25 September 2023

Darwin, Botswana and more…

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By John Rozentals.

The Darwin Festival … plenty of hot August nights. Image: D Preston.

Celebrating 40 years in 2019, the Darwin Festival returns from August 8-25 with a range of local and international cultural events and talent.

So, escape the Australian winter and spend some hot August nights in the tropical NT with a program rich in cabaret, theatre, comedy, dance, visual arts, words and ideas, music and family fun.

Head, for instance, to an all-new Spiegeltent for a glitzy and glamorous party of Gatsby-esque proportions, ranging from aerial acrobatics to captivating cabaret and burlesque — and a sexy champagne-soaked world filled with big moves, great tunes and more than a few surprises.

And experience a very different circus show when Cambodia’s Phare Circus presents its Eclipse, which is based on traditional Cambodian folktales, and combines a dramatic mix of theatre, classical Cambodian Apsara dance and thrilling acrobatics all set to a live original music score.

Visit www.darwinfestival.org.au.

A new cabin at Reflections Holiday Park Evans Head … adhering to environmentally sustainable design principles.

Reflections Holiday Parks has opened a villa precinct at Evans Head, NSW, adhering to environmentally sustainable design principles.

Completed improvements at Reflections Holiday Park Evans Head include installation of 13 cabins which combine solar, Tesla batteries and use of recycled timbers, plus upgrading of 30 powered sites, new park entry and internal road works.

The new cabin precinct at Evans Head coincides with the completion of a new cabin precinct at the Reflections group’s Clarkes Beach Park in Byron Bay.

Subsequent stages of park works will involve further upgrading of sites and community facilities, improved pedestrian access and more integrated landscaping.

Visit www.reflectionsholidayparks.com.au.

The Ghan … celebrating 90 years by collaborating with Akubra and Bollinger.

The Ghan will collaborate with Akubra and Bollinger as part of its ninetieth-anniversary celebrations, with a ‘Bollinger and Brims’ carriage added onto the legendary train for six special departures through the anniversary month of August.

In this specially refitted carriage, guests will be invited to undertake exclusive Bollinger champagne tastings and personalised Akubra hat fittings.

The experience will be a complimentary extra for guests travelling aboard The Ghan on these departures.

Journey Beyond Rail Expeditions Managing Director, Steve Kernaghan, said the collaboration reflected both the relaxed refinement of rail travel and the raw outback essence of The Ghan journey through the heart of Australia.

“By bringing two well-loved Australian brands together in The Ghan and Akubra and then adding to it the sophisticated global appeal of Bollinger, we are creating a unique experience for our guests,” he said.

Visit www.journeybeyondrail.com.au.

Ibis Budget Sydney Airport … rates from $109 per night.

In line with the airport’s reported record growth, Ibis Budget Sydney Airport has added 78 guest rooms, taking its total offering to 278 rooms, with rates from $109 per night.

The expansion takes the total number of guest rooms available from 200 to 278, with rates starting at $109.

“Since opening in 2017, we’ve had an incredible response from travellers seeking contemporary and cost-effective accommodation, with the added convenience of being located on the airport precinct in close proximity to the terminals,” said General Manager Ibis Budget Sydney Airport, Tom Marsic.

As part of creating a relaxing hotel atmosphere, vintage aeronautical pop art, inspired by the work of Roy Lichtenstein, features throughout the new guest rooms, redesigned reception area, lobby, and all public spaces.

Visit www.ibis.com.

Ovolo Nishi … 17 new innovative rooms.

Ovolo Nishi (formerly Hotel Hotel), in Canberra’s cultural precinct of New Acton, has unveiled 17 new innovative rooms.

The new Snug Sun rooms, of which there are 14, provide sun-drenched intimate spaces incorporating a queen-size bed, single vanity and overhead rain shower.

Each room also features a retro writing desk with enclosed mini-bar, and a woven day bed doubling as a luggage rack.

The hotel’s new wing has a rustic feel with strong consideration for handcrafted detail.

Living spaces are paired with rustic touches of industrial timber and exposed concrete, creating an urban ‘concrete jungle’ effect in the heart of Canberra city, though with accents of brass and leather against a colour palette of soft burgundies and bottle greens.

Prices are from $220 per night, including breakfast, social hour, in-room mini-bar, 24-hour gym and loot bags filled with snacks.

Visit www.ovolohotels.com.

Petra … the Rose City is a highlight of the 14-day ‘Walking in the Footsteps of Abraham’ tour.

Save $250 on World Expeditions’ walking tour of Israel and Jordan departing September 3.

Discover captivating Jerusalem and the vibrant seaside cities of Tel Aviv and Old Jaffa and trek through archaeological treasures of the magnificent Red Rose City of Petra on the 14-day ‘Walking in the Footsteps of Abraham’ tour.

Other trip highlights include experiencing the unique Kibbutzim lifestyle, exploring the spectacular desert landscape of Wadi Rum and a chance to float in the hypersaline Dead Sea.

Pay from $4790 (reduced from $5040), including eight nights hotel accommodation, four nights in a Kibbutzim and one night in a Bedouin camp, as well as 13 breakfasts and 13 dinners.

Phone 1300 720 000 or visit www.worldexpeditions.com.

Stronger than you think … a giraffe has a drink on the plains of Botswana.

The sparsely populated landscape of Botswana allows intimate encounters with wildlife as travellers journey through one of Africa’s most exclusive safari destinations.

Save $410 on the July 24 departure of Exodus Travels’ 11-day ‘Wild Botswana’ adventure and pay from $10,865, including all meals and drinks, all accommodation, all transport, listed activities and a tour leader throughout.

See vast plains teeming with elephants, leopards and meerkats as the backdrop to a unique camping experience.

Visit the Chobe National Park, where the Savuti Channel has started flowing again and has changed the ecology of the region, attracting an abundance of wildlife.

Phone 1300 131 564 or visit www.exodustravels.com.

Plenty of adventure … ziplining in Costa Rica.

National Geographic and G Adventures have launched an expanded family-journeys partnership, with 12 trips featuring experiences for children and adults to connect as a family when they travel together on departures starting in March next year.

The trips, which are priced from $2399 per person, include 12 countries on five continents and range from eight to 13 days in length, with reduced pricing available to children aged 12 and under.

Each small-group tour will be led by two trained officers.

Each activity is designed around four guiding National Geographic themes: photography and storytelling, history and culture, wildlife and conservation, and exploration.

Among the destination and activity highlights that families can experience together are: wildlife spotting in Alaska’s national parks, where children can earn a junior ranger badge; pasta making and gladiator school in Italy; sumo wrestling lessons and samurai swordplay in Japan; acrobatics demonstrations with circus performers in Cambodia; and ziplining through the lush Costa Rican rainforest canopy.

Arrival/departure airfares are extra.

Visit www.gadventures.com.au.

An unusual view of Macao’s famous ruins of St Paul’s … from a nearby sidestreet.

Macao, renowned for its unique east-meets-west, old-meets-new characteristics, is offering a new giveaway to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Asian centre’s establishment as a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China.

The Macao Government Tourism Office is giving away a limited number of free TurboJET tickets to travellers planning a trip to the former Portuguese enclave.

The giveaway coincides with the five-month-long Art Macao festival which runs until the end of October.

The complimentary tickets apply to travel from Hong Kong to Macao or vice versa before December 31.

Visit www.visitmacao.com.au.

Cute, but don’t touch … a polar bear and cub on Svalbard. Image: Dominic Barrington-Hurtigruten.

Svalbard Archipelago, 1300 kilometres below the North Pole, is one of the last great wildernesses on Earth.

Up Norway has created two itineraries for the an Arctic adventure there, including the seven-day ‘Far Out in Svalbard’, which features an island that is remote enough to house the world’s biggest seed bank yet refined enough to boast one of the world’s most extensive wine cellars.

The adventure includes inimitable landscapes, wildlife, surprisingly diverse cuisine, including the world’s northernmost brewed beer, and insights into Arctic permaculture in sub-zero conditions.

Guests may even have an ‘Attenborough moment’ and spot birds, whales, seals or polar bears.

Prices are from £2710 (UK pounds) per person.

Visit www.upnorway.com.

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