The easiest way to get to Australia is by air. Numerous airlines fly into the major cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.
Melbourne, the second largest city in Australia, has been consistently voted the worlds' most liveable city. The city is renowned for its gourmet food and the "best coffee", parks, fickle weather, clanging trams, upside-down river, football and cosmopolitan outlook. It is also the financial capital of Australia. About 4.3 million people live in the greater Melbourne area.
Sydney Opera House
The iconic Sydney Opera House with its bellowing sails, sweeping lines, graceful curves and elegant fixtures is an architectural masterpiece. Completed nearly forty years ago, the Opera House looks even better today than when it was first opened.
Throw a Boomerang
The English word “boomerang” originated from an Australian Aboriginal word "wo-mur-rang". It was a wooden hunting tool used by them which has the unique characteristic of returning to the thrower. It’s fun, so why not find someone to teach you. It takes lots of open space (so you don’t hit someone with it), lots of patience and lots of practice. What a great way to show off to your friends back home.
City Circle Tram Ride
The City Circle Tram is a free vintage hop-on-hop-off tram service for tourists to travel to major attractions, shops and other places of interest within the city of Melbourne. It links up with other transport services such in the city. There is a tram every 12 minutes between 10am and 6pm Sunday to Wednesday and between 10am and 9pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The entire loop takes about 45 minutes to complete.
Snorkelling & Diving
Scuba diving and snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef is an exhilarating experience. See one of the most awesome natural wonders of the world with multi-coloured coral reefs and fishes of every shape and size, turtles, sea cucumbers, rays, sharks and lots of other marine life. There are over 5,000 diving spots ranging from those that are for beginners to those only suitable for the experienced divers. Most snorkelling and diving is boat-based, where a large boat will take you out to a reef. Some islands, however, do have their own coral reefs around them.
Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road, one of the most spectacular coastal drives in the world, winds its ways for 180 kms along the south-western coast of Victoria, Australia around ragged cliffs, windswept beaches, tall buffs and passes through lush mountain rainforest and towering eucalyptus. See the wind worn spires of the 12 Apostles, laze on the beach at Anglesea, visit the picturesque towns of Lorne and Port Fairy, get up close to native wildlife, and take in iconic surf breaks, trek through pristine rainforests and admire the misty waterfalls as you go.
The Twelve Apostles
The Twelve Apostles is a collection of seven limestone stacks that rise up majestically from the ocean near the Great Ocean Road. Once part of the mainland they were eroded away over a period of 10-20 million years separating them and leaving them stranded offshore. The name “12 Apostles” is a misnomer as there are actually only 7 standing today (one collapsed in 2005). This site was originally known as the Sow and Pigs. It was renamed the 'The Apostles' in 1922 and soon to came to be known as the 'The 12 Apostles' even though there were less than twelve limestone pillars. The 12 Apostles at sunrise and sunset are a spectacular sight as they change colour from dark almost black to brilliant sandy yellow under a full sun.
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Completed in 1932 the Sydney Harbour Bridge is the world's tallest steel arch bridge. It is 1,149 metres long and has an arch span of 503 metres. The top of the arch is 134 metres above sea-level and the bottom of the bridge is 49 metres above sea-level. The two stone columns on either end of the bridge serve no structural function. They were placed there to reassure the public who doubted the strength of a steel structure alone. The bridge carries 200,000 vehicles a day on eight vehicle lanes. It also has two train lines, a pedestrian walkway and a cycleway. In recent time the bridge has become very popular with bridge climbers who clamber along its arches to the top for the spectacular view from the top. On New Year's Eve the bridge is used to stage a colourful fireworks display.
Sydney is Australia's oldest and largest city. About 4.4 million people live in the greater Sydney area. The defining symbols of Sydney are its Opera House and the "coat hanger bridge". Sydney is the commercial capital of Australia.
Fraser Island off the coast off the coast of southern Queensland is the world’s largest sand island. It measures 120 km long by 22 kilometres wide and was formed over hundreds of thousands of years when wind and waves piled up sand, as tall as 244 meters high, to form the island. It is home to a purest strain of Dingoes, Australia’s native dog, and a great place from which to see humpback whales from late June to November. Things to do include going 4WD on the sand dunes, walking through the rainforest, fishing off 75-Five Mile Beach, swimming in the Champagne pools and numerous freshwater lakes.
Kakadu National Park
Kakadu National Park is a huge natural reserve in the Northern Territory that is home to over 2,000 unique varieties of plants and a wide range of animals including giant crocodiles, exotic birds, dugongs and fat-back turtles. Australian Aboriginals lived in this area for tens of thousands of years and some of the best of their rock painting are found here.
Play a Didgeridoo
Here is a girl playing a didgeridoo in France! If she can do it then you should surely give it a go. Some claim that the didgeridoo is one of the world’s most ancient musical instruments. Like all musical instruments it takes a lot of practice. The biggest secret to successful didgeridoo playing is to learn how to inhale with your nose while exhaling into the instrument with your mouth at the same time. Try it. It’s fun.
Great Barrier Reef
Located off the coast of Queensland, Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef in the world, and has the most diverse range of underwater animals anywhere on earth. It is estimated that about 10% of the world's entire fish species live here. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Australia. It is ideal place for snorkelling, scuba diving, sailing, whale and dolphin watching and lots more. There is also an underwater observatory from where you can see the fantastic underwater biodiversity.
Climb "The Bridge"
Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge is an exhilarating experience. Tours organised by BridgeClimb range from the basic to the top of the world. Lead by trained guides, climbs take place throughout the day and last for about 3.5 hours. The best times are early morning and at sunset. Once on the top of the bridge you will see a breathtaking view of the Opera House, the harbour, the city and as far as the Blue Mountains.
Cairns (Australians pronounce it as "Cans") is the main city for tours of the Great Barrier Reef. Other things of interest are the Cairns Esplanade, Botanic Gardens and Muddy's Playground for kids.
Located 81km west of Sydney this area is populated by oil bearing Eucalyptus trees that fill the atmosphere with fine droplets of oil that combine with water vapour and dust particles in the air causing short-wave length rays of light to scatter giving the blue colour we see. The national park has dramatic gorges, towering rock formations, waterfalls, extensive hiking trails and aboriginal rock paintings. Hiking rock climbing, horseback riding, mountain biking and abseiling are popular activates in this park.
National Gallery Victoria
The National Gallery of Victoria is the oldest, largest and most popular museum in Australia. It houses a collection of over 70,000 works of European, Asian, Aboriginal, Oceanic and American art. The gallery also offers a diverse collection of temporary exhibitions, displays, tours, films, talks, programs for kids with late-night openings and special performances.
Located to the north of Cairns and Port Douglas the the world heritage listed Daintree Rainforest offers an interesting insight into a tropical Australian rainforest. Some of the trees in this forest are believed to be the oldest in the world. Tour operators offer boat cruises, 4wd and bus tours. A cruise on the Daintree River is an easy way the see the sights of ancient rainforest trees and animals including crocodiles and birds such as the cassowary. Tours depart from Cairns, Port Douglas, Palm Cove, etc.
This is a true outback adventure. Located in the remote north-western region of Western Australia, the existence of these beehive shaped mountains with beautiful gorges, tropical pools and caves were only known to the local Aborigines and a few pastoralists (ranchers) until “discovered” by a film crew in 1983. The 350-million-year-old mountain range with peculiar orange and black striped mountains are the eroded remains of a very ancient meteorite impact crater. The darker bands are layers of rock which hold more moisture and have a dark algal growth. The orange layers are stained with iron and manganese. The park is also home to Cathedral Gorge, an amazing natural amphitheatre. Access to this park is by air and then by four-wheel drive vehicles.
Lying in the centre of the Great Barrier Reef, this collection of 74 islands white-sanded sun-drenched idyllic islands are a great place to relax on the beach, take in the sun go snorkelling and scuba diving in the spectacular reefs close by or sail amongst the islands. Of these islands the most famous are Daydream Island, Hamilton Island, Hayman Island and Long Island.
Australia one of the world’s premier surfing destinations. With over 50,000 kms of coastline it has excellent beach, reef and point breaks to challenge the most experienced surfers. Some of the key surf beaches are Bells Beach and the Surf Coast in Victoria. In New South Wales Byron Bay, Newcastle and Sydney and its south coast offer great surfing. Burleigh Heads or Snapper Rocks on Queensland's Gold Coast have some of the world’s longest waves.
The Gold Coast in Queensland is Australia's largest theme park centre. Dream World is the largest with over 50 rides, attractions and wildlife areas such as Tiger Island. Movie World is a movie related theme park with rides including motion simulators, roller coasters, river rides and the opportunity to meet many costumed characters. Sea World is a marine mammal, aquarium, theme and conservation park. Wet’n’Wild is a water oriented theme park with fantastic water slides. Other major theme parks in Australia include Luna Park in Melbourne and Sydney.
Once a thriving pearling centre, Broome today is a tourist town to the south of the spectacular Kimberley region of Western Australia. It is renowned for its sandy white beaches and turquoise seas where tourist ride camels at sunset. The Staircase to the Moon is an optical illusion that occurs frequently between March and October when moonlight creates an illusion of steps leading to the moon. During low tide at Gantheaume Point close by you can see real dinosaur tracks imprinted in ancient rocks.
Canberra is the capital of Australia. The key attractions of Canberra are the modern Parliament House, the War Memorial, Dinosaur Museum, National Museum of Australia, National Portrait Gallery and close by are a number of wineries and the Snowy Mountains for skiing in winter.
Uluru is a massive sandstone rock dome that rises 348 m from the flat deserts of central Australia. The local Aboriginal people consider the rock a scared site. Besides its huge size, being 9.4 km in circumference the most spectacular feature of Uluru is how it changes colour at different times of the day and year, most notably when it glows red at dawn and sunset. While climbing to the top is a steep 800 m hike which takes about an hour is not prohibited, it is discouraged by the Aboriginal custodian of the place. Unfit persons should definitely not attempt the climb.
Just 7 kms from the centre of Sydney, Bondi Beach is famous for its sandy beach, great surf, lifesavers, laid back and tolerant attitude and sunbathers and surfers. The restaurant and bar scene is also vibrate and many fashion boutiques and luxury apartment line its streets.
Australian love their sports. In the winter it’s Australian Football, Rugby and Soccer. In Summer its Cricket and Tennis. There is usually something on in Melbourne and Sydney almost every weekend.
There are five types of visa available for those "visiting" Australia. The Visitor, Electronic Travel Authority and eVisotor visas allow you enter the country for up to three months for holiday, tourist and business purposes as long as you do not work or sell goods and services. The Medical Treatment visa is for people who are seeking medical treatment in Australia and the Special Category visa applies to New Zealanders. You need to obtain your visa before you arrive in Australia. For more information visit the Australian government websites.
Customs & Quarantine
"Declare it". Australia has very strict customs and quarantine regulations. Declare all food, plant material and animal products. Australia's laws also prohibit you from bringing drugs, steroids, weapons, firearms and protected wildlife into Australia. There is no restriction on the amount of money you can bring in, but you must declare anything over A$10,000. The duty free concession for adults is A$900 worth of goods, Up to 2.25 litres of alcoholic beverages (liquor, wine, champagne) and 50 cigarettes.
Australia has a wonderful non-tipping culture. Service providers don't expect to be tipped. Tipping is entirely voluntary. Obviously if someone provided you with exceptional service you can tip them if you wish.
Driving in Australia
Australian drive on the left side of the road, like the UK, India and Japan. This is usually the opposite everyone else. Also, while the roads are very good, distances in Australia are staggering. In the Outback you can drive for days without seeing anyone else. So if you dare venture out on your own make sure someone knows where you are going and what route you are taking, stick to the main roads and make sure you have plenty of food and water and that your vehicle is fuelled and road-worthy. If stranded, stay with your vehicle.
There are no restrictions in taking photographs.
Australia is a very safe place to visit. You would need to be extremely unlucky, reckless or foolish to experience any physical harm. Always exercise due care and caution.
Most dangers are associated in or near water. Follow the safety advise given on signs and by trained personnel such as boat operators and lifeguards.
Diving & Snorkelling: The most common problem encountered by people is getting into difficulty while diving or snorkelling. Diving and snorkelling can be very strenuous, especially for the elderly and those suffering from pre-existing medical conditions. It can also be stressful for someone who may be unnerved by having to breath underwater. So don’t do it if you aren't in reasonably good health. Take a glass-bottom boat tour instead!
Drowning: swim between the red and yellow flags placed on most popular beaches. Almost 50% of beach rescues and at nearly 21% of drowning deaths are due to rip currents which are like underwater rivers which drag you along and under if you get caught in one. If there are no flags then exercise great caution. .
Sunburn: Australia has lots of sunlight and it is very easy to get sunburnt. Always apply sunscreen several times a day.
Jelly Fish: It is very very unlikely that your will be stung by a jelly fish. Some claim the chances are as low one in a million. The stinger season is between November and May. This is the time jelly fish are most prevalent along the coast. Heed the abundant warning that are posted on beaches which are subject to jelly fish.
Sharks: It is very unlikely that you will encounter any sort of shark especially not the ferocious types you see in the movies. But, they are around. There are occasional reports of a shark attack and sometimes these can be fatal. Again exercise caution and take advice from the experts around the area you are planning to swim in.
Crocodiles: Crocodiles attacks are extremely rare but they do occur from time to time. There are definitely crocodiles around some of the estuaries and very rarely they are even out at sea. Follow reasonable precautions and you will be safe. For example you would be silly to walk close to remote estuaries at night.
Smoking & Alcohol
Smoking is only allowed in designated areas. Regulations vary from state to state but, in general, smoking is banned in enclosed public places such as office buildings, shopping malls, schools and cinemas, public vehicles such as taxis, buses, trains and sea going vessels. Most restaurants and cafés are also smoke free.
Alcohol is freely available for persons over the age of 18. Pubs, restaurants etc supply alcohol. There are laws against consuming alcohol in public.
Australia has “upside down” weather. Its seasons are the opposite of those in the western hemisphere. Summer is from December to February and winter is from June to August. To generalise very broadly the weather along the coastal areas in the southern regions of Australia is similar to that of Northern California with crisp cool winters and sunny warm to hot dry summers. Australia also has subtropical climates similar to Florida in areas such as Brisbane and tropical climates more akin to Asia in the north. The interior of Australia hot and dry and is probably more like the desert climates of Arizona.