12 best South-east Australian holidays
1 Olympics

Will Steve Redgrave win another Olympic gold medal? And can anybody catch Michael Johnson? Find out for yourself with an Olympic Games package in September from Austravel (tel: 0171-734 7755). The Sydney 2000 Olympic Games will undoubtedly be the world's great sporting event next year. Austravel offers a 10-day holiday for pounds 1,932 per person based on two sharing. The package also incorporates a four-night stay in the Blue Mountains and three nights in the Hunter Valley. The price includes return flights, room-only accommodation, and four Olympic event tickets. Transfers are extra.

2 Classic railways

There are few more evocative ways of travelling across south-eastern Australia than by rail. The renowned Ghan train offers a stylish way to see the rugged countryside between Adelaide and Sydney. Thomas Cook Leisurail (tel: 0870 7500222) can book this train for the two-day journey from Alice Springs to Sydney via Adelaide. The low-season fare in holiday class, based upon a twin-share carriage, is pounds 320 per person for the entire journey. This does not include meals. Alternatively, first class for the same journey costs pounds 435 per person and is based upon a full-board twin-share. Flights and transfers cost extra.

3 Farmstay

As part of a four-day tour, AAT Kings (tel: 0870 2402440) offers the chance to spend a day at a traditional Australian farmstead. While not promising to turn you into a jackaroo or jillaroo, there will be opportunities to turn your hand to mustering, calving or sheep-shearing. The tour follows the route between Sydney and Melbourne by coach and includes an escorted trip to Canberra and a visit to the historic mining town of Beechworth in Victoria. The price of pounds 405 per person is based upon two people sharing. A variety of meals is included with the accommodation. International flights and transfers to AAT's Sydney coach terminal cost extra.

4 The ultimate stag party

Popping over to Dublin for a stag night is positively tame in comparison to a four-day crawl by light aircraft around South Australia's remote outback pubs. Bridge The World (tel: 0171-7347447) can book this extravagant way to wave goodbye to bachelorhood. The tour includes a stay in an underground hotel in the mining town of Coober Pedy. Starting from Adelaide, the trip costs pounds 1,495 per person based upon a twin-share. It includes light- aircraft transport, accommodation, meals, and yes, even beer. International flights can be arranged by Bridge The World for pounds 612 return flying with Malaysian Airlines.

5 Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains has long been a popular place to which to escape for Sydney's residents. The attractive scenery and cool climate make it a refreshing place to take a short break. Australian Pacific Tours (tel: 0181- 8797444) offers a four-day tour to the mountains providing opportunities to appreciate Australia's unusual wildlife. One night is also spent at the luxurious Lilianfels resort. Prices start from pounds 396 per person based on two sharing. Transfers from your Sydney hotel, accommodation and some meals are included. International flights cost extra.

6 Cycle the Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road between Melbourne and Adelaide is lined with stunning coastal scenery. A 10-day cycle tour along it will take in coastal features like the Twelve Apostles and laid-back settlements like Apollo Bay. Austravel (tel: 0171-7347755) offers a cycling package for pounds 1,308 per person based on two sharing. The trip includes return flights, bike hire, and full- board accommodation during the six days of cycling. Transfers and meals during the four nights in Melbourne cost extra.

7 Horseback

Peregrine Equitours (tel: 01865 511642) offers horseback and camping trips through the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales. Retracing the trails and camps used in the film The Man from Snowy River, this adventurous trek will take you into the wilderness and you may encounter kangaroos, emus and brumbies - wild Australian horses. In the evening there is the chance to sleep under the stars after enjoying a cold beer or a billy of tea. A nine-day trip costs pounds 490 per person based on shared camping and lodge facilities. This includes all meals, guides and horses. The initial transfer from Thredbo costs pounds 50, and international flights are extra.

8 Wine Tour

Australian wines have earned global acclaim in recent years. Winetrails (tel: 01306 712111) offers an escorted 10-night tour of the wineries around Adelaide. The tour will take you into well-known regions like the Barossa Valley and visit estates such as Penfolds. Tasting sessions and gourmet lunches are part of the tour. Prices start at pounds 1,895 per person based on two sharing. This includes transfers and accommodation on a largely half-board basis, guides and tours. Flights cost extra.

9 Bushwalking

Ramblers Holidays (tel: 01707 331133) offers a chance to walk in some of Australia's finest countryside during their 26-day South-east Australian Adventure. The trip passes through Victoria and New South Wales and culminates in south-east Queensland. Walking will include hikes in the Dandenongs and a trek in the Snowy Mountains. The holiday starts at pounds 2,590 per person, based on two sharing, and includes flights, all transfers, and hotel accommodation on a largely half-board basis.

10 Tasmania

Perhaps the most beautiful of Australia's eight states and territories is Tasmania. The island is famed for its World Heritage wildernesses, its mellow atmosphere, and its unique wildlife such as the marsupial Tasmanian devil. Bridge the World (tel: 0171-7347447) can organise a five-night self-drive package that will enable you to explore the island without worrying about where to stay. Their West Coast Wilderness deal starts at pounds 991 per person based upon a twin-share. It includes international flights to Melbourne, transfers to Tasmania, accommodation, a few meals, and group B car hire.

11 Adelaide Arts Festival

Every two years, Adelaide becomes the arts capital of the southern hemisphere with its festival. Theatre, dance and comedy take over the city for a few short weeks. The year 2000's festival will start on 25 February. Trailfinders (tel: 0171-938 3939) can book flights to Adelaide for a bargain pounds 477, including taxes, on Garuda. They can also book rooms of three-star or above quality for the festival, from pounds 49 a night based on a twin-share, in a central location.

12 Sun and surf

Austravel (tel: 0171-734 7755) offers a two-centred holiday for those who want to take advantage of Sydney's magnificent beaches. After spending seven nights in Sydney, where you can experience the livelier side of Australian beachlife at Bondi, the second week is based at a more tranquil resort in Port Macquarie. This 14-night break costs pounds 986 per person based on a twin-share. The price includes return international flights and accommodation on a room-only basis. Transfers cost extra.