Forget the tedium of Neighbours and Home and Away. Instead, think of the flaming red rock of Uluru, dazzling beaches and flourishing rainforests. Australia has vibrancy in spades, coupled with buckets of optimistic locals, making this country seriously magnetic.
Where we once sent our convicts to be punished, we are now queuing up to get in.
Oops -Slight misjudgement on our part!
Perhaps the most well-known Australian destination is Sydney, with its iconic Opera House being possibly one of the world’s most attractive 70’s buildings, (not sure that’s saying much!). The inside, however, falls flat in the design stakes, but the shows and glorious views from the terrace more than make up for it. The Harbour Bridge, Sydney’s other most recognisable landmark is definitely worth climbing and if you’re scared of the height, it’s nothing compared to the scarily unflattering grey jumpsuits you’re made to wear. Both of these structures (The Opera House and Bridge, not the jumpsuit) serve as the stage for the world’s foremost New Year’s Eve fireworks display.
You can get a taster for the Aussie bush in Sydney at the Botanical gardens and Taronga Zoo. Alternatively, jump aboard a harbour ferry boat, take in the view and land at some of Sydney’s 40 incredible beaches, such as Bondi, beloved of the Brits, or Manly, a surf haven. Alternatively hop on one to Watsons Bay, which gives a great vista back across the harbour and is sheltered for swimming. Fill up on fresh seafood here or at the acclaimed Sydney Fish Market. There are more striking views to be had on the cliff walk from Bondi to Bronte and make sure you stop off to snorkel in Tamarama Bay on the way, it’s like a fish tank.
As long as your style is more Kylie than Dame Edna then shopping in the massive Westfield at Bondi Junction, the boutiques of the Queen Victoria Building or flashing the cash in Double Bay will fulfil your shopping fix needs.
For short trips from Sydney take in the Blue Mountains, so named for the blue haze created by their vegetation and a great place to see kangaroos, or head out to the Hunter Valley; a premium wine tasting destination and great place to cycle, hot air balloon, walk and horse ride – hopefully not all at once!
As Australia is the world’s sixth largest country some of the immense distances between destinations are better covered by air.
Some, however, are definitely worth driving, including the journey up the East coast from Sydney to Cairns. En route, you can discover the quirky hotspot of Byron Bay, soak up the sun on the Gold Coast and head out to Fraser Island to experience 4WD adventure, strut through Noosa with its boutiques, beaches and gourmet offerings and land up at Cairns, home to the Great Barrier Reef. Alternatively, you can start at Adelaide or Darwin and make your way to Kangeroo Island to watch sea lions playing in the sand.
Read more about our epic journey from ‘oceans to outback’ here.
The rugged outback is a big draw and there is an abundance of directions and options possible in every corner of the country. From the Kimberleys in the North West, to the old silver mines of Broken Hill, the heritage sites of Kakadu National Park, the underground town of Coober Pedy or walking the Heysen Trail. Confront the wide open remote beauty, the rock art, rugged terrain, National Parks, cattle stations, kangaroos, lizards, emus, rivers, waterfalls, rainforest…you name it the outback’s got it. Just ensure to heed local advice, this is no place to be inspired to be the next Steve Irwin…. swimming with crocs, stroking snakes or adopting pet spiders are not on the list!
Click here for more pictures of South Australia and the Northern Territory.
For those seeking escape, if you close your eyes and mentally envision a utopian desert island, then you’ve just identified the Whitsunday Islands located off the northeast coast of Queensland.
Like 74 glittering opals in an aquamarine sea, although not hidden treasure, these islands remain veritable gems. You’ll feel a million miles from your day to day drudge and to escalate that feeling get aboard a yacht or launch a sea kayak.
For a more temperate climate and an edgy European character head to Melbourne. This hub of effortless cool, draws global influences from music, art, poetry, food, fashion and theatre and fuses them together to generate a dynamic city. Melbourne is set on the Yarra River, the banks of which provide a great café culture and promenade for walking and cycling. Getting around the city couldn’t be easier, with a network of practically silent trams, (remember your green cross code to avoid an embarrassing incident!) Offset all that cultural mind expansion by taking off down the Great Ocean Road, to wonder at nature. Here you’ll find giant rock monoliths and rugged coast or take the chance to explore the wildlife and ancient rainforests of the interior.
Every country has it, an area that is the butt of all the inbred jokes. In Australia it’s Tasmania. With a climate, history and scenery more in keeping with the UK and New Zealand it’s no wonder it’s teased for being a bit different. There is however, a breath-taking wilderness here and the likes of Freycinet Peninsula, Wineglass Bay, Cradle Mountain, Dove Lake, Mount Wellington, the Tahune Forest and Cataract Gorge make it a place like no other in Australia.
Western Australia is becoming ever more popular. The region offers vintage samplings in the Margaret River Wine Region, the spectacular Karijini National park, walking through the treetops in the forest, whale watching, scuba diving, outdoor sculptures at Lake Bollard and pristine beaches at Esperance.
If you dream of experiencing nature’s wonders in an easy to travel country, Australia holds the key.