25 September 2023

New Zealand, Queensland and more…

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By John Rozentals.

The highway near Glen Innes … a picturesque window on the New England region of NSW. Image: Destination NSW.

Golden sunsets, picturesque vistas and hearty local produce feature at the core of a new highlights package, designed to showcase the rich and unique experiences that make the NSW New England region — and particularly the centres of Armidale and Glen Innes — the perfect autumn and early-winter escape.

The poplar-tree-lined streets bathed in warm golden hues lead to cosy country hotels offering delicious rustic dishes and local wines.

Highlights include colonial heritage buildings in the pretty tree-lined streets of Armidale where visitors will discover museums and galleries, and also enjoy delicious food and wine in an elegant regional city.

Also be transported back to nineteenth-century pastoral life by visiting Saumarez Homestead, a 10 ten-hectare grazing property, which features a two-storey, 30-room Edwardian mansion, several farm buildings and extensive gardens.

And savour the delights of the Welder’s Dog Brewery, run by three locals who are passionate about sharing quality craft beer with the world.

Or just explore Tourist Drive 19. Pack a picnic, hop in the car at Armidale and take an easy country drive south through some of the most picturesque areas of the New England Highway.

Just be sure to stop by the photogenic vine-covered Gostwyck Chapel, as well as Dangar’s Gorge for spectacular views of the waterfalls.

Visit www.visitnsw.com.

El Questro Resort … bonus nights and savings.

The Kimberley’s El Questro Resort has released a range of mid-season deals across its Homestead, Station and Emma Gorge lodgings, offering travellers a chance to explore the region during the cool season.

For travel from June 1 onwards, the El Questro mid-season deals offer bonus nights and savings, including complimentary breakfasts and kids staying free.

At El Questro’s luxury Homestead, for instance guests can stay four nights for the price of just three, and enjoy included gourmet dining and a range of included experiences of the Kimberley.

Rates start at $1521 per room per night, based on a four-night minimum stay until October 26.

Guests staying in the resort-style accommodation at El Questro’s Station can stay three nights for the price of two, with complimentary daily breakfast included and children 12-years-and-under staying free.

Rates start at $226 per person twin share, based on a three-night minimum stay until October 19.

Meanwhile, guests staying three-nights in the tented cabins at Emma Gorge pay for only two, and enjoy free daily breakfast, with children aged two-to-12 years staying free on the deal.

Rates for the three-night deal start at $216 per person twin-share, available for stays until September 25.

Visit www.elquestro.com.au.

Seeing it like it is … Ruby and Indie Homan, plus friend.

Queensland’s Scenic Rim Eat Local Week will this year run from June 29 through to July 7, and feature more than 90 events.

The week provides a backstage pass to the farms, wineries and food stories of the region, and presents the opportunity to meet the people behind the produce and the flavours, in a celebration that features festivals, farm-gate events and culinary experiences for foodies of all ages.

Set against the natural beauty of the Scenic Rim, a region of more than 4200 square kilometres of rich volcanic soil surrounded by ancient mountains and home to thousands of famers and food creators, Eat Local Week is one of the most authentic food festivals in the world.

Shaking the muddied hand of a farmer in the middle of a carrot paddock while sipping on local carrot beer and watching a fashion parade of Carrot Couture is testament to just how extraordinary this famed event is.

Phone 07 5540 5111 or visit eatlocalweek.com.au.

Cambodian luxury … the Shinta Mani Angkor.

Remote Lands has collaborated with architect and interior designer Bill Bensley to produce the Bensley Trail, a 14-day expedition early next year to Southeast Asia.

The journey is limited to 16 guests and takes in Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, with accommodation in four Bensley resorts, each one an experience that brings to life the destination.

Participants will be treated to an exploration of each country, including immersion in nature, adventure, beauty, culture, history and architecture and indulging in authentic regional cuisine and relaxing on picturesque beaches.

Each guest or couple will have their own private car, driver and guide for all airport transfers and touring.

Prices are from US$37,888 per person twin-share.

Visit www.remotelands.com.

Ice and penguins aplenty … visiting Antarctica with Hurtigruten.

Chimu Adventures is offering up to 25 per cent off Hurtigruten cruises to Antarctica, the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Patagonia during the 2019-20 season.

The sale will run June 26, with prices on packages to Antarctica and the Falkland Islands starting at $7594 for a 17-day itinerary.

Hurtigruten claims to be the first cruise liner in the world to ban all single-use plastics on their voyages and the first operating hybrid-powered expedition ships.

It also uses biogas as fuel — leftovers from the fishing industry combined with other organic waste — on voyages where supply is possible.

The discounted expeditions are aboard the Midnatsol, the Fram and the Amundsen, on which guests can learn more about the fragile polar environment and conduct their own experiments with the assistance of biologists and geologists.

Phone 1300 720 564 or visit www.chimuadventures.com.

Don’t let the lack of snow deter you … grass skiing in Japan’s Kannabe Highlands.

Cherry-blossom season may well be over but that doesn’t mean that Japan has lost any of its charm, especially in the hot-spring town of Kinosaki Onsen.

Those looking for an off-the-beaten-track exploration of Japan’s outdoors this summer should try sea kayaking at Takeno Beach, has been ranked one of Japan’s best beaches.

Or go grass skiing in the Kannabe Highlands, the perfect place to zoom down the grassy knoll on a pair of skis made specifically for grass skiing and have a fun experience for both kids and adults.

For more information, visit www.visitkinosaki.com.

The Library in Thailand’s Koh Samui … save 20 per cent.

The Library in Thailand’s Koh Samui is offering a 20 per cent discount on its best available rates on bookings across all room types received by June 30 for guest stays of three nights or more until September 30.

Discounted rates, based on accommodation for two, will commence at THB10,080, excluding taxes and service charge.

The offer will also include round-trip Samui Airport transfers and a three-course dinner (excluding beverages) at The Library’s signature restaurant, The Page, fronting Chaweng Beach.

Visit www.thelibrarysamui.com.

As close as you’ll want to get … kayaking with orcas. Image: Jenn Dickie.

Ranging from kayaking with orcas off Vancouver Island to cycling the Rum Runners Trail in Nova Scotia, World Expeditions has added four new trips to its range of active Canadian adventures.

‘Kayaking with Orcas’, for instance, is a new, seven-day kayaking expedition in the Johnstone Strait, off Vancouver Island, where pods of orca whales congregate during the summer to feed, socialise and rub themselves on the pebble beaches.

As well as the orcas, there is a plethora of wildlife present, including black bears and bald eagles, on the ruggedly beautiful coastline.

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

Raffles’ Beach Island Experience in the Maldives … guests can watch the marine life below.

Raffles has opened the 21-villa Beach Island Experience in the Maldives oasis of Gaafu Alifu Atoll.

The main island is home to beach villas and beach residences which feature private pools and a marble bathroom with a sunken bathtub and outdoor shower.

The Raffles Royal Residence and a secluded collection of overwater villas and residences are adjacent to one of the reefs, which can be reached by a traditional Maldivian Dhoni boat, and set to launch during the last quarter of 2019.

In each of the terraces, guests can watch the marine life below through the glass flooring panels.

Two reefs provide a thriving habitat for the marine life including baby sharks, turtles and a myriad of tropical fish.

For those who want to learn more about the underwater realm, the hotel’s resident marine biologist and team of marine butlers are on hand to personalise guest experiences that bring unique and beautiful insights of the underwater world.

Visit www.raffles.com.

It’s action in the air … the Warbirds Over Wanaka airshow on New Zealand’s South Island.

Next Easter Grand Pacific Tours will combine the Warbirds Over Wanaka airshow with the scenic beauty of New Zealand on a choice of four touring options.

Choose from either the eight- or 13-day South Island Tours, the 11-day ‘Ultimate’ small-group tour or the new 15-day Warbirds Over Wanaka tour.

All options include a three-day Gold Pass to Warbirds Over Wanaka giving guests the best seats at the airshow, exclusive marquee access with CCTV, a souvenir cap and badge, airshow program, an opportunity to walk the flight line and entry to the Warbirds & Wheels Museum.

Nestled on the shores of a nearby lake amongst the mighty peaks of the Southern Alps, the natural amphitheatre created by these mountains provides a backdrop of stunning scenery.

The tastes and flavours of Central Otago are also on show. Visit the Taste of Otago food-hall for gourmet options featuring the best of the region or perhaps sample ‘street style’ flavours from one of the cooking stations.

Prices start from $4184 per person twin-share, including most meals.

Phone 1800 622 768 or visit www.gptnz.com.

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