EXPLORING TROPICAL AUSTRALIA (Rand McNally Video Expeditions Collection, 58 minutes, 1993).
For those who have never been to Australia, the typical picture of this island nation is of arid deserts and acres of sheep, with a few high hills in the background. That's why Queensland's northeast coastal region can be such a surprise. It's a tropical land of rain forests with a wondrous variety of plants and animals, some found nowhere else.
This beautifully filmed video follows a tour group as it explores the rugged terrain of Daintree River, Lakefield and Eungella national parks, and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. A tour guide gives the history and geology of this unspoiled area.
Viewers travel along the Daintree River and see unusual fish and crocodiles, a black mangrove forest and an Aboriginal dance group.
The 1,200-mile-long Great Barrier Reef, one of the most diverse, complex ecosystems on earth, is a paradise for snorkelers and scuba divers. Viewers see gorgeous underwater scenes of some of the 1,500 fish species on the reef, including the graceful moray eels, clown fish, sea turtles and sharks.
Tapes are available from International Video Network, 2246 Camino Ramon, San Ramon, Calif. 94583; tel. (800) 669-4486. Price: $24.95 (plus tax and postage).
BORA BORA \o7 (Pacific Productions, 60 minutes, 1993).\f7
Any film on Bora Bora, considered by many to be one of the most beautiful islands in the world, would probably earn space on a travel video library shelf. Unfortunately, the quality of this video relegates it to a bottom shelf.
The underwater sequences are relatively clear and lovely, but above sea level, the film quality is so dark in many places that details are lost.
Viewers first see this French Polynesian island from the air--lush greenery surrounded by a reef, which encloses a brilliant turquoise- and amethyst-colored lagoon dotted with small \o7 motus \f7 (islets). The many water-oriented activities at the lagoon include scuba diving, fishing and sailing.
Viewers participate in a traditional \o7 tamaaraa\f7 (much like a Hawaiian luau) on the beach, with lots of food and dance. Other scenes show adventurous tourists feeding "friendly sharks" and walking atop a coral reef. Underwater film footage shows coral and plant life, colorful butterfly fish, turtles, moray eels, giant mussels, barracuda and playful dolphins.
Tapes are available from the Bennett Video Group, 730 Washington St., Marina del Rey 90292; tel. (800) 733-8862. Price: $29.95 (plus tax and postage).
SYMPHONY OF WONDERS \o7 (Reader's Digest Videos, 52 minutes, 1993).\f7
This video transports viewers on a musical journey to some of "the most magnificent places on Earth."
The score harmoniously captures the mood of each destination by incorporating live sounds of man and nature. The opening scenes of Mt. Rushmore and the closing scenes of the Statue of Liberty are, appropriately enough, accompanied by the music of "America, the Beautiful."
Using both aerial and ground photography, the camera films various sites in the ever-changing light of day and against dramatic sunsets.
Viewers see not only primary destinations, but are offered glimpses of the people of the area and surrounding scenery.
Architectural highlights include the Borobudur Buddhist shrine on the island of Java; St. Peter's Basilica during a Papal Mass in Vatican City; the Taj Mahal; Stonehenge, and the Great Pyramids.
Natural wonders include the vast sand dunes of the Sahara Desert; the roaring Iguacu Falls of South America; the native people and animal life along the Amazon River; Aboriginal dancers at Ayers Rock in Australia, and summer and winter scenes of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
Tapes are available from International Video Network, 2242 Camino Ramon, San Ramon, Calif. 94583; tel. (800) 669-4486. Price: $29.95 (plus tax and postage).