I’m a journalist, travel writer, editor and copywriter based in Melbourne, Australia. I write pacy travel features, edit edifying websites and fashion flamboyant copy. My articles and photographs have appeared in publications worldwide, from inflight to interior design: I’ve visited every continent, and have lived in three. Want to work together? Drop me a line… 



Dine in the desert, lap up the luxury: travel deals 3 February 2013

It could only be the Maldives.

Lap up the luxury in the Maldives, dine in the desert beneath the stars at Uluru or snigger like a schoolboy in Cappadocia, in this week’s domestic and international travel deals. 


Small and beautiful not only describes the island of Tasmania, but also Hobart’s sleek boutique hotel scene, led by the bellwether The Islington. The last word in chic, the 11-room hotel is offering 20 per cent off dinner, bed and breakfast in its lush Garden View rooms when you stay Wednesday to Sunday. Normally $585 a night, rug up and save $117 a night on stays between April 1 and September 30. The offer includes a three-course a la carte dinner for two. Book by February 28. Costs from $468 a night. 1300 896 627, mrandmrssmith.com.
Now the holiday crowds have gone, you can soak up the
beauty of the Great Ocean Road in relative peace. Stay three nights in a cabin
at the Big4 Beacon Resort in Queenscliff and they’ll include a Movie Munch
popcorn pack, free DVD hire, mountain bikes, two meals for the price of one at
Terindah Estate vineyard, half price on a South Bay eco-tours discovery tour
and a bottle of chardonnay from local vineyard, Scotchmans Hill. Excludes
Saturday nights, the Bellarine Getaway
Package is valid until August 31. Costs from $330, three nights. 1800 351 152, beaconresort.com.au.
The Sebel Resort Noosa, Queensland.
If you thought Noosa’s locals couldn’t get any more buff and beautiful, wait till the Kellogg’s Nutri-grain Ironman and Ironwoman series comes to town on February 24. Get into the action with a stay at the refurbished Sebel Resort Noosa, on Hastings Street. Stay in a one-bed spa apartment and get 35 per cent off, kids stay free and you’ll also get free internet. Stay two nights or more, and get free bike hire or surfboard hire. Book by February 28 for stays until June 20 (excluding Easter), and quote the suitably vigorous promo code ‘outdoors’. Costs from $259 a night. 131 515, sebelresortnoosa.com.

It’s still summer out in the west, where the turtles are
nesting and the manta rays are swimming. Do your bit to keep the turtles happy
with a guided tour to spot Green, Loggerhead and Hawksbill turtles (08 9949 1176, exmouthwa.com.au), Stay at the nearby Novotel Ningaloo Reef in
Exmouth and get five nights for the price of four on stays until March 28.
Costs from $1100 a room, five nights. (08) 9949 0000, novotelningaloo.com.au.
Tick the Northern Territory many icons off your bucket
list in one swoop, on the 11-day Territory Explorer, including Uluru, Alice
Springs, Kakadu and Katherine Gorge. Highlights also include a Sounds of
Silence dinner in the central Australian desert, a slap-up feed at Daly Waters
pub and two nights at the Sails in the Desert resort at Uluru.  Book by March 31 and your partner gets free
flights into Ayers Rock and out of Darwin, tours depart between June and August.
Costs from $5665 a person, twin share. 
1300 723 642,
Get into the thick of Bangkok’s gold-obsessed Chinatown
with a three-night stay that includes breakfast daily, welcome drinks, free
wi-fi and 20 per cent off at the hotel spa. Rooms from the 11th floor up of the
three-star Grand China hotel include views of the city and Chao Phraya river.
Book by March 31 for stays between April 1 and October 31. Costs from $95 a
person, twin share, for three nights. 133 133, flightcentre.com.au.
The pun-worthy rock formations of Cappadocia, Turkey
Turkish history resonates with Australians, and the
battlefields of World War I are on the itinerary of this seven-day ‘Turkish Delight’ coach tour through
a remarkable country. Other highlights include the ancient cities of Troy and
Ephesus, the Convent of the Whirling Dervishes in far western Konya and the
pun-worthy rock formations of Cappadocia. Save 10 per cent when you book by
February 20, excludes tours during the ANZAC period, April 18-25. Costs from
$828 a person, includes four-star accommodation and most meals. 1300 362 844, tempoholidays.com.
Beat the rush for flights and book your April holiday
before March 1 to save $726 on a seven-night stay at Club Med, Nusa Dua. The
offer includes all meals, open bar and snacks, kids’ club, sports activities
and daily entertainment. They’ll also include airport transfers and Club Med
membership with travel insurance on travel. The deal is valid for travel until
April 30. Normally $1913 for adults, costs from $1187 for adults, $692 for
children, seven nights.  1300 855 052, clubmed.com.au.
The Viceroy Maldives.
You may not
have celebrated Maldives National Day on January 25, but the five-star Viceroy
Maldives, on Vagaru Island, has marked the occasion with a discount on its 61
luxe beach and waterfront villas. Book by February 17 and save up to $760 a
night on stays until March 23. They’ll also include breakfast daily and a free
upgrade to the next villa type, if available. (Minimum stay four nights between
February 4 – 17).
Costs from $910 a
villa, a night. viceroyhotelgroup.com.
Paris and Barcelona: does it get any better? It does,
when you include the French wine regions of Bordeaux, St-Emilion and Sauternes,
then add Seville, Ronda and Granada into the mix. The Splendours of France
& Spain tour spends 18 days ambling through these two European superstars,
with departures on May 5 and September 29. Book before February 28 and get $200
off the luxury coach tour. Costs from $4435 a person, twin share. 1300 237 886,
South Australia’s incomparable Flinders Ranges.
Capture the vastness of central Australia with a new
aerial landscape photography tour, led by the highly experienced photographer Peter
Elfes. The six-day tour skims over the beauty of the Flinders Ranges and Lake
Eyre in light aircraft, and gets down on the ground with walking and 4WD tours
and photography workshops. There’s also an overnight stay in Marree and visit
to Andamooka included, with flights by Air Wilpena, which has been running
scenic flights in the region since 1959. The groups will have a maximum of 12
guests and tours depart June 4-9 and October 22-27. Costs from $4475 a person,
single room, including all flights and tours. (08) 8648 0004, airwilpena.com.au.

Getting out there with your fantasies: travel deals 13 January 2013

The Gordon River, Tasmania.

Live out your Man or Woman from Snowy River fantasy or check into the Wildman Wilderness Lodge – it’s time to get out there. 

Head for the hills to live out your Man or Woman from Snowy River fantasy at the Grand Mercure Pinnacle Valley resort in the Victorian Alps, half an hour from Mount Buller. Nearby activities include fly-fishing, bushwalking, golf and, of course, horse riding. A two-night tree change usually costs from $160 a night, stay until April 30. Quote the code “summer special” and get a free bottle of wine in the room. Costs from $288 for two nights. (03) 5777 5788, accorhotels.com.

Blow the city smog away with a quick getaway on the central coast. Stay at the four-star Crowne Plaza Terrigal, pictured above, by the seaside, just an hour from Sydney, and save 10 per cent and get breakfast as well. Valid on two-night stays from Sunday to Thursday in a queen or king room. Book until January 31, stay until February 28. Costs from $406, two nights. 1300 888 180, zuji.com.au.

Tassie celebrates 30 years since the creation of its South West Wilderness World Heritage Area and is offering you the chance to see what the fuss is about. The Ultimate Wilderness Experience package includes two nights at Strahan Village, a cruise up the Gordon River aboard luxury catamaran Lady Jane Franklin II, main picture, a trip on the West Coast Wilderness Railway and buffet dinner at View 42° Restaurant and Bar. Save $131 on stays until April 30. Costs $880 for two people. 1800 420 155, puretasmania.com.au.

It takes just 2½ hours to hit the glorious Whitsunday Islands from Sydney, so why are we here? Stay five nights, pay for just four at the adults-only beachfront Beach Club on Hamilton Island between January 28 and March 28. Includes a full breakfast buffet daily, VIP airport transfers and free watersports such as snorkelling and cat sailing. Costs from $2280 for five nights. 13 73 33,hamiltonisland.com.au.

You could take a lifetime to explore the remote north Australian coastline, but 22 days is a good start with this Treasures of the West Coast tour, which spends two nights at the luxury Wildman Wilderness Lodge near Kakadu, a cruise through Chamberlain Gorge in El Questro and the spectacular Katherine Gorge, and feeding dolphins at Monkey Mia. Book by March 31 and Scenic Tours will include free flights to Darwin from the other capitals, for six departures from June. Costs from $9495 a person, twin share. 1300 723 642, scenictours.com.

Source: Belinda Jackson, Sun Herald 

Some like it hot: and then there’s Oodnadatta

On the Oodnadatta Track. 

This morning, as Sydney puffs its way through a heat wave, breakfast TV did a cross to Oodnadatta. The tiny town in northern South Australia is experiencing a run of above 45C degrees, topping out at 48C on Saturday – that’s 118.4 Fahrenheit  for all you imperialists out there.

A few years ago, I travelled to Oodnadatta to do a newspaper story about the pubs along the track (which the subs creatively titled Aussie Crawl).

Our editors sent us there in January. The photographer, Randy Larcombe, and I pulled in to sleepy Marree for water and, lured by the espresso machine on the counter, a coffee.

“Where are you from?” asked the woman at the counter.

When we told her we’d just come up from Adelaide, her face turned purple. “You’re bloody Aussies! You know better than to come out here in the middle of summer!” We blamed it on our Sydney editors. She bought it. We shouldn’t have bought the coffee. It was dreadful.

PS: a big hello to the Pink Roadhouse at Oodnadatta, a welcome pit stop and burger mecca in the desert founded by Lynnie and her husband Adam Plate. We were terribly sorry to hear of Adam’s death last year. He told me how he and Lynnie, fresh from art school in Darlinghurst, were walking camels and donkeys through the desert in the 70s before stopping at Oodnadatta. They put the town and the track on the map, and on breakfast TV. 

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