Feral at Dreamworld, flora in Canberra: travel deals 23 September 2012


Go feral at Dreamworld, or floral in Canberra or find out if it really is all happening at the zoo, in San Diego. 

TASMANIA
Can’t decide between drinking beer or hunting for Tasmanian tigers? Do both when you stay the Cradle Mountain Chateau, at the northern side of the dramatic national park that includes Tassie’s best-loved mountain and serene Lake St Claire. The 60-room hotel includes a Wilderness Gallery featuring photography of the region’s dramatic scenery and night tours of the local animals. Save 55 per cent on stays until December 20. Costs from $65 per person, twin share. 1800 420 555. cradlemountainchateau.com.au.

ACT
Floriade celebrates 25 years in 2012. 
Canberra bursts into colour with Floriade, its annual flower extravaganza, until September 23. Now in its 25th year, highlights of the festival include The Best Exotic Marigold Tea House, with Indian teas and music in a wildly exotic setting, and Floriade NightFest, comedy, music and light displays from 6.30pm nightly, floriadeaustralia.com. Murrays’ bus service has a web special providing daily return services  between Sydney and Canberra until October 14. Normally $83 return, costs $59 return. murrays.com.au.

VICTORIA
Knock two of Victoria’s most beautiful walks off your bucket list with a two-up walking deal with Park Trek. Spend four days walking the coastal Great Ocean Walk (November 3-6) then head inland and upwards, for another four days in the Grampians (November 8-11). You’ll carry just a small, light daypack, and the price includes all accommodation, meals and expert guides. Book two tours, save $110. Costs $2190 a person. (03) 9877 9540, www.parktrek.com.

Bustin' some moves at Dreamworld
QUEENSLAND
The price of unlimited happiness is $59.99. That’s the cost of a kids’ ticket that gives unlimited visits to Dreamworld and WhiteWater World from now until June 30, 2013. New this summer is Kung Fu Panda Land and new rides in Wiggles World, and there are balloon twisters, roving beatboxers, magicians, and, from September 22 to October 7, evicted Big Brother Housemates (pssst, you can watch BB being filmed live at Dreamworld Studios for $15). One-day tickets normally cost $69.99 kids/$109.99 adults, but the Unlimited World Passes also include a free SkyPoint Observation Deck annual pass, worth $29, that shoots you to the top of Q1 tower, at Surfers Paradise. Costs $59.99 for kids, $109.99 for adults. (07) 5588 1111, dreamworld.com.au.

OUTBACK AUSTRALIA
Birdsville, the Alice, Kakadu, Uluru: the Outback is calling, and what better way to see it than by private aircraft? This 12-day journey covers 10,000 kilometres, visiting the iconic towns of the outback, including Katherine, Broome and Longreach. Includes all meals, accommodation and guides. Harvey World Travel clients also get one night’s pre-tour accommodation at the Sheraton on the Park, Sydney, and airport transfers. Book by October 31, and save $1000 on travel between March-August 2013. Costs from $13,495 a person, 132 757, harveyworld.com.au.


NSW
There’s no tv, no phones and a no-talking ‘quiet room’. Scared yet? Spring-clean your body and mind at Solar Springs Retreat, in Bundanoon, on the Southern Highlands, which has 20 per cent off its all-inclusive packages during spring. The new three-night midweek ‘Seriously Spring Time’ deal includes accommodation, all meals and three spa treatments – a facial, foot therapy and body buff. Also included are guided bushwalks, yoga and meditation and health and fitness talks. Valid until November 30, costs from $820 a person, twin share, or $1540 a couple for three nights. (02) 4883 6027, solarsprings.com.au.

EUROPE
If the road and a GPS are your friends, discover Europe by hire car. Sydney’s globalCARS is offering free pick-up and drop-off, valued up to $640 in Rome and Madrid, at 33 locations across Europe and the UK during 2013. Includes unlimited kilometres, insurance with no excess and 24-hour assistance. Book and pay by October 31. Costs from $27 a day for six-month leases, $42 a day for 26-day leases. Contact travel agents, 1300 789 992, globalCARS.com.au.

San Diego, USA
USA
It’s all happening at the zoo, specifically San Diego zoo, which is celebrating the birth a baby boy panda. Stay four nights at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel, pay for three, and also get a one-day pass to the zoo, which is just 10 minutes from the hotel. Book by 3pm March 29 2013, travel until March 31, 2013. Costs from $379 a person, twin share.  1300 130 485, travel.com.au.

ABU DHABI
Cancel all ideas of Abu Dhabi as solely a desert wilderness. Check into the waterfront Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara, stay five nights and pay four on stays now to October 31, 2013. Otherwise, book 45 days in advance and pay by December 31, and save 15 per cent off your room rate. Costs from $84 a person, twin share, in a deluxe room with balcony, including breakfast.  1300 665 673, sunislandtours.com.au.

PORTUGAL
Getting off the beaten track in Europe is possible, with a nine-day tour of Portugal, visiting castles, cathedrals and Roman temples including the evocative Belem Tower, in Lisbon. Balancing the history are visits to its beaches and famous vineyards of the Douro Valley. Save 10 per cent when you book and pay by December 27, for travel March 30 – October 12. Includes luxury coach transport, accommodation, meals and airport transfers. Costs from $1665 a person, twin share. 1300 237 886, insightvacations.com.

MALDIVES
All island resorts are not made equal, as the Gili Lankanfushi (formerly Soneva Gili) amply demonstrates, to wit its 45 rustic chic overwater villas, the overwater bar and Mr Friday, who can do everything from pack your bag to look after the kids. Stay seven nights on the private island, get three nights free on stays till December 19, when booked by December 12. Virtuoso guests will also get a room upgrade, 30-minute spa treatment for two and a private sunset sail. Costs from $4330 a room, seven nights. (02) 9957 4511, maryrossitravel.com.


TOURWATCH
Exploring Patagonia, Chile
The only way to explore Chilean Patagonia is by horseback. You’ll need to know the difference between nose and tail for these five-day expeditions, which explore the wilds of the end of the earth on a series of day rides past glaciers and mountains of unimaginable beauty, with your gaucho bro. Each night, you’ll  return to the sublime Hotel Salto Chico, in Torres del Paine National Park, with its spectacular mountain views and an outdoor hot spa that will surely become your second-best friend (after your horse) at the end of a day in the saddle. The tours depart once a month from October, cost from $2780 a person, twin share, includes all meals, drinks, airport transfers and equipment. +56 2395 2800, explora.com. 

Source: Belinda Jackson, Sun Herald

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