GREAT AUSTRALIAN ESCAPES
CANBERRA makes an ideal stopover for skiers heading for the snow and, best of all, many of the capital’s attractions are free. One such is the Australian War Memorial, where a new Discovery Zone explains the Australian experience of war. This family-friendly space encourages children to immerse themselves in key places and times in military history. Admission is also free at the National Museum of Australia, home to thousands of objects depicting Australia’s history and cultural heritage, from Phar Lap’s heart and Captain Cook’s teacup to Dame Edna Everage’s spectacles. More: www.nma.gov.au; www.awm.gov.au.
Watch this space: The Sydney Observatory is celebrating the International Year of Astronomy with tours, talks and viewing sessions. This weekend’s winter solstice (June 21) will be marked by solarviewing guided tours throughout the day. Children $5, adults $7, family $20. Bookings not required. Special events during the school holidays include family pizza nights, telescope viewings and a 3-D space theatre. More: www.sydneyobservatory.com.au.
Open house: The picturesque Victorian Grampians village of Dunkeld throws open its doors during the weekend of September 5 and 6. This year’s Discover Dunkeld program will feature guided tours of the Mount Sturgeon Homestead, one of western Victoria’s first colonial homesteads, adorned with period furnishings and an impressive collection of art. There will also be garden tours, a wild flower hunt, yoga and a hike with a local ranger. Art historian Andrew Mackenzie will launch his history of Dunkeld followed by the historical society’s town walk. All the village’s accommodation providers are offering a stay
Sail close to the wind: Explore the Kimberley with Orion Expedition Cruises three nights, pay for two package. More: (03) 5577 2558; www.sthgrampians.vic.gov.au.
Go west: Get a taste of the west, from the Kimberley to the mystical Pinnacles and blazing sunsets over Cable Beach, with AAT Kings’ 17-day Western Wanderer, from $5150 a person. The tour travels from Darwin to Perth taking in Katherine Gorge, El Questro, Geikie Gorge, Broome, Karijini National Park, Monkey Mia and the Pinnacles. Highlights include cruises on the Katherine and Ord rivers and Geike Gorge and visits to El Questro Station and Ningaloo Reef. Departures to September 23. More: www.aatkings.com.
Up Pompeii: Go back in time to ancient Italy and explore Pompeii, one of the world’s most extraordinary cities, with Melbourne Museum’s winter school holiday program from June 27 to July 12. A Day in Pompeii tells the story of life in the ancient city — from food and dining to shopping, medicine and religious practices — with more than 250 objects, many never before shown in Australia. Visitors also can learn about volcanoes and enter a 3-D theatre to experience the catastrophic volcanic eruption that buried the city, preserving it as a time capsule for almost 2000 years. Adults $20, children $12, family $54, concession $14 (includes museum entry). More: 131 102; museumvictoria.com.au.
Whale of a time: The South Australian Whale Centre is celebrating its first anniversary — and the annual arrival of southern right whales — with themed weeks of activities, workshops and demonstrations culminating with the Whaletime Playtime Festival on July 4 and 5. The centre’s usual activities will be extended with an extensive program of events aimed at fostering a greater understanding of the whales. In Education Week, June 22 to 29, schools on the Fleurieu Peninsula will be visited by Professor Blubber and his assistants, who will provide tips on whale identification while explaining the unique features of southern rights. More: www.sawhalecentre.com.
Howe’s that: Arajilla Retreat’s three-day World Heritage Discovery Lord Howe Island package combines rest and relaxation with a day of eco touring above and below the waterline. It includes a 31/ 2-hour guided North Bay Nature and Turtle Tour, snorkelling over a wreck and a bird-watching walk. Morning or afternoon tea, wetsuits and snorkelling equipment are provided. There’s also a fourhour self-guided tour in a glass-bottom kayak of the island’s protected lagoon (with picnic lunch). Includes accommodation, all meals, pre-dinner drinks and a copy of local naturalist Ian Hutton’s BirdsofLordHowe IslandPastandPresent . From $1810 a person, land only, from September to November 30;
Starry, starry nights: Sydney Observatory available on other dates, prices vary. More: 1800 063 928; www.arajilla.com.au.
Beach break: Creative Holidays has a winter special at Cable Beach Resort in Broome, Western Australia, from $1032 a person. The four-night package includes accommodation in an ocean-view studio, breakfasts and airport transfers. For sale and travel to October 18. More information: 131 222; www.creativeholidays.com.
King-size savings: Visitors to Adelaide can save more than $200 on a stay at the city’s newest apartments. Flight Centre Hotels is offering discounted accommodation at Oaks Gallery from $125 a night (was $350) for a selfcontained one-bedroom apartment with kingsize bed and kitchen. The apartment complex is within walking distance of the bars and restaurants of Adelaide’s Gouger Street. For travel to July 7. More: 1800 005 125; www.flightcentrehotels.com.au.
Darwin savings: Total Travel has a sevennight stay at Darwin’s Lotus on Envy from $1699, a saving of $1796. Accommodation is in a one-bedroom city apartment with breakfast, champagne and beer. For stays from September 1 to December 16. Must be booked by July 6. More: www.totaltravel.com.au.
Feet first: Anthology kicks off the 2009-10 Tasmanian walking season with an early-bird offer. Bookings made in June for the Cradle Mountain Huts or the Bay of Fires guided walks will get a free night in the restored Quamby heritage estate, 20 minutes from Launceston. The walking season starts on October 21 with departures daily on both trips to May 1. More: (03) 6392 2211; www.anthology.travel.
Closer to home: Orion Expedition Cruises has an increased Australian element in its 2010 itineraries. Managing director Sarina Bratton says the Australian-based cruise ship will be sailing more expeditionary voyages to explore Australian coastal marine parks, nature reserves, national parks and World Heritage areas. Popular trips include the Kimberley and Arnhem Land as well as Antarctica, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand. New for next year is a range of seven-night east coast, South Australian and Tasmanian explorations, stretching from Cairns to Hobart. Orion, which has expeditions to every state in Australia next year, will also visit Melbourne, coastal Victoria and South Australia for the first time. More: www.orioncruises.com.au. Barry Oliver