to lakeside, invite guests to stay with the third night free of charge. Contact and register your interest and request rates and conditions.

Ski New Zealand cheaper

Specialist ski and snowboard operator, Skimax, has just released its latest brochure which includes value-for-money NZ options featuring well priced accommodation deals. For example seven nights quad share with two bedroom accommodation at The Hermitage Queenstown, a five-day Maxpass and seven-day executive sedan car rental. The price is from $929. Book and pay by April 30 2009 for travel between June 15 and October 15 2009. The Skimax national reservation number is 1300 136 997 (ex-Sydney metro), or (02) 9267 1655 or target

Savings on European car rentals

One good thing about the crash is that there are considerable savings all around, including discounts of up to $700 for European car leasing contracts of 17-days or longer. This applies to bookings made with globalCARS with vehicle collection before March 31 2009. Conditions apply, so best thing is to get the details from Or telephone 1300 789 992.

Port Macquarie alert

Stay two-nights at The Observatory and the kids play free. Exhaust the kids at no cost and Mum and dad get to lap up the luxury at this award-winning hotel, with accommodation in a two-bedroom ocean view apartment and receive a complimentary family pass to Timbertown heritage theme park, plus free Nintendo game hire, DVD rental and activity packs. The two-night stay package costs $438. Subject to availability in January and February. To book, telephone 1300 303 155, or on line at quoting ‘Kids Play Free Package’.

* 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 : Diamond Princess

Monday, 12 January 2009

Bollards give Geelong the edge


By John Crook 

The National Wool Museum in Geelong currently is featuring the works of  the late Jan Mitchell, the artist who created 111 bollards along the Eastern Beach foreshore. The current exhibition salutes the lady who created a substantial change to the city's shoreline.   Her painted wooden sculptures are infused with humour and a genuine fascination of her subjects.  The exhibition is on show until 1 March 2009, but her major display can be seen simply by strolling the beachfront of Geelong. 

Historic Saigon

I visited Vietnam as a war correspondent and promised to make a return after the war was over.   The 27-day fully inclusive tour into Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia now provide the chance to fulfil that promise.  The first available tour for 2009 departs Sydney March 11.  The cost is from $5,980 per person, twin share.  That includes return economy international airfares  Australia and Vietnam departure tax accommodation and meals.  Also, all local transportation in Indochina is included, along with daily tours and entrance fees.  There are seven other tours departing in 2009.  Telephone 1300 727 998 or google  

Check the 10 Commandments

Eqypt awaits as does her links with another world. Mount Sinai is just one of the major drawcards included in the offerings by leading travel wholesaler Explore Holidays.  This is the site at which Moses is believed to have received the 10 Commandments.  Join one of the on-site tours to Luxor, Aswan and perhaps Abu Simbel which is the site of  one of the most spectacular monuments in the world, namely the 3000 year old temples of Ramses II and Queen Nefertiti.  These tours are valid to 30 September 2009.  For more information or to make a booking contact your local travel agent or check  

Mount Buller in Summer ?

Snow may have disappeared but the views are just as spectacular on Mount Buller. 

Through to 1 February 2009 a Beerfest package is on offer at Mt Buller.  So after a day's biking, abseiling, trekking or horseriding, Grand Mercure Chalet invites Beerfest-package guests to quench thirsts.  Priced from $195 per room per night, that includes  accommodation for two adults and two children in a King Valley room, full hot breakfast in the Black Cockatoo restaurant, two beverage vouchers to use in beer tasting and two ice cream vouchers for the kids.  For bookings visit or ring 1800 810 200. 

Good deal between Oz and LA

Here's an alternative way to fly Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast or Melbourne  to Los Angeles, including a free stopover in Fiji at a special return economy class fare.  Fares are on sale from now until March 31 2009 and valid for travel between February 1 and March 31 2009.  Reservations and more info from Air Pacific on toll-free 1800 230 151 or check it on  

An African jewel

More than that. Mali is the jewel in the African crown and it's time to consider visiting this stunning country.  Timbuktu, the fascinating Dogon people, - even a mud mosque, which just happens to be the world's largest mud brick structure.   This tour starts and ends in Bamako. This is adventure plus with captivating villages and bustling markets. The price is from $2789, plus there's a local payment of 500 Euro.  The package includes 11 nights' accommodation, three nights camping and 14 breakfasts, five lunches and two dinners- but who's counting ?  Get the facts 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.    Need a holiday ?  We're archived on


Visual :  One of the 111 bollards created by the late Jan Mitchell.  View the collection when next in Geelong.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Travel Briefs for w/c Monday January 5 2009.


By John Crook

Dance in Adelaide

One of South Australia’s major annual events is WOMADelaide, scheduled to take place in Adelaide’s botanic gardens March 6 – 8 2009. The festival includes musical and dance performances with workshops and a wide range of arts and crafts. Two-night air and accommodation packages, with a weekend pass to the event, have prices starting from $775 ex Melbourne, $839 ex Sydney, $869 ex Brisbane and $1048 ex Perth. All prices are per person, twin share. For bookings and information contact Perchalla & Turner on 1800 136 037.

Who is Will Creedon ?

For eight years Will was one of the more colourful characters employed by the Roche group here he was successfully running Harrigan’s Irish Pub in the Hunter Valley. The magic is created there now moves to the Lambton Park Hotel, the pub which he recently purchased. The Irishman believes in the philosophy practised by the TV show, Cheers. Check it out, perhaps at his muso’s

Night on a Tuesday, or his piano night on Fridays. Good one Will. By the way, the Lambton Park Hotel is in Newcastle.

Captain Cook sailed past here

The bay named to commemorate James Cook’s visit in 1770 has to be one of Australia’s most beautiful. Close by the village centre, historic 1770 and national parks is Agnes Water and 1770 Getaway Holiday Retreat. I discovered tranquil Agnes Water several years ago. Memories are alive and continue to tempt. A most delightful couple, Michael and Vera Ferinac, live here and they sure do know how to treat guests at their fully self contained and air-conditioned luxury villas. Check their website

Incredible wildlife encounters

Not everyone gets to see the Galapagos Islands, set there about 1000kms west of continental Ecuador. Here’s your chance to be among the chosen few.

This ten-day adventure includes seven nights in the island territory with return flights from Quito and heaps of opportunities to view indigenous wildlife. Included is a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station, daily swimming and snorkelling, and return flights from Quito. There are monthly departures throughout 2009. Check prices, availabilities and conditions at

Adventure available for sale until February 17 2009

The treasures of Asia are at your disposal during a 16-night cruise taking in Malacca, Penang, Phuket, Langkawi, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Visit some of the most idyllic island. This Sun Princess cruise includes all onboard main meals, entertainment and taxes, charges and pre-paid gratuities. Pieces start from $2,829 pr person, twin share. Flights to where the cruise starts in Fremantle and ends in Geraldton, are not included. Check it out by calling 1300 363 428 or visit

One of the best

Looking for a total escape from this century ? Well, take a look at the Victorian gold mining town located just a few k’s from Maryborough. It is a treasure of a town. During the tougher months ahead it is in these small communities that we can find some respite. Talbot’s main street (pictured) reeks of a rich heritage. It’s buildings are a reminder of the glory days if yesteryear. Such views will help forget all this talk about recessions and the like. Talbot, here I come!