25 September 2023

Darwin, Fiji and more…

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By John Rozentals.

Matt Sinclair … will introduce Sunshine Coast visitors to the exciting world of chillis. Image: Giselle Peters.

Queensland’s Sunshine Coast will introduce visitors to the exciting world of chillis, herbs and spices on November 17 when it hosts the Ignite Chilli Festival.

Matt Sinclair — Masterchef runner-up and part-owner of Sum Yung Guys, a Sunshine Beach restaurant — will be the festival’s celebrity chef and will help showcase a fusion of food and music in Caloundra.

The event will include cooking demonstrations, chilli-eating competitions, food stalls and entertainment.

Visit www.ignitechillifestival.com.au.

Zaiyu Hasegawa … will join the line-up for the Sunshine Coast’s Curated Plate next August.

The Curated Plate, a new four-day destination food festival is, set to make its debut on the Sunshine Coast on August 8-11 next year.

The festival will bring together the region’s finest produce with the best chefs on the Australian and international dining scenes, with exclusive culinary events spanning the region, bringing to life the unique local environment.

The Sunshine Coast’s produce and producers, sustainable practices, artisan culture, and health and wellness will form key themes of the festival, with local experiences — ranging from food trails to farm tours — also featuring in the program.

Tokyo’s Zaiyu Hasegawa from the two-Michelin-Star restaurant, Den, will join the festival in a collaboration with Daniel Jarrett, chef at local restaurant, The Tamarind.

This year Den was named the Best Restaurant in Japan.

Visit www.thecuratedplate.com.au.

Jacarandas … quite profuse in Sydney. Image: Destination NSW.

Come spring, pockets of NSW, including some in Sydney, bloom in a sea of purple created by the famous jacaranda trees.

A principal focal point is, of course, the North Coast city of Grafton, widely proclaimed as Australia’s jacaranda capital, but you really don’t need to venture beyond Sydney to enjoy the spectacle.

Head to Oxford Street, Glenmore Road and Five Ways in Paddington, for instance, and don’t miss the tree-lined point where Glenmore Road meets Oxford Street.

The chic enclave is the home to high-end Australian designer boutiques and sits opposite the sprawling jacarandas on the lawn Victoria Barracks.

Or pack a picnic and head north of the city to Kirribilli, Lavender Bay, Greenwich, Waverton, Hunters Hill, Woolwich, Longueville or Wollstonecraft for a long lunch under the trees.

In the heart of Lavender Bay is heritage-listed Wendy Whiteley’s Garden, which has a spectacular view back to the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Harbour foreshore dotted with jacarandas.

Visit www.visitnsw.com.

Metro Advance Apartments & Hotel in Darwin … special kids’ play-and-stay packages.

Metro Advance Apartments & Hotel in Darwin has released a kids’ play-and-stay package that’s valid for the summer school holidays and priced from $194 per night with children under 12 staying free using existing bedding in a two-bedroom family apartment.

The package includes breakfast provisions for the family to enjoy in-room, a kids’ tepee chill-out corner with cushions, a toy box with games, a selection of children’s DVDs to enjoy in-room, a kids’ take-home bag with snacks and drink plus activity pack including crayons and pencils, free wi-fi, late check-out at 11am and free parking.

Visit www.metrohotels.com.au.

A Broken Hill highlight … the city’s famous outdoor gallery.

Tri State Safaris — part of the Out of the Ordinary Outback tourism group — is offering a 10 per cent discount on nine of its tours running for three days or longer for bookings and travel by December 31.

Among the iconic Outback experiences featured are an underground motel, indigenous rock art, striking desert scenery and Australia’s lowest point, Lake Eyre.

Including the discount, the tours cost from $1012 per person twin-share. All bookings include a bonus welcome bag with gifts and items such as a water bottle.

Tours include: the three-day ‘Outback Exposure’, ‘Mungo Deluxe’ eco-tour and ‘Broken Hill Highlights’; a four-day Corner Country tour; five-day tours such as the NSW ‘Outback Lap’, the ‘Flinders Ranges Spectacular’ and ‘Lake Eyre Discovery’; a six-day ‘Outback Dreaming’ package; and an eight-day ‘Birdsville Outback’ loop.

Fares include accommodation and meals.

Phone 1300 688 225 or visitwww.tristate.com.au.

Rail specials are available for Australian travellers to Britain this Christmas.

Australian-owned International Rail is offering specials for travellers visiting Britain during Christmas and the northern ski season.

Receive a 20 per cent discount on rail passes such as BritRail Pass and BritRail England Only Pass when purchased before February 22.

The passes are available for adults and children and in both first- and second-class and range from three to 15 days of travel.

Typical of the BritRail Flexi Saver Pass is the eight-days-in-one-month option, which now offers savings up to $300 per couple and costs from $585 per person in first-class.

Phone 1300 387 245 or visit www.internationalrail.com.au.

The Giant’s Causeway … a highlight of the Ireland circumnavigation.

Adventure Canada and Australia’s Cruise Traveller will combine two cruises next year — an 11-night circumnavigation of Ireland and a 10-night expedition around Scotland’s coast and islands.

To mark the release of the 23-night ‘Big British Break’ package, free hotel stays in Dublin and Glasgow are being offered along with a free flight between the two cities and a 20 per cent saving.

Solo passengers can also travel in selected cabins without paying any supplement.

After a free night in Dublin, guests will board Ocean Endeavour, with highlights of the circumnavigation of Ireland include the Skellig Islands which featured in The Last Jedi, touring Dingle Peninsula, visiting the mysterious Giant’s Causeway and exploring the huge Rock of Cashel, an extensive historic site featuring Celtic art and medieval architecture.

Guests will then fly to Glasgow for a hotel stay before reboarding Ocean Endeavour for a 10-night expedition cruise, which will showcase the wildlife, scenery, history, nature and culture of Scotland’s shores.

The 23-night package is currently priced from about $18,200 per person twin-share.

Phone 1800 507 777 or visit www.cruisetraveller.com.au.

Mashpi Lodge … a luxurious hideaway located on a high plateau.

Latitude 33 offers the unique chance in November next year to experience some of South America’s most spectacular destinations, from the colonial splendour of Santiago and Lima to the equatorial cloud forests of Ecuador to the one-of-a-kind Tierra del Fuego Archipelago.

The company’s 32-night ‘Tropical Wonderland to Peaks & Fjords’ journey combines stays in some of South America’s most stunning hotels with an 18-night cruise along the continent’s Pacific and southern coastline on board Hanseatic Inspiration.

Highlights include a four-night stay at Mashpi Lodge, a luxurious hideaway located on a high plateau about three hours from Quito.

Guests can relax in a veritable cocoon of luxury amongst the clouds, or explore the Ecuadorian Choco rainforest, which offers one of the world’s greatest biodiversity hotspots and is the perfect place to spot rare species of flora and fauna.

The cruise on board Hanseatic Inspiration is from Lima to Argentina’s Ushuaia, often billed as the world’s southernmost city.

Prices are from $32,099 per person twin-share, including all accommodation, return airport transfers, return international economy class airfares from Australia, one-way charter flights from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires and all transfers and baggage handling.

Phone 1300 636 848 or visit www.latitude33.travel.

Travelmarvel’s La Marguerite on the Mekong … daily life along the riverbank is a captivating performance.

Dreams of ancient temple realms, steaming bowls of mouthwatering pho and sleepy floating villages come to life in Vietnam and Cambodia.

Travelmarvel’s 12-day ‘Essential Vietnam & Cambodia’ tour includes a seven-night Mekong River cruise from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City, with daily life along the riverbank a captivating performance.

In the Kampong Tralach district, climb aboard what is playfully coined the ‘Khmer limousine’ ­– an ox-cart ride. Pass by rice fields and patchwork countryside, waving to locals as you go by.

In Oudong, among the hilly landscape of stupas and temples, receive a traditional Buddhist blessing by a monk.

Meet the brightly-dressed hill tribe locals in the mountain town of Sapa in Vietnam.

In Hanoi, enjoy a rickshaw ride through the maze of bustling streets in the Old Quarter.

Prices start at $3695 per person twin-share, including an earlybird fly-free offer.

Phone 1300 196 420 or visit www.travelmarvel.com.au.

Qamea Resort & Spa … save 50 per cent at an intimate beachfront resort.

To mark the start of the surf season at Fiji’s Qamea Resort & Spa’s, the intimate beachfront resort is offering 50 per cent off accommodation, with nightly rates from about $400 per couple.

The deal is valid for sale until November 30 and for travel between November 24 and January 31.

Included are daily continental breakfast, airport return transfers from Taveuni Airport, a Fijian cooking demonstration, nightly entertainment including weekly kava ceremony and meke performance, Sunday village church service, personalised water bottle, daily turndown service, and use of kayaks, paddleboards and snorkel gear.

Visit www.qamea.com.

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