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A Paradise Down Under

Would anyone travel halfway around the world, switch day for night and summer for winter, cross the international dateline and give up a day to visit the world's largest, flattest and driest island where kangaroos outnumber humans and there are more sheep than people? Apparently a great many would because Australia has become an increasingly popular tourist destination for Americans. After a month-long visit to Australia we have come up with a myriad of suggestions that will be invaluable to the traveler who hopes to see the most and the best "down under" has to offer.

Sydney's newest luxurious boutique hotel, The Observatory, is a short walk from the world-famous harbor and is one of the country's first five-star properties. With only 77 rooms and 23 suites, visitors frequently feel they are guests at a grand Australian home. The rooms are spacious, well lit, richly appointed and decorated with stunning traditional furniture. The bathrooms are huge with every amenity and the service is impeccable. In addition, there are two superb restaurants, a handsome bar, a health club and a 20-meter indoor swimming pool.

The Observatory, 89-113 Kent Street, Sydney. Tel. +61 2 9256 2222, fax +61 2 9256 2233. Rates for doubles begin at $255 and go up to $900 for the Observatory Suite. www.observatoryhotel.com.au


Captain Cook Coffee Cruise, tour of the Opera House, Royal Botanic Gardens, Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia

Melbourne, an elegant, orderly Victorian city laid out on the north bank of the Yarra River, is home to the 170-room, 20-suite Windsor, the finest hotel in all of Australia. Originally established in 1883 and totally renovated and restored to its former elegance, it is located across the road from Parliament and convenient to all that the city has to offer. The Windsor with its architecturally elaborate public rooms, Persian carpets, 19th-century furniture and stunning artwork embodies the grace and splendor that was Victoriana. Guest rooms do not disappoint with high ceilings, walk-in closets, comfortable bathrooms and handsome furnishings. Afternoon tea, a Melbourne tradition, takes place in the lounge every day. Exquisite dinners are served nightly under a gilded ceiling set with stained-glass cupolas and gas-lit chandeliers.

Windsor Hotel, 103 Spring Street, Melbourne, tel. (61-3) 9633 6002 , (1800) 033 100 , is a member of the Preferred Hotels and Resorts World Wide, 800-323-7500. Rates begin at $240 for a double and go up to $950 for the five-room, antique-filled Victorian Suite. www.thewindsor.com.au


Victorian Arts Center, century-old Queen Victoria Market (closed Mondays and Wednesdays), boat ride on the Yarra. www.vicartscentre.com.au

Darwin in the Northern Territory is Crocodile Dundee country and the gateway to the real outback. The Beaufort with its splendid outdoor pool and skylit atrium is the area's best hotel and can be used as a base for exploring the region.

The Beaufort Hotel, 32 Mitchell Street, Darwin. Tel. 089-82-0000, fax 089-81-1765. Rates begin at $180 for a double.


Kakadu National Park, Katherine Falls, Arnhem Land, Umorrduk cave paintings and visit to Imilgil Safari Camp. To tour the safari camp contact Park Manager, Kakadu National Park , PO Box 71 , JABIRU NT 0886, AUSTRALIA . Tel. 08 8938 1120, + 61 8 8938 1120. www.deh.gov.au/parks/kakadu

Cairns is a sleepy, tropical town closer to Papua, New Guinea than most of Australia. Hayman Island is the reef's premier hotel. Situated at the tip of Whitsunday Island, it is a 214-room, 900-acre paradise and one of the finest resorts in the world. The views are breathtaking, the service and dining facilities perfection and the accommodations are exquisite. The resort will arrange air or sea trips to the reef and snorkeling or scuba diving.

Hayman Island, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland 4801 Australia. Tel. (61-7) 4940 1234, fax (61-7) 4940 1567, is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World, tel. 800-223-6800. Rates begin at $230 for a garden-view double and go up to $1800 for a three-bedroom French provincial suite. www.hayman.com.au


Great Barrier Reef

Daintree Ecotourist Lodge in the heart of Daintree World Heritage National Park Rain Forest is a 90-minute drive north of Cairns. It is a unique resort that is environmentally sympathetic to the rare flora and fauna. Visitors are allowed the thrill of actually living in the rain forest without disturbing it. There are 15 identical luxury lodges with screened balconies and a covered swimming pool. A fine restaurant overlooks the lagoon and is surrounded by tropical foliage.

Daintree Ecotourist Lodge, Daintree Road, Daintree. Tel. 61-70-986-100, fax 61-70-986-200. Rates are $210 double. www.daintree-ecolodge.com.au

For customized tours of Australia focusing on outdoor activities call Down Under Answers, 800-788-6685.

–Roberta Graff

Winter 1994-95