I have had the same experience as Ted Richards from Batemans Bay (Traveller Letters, January 23) with a hotel taking $100 above the agreed room price as a bond if I were to cause damage. As I pointed out to the receptionist, if I was travelling for one week and if every night I had $100 frozen, my credit line would be down $700. I asked for the manager and was told it was a "rule of the hotel" and If I didn't pay I couldn't stay. Needless to say, I will never return and told everyone I knew this hotel in Southport Queensland was one to avoid. It took seven days to have the money back in my account. Lesson learned, check before you confirm. On the other hand brand name hotels are usually safe.
John Hockney, Leura, NSW
EDITOR'S NOTE Your editor once had the equivalent of $A1905 frozen on his credit card for a three night stay - €400 per night - at a ritzy (but not the Ritz) Parisian hotel. It took what seemed an eternity for the funds to be finally released. Can any of our readers surpass that freezing of funds experience?
If you want to know more about hotels and why they do this, Tripologist Michael Gebicki has investigated the issue previously. Read more here.
OUTING THE OUTBACK
I am writing to comment on your story, "States of Excitement" (Traveller, January 23) by Ben Groundwater and his description of the outback. There are no "tropical rainforests, white sand-beaches," there is plenty of red soil, gibber plains, sand dunes and heat. Towns such Bourke, Broken Hill, Cobar, Nyngan, Brewarrina, Wilcannia are all part of the outback, and further inland, deserts such as the Great Sandy Desert, the Simpson Desert, the Tanami Desert. The outback is a dangerous place, and people have died there. That is my description of the outback.
Helen Kidd, North Narrabeen, NSW
BEN GROUNDWATER REPLIES: Though the classic images of the outback are indeed red dirt and barren plains, this somewhat ill-defined area actually encompasses - by most definitions - a huge variety of landscapes and ecosystems, from vast swathes of Western Australia's coastline, to wetland areas in central and northern Australia, to the tropics of far-north Queensland. It's an incredibly diverse area that can be many things to many people.
Ben Groundwater's wide-ranging cover story, highlighting exciting domestic destinations to visit, was excellent. When writing about cruising the rugged Kimberley coastline he could have mentioned an Australian cruise company, Coral Cruises, which has smaller ships that are able to navigate closer to the amazing bays and gorges. My experience in 2019 cruising from Darwin to Broome on the Coral Discoverer was a highlight of my travel adventures and the highly-trained, all-Australian crew who were friendly and knowledgeable. It could be that allowing bigger ships in greater numbers to this fragile area runs the risk of loving the place to death, but Australian ventures employing Australian workers deserve our support.
Carey Buls, Saratoga, NSW
AWESOME AND THEN SOME
I would give Undara, Far North Queensland, which was featured in your cover story, a five out of five for awesomeness. To traverse these ancient lava tunnels with their amazing colours, to experience the evening walk and witness the explosion of tiny bats from their caves in search of their evening meal (and incidentally providing the same for the tree snakes who languidly hang from the branches and snap up unsuspecting fliers), to enjoy a campfire breakfast, an evening meal in the open air restaurant and then walk back to the accommodation in a converted railway carriage, admiring the star-studded sky - this is a truly Australian experience. Wineries, museums and sailing you can do elsewhere in the world; exploring lava tubes in the oldest continent on earth is something special.
Lee Palmer, Albert Park, Vic
Our family has just returned from a week by the sea in Mollymook, NSW. We stayed at a well-known resort and had a fabulous time. We were keen to book exactly the same accommodation for exactly the same time next January. I was shocked to receive the news that the cost would double. I was told that it was termed "dynamic pricing". I would call it price gouging. Surely hand sanitiser can't be that expensive. A disappointing and bitter-sweet experience.
Michael Taplin, Mosman, NSW
I would like to second Rachel Deane's comment (Traveller Letters, January 23) about obtaining a credit from Qantas for a cancelled flight. Similarly, I was due to fly to Sydney for a family event on January 28 but with COVID-19 snap border closures, I felt it unwise to travel and decided to cancel my trip. With a certain degree of trepidation I went online and filed a request for a credit for my return flights. Despite a pop-up note informing me that action could be slow due to the volume of requests an hour later I got my credit voucher. Thanks to Qantas for their understanding and efficient service.
Henry Gaughan, Richmond, VIC
FROM MOANS TO MONA
I agree with Julie Stewart (Traveller Letters, January 23) that we need more good news stories in Rants & raves instead of complaints. There are enough of those out there already and I include John Murphy from Croydon, NSW's comments about Hobart in that category. I have been to Tasmania and Hobart several times and have always found the people there to be more than friendly and polite. Perhaps it was the manner in which the question was asked. Our mayor in the Shoalhaven region of NSW says that she welcomes the tourists here but leaves the cranky ones at home.
Veronica Husted, Sanctuary Point, NSW
EDITOR'S NOTE We'd also certainly love to hear from readers about their happier travels. However it's Traveller's policy, too, to canvas a spectrum of readers' experiences and observations.
What a pity, John Murphy, you are not going back to Hobart. We recently had a short break there and each day brought enjoyment. We had a great fish and chip lunch at the Jam Packed Cafe under the old Jam Factory after our flight in and stayed at a very comfortable reconfigured house which we had to ourselves at Battery Point with a coffee shop around the corner and a view of Mount Wellington. The real highlight was the day on Bruny Island, where we were looked after by Pennicott Tours. Hugh, the driver was a great source of humour and information and we went to places making great honey, cheese, wine, chocolate and whisky. They have their own restaurant there and we had a good fish lunch, preceded by some of the best and freshest oysters we have ever had. We weren't there for the Salamanca markets but it was good to walk around that area without the crowds, wandering through various artisan shops at our leisure. Hobart is very laid back and we found the people there friendly and helpful. Perhaps his experience was coloured by the time of year and the lack of business in COVID-19 tourism, enough to make anyone short tempered. In any event, we would readily return.
Caro & Rob Humphreys, Bowral, NSW
LOOSE STONES AHEAD
John Murphy's comments on Hobart reminded me of the time our family was in a hire car near Lake St Clair, in the Central Highlands of Tasmania, and a woman complained that we were damaging their roads.
Lindsay Fitzsimmons, Engadine, NSW
FIRST AND FOREMOST
I note many people have had less than satisfactory responses regarding their cancelled vacations. We had a cruise booked through Cruise1st in September. We were to fly to Hawaii with Hawaiian airlines and cruise back with Royal Caribbean. We had to wait until a month before departure but are happy to say we received a full refund - even the additional money we paid direct to the airline for extra leg room. No additional fees whatsoever. We will certainly use these travel companies and airlines again. Thank you, Cruise1st.
Kim Jess, Port Macquarie, NSW
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