The Road Ahead : August 1st 2012
WWW.ROADAHEAD.COM.AU 30 THE ROAD AHEAD AUG/SEP 2012 TRAVEL DEPARTURE INTERNATIONAL worries of work -- I switched off my phone as I boarded and didn't activate it again until we were back in Australia. After three days of lazy, rolling waves and empty horizons, we awoke on the fourth morning entering Port Vila harbour. P&O offers official shore tours at ports of call. They guarantee the ship will not depart without you. But for our first look at Vila, we opted to share a taxi with another couple, verbally wrestling cabbie 'James' down to the attractive price of $90 for a tour of four hours. A $10 cab ride away is the town of Vila, the capital of independent Vanuatu, with about 30,000 inhabitants. It's not a pristine place, but it has a fascinating history. Cannibalism was a reality not so long ago. The Ekasup Cultural Village is Vanuatu's best- known tourism magnet and a peek into the magical world of ancient Melanesia. Our guide took us to a little wharf and a small boat which takes visitors on a short trip to Hideaway Island. The five-minute ride is free; the catch is there's a $10 charge to get onto the island. Vanuatu has its own currency, the Vatu, but the Australian dollar is widely welcomed. Another day ... another stopover, this time at Lifou, an outpost of New Caledonia and opting for an official P&O shore tour, a van ride across the island, past thatched homes shaped like muffins, to an isolated beach. With some time up our sleeves, we tackled the billy-goat climb to the high tip of the island to a restored white-washed church. We didn't find God, but we could get a sense of peace and tranquillity. Heaven arrived on cue the following day at idyllic Isle of Pines, discovered by the peripatetic James Cook in 1774. Once a French penal colony and today jealously protected by the old tribal ways, it's a stunning place, straight out of the travel brochures. Some swam, while others strolled through tropical scenery before dropping into a seaside bar for a refreshing Corona. Heading home there were three days of relaxing, more cocktails, more shows and too much food. Cruising has won us over. You create your own on-board lifestyle from a wide palette of attractions. It's like your own palace. With servants. MAIN IMAGE: ISLE OF PINES (P. MCKAY). PACIFIC DAWN. TRAVEL OFFER: Cruise the South Pacific RACQ Travel offers great discounts and onboard credit for P&O and Princess Cruises departing from Brisbane and Sydney, with a range of itineraries around the Pacific islands from seven to 14 nights. For a selection of Princess Cruises options, turn to page 7 or contact RACQ Travel on 1300 334 401 or travel@racq. com.au. Another day ... another stopover, this time at Lifou, an outpost of New Caledonia ...
June July 2012