Everything about Australia is big, bold, bright and beautiful. There is something to delight everyone from babes in arms, to difficult teenagers to the world weary traveller. Whether it is watching the sun set on Uluru or sailing in the Whitsunday Islands, the experiences will last a lifetime.
A good place to start is Sydney, a vibrant, multi-coloured city that provides excellent food, a healthy dose of culture (belying social stereotypes), great sporting events and people who are more than happy to show off their wonderfully diverse nation. Whether lunching at Doyle’s, climbing the Harbour Bridge or taking in a concert at the Opera House you will undoubtedly be enthralled by the sights. A boat trip in Sydney Harbour is a must and a wonderful journey is the ferry over to Manley.
Out of the city, The Hunter Valley is a superb wine region whilst The Blue Mountains offer a tempting combination of sublime scenery, romantic accommodation and fine restaurants. The most famous view is that of the Three Sisters.
On the coast Byron Bay is world renowned. In the far eastern tip of New South Wales it is a very fashionable summer retreat that is home to Australia’s favourite son, Paul Hogan. Here one can luxuriate on the beach, catch the surf or just sit back in one of the many cafes. Whale-watching and walking up to the lighthouse are highlights of the area.
With a definite laid back vibe Queensland is best known for ‘Surfers Paradise’ with its legendary mile after mile of golden beach. A world class experience can be had diving on the Great Barrier Reef with its subterranean splendour and majestic beauty. As one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World and the only living entity seen from space this is a must do experience in Australia. In the heart of the Reef are the Whitsunday Islands that offer par excellence sailing trips around the 74 islands, snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities and the impossibly white sand of Whitehaven Beach. Fraser Island is host to the largest sand island in the world and is blessed with tropical rainforests, gorges and freshwater lakes. The most fun way to experience this beautiful island is by 4WD where you can view a huge variety of wildlife including whales, turtles, sharks and dolphins.
There is so much more to this state than beaches. Rainforests, nature trails, national parks and historic towns are all on the agenda. In the northern most corner is Cape Tribulation. It is home to some of the oldest rainforest on the planet – the Daintree Rainforest. It is said to be the only place in the world where the rainforest meets the reef. Exploring the forest you will be entranced by the rare examples of fauna, ferns and conifers.
Small but perfectly formed is perhaps a good way of describing Victoria. Geographically, Victoria is Australia’s smallest state but it manages to be all things to all people with its top sporting events, snow-capped mountains, rolling hills, vast deserts, wineries, rainforests and the country’s largest inland waterway. Known as “The Garden State” Victoria, and in particular the state capital of Melbourne, has a distinct European feel.
Melbourne is the cultural heart of both Victoria and Australia itself and offers everything that you would expect from a cosmopolitan city. The many parks and gardens give the city an open feel, whose skyline combines both skyscrapers and elegant buildings that meld seamlessly together. Federation Square is the hub of the city where business, art galleries, fashionable restaurants and upscale bars jockey for position. Sport plays a major role in the city’s life with the Melbourne Cup, the Australian Tennis Open, the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the Australian Grand Prix.
One of the most iconic things to do in Australia is to be found in Victoria. It is a journey down The Great Ocean Road. This is a once in a lifetime road trip that takes in the renowned 12 Apostles, Bells Beach and 52 wineries that dot the route. The sheer cliffs and impossible twists overlooking the ocean make this an awe inspiring journey. Travel it at different seasons and different times of the day; each time it will be a unique experience.
If you keep on driving when you hit the Atlantic and head west you hit the state of South Australia. It is known as the ‘Festival Sate’ and will appeal to wine lovers, culture vultures and those who enjoy a good dose of nature. The state capital of Adelaide is a city of Festivals and is renowned for its jazz, ballet and theatre.
For those who enjoy the finer things in life, The Barossa Valley is a must. It produces some of Australia’s best known and finest wines. This combined with the great boutique hotels make this a great destination. Equally peaceful is the legendary Murray River. 100 years ago it was plied by paddle steamers and today it has not lost its charm with red gum trees lining the banks and orchards and vineyards sprouting from the waters.
In total contrast from city life and the river is the mighty outback. Flinders Ranges and Outback offers you one of the best gateways to experience nature in its most vital and rugged form with its open plains, gorges and desert.
The sheer cliffs and impossible twists overlooking the ocean make this an awe inspiring journey. Travel it at different seasons and different times of the day; each time it will be a unique experience.
Western Australia is a big state that is big on experiences. The state capital Perth is not only the world’s most isolated city but has over 3,000 hours of sunshine a year. It is famous for its laid back lifestyle and colonial buildings. Kings Park has great vistas over the city and the Swan River. Lazy afternoons can be spent at any of the city’s beautiful beaches; Sorrento, Cottesloe and Floreat. The excellent waves and wineries around the Margaret River are well worth a visit. And here you can see some of the tallest trees on earth and if super lucky, get the chance to listen to legendary pop stars perform at the Leewin Estate. At the southernmost tip of Western Australia is Albany. Here the Southern Ocean has battered the shoreline creating a dramatic landscape with impressive stone arches and pillars. It is also a perfect spot for whale watching.
For up close wildlife encounters, head north of Perth to Ningaloo Reef where you can swim with the world’s biggest fish, whale sharks, off the brightly coloured coral reefs.
Head further north you will end up in Broome. The main reason to visit Broome is to enjoy the white sands of Cable Beach where fiery red sunsets mark the end of the day. Away from the white sands of the coastline is the rugged landscape of The Kimberley Region stretching from Broome to Darwin. It is an ancient and remote wilderness displaying flora and fauna in all its natural greatness. Cape Leveque is of significant interest owing to its horizontal waterfall. El Questro Wilderness Park is a unique holiday destination with rugged ranges, rainforest pockets, gorges and Australian wildlife. From here scenic flights over the Cockburn Range are a truly inspirational experience. The Purnululu National Park is home to the wonderful ochre and black striped beehive domes of the Bungle Bungle Range.
The Northern Territory is a land of harsh and stark contrasts. It has some of the reddest earth you will encounter, is bursting with wild rivers and untamed wilderness and is a host to every animal that snaps, stings and strikes. But what a place for an adventure.
This is Australia’s Wild West where adventure can be had on crocodile spotting trips, safaris and 4WD trips through the wilderness. Much of the Northern Territory is occupied by Aborigines. The guides will take you bush walking and bush tucker tasting. Swimming in one of the many waterholes and waterfalls is an exhilarating experience with Litchfield National Park being one of the best. There are many other national parks in the Top End and Red Centre that are of huge natural interest including Nitmiluk which has a beautiful array of flowers and Katherine Gorge for the ultimate in helicopter rides.
The must see site in the Northern Territory is Uluru otherwise known as Ayers Rock. It is a sight that must be recognisable to most people in the world. Forming part of Kata Tjuta National Park nothing can prepare you for when you actually see this up close and personal. It is the world’s largest monolith and an important part of Aboriginal Mythology. The nearest town to Uluru is Alice Springs which has taken on an almost iconic status as a small outback town. It is increasingly well known for its Aboriginal art scene and pioneer history that radiates through the entire town. Aboriginal culture is at the heart of the Northern Territory and this is illustrated in its music, magic, medicine and arts.
Off the beaten track, Tasmania is the inland state of Australia. The visitors who do venture there will delight in the pristine beaches, dense bushland and lush rainforests. Enchanting forests with some of the tallest trees in the world add to this beautiful and incredibly scenic spot. The island has a host of National Parks where the wildlife is up close and personal. Here you can encounter wombats, platypus, wallabies, fairy penguins and the infamous Tasmanian Devil. Cradle Mountain allows the visitor to wallow in its sublime scenery and experience Australia at its rawest and most diverse. After a hard day of walking the luxury lodge on site is a serene place to lay your head. Tasmania is not the first place one would go on a visit to Australia but its untouched beauty and outdoor lifestyle is a perfect spot in which to broaden your horizons.