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Winter Down Under when it's hot in China

TRAVEL in Australia in winter, say between June and August, is bliss for people living on the other side of the equator when mercury soars to its highest in a year.

Pleasant temperatures, often around 20 degrees Celsius in the day, plus crisp air and clear skies make Australia an enticing destination.

But its greatest appeal has to do with something else entirely. No matter what you fancy, the moment you set foot on this vast land, you are bound to be thrilled by its enormity, both socially and geographically.

And for those seeking culinary experiences, it's not to be missed for those with an appetite for seafood, steak, wine - and cuisines from around the world. The ingredients are fresh and natural.

So now, are you ready to try a different sort of winter and feast with both your eyes and palate in an exotic destination? Here we go!


Australia's capital in all but name, Sydney is just around 10 hours from Shanghai and connected by daily flights. It's a perfect start for any first-time visitors to the country, with its gorgeous weather, glamorous people, stylish restaurants, and above all, a breathtakingly beautiful landscape.

Without a doubt, the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, are Sydney's most famous attractions, making the stunning harbor, officially Port Jackson, the city's soul.

Dubbed "the coat hanger" by Sydneysiders, the spectacular steel-arch bridge, held together by almost six million hand-driven rivets, links the CBD with the North Sydney business district.

Among the various ways to admire the landmark, cruising underneath it or climbing up it are both options. The first offers plenty of ease and comfort to appreciate its splendor from different angles while the latter is worth trying, particularly if you want a closer, more personal and strenuous experience.

And Sydney Opera House, Australia's most recognizable building with an impressive shell-like exterior, is an equally treasured icon in the harbor. The masterpiece of modern architecture by Denmark's Jorn Utzon has earned a reputation as a world-class performing arts center and become a symbol of the nation since it opened in 1973.

And again, you will not be disappointed, no matter how you want to appreciate it. A tour from "front of house" to backstage could be perfect for those who want to have a better understanding of the opera house. For budget-conscious or tight scheduled visitors, the building itself is a grand piece of art, said to have been inspired by elements including orange segments, snails, palm fronds, sails as well as Mayan temples.

In addition, Sydney is known as Australia's largest and most diverse city and offers more than great views.

Hit Bondi, Sydney's most famous beach for surfing as well as people watching. You will probably find the one-kilometer sandy strip, which is crowded throughout the year, is much more accessible during the winter.

Spoil yourself with abundant fresh seafood as Australia lives up to its name as a seafood eater's paradise.

There are numerous food courts, riverside alfresco dining venues as well as upmarket restaurants headed by innovative and highly competitive chefs.

For those seeking retail therapy, Sydney is a great place to pamper yourself. The gorgeous Queen Victoria Building, completed in 1898 and occupying an entire city block, is a fascinating place where you will be most likely impressed by tiled floors, stained-glass windows and a superbly-looking central dome. And the Strand Arcade, the last remaining arcade of the five originally built in Sydney, offers its own stylish shopping experiences in architectural splendor.

Rambling at Darling Harbour is fun. The large waterfront recreational pedestrian precinct is dotted with snazzy cafes and bars. You will find it a pleasant place to while away the hours.


Australia's third-largest city blessed with spectacular waterways, Brisbane, just an hour away from Sydney by air, has long been praised for its friendliness and relaxed attitude.

Highlights of the dazzling river city include South Bank's world-class galleries and arts centers, Fortitude Valley's live music venues as well as New Farm's gritty cafes and bars - and a must-go destination for animal lovers.

Comprising two art galleries, a performing arts center, museum and the state library, the vast Queensland Cultural Centre forms Brisbane's cultural backbone. The most recent addition to the riverside precinct, the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, opened as the nation's largest of its kind four years ago, impresses every visitor with some eye-opening permanent displays. A life-size statue of a seal balancing a piano on its nose is perhaps among one of its most notable. The gallery's flagship project, the Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art series of exhibitions, is also a major event on national and international arts calendars.

And catching one of the CityCat ferries down the Brisbane River is a highly recommended sightseeing journey. Hop off the catamaran at the New Farm Park for a drink or a dinner at Brisbane Powerhouse, a former power station that's been innovatively transformed into a contemporary arts center, and you will get to see why the Brisbane lifestyle has become so envied.

Don't forget to cuddle a koala at Lone Pine Sanctuary and get your photo taken with one of the cute, fuzzy animals. Just about 10 kilometers from the city center, it's home to 130 koalas. Visitors are allowed to hold koalas for a fee, and the heart-melting koala-cuddling moment is worth it.

Visitors can also feed and pet the free-roaming kangaroos in the open reserve and get a close look at some of the native animals in Australia such as wombats and Tasmanian devils.

There's wild dolphin feeding at Tangalooma resort on Moreton Island every evening at sunset. Visitors stand in waist-deep water and feed the dolphins by hand, a breathtaking experience.

Moreton Island is accessible by both catamaran and helicopter.

Qantas Airways, Australia's national flag-carrier, operates daily flights between Sydney and Shanghai.

Using an Airbus 330-200, it offers business and economy service.

The wide-body, twin-aisle aircraft has an enhanced cabin design, providing more leg- and head-room, audio and video on demand and comfortable, ergonomically designed seats.

In business, Quantas Skybed offers a sleek, contemporary design and a range of innovative features ensuring maximum comfort, convenience and flexibility. In economy, ergonomically designed slimline seats have built in lumbar support and manually adjustable wings in the headrests for head and neck support.

Entering the Australian market in 1991, Accor is now the largest international hotel group in the country with a network of 150 hotels offering a spectrum of accommodation from luxury to economy. Brands include Sofitel, Pullman, MGallery, Grand Mercure, Novotel, Mercure, All Seasons, Ibis and Formule-1.

Opened in 1991, the 525-room Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour was the first hotel in the Accor network in Australia and the first major hotel in the Darling Harbour precinct. It makes the most of its waterfront location and harbor and city skyline. The hotel has played an important role in transforming the area into a vibrant tourism and entertainment precinct.


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