Monday, August 31, 2009

Cruise Weekly Comment: Adventure Cruising – Aussie Style

For lots of people, the idea of an adventure cruise means some far off, distant land, icebergs and glaciers. But some dinkum Aussie operators provide world-class products right here from our favourite cities.

Of those operators sailing Australian-flagged vessels with all-Australian crew, North Star Cruises in Broome, Coral Princess Cruises in Cairns and Captain Cook Cruises in Sydney come quickly to mind with itineraries covering the entire coastline of Australia, including the Murray River.

Iconic destinations such as the Kimberley and Great Barrier Reef are well covered, but dig deeper and you’ll find semi-secret locations such as the Rowley Shoals in WA and Cape York and Arnhem Land across our Top End. North Star Cruises continue their Southern Safari out of Adelaide that covers Kangaroo Island and Eyre Peninsula with the exciting “Jaws” shark cage dive as highlight.

Coral Princess Cruises, one of the premium operators in the Kimberley, are even offering a free Great Barrier Reef Cruise for every new booking in the Kimberley this year. (this offer was supposed to expire end August, but tell them CW said it was extended by 7 days for subscribers only!) Otherwise a 15% earlybird applies for 2010 dates.

It’s a bit harder to keep track of some of the smaller operators offering niche products, but Pearl Seas Cruises, Cannon Charters, Great Escape (pic r), Matrix, K2O and One Tide all offer intimate vessels of around a dozen passengers and can be booked through the one-stop Kimberley Cruise Centre or direct. These little ships are great for divers, fishers and small corporate or family groups.

The multi-award-winning Orion Expedition Cruises are an Australian Private Company operating the 106-passenger Bahaman-flagged Orion. The “grand dame” of our adventure fleet, Orion offers the nearest thing to a big ship experience, yet still keeps that adventurous touch. Their just-announced 2010 brochure includes a wealth of local cruising options including our east coast, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia – many of which are firsts for Orion. The loyal following will have plenty of reasons for repeat cruises next year and new cruisers may want to try them too.

So if you’re hankering for an adventure cruise and don’t want the jetlag, there are stacks of great opportunities in brilliant vessels right on our doorstep. Print this page now, race into your favourite travel agent and get aboard!

Ten things every Australian should experience before retirement

Why put off that well-earned holiday until tomorrow? With plenty of great Australian holiday deals on offer, experts are encouraging us to not hoard our annual leave until we retire, but to use it to experience Australia and escape the pressure of the workplace for a few days or more.

Getting out of the office and taking a holiday not only benefits our health and can help us reconnect with family and friends, it can also provide long-term professional benefits, improving productivity and increasing morale when returning to work.

Acting as a timely reminder of the importance of taking your entitled annual leave, especially during times of reduced resources and increasing workloads, Tourism Australia’s No Leave No Life program aims to encourage Australian employees to take their leave and explore Australia’s many experiences on offer.

Research shows that Australian workers who work long hours also tend to take work home to complete and these hours do not necessarily equate to productivity. Long hours are a good predictor of role overload, work interference with family, alongside burnout and physical and mental health problems which are not sustainable over the long-term*.

For anyone needing further incentive or inspiration, here is a checklist compiled by the State Tourism Organisations of quintessential Australian experiences that every Aussie SHOULD think about doing whilst on holiday:

1. Embrace the wide open space which can be only truly experienced in the Outback and get back to basics. Kick off your shoes and walk barefoot upon Australia’s famous red dust and gaze up to the sky for nature’s show of shooting stars.
2. Feel energised again. Breathe in the fresh air and feel the salt spray wash away the cobwebs as you wander out to Australia’s most easterly point, Cape Byron and be the first to welcome in the new day.
3. Dreaming of a Mediterranean escape? Fill a basket full of local goodies, find some grass for a rug and picnic amongst vineyards and olive groves along the Mornington Peninsula.
4. Get active and kit up for one of the world’s most amazing snorkelling experiences. Dive into crystal clear water and immerse yourself in the magical underwater world at one of the greatest natural wonders in the world - the Great Barrier Reef.
5. Bring out the artist within and rediscover your creative streak. Feel inspired as you lose yourself for the day amongst 100,000 impressive works featured in the National Gallery of Australia.
6. Remember what it’s like to “feel alive” and get the adrenaline pumping as you glide like a bird over Tasmania’s Hollybank Forest Reserve on a treetop tour.
7. Join the festival merry-go-round in Adelaide with friends this summer. Allow yourself to be tempted and spoilt by the finer things in life and
indulge in the array of food and wine, sporting and musical events on offer.
8. Reignite romance and passion with your loved one. Take a slow camel ride along Cable Beach at sunset and upon return enjoy a glass of
bubbly and private dinner for two on the water’s edge.
9. Get away from your computer and rediscover the true meaning of adventure. Hike through Kakadu’s National Park of lush green valleys and
be guided by the sound of Gunlom Falls’ water cascading for your next “cool down”.
10. Recharge the batteries. Pack the car and kids and set off on a road trip following Australia’s famous coastline. Spend the days building sandcastles, exploring rockpools, and playing cricket on the sand. Pitch the tent, take long walks along the beach, cast the rod, catch some dinner and fire up the BBQ.

The program’s website provides regular, up-to-date tips and tools to help every Australian tackle the issue of stockpiled annual leave and plan an unforgettable holiday in Australia.

Jetstar, V Australia in Fiji showdown

The ability of Qantas to be nimble in countering rivals and increasing competition is again being tested with the carrier’s plan to use its Jetstar subsidiary on services to Fiji from next April.

Qantas has applied for traffic rights on the Australia-Fiji sector just days after Virgin Blue's V Australia applied for similar traffic rights.

Qantas says it wants to have an additional 1,491 seats per week on the Sydney-Nadi route to be flown seven-times-weekly by Jetstar using Airbus A321s.

Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, Scott Rochfort said while the move is set to undermine V Australia's planned entry on the route it would deal an even more debilitating blow on Air Pacific, part-owned by Qantas.

He said the move has fuelled suspicions Qantas is looking to sell its stake in the Fijian national airline, which is 51 per cent owned by the Fijian Government.

At present, Qantas's only presence on the route is through a codeshare it operates with Air Pacific.

V Australia plans to replace some of its Virgin Blue 737 services from Sydney into Fiji using 360-seat B777-300s.


Australia's Airline Satisfaction Survey

click for enlargement

Tiger Airways now has the ignoble title as Australia’s worst airline, with only 55% customer satisfaction received in a recent survey conducted by consumer magazine Choice.

In a survey of major domestic carriers and their satisfaction results Virgin Blue won top honours with 68% satisfaction, climbing up from its second place position from last year and edging out Regional Express from its top spot.

Qantas sat in the middle of the list of five at third with 61% satisfaction, only slightly ahead of Jetstar, who was voted as the second least favourite carrier with a 60% satisfaction rate.

If it was any comfort for the much harangued carrier, Tiger Airways did come first in the sub-category of “value for money” with 75% satisfaction, narrowly edging out Virgin Blue who scored 74%.

In all other areas of in-flight service, seat comfort, ability to get a convenient flight, and booking process, Tiger Airways sat either last or second last on the list.

“Since Tiger Airways became Australia’s third budget airline in late 2007, domestic air travel has never been more affordable,” said Choice in its report.

“With return airfares between some capitals now costing less than $50, including taxes, flying interstate is often cheaper than driving.

“Greater competition among domestic airlines is pushing prices down. But consumers still expect a reasonable standard of service, among other things, to rate an airline as providing “value for money”.”

Interestingly 40% of travellers cite “value for money” as a major factor in their choice of airline, while 32% say frequent flyer points are important, and another 28% say schedules are important.

For those still flying with Qantas, the popular frequent flyer scheme was the main motivator, as was “force of habit”.

Source: e-travelblackboard

Captain Cook Cruises launch High Tea at Sea Cruises

MasterChef Series One Contestant, Lucas Parsons will launch Captain Cook Cruises new High Tea at Sea on Saturday October 3 at 2.30pm and help create a high tea menu for all High Tea at Sea cruises operating on Sydney Harbour throughout October.

To officially launch the High -Tea at Sea cruises, Lucas will join passengers on the first high tea cruise and combine his cooking talents with Captain Cook Cruises Head Chef, Dennis Yang, to create a delicious high tea menu.

Lucas, who made it to the final week of the first MasterChef series, always had a passion for food which made cooking a natural thing.

"My family are real foodies and for me, food is all about families coming together. You can be creative with textures and flavours and presentation, he explains.

Working with Captain Cook Cruises Head Chef to help design a delicious high tea menu will be a lot of fun and I'm sure it will be a menu enjoyed by everyone.

I'm also looking forward to meeting the passengers and discussing the menu when I launch the High Tea at Sea Cruises." Continues Mr Parson's.

The prestigious MV Sydney 2000 will host the High Tea at Sea and priced at $45 per person, the High Tea at Sea is an ideal way to sample the elegance of this superb cruising restaurant at a great price. The cruise also includes delectable bubbles and million dollar views of Sydney Harbour.

The High Tea at Sea cruises will run every Wednesday and Saturday throughout October and cruises depart at 2.30pm from No.6 Jetty Circular Quay and return at 3.45pm. 

For further information and bookings, please contact Captain Cook Cruises toll free from Australia on 1800 804 843; Int +61-2-9206 1100, Email: or visit

Cruise Passenger Newsletter

Deal of the Week

No Single Supplement!
Kimberley Coast on board Oceanic Discoverer
Broome-Darwin 10 nights
21 Sep & 12 Oct 09
Darwin – Broome 02 Oct 09
$7750 single occupancy

Call 1800 288 266

Spend Spring skiing in the south

The snow may have melted away in Australia, but there has never been a better time for Australians to hit the slopes.

Those in the know are making a beeline for the heart of the South Island, Canterbury, which has more ski-fields than any other region in New Zealand, making it the favoured destination for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities.

The best winter snow season in more than a decade has left Canterbury's ski areas blanketed in snow, with "powder-perfect'' conditions for both skiers and snowboarders alike.

Couple those conditions with low-cost airfares, discounted accommodation, and a favourable exchange rate and it's not hard to see why thousands of Australians are heading across the Tasman this year to slide down a mountain.

"We're blessed to have 16 ski areas, including Mt Hutt, the biggest in Australasia, all on Christchurch's doorstep so whether you are novice or a budding Olympian you are guaranteed to enjoy your stay in the snow,'' says Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism chief executive Christine Prince.

"Traditionally a lot of Australians have gone to Queenstown for their skiing holiday but frankly it's getting a bit crowded down there and we have more flights.

"More people are realising that in terms of variety and ease of access you can't beat the Canterbury ski areas. The nearest field is only an hour away, there are lots of daily flights straight into Christchurch airport and the facilities are world-class,'' says Christine Prince.

"It's not by chance that many of the world's top skiers and snowboarders train at our fields – they come because we offer some of the best condtions in the Southern Hemisphere.''

And with plans to develop the region's second biggest ski-field, Porters, by building European-style accommodation for up to 3000 people at the foot of the mountain and expanding the 700-hectare ski area into the adjoining Crystal Valley, Canterbury is poised to become an even more appealing winter destination.  

"This development is just going to increase our fantastic facilities and make Canterbury an even more desirable winter get-away for snow-starved Australians who want some fun in the snow and the chance for an alpine adventure,'' Christine Prince says.

Australians keen to hit the slopes this spring will find information about Canterbury's skifields, accommodation deals and other attractions in the Canterbury region at

South Georgia sees more ships but less visitors

Vavilov at anchor in South Georgia

The annual Tourism and Visitor report for the 2008/9 season shows that despite more tour ships than ever visiting South Georgia Island last season, overall cruise passenger numbers fell slightly.

According to the South Georgia Newsletter, July release, twenty eight ships (three new to South Georgia), made 70 visits to the Island and brought 7,700 passengers between October 2008 and May 2009. This was six more visits, but about 400 fewer passengers, than the previous season.

The difference between seasons was largely explained by there being 25% fewer larger ships; those with 150 passengers or more. Just over 5000 crew and nearly 800 staff also visited in 2008/9.

Most of the ships visiting bring 50-100 passengers each time. The smaller vessels (50 - 150 passengers) tend to spend more time at South Georgia and visit more sites than the larger ships.

Passengers came from a total of 55 different countries, but the majority (65%), were from English speaking countries: 28% from the USA; 24% from the UK and 13% Germans.

The most popular visitor sites (top down) were Grytviken, Gold Harbour, Salisbury Plain, Stromness, St Andrews and Prion Island.

The popularity of extended walks (any walk of more than 1km from the landing site) continues to rise. The most popular of these is the Shackleton walk from Fortuna Bay to Stromness, which was completed 35 times (up 29%), by a total of 1,486 passengers, a 36% increase in number of people making this walk.

Kayaking was also an increasingly popular activity. Six cruises were offering this as an option. Kayaks were launched sixteen times in six different locations with 268 people setting out for a paddle.

Twenty-five yacht visits were also made by 22 different yachts. Most of these (13) were on private journeys, but seven were under charter, one was supporting an expedition, and two were supporting Government related projects.

Twelve expeditions were logged: seven were scientific expeditions or had a science element; three were mountaineering; there was one youth group; one photography expedition; one historical expedition and one concentrating on habitat restoration.

Three science ships and six military ships also visited during the year.

Australis orders third expedition vessel

The Chilean cruise company Cruceros Australis which operates from Punta Arenas is having a third vessel built in Valdivia which should be operational for the 2010/2011 season, according to Branco Ivelic, manager of Cruise Operations.

Stella Australis will join the Mare Australis and Via Australis “sometime in October, November next year on time for the celebrations of Chile’s bicentenary”, said Ivelic in an interview with La Prensa Austral.

Ivelic said the company has been in business since 1990 mainly with “expedition cruises”, when “nobody in the region was thinking of developing this option. We continue on the same line and we are planning long term, that is why the new vessel”.

“Stella Australis” does not come cheap for a Chilean regional expedition cruise company: 23 million US dollars for a vessel 89 metre long and 14 wide with capacity for 210 passengers and 60 crew members. Although of similar shape, the new Australis is far more efficient (the current vessels carry 136 passengers), with an improved display of cabins and more amenities.

Ivelic said the company is investing in spite of the fact that the last season “we felt the impact of the world recession and something similar we expect this year since 90% of our clients are foreigners”.

“We expect a trade contraction of possibly 20% less passengers, but sooner or later the crisis will be over. We believe this will begin to be seen in the second half of next year, and regional tourism will again begin to grow, the attraction and potential of the Patagonia region is immense”, underlined Iveli.

Source: MercoPress

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Twitter “Cheep Cheep” Seats! Virgin Blue Celebrates 9th Birthday with Twitter Sale

Virgin Blue Airlines is celebrating turning nine years old with $9 seats on sale across a range of routes in the first of what the airline says will be regular ‘Twitter’ sales.

The $9 ‘Tweet seats’, priced deliberately at less than a bottle of birthday champagne, will only be available on the Virgin Blue Twitter website –

From 9pm tonight until sold out, Virgin Blue will offer 1000 $9.00* one-way fares for Virgin Blue Twitter fans to snap up across a range of destinations including Canberra-Sydney, Port Macquarie-Sydney, Brisbane-Newcastle and Rockhampton-Brisbane. The fares are for travel from 2 February 2010 to 27 February 2010.

The sale is the first of a series of regular “tweet seats” sales that will be offered across the Virgin Blue domestic route network over coming months.

Travellers will be able to go to the Twitter site and click on a link and be taken directly to a booking page with the special fares which, for this sale, are up to 91% lower than the every day lead in fare on the same route.

The airline Group will also add Pacific Blue flights to its future tweet seats sale fares, offering super deals from Australia to some of the most popular destinations in the Pacific including New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu and Samoa.

Virgin Blue Group Chief Executive Officer, Brett Godfrey, said, “This is a bit of fun and also a bit of an experiment trialling distribution through one of the latest forms of social media.

“Our marketing team has been closely watching worldwide consumer trends in markets where travellers are already social media savvy and we see Australians fast developing a following for Twitter as a source of the latest information regarding a wide range of products and services including airline news.

“With the current trend in real time news and information we expect the fares will be snapped up quickly,” Brett Godfrey finished.

To follow Virgin Blue on Twitter and take advantage of the “tweet seats”, check out

* All fares are one way for flights booked on the internet only (via Twitter link). Fares are subject to availability and may not be available on all flights or peak times. Fare price is non-refundable and checked baggage charges apply. Pre-pay $8 online for up to 23kgs of checked baggage per person one way flight, or pay $20 at the airport for the same allowance.

Twitter “Cheep Cheep” Seats! Virgin Blue Celebrates 9th Birthday with Twitter Sale

Virgin Blue Airlines is celebrating turning nine years old with $9 seats on sale across a range of routes in the first of what the airline says will be regular ‘Twitter’ sales.

The $9 ‘Tweet seats’, priced deliberately at less than a bottle of birthday champagne, will only be available on the Virgin Blue Twitter website –

From 9pm tonight until sold out, Virgin Blue will offer 1000 $9.00* one-way fares for Virgin Blue Twitter fans to snap up across a range of destinations including Canberra-Sydney, Port Macquarie-Sydney, Brisbane-Newcastle and Rockhampton-Brisbane. The fares are for travel from 2 February 2010 to 27 February 2010.

The sale is the first of a series of regular “tweet seats” sales that will be offered across the Virgin Blue domestic route network over coming months.

Travellers will be able to go to the Twitter site and click on a link and be taken directly to a booking page with the special fares which, for this sale, are up to 91% lower than the every day lead in fare on the same route.

The airline Group will also add Pacific Blue flights to its future tweet seats sale fares, offering super deals from Australia to some of the most popular destinations in the Pacific including New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu and Samoa.

Virgin Blue Group Chief Executive Officer, Brett Godfrey, said, “This is a bit of fun and also a bit of an experiment trialling distribution through one of the latest forms of social media.

“Our marketing team has been closely watching worldwide consumer trends in markets where travellers are already social media savvy and we see Australians fast developing a following for Twitter as a source of the latest information regarding a wide range of products and services including airline news.

“With the current trend in real time news and information we expect the fares will be snapped up quickly,” Brett Godfrey finished.

To follow Virgin Blue on Twitter and take advantage of the “tweet seats”, check out

* All fares are one way for flights booked on the internet only (via Twitter link). Fares are subject to availability and may not be available on all flights or peak times. Fare price is non-refundable and checked baggage charges apply. Pre-pay $8 online for up to 23kgs of checked baggage per person one way flight, or pay $20 at the airport for the same allowance.

Indulge In a Tropical Fantasy at the Lakes

Tropical holidays don’t get better than this special Reef Island and Cairns Getaway at The Lakes Cairns Resort and Spa.

From only $AUD850 per person you get three nights in a one-bedroom apartment at The Lakes in the heart of Cairns city’s cultural precinct and then stay on the Great Barrier Reef with two nights at Green Island Resort.

The five-night getaway includes a tour to the outer Great Barrier Reef, a full buffet breakfast daily at Green Island Resort, an airport transfer to The Lakes, a transfer from The Lakes to the Reef Fleet Terminal and launch transfers to Green Island Resort.

Situated only 3km from the Cairns International Airport and 3km from the Cairns CBD, The Lakes Cairns Resort and Spa is an award-winning 4.5 star resort situated on 4ha of lush tropical gardens, scenic lakes and large resort style pools.

The Lakes is a member of Vision Hotels and Resorts.

For bookings and information
email or call 1800 666 614

Peek At Private Paradise

Rarely are you given the opportunity to peek inside a private paradise. Ralph and Janet Hogan are opening the gates to their private garden as part of the Australian Open Garden scheme, the weekend of 31st October and 1st November. Perched on a promontory, overlooking Hayman Island and the Coral Sea in Airlie Beach, Villa Botanica combines a magnificent sub-tropical garden in a stunning coastal setting.

Driven by a desire to create something significant and inspirational, owner Ralph Hogan says, “I am influenced by the turn of the century when people created lasting beautiful spaces. My newest addition to the garden is a Cactarium, which I like to imagine pays homage to the Art Nouveau hothouses of Europe.” The open garden weekend gives nature lovers the rare opportunity to experience the sense of life, growth and creativity in this wonderful setting.

The new Cactarium will be officially opened by popular gardening identity Helen Young, who will be available to talk to visitors over the weekend. The property includes one of the largest succulent gardens in Australia along with some rare and great cactii including a huge 55 year old Echinocactus grusonii. There is also a remnant native monsoonal vine thicket forest with some substantial Mackay Cedars, lots of tulip oaks, Burdekin plum and the local bottle tree, Brachychiton compactus. Jungle aroids clamber-up rainforest trees and a beautiful pebble pathway winds through the magic. There are elegant fountains, fabulous views, beautifully carved one-offs from Bali, niches of wonder and oddities.

Janet Hogan says “It’s a very beautiful location and one we have the great fortune to be custodians of. It’s a privilege we love sharing with others”. Villa Botanica is rarely open to the public, except for exclusive weddings and special events. Profits from the open garden weekend will be donated to Quota International of Whitsunday which is best known for its services to the hearing impaired. The garden will be open from 10am-4:30pm on Saturday and Sunday and the entry fee is $6.00. Over 250,000 people visit the open gardens around Australia each year.


david ellis with malcolm andrews

TOMBSTONE Tourists, those who get a kick from prowling cemeteries on their holiday wanderings, find many a treasure in an historic little Sydney suburban cemetery - including the grave of lady who is both virtually unknown, yet at the same time is a key figure in one of the greatest works of English literature.

Eliza Emily Donnithorne was the sole remaining child of a retired East India Company judge, James Donnithorne who moved to Sydney Town in 1836 after losing his wife and two teenage daughters in a cholera epidemic that swept Calcutta four years earlier.

Despite a licentious life in which he fathered several children in adulterous liaisons with Indian women, Donnithorne wanted Eliza to marry into respectable Sydney society.

But the headstrong Eliza rebuffed the well-bred young men invited by her father to Camperdown Lodge, their grand home in Newtown, a small community amid farming fields on the outskirts of Sydney Town.

And instead she fell for a lowly shipping clerk named George Cuthbertson, a worshipper at Newtown's St Stephen's Anglican Church that was attended and patronised by the Donningthornes.

Despite his fury, James Donnithorne could do nothing about the blossoming romance, that included Eliza inviting George to Cambridge Hall when her father made regular business visits to Melbourne – acts that sent neighbour's  tongues into overtime.

When he died aged 79 in 1852, James Donnithorne was buried in the cemetery adjacent to St Stephens.

Four years later, Eliza and George decided to marry at Camperdown Lodge, but according to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, "on the morning of the wedding the bride and her maid were already dressed for the ceremony, the wedding breakfast was laid in the long dining-room... the wedding guests assembled, the stage was set, but the chief actor did not keep his appointment".

Gradually the embarrassed guests quietly excused themselves, and the distraught Eliza ordered that the wedding breakfast be left on the tables and the dining room locked.

But she had the front door of the house kept ajar in case Cuthbertson should return, a chain preventing it from blowing wide open and a determined Mastiff deterring would-be intruders.

And, legend has it, Eliza wore her wedding gown until the day she died 30 years later, leaving Camperdown Lodge only to wander its grounds after dark, and speaking only with her two trusted maids, and the rector of St Stephens and her lawyer.

No one knew why George had jilted her, and he was never seen again.

Does much of this sound familiar? If you've read Charles Dickens' famous novel. Great Expectations first published four years after Eliza was jilted, it is.

Because like Eliza Donnithorne, one of Great Expectations' principal characters, Miss Havishman was deserted on the day of her intended nuptials, like Eliza Donnithorne she left her wedding breakfast untouched, and again like Eliza she wore her bridal gown for the rest of her life.

How Dickens heard of Eliza's story is unclear, but it is known that he had numerous widely-read researchers… and one of his sons worked for the East India Company, James Donnithorne's one-time employer.

After her death in 1883 Eliza was buried with her father, and her name added to his gravestone.

Some 80 per cent of headstones at Camperdown Cemetery were fashioned by John Roote Andrews, great-great-great-grandfather of co-author of this feature Malcolm Andrews, and said to have been the first monumental mason to come to Australia of his own volition, rather than as a convict.

He too is buried there, as are explorer and NSW Surveyor-General Sir Thomas Mitchell, Isaac Nathan who composed and produced Australia's first opera, and the victims of the Dunbar, a clipper that foundered off Sydney Heads on a stormy night in August 1857 after a voyage from England, taking with her all but one of the 122 people aboard.

Tommy, Mogo and Mandelina, the first Aborigines to be given a Christian funeral also lay there, as do the children of Anthony Hordern, the founder of one of Australia's most famous department stores, and those of Sir Henry Parkes.

Tourists interested in colonial history regularly journey to this last resting place of Eliza Donnithorne and those many other interesting colonial Australians; the cemetery surrounds St Stephen's Church in Church Street, in Sydney's inner-suburban Newtown.


[] ON her death Eliza was buried with her father, and her name added to his  headstone in Sydney's Camperdown Cemetery.

[] MEMORIAL in Camperdown Cemetery to the victims of the wreck of the Dunbar.

[] ONLY known lithograph of the Donnithorne's mansion in then-rural Newtown on the outskirts of Sydney Town.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Orion Expedition Cruises' 2010 Voyages Brochure Just Released - A 5 Star Brochure for 5 Star Expedition Cruising

Orion's latest full colour brochure, just released, features evocative colour spreads, some by award winning Australian photographers Ken Duncan and Earl Carter (along with winners of the Orion Photography Competition) depicting key destinations, along with an overview of guest experiences and life onboard.

In addition to destination features including the Kimberley and Arnhem Land, Papua New Guinea, the Spice Islands, New Zealand and Antarctica, the 2010 brochure contains useful information for potential expedition travellers, demonstrating the differences between typical mainstream cruising and the stimulating physical and intellectual experiences to be had on an Orion expedition voyage.

The brochure contains comprehensive information on Orion's range of 5 star accommodation and facilities, (with floor plans from Staterooms to Owner's Suites) and examples of onboard luxuries such as boutique, massage, spa, elevator and lounges – and Serge Dansereau's award winning cuisine.

If a photo tells a thousand words then video goes one better. The brochure also contains a DVD providing a taste of some of the destinations visited and typical cultural, historic and wildlife experiences encountered along the way.

Included with this year's brochure is a useful lift-out reference booklet containing in-depth itinerary details by destination, pricing (with savings for early booking) and Calendar of Sailings for all expeditions throughout 2010 and early 2011.

Brochures are available by contacting Orion Expedition Cruises on 61-2 9033 8777 (Sydney callers) 1300 361 012 (regional and interstate), through the website at email or through specialist expedition cruise travel agents.

Expansive landscape format and photography reflect seascapes and vistas typically encountered on Orion expeditions.

The cover features a dramatic photo of Orion alongside a waterfall in New Zealand's spectacular fjord land. Internal spreads include Orion at the mouth of the Hunter River in the Kimberley, Mawson's Huts in Antarctica, King George

Falls, cultural dance groups and remote beaches in PNG and Melanesia, and wildlife encounters on New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic islands and Antarctica.

In 2010 Orion has Australia covered - for the first time Orion will be visiting every Australian State - plus Macquarie Island and Antarctica. Two coastal highlights voyages that include Victoria and South Australia in November will round out visits to every State and the Northern Territory.

Expeditions also include Melanesia, remote islands of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, New Zealand fjord lands and sub-Antarctic islands.

2010 voyages feature
• 6 new rarely-visited island destinations in Papua New Guinea
• 3 new ports in the exotic Spice and Tanimbar Islands
• Orion's inaugural visit to Irian Jaya, famous worldwide for its vibrant Asmat Art woodcarvings
• New Australian coastal voyages from Cairns to Hobart including World Heritage listed marine parks, nature reserves, national parks and wilderness areas
• Inaugural voyages to Melbourne, the Limestone Coast, Kangaroo Island, Eyre Peninsula and Fleurieu Peninsula
• Christmas in New Zealand's spectacular fjordland

The Antarctic continent remains a strong Orion drawcard for adventurers lured by the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the historic Antarctic explorer bases of Mawson, Scott and Shackleton.

Those seeking warmer climes can cruise our own Great Barrier Reef – perfect for shorter breaks in one of the most beautiful parts of the world – and easily accessible through major gateways.

An electronic version of the Orion 2010 brochure can be downloaded from or a printed version mailed directly simply by contacting Orion Expedition Cruises: 61-2 9033 8777 (Sydney callers) 1300 361 012 (regional and interstate), emailing or visiting your travel agent.
General email:

Ranked #2 expedition cruise ship in the world in the current Berlitz Cruise Guide, Orion is the world's latest purpose-built luxury expedition cruise ship, featuring an unmatched range of onboard facilities.

With 75 crew and a maximum of just 106 passengers Orion offers the highest staff to guest ratio and guest to public space ratio of any ship based in Australian waters.

Further information on Orion Expedition Cruises can be obtained by visiting the website

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Yoga in Paradise

Calling all Cairns yogis! Commencing Tuesday 1 September, Paradise Palms Resort and Country Club will offer twice weekly yoga classes in its beautiful tropical surrounds that are aimed at increasing spiritual, mental and physical wellbeing.

From next week, one of the region’s most experienced Hatha yoga teachers, Karen Thesinger of Xclusive Yoga will lead two, 90 minute classes from 6pm every Tuesday and 9am every Saturday.

According to Karen, yoga is a well-known, Hindu method of exercise and discipline aimed at spiritual, mental and physical wellbeing.

“I am thrilled at to have such a breathtaking environment as my backdrop to introduce the art and science of yoga. From our very first class we will explore this ancient, Eastern philosophy through the practice of ‘asanas ‘or postures that are all focused on promoting a healthy body and mind.

“These classes are open to everyone –those who are new to yoga and those continuing to develop their practice. Each class is designed to meet the individual needs of participants in a safe and encouraging environment and to inspire a sense of peace,” said Karen.

Each class comprises a series of warm-up stretches and postures, breathing techniques, alignment of postures and personal adjustments – culminating in a deep relaxation session.

Karen Thesinger is a qualified yoga teacher and member of the Yoga Teachers Association of Australia.

For more information, contact Karen Thesinger on Mobile: 0414 5232 439 or email:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Two Nights for One Deal

Book a three, four or seven night Fiji Islands Cruise with Captain Cook Cruises and receive two nights accommodation for the price of one at the Radisson Resort Fiji, Denarau Island.

Situated only minutes from Captain Cook Cruises port of departure; Port Denarau, the Radisson Resort Fiji is ideally situated to provide the perfect pre or post cruise accommodation.

Prices start at only $210 per person twin share for a two night stay at the 5 star luxury beachfront
Radisson Resort Fiji. The resort is nestled around lagoon swimming pools and lush tropical gardens and has everything you want – water sports, fishing, beach activities, golf, island tours, Harmony Retreat, Fiji’s only ‘White Water’ waterslide, dedicated Kids Club and a range of dining and entertainment options.

Captain Cook Cruises offer three, four and seven night Yasawa Island cruises and a 7 nights Northern Fijian Dateline cruise aboard the 120-passenger, fully accommodated MV Reef Escape cruise ship.

Giving passengers a truly cultural experience, all cruises visit unspoilt Fijian villages and handicraft markets, experience a traditional village sevusevu ceremony and Meke and Lovo feast, tour a village school and visit a village church and experience the beautiful sounds of the children’s choir singing.

As well as being immersed in Fijian culture there is plenty of time for relaxation and appreciating the beautiful marine life while snorkelling over amazing coral reefs, lazing on warm white sandy beaches, basking in crystal clear waters or diving in spectacular blue lagoons.

The three-night Southern Yasawa Cruise departs Denarau on Saturday at 2.00pm and Early Booking Savers (EBS) fares start from $900.00 per person twin share. The four-night Northern Yasawa Cruise departs Denarau on Tuesday at 2.00pm and the EBS fare is available from $1200.00 per person twin share. The seven-night Yasawa Islands Cruise departs Saturdays and Tuesday’s at 2.00pm and EBS fares start from 1995.00 per person twin share.

Prices include all meals on board, guided village and island tours, glass bottom boat excursions, on board entertainment and use of the ship's facilities including swimming pool, spa, pool bar, sun deck, sauna, cocktail bar, day spa and library.

This deal is available until December 2009 and valid for travel 20 October 2009 – 31 March 2010 excluding 28 December 2009 – 4 January 2010 inclusive.

For further information and bookings, please contact Captain Cook Cruises toll free from Australia on 1800 804 843; Int +61-2-9206 1100, Email: or visit

Migaloo Cruises the Whitsundays

John Dyson, Skipper of Fantasea Adventure Cruising vessel 'Wonder', sighted Migaloo, the Albino Humpback Whale on the way home to Shute Harbour from Hardy Reef (51 Nautical Miles from the mainland), East of the Whitsunday Islands at approximately 4pm on August 25.

He spent around half an hour observing Migaloo for all 113 guests on board.

This was a very rare sighting and is believed to be the first sighting of Migaloo in the Whitsunday waters this season.

Migaloo Cruises the Whitsundays

John Dyson, Skipper of Fantasea Adventure Cruising vessel 'Wonder', sighted Migaloo, the Albino Humpback Whale on the way home to Shute Harbour from Hardy Reef (51 Nautical Miles from the mainland), East of the Whitsunday Islands at approximately 4pm on August 25.

He spent around half an hour observing Migaloo for all 113 guests on board.

This was a very rare sighting and is believed to be the first sighting of Migaloo in the Whitsunday waters this season.

Dad Knows Size Matters!

If Dad has a green thumb, why not take him to Kings Park - the biggest inner-city park in the Southern Hemisphere - and on Fathers Day this year, the park will be in the midst of its annual Wildflower Festival.

Peruse the many displays, walk one of the many trails, and admire the Kimberley garden. And when Dad works up a hunger during the festival, shout him a hearty lunch at one of the Park's many cafes and restaurants, or head to the coast and enjoy a beer as the sun sets over the Indian Ocean.

If zooming around a race track sounds more like your Dad, then take him to Trackskill WA, where he can zoom around in a V8 Commodore. Alternatively, if Dad’s more into spectator sports, support WA’s local football league, the WAFL, and support a team in the first week of the finals, which happens over the Fathers Day weekend.

WA's South West is the perfect place to please the palette of the Dad who loves a good drop. In particular, the Margaret River and Great Southern wine regions are home to 220 grape growers and 100 cellar doors, with breweries, award-winning restaurants and much more, all making good use of the region's delectable local produce.

If Dad's a true wine lover, grab him a Cellar Door Pass. Available from the Margaret River Visitors Centre, each pass allows two people to collect special wine offers in Margaret River and the Great Southern region.

While down south, Dad might like to catch a few waves. Margaret River is one of the most consistent, scenic and laid back surfing destinations in the world, home to a huge crop of challenging and powerful waves over 40 scenic kilometres of coastline.

For a true outback adventure, take Dad on a trip to Australia’s North West. This area can provide a range of adventures, with a taste of red dust, with everything from bushwalking tours, helicopter rides, and fishing safaris – all in an area that’s still so untouched, spectacular and pristine.

Or if Dad likes a gamble, take him back to the original Goldfields for a game of Two-Up, and to uncover the history and outback legend that has become the State’s biggest region. And while there, he might want to want to check out the start of the Nullarbor Links – the longest and biggest golf course in the world which is set to open in October.

Stretching along the Eyre Highway from Kalgoorlie to Ceduna in South Australia, the recently opened 18-hole par 72 golf course spans 1,365 kilometres with one hole in a participating town or roadhouse.

Each hole includes a green and tee amongst a rugged outback-style natural terrain fairway, providing a quintessential Australian experience and a fantastic attraction for travellers along the highway.

No matter how fussy your Dad is, you can be assured Western Australia has something to satisfy him this Fathers Day.

For more information, visit

Monday, August 24, 2009

Trekking for the Greater Good

The ultimate holiday for adventurous spirits, wanting to experience new cultures first hand and even spend their vacation time doing something for the greater good, has to be the upcoming Variety Vietnam Hills Trek & Community Project.

The trip offers travellers a unique opportunity for like adventurous and community minded peoples of all ages, to see the real Vietnam form the fascinating bustle of Hanoi to the seclusion of the Mai Chau highlands as well as participating in a community project.

The packed 13 day itinerary gives a birds eye view of daily life, including working sugar cane, tapioca, rice paddies and peach plantations while staying in charming traditional long houses and meeting indigenous hill tribes including the H'mong, Thai and Muong along the trek through remote mountainous villages in parts of the country that receives very few visitors. And the highlight, a stay at the village of Bao La commune getting to know the minority White Thai people, while constructing a much needed classroom for the village’s children, which culminates in a handover ceremony.

Participants must fundraise $7,000 to participate in the trip, of which at least half will go to Variety the children’s charity while the remainder covers the trip including return airfares (based on a Sydney departure), English speaking tour leader, accommodation on a twin share basis at standard hotels with daily breakfasts in Hanoi; home stay accommodation in Mai Chau; airport transfers if arriving an departing on group flights; all group transport; all trekking arrangements (local guides, porters, permits, sleeping gear); all entrance fees on sightseeing days; meals as mentioned in the itinerary; and arrangements for the community project. Participants are also given assistance with a Fundraising Tool Kit, with ideas, advice and support as required. For anyone that preferred to make a contribution to Variety rather than fundraise, such donations are tax deductible.

It is hoped the Trek will raise more than $100,000, some of which will be used to buy a new Variety Sunshine Coach to transport disadvantaged Australian children to extra curricular activities from sporting lessons to educational programs and holidays.

Variety NSW Chairman, Greg Edwards, said Variety’s mission is to alleviate children’s suffering wherever it occurs, commenting “At Variety we respect children, both in Australia and across the world. This journey of a lifetime will provide an unforgettable experience that participants will take away for years to come and it will leave a lasting legacy for children in a developing community and in Australia.”

If the lure of experiencing a country from this truly local perspective, meeting like-minded people, helping raise funds for kids in need and assisting with the community project, aren’t incentive enough, the Vietnam Trek is also a great substitute for a health resort, with around 14 kilometres gentle trekking a day along village paths, part and parcel of the holiday!

To register for the Trek Vietnam program please call Inspired Adventures on:
02 9262 7882 or visit:

Save $2000 on Auckland to Sydney Fly, Cruise, Stay

SAVE AUD$2000 a couple on a 13-night fly, cruise and stay package from Auckland to Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney aboard mega-liner Diamond Princess in January next year, simply by booking through

The package includes one-way air from Sydney or Melbourne to Auckland, air taxes, a night in Auckland at the Stamford Plaza with breakfast, and twelve nights aboard the spectacular 116,000 tonne Diamond Princess – one of the largest cruise ships to visit Sydney.

Diamond Princess sails from Auckland on January 16 2010, visiting Tauranga, Lyttleton for Christchurch, Port Chalmers for Dunedin, a full-day’s scenic cruise of the Fjordland National Park, Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney.

The price now starts from just AUD$1599pp twin-share through (down from AUD$2599pp) including all dining in the traditional International Dining Room, either of four Anytime Dining restaurants, or a 24-hour buffet; there’s also the choice of two Speciality dining venues in which cover charges apply.

Diamond Princess also has a Wine & Caviar Bar, three lounges and bars, a patisserie, ice cream bar, pizzeria, a hamburger and hot dog grill, and daily traditional afternoon tea.

Onboard facilities include four pools, hot tubs, a spa, gym and fitness area, nine-hole putting course, virtual golf simulators, jogging track, shuffleboard and centre court, art exhibitions and lectures on areas visited.

For full details phone 1300 369 848 or visit

Discover a Different Side of Sydney Harbour with Island Hopping

This October, the National Parks and Wildlife Service will bring Sydney’s protected Harbour Islands to life like never before. Get on board for SYDNEY HARBOUR ISLAND HOPPING, part of Crave Sydney – a major new celebration of Sydney’s unmatched way of life, offering 31 days of food, outdoor art and fun throughout October.

For the first time, Fort Denison, Shark, Clark and Garden Islands will be linked with an Island Hopper ferry ticket, with exciting and unique experiences and activities planned for each island. Sydney Harbour Island Hopping is a full day excursion with something for everyone, from the youngest school-age children through to their grandparents.

Also in October, will be the first ever RODD ISLAND TEA DANCE for lovers of the music and dances of the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, and the PERFECT PICNIC for anyone looking to chill an afternoon away with their mates on Clark Island.

SYDNEY HARBOUR ISLAND HOPPING – every Saturday and Sunday between 3-18 October

Departing Circular Quay each half-hour on the first three Saturdays and Sundays of October, the Hop will be a celebration of our Harbour islands’ colonial and cultural history and natural beauty.

Be astounded by Fort Denison, which began its colonial life as a sinbin for the garrulous and unruly before becoming the centrepiece of Sydney Harbour’s defence. Learn about Sydney’s last line of maritime defence while taking tea from the battlements, as the clash of the stonemason’s hammer keeps time for the island’s all-day musical entertainments.

Marvel at the mysterious and exciting prehistoric predators and mythical indigenous creatures on Sydney’s original animal quarantine station, Shark Island. Picnic as life-sized Jurassic carnivores and their more amenable herbivorous counterparts literally bring the untouched wilderness of Shark Island to life, courtesy of groundbreaking live theatre company, Erth.

Learn to survive Australia’s natural conditions from the very people who thrived here for thousands of years, living in harmony with their environment. On Clark Island, hang out with Tribal Warriors and learn how to fish, dance and appreciate Aboriginal culture.

Discover amazing relics of Australia’s Naval history and experience the mighty power of our nation’s maritime fleet on Garden Island – the traditional home port of Australia’s Navy for over two centuries. Hold the con on a simulated open bridge of a World War II Destroyer, view the depths through the only fully operational submariner’s attack periscope available for public use in Australia, and learn about military technology and ordnance of yesterday and today.

The Sydney Harbour Island Hop will depart Circular Quay every half hour between 9:00am and 3:00pm on the first three Saturdays and Sundays of Crave Sydney, between 3 and 18 October. Ticket prices, which include all ferry passes, and the exciting and captivating experiences planned on each, are $48.50 for adults, $35.00 for concessions and $16.50 for children. A transaction fee will apply. For more information or to book, visit or call Ticketmaster on 136 100.

RODD ISLAND TEA DANCES – Wednesday 21 and Thursday 22 October

Be transported to the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s as Rodd Island hosts Tea Dances on 21 and 22 October. Offering up everything from the Charleston to the pulsating rhythms of Latin America, the New Trocadero Dance Orchestra will set the mood for the romantic and sophisticated Tea Dances.
The dances will be held in the colonial style dance hall, built in 1889 and home to one of the best spring dance floors in the southern hemisphere. Dance the day away or just enjoy the atmosphere, whether reliving the majestic musical period or experiencing it for the first time.
With three two hour sessions per day at 11am to 1:00pm, 1:30pm to 3:30pm and 4:00pm to 6:00pm, the Rodd Island Tea Dances will be great for anyone keen on the music and dances of the era. The ticket price of $50.00 per adult ($40.00 concession) includes return ferry transfers from Circular Quay and all dining and entertainment on the island. A transaction fee will apply.
For more information or to book, visit or call Ticketmaster on 136 100.

PERFECT PICNIC – Sunday 25 October

If the idea of an afternoon hanging out with your mates on one of Sydney’s harbour islands grabs you, the Perfect Picnic on Sunday 25 October is for you.
DJ Lady Tre will set the ambient mood for an afternoon chilling on Clark Island. Bring your own picnic and drinks, with prizes throughout the day for the best costumes and picnic setups. Explore the island and get into group games, or just lay back among the trees in the biggest picnic Clark Island has ever seen.
The ticket price of $50.00 per adult ($35.00 concession) includes ferry shuttles to and from the island, which will leave Circular Quay every half hour between 11am and 5:30pm on the day. A transaction fee will apply. For more information or to book, visit or call Ticketmaster 136 100.

About Crave Sydney
Sydney Harbour Island Hopping is one of seven events in Crave Sydney. Other events include Sydney International Food Festival, Art & About, Darling Harbour Fiesta, World’s Funniest Island, Seven Bridges Walk and Breakfast on the Bridge. To plan your Crave Sydney experience visit .
Crave Sydney is one of five anchor events in the NSW Master Events Calendar created by Events
NSW on behalf of the NSW Government.

Celebrating 90 Years with British Airways

British Airways celebrates 90 years of leading the travel industry today. On August 25, 1919 the world's first daily international air service was launched from London to Paris, operated by Air Transport & Travel Ltd - a precursor to British Airways.

Since then, the airline has carried more than 1.2 billion customers on its extensive network, and become recognised as one of the world’s elite carriers. Next year, British Airways will celebrate 75 years of flying Down Under. On 20th April, 1935 the first flight took off from London and touched down 12 days later in Brisbane.

Paying tribute to the airline, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: "British Airways has never lost the pioneering spirit and vision that saw it take to the skies with the world's first daily international flight from London to Paris on this day in 1919.

“Ninety years on, the world's most iconic airline is still proudly flying the flag and remains a great British brand. Many congratulations to all its staff - past and present, on this special day."

British Airways chairman Martin Broughton said: “Over the past nine decades, British Airways has played its part in many historic episodes. We provided the first air links to far-flung capitals in the days of empire, flew Winston Churchill across the Atlantic during wartime, brought Queen Elizabeth back to Britain after the passing of George VI, repeatedly led the way with aircraft innovation and have often proudly transported home our sports teams from success overseas.

“We have a rich history supporting Britain and will carry this forward to our centenary and beyond.”

The airline is marking the occasion in various ways. Swarovski, the world’s leading producer of precision-cut crystal, has loaned a giant bejewelled Union Flag to the airline. The stunning 4ft by 2ft artwork is embossed with more than 126,000 crystallised Swarovski Elements ™ and will be in the British Airways arrivals lounge in Terminal 5 until September.

An internal exhibition will showcase memorabilia from nine decades of travel, while customers in Terminal 5 have been treated to cabin crew and TV personality Kirsty Gallacher modelling vintage uniforms in the terminal in the run up to its anniversary week.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

STRUTH ! Fit for a tychoon

IN his continuing search for the more weird, whacky and wondrous in the world of travel, DAVID ELLIS says that for something totally different you can now hire Rupert Murdoch's 56m (183-feet) superyacht Rosehearty for the holiday of a lifetime.

Whether Rupert has put his boat on the charter market because of tough economic times or just to help defray its running costs we don't know, but Rosehearty comes complete with accommodation for ten guests in five queen-bed staterooms (each with plasma screen TVs,) and if you're the hirer you'll get the Owner's Suite and therefore the opportunity to sleep in Rupert's king-size bed.

There's also a "technogym" with personal instructor, and deep sea diving gear that'll give you a better view of what's under the sea than your snorkelling mask and breathing tube (and again with instructor, of course.)

A chef will prepare the meals you want (just give him an idea in advance of your likes and dislikes,) and there's a bar (with steward) for any necessary liquids to stop the skin cracking under the Caribbean sun (or wherever else you want the yacht delivered to in America, Alaska or the Mediterranean.)

All this will cost you from just $373,500 a week, and hopefully it includes tips for the nine crew who will look after your every need – although if you can afford the charter price we guess the tips aren't going to worry you.


david ellis

IT was 163 years ago next month that a young colonial explorer, John Ainsworth Horrocks died in one of the more bizarre events in our early history.

Horrocks and his brother Eustace had sailed from England in late 1838,  arriving in Adelaide on March 22 1839 – John's twenty-first birthday.

The young adventurer ran into explorer Edward John Eyre in Adelaide, and when he mentioned his desire to "settle on the land," Eyre suggested rich agricultural country he'd discovered about 160kms north of Adelaide.

Leaving his brother in Adelaide, the comfortably-off John took a man servant with him, and in the upper Hutt Valley pegged a claim on which he quickly established a profitable cattle and sheep run.

He also made several forays into the unexplored wilderness further to the north, and finding even more agricultural treasures, soon had eager settlers following in his footsteps; within a few years he'd established a little community around his own property, naming it Penwortham after his birthplace in Lancashire.

Then in July 1846 he set off on his last, ill-fated journey. Included in his party were the artist S.T. Gill to record their travels on canvas, H. Theakstone as 2-I-C, a driver for their carts and drays, a tent keeper, and an Aboriginal goatherd named Jimmy Moorehouse.

They had six horses, twelve goats, a camel named Harry that was the first-ever used in the Colony on an expedition, and supplies that included flour, tea, arrowroot, kegs of water, rice, sago, hard-tack biscuits, medicines, tobacco and one tent for the men, and another for Horrocks.

To supplement their rations they shot emus and kangaroos – including one 1.75m tall that the unfortunate Jimmy Moorehouse was forced to carry five kilometres back to their camp on his shoulders. And when part of a cart axle broke in rough country, one of the drivers walked back to a cattle station they'd passed two days earlier to seek a spare part.

The party hauled their carts and drays through creeks, into bush that often had to be hacked down to make a way, up hills and into valleys, and in September – about six days north of the upper reaches of Spencer Gulf –  came upon a broad lake that Horrocks named after the artist Gill.

Sighting a large bird in scrub, Horrocks decided to shoot it for food and began loading his shotgun. Someone called for Harry the camel to sit so they could access another shot-belt, but when it knelt it lurched to one side – and in a bizarre million-to-one chance part of the saddle struck the hammers of Horrocks' shotgun.

His middle finger was blown off and several pellets smashed into his face, wounding him badly; the driver Kilroy set out for a station over 100kms away where he would ask them to summon a doctor from Penwortham.

With Horrocks alternating between signs of improvement and deterioration the remainder of the party also headed back to Penwortham, remarkably covering up to 40km a day.

They arrived there three weeks later but John Horrocks, still just 28 years of age, died at his home on September 23 1846 and was buried on his property.

And interestingly for inquisitive holidaymakers today, when he'd first started travelling between Adelaide and Penwortham, Horrocks would overnight in the-now wine-rich Clare Valley at a place local tribes called Mundawora (meaning "Two Ponds,") and around which a cattle and sheep station was established 40 years after Horrocks' death.

Today it's owned by John and Gayle Barry who live in the original circa-1880s main house and operate a B&B called Mundawora Mews in the historic stone one-time stables, workers' rooms, dairy and kitchen.

Each of today's cosy four guest suites has either 1- or 2-bedrooms, queen beds, large ensuites, a lounge/kitchenette with wood fire, electric oven with cook-tops, fridge, TV, and dining setting; daily breakfast supplies include cereals, local bacon and fresh Mundawora eggs, bread, juice, milk, home-made jam and tea and coffee.

There's also a complimentary $16 bottle of Jim Barry Watervale Riesling; prices start from $160 per night for two, and guests are free to wander the 50ha property that has sheep, cattle and alpacas, vineyards and abundant bird and wildlife… and the two ponds where John Horrocks regularly camped.

Phone (08) 8842 3762 or visit



[] GILL's painting of explorer John Horrocks leading his camel Harry away  from Mundawora on his last ill-fated journey

[] JOHN and Gayle Barry (and 18 months old Fred) with the painting in a  guest's unit at their Mundawora Mews B&B

[] MUNDAWORA Mews (circa 1880s;) note the interesting "art" piece on the building – silhouette of a utility cut out of galvanised iron

Blue Lagoon Cruises diversifies product with launch of new Yasawa ‘island hopping’ program

Blue Lagoon Cruises has diversified its overall product range at the same time opening up new business opportunities for hotel and resort operators in Fiji's Yasawa islands with the launch of a new multi-tiered series of 'island hopping' options in the region.

Seen as offering a new transportation solution for the thousands of FIT travelers, predominantly 'flashpackers', visiting the  islands every year, the boutique island cruise specialist will position the MV Lycianda on the route which officially commences operation on 31 August.

Departing from the cruise company's home port of Lautoka every Monday and Thursday, the new program will connect the popular backpacker-oriented Bounty Island Resort and Beachcomber Island Resort in the Mamanuca Islands with more than 20 resorts spread across the Yasawas.

The program structure also includes the opportunity for passengers to spend two nights on board the 21-berth vessel at Blue Lagoon Cruises 'private island, Nanuya Lailai.

Prices for the program start from FJD50* for a day pass which can be used for departures ex-Lautoka as well as for passengers joining the vessel at any point along the entire cruise program. Cost includes morning and afternoon tea plus lunch depending on which point passengers embark and disembark from.

An 'Overnight Pass' is priced from FJD150* based on a one-night onboard stay with afternoon tea, dinner, breakfast and lunch included.

Two night options and 'Combi Passes' offering onboard accommodation and pick-up/drop-off options along the entire route are also available.

For those wishing to stay on board for the entire three-day cruise program which overnights at picturesque Yalobi Bay and Nanuya Lailai, prices start from FJD350* per person in shared accommodation inclusive of all meals while on board.

The 39-metre MV Lycianda's facilities include 21 air conditioned cabins, a 60-seat dining room, sun deck and cocktail bar.

Blue Lagoon Cruises' CEO Tim Stonhill said the commencement of the new Yasawa service would provide a much needed and very affordable transportation service for travellers visiting the islands.

"The new service opens up a whole new source of business opportunity for the hotels and resorts spread right across the Yasawas, all of which stand to benefit in terms of their ability to promote themselves to a much wider audience," he said.

"The new service will also benefit the Yasawa Islanders, many of whom are dependent on and see Blue Lagoon Cruises vessels as a primary source of freight transportation in the region."

As an added bonus, Blue Lagoon Cruises is also offering a free bus transfer between Nadi and Lautoka on arrival/departure days. Booked passengers simply have to flag down a special bus service or wait at clearly marked stops along the Queens Highway which links both towns.

For more information please visit or telephone Blue Lagoon Cruises in Lautoka, Fiji, on +679 666 1622, facsimile +679 666 4098 or via email on

*Conditions apply. Please note prices do not include international airfares or beverages (other than tea or coffee).

Gecko’s Launches New Asian Adventures – with $150 Off!

Gecko’s Adventures has launched two new Asia brochures, packed with grass-roots adventures from Kathmandu to Kerala, Bangkok to Beijing. And for bookings made before September 30, Gecko’s is offering $150 off all the featured holidays.

Thailand may be a well-trodden tourist destination, but Gecko’s has combined the more famous tropical getaways such as Koh Phang Ngan and Samui with exploring delightful stretches of coastline, beyond the bright lights, staying in tiny fishing villages in stilt houses built over the water.

The Southern Thailand Adventure, featured in the new Asia & China 2009-2011 brochure, also visits Khao Sam Roi Yort National Park, which translates as ‘Mountain of 300 peaks’ in reference to the karst outcrops that define the landscape. As with all Gecko’s adventures, the 12-day trip is designed for maximum immersion: groups are accompanied by a Gecko’s local leader; travel is by public transport and accommodation is in family-owned properties. The trip has monthly departures, year-round, from Bangkok and costs $1245 per person, twin share, land only.

Continuing Gecko’s theme of getting off the beaten track, all Gecko’s adventures in northern India now include a homestay in the pastel-painted rural village of Tordi Garh. Gelato-coloured walls offset brilliant saris, jewel-coloured turbans - and the warm smiles and traditional hospitality of the villagers, who rarely see travellers. Gecko’s groups are hosted by the owner of the Tordi palace, a direct descendant of the feudal lord who built the palace in the 16th century.

The Hidden Secrets of India trip, featured in the India & Nepal 2009-2011 brochure includes Tordi Garh, as well as the pink city of Jaipur, the blue city of Jodhpur, the lake city of Udaipur and Agra, to visit the Taj Mahal. It also includes Ranthambore National Park, for the chance of seeing a Bengal tiger. There are monthly departures, year-round, from Delhi, costing $1895 per person, twin share, land only.

The India & Nepal 2009-2011 and Asia & China 2009-2011 brochures are out now. For all new bookings made before September 30, Gecko’s is offering $150 off all trips, for travel between November 1, 2009 and March 31, 2010.

For further information, visit your travel agent or call 1300 854 500 or visit to download a brochure.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Indulge in Life at The Lakes

Indulge your girlfriend, spoil your sister or escape with the man of your dreams for a sublime getaway in Cairns.

The Lakes Cairns Resort and Spa Indulgent Package starts at $357 per person for three nights accommodation in a one-bedroom apartment, a 60-minute Relaxation Massage at Reds Day Spa, Reds Pamper Pack, sparkling wine and chocolates on arrival and return airport transfers.

Only 3km from the Cairns International Airport and 3km from the Cairns CBD, The Lakes Cairns Resort and Spa is close to the city’s shops, including DFO, cinemas and within easy reach of the Great Barrier Reef and Tropical North Queensland’s rainforests.

The award-winning 4.5 star resort is situated on 4ha of lush tropical gardens, scenic lakes and large resort style pools in the heart of Cairns city’s cultural precinct.

The Lakes is a member of Vision Hotels and Resorts. For bookings and information email or call 1800 666 614.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Inuit Cruise Line’s Inaugural Northwest Passage Trip

The world's only Inuit owned and operated cruise company embarks on its inaugural trip through the Inuit homeland of the Northwest Passage this Friday, August 28, 2009.

During the years of early exploration, explorers would rely on Inuit, who have been living along the passage for centuries, for guidance, companionship, fresh meat and other supplies. Now, Inuit are continuing this practice, by guiding passengers from all over the world through this historic waterway.

Tracing the legendary trading route first navigated by Roald Amundsen in 1903-1906, Cruise North’s Northwest Passage voyage begins in the High Arctic’s Resolute Bay and travels through the Canadian Arctic archipelago.

In this land of true polar desert, passengers follow the routes of the intrepid explorers, going only where the ice permits, for even with the effects of climate change, ice reigns supreme. The itinerary calls for exploration of the waterway, along with historic sites left as they were abandoned more than a hundred years ago, including Beechey Island, Victory Point, Cambridge Bay, Gjoa Haven, Bellot Strait and Prince Leopold Island.

Cruise North Expeditions passengers travel in comfort and safety aboard the ice-class rated 122-passsenger ship, the Lyubov Orlova, in the capable hands of a first-rate expedition team, accompanied by historians, naturalists, ornithologists and Inuit guides and elders.

Note: Cruise North Expeditions is a subsidiary of the Inuit-owned Makivik Corporation of Quebec, a highly successful investment corporation born of the first modern-day Aboriginal land claim settlement agreement in Canada (the JBNQA of 1975). Makivik also owns the well-respected First Air and Air Inuit.

Crave Sydney Launch

Crave Sydney is a major new event celebrating Sydney’s unmatched way of life, offering 31 days of food, outdoor art and fun.

Fast Facts:
• Crave Sydney draws together:
o Sydney International Food Festival, 1-31 October
o Art & About, 1-25 October
o Darling Harbour Fiesta, 2-5 October
o Sydney Harbour Island Hopping, 3-25 October
o World’s Funniest Island, 17-18 October
o Seven Bridges Walk, 25 October
o Breakfast on the Bridge, 25 October
• Crave Sydney is the next new anchor event on the first ever NSW Master Events Calendar launched last October.
• Events NSW estimate Crave Sydney will generate more than $6 million in economic benefit for the State.
• Crave Sydney was created by Events NSW, on behalf of the NSW Government to drive tourism, attract investment and create jobs.
• For the full Crave Sydney program visit


The Sydney International Food Festival (1-31 October)

• The Sydney International Food Festival (SIFF) will run throughout October.
• The festival will replace the popular Good Food Month – growing the 11 year old event into something even bigger and better.
• A major highlight will be the World Chef Showcase - bringing together Sydney’s biggest names in food as well as top chefs from around the world.
• The Festival will also include Good Food Month favourites such as Hats Off dinners, Let’s Do Lunch and the Night Noodle Markets; a huge new program of community festivals and regional food events across NSW and a Barbecue Madness Launch weekend on 3 October.
• SIFF is presented by The Sydney Morning Herald.

Art & About (1-25 October) FREE EVENT

• Unique installations, exhibitions and events enliven the laneways, parks, galleries and spaces of the City of Sydney in this annual public art festival.
• Highlights include:
o Open Gallery – an exhibition of works by contemporary NSW Aboriginal artists on street banners across the City.
o Sydney Life – a stunning outdoor exhibition of large scale photographs in Hyde Park North.
o Laneways By George! – Discover unexpected worlds in eight laneways transformed by creative installations.
o Uncover Oxford Street - intriguing shop front performances and installations, live jazz, art market and the Live Green House – showcasing sustainable design.
o I Heart Kings Cross – a community knitting installation covering trees and street poles in Kings Cross.
• Art & About is presented by City of Sydney.

Darling Harbour Fiesta (2-5 October) FREE EVENT

• Fiesta is Australia’s largest Latin American and Spanish music and dance festival.
• Fiesta will feature 70 of the best Latin bands and dance groups with 800 performers on three outdoor stages around Darling Harbour.
• For the first time in the event’s 18 year history, the program will feature two international bands – double-Grammy award winners Aterciopelados (Colombia) and exclusive to Sydney, Venezuela’s finest salsa orchestra, Bailatino.
• Fiesta is presented by Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority.

Sydney Harbour Island Hopping (3-25 October)

• Sydney’s harbour islands will be open to explore, discover and share with an Island Hopper ferry ticket.
• Sydney Harbour Island Hopping will offer unique and exciting experiences for all ages on four islands - Fort Denison, Clark, Shark and Garden Islands.
• Clark Island will host the Perfect Picnic on 25 October.
• The Rodd Island Tea Dances on 21 and 22 October will be perfect for lovers of the music and dances of the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s.
• Sydney Harbour Island Hopping is presented by National Parks and Wildlife Service.

World’s Funniest Island (17-18 October)

• A two day comedy festival on Cockatoo Island, Sydney Harbour.
• With just one ticket, comedy fans can choose from 200 shows in 18 venues on Cockatoo Island.
• Acts include The Goodies and Alexei Sayle with locals Merrick & Rosso, Akmal, Fiona O’Loughlin, Heath Franklin’s Chopper, Tripod, Jimeoin, Scared Weird Little Guys, Sleek Geeks and more.
• Tickets include all shows plus ferry.
• World’s Funniest Island is presented by Australian Comedy Festival.

Seven Bridges Walk (25 October) FREE EVENT

• 25km walk around Sydney Harbour and over Sydney’s seven key bridges.
• A free community event for all ages where participants can start and finish at designated villages near one of the seven bridges along the walk.
• This year there will be an individual theme for the food, music and activities to give each Village a local community flavor.
• A great way to see Sydney, become active, improve health and raise money for four leading charities.
• Seven Bridges Walk is presented by the Pedestrian Council of Australia.

Breakfast on the Bridge (25 October) FREE EVENT

• Sydney Harbour Bridge will be transformed into the worlds most sought after breakfast destination.
• 6,000 lucky people will have the chance to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience on one of Australia’s most iconic landmarks.
• Images from Breakfast on the Bridge will be beamed around the world, showcasing again why Sydney is Australia’s number one destination.
• Breakfast on the Bridge is presented by the NSW Government and is part of Events NSW strategy to make Sydney and NSW Australia’s leading events destination

Take Part in Sea Turtle Rescue with Naturewise

Take off to blue skies and white sand beaches of Australia’s far-reaching coastlines, and join Naturewise on new hands-on conservation adventures to save our marine turtles.

Worldwide, there are seven species of marine turtles, and we are supremely lucky in Australia to have six of the seven species swimming in our waters. These wonderfully resilient creatures have lived in the oceans for more than 100 million years, adapting to constant environmental changes. But today marine turtle species are no longer able to keep up with the rapid changes to their environment, and their survival is under serious threat.

This October, join Naturewise for two weeks on the Cobourg Peninsula, a remote wildnerness found at the tip of Australia’s Northern Territory in Arnhem Land. The surrounding waters are teeming with sea life, colourful reef fish, dugong, crocodiles and dolphins, and the region is a significant nesting location for the nationally vulnerable, green turtle. As part of the small Naturewise team, participants undertake nightly patrols of the beach at Smiths Point, surveying turtle nests and providing important data for an ongoing research project in green turtle numbers and population dispersal.

An equally awesome adventure awaits in Western Australia in November and December. Travel south of Broome, to Eco Beach, a nesting region for the threatened flatback turtle species. On this Naturewise trip, participants will also undertake nightly beach patrols, assisting wildlife researchers in collating much needed data on flatback turtle populations.

With prices beginning at only $480 per person (6 days, Eco Beach), all Naturewise Conservation Holidays are fully inclusive of accommodation, delicious meals, conservation activities, project transport and experienced guide. Naturewise is limited to only ten travellers to minimise our environmental impact, and ensure a quality experience for everyone involved. We encourage early bookings to secure a place!

For full details and to make a booking go to or free call 1800 032 501


One of the more unusual South Pacific cruise holidays for those seeking the out-of-the-ordinary, departs Lima in Peru next January for Easter and Pitcairn Islands, Tahiti, Samoa, Fiji, New Zealand, Hobart and Sydney.

And making this 34-night cruise all the more memorable is that it is aboard Saga Ruby that offers a unique cruising experience of classic yesteryear English graciousness, ambience and indulgence for just 660-guests.

Cruiseco has a fly, cruise and stay package that includes air and taxes from Sydney to Lima, two nights in Buenos Aires with breakfasts daily, a Buenos Aires City Tour and Dinner Show, transfers and a night in Lima with breakfast.

Saga Ruby will sail from Lima’s port of Callao on January 28 2010 for a day at Easter Island with a launch or tender landing, a day at anchor off Pitcairn Island*, and days ashore in Papeete, Bora Bora, Apia, Suva, and Lautoka.

In New Zealand there’s a day each in the Bay of Islands, Auckland, Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, Lyttleton (Christchurch,) Dunedin, a cruise of the New Zealand Fjords, followed by Tasmania and a day in Hobart, and Sydney.

37-night Fly, Cruise and Stay prices start from $11,695pp twin-share and are subject to availability at time of booking; for more details phone 1800 225 656 or visit for the name of your nearest Cruiseco cruise specialist Australia-wide. *Passengers do not go ashore on Pitcairn Island.

SAGA RUBY offers an elegant, award-winning Dining Room with anytime nightly dining between 6.45pm and 9pm, a casual Lido Café for breakfast and lunch, traditional English Afternoon Tea, several bars and lounges, a ballroom and live stage entertainment, spa, library and computer centre.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

TD Breaking News - $181m profit for Qantas

Qantas profit slumps

Qantas has just reported a $181 million pre-tax profit for the year to 30 Jun, down 87% on last year.

Yields slipped 4.3% due to weaker domestic and international demand, while the overall load factor also fell 1 point to 79.6%.

The carrier said the result was also impacted by one-off events including $130m in extra costs due to industrial action by the Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association, and an estimated $45m hit due to swine flu.

CEO Alan Joyce said the diversity of the Qantas Group's operations had contributed to it "being one of the few airline operators worldwide to produce a full year profit, despite the impact of the global economic downturn.

"There has never been a more volatile and challenging time for the world's aviation industry," he said.

Joyce also announced the addition of four Airbus A330 aircraft, on six-year leases, to allow for Jetstar's long-haul international growth.

"These new aircraft will support the airline's growth across its internatioanl network which covers Australia, South East Asia and the Asia Pacific ahead of the delivery of the Qantas Group's first B787-9," he said

More information in today's Travel Daily

Emerald Valley Villa : Eco-Luxe Super Special

Emerald Valley Villa is the premium Luxury Villa Holiday Rental in Byron Bay. A private estate with resort style facilities located in the lush
hinterland above Byron Bay, Australia.

Eco-Luxe Super Special
AUD$750 per night, minimum 3 nights
AUD $5,000 per week until December 2009

Sleeps up to 8 people
Rates are valid from 01 August - 30 November, 2009
Spa treatments, daily housekeeping & catering can be arranged at an additional cost.

Set on 80 abundant acres, overlooking a remarkable rainforest valley in lush Byron Bay hinterland is Emerald Valley Villa - a unique, eco-friendly development providing premium luxury private rental accommodation like no other.

Creator of Emerald Valley Villa, Michael J Robison says, “Emerald Valley Villa is an exemplary model of sustainable living without compromising luxury or technology. All the building structures and grounds have been designed for minimum impact on the surrounding environment; the Villa is climate neutral and runs on 100% green power.

Emerald Valley Villa was developed as a landmark demonstration of how design, technology and ecology can combine to create luxurious living without causing harm to the earth” says Robison.

Amidst the relaxing atmosphere and scenic views, Emerald Valley Villa offers the ultimate in world-class standards within a completely private and secure environment for up to 8 people. Architectural and design elements gracing the property pay homage to Bali’s unique arts and traditions whilst embracing modern design aesthetics.

Recycled hardwoods, imported stone and marble is featured throughout the villa, right down to the hand-cut stone framing the garden flower-beds. In addition, this private estate boasts a master suite and three expansive bedrooms all with adjacent marble bathrooms opening onto private, tropical gardens.

Guests can enjoy swimming in the pure oxygenated spring water pool, complete with carved Balinese fountains and pool-side lounges, or relaxing under the stars at night in our open air Jacuzzi. Two 200 year old teak Rice Barns – one overlooking the fabulous pool, the other overlooking the valley where you can enjoy the private lake below - provide reclusive or romantic comfort day or night. During the cooler months, the floors are evenly heated by an eco-friendly thermal system, while a double fireplace offers the perfect setting for those special romantic evenings...

Onsite luxurious spa therapies including a private marble steam room, state of the art kitchen, outdoor BBQ and daily housekeeping services are available to all guests. In addition, all modern technologies are onsite including broadband internet, satellite television and telephone facilities.

For easy access to all areas of the property guests have complimentary use of the fun 4 x 4 Polaris-Ranger. Emerald Valley Villa even boasts its own private waterfall and lake complete with a custom made River Pavilion where you can spend a day in secluded paradise with an abundance of rare wildlife which will simply amaze you including our very own resident platypus'.

The extraordinary landscaping has been terraced into four levels, all carefully planted with fragrant flora including gardenias, jasmine and champaka amongst many other graceful flowers and blossoming trees.

Emerald Valley Villa is a private estate and a landmark demonstration of how design, technology and ecology can combine to create luxurious living without causing harm to the Earth. This is the ultimate retreat. Let Emerald Valley Villa take you on a mystical journey like no other...

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