In December 2010, Oprah Winfrey brought 302 audience members on an eight-day, seven-night trip to Australia, to film four special episodes of the her show, appropriately titled ‘Oprah’s Ultimate Australian Adventure’.
The audience members broke up into groups and visited all eight Australian states and territories. Oprah herself travelled to Queensland’s Hamilton Island and Great Barrier Reef then on to Uluru in the Northern Territory. She also visited Melbourne where she met Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Oprah completed her "Ultimate Australian Adventure” in Sydney where she filmed two shows with a live audience which featured famous guests including Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman and Olivia Newton John.
The four episodes were first screened in the US in January 2011 and then re-screened in March 2011. They have also been broadcast around the world as The Oprah Winfrey Show is screened in 147 countries.
About the production
- About 700 hours of footage was filmed around Australia, which formed the basis of four episodes of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” produced in Australia – two consisting of field footage and two from the Sydney Opera House.
- In addition to the contribution of Tourism Australia and various state and territory tourism organisations, Harpo and its corporate sponsors invested close to $7 million to make “Oprah’s Ultimate Australian Adventure” a reality.
- Some of Australia’s biggest stars joined Oprah to tape two shows at the Sydney Opera House on 14 December 2010. They included Russell Crowe, Bindi Irwin, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban and Olivia Newton-John. Bon Jovi performed some of their greatest hits, and hip-hop superstar Jay-Z stopped by for a special surprise.
- There were more than 350,000 requests for tickets to the tapings at the Sydney Opera House. Of the seats awarded through an online lottery system, more than 95% were given to Australian residents.
- There were approximately 6,000 audience members at each taping. The tickets were available free of charge.
- The program aired in January 2011 in syndication in the US and in primetime in January 2011 on Network Ten in Australia.
About Oprah’s travels
- Oprah travelled first to Queenland’s Hamilton Island where she visited a wildlife park where she met Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and also cuddled Elvis the koala. She then took a helicopter ride to see the beauty of The Great Barrier Reef, landing on spectacular Whitehaven Beach, where Oprah and her guests were treated to a beach BBQ prepared by world famous Australian chef, Curtis Stone.
- Oprah then travelled to Uluru in the Northern Territory, where she toured the rock by helicopter, met with Malandirri McCarthy as her guide, visited Uluru National Park and Kuniya walk where she met Anangu elders and attended an indigenous dance performance.
- She went on to Melbourne where she met Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, and was welcomed by 10,000 Melburnians. She also surprised a mother-to-be with an impromptu baby shower and stopped by at a local “taco night” party.
- Her final destination was Sydney, where she attended a welcome party in the Royal Botanic Gardens, successfully conquered the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb with Gayle King and 249 audience members, and sailed in a regatta on Sydney Harbour with Russell Crowe.
About the audience
- There were 302 audience members from “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in Australia for “Oprah’s Ultimate Australian Adventure”.
- Audience members hailed from 38 US states, as well as 13 from Canada and one from Jamaica.
- On Saturday 11 December 2010 the audience returned to Sydney and reunited with Oprah for the first time since the trip was announced in September to attend the welcome party, hosted by the NSW Premier Kristina Keneally.
- The audience members attended two tapings of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” at the Sydney Opera House on Tuesday 14 December.
- The audience travelled throughout Australia, and the various groups visited all eight Australian states and territories (more information on each below). They returned to the United States on 15 December 2010.
- Audience members were treated to a helicopter ride over the Twelve Apostles, a hot air balloon ride, a Yarra River bike ride and a trip to see the Phillip Island penguin parade. They also visited the laneways of Melbourne and attended an event in Federation Square with Oprah, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu.
- Audience members ejoyed the sunset over Uluru, and an Imma dance performed by the Traditional Owners of Uluru. They also visited the Gabarnmung caves with Margaret Katherine, elder and traditional owner and visited indigenous art galleries in Alice Springs.
- Six best friends of more than 25 years stayed at a beautiful Australian resort, went on a boat ride to see wild dolphins, seals and a humpback whale as well as the highest cliffs in the southern hemisphere. They headed to a luxury coastal sanctuary that overlooked the wide expanses of Great Oyster Bay, where local farms produce fresh, succulent oysters in some of the world’s cleanest waters. They also received a surprise visit from Gayle King at a local winery.
- Hamilton Island
Oprah and the ultimate viewers were treated to an exclusive beach barbecue with world famous Australian chef, Curtis Stone, on Whitehaven Beach. They also had a trip to the Great Barrier Reef, a jetski tour, a bush walk, and a sail around the Whitsunday Islands.
Six guests took an exclusive trip to the Daintree, where the rainforest meets the reef. They took an Aboriginal walk to a waterfall, learned about Aboriginal culture, enjoyed a river cruise and helicoptered over The Great Barrier Reef.
The ultimate viewers took in a Margaret River tour, a scenic chopper flight, Kings Park Indigenous Heritage tour, a bike ride, the Ngilgi Cave tour and a didgeridoo dance performance. They also snorkelled, took in Indjidup Beach and had a surf lesson.
Australia Capital Territory
Audience members visited the Australian War Memorial, including a tour of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, aircraft hall including U.S. exhibits, and Afghanistan Roll of Honour. They also paid a visit to the National Gallery of Australia, the Embassy of the United States and Parliament House.
- Kangaroo Island
The audience interacted with untamed native wildlife on Kangaroo Island, ‘Australia’s Galapagos’, indulged in fine food and wine from the Barossa, met outback characters and marvelled at the incredible landscapes of the Flinders Ranges and Coober Pedy.
New South Wales
- Blue Mountains
Ultimate viewers went on eco-tours to explore the forests, valleys and cliff tops, see kangaroos in the wild and enjoy easy bushwalks in the crisp mountain air. They also enjoyed a nocturnal wildlife spotlighting and stargazing tour and colonial heritage tour.
- Byron Bay
The ultimate audience had a surprise visit from Australian actress Olivia Newton-John. They had a sing-a-long with her and a serenade by Ms Newton-John, and enjoyed dancing with drummers and a hilltop Aboriginal ceremonial meditation. They did some surfing, kayaking, snorkelling and also yoga on the beach at sunrise.
- The Hunter Valley
The audience had a private seaplane ride along the coast, a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the vineyards and an exciting impromptu vow renewal in a chapel performed by another member of the “Ultimate Audience” who is a minister.
The viewers started their Australian adventure with bike and walking tours around the city, a behind-the-scenes tour of the Sydney Opera House, and a visit to Taronga Zoo. They also enjoyed a party designed by leading Australian food editor and best-selling cookbook author, Donna Hay at The Royal Botanic Gardens and a regatta around Sydney Harbour. Oprah climbed Sydney Harbour Bridge with Gayle King and 249 audience members. They ended their Ultimate Australian Adventure with the two show tapings at the Sydney Opera House.