"Summer" Escapes to Australia

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The city’s Royal Botanic Gardens that sprawl along the Yarra River may be among the finest gardens in the world. Walks feature ventures into mini-ecosystems whether cacti and succulents or Australian rainforest. Amblers watch the ducks and swans around the decorative lake or look more deeply to find eels, possums and cockatoos.

Shoppers can find a plethora of boutiques and shops around the city center, as well as in the districts of St. Kilda and Fitzroy. But a favorite for Aussies is the Rose Street Saturday Market. This is where local emerging artists and designers showcase their work without high retail and gallery costs. It is easily one of Melbourne’s hidden treasures for quirky furniture design, stunning fashion, intricate jewelry and paintings.

Queen Victoria Market is Victoria’s premier open-air market and a tradition in these parts for more than 130 years. Part flea market, part quaint notion stop, the market happens daily and is the place to pick up a pair of Uggs for a song or some oil cloth purses and raincoats at basement prices. Bargaining is acceptable and the items sold in the phalanx of stalls and stores ranges from socks and practical clothing to Australian souvenirs to sweet bunny cozies. On Sundays, the market becomes relaxed and leisurely. Queen Street is closed and converted into an outdoor cafe area, with children’s rides and other activities. The market is easily reached by tram from the city center.

package it Goway Travel offers a Three Capitals Classic tour that runs seven days and includes time in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra for $982 pp dbl plus air. Hotels range from economy, i.e., the Leisure Inn Park Regis, to deluxe, i.e., the Langham Hotel. It can be added as an extension to other Goway tours.

Goway also runs 3- to 5-day Melbourne or Sydney regional tours that provide an in-depth sense of place beyond each city. A self-drive Sydney to Melbourne package stretches five days for $1,335 pp dbl including tested itineraries and stops, all accommodations, vehicle, maps, discounts and plenty of available assistance.

Tell clients that Goway has its own office in Sydney to be of more service to them when traveling around Down Under. Additionally, Goway travelers are welcome to use the free Internet cafe during normal business hours.

Globus’ Monograms Travel presents an Australian Escape option that runs 12 days for $3,935 pp dbl and includes all international and domestic air, Cairnes, Sydney and Melbourne stays, a Great Barrier Reef cruise, and several city and destination tours.

airlift V Australia just launched from Los Angeles in February to offer even more choices in services and pricing. The airline is offering a grand opening fare of $655 for trips to Sydney and Melbourne from Los Angeles through June 15. Premium economy can be had for $1,999. Virgin Blue’s 3-flight domestic flight passes can be purchased through V Australia for as little as $131.

Meanwhile, Qantas airways has nonstops to Sydney and Brisbane from Los Angeles for less than $800.