25 September 2023

Uluru, Africa and more…

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By John Rozentals.

Brokenwood … the Hunter Valley winery’s tasting area includes pods for a more intimate experience.

Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia has expanded its collection of premium Australian wineries to 22 with the addition of the Hunter Valley’s Brokenwood to its portfolio.

Brokenwood completed construction of a stunning new cellar door at the end of last year, featuring circular tasting pods, an expansive outdoor terrace with views over the Hunter Valley, private tasting and dining rooms, as well as a wine museum overlooking the working barrel hall.

It is home to the famous Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz, the highly acclaimed ILR Reserve Semillon, and the popular Cricket Pitch range.

Two immersive Ultimate Winery Experiences are currently available at Brokenwood — the introductory ‘Brokenwood Journey’ and the much more advanced ‘VIP Soil-to-Cellar Experience’ which includes a taste of the flagship Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz, and an intimate fine-dining experience.

Visit www.ultimatewineryexperiences.com.au.

Vasco da Gama … a mid-sized ship.

Cruise & Maritime Voyages has added a series of themed cruises aboard the Vasco da Gama for its upcoming Australian summer season — a seven-night gin-themed cruise from Adelaide to Perth, a one-night Fremantle-based ‘Fringe on the Water’ event, and a five-night military-history-themed cruise from Sydney to Adelaide.

Vasco da Gama is a mid-sized ship with capacity for 1220 guests.

The gin-based cruise will showcase the very best produce from South Australia and Western Australia.

Highlights will include cooking demonstrations, lectures from gin experts and master distillers at Giniversity and Adelaide Gin, and an optional hosted gin tastings.

Visit cmvaustralia.com.

Ibis Styles East Perth … embracing the modular-construction trend.

Accor has teamed up on the new-build Ibis Styles East Perth — claimed to be the world’s largest high-rise modular hotel in terms of room numbers offered, and scheduled to open this September.

Accor’s economy brand has embraced the modular-construction trend, which sees entire rooms built in modules and assembled like pieces of Lego.

Ibis Styles East Perth will add 252 guest rooms to East Perth’s burgeoning hotel supply, spanning 18 floors.

Guests and visitors will be able to dine at the Eastside Social Bar and Restaurant on a ‘super-food’ menu, coupled with hotel favourites.

Other hotel amenities will include a 24-hour state-of-the-art gymnasium.

Ibis Styles East Perth is located at 69 Adelaide Terrace, East Perth.

Visit www.ibisstyleseastperth.com.au.

A million-dollar view … looking from Metro Apartments Darling Harbour.

Spring is the perfect time to plan a short break in Sydney.

To celebrate spring, Metro Apartments Darling Harbour is offering a discount of up to 20 per cent on accommodation booked in advance, with guests booking under the property’s ‘Early Bird Hot Deal’ also receiving complimentary wi-fi, early check-in at 1pm and extended check-out at 11am.

And there is plenty to see and do without leaving Darling Harbour — enjoy breakfast with the koalas at Wild Life Sydney, get up close and personal with penguins at Sea Life Sydney, meet the Royal Family at Madame Tussauds wax museum, or explore Antarctica in an immersive virtual-reality experience at the Maritime Museum.

Or enjoy a cocktail in one of the many boutique bars in Darling Harbour, a leisurely lunch or dinner cruise on Sydney Harbour, or a performance of Muriel’s Wedding at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre, across the footbridge, until September 8.

Or watch the spectacular Darling Harbour Fireworks every Saturday night at 8.30pm from one of the waterfront restaurants or bars on the western side of Darling Harbour.

Phone 1800 114 321 or visit www.metrohotels.com.au.

Plenty to do in the Red Centre without climbing Uluru … some as simple as watching the sun rise over the Rock. Image: Mitchell Cox Tourism NT.

Yes, there’ll be plenty to do in Australia’s heart following closure of the Uluru climb this October.

Activities include:

1. A free guided base walk around the Rock. Participants will learn the ancestral story of the Mala people and walk in the footsteps of the world’s oldest living culture.

2. The Field of Light display.

3. Tali Wiru dinner under the stars.

4. A camel ride around the Rock.

5. A ride around the base of Uluru on the back of an iconic Harley Davidson.

6. An astronomy tour of the Red Centre’s crystal clear skies.

Visit www.northernterritory.com.

Wondrous Namibian wildlife … a herd of oryx.

Latitude 33’s 17-night ‘Namibian Exploration by Trains, Plane and Automobiles’ offers guests a chance to immerse themselves in South Africa and Namibia — two of southern Africa’s most intriguing countries.

The adventure incorporates a nine-night train journey aboard the all-inclusive Rovos Rail from Pretoria to Namibia’s Walvis Bay, along with stays at some of Africa’s most exceptional hotels.

The meticulously restored antique train carrying no more than 72 guests, bills itself as “the most luxurious train in the world”, with suites replete with dark-wood panelling, plush linens, beds that convert to sumptuous couches and writing desks stocked with monogrammed stationary.

The observation deck is the perfect place to absorb dramatic African landscapes, while the dining car features cuisine showcasing the very best of local food and wine.

Journey highlights include: a stopover in South Africa’s Kimberley, centre of one of the world’s most famous diamond rushes; traversing the stark vistas of the Northern Cape to the Fish River Canyon; and a visit to Namibia’s Garas Park with its Quiver Tree Forest and the Giant’s Playground.

Prices start from $22,899 per person twin-share, including all accommodation, return international economy-class airfares from Australia, all meals and beverages aboard Rovos Rail, all meals, and selected beverages at both Skeleton Coast Shipwreck Lodge and &Beyond Sossusvlei Lodge, and all transfers and baggage handling throughout the tour.

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

European river luxury … Riviera’s Jane Austen on the Danube.

Riviera Travel River Cruises has launched a new ‘Walk and Discover’ program of guided walks for active passengers keen to explore a different side of destinations visited by the line’s river ships in Europe.

Guided by local experts, up to 20 guests can follow paths and trails through forests, meadows and vineyards, along rivers, and up to scenic lookouts, castles and ruins.

The walks will be available on three sailings this September and October — an eight-day ‘Medieval Germany’ sailing from Mainz to Nuremberg, departing September 26; an eight-day ‘Blue Danube’ sailing, round-trip from Budapest, departing October 14; and a 15-day ‘Heart of Europe’ cruise from Cologne to Budapest, sailing October 31.

Prices are $55 per person for three guided walks, and $75 for five.

The ‘Walk and Discover’ experiences are in addition to the complimentary excursions passengers can join in every port on Riviera Travel River Cruises’ sailings across Europe.

Visit www.rivieratravel.com.au.

American Empress … built in 2002.

The American Queen Steamboat Company is offering savings of up to US$1000 per couple on eight-night cruise packages along North America’s historic Columbia River, which snakes through scenic gorges and canyons and past sunburnt hillsides, spectacular waterfalls and the oldest American settlements west of the Rocky Mountains.

Journeying through the heart of US Washington State’s wine region, the cruise showcases the history and scenery of the Columbia and Snake rivers.

The deal is valid for a range of departures next year if booked by this December 31.

Guests will cruise on board the 223-passenger American Empress, which is the largest river cruise vessel west of the Mississippi.

Prices start from US$2535 per person twin-share.

Visit www.cruisetraveller.com.au/aqsc.

Tekapo’s Dark Sky Project … on a clear night you can see forever.

There is nowhere in the world quite like Tekapo, on New Zealand’s South Island about a three-hour drive from Christchurch, to see the wonder of the night sky, and a new visitor attraction will bring it to life like never before.

Dark Sky Project is based in a purpose-built facility on the Lake Tekapo waterfront, and invites visitors to join the experience through its diner, shops, and a restored 125-year-old telescope.

Dark Sky Project sits at the heart of Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, one of Ngāi Tahu Tourism’s boldest visitor offerings.

The new experience combines Māori astronomy with modern science in a 45-minute multi-media journey, bringing the magic of the night sky to those staying in the region, as well as those passing through.

Visit www.darkskyproject.co.nz.

Get up close with wildlife on a Tucan adventure … but not too close.

Tucan Travel has added a range of tailor-made Africa itineraries to its portfolio, providing a range of options in countries such as South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya and Tanzania.

All the itineraries are customisable, based on accommodation, transport and activities and customers can mix and match three-, four- and five-star accommodation.

The countries are described as perfect for adventure holiday makers, with an abundance of wildlife activities and unique landscape.

Typical is an 11-day Botswana and Zambia tailor-made tour priced from $12,699 per person twin-share, including hotel accommodation, 10 breakfasts, nine lunches, nine dinners, local guides and all transport on tour, arrival transfer, afternoon boat cruise on the Chobe River, afternoon sunset cruise at Victoria Falls, morning game drive in Chobe National Park, lunch at the Elephant Cafe experience, morning guided tour of Victoria Falls and departure transfer.

Visit www.tucantravel.com.

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