26 September 2023

Western Australia, New Zealand and more…

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By John Rozentals.

Bridal Veils Falls in the Blue Mountains National Park … on a trek helping visitors learn essential camping skills.

Emu Trekkers, established last year as Australia’s first 100 per cent not-for-profit adventure-tourism operator, has launched a new two-day hike in the UNESCO world-heritage-listed Blue Mountains National Park.

The tour is suitable for fit ‘first timers’, and involves a hike down to the Acacia Flat campground for a peaceful night in one the most secluded areas in the region.

Visitors learn essential camping skills, including how to set up a tent, how to cook, clean, keep warm and, of course, have a great night under the stars without leaving a trace.

The goal of this immersive experience is to showcase the beautiful Blue Mountains National Park while reinforcing positive environmental practices.

All the camping equipment is provided free-of-charge and as with Emu’s other treks, all money raised goes to helping the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

The trek costs $249.

Visit www.emutrekkers.org.

Getting up as close as the regulations permit … FantaSea spots a whale off Sydney Harbour.

FantaSea will kick off its Sydney whale-watching cruises on May 19, with a marine biologist on every tour and an onboard hydrophone for passengers to hear, as well as see, migrating whales off the Heads.

Prices start at $25 for children and $49 for adults, with packages available for families and groups. All whale-watching tickets and packages are redeemable if the tour group does not encounter a whale.

The cruises run seven days a week until the whales have finished their journey along the coast, usually late October to early November.

Snacks and refreshments are available for purchase on board and complimentary tea and coffee is available from inside the Harbour only.

Visit fantasea.com.au.

Cockatoo Island … a colourful convict past.

Just hop on a ferry at Sydney’s Circular Quay in Sydney, and be transported back to Australia’s colourful convict past while exploring the salt-baked maritime dockyards of the UNESCO world-heritage site of Cockatoo Island.

Keen to experience Cockatoo’s eerie side? Go for a ‘Haunted History’ night tour which will let you in on many of the island’s hidden and scary secrets.

Apparently, prisoners were sometimes left for weeks in coffin-like sandstone solitary confinement cells.

And several escapees reportedly drowned trying to swim to freedom across shark-infested waters.

There’s also a ‘Crooked Characters’ tour that will regale you with sordid tales of charlatans, rogues, and thieves.

Or simply pack a picnic, fire up a barbecue, chill out at a cafe, or book an audio tour to wander around the island at leisure.

Visit www.cockatooisland.gov.au.

Discover Western Australia’s diverse south-west on SeaLink’s 10-day tour.

Discover Western Australia’s beautiful and diverse south-west on SeaLink’s 10-day tour, departing October 5.

Prices start at $3735 per person twin-share, including accommodation, breakfast and dinner daily, most lunches, activities, cruises and coach transfers.

In October, guests will get to see the wonderful array of wildflowers in the regions visited.

The tour visits Perth, Rottnest Island, the Margaret River region, Pemberton, Albany and Wave Rock/Hyden.

Highlights include seeing Kings Park Botanical Gardens in Perth, with its 1700 species of wildflowers in bloom, Cottesloe Beach, a Captain Cook Cruises scenic river cruise to Fremantle, a full-day wine cruise to the Swan Valley and a day exploring Rottnest Island.

Visit www.sealink.com.au.

Learn about the rock-lobster industry on the refitted cray boat, Reel Affair.

Still in Western Australia’s south-west, the regional city of Mandurah has a new ocean-seafood adventure for visitors.

The three-hour ‘Wild Seafood Experience’ by Mandurah Cruises lets passengers pull rock-lobster pots from the ocean before the delicacy is prepared on board by a chef as the boat heads back to calm estuary waters.

Once the lobster is prepared, guests sit down to dine on it and a host of other local seafood delicacies, accompanied by beer, cider and local wines.

Passengers will learn about the rock-lobster industry and view beautiful canal homes as the cruise continues, all from the comfort of the refitted cray boat, Reel Affair.

Visit www.visitpeel.com.au.

Fiji’s Qamea Resort and Spa … adults only.

Qamea Resort and Spa, located off the Fijian island of Taveuni, is an adult-only resort which has released new five-night and seven-night packages offering savings of 40 per cent off accommodation, all meals free on day of arrival, daily continental breakfast, airport transfer to and from Taveuni Airport and a Fijian cooking demonstration.

The packages are priced from about $2920 per person twin-share and are valid for sale until May 31 and for travel until March 31 next year.

They also include the choice of a 30-minute massage, a hydrating facial, a hibiscus-and-coconut wrap, a guided snorkelling tour, and a romantic beach experience of a bottle of house wine served with canapés on the beach.

Visit www.worldresortsofdistinction.com.

The mighty Himalayas … the chance to join Peter Hillary, son of the late Sir Edmund Hilary, on a cultural journey.

The Australian Himalayan Foundation and World Expeditions are joining forces to offer the chance to join Peter Hillary, son of the late Sir Edmund Hilary, and Simon Balderstone, accomplished adventurer and mountaineer, on a 17-day minimal-trekking cultural journey through Darjeeling, Sikkim, Nepal and Bhutan.

The ‘Chairman’s Himalayan Traverse’ departs Delhi on December 1 and costs from $11,240 per person twin-share, excluding international flights. In addition, participants are required to fundraise $7000 per person for the AHF’s programs in education, health and the environment.

Highlights include visits to the Snow Leopard Conservancy in Leh, the Teacher Training & Quality Education program in Nepal, and the family of Tenzing Norgay.

The group will also experience the splendour of the Himalayas from the arid landscapes of Ladakh to the backdrop of Kanchenjunga in Darjeeling, and the peaks of Nepal and Bhutan, staying throughout in character-filled hotels and resorts.

Phone 1300 720 000 or visit www.australianhimalayanfoundation.org.au.

The Northern Lights … as seen from the Lofoten Islands in Norway.

Viking has launched its ‘Winter Wanderlust’ sale, with a range of offers on both river and ocean cruises, with savings up to $6300 per couple and free return flights on selected itineraries.

All offers must be booked before July 31.

Ocean-cruising offers include the 15-day ‘Into the Midnight Sun’ adventure between Bergen and London, now priced from $9195 per person twin-share, a saving of up to $6300 per couple.

River-cruising offers include the 15-day ‘Grand European Cruise’ from Amsterdam to Budapest, now priced from $5995 per person twin-share, with free return flights to Europe.

All offers include all on-board meals, wine and beer with lunch and dinner, a free shore excursion in every port and unlimited wi-fi.

Phone 138 747 or visit vikingcruises.com.au.

Helicopter-based skiing on New Zealand’s South Island … get a group together and it becomes quite economical.

Save money skiing New Zealand’s South Island by chartering a helicopter from Southern Lakes Heliski for yourself and a group of friends.

A private charter for four people with one helicopter just for you works out at about $2100 per person but skiers should average 15 runs in one day, which makes the cost per run about $140.

Costs drop for charter groups eight.

Visit www.heliskinz.com.

A Catalan tradition … a human tower exhibition.

Silversea has unveiled details of its Venetian Society voyage in October.

While open to all, special enhancements will enrich the voyage exclusively for members of the Venetian Society, including unique events, special activities, sophisticated receptions and other privileges, both on- and off-shore.

Membership of the society is open to returning Silversea guests.

In Barcelona, for instance, members of the Venetian Society will enjoy a rare insight into the local culture held in one of Barcelona’s prominent architectural marvels, the Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau.

With private access to the world heritage site after hours, guests will have the chance to admire the lavish decorations and sip cocktails at a hosted reception in the complex’s inner gardens.

Guests will witness a human tower exhibition — the first of its kind in this venue — in which about 120 performers will demonstrate a Catalan tradition by forming a vast corporeal structure.

Other highlights will include an introduction to the art of flamenco while exploring the Iberian Peninsula.

Guests will be immersed into this institution of Spanish culture, which was recently declared as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

Fares for the nine-day cruise start from $4140 per person twin-share.

Visit www.silversea.com.

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