updated 09/13/2010 AT 5:00 PM ET
•originally published 09/13/2010 AT 5:50 PM ET
After 25 years on the air and treating countless audience members to extravagant gifts, it takes a lot for Oprah Winfrey to surprise people anymore.
So she’s sending them across the world.
Winfrey, 56, made the surprise announcement on the first episode of her farewell season on Monday that she’ll send 300 of her “ultimate” fans on an eight-day trip to Australia this December.
“I wanted to kick off my 25th season in a big way and I’ve heard Australia is the ultimate adventure,” she said in a statement. “It’s one of the places I’ve always wanted to visit, and who better to take with me than some of my most loyal viewers.”
The Sydney Opera House will also play host to the Oprah show on Dec. 14 for a taping in front of thousands of Aussie fans.
Her emotional audience screamed, cried and jumped up and down in response to the announcement, waving miniature Australian flags.
A Treat for Oprah
But the fans weren’t the only ones to be blindsided. After opening the show with a dance with John Travolta, Winfrey was shocked by two surprise guests during her season premiere.
Back when Oprah first hit the air, Don Johnson turned down the opportunity to appear on the show, so the host changed the episode to feature everyday people instead. She jokingly asked Johnson on air to return the rhinestone glasses that she’d sent to him.
“I know it’s taken me about 24 years to get these back to you,” said Johnson as he emerged from backstage, wearing the bejeweled frames in the season premiere. “Now for clarity, I was shooting 18 or 20 hours a day at the time – it’s not that I didn’t want to come,” he added with a smile. “But I understand things are going okay.”
Then, at the end of the episode, a tearful Winfrey watched as Paul Simon serenaded her with a song about her 25 years on the air.
Quipped the choked-up host: “I’m gonna have to stop that surprise thing!”