GREAT AUSTRALIAN ESCAPES
RIGHT ROYAL TREATS: The Royal Mail Hotel at Dunkeld in Victoria’s southern Grampians is luring foodies with a midweek $465 package for couples (until August 31) that includes a five-course dinner in its award-winning restaurant, accommodation and an a la carte breakfast. More: royalmail.com.au.
FITTING TRIBUTES: The Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka, Victoria, on the historic site of the Eureka Stockade, is one of Australia’s newest collections. Key display items include the Eureka Flag, on loan and exhibited for the first time since 1854 at the location where it was raised. At the casual on-site restaurant, Saltbush Kitchen, overlooking Eureka Park Memorial Gardens, chef Brigid Corcoran specialises in dishes featuring indigenous ingredients such as bush tomatoes, macadamia nut butter, wattle-seed sugar and pepperberry salt. More: made.org.
INTO THE DEEP: Whale sharks have been sighted recently off the West Australian mid-north coast near Exmouth, heralding the start of the closeencounter swim season with these so-called gentle giants of the sea from March to August. More than 19,300 tourists visited World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef last year, with sightings of whale sharks on tours by 14 approved operators reaching a record 92 per cent success rate. More: australiascoralcoast.com; whaleshark.org.
COMPLIMENTARY CRUISE: Valid to May 31, the Northern Territory’s Cicada Lodge at Katherine has a new two-night Explorer package featuring accommodation, breakfasts, evening drinks and a bonus Nitmiluk Gorge cruise for $990 (twinshare). More: 1800 242 232; cicadalodge.com.au.
ROCKS OF AGES: The Wombeyan Caves Festival, presented by the NSW Parks and Wildlife Service, will take place from March 13-15, with special cave tours, camping packages and a free concert. The Wombeyan Caves are in the NSW southern highlands and the event forms part of Parks Week, an annual celebration that highlights the role national parks play in local communities. More: nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/parksweek.