The next Great Australian Outback Cattle Drive, sponsored by the South Australian Tourism Commission (see below), will be held May 1 to June 13, 2004. The cost is $1,539 for five days and includes all meals, tent, bedding, swag, horse and equipment; airfare and ground transportation are additional. All ages and experience levels are welcome.
GETTING THERE: From Washington, Qantas quoted a price of $1,691 for an American Airlines flight to Los Angeles connecting to a Qantas flight to Sydney, with a final connection to Adelaide.
To reach the cattle drive from Adelaide, the SATC can arrange a ride on the Drovers Express, a luxury 18-seat coach, for $308 round trip or $221 one way. You can also charter a flight from Adelaide at Banksia Adventures (telephone 011-61-8-8236-9222, www .banksia-adventures.com) for $731. Or you can hire a four-wheel-drive vehicle from Banksia and drive seven or eight hours to the cattle drive.
WHAT TO BRING: Pack for warm and cold weather. Bring flat-soled riding boots, a bandanna and a hat. If you don't have riding clothes, wear tights under jeans to prevent chafing. Padded bike shorts also cushion the ride.
WHERE TO STAY: All lodging during the cattle drive is included. If you plan to stay for a night or two in Adelaide, options include the Hyatt Regency Adelaide (North Terrace, 800-633-7313, www.adelaide.hyatt.com), with rates from $145; the Embassy (96 North Terrace, 011-61-8-8124-9900, www.pacifichotels corporation.com.au), with rates from $117; and the Medina Grand Adelaide Treasury (King William and Flinders streets, 011-61-8-8112-0000, www.medinaapartments.com.au), with studios at $69.
WHERE TO EAT: All meals and afternoon tea are included.
In Adelaide, Rundle Street is a great spot for dining and pubs, with a college-town feel. I ate at the Universal Wine Bar (285 Rundle St.), a casual restaurant/bar with a huge selection of wines, low lighting and vintage French posters. The fillet of kangaroo with sour cherry sage and beetroot confit glaze (about $13.50) was delicious and virtually indistinguishable from a lean cut of beef. Other dining options include Sammy's on the Marina (Holdfast Promenade, Glenelg, www.sammys.net.au), known for its seafood; Magill Estate Restaurant (78 Penfold Rd., Magill), offering modern Australian cuisine and an impressive wine cellar, with panoramic views of the Magill vineyard and city beyond; and Red Ochre Restaurant (War Memorial Drive, North Adelaide, www.redochre.com.au), on the waterfront, with distinctive gourmet bush tucker such as kangaroo fillet with quandong glaze, and the irresistible wattle seed pavlova.
OTHER OUTBACK OPTIONS: If you want an adventure a little less challenging than the cattle drive, the SATC can arrange stays at Outback stations, ranches that raise sheep and cattle. You can try horseback sheep mustering or take four-wheel-drive tours and scenic flights. Choices include the Arkaba Station near Wilpena Pound ($85 a night, double), the Oratunga Station and the Nilpena station. Contact the SATC for rates, season and arrangements.
TOURS: Outback tour operators include Outback Encounter (33 Queen St., Thebarton, 011-61-8-8354-4405, www.outbackencounter.com) and Diamantina Tours (www.diamantina-tour.com.au), whose U.S. rep is Swain Australia Tours (800-227-9246).
INFORMATION: South Australian Tourism Commission, 888-768-8428, www.southaustralia.com.
-- Jenny Hontz