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CLINTON BRINGS BIGGEST SMILE TO AUSSIES SINCE `CROCODILE’

SHARE CLINTON BRINGS BIGGEST SMILE TO AUSSIES SINCE `CROCODILE’

President Clinton cuddled a koala named Chelsea, fed kangaroos on the "Wallaby Walk" and sailed the exotic waters of the Great Barrier Reef today in an all-Australia vacation triple header.

He's having such a great time on his Down Under vacation that one local paper said the president has become the most influential tourist ambassador for Australia since Paul Hogan - aka Crocodile Dundee.He even bought the perfect wide-brimmed hat for the part.

After a leisurely morning at their villa in this tropical resort town, first stop for the Clintons today was a wildlife sanctuary, where they were introduced to a four-month-old koala named for their teenage daughter.

"Chelsea, I like it," a beaming president declared, cradling the baby koala as it held firm to a larger stuffed koala.

"I had no idea how soft it would be," chimed in his wife, Hillary.

"It's sort of as fuzzy as your microphone," she told TV crews wielding a furry film microphone.

The Clintons also took a stroll down "Wallaby Walk" to visit a congregation of kangaroos and wallabies. Along the way, the president eagerly held out food for the animals to lick from his palm.

"They're so sweet-looking," Hillary Clinton declared. "See their faces and their eyes?"

The 3,600 inhabitants of Port Douglas, who are mix of international jet-setters, hippies and new-age dropouts, seemed laid back about the presidential visit.

"President Clinton, show us your macarena," said a sign outside the Mango Jam Cafe, one of the town's night spots.

The president-as-tourist role meshed perfectly with the pro-environment speech Clinton delivered in his only official appearance of the day.

"We must preserve the natural resources that God has given us," Clinton said in a brief midday address under the sweltering sun at a beachfront park here. "We must care for our shared environment."