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Sydney's divine; Enjoy best of both worlds with Australian city break and trip to Tropical North Queensland.

Byline: VICTORIA MITCHELL

So where the bl**dy hell are you?" was how the slogan went. The ad campaign by Tourism Australia certainly grabbed some attention when it aired.

Aussies are fiercely proud and desperate to show off their country and encourage tourists. But as a destination it is difficult to choose what to see as Australia is vast.

There are major cities, the Outback, Ayers Rock, the rainforests, Great Barrier Reef and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world - and much more.

Our party chose a city break in Sydney followed by a seven-night stay in Tropical North Queensland.

Emirates is just one of a clutch of airlines to introduce the mammoth Airbus double-decker A380, the biggest and best passenger jet in service on the Sydney route.

With the airline offering regional departures including Glasgow, it means a seven-hour hop to Dubai followed by a 14-hour flight to Sydney.

After a long weekend in Sydney, having taken in the Harbour Bridge, Opera House, Taronga Zoo the Blue Mountains and sampling a few of the many upmarket restaurants, we flew north to Cairns in Queensland - boosted by yet another ingenious advertising campaign.

Tourism Queensland came up with "Best Job in the World", which eventually went to a Brit whose brief was to spend half a year as a "caretaker" on a tropical island for a massive salary.

It's not difficult to understand why they are keen to show off what Queensland has to offer - tropical rainforests, pristine beaches and the Great Barrier Reef are just a few of the attractions.

One of the most charming resorts is Palm Cove, a small and peaceful resort 15 miles north of Cairns. It's where the rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef and is considered one of the finest beach resort towns in the world.

Overlooking the Coral Sea, it has a handful of upmarket hotels and apartments and some of the best restaurants in the region.

Relaxation and luxury abound. With its year-round warm tropical water, silky sand and palm-fringed beaches, it's easy to want to stay put and delay exploring the rest of the area. But there's so much more to see. A good way to get around is on an organised day trip.

And a visit to Far North Queensland isn't complete without seeing the Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef in the world. You don't have to be an expert scuba diver to enjoy the marine life.

A popular day trip is to Green Island, 17 miles off Cairns and part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park World Heritage Area.

Tourists board a massive catamaran and have the choice of simply relaxing on the beach, exploring the island, trying their hand at scuba diving or snorkelling in shallow waters around the island - a fantastic way to see the reef close up.

Other trips to different parts of the reef range from half a day to three or four days where you live on-board a dive vessel and can explore the outer reef.

Inland, there's also much to do. Tropical rainforests cover around 900,000 square hectares and are internationally recognised as being one of the most ecologically fascinating natural areas in the world.

Stretching for over 300 miles along Tropical North Queensland's coastline, the rainforests are the oldest continually surviving ones on the earth and once covered the entire Australian continent.

A great way to get a bird's eye view of the forest canopy is on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Gliding metres above the rainforest before descending deep into the heart of the forest at two mid-stations is quite possibly one of the most relaxing - and lazy - ways to experience a rainforest.

Combining the Skyrail with a visit to Kuranda - a historic settlement in the middle of the rainforest - is a popular day trip.

Snakng upwards on the The Kuranda Scenic Railway, tourists marvel at unsurpassed views of the dense rainforest, steep ravines and picturesque waterfalls.

Cairns also has a handful of nightclubs, a casino, plethora of bars and restaurants and is a haven for backpackers.

It's not difficult to fall in love with the area, it has something for everyone and every budget, from hostels to luxury hotels.

So where the bl**dy hell are you? Factfile We travelled to Sydney with Dubai-based airline Emirates and on to Cairns with Virgin Blue, www.virginblue.com.

Emirates flies from Glasgow via Dubai to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

Check www.emirates.com for latest offers.

For accommodation and day tours see the Tourism Queensland website, www.tq.com.au.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Nov 28, 2010
Words:777
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