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DISCOVERING AUSTRALIA



A ustralia offers unequalled experiences and a wealth of diversity. Its 18,000-km (11,180-mile) coastline boasts everything from the world’s best coral reefs, to endless white sandy bays, stunning tropical islands and buzzing surf beaches. The massive interior includes vast red deserts, ancient Aboriginal sites, snow-topped mountains and lush green vineyards. You will be spoilt for choice whether you want to experience thrilling outdoor adventure, enjoy the laidback beach culture, or sample the best in international cuisine and wine. These pages detail regional highlights that will whet your appetite and help you to plan and make the most of your trip

SYDNEY



Australia’s largest city offers a magnificent array of cultural and architectural delights. The city’s crowning glory is Sydney Harbour  a stunning natural asset that other cities can only dream about. Sydney Opera House  is a world-class venue and an architectural icon that enjoys the most spectacular setting of any cultural institution. Nearby is the pretty historic quarter, The Rocks , where the first British fleet settled in 1788. A string of gorgeous ocean beaches line the east coast, such as famous Bondi , where surfers gather at dawn and the beach cafés are perfect for people-watching.

THE BLUE MOUNTAINS AND BEYOND



Escape from Sydney to the cool refuge of the Blue Mountains  The striking Three Sisters rocks at Echo Point frame a breathtaking panorama, and act as a backdrop for adventure activities, such as bushwalking and rock climbing. Hunter Valley  is worldfamous for its superb wines, which can be sampled in local cellars. North of Newcastle, secluded towns dot the coast all the way to Queensland. Some are sleepy hideaways, but for those seeking a party, Byron Bay  is the place to go. Out west, the Mungo World Heritage Area  reminds visitors of the Aborigines’ 40,000-year occupation of this ancient land.


THE SOUTH COAST AND SNOWY MOUNTAINS



Perfect for those who love the great outdoors, this region boasts the Royal National Park on Sydney’s southeastern fringe – a fantastic playground for cyclists, bushwalkers and hang-gliders. Further south are the lush, idyllic villages of the Southern Highlands . Known as a retreat for Sydneysiders in summer, they are ideal in winter for browsing antique shops. The South Coast’s  fishing villages are a hit with anglers and families, while the Snowy Mountains  offer world-class ski resorts, trout fishing and horse-riding in summer.

CANBERRA AND ACT



Australia’s capital sprang to life under the harmonious designs of its architect, Walter Burley Griffin. Impressive colonial and indigenous art and artefacts are displayed at the world-class National Museum of Australia  and the National Gallery of Australia . To the south, the wild Namadgi National Park  offers great hiking amid snowy mountains, glistening river valleys and ancient Aboriginal rock art

BRISBANE



Cosmopolitan Brisbane has as its creative hub the Queensland Cultural Centre . This thriving institution houses the state’s Art Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art, Museum and Performing Arts Centre. The Botanic Gardens  feature exotic herbs, delicate mangrove and walking trails. Across the river, the South Bank  abounds with buskers, markets and cafés. Admire adorable koalas at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary .

SOUTH OF TOWNSVILLE


With astonishing natural wonders, this region is one of Australia’s highlights, and its undisputed gem is the Great Barrier Reef . The world’s largest coral reef is a must-see for anyone who has ever dreamt of coming face to face with tropical fish. The Sunshine Coast  lives up to its name, with a sunny climate and superb resorts. Fraser Island is the world’s biggest sand island, with rainforests, lakes and beaches.

NORTHERN QUEENSLAND AND THE OUTBACK



Cairns  is famed for its party atmosphere. The city also makes a good base for exploring the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree National Park , where the rainforest meets the sea. The Gulf Savannah is an empty wilderness of salt pans and flatlands, a breeding ground for birds in spring and a birdwatchers’ paradise. Drive into the Outback and discover the harsh realities of life as an Aussie farmer in the town of Longreach .

DARWIN AND THE TOP END



Darwin’s  remote location and history of migration have given it a multicultural, wild-west character. The world’s best Aboriginal art collection is displayed at Darwin’s Museum and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory . Rock art is also a highlight of one of Australia’s most extraordinary places, Kakadu National Park , with its dramatic escarpments and spectacular lightning storms in the build-up to the wet season. Day trips from Darwin to Bathurst Island  offer a unique glimpse of Aboriginal, Indonesian and Tiwi islanders’ traditional way of life.

THE RED CENTRE



At the heart of this vast red landscape is a site of enormous spiritual significance for the Aboriginal community: Uluru . The chance to admire the immense presence and ever-changing colours of this monolith is one of the highlights of a trip to Australia. Spring is a magical time to visit as, after the rains, the desert erupts into a carpet of wildflowers. Lively Alice Springs  is the Red Centre’s only city, and from here you can arrange outdoor adventure activities, such as camel treks  in the desert

PERTH AND THE SOUTHWEST



Perth , the world’s most remote city, is a modern metropolis with superb beaches and great surf. On lovely Rottnest Island  you can hire bikes to explore its idyllic coves and encounter its unique furry inhabitants: the quokkas. Within easy access of Perth, the historic port of Fremantle  is the ideal spot for a laid-back café crawl. To the southwest lies one of  the region’s prettiest coastal towns, Margaret River , which has become synonymous with gourmet food, fine wine and international surf competitions.

NORTH OF PERTH AND THE KIMBERLEY



Remote Western Australia contains hidden treasures. Strange limestone Pinnacles stand to attention amid the dunes at Nambung National Park , while the magnificent Ningaloo Reef  is a snorkeller’s dream. Swim from exquisite turquoise bays to observe its sea turtles, whale sharks and reef fish. Spring is the best time to explore the Kimberley , with its vast deserts and deep-river canyon.

ADELAIDE AND THE SOUTHEAST



Adelaide, the graceful “City of Churches”, is a cosmopolitan city with a vibrant restaurant scene. Don’t miss a tour of one of the world-class wineries set amid the rolling hills of the Barossa Valley . To the southwest of Adelaide, Kangaroo Island  is a haven for wildlife, while the beautiful lagoons of Coorong National Park  are protected from the Southern Ocean by sand dunes.

THE YORKE AND EYRE PENINSULAS AND SOUTH AUSTRALIAN OUTBACK



Some of Australia’s best oysters are to be had at Coffin Bay National Park on the Eyre Peninsula , which is also home to wonderful spring wildflowers and birdlife. To the west, clifftops are prime vantage points for whale watching. Inland, the arid Flinders Ranges are popular with bushwalkers, while in Coober Pedy , residents live in subterranean dwellings to escape the extreme temperatures.

MELBOURNE


Melbourne  prides itself on its green spaces, multicultural lifestyle and strong sporting tradition. Take a stroll though the tranquil 19th-century Royal Botanic Gardens and Kings Domain  and enjoy one of the finest botanic collections in the world. Melbourne is also home to several great sporting venues, notably Australia’s worldfamous cricketing temple, the Melbourne Cricket Ground , and the international tennis mecca at Melbourne Park . European, Middle-Eastern and Asian immigrants have given the city a variety of world-class restaurants and a lively, usually alfresco, café culture .

WESTERN VICTORIA



The 19th-century gold-rush went wild in Ballarat , Bendigo and Maldon , where the extravagant buildings are evidence of former wealth. Westwards, climbers and bushwalkers have a field day in the rugged Grampians National Park . Paddlesteamers cruise the lazy Murray River  passing pioneer river towns such as Swan Hill . Down south, the highlight is a scenic drive down the Great Ocean Road , a winding coast road that hugs the rugged clifftops overlooking the mighty Twelve Apostles, giant eroded monoliths.

EASTERN VICTORIA

Fertile Eastern Victoria boasts intense natural beauty. The Yarra Valley  is home to some of Australia’s finest vineyards, and the Healesville Sanctuary , is a fascinating wildlife park that features indigenous species, such as the elusive platypus. Victoria’s Alpine National Park offers worldclass cross-country and downhill ski resorts. Tranquil Phillip Island  is famous for the thousands of Fairy penguins that waddle out of the ocean at dusk. Wilsons Promontory is a stunning coastal park with shady gullies, secluded beaches and windswept heathlands that are made for nature-lovers. The calm waters of 90 Mile Beach , an unbroken stretch of beaches and sand dunes, and the beautiful Gippsland Lakes , Australia’s largest inland lake system, offer fantastic sailing, fishing, camping and diving.

TASMANIA



Steeped in maritime history, pretty Hobart , is Australia’s second oldest city. Its beautiful waterfront bustles with markets, cafés, restaurants, entertainment and nightlife. The city’s dark past as a penal colony has been preserved at isolated Port Arthur prison . Cradle Mountain Lake Saint Clair National Park is loved by bushwalkers, many of whom make the pilgrimage to its pristine alpine lake. The Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park  is a wild region of cool-climate rainforests, fern gullies and white-water rafting

DISCOVERING AUSTRALIA DISCOVERING AUSTRALIA Reviewed by MELANIE INFINITY on January 10, 2020 Rating: 5

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