Travel the Great Southern Loop
A never-before-offered railway adventure will see slow-travel lovers enjoy a heritage steam and diesel journey across NSW and Victoria in May on Cruise Express’s six-day ‘Great Southern Loop’.
The ‘Loop’ begins when the newly-restored diesel locomotive 42103 hauls heritage carriages from Sydney’s Central Station onto the Great Southern Line.
Passengers will relax in period lounge, seating and compartment cars with windows than open for a fresh breeze and a better view of the ever-changing countryside.
From Goulburn, the steam locomotive 5917, built in 1952, will take the train to Junee for lunch in the historic 134-year-old Junee Railway Station Café.
Other highlights of the journey will include the iconic Spirit of Progress to Melbourne, with original carriages including compartment, kiosk and parlor cars, a journey on the giant blue steam locomotive R711 to Seymour and Echuca, and a paddle-steamer lunch cruise on the Murray.
History will then be made when the train crosses the border to Deniliquin — the first time steam has traced the route in more than 20 years.
A coach transfer to the Riverina capital of Griffith will see the group enjoy a private and exclusive wine tasting session at De Bortoli Wines and an authentic Italian lunch at the Piccolo Family Farm, before a journey to the ‘Dish’ in Parkes, and being hauled over the Blue Mountains by diesel and steam locos back to Sydney via Orange, Bathurst and Lithgow.
Phone 1300 766 537 or visit www.cruiseexpress.com.au.
Maryborough’s Mary Poppins
When Mary Poppins Returns hit cinema screens on January 1, something magical was stirring in Queensland’s Maryborough — the birthplace of author PL Travers whose imagination hatched the world-famous nanny.
An interactive interpretive centre, in the beautiful historic building where PL Travers was born, is nearing completion in the central-business-district of Maryborough, a three-hour drive north of Brisbane.
The new attraction will be called The Story Bank, honouring the heritage-listed building’s original purpose as the Australian Joint Stock Bank and its new role in housing the community’s stories.
It will include a lifelike sculpture of the spirited characters Jane and Michael Banks sliding down the stair rail.
The city already commemorates its link to the renowned storyteller through a bronze statue of Mary Poppins, unique pedestrian lights featuring silhouettes of the nanny, and a nine-day Mary Poppins Festival each year in June-July.
Specials for seniors in Sydney
Captain Cook Cruises is offering seniors up to 50 per cent off selected Sydney Harbour dining and sightseeing cruises throughout the NSW Seniors Festival which runs February 13-24.
The deals are valid on Sydney Harbour Buffet Lunch and Harbour Story Premium cruises for all NSW senior card holders’ and Australian national and state senior card holders.
The seafood buffet, aboard flagship vessel MV Sydney 2000, includes fresh Sydney rock oysters, king prawns, succulent fish and mussels, plus a wide range of non-seafood and vegetarian dishes, desserts and cheeses. A full commentary of the Harbour sights is also provided.
It is priced at $59 per senior, normally $95 per person, and departs daily at 12 noon from King St Wharf No 1 in Darling Harbour, and from Circular Quay Wharf No 6 at 12.30pm.
The Seniors Festival Harbour Story Premium cruise explores the famous landmarks of Sydney Harbour and features fun and personalised commentary on the sights, people and history of what has been described as the world’s most beautiful harbour.
The cruise includes a glass of sparkling wine, a selection of sweet and savoury treats, and Vittoria coffee or fine teas.
Cost is $27.50 per senior, normally $55 per person. Visit www.captaincook.com.au.
Enjoy sunsets in Vietnam
AccorHotels had added the 745-room Premier Residences Emerald Bay on the island of Phu Quoc to its Vietnam portfolio.
The resort offers easy access to Hon Thom Cable Car, the world’s longest cable car ride and one that connects An Thoi town and Hon Thom Island, giving travellers an opportunity to immerse in the panoramic view of the southern islets, especially renowned at sunset.
Phu Quoc is located 45 kilometres west of Ha Tien in the far south of Vietnam, and is a hub of marine activity, housing large patches of coastal ecosystems, and nearly 108 species of corals, 135 species of coral reef fish and 132 different types of mollusks, as well as migrating fish and marine mammals in its surrounding waters.
The resort boasts three restaurant and two bars. Leisure facilities include a fitness centre, yoga studio and outdoor pool that overlooks Khem Beach.
Ultimate South America
Tucan Travel has launched a 55-day ‘Ultimate South America Tour’ which enables travellers to tick off highlights such as Machu Picchu via the Inca Trail Trek, the Amazon Jungle and Uyuni Salt Flats, plus cities such as Santiago, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro, as well as Patagonia and the Galapagos Islands, which previously had to be booked as a separate package.
Prices are from $17,891, plus local payment of USD1040, from Cartagena to Rio de Janeiro.
Included are all accommodation, with three nights camping in Torres del Paine, all breakfasts, 15 lunches, 14 dinners, a two-day Amazon jungle excursion, Inca Trail Trek and Machu Picchu entrance fee, Lake Titicaca day trip, entrance and guided walks in Torres del Paine National Park, Perito Moreno Glacier tour, guided walks in Los Glaciares National Park, entrance to Iguazu Falls from Argentina and Brazil sides, and a four-day Galapagos Cruise.
Cruise Canada and Alaska
Visit Alaska and the Canadian Rockies with Princess Cruises on this 13-night fly/tour/cruise package from Cruise1st in September.
A seven-day pre-cruise tour starts with a trip to Head-Smashed-in-Buffalo-Jump, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The tour from there is a non-stop adventure packed with historical sites, national parks, glaciers and other breath-taking natural wonders through areas including Lake Louise and the Columbia Icefield, Sun Peaks and Whistler before arriving in Vancouver.
Travellers then embark on Island Princess for a five-night cruise which stops at Juneau and Ketchikan, before arriving back into Vancouver ahead of the return flight to Australia.
The package is priced from $3599 per person twin-share ex Sydney. Phone 1300 596 345 or visit www.cruise1st.com.au.