The crowd-pleasing silvery gibbon, Indonesia.

Track down the Asian Big 5, find Elysium in the Hunter Valley or hit Middle Earth, in this week’s domestic and international travel deals.

With the National Portrait Gallery, the National Museum
of Australia and the National Gallery of Australia (currently showing the Toulouse
Lautrec exhibition) all within cooee of each other, it’s easy to see why art
lovers love Canberra. Plan ahead and save when you stay at the Mercure
Canberra. Book 30 days in advance and save up to 30 per cent on your room rate.
Costs from $112 a night, room only. 136 565,
Need a break after the rush and bustle of Christmas? Head
to the serenity of the Barossa Valley, an hour’s drive north of Adelaide.  The Novotel Barossa Valley costs from $239 a
night; fly return with Virgin Australia to Adelaide and stay two nights until
March 31. Costs from $429 a person, twin share, ex-Sydney. 1300 130 485,
Stay five nights, pay four at Daydream Island Resort
& Spa and get full buffet breakfast daily and free use of watersports
equipment and open-air cinema. Two children under 14 also get to stay and eat
breakfast free for stays January 28-March 31. Costs from $598 a person, twin
share, four nights. 1800 075 040,
Elysia, Hunter Valley NSW
The Hunter Valley’s Golden Door health retreat, Elysia,
is running a ‘bring a friend for half-price’ deal over summer. Packages include
beautiful spa cuisine, snacks, an initial assessment as well as wellness
seminars, exercise equipment and classes including meditation and early morning
tai chi. Book before January 31 for stays until February 14 and save $525. Costs
from $1575, two people for two days. 
1800 212 011,
Forget heatwaves, it’s time to
plan your snow play, and happening Hotham has launched its early-bird specials.
Stay five nights in a ski-in/ski-out one-bedroom White Crystal apartment, in
the middle of the village, and save $251 when booked by January 31. Costs from
2102 for five nights during the value
June 7 -27, July 22–August 1, August 26-29 September. Costs
from $2256 for five nights during peak season (June 28 – July 21 and August 2 –
25). 1800 468 426,
Eagle Lodge, Faraway Bay
Far up on the remote Kimberley coastline sits the aptly named
Faraway Bay, a tiny resort amidst the wonders of pristine waterfalls, sublime
waterways and ancient Aboriginal art. Book before January 31 and save 10 per
cent off the regular rate, and they’ll also include a free night at the
Pinctada Kimberley Grande Resort, Kununurra before you fly out to the remote property.
 Rates include guided activities,
unlimited boat charters to hook the big one, and all meals and most drinks. Costs
from $3330 for two nights. 0419 918 953,
Just 3½ hours from Sydney, Wellington (aka Wellywood to Middle-earth devotees) is ramping up the deals.
Book a ‘Spring into Summer’ deal at the five-star Bolton Hotel and get buffet
breakfast and an antipasti tasting plate for two, as well as late check-out. Normally
from $382 a night, stay before January 27 and pay from $151 for two people.
Stay January 28-April 1, costs from $238 a night, weekends only. 1300
887 979,
Traverse Britain on its railways, including the most
scenic routes – from Inverness to Kyle
of Lochalsh in Scotland, Llandudno to Blaenau Ffestiniog in Wales Exeter to
Penzance, in the West Country – and buy your freedom to hop on and hop off at
will. Buy a selected BritRail pass before February 14 for travel until February
28 and save 20 per cent. Costs from $170 for a three-day, second-class
Britrail Consecutive Pass. 1300 387 245,
Head for the hills in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand and
stay three nights for the price of two in the tranquil Tamarind Village, until
March 31. With just 45 rooms and suites, the hotel is decorated by the region’s
rich tribal weavings and patterns. It also offers a 10 per cent discount on
stays booked more than 30 days in advance, until October 31. Costs from $300
for three nights, includes buffet breakfast. (02) 9211 6590,
Notre Dame cathedral, Paris.
Get the passport out for some serious stamping when you
cover 15 European countries in 30 days on Topdeck’s popular Discover Europe
trip. All the icons are there: baguettes at the Eiffel Tower, wine tasting in
Bordeaux, gondolas in Venice and bicycles in Amsterdam. Save 7.5 per cent on
summer trips when booked and paid for by February 28. Costs from $5411 a
person.  1300 886 332,
Get your Bollywood on where it all began, in Mumbai,
where you’ll enjoy two free nights at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel when you book
a 14-day Splendours of Rajasthan journey. Highlights include the Pink City of
Jaipur, Jodhpur’s Mehrangarh Fort and a stay in a traditional tented camp with
evening birding walks. Save up to $1045 a person and get two nights free, when
travelling until April 15. Costs from $7410 a person, twin share. 1300 851 800,

If you haven’t heard of the Asian Big 5, this is the trip
for you. Join Wildlife Asia board member Clare Campbell (pictured) travelling through
Indonesia, from Jakarta to east Borneo and Sumatra, to see and save five endangered
species. Bornean orang-utans, Sumatran rhinos, Asian elephants, Sun bears and
the crowdpleasing Silvery gibbons all are under threat from disappearing
habitats and poaching. 
The group of up to 12 will travel on traditional river
boats (klotoks) and trek through
rainforests, staying in jungle lodges and on boats to view the wildlife and
visit animal rescue centres and the Dayak villages of Borneo. Departs 10-18
March, 2013. Costs $3100 a person plus $1000 secured fundraising. Excludes
international airfares, 0499 773 303,

Source: Belinda Jackson, Sun Herald