By Michelle Tauber
Updated March 06, 2006 12:00 PM

It was a dazzling day in Sydney: bright blue sky, light breeze, warm sun. Inside the city’s soaring Opera House, the mood was alternately poignant and celebratory as 2,000 mostly A-list mourners—including Russell Crowe and his pregnant wife, Danielle—attended the memorial service of media magnate Kerry Packer. Leave it to a pair of American tourists to upstage the dearly departed: During the 90-minute ceremony, a beaming Tom Cruise and a very pregnant Katie Holmes turned heads as they whispered to one another in second-row seats and joined in a rousing chorus of the Australian cricket anthem “C’mon, Aussie, C’mon.” At one point Cruise gave a comforting pat on the back to Packer’s son James, a close pal. Before they left for a private reception at the Opera House’s Guillaume at Bennelong restaurant, a relaxed Holmes was overhead saying she felt “great.” And what about those wedding plans? Said the smiling mom-to-be: “They’re going very well.”

Make no mistake: a fter lying low for two months—and on the heels of tabloid chatter of a split—the Cruise-Holmes express seems to be moving ahead full throttle. In fact, say insiders, the only bump in their relationship is large, round and expected to arrive by May, about the time Cruise’s latest film, Mission:Impossible:III, hits theaters. Throughout their three-day Australian stay, the expectant parents basked in each other’s company. “They appeared to be a happy, loving couple,” says Australian broadcaster Richard Wilkins, a guest at the memorial service. “He looked loving and attentive, and she appeared to be equally happy and in love.”

While Holmes, 27, mainly kept things low-key, Cruise, 43, let loose with his signature enthusiasm, giving onlookers a thumbs-up following a brisk swim in the harbor and telling Australia’s Daily Telegraph that he was “thrilled and excited” about the upcoming birth. Says an observer of the pair during their trip: “They were all over each other, all the time.”

The very public display of togetherness—their first big outing since late December, when they celebrated Holmes’s birthday with a cupcake-filled bash in New York City—was a world away from talk of trouble back home. On Valentine’s Day, Cruise’s reps reacted to a report of an impending breakup by declaring it “100 percent false” and added that the pair were “looking forward to a long and happy life together as a family.” Later, Cruise’s lawyer hinted at a lawsuit, and back in Holmes’s hometown of Toledo, Ohio, those close to the actress dismissed the rumors as just that. “We saw [the Holmes family] about a month ago, right after her birthday—they told us about the trip to New York City,” says a family friend. “Things were good between Tom and Katie, the same as before.”

The trip to Australia, during which they cruised on the Packer family’s boat the Arctic P, is likely to mark the couple’s last excursion abroad for a while. (Pregnant women are advised not to fly in the weeks immediately prior to their due date.) With both stars taking a break from moviemaking, the pair are expected to resume their now-familiar domestic routine in Southern California, where they returned by private jet on Feb. 19. That means more time on local soccer fields cheering on Cruise’s kids Isabella, 13, and Connor, 11, who regularly join the pair for Sunday brunch at the Church of Scientology’s Celebrity Centre in L.A.

Raised Catholic, Holmes has become a Centre regular as her pregnancy has progressed—spending time studying her fiancé’s faith, which offers several guidelines to parenting (see box). On her way back to the mansion the couple share in Beverly Hills, Holmes often stops at Peet’s Coffee & Tea in West Hollywood to pick up an afternoon vanilla latté. “She’s friendly to all of us,” says an employee. Cruise, also a creature of habit, likes to order the entire family weekly takeout (usually chicken with rosemary and penne with tomato and basil) from Brentwood’s Toscana Italian restaurant.

And there’s a wedding to plan. “I want to marry her as soon as possible,” Cruise told PEOPLE the day after their June 17 engagement. “In Paris, the most romantic city in the world.” The couple haven’t said whether they’re sticking to that, though insiders say Cruise is likely to do what he told Barbara Walters in December: wed “in the summer or early fall.”

In the meantime, Holmes is bonding with future sisters-in-law Lee Anne and Cass, while Cruise gears up for the publicity blitz for M:I:III, which opens May 5. For now, his other upcoming production has his attention. Although Cruise revealed he bought a sonogram machine, the pair have offered no clues about the baby’s gender. Pink or blue, the couple’s families couldn’t be more tickled as the due date nears.”Whatever the sex, we’re sure the baby will be beautiful,” says one Holmes relative. “And very sweet.” No doubt the parents-to-be would agree.