Australia has the distinction of being both a country and a continent. It is the smallest of the seven continents, but the sixth largest country in the world. Travelers to Australia will encounter modern, cosmopolitan cities like Sydney and Melbourne, contrasted with the oldest culture in the world – the aboriginal culture, dating back over 50,000 years.
The breathtaking beauty and diversity of Australia’s landscape is captured in its 2,000 National Parks and 10,000 beaches. From the stark beauty of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park’s iconic monoliths to the vast expanse of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia is certainly a nature lover’s paradise on Earth.
Nature lovers will also be treated to plenty of wildlife encounters with many animals indifgenous to Australia. We’re all familiar with kangaroos, dingoes, platypus, and koalas, but how about a cassowary? This frightening bird is a fast runner and has deadly claws. Or the echidna – looks like a porcupine, but has the characteristics of both reptiles and mammals. The list of weird and wonderful creatures goes on and on!
Travelers to Australia have no worries when it comes to dining experiences. The country has a long history of wine production, and it’s no surprise that seafood is prominent on menus from street vendors to gourmet restaurants. Feeling adventurous? Try dishes (or cocktails) flavored with high protein green ants or have a guangdong milkshake.
Australians as a rule are energetic and fun-loving – passionate about their country and its history, and dedicated to preserving their unique environment. You will be greeted warmly.
Hiking – There are “walkabouts” or “bushwalks” for everyone in Australia, no matter what your level of experience or expertise.
- Kings Canyon Rim Walk – a 6 kilometer trek that begins with a steep climb to the rim of the canyon. The hike takes you among interesting rock formations and a lush oasis with a roaring waterfall. It’s best to start early in the morning to avoid extreme heat and for a better chance at seeing wildlife. A shorter, easier option is the 2.6 kilometer hike along Kings Canyon Creek.
- Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk – a 6 kilometer beachside walk suitable for hikers of all ages and abilities.
- Uluru Base Walk – an easy 10 K walk around the base of this sacred rock, through a variety of landscapes from acacia forests to waterholes to barren desert.
- For those looking for a more extended hiking experience try the Australian Alps Walking Track which can take ten weeks if you complete the entire hike.The Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail is another multi-day hike where you’ll have ample opportunities to spot ocean wildlife as well as land animals.
- Sydney Opera House – This Unesco World Heritage Site is an architectural icon and also the site of the Royal Botanic Gardens. The Sydney Harbor Bridge is another architectural wonder, and if you’re not afraid of heights, you can climb it!
- The Great Barrier Reef – so vast it can be identified when viewed from space. Snorkelers and divers flock to this location for its astounding variety of marine life. But you don’t have to be a diver to appreciate it – underwater viewing points and glass bottom boats make the reef accessible to everyone.
- Uluru – a visit to this sacred rock can be enhanced by taking a tour led by Aboriginal guides for a deeper appreciation of the Aboriginal culture and history.
- Blue Mountains National Park – for fabulous views from the Katoomba Scenic Railway cars as you make a steep descent through rainforest and sandstone rock formations.
- Melbourne – for a rich and varied cultural experience including museums, gardens, and the elegant Queen Victoria Market.
- Great Ocean Road – a 300 K stretch along Australia’s southeast coast is a mecca for surfers, photographers and whale watchers.
Surfing – Home to world renowned Bell’s Beach, Australia offers many amazing locations for all levels of surf skill. Many of the locations can be a bit overcrowded, but truly dedicated surfers can seek out one of the many hidden areas along the coastline unknown to other travelers!
Snorkeling – The Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland is one of the most magnificent natural sights in the world. See it for yourself first-hand!