A LOOP FROM MOLLY­~ MOOK TO HUSKISSON (100 MILES) Up close, kangaroos are less the cuddly cartoon animals they're made out to be than frighteningly large wild beasts with the scowl of a nightclub bouncer and the hindquarters of a mule. By up close, I mean from a distance of about five feet, which is where I found myself Monday morning in Murramarang National Park. I'd awakened to a symphony of birdcalls, breakfasted on passion fruit and sencha tea (I'm not nearly that ab­stemious; my bacon never arrived), and left Bannisters with the goal of reaching the park before the kanga­roos vanished for the day. I needn't have hurried. On Pebbly Beach, they linger under old-growth trees late into the afternoon.

After my face-to-face encounter, Ijumped into my rented Ford Falcon-remember those?-and headed back to Princes Highway on a dirt road where I spotted seven more kangaroos in the underbrush.

Batemans Bay sits on an estuary of the Clyde River. A cross between a tourist town and a working fisherman's village, it seemed both relaxed and or­derly, like Key West gone Canadian. At the Pearly Oyster Bar, a retail shop and restaurant that's owned by an oys­ter farm, I ordered a dozen Sydney Rocks for $11 and checked them out with scientific detachment. They were larger than average, mildly briny, per­fectly good but ultimately disappoint­ing: no match, I thought, for American Chincoteagues or France's Belons. Un­sated, I crossed the road to the North St. Cafe and Bar, a tiny establishment of a few metal tables. Soon I was feast­ing on squid salad with dried cherries, followed by pan-friedJohn Dory and vanilla-bean panna cotia with poached fruit. The meal was satisfying, but the friendliness of the patrons is what I'll remember. ·Without fail, everyone who stepped inside flashed me a smile. Ei­ther unfamiliar faces are an uncom­mon sight in this corner of Australia, or locals here are just wired that way.
Heading back north after lunch, I guided my Falcon into the wild.

HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A MOVIE THAT WAS SO BEAUTIFUL, IT STAYED IN YOUR HEART?
Australiais that movie. After you've lost yourself in the movie, you'll want to find yourself in Australia, Live the romance, find the big adventure, and you'll discover exhilarating experiences are just part of the journey. Turn the page for a behind-the-scenes adventure: see where the movie was filmed visit historic landmarks, and dream up your own cinema-worthy experience.

Set on the explosive brink of World War 11, Australiais the epic tale of one woman's journey to a faraway conti­nent. Starring Nicole Kidman as a buttoned-up English aristocrat who comes to save the land she has inherited and Hugh Jackman as the rough-hewn local who helps her, they embark on a trip together across hundreds of miles of the world's most beautiful, yet unforgiving terrain, only to face the bombing of the city of Darwin.

In this lush telling, the landscape becomes its own character, inspiring viewers to reconnect with their spirit of romance and love of adventure in a way that only Australia can. Shot on location in Darwin, Sydney, the Kimberley region, and Bowen, a coastal town in Queensland, viewers get a sense of the dramatic and rugged land­scape, stretches of sparsely populated wilderness, and cities of the day, like Sydney and Darwin.

Aboriginal for "big water," Kununurra certainly makes a big impression with red earth, vast blue sky, and rugged bush. Nicole Kidman credited swim­ming in a local waterfall for blessing her with an unexpected pregnancy.

The Kimberley region is known for producing the famous pink diamond. At Kimberley Fine Diamonds Nicole Kidman bought presents for friends and family.

South Australia is sometimes referred to as the gate­way to the Outback. Visitors who want to follow in the footsteps of Hugh Jackman's character and experi­ence came driving themselves, can book a spot on the 2010 Great Australian Outback Cattle Drive.

A Grand Romance ... A trip to Australia is an affair of the heart. Fall in love under the endless sky, toast delicious wines, and be mesmerized by the enchanting landscape. Australia is one of world's best-kept secrets for romance.

Nature in the Buff
Australia has a bounty of eco-tourism destinations that will ignite your emotions and make you feel at one with nature-with all the comforts of a fine hotel. Immerse yourself in luxury amid the world's oldest living rainforest at the Ecotourism Award­winning Daintree Eco Lodge and Spa. In Kakadu National Park stay at Bamurru Plains in a chic safari suite that blends into the surrounding bush.

At the Kings Canyon Resort in the Northern Territory, the Sounds of Firelight is an incomparable outdoor dining experience. The menu's superb four courses are accompanied by some of Australia's best wines, under a canopy of stars and a flickering fire.

How to Propose Australian-5tyle A handcrafted ring of Argyle diamonds, Kalgoorlie gold, or
Paspaley pearls harvested off the Kimberley coast is a wonderful symbol of your special love and adventurous spirits.
A hot-air balloon ride over the Yarra Valley's breathtaking mountains in Victoria is an equally unforget­table place to pop the question.

Luxury Getaways
Indulge in the extravagance of Australia's five-or even six-star hotels. You'll find beauty and service you won't find anywhere else in the world. Set on the shores of beautiful lake Daylesford in Victoria, the award-winning Lake House is nestled among six acres of manicured gardens, waterfalls, and streams. On Hamilton Island's secluded northernmost tip, Qualia Resort's gorgeous atmosphere will completely spoil your senses.

Commanding spectacular views of the wilderness and Hanson Bay in South Australia, Southern Ocean Lodge is the ultimate fusion of nature and luxury, offering an uncompromising sensitivity to the pristine environment, a spa retreat, tailored service, and sophisticated dining. Set on the northern edge of the World Heritage listed Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park in Tasmania, the Cradle Mountain Lodge offers warm hospitality, sensational food and wine, and magnificent scenery. Experience the best of the Barossa Valley at The Louise, winner of the 2007 South Australian Tourism Award for Luxury Accommodations.

 

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