TIP OF THE WEEK
WALER OF A TIME
October is an excellent time to visit the Northern Territory. In the East MacDonnell Ranges, we encountered few people as we camped beneath cliffs lit up by the sunset and walked in the N'Dhala and Trephina gorges.
Definitely worth visiting is the historic gold town of Arltunga, where you can walk around the ghost settlement. Beautiful Waler horses there rolled in the mud of dry riverbeds.
Hearing them munch the vegetation outside our tent we had little idea of their early colonial history when, as we later discovered, more than 150,000 of them were sent to the Boer War and First World War.
Thankfully they enjoy a more peaceful life these days.
Bob Allo, Newport, NSW
AIRS AND DISGRACES
Beware booking airbnb in New York. My husband came back in the evening after two nights in an airbnb apartment to find that he and his work colleague had been locked out.
It transpired that, unbeknown to him, airbnb is illegal in New York. The tenant "host" had been found out by the owner of the apartment (probably rent-controlled) who had obtained an emergency eviction order. All my husband had on him was his laptop, passport and phone.
The following afternoon he returned to the apartment and fortunately the janitor led him down to the unlit basement where, by torchlight, he found the rest of his belongings stuffed into garbage bags.
There was little recourse from airbnb as they said it was the responsibility of the host to check on legalities of subleasing, and no refund or even apology was issued.
Dawn Anderson, Moonee Ponds, VIC
We recently had a weekend at Milton on the South Coast of NSW and booked through Stayz. We appreciated the beautiful house, and left it clean and tidy.
However, the owner rang later, checking her cleaner's claim that we had left it in a filthy mess.
Her follow-up email revealed that a previous group was responsible. Then another email informed me that a $350 extra cleaning charge had been reversed – the first I knew about it.
All ended well, the owner was honest, misunderstandings happen, but the moral is to take photos as you leave such places. You never know when they may be needed!
Judith Godden, Epping, NSW
AN UNPLEASANT EXCHANGE
Prior to a recent trip to Vietnam I went to the Travelex foreign exchange at the HSBC bank on George Street in Sydney's CBD to buy some Vietnamese currency, assuming I would get a fair exchange rate.
I was astonished to calculate when I arrived in Vietnam that I would have received 32 per cent more Vietnamese Dong for my money if I had waited to exchange my money there.
I wrote to Travelex to complain about the really poor exchange rate and ask why the rate was so low. They advised me that the "correct rate and commission charge was applied to my transaction".
So my advice to anyone buying foreign currency in Australia is to shop around or maybe wait to buy it on arrival as you may get a much better rate and therefore have a much cheaper holiday.
Philip Myers, Petersham, NSW
If you travel overseas more than once in a 12-month period consider taking out multi-trip cover. It could save you a bit of money.
You only need to be aware that each trip has a time limit. Depending on the insurer you can be away from Australia for up to 15, 30, 45 or 60 days at any one time.
Premiums are set accordingly. Be careful to stick to the time limit, as a claim could be denied if you have cover for 30 days but one of your trips lasts 35 days.
Kirsten Walla, Vaucluse, NSW