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Visit (and eat in) the Outback in your backyard

Outback In Sunday's Travel section, I wrote about my truffle hunting adventure in South Western Australia. What? You don't have time to take the 13-hour flight to Brisbane, hop on a six-hour jet ride to Perth and then drive 3½ hours to truffle town?

That's OK. There's a much less involved way to experience Oz: The Outback Weekend at Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort in Solvang. (Sept. 17-20).

Though Curtis Stone's menu is not yet set for the event, he'll surely be cooking up some authentic Aussie fare for the Friday night dinner, which includes wine pairings. Guests will also receive a welcome reception at the historic property; lakeside lunch; barbecues; unlimited horseback riding and rounds of golf; and a screening of the film "Australia" under the stars.

Alisal will host a craft beer dinner, complete with suds from Coopers, which, contrary to popular belief, is more likely than Foster's to grace an Aussie bloke's lips. Attendees will also be entered to win two spots at next summer's Great Australian Outback Cattle Drive.

The weekend's price tag may seem steep (an all-inclusive double occupancy three-night stay goes for $1,247; and an all-inclusive double occupancy two-night stay runs $897.50), but trust me, you'll be glad you dodged the jet lag that results from taking a trip Down Under.

-- Krista Simmons

Photo of guests riding the trials courtesy of Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort

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