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Lifestyle : Short Breaks
1HERSA1 U002 www.solarsprings.com Weekend and two day packages from $520 pp 1800 044 944 Kubba Roonga Kubba Roonga Guesthouse See www.kubbaroonga.com for our latest offers! Midweek Getaway Special Enjoy a true Blue Mountains Escape! Stay 2 or more nights Midweek for the Special Price of $150 per couple per night with a full cooked breakfast daily and also receive a free upgrade to a queen spa room! 9 Brentwood Ave, Blackheath NSW | Tel: (02) 4787 5224 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | www.kubbaroonga.com AAA HUNTER WINE COUNTRY STARLINE ALPACAS FARMSTAY RESORT 1100 Milbrodale Rd. Broke 2330 Ph. 02 6579 1081 email@example.com www.starlinealpacas.com.au • Working alpaca farm at Broke 2 hours from Sydney • 14 modern self contained cottages or suites • Tennis, pool, spa, kids play gym, poolside BBQ • Next to Hunter Winery cellar doors & restaurants • Visit the Alpacas, chooks, farm orchard or visit www.winningholidays.com.au Call 02 4984 0100 P.SIloveyouxx Come relax in a Winning Holidays self contained property with enough room for everyone, even the family pet ...beautiful Port Stephens Are you tired of small hotel rooms? Oxley Travel, specialising exclusively in holiday packages to NORFOLK ISLAND & LORD HOWE ISLAND. We have a team of experienced senior staff to assist you, offering personal first hand knowledge acquired over their many trips to the islands. For best deals on flights, connecting flights, accommodation, transfers, tours, activities & travel insurance. Call the experts 1800 671 546 - 7 days OPEN: 8.30am - 6.00pm MON to FRI 9.00am - 4.00pm SAT & SUN www.oxleytravel.com.au Prices are per person twin share. Subject to availability. LORD HOWE LORD HOWE Island Island Package holidays INCLUSIONS: Return QantasLink flights, 7 nights accommodation & airport transfers. ex Port Macquarie from ex Sydney/Brisbane from September $1199 $1379 October $1389 $1469 November $1479 $1549 December $1549 $1629 February - April $1599 $1639 May $1499 $1539 AG4234753AA-240711 2 SUNDAY, JULY 24, 2011 THE SUN-HERALD short breaks special report Quiet waters run deep From fishing to food to heritage, Caroline Gladstone finds a village for every season to the south. Thedayspa...has the ambience of a European salon. CHARLIE BETTINI, the skipper of the Wagonga Princess, loves a chat. He keeps passengers entertained as we putter along Wagonga Inlet aboard his 100-year-old electric ferry. He has guided the little boat through quiet waters, a kilometre west of Narooma, for 20 years. He says he hasn’t seen a shark in the inlet for three years. But just so we don’t dangle our fingers in the water, he takes out a sepia photograph of a huge white pointer his father caught in the creek many years ago. Fishing yarns naturally lead to the famous Hollywood western writer and game fisherman Zane Grey, who put the area on the map when he hooked a 40-kilogram yellow-fin tuna off Bermagui in 1936. Many in these parts love the Grey legend; the dashing American has a caravan park named after him and the Bermagui service station and tackle shop has one of his rods on display. From Bermagui, it’s a short drive to the heritage-listed villages of Central Tilba and Tilba Tilba. Snuggled in forested rolling hills in the shadow of Gulaga (Mount Dromedary), the towns’ 19th-century timber cottages instantly suggest the ultimate in sea- change serenity. At the 1894-built Bate’s Emporium I chat with the owners and try their specialty, Tilba fudge. They tell me the shop and attached B&B was once owned by Jeff Bate, a former federal member for Macarthur who made a name for himself when he married Harold Holt’s widow, Zara, in 1969. The south coast is full of such surprises. From the Royal National Park to Eden it’s 1000 kilometres of coastline, more than 30 national parks and dozens of townships. On the way to a holiday house in Narooma, I stay overnight at Gerringong’s Bellachara Boutique Hotel. The 52-room property’s day spa, with its chandeliers, leather lounges, swathes of diaphanous curtains and attentive service (which begins with a glass of Why high-f liers head north David Knox explores Port Stephens by air, sea and land. A COLLECTION of stunning bays, coves, inlets, headlands, waterways and bush 21⁄2 hours’ drive from Sydney, Port Stephens has never had the cachet of other mid-north coast resort regions, perhaps because it is at the end of a cul-de- sac rather than on the way to somewhere else. An exhilarating, safe and simple way to get a bird’s-eye view of this harbour is by parasailing – and you don’t even have to get wet. A ballooning parachute is winched into the air from a speedboat, so you fly up to 150 metres above the water before landing either in the water or back on the boat. Port Stephens Parasailing hosts sails from $70 a person for a tandem ride. portstephensparasailing.com.au. Back at water level, Blue Water Sailing’s Beneteau Oceanis 46 luxury yacht operates from a marina at nearby Corlette. With skipper Alistair Bailey and deckhand Mark Wisby, both experienced sailors who brim with enthusiasm for the waters they sail, visitors can explore uncrowded coves and inlets and spot for sea eagles, osprey and turtles. Prices start at $95 a person for a 90-minute sail inside the port; sunset sails, trips to Broughton Island and bucket-list ocean-going charters are also available. bluewatersailing.com.au. Travellers can give wallets a break and legs a workout by trekking to the top of Tomaree Headland, the southern sentinel to the port’s entrance. The view is stunning and this winter there’s every chance whales will be seen. Whale sightings on the lower to mid-north coast were rare in earlier decades but hunting by Australian fleets is long gone and whale populations have expanded. Tough, been-there, seen-it-all sailors such as the crew on Imagine Cruises’ catamaran speak reverentially of the whales, such is the impression they make on even the most hardened ocean-goer. Imagine hosts daily whale-watching cruises leaving at 10.30am and 2pm from the port’s Nelson Bay docks. As well as spending time with the whales, each trip includes seeing the port’s resident bottlenose dolphins and a family of fur seals on Cabbage Tree Island. imaginecruises.com.au. As beautiful as the rest of Port Stephens is, the sight of a whale passing this close to the coast is a crowning moment for many visitors. The season lasts until November. The writer was guest of Port Stephens Tourism. Five other things to do on the south coast 1 2 3 4 5 Breakfast with the birds on sunrise walks (held on the second Saturday of the month) at the Illawarra Fly Treetop Walk, near Robertson. illawarrafly.com. Foodscape Tours hosts day trips from Berry on most Saturdays. Think oysters, strawberries, tea and wine. foodscapetours.com.au. The open-air truck known as Bigfoot claws its way from Coolangatta Estate winery up Mount Coolangatta, near Shoalhaven Heads, from which there are sensational coast views. coolangattasbigfoot.com.au. Dolphin Watch Cruises at Jervis Bay has a super-fast boat, the Extreme, made from recyclables and with low- emission engines. Track bottlenose dolphins or whales, in season. dolphinwatch.com.au. Snorkel with fur seals off Montague Island or view its penguins. Island lighthouse tours are available in spring. montagueisland.com.au, lighthousechartersnarooma.com. Sneaky Shortbreaks BOOK NOW! 1300 650 464 and quote Short Breaks www.constellationhotels.com.au/shortbreaks *Subject to availability. Minimum night stays may be required. Valid to 30 September 2011 except for Chifley Eastern Creek offer which is valid until 30 January 2012. For full conditions, visit www.constellationhotels.com .au/shortbreaks 2 NIGHT COASTAL RETREAT Australis Diamond Beach Resort & Spa Mid-North NSW Coast Spacious 2 Bedroom Villa for up to 4 people. $20 voucher for the award winning 3 Nippers Restaurant. $99/night. from WILD WEST FAMILY GETAWAY 3 NIGHT CENTRAL COAST ESCAPE Chifley Eastern Creek Western Sydney Country Comfort Terrigal Central Coast, NSW Modern interconnecting or adjacent Deluxe Rooms for 2 adults and 2 children. Family pass to nearby Featherdale Wildlife Park. Comfortable Poolside Room for 2 people. A complimentary full breakfast when another is purchased. $195/night. from $299/3 nights. THE SUN-HERALD SUNDAY, JULY 24, 2011 3 short breaks special report Hooked . . . (from far left) Zane Grey and a catch; Central Tilba; the Illawarra Fly Treetop Walk. (Cover image: Narooma). Photo: Greg Ellis Trip notes Getting there Ǡ Gerringong is about a two- hour drive from Sydney; Mollymook three hours and Bermagui about five hours. For train and coach travel, countrylink.info. Staying there Ǡ Bellachara Boutique Hotel has two-night packages including breakfast and a $100 restaurant dinner voucher priced from $490 until the end of August. bellachara.com.au. Ǡ The lighthouse keeper’s cottage on Montague Island is also available for stays. montagueisland.com.au. While there Ǡ Take a three-hour cruise with Charlie Bettini on the Wagonga Inlet, from $33. wagongainletcruises.com. More information eurobodalla.com.au; tilba.com.au; visitnsw.com. champagne), has the ambience of a European salon. The sumptuous restaurant, decorated with rich red and chocolate-coloured leather lounges has ramped up its already smart foodie credentials with the arrival of new head chef Dudley Wood, formerly of Cafe Sydney. Further south, as well as chef Rick Stein’s Bannisters restaurant, farm- gate tours have found a niche on the coast, adding to the region’s charm. The writer travelled with the assistance of Tourism NSW and Bellachara Boutique Hotel. Mountain cool Long, winding roads around Blackheath are perfect places for bike tours, writes Caroline Gladstone. Trip notes Riding there Ǡ Blue Cruizin’ Tours hosts journeys from one- to four hours in the mountains, as well as day trips. Prices (per bike) start at $110; $100 for two bikes; $95 for three bikes, on one- hour tours. bluecruzin.com; visitbluemountains.com.au. Readytoride...Blue Cruizin’ Tours. ‘‘ARE YOU part of a bikie gang?’’ a boy asks as I throw my leg over the Harley-Davidson and dismount. I look at my male companions standing by their silver Harleys a few metres from Govetts Leap lookout and ask them. ‘‘Yep,’’ they nod, and ‘‘yep’’, I tell the lad. ‘‘Cool! What’s your gang name?’’ he presses on. Again I defer to the guys, who come back with ‘‘Mountain Rats’’. The kid is impressed. So am I. I squeak and squelch in my borrowed leather jacket, clutching my borrowed leather gloves and helmet, towards the lookout and snap off a shot of that classic Blue Mountains view as more kids, and their dads, gather around our ‘‘gang’’. If you crave attention and admiration, buy a Harley and zoom into a tourist attraction. Failing that, you can take a bike tour, cruising between Blue Mountains sights and along cliffside roads. Blue Cruizin’ Harley Tours & Escorts is owned by Tom Spellman and Brian Bamford, Harley devotees who have lived in the mountains for years and know the area well. Tom rides a Softail Custom bike, like the one in the Easy Rider movie; Brian has a Road King and their mate, Peter Staton, is riding a Fat Boy. We have set off from Leura, weaving along Cliff Drive’s bends to Echo Point , then head towards the Great Western Highway. At the turn-off, I think ‘‘Yikes!’’ at the prospect of fast cars and trucks but it’s smooth riding all the way to Blackheath. I love Blackheath’s village atmosphere but there’s no time for stopping at its shops. We swing right into Govetts Leap Road and zoom towards the famous lookout. By now I’m hooked and in high spirits, buoyed by the mini- commotion we create on arrival and my newly cool status. When it’s time to go, we wend our way down to the beautiful Megalong Valley. There’s a long, winding road with our name on it and we fly past farmyards and horse-riding businesses. I look up at the sandstone escarpment, glimpse the old Hydro Majestic Hotel on the ridge and am stoked I chose to go Harley riding instead of bushwalking. The writer was a guest of Blue Cruizin’ Tours and Tourism NSW.
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