Believe it or not, although its land mass is larger than the U.S., Australia has a population and economy that is smaller than that of greater Los Angeles. That strong destination appeal is coupled with its first-rate convention centers, hotels, and transportation. Australia's meeting infrastructure is booming. The enhancements the Olympics (September 2000) are bringing to Sydney will make what many say is already the most beautiful city in the world even better. Melbourne's events and cultural calendar draws many to this lovely city in the southern tip of Australia, and its multicultural population has sparked a variety of diverse cuisines in good restaurants. Adelaide is the gracious capital city of South Australia, and is world known for its wine region. Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland, in the northeast, has a mild sub-tropical climate and an airport well-served by international flights. It's a gateway to the Far North, where Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef are must-see visits .

ADELAIDE hotel news * The 182-room Radisson Playford Adelaide Hotel is the city's newest property, with a ballroom that seats 400, six boardrooms, and three function rooms.

* The Hyatt Regency Adelaide is the city's premier business/convention hotel with 367 rooms and a busy functions and events division.

important info Adelaide Convention & Tourism Authority * (61-8) 8212 4794

* Fax: (61-8) 82331 9224

* www.visit.adelaide.on.net

Adelaide Convention & Exhibition Centre * (61-8) 8212 4099

* Fax: (61-8) 8212 5101

* www.adelaidecc.co.au

U.S. offices: * (651) 228 1738

* Fax: 651 228 1754

The center is located on the landscaped banks of the River Torrens. More than 1,000 guest rooms are located in hotels within close walking distance of the convention center. Facilities include a plenary hall of 21,630 square feet, which can be divided into five halls, each with its own tiered seating. Another 11 rooms are available for breakout sessions, with capacities ranging from 446 square feet to 1,034 square feet. The exhibition hall of 25,090 square feet is divisible and can accommodate 1,800 for a banquet. An $85 million expansion will increase total space by 110 percent, providing 107,639 square feet of column-free exhibit space and banquet seating for up to 3,200. Set for completion in September 2001, the new building will extend over the existing railway station. A new outdoor promenade, with views of the river and parkland, will also be created.

BRISBANE hotel news * The 267-room Brisbane Marriott is one of the newest Brisbane hotels. Located on Queen Street and overlooking the Brisbane River, the hotel has a ballroom and extensive meeting facilities.

* The Heritage Brisbane hotel, with 252 rooms, is adjacent to the Brisbane Botanic Gardens. The hotel has three restaurants: Siggi's, Kabuki Japanese Restaurant, and The Brasserie. The grand ballroom seats 320 theater-style, and there are an additional six meetings rooms.

important info Brisbane Tourism * (61-7) 3221 8411

* Fax: (61-7) 3229 5126

* www.visitbrisbane.com.au

Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre * (61-7) 3308 3000

* Fax: 3308 3500

* www.brisconex.com.au

Located on the South Bank of the Brisbane River, the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre is Australia's most modern large convention center. The Great Hall seats 4,000 and is divisible into four areas. There are another 16 meeting rooms and another 243,000 square feet of exhibition space. The center has comprehensive audiovisual and production facilities. It is handicapped-accessible throughout. Rail, bus, and taxi service are close at hand.

CAIRNS hotel news * The 128-suite Reef Hotel Casino will be rebranded as one of Accor's luxury Sofitels.

* Novotel Palm Cove, some 12 miles north of Cairns, has completed a major renovation of its conference facilities. The 343-room resort accommodates up to 600 people in its largest meeting room.

important info Cairns & Region Convention Bureau * (61-7) 4051 3588

* Fax: (61-7) 4051 0127

* e-mail: ci@tnq.org.au

Cairns Convention Centre * (61-7) 4042 4200

* Fax: (61-7) 4052 1152

* e-mail: cns_convention@internetnorth.com.au

Just three years after the completion of the Cairns Convention Centre, this modern facility has undergone a major expansion, adding exhibition and plenary hall space for up to 5,000 people. Half of the center's business comes from international meetings, which are expected to comprise a full two-thirds of its business within the next two years. The center has recently booked a number of medical meetings, which in the past have gone to other Australian state capitals.

MELBOURNE hotel news * The 240-room Park Hyatt Melbourne opened in May.

* Due to open in 1999 and 2000 are the Mirvac Quay West (122 rooms), The Westin Melbourne on Regent Place (250 rooms), Hotel Lindrum (59 rooms), and the Airport Hilton (280 rooms).

important info Melbourne Convention & Marketing Bureau * (61-3) 9654 2288

* Fax: (61-3) 9655 3019

* www.mcmb.com.au

Melbourne Exhibition & Convention Centre (MECC) * (61-3) 9629 4100

* Fax: (61-3) 9235 8861

* www.mecc.aust.com

Located across the Yarra River from one another and joined by a covered pedestrian bridge, the convention and exhibition centers are also united under one management. Together they offer 33 meeting rooms with a total of 41,000 square feet, 320,000 square feet of column-free exhibition space, banquet space for 2,500, and three auditoriums.

SYDNEY hotel news * The historic General Post Office has been converted into the 418-room Westin Sydney. It has two ballrooms and six meetings rooms.

* A combined Novotel (168 rooms) and Ibis (150 rooms) hotel complex will open in early 2000 with a 4,305-square-foot ballroom.

* The Four Seasons-owned Regent of Sydney has reopened after a $5 million refurbishment that reduced its guest rooms by 89, to a total of 530.

important info Sydney CVB * (61-2) 9331 4045

* Fax: (61-2) 9360 1223

* (212) 529 8484

* www.scvb.com.au

Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre * (61-2) 9282 5000;

* (212) 529-8484

* www.scec.com.au

Two auditoriums have capacity for 3,500 and 1,000; there are also 30 meeting and function rooms with capacities for 50 to 600 and banquet halls for 1,600 and 1,000. Six interconnecting exhibition halls offer 296,000 square feet of exhibition space. The center completed a $41 million expansion in August 1999.