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Travellers’ Good Buys Compiled By John Rozentals

November 10, 2018 Travel Deals No Comments Email Email

NSW’s Warrumbungles National Park is home to the Southern Hemisphere’s first and only Dark-Sky Park.

The park, designated in 2016 by the International Dark-Sky Association, is known as the astronomy capital of Australia — and recognised for its breathtakingly starry nights where the pristine sky is unimpeded by artificial light.

Make sure these experiences are on your to-do list:

— Camp under the stars in Balor Hut campground or stay in a historic walkers’ hut. For a more rustic experience, Burbie Camp is a remote bush camping area neighbouring a natural spring with stunning views.

— Siding Spring Observatory is Australia’s premier optical and infrared astronomical observatory. The kids will love the informative and educational astronomy exhibition with hands-on activities, augmented reality and multi-media presentations.

— Take part in an astronomy class and telescope viewing show at Warrumbungle observatory.

— Meet resident comet discoverer Donna the Astronomer at Milroy Observatory for a ‘Night Sky Show’ of the Milky Way.

Visit visitnsw.com.

The main building at Freycinet Lodge … a tasteful refurbishment including the installation of a lift.

Freycinet Lodge, nestled entirely within Freycinet National Park, offers one of the most spectacular locations for accommodation in the world, and has long been a favourite within a regional Tasmanian touring itinerary.

Now RACT has completed the first stages of the Freycinet Renewal Project, with the aim of creating spaces where visitors could immerse themselves in the state’s natural areas while enjoying quality accommodation and local food and wine.

Three new styles of accommodation spaces were created — Coastal Pavilions, Mountain Terrace rooms and the accessible Lodge King suite.

There was also an extensive upgrade of the reception, lounge, bar and dining areas in the main lodge building.

The new Coastal Pavilions blur the lines between inside and out — drawing the wilderness in, yet providing a superb level of comfort and exuding elegance in a superb natural setting.

The new Mountain Terrace rooms offer guests an immersive experience in the heart of Tasmania’s Freycinet National Park.

Nestled in the bushland beneath the vast Hazards mountain range, guests are welcomed into the Mountain Terrace rooms with glimpses of the Hazards’ pink granite peaks through double-height glass walls.

Visit www.freycinetlodge.com.au.

 Loaded with outrageous fun … the iconic Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade. Image: Jeffrey Feng Photography.

Having celebrated its fortieth anniversary earlier this year mainly by looking back on the years that were, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras will return for just over two weeks from Friday 15 February with a program that marches fearlessly into the future — and under the broad umbrella of ‘Fearless’.

The 2019 festival is bigger, bolder and more diverse than ever before, with over 100 community events, dance parties, theatre, music and family focused fun, culminating in the iconic parade on Saturday 2 March.

‘Fearless’ honours the past but also calls on the LGBTQI community to be strong, live, brave, and proud.

Chippendale’s Seymour Centre will be transformed into Mardi Gras Central and feature the awesome Festival Club.

Program highlights will include the phenomenal circus cabaret Club Briefs, Paul Mac in The Rise and Fall of St George, the inaugural Bent Burlesque featuring the stars of the Vienna Burlesque Festival, the world premiere of Shaun Parker’s KING and, from the UK, The Butch Monologues and the brilliant Cake Daddy.

Visit www.mardigras.org.au.

 A view from the deck … Norway’s spectacular Northern Lights.

Norway and Iceland are showcased in a new 2020 winter cruise/tour combination package released by Cruise Express.

The 23-night combo tour, which includes 15 nights on land and six at sea, features Norway’s Northern Lights, a husky sleigh ride, a hotel made of ice, stunning fjords and snow-shrouded villages as well as the volcanoes, geysers, hot springs, glaciers and whales that have made Iceland a leading destination for nature lovers.

The tour includes a guided walking tour along the colourful harbourfront of Bergen from where the itinerary moves to sea for a six-night voyage aboard Hurtigruten’s 690-passenger Kong Harald.

Including return flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide or Perth, the 23-night package is priced from $11,980 per person twin-share, including a $500 per person saving if booked by November 30.

Phone 1300 766 537 or visit www.cruiseexpress.com.au.

 A cosmic rarity … a total solar eclipse.

Witness the rare and spectacular event of a total solar eclipse on one of three South American packages — two on overnight deals, the third on a much lengthier Antarctic voyage — designed by Contours Travel.

The first eclipse can be seen from northern Chile in July next year. Travel north from Santiago to see the solar eclipse on the outskirts of Chile’s second-oldest city La Serena, before enjoying a one-night stay at the small coastal town of Pichidangui and returning to Santiago the next day. Prices for the one-night stay begin from $1075 per person twin-share.

The second eclipse can be viewed on the southern coastline of Chile in 2020. Travel to the coastal city of Valdivia, finding the perfect spot along the way to view the spectacle of the solar eclipse. Guests spend a night in Valdivia before returning to Puerto Varas. Prices for the one-night stay begin from $855 per person twin-share.

The third eclipse will occur over Antarctic waters late 2021. Experience these icy waters and the solar eclipse on a 20-day voyage aboard the 176-passenger Hondius, departing from Ushuaia, also taking in the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula. Prices for the 20-day cruise begin from $29,115 per person twin-share.

Phone 1300 135 391 or visit www.contourstravel.com.au.

A reflective cycle journey … along quiet roads and bike paths. Image: Visit Flanders.

Sunday 11 November marked 100 years since the end of World War I, and some of the most historically significant sites were in the French region of the Somme and the northern region of Belgium known as Flanders.

UTracks has an eight-day self-guided ‘Cycle the Western Front’ itinerary exploring this fascinating area, which is also one of outstanding natural beauty, steeped in history with rich culinary traditions.

Following the Western Front along quiet roads and bike paths, this reflective cycle journey first stops at Villers Bretonneux, where in April 1918 the Australian Corps successfully stopped the advancing German troops.

En route to Flanders visitors can stop at museums, cemeteries and moving memorials.

The locals are sure to extend a warm welcome, while the tantalising cuisine where local ingredients are sourced to produce satisfying meals, and the varying hues of the landscape will make this ride special.

Prices are from $2390 per person twin-share.

Phone 1300 303 368 or visit www.utracks.com.

 Hong Kong’s High Speed Rail System … expected to strengthen the former colony’s position as a gateway to Greater China.

Hong Kong’s High Speed Rail System connecting Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong has commenced operation.

The rail system is expected to reduce travel time by approximately 60 per cent, and is expected to strengthen Hong Kong’s position as a gateway to Greater China.

The 142-kilometre track connects Hong Kong to 44 stations across Mainland China, including six short-haul and 38 long-haul stations.

The West Kowloon Station has also opened and will be the main Hong Kong hub for the new rail network.

The station is one of the largest underground high-speed rail stations in the world, and features a pedestrian skywalk with views of Victoria Harbour and the Hong Kong skyline.

Visit www.discoverhongkong.com. 

Tomamu … some of the best dry powder snow in the country.

Set amongst the beautiful Tomamu landscape, Hoshino Resorts Tomamu is one of the largest ski resorts in Hokkaido, Japan.

During the winter, temperatures in Tomamu can reach –30ºC, producing some of the best dry powder snow in the country.

Located on the lower east side of the Hokkaido Powder Belt, Hoshino Resorts Tomamu features two ski-in ski-out hotels with English-speaking staff.

It is a convenient hub to access a variety of slopes, from easy green to challenging black runs.

The Tomamu Snow Park and Resort has a wide range of après-ski activities including snow buggy and snowmobile tours, banana boat and snow rafting, family snow picnics and baumkuchen-making.

There is also an Ice Village where guests can enjoy a casual drink at the ice bar or indulge in Hokkaido cheese fondue.

Visit www.hoshinoresorts.com/en/.

Sea Shell … a chance to explore a most beautiful and isolated archipelago.

One of the world’s most beautiful and isolated archipelagos has been re-discovered — the Seychelles, the world’s only mid-ocean islands of granite formation.

Green-covered atolls are lapped by warm crystal-clear waters, with pristine beaches, rare flora and fauna that have been cocooned in isolation for millions of years.

Together they make up a surprisingly diverse destination of striking natural beauty.

In a sailing adventure, a traditional schooner is used to explore the Seychelles main islands.

Each day allows travellers to explore isolated bays and coves and nature reserves, snorkel through marine parks and take awe in the colourful, protected habitats of rare endemic birdlife.

Prices are from $4095 for nine days.

Visit www.exodustravels.com.

 An Indian highlight … searching for the elusive Royal Bengal Tiger in Ranthambore Tiger Reserve.

From the jungles of India’s Ranthambore Tiger Reserve to cosmopolitan Singapore, Ecruising’s 28-night ‘Golden Indian Journey & the Far East’ offers a chance to experience some of Asia’s most intriguing destinations.

Kicking off in India’s capital, Delhi, in November next year, the first eight days of the advernture will be spent exploring all the colour, history, culture, cuisine and wildlife of one of the world’s most fascinating countries.

Most of the iconic attractions in northern India are included — Old and New Delhi; Agra Fort and the obviously impressive Taj Mahal; the legendary Pink City of Jaipur; the 500-year-old hilltop fortress of Amber; the 16th-century historical town of Fatehpur Sikri; and a safari in search of the elusive Royal Bengal Tiger in Ranthambore Tiger Reserve.

Then it’s a flight to Dubai for two nights in the celebrated Raffles Dubai, a stunning landmark on Dubai’s skyline inspired by the great pyramids of Egypt, before embarking on a 17-night cruise to Singapore on board Norwegian Jade.

Cruise highlights include stops at the Goan port of Mormugao in India’s south; the Maldives’ capital Malé, famous for its mosques and colourful buildings; and the Sri Lankan city of Colombo, with its eclectic cross-section of Buddhist temples, bustling street markets and scenic ocean views.

An overnight stay in Phuket in Thailand is a chance to discover the resort city’s many facets, from hiking in the breathtaking Ao Phang Nga National Park, lounging beachside or touring its impressive temples, while a day in Georgetown in Malaysia’s Penang is an opportunity to savour some of Asia’s best street food.

Prices are from $8459 per person twin-share, including return airfares from Australia.

Phone 1300 369 848 or visit www.ecruising.travel.

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