Great (but not yet free) fares to Australia

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Courtesy melissamatsu/myBudgetTravel
Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge

Looks like those normally laid-back Australians are worried about one thing—the downtrodden global economy's effect on tourism. As The Agereported last week (and travel blog Jaunted picked up), the Australian government is mulling over a plan to pay for tourists' flights, as long as the tourists spend a certain amount of dough once they land (it would be something like $3,200).

There's no guarantee that plan will pass—but it's already possible to get yourself to Australia cheaply these days. Qantas, the country's national carrier, just cut one-way fares from L.A. and San Francisco to several cities, including Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. Flights start at $299 each way, or $598 round-trip, before taxes (which we saw running about $120.) The deadline to book is by Friday—so act fast. Travel is through Oct. 24.

United Airlines has a competing sale, with rates from L.A. to Melbourne and Sydney starting at $299 each way before taxes (also around $120). Book by Monday for travel through June 15. Remember that the more flexible your dates, the more likely you are to get a deal (travel on weekends will almost always be more expensive).

You can get more info on Australia's official tourism site and even plan a One Week Walkabout package.

(Need to get inspired? Try watching the epic Australia; it's now out on DVD. Read what we said about it the 2008 edition of Movie Quest.)

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