Great ideas for your next getaway

The Midnight Hotel: Marriott International's first excursion into the Australian capital.
The Midnight Hotel: Marriott International's first excursion into the Australian capital.

Midnight in the capital

Marriott International will this month open its first hotel in Canberra - the Midnight Hotel - as part of a residential and commercial development in Braddon, close to the city's centre.

It will be the second Autograph Collection hotel to open in Australia, following the recently renovated Pier One Sydney Harbour.

Part of the 199-room hotel is an existing central garden atrium, and each guest room will feature a bespoke commissioned piece of artwork.

The hotel will also include facilities such as a restaurant, bar, indoor swimming pool, wellness centre, conference and event spaces and a guest lounge.

White Cliffs Underground Motel: boasts 30 rock-hewn rooms.

White Cliffs Underground Motel: boasts 30 rock-hewn rooms.

Arty underground stay

Tri State Tours is offering a one-night opal-and-art tour from Broken Hill, taking in the quirky, underground opal mining hamlet of White Cliffs and some of Australia's best Aboriginal rock art sites.

The 4WD tour takes guests from Broken Hill to the remote mining opal community of White Cliffs with its underground houses, lunar-like landscape of mines, and eccentric outback characters.

Guests can try fossicking for opals before spending the night in the famous White Cliffs Underground Motel which boasts 30 rock-hewn rooms and is claimed to be the largest underground accommodation in Australia.

The tour traces red-dirt outback roads to a salt lake for morning tea and then to a privately owned site boasting exceptional Aboriginal rock engravings.

Price, including accommodation and four meals, is $760 per person twin-share, or $840 for solo travellers. A 5 per cent seniors concession discount is also available.

The Explorer Dream: new to Australia.

The Explorer Dream: new to Australia.

Rail and sail adventure

The Explorer Dream, a cruise ship new to Australia, and the Spirit of Progress, a historic express train that was once the main link between Sydney and Melbourne, will feature in the six-night Northern Explorer, a rail-and-sail adventure between the two cities next February.

Hosted by Cruise Express, which specialises in cruises and heritage rail trips, the tour begins in Melbourne with a three-night cruise to Sydney via Burnie.

In Sydney, guests will spend two nights at the historic, art-deco-styled Grace Hotel that dates back to 1930 when it was the headquarters for the department store chain, Grace Brothers.

A private morning tea inside the expansive and graceful Queen Victoria Building, completed in 1898, is also included to complement the heritage theme of the trip.

It's then all aboard the heritage rail motor, 621/721, for a leisurely and nostalgic journey from Sydney to Albury, with morning and afternoon tea included along the way and a café lunch stop inside the heritage-listed Junee Railway Station, which opened in 1878.

After a night in Atura Hotel in Albury, passengers will ride the iconic Spirit of Progress train for the final leg to Melbourne.

Fares are from $2390 per person twin-share. For more details phone 1300 766 537.

Aranui 5: offering one of few remaining cargo cruise experiences in the world.

Aranui 5: offering one of few remaining cargo cruise experiences in the world.

Cruising with cargo

Tahitian cargo cruise line Aranui Cruises has added three itineraries to its 2021 program, taking guests to 11 new island destinations, including the cruise line's maiden voyage to the Cook Islands, an expanded Pitcairn itinerary and the first dedicated Society Islands cruise.

The program features 21 scheduled cruises around the South Pacific on Aranui 5, a 125-metre mixed freight and passenger vessel, which offers one of the few remaining cargo cruise experiences in the world.

It begins with a fresh take on the Pitcairn voyage which debuted this year and has become one of Aranui's most popular annual itineraries.

The revamped cruise to the Tuamotu, Gambier and Pitcairn islands includes a new Tuamotu atoll and an overnight stay at Adamstown as well as the cruise line's maiden visit to Pitcairn's pristine Oneo Island, with its picture-perfect white sandy beaches.

The 13-day cruise is priced from $8486 per person twin-share.

Macanese cuisine knows how to excite the senses.

Macanese cuisine knows how to excite the senses.

Culinary delights in Macao

Macao's standing as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy goes far beyond the dinner table.

Home to one of the world's earliest forms of fusion cuisine, this Asian centre has its sights firmly set on sustainability and avoiding food wastage, important ingredients to not only promoting its stance on a worldwide problem but also boosting its tourism appeal.

The tiny Pearl Delta enclave knows how to excite the senses, something it has been doing over four centuries of European and Asian co-existence.

Dining began in the homes, where locals of Chinese and Portuguese background would experiment in the kitchen to create a cuisine which would become uniquely Macanese - with recipes using spices and ingredients collected by Portuguese seafarers along the coasts of Africa, India and South-East Asia, along with locally grown produce.

While the cuisine was primarily Portuguese based and inspired, the point of difference was in the addition of curry, coconut milk, chillies, cloves and cinnamon, to mention just a few ingredients.

Such spicy creations as African chicken would become a signature dish in the restaurants, along with chilli shrimps, the minced-meat dish Minchi, and, of course derivations of the traditional Portuguese dishes caldo verde (soup of green cabbage), giant grilled sardines, casserole of rice, pork and seafood and the always popular Balcalhau patties (fried cod fish cakes).

Rosa: showing off the charms of the Gascony and Bordeaux regions of south-west France.

Rosa: showing off the charms of the Gascony and Bordeaux regions of south-west France.

See France by barge

European Waterways has new excursions for its eight-passenger hotel barge, Rosa, which cruises the Gascony and Bordeaux regions of south-west France.

Rosa cruises deep into the heart of this idyllic countryside, with highlights including a visit to an artisan dairy farm in Ramier, where guests can watch the cheese-making process and taste the final results.

Also on tap is a visit to the market at Castelsarrasin, where a wide variety of local produce reflects the richness of French gastronomy and the unique flavours of the region.

Guests can also take a stroll through Montauban, a charming fortified town along the banks of the River Tarn, before cruising the canal alongside the Forest of Agre, a woodland that is home to wildlife such as deer, boars and rabbits, as well as birds such as the black kite, nightjar and booted eagle.