Five highlights in your travel week | 17 July

L’Austral at Lizard Island … Image: Eva Robert.
L’Austral at Lizard Island … Image: Eva Robert.

Cruiseco is offering travellers the opportunity to pay half-price for a companion’s fare on a 40-night circumnavigation of Australia, departing Sydney on 25 January on board Ponant’s L’Austral.

The offer is also available on the shorter 14-night Sydney-Fremantle and 26-night Fremantle-Sydney sectors.

Itinerary highlights include visits to Tasmania’s Wineglass Bay, Victoria’s Port Campbell, South Australia’s Port Lincoln, Western Australia’s Turquoise Bay, the Northern Territory’s Yirrkala, and Queensland’s Lizard Island.

Prices for the 40-night cruise are from $29,900 for the first passenger and $14,950 for the companion, based on twin-share or double occupancy in a deluxe stateroom.

Fares include all meals onboard, 24-hour room service, beverages such as house wines, beers and non-premium spirits, a specialist expedition crew and zodiac tours.

Phone (02) 9492 8520 or visit www.cruising.com.au 

The Sydney Opera House … the choice spot on New Year’s Eve.

The Sydney Opera House … the choice spot on New Year’s Eve.

Have a spare $1,399 per head and looking for something to do on New Year’s Eve?

I doubt that it comes any better than dinner, choice of performances, and ringside seats to the fireworks, when Opera Australia takes over the Sydney Opera House.

That price includes a three-course pre-performance dinner designed by Matt Moran, tickets to either The Merry Widow or a gala concert of popular arias, and entry to the exclusive Midnight Party, with its uninterrupted view of the fireworks.

Separate dinner and party packages are also available for $399 and $329 per head respectively.

Phone (02) 9318 8200 or visit www.opera.org.au

The Retreat Port Stephens … nestled in bushland nest to Australia’s largest sand dunes.

The Retreat Port Stephens … nestled in bushland nest to Australia’s largest sand dunes.

Save 25 per cent on a three-night winter package at The Retreat Port Stephens, two-and-a-half hours north of Sydney.

Pay $350 per couple, including accommodation in a bush-hideaway cabin, a $25 voucher for each person to spend on craft beer, wine and food at nearby Murray’s Craft Brewery, and a $15 voucher per person to use for breakfast or lunch at Crest Birubi Beach, an eatery boasting spectacular vistas over the ocean and passing whales.

The package is valid for bookings made by July 31, and for stays on weekends or midweek up to September 29.

The Retreat Port Stephens is nestled in bushland next to Australia’s largest sand dunes.

Phone 02 4982 1244 or visit www.theretreatportstephens.com.au 

Emporium Hotel … marking a decade with a ‘Signature Sips’ package.

Emporium Hotel … marking a decade with a ‘Signature Sips’ package.

Brisbane’s Emporium Hotel is marketing a $100 ‘Signature Sips’ package as an add-on to its normal room rates.

The package features four cocktails of choice from the 10th Anniversary Cocktail Menu, seasonal tapas board, a reserved spot in the Cocktail Bar, late checkout and valet parking, and is available until December 31.

The cocktail menu features creations such as the Ginger Geisha, Rouge Lips, Queensland Mule and Passionfruit Chi Chi.

Visit www.emporiumhotels.com.au 

Welcoming the whales … North Stradbroke Island is a great spot to see these gracious mammals

Welcoming the whales … North Stradbroke Island is a great spot to see these gracious mammals

Queensland’s North Stradbroke Island — or ‘North Straddie’ as the locals refer to it — is one of the premier locations to view whales as they migrate up Australia’s east coast during winter, and its Quandamooka Festival will showcase their arrival with a weekend of traditional ceremonies, music, dance and interpretive tours on July 28-29.

The Yura Yalingbila (Welcome the Whales) weekend starts with the official welcoming ceremony and festival on Saturday 29 July from 11am to 3pm at Headland Park on Point Lookout.

Unlike with most whale-watching experiences, visitors to North Straddie only need to stroll to the headlands at this time of year to see humpback whales breaching, dolphins riding the waves, and turtles and manta rays cruising through the waters.

The festival is free to enter and will include traditional dance, arts, weaving, workshops, kids activities, food stalls, sand art and live music by Neil Murray (co-composer of My Island Home) and local female duo Blacksalt.

This year, for the first time, Yura Yalingbila will include the Quandamooka Festival Gala Dinner Experience. Set on a cliff top location ideally situated to view the whales, the all-inclusive fine-dining evening will start with canapes and sparkling wine overlooking an ocean sunset, followed by a cultural dance performance and then an Australian bushfood-inspired three-course meal, accompanied by quality wines and music from a string quartet.

Visit www.quandamookafestival.com.au