Saturday, 31 January 2015

Borneo Tour - Long Paddock - Mantra Christchurch - Diamond Princess Japan

unnamed (18)Backyard Travel has added the Malaysian part of the island of Borneo to its portfolio, offering travellers an array of intimate and adventurous experiences among untouched rainforests, pristine coastlines, remote villages and bustling towns.
Lowland and mountain rainforests are home to a myriad of animal species, including orangutan, proboscis monkeys and a spectacular array of birdlife. The coral reefs are the most diverse in Malaysia and the highest peak — Kota Kinabalu — boasts UNESCO World Heritage billing for its incredible topography.
From modern, multicultural Kuching — ‘Cat City’ — to the remote longhouse villages of the Iban people, the diverse communities of East Malaysian Borneo each offer their own traditions, their own cuisines, their own architecture and their own unique charms for travelers to discover.

Life on the Long Paddock … a very different kind of adventure for intrepid travellers
Limited to just 40 adventurers on two journeys in May and costing $2500 per person, the Long Paddock Cattle Drive will offer a new kind of adventure for intrepid traveller — the chance to help move a mob of 500 cattle across the Hay Plains over the course of a weekend while enjoying an unprecedented level of luxury.
The ride will begin at Wanganella, 40 kilometres north of Deniliquin in southern NSW, and riders can expect to do about 10 hours of riding over two days.
With an instructor for every four riders, it is expected that guests will develop their riding skills over the course of the weekend, while more experienced riders will rise to the challenge.

 So good to see Christchurch’s resurrection … architect’s rendition of the reconstructed BreakFree on Cashel
It’s just so good to see the continuing renaissance of charming Christchurch following its earthquake devastation.
Now the Mantra Group has announced it will manage the fully reconstructed 263-room hotel located at 165 Cashel Street when it reopens in April as the BreakFree on Cashel Christchurch.
Formerly the All Seasons, the hotel was the largest property on the South Island and occupies a prime central-city location.

douro.jpg — Douro … a bright, sophisticated Portuguese city
Scenic Tours has unveiled plans for its latest vessel, Scenic Azure, to launch on Portugal’s Douro River in April 2016 and undertake 11-day journeys between Porto and Vega de Terron.
The 80-metre Scenic Azure will offer all-inclusive luxury such as private butler service, unlimited complimentary beverages including restocked mini-bar, and full-size private-balcony suites.
Scenic Azure joins the Scenic fleet of 14 luxury river cruise ships throughout Europe, Russia and South-East Asia.

One of Japan’s ‘diamonds’ … a centuries-old traditional teahouse
Cruise Express’s new 39-night ‘Diamonds of Japan’ tour this August includes an escorted six-night land tour in Japan and a 33-night voyage on Diamond Princess to Sydney visiting five ports in Japan before heading to China, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia.
The all-inclusive itinerary begins with two nights in Tokyo, rides on three bullet trains, a cruise on Lake Ashi at the foot of Mt Fuji, and visits to the grand imperial palaces, temples and exotic gardens of Tokyo and Kyoto.
Prices start from $8990 per person twin-share, including the flight to Tokyo.
Phone 1300 764 509 or visit

Europe’s highest peak … hiking in the shadow of Mont Blanc
On Foot Holidays’ new self-guided seven-night ‘Chamonix and the French Alps’ hike takes walkers through the French Alps in the shadow of Europe’s highest peak, Mont Blanc, and features charming French hamlets, dark pine forests, refreshing brooks, spectacular suspension bridges and stays each night in small, family-run B&Bs or chalets where they meet up with their luggage each day.
Daily breakfasts, two dinners and two picnics are included in the package, with walkers able to sample the Chamonix region’s famous gourmet cooking and a range of French wines.
Prices are from £805 (about $1505) per person twin-share.

Running next to a real Australian icon … the Australian Outback Marathon
Central Australia has a spectacular line up of major events this year for guests at Ayers Rock Resort.
Things kick off in April with the Tjungu Festival, meaning “meeting together” in local Anangu Pitjantjatjara language — a celebration of the best of Australian Indigenous culture, featuring an array of experiences encompassing film, art, sport, music food and fashion.
This is followed by the Uluru Camel Cup in May, the Australian Outback Marathon in July, and the Uluru Astronomy weekend in August.

Trekking in the Himalayas … a specialty of Wandering the World
Former Peregrine Adventures gurus Glenyce Johnson and Jane Reed have launched Wandering the World, a specialist travel company dedicated to tailoring exceptional walking, trekking and touring holidays.
Trips organised so far include journeys to Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, the Portuguese Camino and French Camino in Northern Spain.
Visit or contact Glenyce Johnson on 0402 910 552.

Plenty for everyone … the water-play park at Oaks Hotels & Resorts’ Caloundra property
Cuddle a koala, visit the world’s busiest wildlife hospital, enjoy a ‘splashtacular’ water-play park and stay within a tranquil oasis on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
Pay from $189 per night for two adults and two children to stay in stay in a newly refurbished Executive Family Room at Oaks Hotels & Resorts’ Caloundra property, including free wifi, noon checkout, bottle of sparkling wine, access to discounted Australia Zoo tickets, and a free ‘Sneak Peek’ pass into the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital.
The multi-level, on-site water-play park comes with water slides, fountains, a giant tipping bucket and interactive activities.
Valid for travel until November.

The vast Australian wilderness … heading through the Outback on the Indian Pacific
Save up to $819 per person on an eight-day Perth and Margaret River package during Great Southern Rail’s ‘Journey Beyond’ sale.
Pay from $1230 per person, including three nights in a Gold Service cabin aboard the Indian Pacific, three nights in Perth, and touring in Margaret River, Fremantle and the Barossa Valley.
Fare includes restaurant-quality regional cuisine, a range of Australian beverages and a selection of off-train excursions.
Valid for sale until February 28 for travel from May 1 this year to March 31 next year.
Phone 132 147 or visit

The dunes at Port Stephens … a delightful stretch to stroll along
Save up to $120 on a stay at The Retreat Port Stephens, nestled in natural bushland 10 minutes from Nelson Bay.
Pay from $387 for three nights in a two person self-catering cabin, including a breakfast-and-coffee voucher for Crest Birubi Beach.
The property includes barbecues, camp fires, a pool, a games room and a playground area.
Valid for stays until May 30.
Phone 02 4982 1244 or visit For general information on attractions, dining and events in Port Stephens,

Who’s looking at whom … close encounters with whales on Tonga. Image: Brandon Cole.
Save up to $940 per couple by getting two nights of free accommodation and two free day tours on Majestic Whale Encounters’ nine-night Tongan whale-swim holidays.
Pay from $3900 per person twin-share, including five days on the water with the whales, seven nights in casual beachside fales on the idyllic coral island of Foa in Tonga’s Ha’apai group of islands, and two nights on Tongatapu, Tonga’s main island.
Groups of eight swimmers are accompanied by an experienced guide, with cost including whale swim equipment, all transfers, and return airfares from Tongatapu to Ha’apai.
For sale until February 28 for holidays starting July 28 to August 20.
Phone 0405 594 253 or visit