Australia: the Land Down Under

Located in a remote corner of the world, Australia may be hard to get to but it offers unequalled experiences and a wealth of diversity like no other country.

Australia’s 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 laid-back beach culture, or sample the best in international cuisine and wine.

A vast island continent, Australia teems with natural and cultural treasures. Relax on gorgeous beaches along the sprawling coastline, or plunge below the water in Queensland to explore the Great Barrier Reef. Nature enthusiasts will revel in exciting adventures in the interior, from trekking around majestic Uluru to spotting wildlife in tropical rainforests. But there’s more to life down under than outdoor activities. Cosmopolitan cities like Sydney and Melbourne entice with thriving dining and arts scenes, while world-class vineyards abound.

Top Reasons to Visit Australia

WORLD HERITAGE SITES

Eighteen sites in Australia are inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. From natural wonders to man-made creations, discover Australia’s heritage sites on your next voyage Down Under.

Australia has more cultural and natural treasures than is fair to many other countries. It also, fortunately, has the wealth and resolve to protect these treasures as best it can. Eighteen sites in Australia are inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List and include unusual landforms, ancient forests and areas of staggering biodiversity.

Most of Australia’s World Heritage sites are areas of extreme natural beauty and hold exceptional conservation value. However, the latest additions placed on the list in 2010 included 11 penal sites, such as Port Arthur in Tasmania and Fremantle Prison in Western Australia. There are two other Australian sites listed exclusively for cultural reasons: the Sydney Opera House and Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton Gardens.

The other World Heritage listings are:

  • Australian Fossil Mammal Sites: Riversleigh, Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park, Queensland and Naracoorte Caves, South Australia
  • Fraser Island, Queensland
  • Gondwana Rainforests, Queensland and northern NSW
  • Great Barrier Reef, Queensland
  • Greater Blue Mountains Area, New South Wales
  • Heard and McDonald Islands, subantarctic islands
  • Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory
  • Lord Howe Island Group, New South Wales
  • Macquarie Island, subantarctic island
  • Purnululu National Park, Western Australia
  • Shark Bay, Western Australia
  • Tasmanian Wilderness
  • Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Northern Territory
  • Wet Tropics of Queensland
  • Wilandra Lakes Region, New South Wales

VIBRANT CITIES

With the majority of Australians living in cities along the coast, Australian cities are the melting pot of cultures, history, good food and entertainment. So, fly into Sydney or Melbourne and have a blast.

A large section of Australia is barren desert so it’s no surprise that most Australians live in cities along the coast. In fact, Australia is the 18th-most urbanised country in the world, with around 70% of Australians living in the 10 largest towns. It follows that most Australian cities are a lot of fun! From the sun-kissed Harbour City of Sydney to the tropical northern frontier town of Darwin, every city has its own unique charm. Australian cities also make a great base from which to explore the rest of Australia. So whichever city you’re wheeling into, you’ll be guaranteed to have the time of your life.

Must-visit Australian cities:

  • Sydney
  • Melbourne
  • Darwin
  • Gold Coast
  • Hobart

FOOD & WINE

Australians’ love for good food and fine wine is apparent in the many bars, restaurants and cafes that dot the metropolitan cities. So, hop on the gastronomical train and sample Australia’s food and wine as you travel around this lucky country. 

Australia is one of the world’s major food producers. Wherever you travel, food production is apparent on the landscape, from the vast inland sheep and cattle stations, to the canefields of New South Wales and Queensland. Coastal towns about in fresh seafood, and increasingly there is an interest in other food indigenous to Australia, such as bush plums, nuts, herbs and kangaroo. Visit the many farm gates or food trails to access this local produce, or pick up fresh bargains at farmers’ markets.

Australia is consistently in the world’s top ten producers of wine, making more than 1.4 billion litres a year. Australia’s major wine growing regions are nearly all tourist attractions in their own right, with delightful B&Bs, historic places to explore and cellar doors galore.

Don’t miss these culinary experiences:

  • Honey from Ligurian bees on Kangaroo Island, South Australia
  • Margaret River’s chocolate, dairy and wines, Western Australia
  • Sydney Fish Markets, New South Wales
  • Tasmania’s pinot noir, cheese and berries
  • Queensland’s mangoes and other tropical fruits
  • Historic wine regions such as Rutherglen, Victoria
  • Barramundi and crocodile, Northern Territory

BEACH CULTURE

Australians love their beaches as much as they love their food and wine. So, put on your bathers and slather on good sunblock as you hit the beach on your next Australian holiday.

Australia is the quintessential home of beach culture, with the nation’s beaches ranging from sweeping crescents with rolling waves to tiny, secluded coves. Almost all Australians live within a two-hour drive of the coast, and during the hot summers it is almost second nature to make for the water to cool off. Surfing has always been a national sport, with regular carnivals and competitions held on the coastline.

So, what are you waiting for? Pack a pair of bathers (swimsuit), thongs (slippers) and some sunscreen and head to the “Land Down Under”.

Don’t miss these beaches:

  • Bondi Beach, Sydney
  • Bells Beach, Victoria
  • Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast
  • Beaches of the Whitsunday Islands
  • Cottesloe Beach, Perth

ABORIGINAL CULTURE

Australia is the world oldest continent, inhabited for more than 50,000 years by Aborigines. Explore our rich Aboriginal culture as you travel through Australia.

For more than 50,000 years before European settlement, Aboriginal people lived in Australia, occupying the country across the landscape, including its driest deserts. Living in great affinity with the land on which they were dependent, they established rich, diverse and highly spiritual cultures with sacred places, Dreaming tracks and art sites.

There are close to half a million Aboriginal people in Australia today, and although much of the cultures have been destroyed or damaged by European settlement, many Aboriginal communities still proudly carry on rich traditions, and have some of the oldest surviving cultural practices in the world. With permission, much of this can be explored by travellers who are prepared to sit, listen and learn from Indigenous Australians.

Must-see Indigenous places and experiences:

  • Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Northern Territory
  • Kimberley rock-art sites, Western Australia
  • Kakadu National Park/Arnhem Land, Northern Territory
  • Thursday Island, Torres Strait
  • Burrup Peninsula, Western Australia
  • Bunya Mountains, Queensland
  • Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, Queensland
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Best Time to Visit Australia

Australia lies in the southern hemisphere, so the seasons are reversed. It’s winter Down Under during the American summer.

Australia’s climate is temperate in southern states, such as Victoria and Tasmania, particularly in coastal areas, and tropical in Australia’s far north. The Australian summer north of the Tropic of Capricorn is a steam bath.

The best time to visit the southern states is from September to November (the Australian spring), or from February to April (late summer-autumn), when the southern regions are generally sunny and warm, with only occasional rain in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. Perth and the south of Western Australia are at their finest in springtime, when wildflowers blanket the land.

Where is Australia located?

A continent as well as a country, Australia lies in the southwest hemisphere of the globe and it is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Indian Ocean to the west. More than 70 percent of its 21 million people reside along the coastline with its more hospitable climate. The capital, Canberra, is in the Australian Capital Territory, but the most populous city is Sydney. Tasmania, an island state, lies 240 km (150 miles) off the southern tip of the country, across the Bass Strait.

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