THE historic Gledswood Homestead in the Macarthur region just south of Sydney is playing host to new, adults-only ghost tours that may or may not include the sounds of lost spirits and also those of dogs in the property's pet cemetery.
Run by The Crystal Shop in nearby Camden and led by psychic medium Joanne Gulson, the 90-minute torchlight tour of the rambling, 183-year-old homestead and its dark cellars will run every Friday night from 8pm and finish with a light supper at Gledswood's old cellar door to help brave, ghost-busting souls calm their nerves.
Organisers are promising to take guests "well and truly out of their comfort zone" during the ghost tours as they relate haunting stories connected to the convict-built sandstone mansion, which comes with a pet cemetery.
Built in 1829 and set amongst 64 hectares of rolling Macarthur countryside, less than 60 minutes from the Sydney CBD, Gledswood Homestead boasts magnificent colonial buildings, lush gardens and its own winery and cellar door.
The property was settled by Gabriel Louis Marie Huon de Kerillian in 1810. A French nobleman, de Kerillian fled the French Revolution and joined the NSW Corps after arriving in Australia in 1794. Changing his name to Gabriel Lewis, he was once a tutor to the sons of John Macarthur, who settled the area now named after him in 1805 and went on to pioneer Australia's agricultural and wine industries.
The new ghost tours are priced at $60pp including a light supper. Book on (02) 4655 3703; more details www.thecrystalshop.com.au
HELEN Wong's Tours' has a 12-day Vietnam Culinary Delights itinerary that has plenty to whet the appetites of food-loving travellers and budding chefs.
Beginning in capital Hanoi, this new itinerary from Helen Wong's Tours' Premium Choice programs focuses on such delectable experiences as dining at La Verticale, set in a charming 1930s villa and owned by renowned chef Didier Corlou.
In contrast, travellers will join a local farming family to enjoy a host of treats, learn how to make an authentic savoury pancake wrapped in rice paper and enjoy a simple home-cooked meal.
There's also a visit to a wet market in search of fresh ingredients for another fun cooking class which focuses on herbal remedies as well as step-by-step cooking techniques.
And guests also dine in one of Hoi An's premier restaurants before moving to historic Hue to further tickle the taste buds at a private garden home, and finally a farewell dinner at a fine dining restaurant in Saigon
The 12-day Culinary Delights tour, which also spans across to breathtaking Halong Bay and Cai Be in the Mekong Delta, is priced from $4420 per person twin share from Australia.
Price includes return international flights, guaranteed five-star hotel accommodation, domestic air fares, daily breakfast and most lunches and dinners, specified transfers, sightseeing and entrance fees with English-speaking guides.
A Vietnam visa for Australian passport holders and $420 in departure taxes, security and fuel charges (subject to change) are also included along with a Helen Wong's Tours travel kit and cabin bag.
AFRICAN experts Bench International are breaking new ground by introducing the first of a range of fully escorted tours – a comprehensive 17-day visit to Egypt.
The first tour will carry no more than 17 people and will depart Sydney on September 4. Similarly packaged escorted tours of southern Africa and east Africa will follow.
Bench has been taking Australians on holidays in Africa for more than 40 years and will draw on Australians with an intimate, detailed knowledge of the various regions to act as escorts.
The inaugural tour will travel with Bench's local expert Egyptologist and take in major sites including Cairo's Pyramids at Giza, the history of the Mediterranean city Alexandria, a five-day cruise along River Nile combined with a three night cruise on tranquil Lake Nasser, along with key archaeological sites along the way and at Abu Simbel in Upper Egypt.
The tour will also visit Philae Temple which was moved block by block and re-built on higher ground when the High Dam was built.
The tour will cost from $5595 and include return air fares from Sydney and Melbourne and $5845 from Brisbane and Adelaide with Etihad Airways, all accommodation, sightseeing and many meals, plus all meals on the Nile and Aswan Dam sectors
Bench's director of sales, Martin Edwards has been a regular visitor to Egypt for more than 10 years and will escort the first tour in September.
EASTERN Mediterranean specialists Beyond Travel have expanded their small ship sailing range for 2012 with the introduction of Vintage Gulet cruises along the coast of Turkey and are offering a 25 per cent discount from the 2012 brochure prices on the entire range of Gulet cruises.
These eight day cruises start from as little as $345 per person during April and May – that's just over $43 a day inclusive of breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, and the timing is perfect if you are heading to Gallipoli for ANZAC day this year.
Vintage Gulet cruises offer great value and accommodate between 10 and 20 passengers offering an intimate and relaxed atmosphere. Due to their size they are able to visit smaller ports and make frequent stops to swim and explore ports and islands.
An example is the Aegean Sea Cruise, a round trip from Bodrum with port visits to Cokertme, English Harbour, Karacasogut, Tuzla and Kisebuku.
Shore excursions can be purchased on board or you can explore at leisure.
Cruises run from April to September and include seven nights' accommodation in a two-berth cabin with all meals, plus an experienced captain and crew.
EASTER EVENTS FOR ALL THE FAMILY AT ACCOR BRISBANE HOTELS
ACCOR Brisbane is offering families an eggcellent Easter holiday season with great rates and an endless list of activities, festivals and events to keep everyone entertained.
With the opening of Annie in Brisbane on April 7, the Easter long weekend is the perfect time for a stay with Accor's 'stay 3 pay for 2,' special at Novotel, Mercure and Ibis hotels.
From $159 per night including breakfast and parking, the 4.5 star Novotel Brisbane is the perfect family destination to celebrate a visit from the Easter Bunny with each child receiving a special gift on arrival.
Guests fishing around for an even tastier deal will find it at Mercure Brisbane's weekend seafood buffet. With one of the best seafood buffets in the city the hotel offers a bird's eye view of the Brisbane River and South Bank Cultural Precinct.
Mercure Brisbane has rates from $149 per room per night including breakfast, and their buffet starts at just $69 per person, valid on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Or why not catch up on your sport at Ibis Brisbane from just $129 per night including breakfast when the game between Brisbane Lions and Carlton kicks off at Suncorp Stadium on April 5, 2012?
With so much happening around the city, from the John Fogerty concert on April 5, 2012, to the George Michael concert on April 17, 2012, Brisbane is an irresistible destination this Easter.
Easter offers rates are valid until April 30, 2012.
Hotel bookings can be made by calling Accor Reservation Services 1300 65 65 65 or online at www.accorhotels.com.au