With the QUANTAS AIRPASS, you can fly nonstop from L.A. to Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane for $999$1,599 (800-348-8145, www.qantasvacations.com); purchase includes three domestic flights within Australia. AIR TAHITI NUI (877-824-4846, www.tahiti-newzealand-australia.com) flies from L.A. to Sydney for $998, and from New York for $1,198, including stops in Tahiti and Auckland, New Zealand.
Hit the south during Australia's legendary summer (DecemberFebruary), or enjoy the less steamy months in the tropical north between May and October.
To do Australia right, you need to cover a lot of ground. QUANTAS operates out of 59 cities (800-227-4500, www.qantas.com); VIRGIN BLUE hits 23 destinations (011-61-7-3295-2296, www.virginblue.com.au). Ride from Melbourne to Cairns with the EAST COAST DISCOVERY PASS (valid for six months; $302), or take a three-night, 2,700-mile transcontinental rail journey on the Indian Pacific to see the spectacular country between Sydney and Perth (from $330 per person; ATS TOURSs, 310-643-0044, www.railaustralia.com.au). Considering Oz's vast distances and incredible national parks, camper vans are a popular option for road trips. KEA CAMPERS offers decked-out, pop-up rides from $46 per day (011-61-2-8707-5500, www.keacampers.com/australia). Avis, Budget, Hertz, and National all rent cars; rates start at $27 per day.
LUXURY BASE CAMPS
DAINTREE ECO LODGE & SPA, Daintree, Queensland. Sleep in one of 15 tree houses on stilts at this award-winning 30-acre eco-resort, where you can explore the world's oldest living rainforest or dive into the nearby Great Barrier Reef. Doubles from $349, including breakfast (011-61-7-4098-6100, www.daintree-ecolodge.com.au).
NORTH BUNDALEER, Jamestown, South Australia. This restored four-room 1901 mansion sits on 470 acres near the 17-mile Riesling Trail, which leads pedalers to tasting rooms at Clare Valley wineries ($19 per day; Clare Valley Cycle Hire, 011-61-8-8842-2782, www.clarevalleycyclehire.com.au). Doubles from $369, including meals and drinks (011-61-8-8665-4024, www.northbundaleer.com.au).
FARAWAY BAY, THE BUSH CAMP, Western Australia. Set in a secluded cove on the Kimberley Coast, this permanent camp of eight cabins combines wilderness luxury with awesome scenerythink crocodiles and dolphins cavorting off a white-sand beach backed by red cliffs. Open April 1October 31; $1,500 per person for two nights, including air transfer from Kununurra, meals, drinks, and excursions (011-61-8-9169-1214, www.farawaybay.com.au).
ECHOES BOUTIQUE HOTEL AND RESTAURANT, Katoomba, New South Wales. All 13 suites in this eclectic hotel have panoramic views of the craggy buttes and temperate rainforests of the Blue Mountains, a World Heritage site. Explore the stunning sandstone range by rock-climbing with High N Wild Mountain Adventures (half-days from $84; 011-61-2-4782-6224, www.high-n-wild.com.au). Doubles from $258 (011-61-2-4782-1966, www.echoeshotel.com.au).
CAPELLA LODGE, Lord Howe Island, New South Wales. Overlooking both the lagoon and the signature green mountains of Lord Howe Island, 434 miles northeast of Sydney, the Capella Lodge offers Zenlike suites, an insane adventure menu, and exceptional dining. Doubles from $346, including breakfast, dinner, and airport transfers (011-61-2-9918-4355, www.lordhowe.com).
SEVEN SPIRIT BAY WILDERNESS LODGE , Cobourg Peninsula, Northern Territory. This rainforest eco-lodge in Garig Gunak Barlu National Park has 23 hexagonal "habitats"swank screened bungalows with garden showers secluded in the bush. Open March 17December 15. Doubles from $995 for two nights, including round-trip flights from Darwin, all meals, and wildlife safaris to see buffalo, crocodiles, and cockatoos (011-61-8-8979-0281, www.sevenspiritbay.com.au).