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What is Australia known for?
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- Australia, the smallest continent and one of the largest countries on Earth, lying between the Pacific and Indian oceans in the Southern Hemisphere.
- Australia’s capital is Canberra, located in the southeast between the larger and more important economic and cultural centres of Sydney and Melbourne.
Australia has so much to offer, here are some of the things Australia is known for.
Australia's Aboriginal people, from over 500 different first nations, are the inheritors of the longest continuous culture on earth. Your first engagement with Aboriginal culture may be on a walking tour, via a bush-tucker experience, or while enjoying artistic expressions of art, film, music, story and dance. You don't need to visit the outback to learn about Aboriginal Australia. Whatever your introduction is, expect to have your worldview completely turned around. Post-colonial Australia is only starting to appreciate Aboriginal custodianship of the land and the humble intelligence required to thrive here for millennia.
Native wildlife: brings Australia's wild regions to life. You'll never forget seeing your first kangaroo bounding across a field, or encountering your first wombat in a campground. From the crocodiles of Kakadu to whale watching off the coast in winter, and adorable quokkas on Rottnest Island in Western Australia to a rainbow of birds in its cities, Australia is rich with wildlife-spotting opportunities. It's almost impossible to miss them. Did we mention koalas, dingoes, rock wallabies, platypuses, goannas and more? Don't forget to pack your binoculars.
Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef: is as fragile as it is beautiful. Stretching more than 2000km along the Queensland coastline, it's a complex ecosystem populated with dazzling coral, languid sea turtles, gliding rays, timid reef sharks and tropical fish of every colour and size. Whether you dive on it, snorkel over it or explore it via a scenic flight or a glass-bottomed boat, this vivid undersea kingdom and its coral-fringed islands are so unforgettable people are signing up to become a Citizen of the Great Barrier Reef to help save it.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
Australia’s most recognised natural wonder, Uluru: draws pilgrims from around the world like moths to a big red flame. No matter how many postcard images you have seen, nothing prepares you for the Rock’s immense presence, character-pitted surface and spiritual gravitas. Not far away is an equally beguiling clutch of stone siblings known as Kata Tjuta. Deeply cleaved with narrow gorges sheltering tufts of vegetation, these 36 pink-red domes blush intensely at sunset.
Sydney: is immediately recognisable, with its iconic sights like Sydney Opera House, the Harbour Bridge lights glistening in the night and sun worshippers lying on its famous beaches. Beyond postcard Sydney, this electrifying and eclectic city has layers of history, culture and migration to excavate as you explore each neighbourhood. Flamboyant citizens, living Aboriginal stories, Asian influences, colonial streets, old-school pubs, dramatic architecture and always the water: Sydney is defined by its relationship with the briny sea air. Despite its complexity it's possible to witness all of this in a single Sydney moment.
Lush green rainforest replete with fan palms, prehistoric-looking ferns and twisted mangroves tumble down towards a brilliant white-sand coastline in the ancient, World Heritage–listed Daintree: rainforest. Upon entering the forest, you’ll be enveloped in a cacophony of birdsong, frog croaking and the buzz of insects. Continue exploring the area on wildlife-spotting night tours, mountain treks, interpretive boardwalks, canopy walks, self-guided walking trails, 4WD trips, horse riding, kayaking, crocodile-spotting cruises, tropical-fruit orchard tours and tastings…You might even spot a prehistoric cassowary.
You can hop around a whole stack of tropical islands in this seafaring life and never find anywhere with the sheer beauty of the Whitsundays:. Travellers of all monetary persuasions launch yachts from Airlie Beach and drift between these lush green isles in a slow search for paradise (you'll probably find it in more than one place). Don't miss Whitehaven Beach – one of Australia's (and the world's) best. Wish you were here?
Occupying an improbable riverside location a ferry ride from Hobart's harbourfront, the Museum of Old and New Art: is an innovative, world-class institution. Described by its owner, Hobart philanthropist David Walsh, as a 'subversive adult Disneyland', three levels of astounding underground galleries showcase more than 400 challenging and controversial artworks from his collections. You might not like everything you see, but a visit here is a sure-fire conversation starter and one of Australia's favourite arts experiences.
The world's largest sand island, Fraser Island: is home to dingoes, shipwrecks and all manner of birdlife. Four-wheel drive vehicles – regular cars cannot drive on sand – fan out around epic camp spots and long white beaches. The wild coastline curbs any thoughts of doing much more than wandering between pristine creeks and freshwater lakes. Beach camping under the stars will bring you back to nature. A short ferry trip away is Hervey Bay, where humpback whales shoot along the coast in winter and spring.
Up there with kangaroos and Akubra hats, big-hearted Byron Bay: (just Byron to its mates) is one of the enduring icons of Australian culture. Families on school holidays, surfers and sunseekers from across the globe gather by the foreshore at sunset, drawn to this spot on the world map by fabulous restaurants, a chilled pace of life and an astonishing range of activities on offer. But mostly they’re here because this is one of the most beautiful stretches of coast in the country.
Why the queue? Oh, that’s just the line to get into the latest 'no bookings' restaurant in Melbourne:. The next best restaurant, chef, cafe, barista, hidden bar may be the talk of the town, but there are things locals would never change: the leafy parks and gardens in the inner city; the crowded trams that whisk creative 'northerners' to sea-breezy southern St Kilda; and the allegiances that living in such a sports-mad city brings. The city’s world-renowned street-art scene expresses Melbourne’s fears, frustrations and joys.
Broome and the Kimberley
Australia's northwestern frontier is one of its most beautiful corners. Broome:, where so many journeys out here begin, is where every evening a searing crimson sun slips into the turquoise Indian Ocean as seen from beaches that never seem to end. The far-flung Dampier Peninsula is all about extraordinary cliffs, Indigenous cultural experiences, outdoor adventures and luxury camping. And then there's the Kimberley, a world of blood-red rock formations, remote trails and unrelenting beauty, not to mention that mysterious call of the outback.
Swim beside 'gentle giant' whale sharks, snorkel among pristine coral, surf off seldom-visited reefs and dive at one of the world's premier locations at this World Heritage–listed marine park:, which sits off the North West Cape on the Coral Coast in Western Australia. Rivalling the Great Barrier Reef for beauty, Ningaloo has more accessible wonders: shallow, turquoise lagoons are entered straight from the beach for excellent snorkelling. Development is very low-key, so be prepared to camp, or take day trips from the access towns of Exmouth and Coral Bay.
Canberra's Museums and Galleries
Though Canberra: is only a century old, Australia’s purpose-built capital has always been preoccupied with history. So it’s not surprising that the major drawcard here is a portfolio of lavishly endowed museums and galleries focused on interpreting the national narrative. Institutions such as the National Gallery of Australia, National Museum of Australia, National Portrait Gallery and Australian War Memorial offer visitors a fascinating insight into the country’s history and culture – both traditional and modern – and do so with style and substance.
Margaret River and Cape Naturaliste
The decadent joy of drifting from winery to farm gate along eucalypt-shaded country roads is just one of the delights of Western Australia's southwest. There are underground caves to explore, historic towns to visit and wildflowers to ogle. Surfers bob around in the world-class breaks near the Margaret River: mouth, but it's not unusual to find yourself on a white-sand beach along the cape where the only footprints are your own. In winter and early spring, whales migrate along the 'Humpback Highway'.
Tasmania's Cradle Mountain
A precipitous comb of rock carved out by millennia of ice and wind, crescent-shaped Cradle Mountain: is Tasmania's most recognisable – and spectacular – mountain peak. It's an all-day walk (and boulder scramble) to the summit and back for unbelievable panoramas over Tasmania's alpine heart. Or you can stand in awe below and fill your camera with the perfect views across Dove Lake to the mountain. If the peak has disappeared in clouds or snow, warm yourself by the fire in one of the nearby lodges…and come back tomorrow.
The Outback and Broken Hill
Whether you're belting along South Australia's Oodnadatta Track in a 4WD or depreciating your van on the southern section of the Birdsville Track, you'll know you're not just visiting the outback – you've become part of it. Out here, the sky is bluer and the dust redder than anywhere else. Days are measured in kilometres, spinifex mounds and tyre blowouts. Nights are spent in the five-zillion-star hotel, waiting for one to fall… If time isn’t on your side, a road trip to the mining town of Broken Hill: may be as far from the coast as you get.
Kakadu National Park
Kakadu:, the traditional land of the Bininj/Mungguy, is more than a nature reserve: it’s a portal into a natural and cultural landscape like no other. Weathered by relentless wet and dry seasons, the sandstone ramparts of Kakadu and neighbouring Arnhem Land have sheltered humans for millennia, and an extraordinary environmental legacy remains. Rock-art galleries depict the Dreaming, hunting stories, zoological diagrams and ‘contact art’ (records of visitors from Indonesia and European colonists). The Ubirr and Nourlangie galleries are World Heritage listed and are accessible to all.
South Australian Wine Regions
Adelaide is drunk on the success of its three world-famous wine regions, all within two hours' drive: the Barossa Valley: to the north, with its gutsy reds, old vines and German know-how; McLaren Vale to the south, a Mediterranean palette of sea, vines and shiraz and stunning d'Arenburg winery; and the Clare Valley, known for riesling and cycling (in that order). Better-kept secrets are the cool-climate stunners from the Adelaide Hills and the country cabernet sauvignon from the Coonawarra.
Victoria’s southernmost point and finest coastal national park, Wilsons Promontory: (or just the Prom) is heaven for bushwalkers, wildlife watchers and surfers. The bushland and coastal scenery here is out of this world; even short walks from the main base at Tidal River will take you to beautiful beaches and bays. But with more than 80km of walking trails through forests, marshes and valleys of tree ferns, over low granite mountains and along beaches backed by sand dunes, the best of the Prom requires some serious footwork.
Great Ocean Road
The Twelve Apostles − craggy rock formations jutting out of wild waters − are one of Victoria's most vivid sights, but it's the 'getting there' road trip that doubles their impact. Drive slowly along roads that curl beside spectacular Bass Strait beaches, then whip inland through temperate rainforest studded with small towns and big trees. The secrets of the Great Ocean Road: don't stop there; further along is maritime treasure Port Fairy and hidden Cape Bridgewater. For the ultimate in slow travel, walk the Great Ocean Walk from Apollo Bay to the Apostles.
The legendary Ghan: – named after central Australia's pioneering Afghan cameleers – is one of the world's great railway journeys. Begun in 1877, the old line from Marree to Alice Springs suffered from washouts and shoddy construction before a shiny new line replaced it in 1980. The Alice-to-Darwin section followed in 2004: now there's 2979km and 42 hours of track between Adelaide and Darwin. The Ghan isn't cheap or fast, but the journey through the vast, flat expanse of central Australia's deserts is unforgettable.
The honour of visiting Arnhem Land: in Australia's Top End is so more than just an opportunity to get off the beaten track. The beaches are truly pristine, and very often deserted, and the wildlife, both on land and in the sea, is abundant because of the Aboriginal approach to Country. Cobourg Peninsula has an earth's-first-morning quality. And put Injalak Arts and Crafts Centre at Gunbalanya on your itinerary – it's an important cultural hub for the remote communities living out here beyond the paved road.
While paddling a canoe upstream through one gorge and then another and leaving the crowds behind, you will be drawn into the silence of these towering cliffs, which squeeze the waters of the Katherine River:. Take a break on a sandy river beach, walk up to a viewpoint or take a helicopter flight for an eagle-eye view. The surrounding Nitmiluk National Park has even more to offer such as the Jatbula Trail, a five-day walk from the Gorge to the wonderful Leliyn (Edith Falls).
It could be mistaken for the surface of Mars, but scattered among the dunes of Nambung National Park:, thousands of ghostly limestone pillars rise from the surrounding plain like a vast, petrified alien army. One of the west's most bizarre landscapes, the Pinnacles Desert attracts thousands of visitors each year. Although it's easily enjoyed as a day trip from Perth, staying overnight in nearby Cervantes allows for multiple visits to experience the full spectrum of colour changes at dawn, sunset and the full moon, when most tourists are back in their hotels.
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