GREAT AUS­TRALIAN ES­CAPES

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Front Page -

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

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