You can can can in Canberra: travel deals 18 November 2012

The Toulouse-Lautrec exhibition opens
14 December, Canberra
You can can can in Canberra, oh yes you can. You can also go ethical in Melbourne’s Fed Square or go camel, houseboat or rickshaw riding in India, in this week’s international and Australian travel deals.
Love it or hate it, Melbourne’s Federation Square is the
city’s centre. Check out Australia’s largest fair-trade and ethical festival,
Fair@Square, from November 30-December 2, then discover the world beyond the Square with a
Laneways of Melbourne tour. You’ll find tiny galleries, boutiques and some of
the world’s best street art, and snack along the way. The tour includes
chocolate, lunch and a goodies bag. Normally $69 a person, costs from $49 a
person until December 31, 2013 (excluding public holidays). 0407380969,
Eat regional food, breathe pure air: where else but our
own Tassie? Upcoming attractions on the island include the makeover of the
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and MONA FOMA, the music and art festival
curated by Brian Ritchie (ex Violent Femmes) from January 16-20, 2013. The
4-star Mercure Hadleys Hobart hotel is in the centre of the city, a National
Trust-listed building that dates from 1834. Book until November 30 for stays
until March 31, 2013. Costs from $112 a night. 1300 888 180, .
Work your frou-frou when the Moulin Rouge comes to
Canberra, at the National Gallery of Australia’s Toulouse-Lautrec
exhibition, which opens 14 December. French artist
Henri de
Toulouse-Lautrec painted the seamy side of fin
de siecle
Paris – and we’re not talking just stocking seams here. Stay at
the Mantra on Northbourne from December 14 – January 31, 2013 and they’ll
include the breakfast buffet and two adult tickets to the exhibition. Costs
from $199 until January 31, 131 517,
Concert goers and NRL
fiends have a new pad to stay at when they attend events at Sydney’s Olympic
Park with the opening of the new 4.5-star Quest at Sydney Olympic Park, which
has 140 studios, one, two and three bedroom options. Each has a fully equipped
kitchen and laundry, there’s an on-site gym and local restaurants are happy to
charge back to the hotel. Normally from $349 a night for a studio apartment,
snap up an opening rate until November 30 from $219. 1300 334 033,
The Sunshine Coast hinterland is a hotbed of galleries,
cafes and boutique food, best discovered from the town of Montville. Stay three
nights at the couples-only 4.5-star Falls Rainforest Spa cottage, pay for just
two. You’ll also get a bottle of sparkling wine and cheese on arrival, as well
as breakfast daily, on stays until March 25, 2013 (Monday-Thursday, excludes
Christmas). Costs from $279 a person, twin share, three nights. 1800 044 066,
Perth marks the start of a tour of southern WA, through
Margaret River down to Cape Leeuwin lighthouse, Albany and Esperance before
turning inland to pan for gold and oogle Kalgoorlie’s Golden Superpit. The 9-day
Southern Wonders tour includes lunch showcasing the best indigenous ingredients
at Palandri winery and takes time to stop and smell the wildflowers. Save up to
$150 a person when you book and pay for six months in advance. Costs from $3009
a person, 1300 228 546,
Currently enjoying a hotel boom, Macau is great for a
flutter, and is also ramping up its cultural gems and family entertainment. Stay
in a deluxe king room at the new Conrad Macao, in Cotai Central, and get either
a room upgrade to a deluxe suite or a complementary buffet breakfast  – featuring Portuguese-inspired Macanese
cuisine – for each night of your stay. Costs from $236 a night. +853 8113 6055,
The French Riviera hotspot of Cannes has been the star of the show, with
its film festival luring A-listers for decades. Fittingly, the InterContinental
Carlton Cannes hotels’ 39 suites are named after stars including Sean Connery,
Grace Kelly and Sharon Stone. The Belle Epoque hotel now turns 100 and the
hotel is having a party until March 31, 2013. Normally from $252, costs from $215
a night. 1800 007 697,
Sonaisali Island Resort, Fiji.
Schoolies alert! Sonaisali Island Resort is staging what
it describes as the ultimate schoolies week, with seven-night packages at half
price. The island has been chartered exclusively for schools for two weeks,
starting December 4 and December 11, and packages include return airfares,
transfers, all meals, activities, and nightly entertainment including DJs and
themed parties. There is extra security and an experienced crew who will meet
you at the airport, just 25 minutes away, and be on hand 24 hours a day. Save
$1000, costs from $999 a person. 1800 981 320,
The holistic heaven of Thailand is encapsulated in the
luxury health resort Chiva-Som, which is luring lovers of spa lusciousness with
bonus treatments between December 1-19. Stay five nights, receive seven spa
treatments, stay seven, get 10 treatments at the much-awarded resort, located
in Hua Hin, 185km south of Bangkok. Costs from $3400 a person, five nights.
1300 857 437,
Travel by camel in Shekhawati, by luxury houseboat on
Kerala’s backwaters, and by rickshaw in Jaipur on the 23-day Colours of
Mystical India tour. Journey through the southern states of Tamil Nadu and
Kerala, discovering the historic tradition maritime town of Kochi and the
French flavour of Pondicherry before heading north to Rajasthan, Delhi and
Agra. Book before March 31, 2013 and get free return flights to India with
Singapore Airlines. Costs from $12,995 a person, twin share. 1300 723 642,
Step into an unexplored world, just 500km north of
Australia, into West Timor. This new 14-day walking tour launches from Denpasar,
Bali, flying in to the West Timor capital, Kupang. Local guides will lead you
to old Dutch hill stations, markets and traditional farms, staying in local
hotels or thatch and bamboo homes in the villages, including, in one instance,
the royal family compound. The journey takes you from tropical beaches to
mountain villages, and local host Will Kadati helps with interactive
discussions with the West Timorese. Suitable for medium-level walkers, the trip
includes two days’ walking to the Biboki kingdom, discovering each region’s
unique textiles and crafts, cuisine and religions. Departs June 28, 2013. Costs
from $2865, per person, twin share, ex-Denpasar. 1300 783 188,
Source: Belinda Jackson, Sun Herald newspaper

The art of relaxation: Noosa

Flat out in Noosa, Qld

When we’d talked
about a girls’ weekend away, the plans were laid for lovely spas, lazy brekkies
and dips in Noosa’s warm waters. I hadn’t factored in toads or fisticuffs
but, hey, I’m flexible. 
Girlfriend Mel and
I pile way too much luggage for three days into a lipstick-red Kingswood
V6 hire car at Maroochydore airport and hit the road, ready for beaches, art
classes and too much eating. 
The roads are slick with rain, and you know you’re
in Queensland when you feel that special sensation beneath the wheels: the
popping of cane toads. It’s deeply satisfying to know we’re doing our bit for
the environment.
The deadly sins of
greed and sloth are not the only thing egging us on down the road. What is it
about the locals? Are they taught hairpin-bend-tailgating at school? I take a
leaf out of my grandmother’s book of driving and wind down my window to shake
my fist at a woman who glues herself to the Kingswood’s backside as we wind
uphill through dark, damp rainforests into the Sunshine Coast hinterland, for a
day of art and spa at the Natural Beauty Retreat.
Eating at XO
The hamlet of
Dulong is where Tina Rossiter has set up a series of art-meets-spa days. It
sounds delicious: a small group meets to paint and, in between, each artist is
whisked off for a facial.
It’s been years
since most of us wielded a brush, but Sabine, a willowy blonde Austrian and a
successful artist in her own right, has photocopied photographs of nudes that
we will draw freehand with charcoal, then transfer on to the canvas to paint
with acrylics.
At Tina’s sprawling
house, our easels are set up on the deck overlooking a pool and Balinese hut
lined with absurdly green palms and bamboo, which kookaburras flit between.
Occasionally, rain drums on the corrugated iron roof, and Sabine sets about
coaxing out our inner berets. 
As we work away, Tina steals us away, one by one.
Each lucky girl emerges smiling and fresh-faced, smelling of Tina’s luxurious,
organic, handmade cosmetics following a relaxing facial, with hand and feet
massages for good measure.
By the end of the
day, I’ve painted what obviously is a masterpiece, my take on a photograph
reminiscent of Max Dupain’s Sunbaker, while Mel’s saucy girl should be snapped
up by Sotheby’s soon.
The drive back down
to Noosa is spent window shopping: we could buy local honey, bags of avocados
for $2, get a psychic reading or purchase a pure-bred droughtmaster bull from
$1100. Funds permitting, we could buy an entire hobby farm, such is the
diversity of the handmade signs. Roadside commerce is thriving in this neck of
the woods, even though the Sunshine Coast has more roundabouts than Canberra.
Noosa Main Beach
Our bed for the
night is the Outrigger in Noosa, which recently opened new villas and
penthouses. It’s not to be confused with an older property in the Noosa area
that snagged the Outrigger name some years ago. This is the real deal of the
Hawaiian resort group: a five-star, $300 million resort with 197 suites, villas
and penthouses, three pools and all the trimmings, from gym to sauna,
conference facilities and, of course, the Brisbane institution Stephanies Spa,
which has hung its plaque here.
Stephanies Ocean
Spa is one of those places you wish you could transplant into your bathroom –
coastal scents and zen music that doesn’t sound corny. Despite the name, there
are no coastal views but the flotation tank looks out on to a wall of
rainforest, so Mel and I strip to bikinis and spend an hour letting go, as the
salt water buoys us in the closest approximation to an Aussie Dead Sea. It is
deeply weird, as we keep bumping into each other, like ships in the night, in
the long pool. A therapist later tells me that when you are truly relaxed, you
stop sailing about, and one hour equates to a night’s deep sleep.
The Outrigger is
set in the rainforest just above Noosa’s happening Hastings Street, with its
Italian fine-dining restaurant Berardo’s, but Noosaville’s where it’s at for
new food, and we head there for dinner the next two nights. The old River
House, former home of Sunshine Coast chef David Rayner, has been revived as the
River Cottage Restaurant, where the spanner crab risotto is legendary and degustations
are on the menu.
David himself has
moved around the corner to Thomas Corner Eatery. A hot tip: skip the meaty
mains and order up big on the entrees to share – charcoal-grilled octopus,
Moreton Bay bugs, clams and pork and rabbit rillettes, which our French waiter
says are “better than the French ones”. Oh, and ask for table No. 20,
the garden table set apart from the masses, which backs onto a wall of ferns,
with great street and kitchen views. Sitting at the high bar tables or the shared
timber tables, we spot plenty of thongs and shorts on show in the open-air
restaurant, which is flat-chat doling out Bowen mango daiquiris and limoncello
Outrigger Litle Hastings St Resort, Noosa
If I’d had the time
and ability, I’d have eaten yet more spanner crab at Pitchfork in the
jam-packed Peregian Beach shops, and followed with lycheetinis at Embassy XO’s
secretive, glam little upstairs bar in nearby Sunshine Beach after a good
rummage through the chic shops. Then I would have sampled the Franco-Thai
bistro menu at Gaston (50 Hastings Street) or headed down to Q Place, a new
food precinct led by Noosa staple Rickys and Japanese eatery Wasabi, formerly
of Sunshine Beach, now with a fabulous water view and wearing a hat, thanks to
the new Queensland Good Food Guide.
The last we can
manage is a pre-flight morning coffee at Aromas cafe on Hastings Street.
“Soooooo Noosa, darling,” says the friend who tips me off about the
cafe, with its menus designed by beloved Brisbane chef Philip Johnson. “We
all sit in the European-style tables on the footpath and see who’s in
Let me tell you
who’s in town: massive brush turkeys, who perch on the backs of the seats,
preening themselves ’til the staff chase them away with fluttering dishcloths.
They’re a bit wild, a bit vain, very cheeky and they know the best table in
town – that’s Noosa in a nutshell.
more outdoor things to do
1 Amble along the Sunshine Coast nature
trail. The classic Noosa walk is the Noosa Heads coastal walk. There are five
tracks — ranging from one kilometre to eight kilometres — which will take you
through rainforests, up to lookouts and along the beaches. You can do an
hour-long circuit, spotting koalas on the way, or a one-way walk down to the
spectacular surf beach, Sunshine Beach, for a swim and a brew at the excellent
Costa Noosa Espresso cafe.
2 Wander through the bushland setting of
the fabulously massive Eumundi Markets to admire clever street performers, buy
up local cheeses and produce, fondle cheesecloth and snack on street food every
Wednesday, 8am-1.30pm, and Saturday, 7am-2pm. For a fashion hit, local
designers gather on the beach at sleek Peregian Beach’s market on the first and
third Sunday of the month, 7am-12.30pm. Stick around afterwards as local bands
provide the soundtrack for lunch.
3 Take a cruise down the Noosa River for
afternoon tea amid the pristine wilderness. Snappers take note: it’s estimated
that nearly half of all Australia’s birds hang here at some point during the
year, more than in Kakadu. To experience the wetlands’ impossible stillness,
extend the day by taking a canoe through the waterways before cruising back to
busy Noosa. Costs $75 adults cruise only, $119 canoe and cruise. (07) 5449
4 “Nature is your playground,”
says fitness goddess Nikki Fogden-Moore, who knows all the best local spots for
bushwalks, road biking or, hey, even a triathlon following Noosa’s famed
course. Fear not, those looking for a little light exercise are just as
welcome. Join a sunrise yoga session at Little Cove, just beside Noosa’s Main
beach, or up at the Boiling Pot lookout in the Noosa National Park, from $25.
Or go all out with your girlfriends and hire a personal trainer for an ocean
swim and run through the bushland or whatever exercise your body desires. Costs
$75. 0428 198 911,
Learn to surf in the warm waters of the
Sunshine Coast. Beginners, try Tropicsurf for 1½-hour private lessons, costs
$180 a person, or $360 a family, or book a full-day trip to Double Island Point
for a family day of surf lessons, sandboarding and barbecuing with the local
roos. Costs $720. (07) 5455 4129,
Otherwise, focus on your core and find your abs with stand-up paddleboarding
queen Donalee Halkett. 0423 869 962.
Getting there Virgin
Australia and Jetstar fly Sydney-Sunshine Coast daily. Otherwise, fly to
Brisbane and drive 90 minutes to Noosa.
Staying there Outrigger
Noosa starts at $279 in a one-bedroom apartment including breakfast, Little
Hastings Street, Noosa. 1800 726 591,
Painting there Art
Spa parties at the Natural Beauty Retreat cost $220 a person.
Relaxing there Mineral
flotation colour therapy costs $89, Stephanies Ocean Spa, Outrigger
Eating there River
Cottage Restaurant, Thomas
Corner Eatery,
Aromas, 32 Hastings Street, Noosa.

Peace in Bali, bustle on the Bund: travel deals 11 November 2012

Cinque Terre, Italy

Peace is found in Bali’s Tabanan district and in a Tuscan villa. Or find fabulousness on Shanghai’s Bund and Hobart’s Salamanca market in this week’s Australian and international travel deals. 

Named one of the state’s top pubs by the AHA, the 4.5-star
Walkers Arms Hotel is spitting distance from the CBD, in happening Walkerville.
The hotel has a huge beer garden and there are gigs on Friday nights, DJs on
Saturdays and live acoustic music on Sundays. Save 20 per cent on stays until 28 February. Costs from $135 a night. 130
130 483,

Budget hotel aficionados know the Traders hotels: owned by the luxe Shangri-La gang, they’re aimed at 4-star corporates, with the benefits and panache from a glam big sister. Australia’s first Traders Hotel has opened on Brisbane’s Roma St, with prices starting from $289 weekdays and $159 weekends, always with free wi-fi. It’s celebrating the opening with a ‘Stay Connected’ package that includes one night’s accommodation in its recently, 34sqm renovated rooms, and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, all for the retail price of the tablet, $459. (07) 3238 2222,

Sofitel Melbourne
The acclaimed play ‘War Horse’, about a man and horse’s journey through World War I, makes its Australian debut at Melbourne’s State Theatre Art Centre in December. Well that’s a good excuse to head south. Usually, a night at the Sofitel on Collins costs from $260. The ‘stay and see’ package includes a five-star sleep for two and one ‘A’ Reserve ticket, worth $124, from December 23 – February 10, 2013. Costs from $269 a night. 1300 306 341,

It could well be the best deal in town: stay in one of
the Sheraton on the Park’s 48 suites, take home a Boucheron diamond. Between
November 17-25, and you’ll be on a treasure hunt for a diamond pendant and a
diamond bracelet hidden in the suites, but could be consoled with other surprises
including a splash from Moet, bath butler service, Polynesian spa treatments by
Thalgo or a sparkling midnight swim – it’s a surprise, people. Costs from $599,
includes access to the Sheraton Club, with pre-dinner drinks, canapés and
breakfast on Level 21.  (02) 9286 6000,
The Tarkine, Tasmania
Hobart’s been cosying up with San Fran, Amsterdam and
Beijing, all named in Lonely Planet’s top 10 cities to visit in 2013. The new
Unknown Wilderness itinerary from Inspiring Journeys travels from Launceston to
Hobart, visiting the mountains, lakes and rivers in between, not to mention
dishing up your fair share of wine and cheese. Departs from January 31 to April
28 with more dates pending: book six months in advance, save $190. Costs from
$3750 a person, twin share (excluding flights) 1800 467 747,
Play spot the croc along Australia’s remote north-western
coastline. This 22-day adventure travels in coach-style 4WDs from Darwin to
Perth, crossing the Kimberley until the Coral Coast. Includes cruises on the
Ord River and through Katherine Gorge at sunrise and four nights at Bell Gorge
and Bungle Wilderness Lodge. Save up to $575 a person when booking six months
in advance, until December 31, for travel May 1-September 30, 2013. Costs from
$10,920 a person, twin share. 1800 044 066,
Palais Amani, Fez, Morocco
Your home in the open-air theatre that is Fez is a riad;
those perfumed, inward-facing homes beloved by Morocco’s old merchant class.
With only 14 rooms, the luxury riad,
Palais Amani, is set within the medina. Normally from
$169 a night, save 33 per cent on stays until January 31, 2013, excluding
December 20 – January 1, 2013. Includes a traditional Moroccan breakfast, and a
spa with hammam and rooftop showers for those hot summer nights. Costs from $125
a night, minimum three nights’ stay. 1300 896 627,
Shanghai’s promenade the Bund has another swanky
resident, the Banyan Tree Shanghai On The Bund. Its 130 rooms overlook the Bund
and the Huangpu River. Check out the three-floor spa and 150-minute hot stones
therapy, made more delicious by a 30 per cent discount. Until February 28, get
your second night free and half-price on all subsequent nights, breakfast and
free non-alcoholic minibar on stays in the riverside retreats. Costs from $460
a night. +86 21 2509 1188,
Alila Villas Soori, Tabanan, Bali, Indonesia
Bali’s Tabanan district is famed for its traditional
dancers and gong (gamelan) orchestras, and private viewings can be arranged by
Alila Villas Soori, a collection of villas set between beach and rice paddies.
Save 20 per cent off the internet rate when you book one of their newly
relaunched Mountain Pool villas, when booking seven days in advance for stays
until December 19. Costs from $490++. +62 361 894 6388,
From your base in the spa town of Salsomaggiore Terme,
you’ll explore Bologna, Milan, Cinque Terre and then Lake Maggiore in this
eight-day Hidden Treasures of Northern Italy tour. Book before December 27 to
get an early-bird fare of $1475 for return flights with Cathay Pacific to Rome,
and book four months in advance to save 2.5 per cent on the tour cost. Costs
from $1134 a person, twin share. 1300 230 234,
A Contiki tour through Europe is a rite of passage for
first-time travellers. Tick off all the biggies – Paris’ Eiffel Tower, Rome’s
Coliseum, Athens’ Acropolis, Amsterdam’s red light district – in one fell swoop
on the 33-day European Explorer. You’ll also get into the boat in Venice, shake
it in Mykonos and dream on the Isle of Capri. Book before December 27 for
travel from April to September 2013 and save up to $620. Costs from $5154 a
person, twin share. 1300 266 845,  
Cycling, yoga, Italy: the recipe for perfection. Throw a
little hiking in, as well as a 17th-century country villa near Lucca, Tuscany, and
it’s music for the soul. This seven-night retreat sees you practising yoga each
day, with views of the villa’s olive groves and peaceful panoramas, and cycling
through quiet country lanes. Yes, there is eating. This is Italy, after all.
There’s one completely free day in the midst of the retreat for guests to do as
they please, and non-cycling friends and spouses are welcome. “It’s a retreat,
not a boot camp,” says organiser Virginia Slevin, and there are no
super-humans, the 14 guests require just a general level of fitness. Runs from
June 8-15, 2013 (yoga & cycling) and June 15-22, 2013 (yoga, cycling &
hiking). Costs $2450 a person, twin share with a shared bathroom, or $2855 with
a private bathroom. 0407 788 600,
 Source: Belinda JacksonSun Herald 

Twenty reasons to visit Seminyak

Surfers on shore at Legian beach.
Surfers on shore at Legian beach. Photo: Getty Images

1 Kopi luwak
“Civet coffee, where cherries are passed through the native cat”, is a very nice way to describe the natural process of creating Bali’s special kopi luwak (or civet coffee). By passing through the civet’s digestive tract, the coffee beans are mellowed out, creating what’s arguably the world’s most expensive coffee. Cruise homewares and sip kopi luwak at Becik (Jl Dhyana Pura 4, +62 361 737 816) or pull up a chair, poolside, and sip at Anantara Seminyak hotel (Jl Dhyana Pura, +62 361 733 7773, Expect to pay about $9 a cup. (PS: jalan, abbreviated to Jl, is Balinese for “street”.)
2 Bodyworks
In a land of cheap spas, Bodyworks has the edge. It’s cheap, efficient and the 80-plus staff will try to squeeze you in for that urgent facial/pedicure/hairdressing fix. Expect to pay about $20 or less for most services. “And you’ll always get a reliably good treatment every time,” Bali-based Australian fashion designer Penny Pinkster says. “I opened my second boutique next door so I could pop in when it’s quiet.” (Jl Kayu Jati 2, Petitenget, +62 361 733 317, Jari Menari (“dancing fingers”) also gets a guernsey for its yoga-influenced stretching massage, from 300,000 rupiah ($30) (Jl Raya Basangkasa 47, +62 361 736 740,

3 Rooftop dining
Seminyak is having a love affair with rooftops. And why not, when the weather is this good? SOS Supper Club, on the roof of Anantara Seminyak hotel, is the leader of the pack, with nightly DJs and unfettered views of the Indian Ocean. Book a table under the stars for a steak dinner or flop on a day bed to snack and watch the stars come out with a Bali Classic in hand (strawberry, lime, cranberry, lychee with pomegranate juice and sparkling wine) or a pitcher of SOS punch. Of course, they do bottle service, too (Jl Dhyana Pura, +62 361 737 773,
4 Beach sunsets
South Bali is blessed with sunsets over the water and the cheapest entertainment in town is a walk along the long stretch of Seminyak beach at 6pm. On the way, you can buy drinks, hire a surfboard, rent a sun lounger or just park on the sand to watch the golden sun dip down over the Indian Ocean. Sunday is the day off for most workers in Bali, and everyone heads to the beach. Pop down late afternoon to see a slice of local life, from kite flying to beach soccer and plenty of perambulating.
Pura Petitenget temple.
5 Pura Petitenget
In a land of temples, even Seminyak’s crazed real estate scene pauses for religion. Pura Petitenget is just beside the beach, and the quiet, well-maintained Hindu temple gives respite from the traffic below. Don your sarong, wrapped over trousers, and visit just before sunset when the light catches the mossy sculptures for a quintessentially Balinese moment.
6 Boutique fashion
The island’s best fashion is found in Seminyak, with beautiful, often handmade clothes at a price you’ll never find in Australia. Fondle a soft charcoal jersey at Buddha Wear (Jl Oberoi 15X, and see what the Brazilians are up to at chic and sexy Lulu Yasmine (Jl Oberoi 100, and Lily Jean (Jl Oberoi 102X or Jl Mertanadi 73X, Kerobokan for the sale shop, For Parisian “Bourgeois Boheme”, visit Magali Pascal (Jl Oberoi, 177X), and Animale is a good stop for understated menswear (Jl Raya Seminyak 31, For accessories, check the gorgeous strappy flats at Kumuru (Jl Raya Seminyak 67) and TropicSurf’s Jack Chisholm suggests you check out Drifter for classic surfboards, imported surf clobber and good Indonesian coffee (Jl Oberoi 50,
7 Petitenget
Move over, Jl Oberoi (aka Laksmana or Kayu Aya) and Jl Dhyana Pura (aka Abimanyu), Jl Petitenget is the hottest dining strip at the top of Seminyak, with Metis and Sarong firmly on the faves list. The hot new ticket is the Petitenget, next door to Pura Petitenget, which serves “modern bistro” for breakfast, lunch and dinner. At the latest venture of restaurateur Sean Cosgrove of Corner Store fame, sit on the terrace and order the poached chicken salad with pistachio and celery with a mandarin Bellini, or seek respite from the heat in its cool, chic lounges (Jl Petitenget 40X, +62 361 473 3054,
8 Surfing
It doesn’t have the wild reef breaks of Uluwatu and west Bali, but the long straight beach at Seminyak is a beginner’s paradise, says Bali surfer Jack Chisholm of TropicSurf, who teaches families and beginners out the front of Anantara Seminyak. “Anantara’s beach also has fun, peaky waves out the back that will keep even advanced surfers happy.” Other reliable locations include the stretch in front of Ku De Ta, popular with intermediate Europeans looking for an easy ride to practise their skills, and at the end of Double Six Road. The surf season runs from April to November, and is best in the mornings before the trade winds kick up. The big beachfront hotels have their own lifeguards, too (
9 Tailors
Forget the $100-and-six-week turnaround of Aussie sewing shops, Bali’s tailors are fast, cheap and obliging. Say hi to tailor Ipong at Tidy Tailors for quality fabric and experience (Jl Kayu Aya 8, +62 361 736 603), while super-fast nips, tucks and copies can be squeezed in at busy Mode Kara: bring your beloved clothes for remakes or repairs (Jl Oberoi 88, +62 361 735 788).
Biku PIC: Belinda Jackson
10 Interiors with a Balinese twist
Seminyak’s interior shops are a haven of treasures for stylist, creator of the Fashion Assassin label and 37-time Bali visitor Alex Zabotto-Bentley ( His top five interior faves comprise Horn Emporium, where owner Anita scours Jakarta for early Dutch antiques, while Namu is worth a stop for its very modern, very chic decorative arts from resin. He also lists Kody & Ko for its 2Pac timber effigies, while Carga pulls apart Balinese designs with a Western treatment (Jl Petitenget 886, +62 361 847 8173). “And Geneva is the craziest warehouse on Earth, with beautiful cut coconut-wood tapas trays to bizarre bronze owls,” he says. “Absolutely mental.” (Namu, Jl Petitenget 234X, +62 361 279 7524; Carga, Jl Petitenget 886, +62 361 847 8173; Horn Emporium, Jl Petitenget 100X, +62 361 4738 330; Geneva, Jl Raya Kerobokan No.100, +62 361 733 542; Kody & Ko, Jl Kayu Cendana C002).
11 Biku
Pull up a pew for coffee and a tarot reading at the fantastical joglo (teak house) that is Biku, a gorgeous destination cafe. Fifteen-minute tarot readings cost 80,000 rupiah. The only downside is that everyone knows it’s fantastic. Phone ahead to reserve a table and order the Asia High Tea for two (170,000 rupiah), in which tiers of samosa, Vietnamese spring rolls and ayam sisit (Balinese shredded chicken) are served with green tea, oolong or perhaps masala chai. Yes, they do scones, and the signature cocktail is the Biku coconut martini (Jl Petitenget 888, +62 361 8570 888,
12 Snakeskin accessories
Vegans, look away, but for the rest of you, dyed snakeskin accessories are a hot buy from Seminyak’s fashion stores. Find gorgeous clutches, belts and ballet flats, all handmade in Bali from Indonesian python skin, and a steal from $50. Try Naputo or sister shops Prathivi (Jl Raya Seminyak 16, Jl Kayu Aya 15,
13 One for the kids
Until you travel in Bali with kids, you have no idea how kid-friendly it can be. Seminyak is chock-full of beautiful villas, with separate kitchens, big bathrooms and pools, making travel with kids a no-brainer. Nannies booked through villa complexes or hotels cost about $8-$9 an hour, with even better day rates negotiable. Cute kids’ boutiques include French designer Clara Mia‘s divine little costumes (Jl Oberoi 43, +62 361 733 893).
14 Sensational seafood
Mamasan restaurant
PIC: Belinda Jackson
Pull up at smokin’ Mamasan, the cooler little sister to Seminyak dining stalwart Sarong, and order the snapper dumplings for a taste epiphany (Jl Raya Kerobokan 135, +62 361 733 072, Those in the know earmark Sundays for a spectacular seafood buffet at the W Seminyak’s beachside Starfish Bloo, which costs 475,000 rupiah a person (Jl Petitenget, +62 361 473 8106, Ubudphiles stranded in the craziness of Seminyak should head to Sardine for seafood and organic produce while overlooking the rice paddies (Jl Petitenget 21, +62 361 843 6111,
15 Beach bars
A long-time Bali fave, the pouty Ku De Ta, has a rival: the hottest place in town to watch it all go down is Potato Head, a beach club-cum-restaurant on the sands of Seminyak beach. Big and busy, the potential madness is tamed by groovin’ Marvin Gaye or perhaps some Curtis Mayfly. Order from the casual menu, from its pan-Asian restaurant Lilin or Tapping Shoes‘ French fine dining after 6pm. There’s a minimum spend on the beachfront sun loungers (about $50), but get in before the 6pm pre-sunset rush. Kids are welcome, and there’s even a kids’ pool. No Bintang singlets, 11am-2am daily. If you’re into keepin’ it real, grab a beanbag and a jug of sangria at the ultimate beach bar La Plancha for sunset (Potato Head, Jl Petitenget, +62 361 473 7979,; Ku De Ta, Jl Oberoi, +62 36 173 6969,; La Plancha Double Six Beach, +62 361 890 0000,
16 Made’s Warung
Don’t be expecting the usual dingy tiles and rickety tables at the island’s most famous warung (restaurant). Made’s is all-singing, all-dancing, with a cute little Balinese dance show each night. Noisy and fun for first-time visitors, order the Balinese plate for a taste of the warungs (or go the Japanese menu, the Italian, the Western – you get the picture). The shops within the Made’s complex make for surprisingly good, upmarket browsing (Jl Raya Seminyak,
17 Ethical shopping
Stylish indi vie is one of a handful of sleek retail outlets selling environmentally sound homewares, locally designed ceramics and jewellery and ethically produced Balinese handcrafts, with profits going to charities such as those helping the island’s street children in Made’s Warung shops (Jl Raya Seminyak, +62 361 730 927). Find similar products in retro-cool Press Ban cafe (Jl Oberoi 50, +62 361 730 486). For a totally Balinese souvenir, grab a beautifully made, locally designed Bali Towel, complete with handmade tassels. The towels are found in top resorts, Lily Jean and uber-emporium Word of Mouth (Kunti Arcade, Jl Kunti, The “Nyoman” is modelled on the classic black-and-white saput poleng temple material, from $40 (
18 Kangkung
If you’re iffy about eating meat abroad, Bali doesn’t disappoint. The king of vegetables, kangkung, is water spinach tossed with garlic, chilli, tomato, galangal and shallot and served with rice: a powerhouse on a plate. Hit the lunch buffet at Warung Kolega (Jl Petitenget 98A), Warung Ocha (corner Jl Raya Seminyak and Jl Dhyana Pura) or the highly rated Warung Sulawesi (Jl Petitenget).
19 Cocktail hour
Indonesia’s crippling taxes don’t encourage wine binges. If Bintang beer isn’t your bag, you’ll just have to drink cocktails stuffed with tropical fruit. Hot spots include upstairs at Mamasan for Lychee Banshees (Jl Raya Kerobokan 135), the low tables at the front of Chandi for a spiced, herbed Mojito (Jl Oberoi 72), buzzy Cubana (Jl Petitenget 12B, and old fave La Lucciola (Jl Petitenget, +62 361 730 838) or any of the beach bars mentioned above. Finish with a glass of pop at the Champagne Bar (Jl Oberoi 42C, +62 361 737 889).
20 Luxe-tastic villas
Ombak Luwung Villa
You may be in the crush of Seminyak, but those tiny gangs (Balinese for “lanes”) hide lush, sprawling villas. Those on a budget should check out Maca Villas, from $138 a person,, Serene Villas‘ one-bed villas from $212 a night with early-bird and last-minute specials (, or the fully staffed three-bedroom Villa Natura, which is $US295 ($284) a night, ( For a villa with the buzz of a hotel, try the Elysian, from $US385 (, or Royal Seminyak MGallery Hotel’s one-bedroom villas start at $620 ( The four-bedroom Jaja-Liluna, comprising three self-contained pavilions around the pool, costs from $925 a night (, while the oceanfront Ombak Luwung starts at $1500 a night (

SOURCE: Belinda Jackson, Sun Herald 

Gangnam style and buffalo stations: travel deals 4 November 2012

Bamurru Plains, Northern Territory, Australia

Let’s talk Victoria’s (shopping) secrets, Gangnam Style in Seoul and, for a complete wildcard, buffalo stations in the Territory, in this week’s best Australian and international travel deals. 

Melbourne’s shopping scene goes into overdrive during the
Spring Racing Carnival, throughout November. Stay in the thick of it all, in a
studio deluxe suite at the new Fraser Place Melbourne aparthotel, near Carlton
Gardens. They’ll add in internet and continental breakfast for two on stays
before December 30, and the hotel is on the free city tramline, so you don’t
even have to buy public transport tickets. Costs from $160 a night. 1800 372
The main lodge at Pethers Rainforest Retreat, Qld
Tambourine Mountain, an hour south of Brisbane, is lush
rainforest on the appropriately named Scenic Rim, best viewed from the Rainforest
Skywalk. The adults-only Pethers Rainforest Retreat is celebrating a decade in
the business with a midweek romantic getaway. Stay two nights in a luxury treehouse,
get a cheese platter and bottle of wine on arrival, daily continental breakfast
basket and late check-out. And romance at a discount is always sweeter: save
$250 on stays Sunday – Thursday until February 28, 2013, quote code
‘celebration’. Costs $450 for two people, for two nights.  (07) 5545 4577,

Sydney is a playground for kids big and small. Stay in a superior room at the 4.5-star Grace Hotel, on the corner of King & York Sts, and they’ll include entry passes to either the Sydney SEA LIFE Aquarium, WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo or Madame Tussauds. Normally $400 room only, until December 20, costs from $230 for two adults and one child. (02) 9272 6602,


The quiet beauty of Corinna, Tasmania
The Tarkine Wilderness, in Tassie’s far north-west, encircles
the last traces of the ancient forests of Gondwana. Spend three nights in a
queen bed eco cottage in nearby Corinna and get all meals including a Tasmanian
cheese and wine platter and three-course dinners, a day cruise on the Pieman
River, guided and self- guided walks and kayaking on a Wilderness Discovery Eco
Experience Holiday. You’ll also get a coffee table book, ‘The Tarkine’ and you
get to take all your rubbish home with you, too! Save 30 per cent on stays
until April 31, 2013. Costs from $1355 a couple, (03) 6446 1170,


Stay in a buffalo station in one of Australia’s great wild
places, the Mary River floodplains, west of Kakadu National Park. The
safari-style Bamurru Plains is named for the wild geese who nest here each
year, and taking a fly boat over the waters in the early morning is a
heart-lifting experience (and they even stop to make you coffee). Stay two
nights with a fully-inclusive deal that sets you up in a safari bungalow,
supplies all meals, open bar and daily guided activities including 4WD safaris.
The deal includes return flights from Darwin, saving $980 a couple, until November
30. Costs from $3720 a couple, two nights.
1300 790 561,

across Germany this winter, with free stops at 13 historic towns and cities
where great events helped shape world history. 
Save 20 per cent on German Rail passes when booked by November 30 for travel
November 15 – December 31, 2012. Passes also get you 10 per cent off at select
hostels and hotels in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. Normally $264,
costs from $211 for a five-day second class pass.
Gangnam style, Korea
you’re completely clueless as to what Gangnam Style is, check in to the Novotel Seoul Ambassador, in the Gangnam
district. The deal includes accommodation and breakfast for two, a half-day local
tour, a 20 per cent discount at the nearby Art Performance Centre and shopping discount vouchers so you can
hit COEX, the largest underground shopping mall in Asia. They’ll also throw in
a great cup of coffee: don’t get it? Listen to the song. Costs from $260 a
night until January 31, 2013. (+82) 2/567 1101,
Walkers and cyclist are sure to flock to Queenstown for
its latest attraction for the active, the new 100km-Queenstown Trail. Soften
the blow of all that hardship with three nights’ stay at the plush Hotel St
Moritz MGallery, with a three-for-two offer. Its picture windows, overlooking
Lake Wakatipu to The Remarkables mountain range, will keep you connected with
the great outdoors. Costs from $408 a room, three nights, including breakfast until
March 31, 2013. (+64) 3 442 4990,
Sri Lanka
Visit old British hill stations, admire Dutch
architecture and savour the craziness of Colombo on this 13-day tour of Sri
Lanka. There’s also beach time to be had and spices to savour. Save 15 per cent
when booked by November 23 for departures until March 31, 2013, quote promo
code 1274. Normally $1640, costs $1394. 1300 854 444,
Spas and safaris – they’re a natural mix when you’re a
Travelling Diva. The tour includes private wine tastings, an insiders’ tour to secret boutiques and local designers in Cape
Town and three days on safari staying at Kwandwe
game reserve. Book by November 16, get an additional night
in Cape Town and a personal tour of a diamond supplier (and tax free diamond
shopping!) Tour departs May 12-25, 2013. Costs from $6999 a person, twin share.
0408 721 569,
You could be one of 100 million people watching the 2013
SuperBowl on TV, or you could live the dream and watch it live, in New Orleans’
Superdome, on February 3, 2013. Choose from the silver, gold or platinum
packages, each one getting you closer to the action on the Loge level, between
the 20 and 50-yard lines, which Mr Aristotle co-founder Paul Kent says is the
best viewpoint for some of the biggest action of the 2013 Super Bowl. “It’s a
case of first in, best dressed,” warns Kent. Costs from US3835 (silver), US6825
(gold) or US11,050 (platinum) a person. 0423 538 593,