Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Oprah mulls homestay during tour Down Under

American talkshow megastar Oprah Winfrey Thursday said she was "not ruling out" an impromptu sleepover with an Australian family during a her whirlwind December tour Down Under.

Tourism officials have been swamped with offers to host the TV star, from rainforest and reef resorts to humble homes in Outback towns.

"Now I'm going to go look for all those cards I've been saving over the years, from folks who have come from Australia," Winfrey told Australian television Thursday.

"The idea of staying at a real Aussie's house is actually pretty appealing to me. So I don't know who that would be, but I'm not ruling that out," the TV star said.

Australia paid 2.3 million US dollars to bring Oprah and 300 members of her studio audience to Australia for an eight-day showcase of the country's beaches, vineyards and the world-famous Great Barrier Reef.

The whistlestop tour will finish with a recording session in the temporarily-renamed Sydney "Oprah" House, and Tourism Queensland said they were working through a number of itineraries with Oprah and her team.

"As you can appreciate this a big task and we hope to have everything finalised next week," they said.

Select Australians will be given the opportunity to join Winfrey's Sydney audience through a lottery on her website, and the star said she believed there was "quite a demand for tickets."

Winfrey, 56, was coy on who her guests would be, although actors Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe joined director Baz Luhrmann on a list of her favourite Australians, along with Bindi Irwin, daughter of the late wildlife star "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin.

"We have an idea, we're just not telling you, or anybody there yet," Winfrey said, joking that maybe she could meet Julia Gillard, recently elected Australia's first female prime minister.

For her part, Winfrey said it was the "regular folks" she was most looking forward to meeting, as well as sampling some of Australia's cuisine.

"I intend to try anything that's not crawling," she said, agreeing even to try Vegemite, a bitter, salty brown sandwich spread considered a national icon.

"Vegemite doesn't crawl, I will be trying it, yes," she said.

"It's like our version of peanut butter right? Peanut butter and jelly? I'm open, bring it on."

Winfrey was ranked the world's most powerful celebrity by Forbes magazine this year, outclassing actress Angelina Jolie and singer Beyonce Knowles.