Poh spice, hidden Indonesia and hotfooting it: travel news

The phinisi Alila Purnama explores hidden Indonesia.

CRUISE
Remote islands of Indonesia

Explore the rarely visited waters of West Papua on a truly luxurious sailing trip aboard the Alila Purnama. The five-star, two-masted Indonesian ship, or phinisi, sleeps just 10 guests and is owned by the Indonesian luxury hotel group Alila. The journey begins another world away, in teeming, buzzy Jakarta, before sailing through the remote Raja Ampat (Four Kings) archipelago, around 1500 islands in the Halmahera Sea. Discover golden beaches, lush jungles, expansive coral gardens and sea  life, framed by wild, beautiful scenery rarely seen by even the most intrepid adventurers. The seven-day journey departs once a month until March 2015 and costs from $14,600 a cabin (sleeps two). See alilapurnama.com.

Poh spice

AIRLINE
Poh spices it up
Taste Malaysia from the hands of one of Australia’s best-loved cooking sensations, Poh Ling Yeow, now the newest ambassador for Malaysian Airlines. The accomplished, Malaysian-born TV cook, author and artist will present her Nyonya chicken curry to economy and business class passengers on any of the 81 flights departing Australia and New Zealand to Kuala Lumpur each week. The dish features on the airline’s menus for three months from December 1. “Nyonya Chicken is such a definitive Malaysian dish and definite crowd pleaser,” says Poh, of the airline’s new signature dish. See malaysianairlines.com.

GEAR
Get off on the right foot
You know the old conundrum: pack bulky/daggy runners or find yourself jogging in unsupported ballet flats? Travel stylishly, yet still be ready to leap into a fun run at a moment’s notice with the ELLiE shoe, a hybrid fashion sneaker that is good for your sole and keeps you light on your toes all day long. Designed by Brisbane-based podiatrist Caroline McCulloch, the lace-up ELLiE has a leather upper and lower, a rubber sole, thermoplastic heel and multi-fit inserts that customise your shoe to your foot. Available in sand and black, it’s designed for the traveller who spends one day traipsing cobblestones streets and the next pacing a walkingtrail . Costs $199.95. See frankie4.com.au.

FOOD
From the kitchens in the heart of Italy

She’s not a chef, she’s not a trained cook, Silvia Collaca says she’s just Italian. But the very modest
Colloca is backed by a family of food lovers to produce her second cookbook, ‘Made in Italy’, which is released on November 11. Drawing from her homeland in Marche, Abruzzo and Molise, she shares
her family’s traditional recipes such as homemade spaghetti with stuffed mussels from Abruzzo,
while Marche yields a simple lemon-and-ricotta ring cake, ideal for dunking. Colloca is no stranger to
the spotlight: she is a trained opera singer and actress, is married to actor Richard Roxburgh and her
first television series, ‘Made in Italy with Silvia Colloca’, airs on SBS ONE on November 27. The
recipes and musings are rounded out with photography of beautiful scenery and equally beautiful
food by Carla Coulson and Chris Chen. Cost $49.99. See penguingroup.com.au.

KIDS
Bear north for a koala cluster

Hello Koalas sculpture trail, North Macquarie

Explore Port Macquarie and the surrounding hinterland with a koala as your guide – well, actually 50 koalas. The new Hello Koalas sculpture trail comprises 50 hand-painted, meter-high fibreglass koalas dotted around the region, and celebrates Port’s status as the koala capital of Australia. Visit the world’s only koala hospital, signposted by a sculpture painted by singer John Williamson and drop in on a few real, live koalas at Billabong Zoo, marked by a koala painted by artist “Shiner” Bruce Whitaker. Plans are afoot for a three-meter high Big Koala to add to Australia’s love of all things supersized, from prawns to pineapples. The trail runs until December 2015. To download a touring map, see hellokoalas.com.

TECH
It’s a wrap

Take control of your tangled jungle of cables and whip them into knot-free submission with the outrageously efficient cord wrap from Los Angeles designers This is Ground. This simple leather pouch will untangle your life as well as your headphone and usb cables, with a side pocket for stashing slimline adaptors or ear buds. Available in navy, black, tan and coral, the Ground Cordito cord wrap costs $59.95. See rushfaster.com.au.

Edited by Belinda Jackson, Takeoff is published in the Sun-Herald‘s Traveller every Sunday.

Travel deals: Indonesia’s Gili islands

Flying to Fiji’s Mamanucas with the kids.

Those looking beyond Bali into the rest of Indonesia’s archipelago are finding themselves in the Gili Islands off the coast of Lombok, a two-hour fast ferry from Bali. Otherwise, we love Noos-aaah or pootling around Fiji by seaplane. 

If you’d prefer to play winter princess, check out a tour from Helsinki to St Petersburg, WWI battlefields or (dare we say it) Victoria’s Philip Island? It’s all here, in this week’s best international and domestic travel deals.
GO NOW
QUEENSLAND
Get two nights free when you book a seven-night holiday,
worth $950, at the absolute beachfront apartments at Seahaven Noosa until July
31. The 4.5-star property includes four heated pools, spa, gym and bbq. From $2375,
seven nights. (07) 5447 3422, seahavennoosa.com.au.
RUSSIA
Travel by coach and rail from Helsinki to St Petersburg
and Moscow on the nine-day Tsar Route tour and save $225. Includes transport,
accommodation in first-class hotels, breakfast and sightseeing. Available  August-September 2014. Costs $1891 a person,
twin share. 1300 668 844, eetbtravel.com.
The glamour of the Russian empire
GO SOON
VICTORIA
Take a
break on Phillip Island and get $200 of extras including dinner, wine and a
three-parks pass that includes the Penguin Parade when you stay two nights in a
studio spa room at the Ramada Resort Phillip Island. Costs $484, two nights,
until August 31. (03) 5952 8000, ramadaphillipisland.com.au.
The new Karma Reef hotel on Gili Meno, Lombok
INDONESIA
Tiny Gili Meno is one of a trio of hip isles of the coast
of Lombok, two hours by boat from Bali. The new boutique resort Karma Reef’s low-season
special runs from October 1, 2014 – March 31, 2015 (excludes Christmas).
Normally $315 a night, from $170 B&B for two. +62 370 642 340,
karmaroyalgroup.com.
GO LATER
NEW SOUTH WALES
Celebrate
spring by reconnecting with nature at the eco-accredited Paperbark Camp near
Jervis Bay, and save up to $440 throughout September and midweek
(Sunday-Thursday) in October. From $500, two nights, with gourmet breakfast,
bikes, kayaks and stand-up paddling. 1300 668 167, paperbarkcamp.com.au.
JORDAN
Discover the Roman ruins, Crusader castles and ancient
Nabataen civilisation of Petra on an 11-night tour through this beautiful
desert country. Book by September 30 and receive all entrance fees to sites
free. Departs March 30, 2015. From $4989 a person, twin share. (07) 3372
4833,  gypsiantours.com.au
KIDS
FIFO TO FIJI
Petra, Jordan
Travel is half the adventure, especially when you catch a
family fly-in, fly-out package to Fiji’s Castaway Island in the Mamanucas. The
five-night offer includes helicopter and sea plane transfers for two adults and
two kids from Nadi airport to the island. There’s also plenty of water action,
with snorkelling, a dolphin safari, sunset cruise and a ride on a banana boat
included. From $5470 for a family of four, available until March 31, 2015. +679 666 1233, castawayfiji.com
TOURWATCH
BATTLEFIELD TOUR
Follow a soldier’s footsteps on a guided tour of Europe’s
most poignant battlefields during the centenary years of WWI. The 12-day tour travels from London to Amsterdam
via France and Belgium to the D-Day landing beaches of Normandy, the
battlefields of the Somme and Ypres’ Menin Gate. Highlights include the new
First World War Galleries in the Imperial War Museum in London, and lighter
moments are found in a wine tasting in Reims and dinner in a local’s home in
Amsterdam. From $3775 a person, twin share. 1300
663 043, trafalgar.com.

This travel deals column by Belinda Jackson is published in Sydney’s Sun-Herald newspaper every Sunday.

Traveller deals: Tasmanian retreat

We all want to be in Venice, specifically at the Belmond, yes we do. Purse strings a little tight? Then lovely Launceston will do, for some winter warmth. Take the kids to Japan, take them to the Queensland islands in this week’s international and domestic travel deals.

GO NOW

TASMANIA
Get cosy this winter in the heartland of the cold season,
Tasmania. Originally a corn mill dating back to the 1840s, the recently
refurbished Launceston hotel is offering a hot price to counteract the
cold nights, until August 31. From $99 a night. (03) 6335 6600, leisureinnpennyroyal.com.au.

ITALY


Luxuriate at Venice’s Belmond Hotel Cipriani. Save 20 per cent on its
suites and junior suites, with private balconies or gardens, and
vineyard, lagoon or pool views. For stays until November 8. From $1194 a
night. 1800 217 568, belmond.com.

The Majestic Malacca, Malaysia

GO SOON
MALAYSIA
Explore the UNESCO-listed city of Malacca during a midweek
stay at the Peranakan-style mansion, The Majestic Malacca. Includes
dinner in-house or a spa treatment. Normally from $370, B&B. From
$210 a room, a night, Sunday-Thursday. +800 9899 9999, ytlhotels.com.

NEW SOUTH WALES
Live it up at The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa in Byron Bay.
Stay one night and get hot chocolate on the verandah, a bottle of wine
when dining in-house, a room upgrade, yoga and bike hire. Costs $299 a
room until September 14. 1300 554 362, thebyronatbyron.com.au.

GO LATER
MEXICO
Rev your Mexican cuisine up a notch from tortillas and tacos,
then learn how to shop for the meals and cook them on a 13-day foodie
tour from Mexico City to Oaxaca, Puerto Escondido and Acapulco. Departs
October 25. Costs $2144 a person, twin share, land only, quote “AUZ14D”.
1300 439 756, exploreworldwide.com.au.

QUEENSLAND
Explore the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest
and get a free night’s stay when you book three nights at the Hotel
Grand Chancellor Palm Cove. Book by July 31, travel until October 31.
From $150 a person, twin share. 138 833, sunloverholidays.com.au.

Mt Fuji, Japan

IMAGINATION WONDERLAND FOR KIDS
Let the kids indulge their wildest animation fantasies in
the imagination wonderland that is Japan. This 10-day family tour
includes two days at Tokyo Disneyland and a visit to the Universal
Studios theme park in Osaka. Then take it up a notch at the Ghibli
Museum, an animation studio in Tokyo; and explore scenic Hakone via
cable car, ropeway, boat or train; see Mount Fuji and take a dip in the
hot springs. From $2396 an adult, $1888 a child. 1300 365 355, travelindochina.com.au.


This travel deals column by Belinda Jackson is published in Sydney’s Sun-Herald newspaper every Sunday.

Travel deals: Shizuka Ryokan

The Peninsula Paris, now open.

Go Japanese in Victoria or channel Peninsula style in Paris: the world is your oyster, so add garnish and drink it up in this week’s international and domestic travel deals.

GO NOW
VICTORIA
Save on an airfare to a Japanese spa and instead stay at
Shizuka Ryokan in Hepburn Springs, 75 minutes from Melbourne: expect
green tea, tatami and spa cuisine. Book and pay in full by July 31 and
get $50 credit. From $179 a room a night, three-night stay. See shizuka.com.au.

INDIA

Do India in five-star style and save $1165 a person for
travel until September 30. Begin in Delhi and travel by private car to
Agra, the pink city of Jaipur and the city of palaces, Udaipur, staying
in Oberoi hotels. From $2785 a person, twin share. See abercrombiekent.com.au.

GO SOON
QUEENSLAND
Set in Brisbane’s CBD, the new Mantra on the Quay opens with a
bang – and a discount until August 31. The one, two and three-bed
self-contained apartments all have balconies, and facilities include an
outdoor heated pool and tennis courts. From $189 a night, one-bed
apartment. See mantra.com.au.

ZAMBIA
Save over $2600 a couple on an eight-day stay in six camps in
Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park. Travel includes walking safaris
and game drives. Departs Lusuka, travel by October 31. From $5487 a
person. Phone 1300 363 302, see africanwildlifesafaris.com.au.

GO LATER
FRANCE
The ultra-luxe Peninsula Paris opens its doors on August 1
and is celebrating with an offer that saves $580 from the standard rate.
Expect 360-degree views from the rooftop restaurant, a Rolls-Royce in
the driveway and an elegant spa. From August 1-31. From $1005 a night.
See peninsula.com.
NSW
Sneak in a staycation at one of Metro Hotels and Apartments’
four Sydney properties and catch a winter special until August 31. Stay
at the Metro Hotel Sydney Central, with breakfast for two and Wi-Fi
included. From $143 a night, saving $207. See metrohotels.com.au.

KIDS’ DEAL
SCHOOLIES GOT SOUL
Skip the hedonistic schoolies celebrations and channel that
new-found freedom into voluntouring in Cambodia. Spend five days
volunteering on community projects such as teaching English or working
in a team on a development project, overseen by an experienced
co-ordinator. Then reward yourself with some beach time in Cambodia’s
resort town, Sihanoukville, and take a guided tour of Phnom Penh and
Siem Reap’s UNESCO-listed Angkor Wat. Includes international flights,
transfers and 24-hour emergency contact. Departs November 22. From $2700
a person. 1300 559 527, travelpartners.com.au.

This travel deals column by Belinda Jackson is published in Sydney’s Sun-Herald newspaper every Sunday. 

Traveller deals: Seychelles bargain

All things Mexican are so hot right now, so why not join the locals and celebrate their dead? Otherwise, live (extremely) well in the Seychelles, escape winter in Dubai or our own Daydream Island, or embrace winter in Melbourne. Hope you find something your heart desires in this weeks’ international and domestic travel deals.

GO NOW
SEYCHELLES
Help Banyan Tree celebrate 20 years with its celebratory
three-night packages that serve up welcome cocktails, a 120-minute spa
treatment for two and 20 per cent off food and drinks until December 15.
Hillside pool villas at Banyan Tree Seychelles from $1490 a night. See banyantree.com
QUEENSLAND
Find your niche in the Whitsundays with a three-night winter
escape to Daydream Island Resort and Spa, with breakfast and a $20 spa
voucher for travel. Book by July 31 for travel until September 19. From
$339 a person, three nights. 138 833, sunloverholidays.com.au.

GO SOON
VICTORIA
Catch emerging artists at Melbourne’s The Windsor and save up
to $300 in a Victorian suite. The “Marvel at The Windsor” package
includes wine and cheese and a private tour of the exhibition, August 30
to September 14. From $399, deluxe room, save $100. Victorian suite
from $559. (03) 9633 6002, thw.com.au.
SWITZERLAND
Stay four nights and pay for three when you stay at The
Lodge, Sir Richard Branson’s mountain retreat in Verbier, until
September 29. Includes all meals and drinks. From $1075 a room, a night.
See thelodge.virgin.com/offers.

GO LATER
NSW
Celebrate winter in the outdoor hot tub of The Villa at The
Drawing Rooms of Berry. Stay two nights by September 18 and get a bottle
of sparkling wine, Belgian chocolates handmade in Berry, breakfast and
late checkout. From $700 for two nights. Quote “Get Going”. (02) 4464 3360, drawingrooms.com.au.
DUBAI
Save up to 28 per cent on a stay at the five-star Rixos The
Palm Dubai, on Palm Jumeirah island, until September 30. Breakfast and
Wi-Fi are included and you can deposit just $5 and pay the balance 28
days before departure. From $315 a room, a night. 1800 359 769, lowcostholidays.com.au.

Tourwatch

Day of the dead
From the macabre to the marvellous, join Mexico on the Day
of the Dead, when it celebrates the lives of those who have passed on.
The five-day tour includes a Day of the Dead ceremony, a Halloween
costume party, a visit to death-obsessed artist Frida Kahlo’s museum
and a trip to La Isla de las Munecas, an island full of disfigured
dolls said to be possessed by a drowned girl’s spirit. Departs October
30, 2014. Costs $760 a person. 1300 797 010, intrepidtravel.com.

DEAL
TOP DIGS FOR KIDS
Chic hotel booking group Mr & Mrs Smith has had a baby:
welcome little Smith & Family, a collection of hotels catering to
junior travellers, each road-tested by parents. Expect kids’ clubs and
menus, cots and toys plus the adult basics of great spas, kitchens and
to-die-for interiors. With 115 hotels currently on the list, book a
seven-night stay by July 15 for travel until December and get a week’s
free babysitting. Check out Tuscan villa Castello Di Casole, complete
with cinema, bikes, a croquet lawn and kids’ pizza-making classes. From
$390 a night. 1300 896 627, smithandfamily.com.

This travel deals column by Belinda Jackson is published in Sydney’s Sun-Herald newspaper every Sunday.

Travel deals: French Polynesia

A local woman from the Sacred Valley, Peru.

Take me to… Tahiti! Or Peru. I’m not fussy. Or perhaps one of the fabulous new hotels of the world, including the Sofitel So Singapore or Australia’s own new regional art hotel, The Schaller Studio in Bendigo. 

Check out their opening specials, as well as a Kids Do Paris tour, in this week’s international and domestic travel deals.

GO NOW
VICTORIA
Ski two days free at Mount Buller with a seven-night package
at Buller Central hotel. Get a seven-day lift pass for the price of five
days, daily breakfast and one dinner. Book by August 31, travel June
28-September 7. From $1405 a person, twin share. Phone 1300 019 130, see
studentflights.com.au.

Moorea Pearl Resort, French Polynesia

FRENCH POLYNESIA

Spend 10 nights in an overwater suite for under $5000.
Includes five nights in the Moorea Pearl Resort, five in the Tikehau
Pearl Beach Resort, two in Tahiti and international flights. Travel
November 1-December 10, January 10-March 31, 2015. From $4790 a person,
12 nights. Phone 1300 858 305, see airtahitinui.com.au.

Bendigo’s The Schaller Studio, Victoria, Australia

GO SOON
VICTORIA
Stay at Bendigo’s The Schaller Studio and save $55 with its
opening special, from $125 a night, until August 30. A Stay & See
package includes tickets to Bendigo Art Gallery exhibitions and midday
checkout. From $195, August 2-November 9. Phone 1800 278 468, see artserieshotels.com.au/schaller.

SINGAPORE
Check into the new Sofitel So Singapore, pictured, and save
40 per cent with a Weekends@So offer, which includes a Saturday-night
stay in the 19th-century French-style rooms, Saturday champagne brunch
and Sunday all-day breakfast. From $515 until December 31.See sofitel.com.

Sofitel So Singapore

GO LATER
SOUTH AMERICA
Grab a friend and book a South American holiday with flights
and your friend flies free with LATAM, saving up to $2800. Tours include
the 20-day Highlights of South America, from Santiago to Lima, from
$8695 a person, twin share. Book by September 30. Phone 1300 196 420,
see travelmarvel.com.au.

QUEENSLAND
Book a two-night midweek stay at the four-star Pelican Waters
resort on the Sunshine Coast and pay half price until November 30.
Includes a free night and a round on a Greg Norman championship golf
course. From $310, quote PEL019. Phone 1800 213 422, see pelicanwatersgolfresortandspa.com.au.

Tourwatch: Life in the Himalayas

Experience mountain life in the Indian Himalayas with a
high-altitude stay in Ladakh. Base yourself in one of six traditional
village houses, renovated to rustic luxury, and walk between local
villages, visiting schools, markets and monasteries.

Raft on glacial rivers the Indus and Zanskar and lose
yourself in a landscape of snowy mountains and serene lakes until end
September. Includes meals, private chef, guides, tours and private car.
From $5670 a person, twin share, seven nights. See shaktihimalaya.com.

Kids do Paris

Let your kids see what all the fuss is about on Paris’ famous
Left Bank with a three-hour family walking tour. Run by a Parisian
mum, options include pastimes such as sailing toy boats and riding the
merry-go-round in le Jardin du Luxembourg and a visit to the national
history museum. Join your kids or leave them with the qualified guide.
$164 for kids seven-12 years (max five children on a tour) and adults,
$128 for kids three-seven years. Search code 3151_KIDSRIGHT on viator.com.

This travel deals column by Belinda Jackson is published in Sydney’s Sun-Herald newspaper every Sunday.    

Travel deals: rock the lobster

Mandarin Oriental Taipei, Taiwan.

Soak up the seafood and sunshine in Perth, shop Seminyak or sip South Australia… there’s not much more alliteration left, so I’ll stop right here to leave you to read this week’s domestic and international travel deals. 

(Sorry, forgot to mention the fabulously chic baby-will-travel bag in this week’s kids’ feature – and not a tacky cartoon character in sight!)

GO NOW
WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Blow the budget on rock lobster and WA wines when you stay
two nights at Perth’s 3.5-star Alderney on Hay executive apartments. The
“two-bedroom breakfast special” includes a breakfast hamper and DVD
hire in a two-bed apartment until June 28. From $370, two nights. See lastminute.com.au/deals.

BALI
Snap up great local fashions and hit the restaurants in
happening Seminyak with a stay-five, pay-four offer at the one, two or
three-bed villas of Villa Kubu, available until August 31. From $320 a
night. See villakubu.com.

GO SOON
SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Shop for the cellar on a half-price day trip to the Barossa
Valley, then enjoy a room upgrade and late check-out when you stay two
nights at Adelaide’s refurbished Mantra Hindmarsh Square. Book by July
31, travel by October 31, quote “Mantra Winter Special”. From $149 a
night. Phone (08) 8412 3333, see mantra.com.au.

The Fairmont San Francisco, USA.

USA
Stay four nights, pay for three at The Fairmont San Francisco
and use your savings to snap up American labels on stays until
September 4. You’ll also get $108 hotel credit, breakfast, early
check-in, late check-out and a room upgrade. From $622 a night. See virtuoso.com.au.

GO LATER
VICTORIA
Set in the spectacular shopping hub of South Yarra, the new
Oaks Pinnacle’s opening “Winter Warmers” offer, with midday checkout,
costs from $139 for a one-bedroom apartment (normally $260 a night).
Minimum two-night stay until September 30. Phone 1300 660 223, see oakshotelsresorts.com.

TAIWAN
Shop Taipei for rare teas and hand-thrown ceramics during
your stay at the new Mandarin Oriental, Taipei. Its opening package,
“Stay for More” offers three nights for the price of two until September
7. From $677 for three nights. Phone 1800 123 693, see mandarinoriental.com.

Yuraygir National Park, NSW, Australia

TOURWATCH

Easy
on the soul
The beauty of isolated Yuraygir National Park, on
the Coffs coastline, is on display on a new coastal walk that links the
north-coast towns of Iluka and Coffs Harbour via paperbark swamps, clear
lagoons and wide stretches of beach. The walk, for up to 15 guests, includes
canoeing at Wooli, local oyster tasting and a walk around Muttonbird Island.
The six-day trip departs May 25, 2015. Costs $2195 a person. (03) 9530
8800, auswalk.com.au.

 

HAVE
HANDBAG, WILL TRAVEL
Travelling
stylishly doesn’t have to go (completely) out the window when you’re towing
babies along. The Budu Baby Bag packs a nappy bag into a chic leather hold-all,
hiding an insulated bottle holder, wipe-down change mat, key or nappy clip and
pram strap. There are zipped compartments for your passport and ebook. Later it
becomes a stylish woman-about-town bag. Designed and owned in Australia, $349.
See budu.com.au.

This travel deals column by Belinda Jackson is published in Sydney’s Sun-Herald newspaper every Sunday.  

Get going: a new Shangri-La

Sule Shangri-La, Yangon, Myanmar

To all ends of the world, from  Chilean Patagonia to the new frontier of
Myanmar, in this week’s Sun-Herald travel deals. Closer to home, eat and sleep all
things Manfredi on the NSW Central Coast or snap up the Novotel St
Kilda’s six-bottle special. Enjoy!

GO NOW
MYANMAR
Stay two nights at the newly rebranded Sule Shangri-La,
Yangon, and get $40 hotel credit and a one-way airport transfer until
July 31. The former Traders Hotel is in walking distance of the
2000-year-old Sule Pagoda. “Celebration packages” from $265 a night,
deluxe room. shangri-la.com.

NEW SOUTH WALES
Bushwalk, read, eat at hatted restaurants: stay three nights
and pay for just two on an escape to the Central Coast at Bells at
Killcare. Includes a Manfredi continental breakfast until June 30. From
$700 for the king spa suite for three nights. (02) 4349 7000, bellsatkillcare.com.au.

Novotel St Kilda

GO SOONER
VICTORIA
The Novotel St Kilda’s famous “wine and wind down” deal is
back: book a standard non-bayview room from $209 a night and get six
bottles of wine worth $200. Includes car parking and breakfast. Until
December 30, quote “wine and wind down”. (03) 9525 5522, novotelstkilda.com.au.

SINGAPORE
Transit passengers on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir passing
through Singapore’s Changi Airport can get $34 of vouchers to spend in
the airport’s shops, or to use the Ambassador Transit Lounges in
Terminals 2 and 3 for up to six hours. The offer is available until
September 30. See singaporeair.com.

GO LATER
CHILE
Book eight nights in two of Abercrombie & Kent’s Chilean
lodges on Easter Island, in Patagonia and in the Atacama desert, and get
two free nights in Santiago’s Lastarria Boutique Hotel, worth $1140 a
couple, until October 31. From $6484 a person, twin share. 1300 590 317,
abercrombiekent.com.au.

Patagonia’s Explora Lodge

WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Catch a “last seat superdeal” in the Kimberley and save on
15-day trips from June to September. Save $500 on the 15-day 4WD
Kimberley Complete tour, $8295 a person twin share including a
helicopter ride over Mitchell Falls and cattle station tour. Book by May
31. 1300 196 420, aptouring.com.au.

Tourwatch

ANZAC CENTENARY
Missed out on tickets to the 2015 Gallipoli centenary
commemoration? Tempo Holidays’ two tours let you watch it on large
screens from a ferry offshore. The tour starts in Istanbul and takes in
the ruins of Troy and Anzac Cove, Lone Pine Australian Memorial and
Chunuk-Bair New Zealand Memorial accompanied by military historians.
Departs from Istanbul on April 19, 2015 (eight days) and April 22, 2015
(nine days), from $3700 a person, twin share. 1300 558 987, tempoholidays.com.

CYCLE OF LIFE CAMBODIA & VIETNAM
Combine cycling, culture and kids in a new mountain bike
adventure from Angkor to Saigon. The seven-day trip covers an almost
flat 275 kilometres, departing Siem Reap monthly from July 19. The
journey includes a boat cruise down the Mekong River, visit to Can
Tho’s floating markets and the support van carries your gear and weary
travellers. Best for bike-riding kids from 10 years, with tag-alongs
and bike seats available. Costs $1930 for adults, $1544 for kids under
12, (03) 9016 3172, grasshopperadventures.com


This travel deals column by Belinda Jackson is published in Sydney’s Sun-Herald newspaper every Sunday.

Catch your own fresh seafood: food adventures in Australia

Surrounded by sea, and with lakes and rivers aplenty,
Australia is a fisherman’s heaven.

Kiss the fish,  eat the fish: your call. If you’re dropping in to drop a line in, here are a few tips for fishing in Aus, part of Tourism Australia‘s campaign to invite the world to dinner with Restaurant Australia

Surrounded by sea, Australia is one of the world’s largest islands
and has more than 8,000 smaller islands around it, which means it’s a
fisherman’s heaven. Drop a line in a quiet brook, cast for trout across a
calm river or chase the big ocean fish – marlin and tuna. The locals
say you’ve got to think like a barramundi to catch Australia’s craftiest
fish. Hunt for lobster and crabs or go rock-hopping on the pools along
the continent’s shore. Seafood lovers or catch-and-release sports
fishermen, the choice is yours.

Black Marlin, Cairns, Queensland

North Queensland is the home of the legendary Black Marlin, the
fighting fish of the ocean that is found on the fringes of the Great
Barrier Reef. Departing from Cairns’ busy marina, head out for a day’s
fishing or sleep on a boat to squeeze every minute out of your holiday.
Lovers of serious luxury should snap up Cairns Reef Charters’
package that includes a stay at Lizard Island Lodge during September to
December, when the marlin are in town. Curious anglers may also be keen
to try saltwater fly fishing on the reef.

Trout and salmon fishing, Tarraleah, Tasmania

Swap the buzz of the city for the serenity of Tasmania’s highlands.
Listen to the singing of the line on the lake as you indulge in some of
the world’s best freshwater fishing.
Discover secret beauty spots where Atlantic salmon as well as brown,
rainbow and American brook trout can be found. The brown trout season
runs August to May, with early December the peak period.

Tiwi Adventures, Tiwi Islands, Northern Territory

Most anglers make the journey to chase the mighty barramundi, Australia’s great sporting fish.

If your idea of a holiday is somewhere less inhabited and remote, the Tiwi Islands
are the place. A 30-minute flight from Darwin, most anglers make the
journey to chase the mighty barramundi, Australia’s great sporting fish.
Other species that will give you a run include blue salmon, saratoga,
mangrove jacks and estuary cod. Off-shore the waters teem with another
great fighting fish, queenfish, as well as jewfish and snapper.
Australia’s first barramundi base, Bathurst Island Lodge, reopened in
March 2013. There are two other lodges on the Tiwi Islands, which are
also famous for their indigenous art and culture.

Trout Fishing, Snowy Mountains, NSW

Fishing in Western Australia, Facebook photo by True North Mark

Learn to fly fish in rivers and streams, pick up the tricks of
trolling, spin the lakes and hear the secrets of the best lures for
trout with fish guru Steve Williamson,
who has been fishing the waterways of the Snowy Mountains for 25 years.
Williamson is based in Jindabyne, two hours’ drive from Canberra. From
beginner fishing lessons to weekend adventures, it’s a year-round
fishing destination, but best during summer when the brown, rainbow and
brook trout come out to play.

Lobster Shack tours, Cervantes, Western Australia

Watch the skipper pull lobster pots from the deep blue sea and cook it up for your lunch. Lobster Shack Tours
launch from Cervantes, two hours’ drive north of Perth, to sail into
the Jurien Bay Marine Park to the isolated Cervantes Islands, home to
colonies of raucous sea lions and pods of dolphins. The locals have been
fishing these waters for generations, and are happy to share their
favourite beach fishing spots including Hangover Bay and Thirsty Point;
or just drop a line off Cervantes jetty.

Hunt and Gather Tour, Eyre Peninsula, South Australia

You reap what you sow on this tour
on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula. Dive for abalone, fish for salmon
straight from the beach, hunt for oysters and gather ‘pipis’ – sweet
little shellfish found on the seashore. Your personal chef will prepare
the catch of the day on this safari, staying at waterfront accommodation
in Coffin Bay. Too tame? Add a cage dive with a Great White shark, swim
with Blue Fin tuna, sea lions and dolphins, or head into the outback,
flying over Lake Eyre and the remote Oodnadatta Track.

Queenscliff fishing, Victoria

“Life’s short, fish hard” say the fishermen of the Bass Strait, the
stretch of sea that separates mainland Australia from Tasmania. Game Rec’s
charters depart from Queenscliff and Sorrento, either side of the bay
that encircles Melbourne, and your hook should snare seriously big
snapper, kingfish, barracouta and squid, not to mention delicious local
flathead. They’ll clean your catch ready for the barbecue, or you can
kiss the fish and send it back to sea.

 This story by Belinda Jackson was first published by Tourism Australia, who is inviting the world to dinner. 

To read more about Australia’s fantastic food culture, best restaurants, wineries and producers, visit the brand, spanking new Restaurant Australia website.

Savour the flavour of Australia: Food experiences across Australia

Tasmania’s Red Feather
has been serving patrons since 1842.

Unleash your hunter-gatherer instinct with a do-it-yourself food
adventure in Australia.

So you think you can eat? Oh, much neglected blog, this is what I’ve been up to lately. This story was published by Tourism Australia, who is inviting the world to dinner with its newest campaign, Restaurant Australia

Design a wine in the famed Barossa Valley or
hook a big barramundi on a day’s fishing in the wild, remote north.
There are truffles to hunt in Canberra, mudcrabbing in Queensland,
coffees to pour in Melbourne and once you learn the indigenous
Australians’ secrets of finding bush tucker, you’ll never starve. If
you’re not sure how to put it all together, go with the pros and sign up
to a cooking school, where they’ll teach you the tricks of the trade to
create the perfect Aussie feast, with food and wine matching. Savour
the flavour of Australia.

Wine blending in South Australia

Step into the home of Australia’s most prestigious wine, Penfolds
Grange Shiraz. Think you can match it? Roll up the shirtsleeves and make
your own red wine blend using Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre grapes, a
great souvenir to take home with you. Tours run daily at Penfolds
historic Barossa Valley cellar door in Nuriootpa, one and a half hours’
drive north of Adelaide amidst rolling farmlands and vineyards. While
you’re there, be sure to taste Penfolds’ extensive range, from the famed
Grange to its everyday drinking range of reds and whites.

Barramundi fishing in Western Australia

High on the Western Australian coastline, the Kimberley Coastal Camp
is a tiny cluster of ecologically sustainable bures reached only by
helicopter or boat. Visitors are lured by ancient Aboriginal rock art,
birdwatching and the mighty barramundi – ‘barra’ if you’re talking to a
local. You can fish barra all year round up here, though they’re more
active in the warmer months of April and May, and again in August. The
camp’s experienced fishing guides will kit you out with quality
equipment and teach you the tricks of thinking like a barra to make the
catch.

Truffle Hunting in Australian Capital Territory

Rug up for a wintery morning in an oak forest on the outskirts of
Canberra, and you’ll be rewarded with the jewels of the kitchen:
truffles. Snuffle the truffle dog and owners Sherry and Gavin
McArdle-English will teach you how to hunt and handle French black
truffles that will make their way to market and be served in Australia’s
best restaurants. The hunt ends in the warm truffle shed with a
weight-guessing competition and truffle crème brulee. Truffle hunts run in winter, from June to August.

Mudcrabbing in Queensland

So you love crab? Learn to wrangle them on a two-and-a-half-hour
cruise down the Tweed River, about 10 minutes south of Queensland’s Gold
Coast. The daily tours
let you trap live crabs, hauling crab pots and tieing them up for a
great photo op. You can also hand-feed massive, ever-hungry pelicans and
throw a hopeful fishing line in the river. They’ll supply the gear, you
bring the luck.

Finding bush tucker in the Northern Territory

Go on safari
in one of the world’s great wildernesses to find turtles and snakes,
gather fruits and yams and celebrate with a bush feast around the
campfire. An open safari truck takes you through Kakadu National Park,
three hours’ drive from Darwin in the Northern Territory. Meet Kakadu’s
Aboriginal community, learn about their languages, bush lore and their
“dreamings” and witness birds massing at the Gindjala wetland. You’ll
finish at sunset with a cup of billy tea, hot damper (bread cooked in
the fire’s embers) and the results of your day’s hunting and gathering.

Game fishing in New South Wales

Get your Hemingway on and chase the big fish of the deep blue sea in
the rich waters off the south coast of New South Wales. There’s mighty
marlin to lure as well as yellow fin, albacore and striped tuna. You may
spot some powerful broadbill swordfish and sharks, and while they’re
not for anglers, majestic Humpback whales use this corridor on their
annual journey to and from Antarctica. Keep your eyes open for seals,
sea eagles and penguins, too. Freedom Charters
supply all equipment and you can catch and release, or capture your
haul. Eden’s thrilling game fishing season runs from November till
July.

Making coffee in Victoria

Nobody drinks coffee like Melburnians drink, and its fabulous café
society just keeps evolving. If you love the bean and want to try this
at home, Sensory Lab‘s
45-minute one-on-one barista classes will have you frothing, tamping,
grinding and pouring like a pro. Start as a beginner, learning all the
skills to flatter with your latte, or caress with your capuccino. Take
it to the next level and get serious with milk texturing and making
those pretty little hearts and ferns on the top of the cup or go into
syphoning.

Cooking class in Tasmania

Roll up your sleeves and cook Tasmania’s top produce, much of it
sourced from the markets on the morning of your cooking class. The Red Feather
has been serving patrons since 1842, when it was built as a coaching
inn by convicts sent to “Van Diemen’s Land” from the United Kingdom. The
beautiful sandstone buildings are just south of Launceston, Australia’s
third oldest city. You’ll learn the secrets of perfect baking, smoking
and curing meats and whatever the markets offer that day. And the best
part? You get to eat the fabulous fruits of your labour (with a little
help from a chef, of course).

This story by Belinda Jackson was first published by Tourism Australia, who is inviting the world to dinner. 

To read more about Australia’s fantastic food culture, best restaurants, wineries and producers, visit the brand, spanking new Restaurant Australia website.