It may be the Land of Down Under but when you visit Australia, you’ll be on top of the world. It’s young and vibrant; it’s  fun and drenched in sun. The reasons to go are in the people you meet and unique experiences at your feet; in the  crowded places and wide, open spaces. There’s an extraordinary history with fascinating tales that reach back to  colonisation and beyond – to a deeply-embedded culture that stems from Aboriginal Dreaming time.

Rich in diversity, there’s also a surprisingly sophisticated edge to Australia, just itching to show off. If you love the arts,  fresh food and wines with plenty of zing, there’s no better place. Australia is a vivid collection of awe-inspiring landscapes –  from peachy beaches and soaring cities to rugged ranges and the harsh beauty of the Outback. It’s full of surprises,  extraordinary wildlife, vivid colours and larger-than-life places who you won’t forget in a hurry.


Party central
is possibly the best way to describe Sydney. Full of life, it’s the city that rarely sleeps. Sydney Harbour, the most photogenic in the world, is a great place to start an Aussie adventure – after all, it’s where the country’s settlement began at The Rocks. Soak up the history and lap up the nightlife, then hit the waves.

The North coast is famous for surf beaches and it’s where the world’s largest expanse of subtropical rainforest meets mountains forged from ancient volcanoes. The South coast offers more of the classic beach culture with 30 national parks, while wine lovers have more than 120 cellar doors to open in the Hunter Valley. Pods of dolphins and whales often cruise past secluded beaches. Inland are the Snowy Mountains and their ski fields. In summer, the Snowies are perfect for adventure-based activities like hiking, cycling, kayaking, caving and horse riding.

Things to try:
Climb Sydney Harbour Bridge; enjoy a show at the Opera House; kayak on the harbour or simply take a ferry ride; fly over the city in a helicopter or sea plane.


Adelaide is Australia’s Festival city – a place to celebrate the arts, fine dining and fabulous wine. The Barossa Valley is the wine capital of Australia but there is a great drop to be had no matter in which direction you head. Clare Valley is where the bush meets the vines and the Rieslings are hard to beat.

Coonawarra country has more big reds to try as well as limestone caves that have taken million of years to create. A short ferry ride will take you to Kangaroo Island where sandy stretches, beautiful bays and wildlife watching is hard to beat. Coober Pedy with houses and hotels dug into the side of hills is a gem – the opal capital of the world, in fact. The Flinders Ranges bring the Outback to your doorstep – that’s about a four-hour drive in Aussie terms.

With thousands of kilometres of coastline stretching around the State, swimming, surfing and fishing are big. Heading west     will take you to the Great Australian Bight ,where whale watching is an annual attraction.

Things to try: 
Swim with the seals at Baird Bay, a camel trek through the Flinders Ranges, noodle for opals, a houseboat holiday up the     River Murray; saddle up for the Outback Cattle Drive.


This is Australia’s island state – where the people are friendly and relaxed and the scenery is truly pretty on one hand and outrageously wild on another. It has a cooler climate which makes for a whole new range of wonderful wine and food.

Here, it’s all about getting back to nature – whether you want to wind down and enjoy the views or rev it up to the max. You can raft through rapids on the Picton or Franklin rivers. Launch yourself on a cable hang-glider above Trevallyn. Paddle a sea kayak from Strahan or abseil a coastal cliff at Freycinet. Hobart is the capital – use it as a base to explore the south of the island including Port Arthur where Tasmania’s convict heritage comes to life.

Extensive walking trails take advantage of the landscape – from easy-going rolling green hills to the more extreme Cradle Mountain, snow-capped in winter and surrounded by ancient pines. 

Things to try:
The 110m slide to the bottom of Dismal Swamp; Spirit of Tasmania ferry ride from Melbourne; Cadbury’s chocolate factory tour; chair lift ride to the top of the Nut at Stanley.


Melbourne is a cosmopolitan hub of activity – from the chic fashion stores of Chapel Street to ritzy bars, elegant Victorian buildings and modern skyscrapers. Hide your credit cards because it’s a shopper’s paradise.

Victoria’s regional areas are just as varied  from the gold fields where you can still pan for your fortune at Ballarat, to ski fields like Falls Creek and Mt Buller in the High Country where bushrangers like Ned Kelly have also staked their claim in the history books. There are olive groves and vineyards on the Mornington Peninsula and luxury escapes in Daylesford, in the heart of the State’s spa country.

Victorians are sports mad with everything from Aussie Rules football, soccer, tennis and cricket to mountain climbing and anything with adventure attached, on the agenda.

Things to try:
Bargain hunting at Queen Victoria Markets; snow shoeing at Mt Buller; drive along the Great Ocean Road and stay at Apollo Bay; take a tree-top walk in Otway.


Largest of all the states
, WA is Australia’s version of the Wild West. The North West is dubbed one of the world’s last true wilderness areas and the place to go for an authentic Aussie Outback adventure. The Kimberley Ranges, Bungle Bungle Range and rocky Karijini National Park are just waiting to be explored by 4WD or on scenic flights. It’s red-earth country dotted with waterfalls and inland waterways.

Whale watching, wineries and wildflowers can be the order of the day in WA. You can swim with the world's largest fish, snorkel from the beach on the stunning Ningaloo Reef, meet the dolphins of Monkey Mia and take in the unique rock formations of the Pinnacles. South of Perth, towns like Albany and regions like Margaret River are the place for world-class wineries, top surfing and family holidays. Locals head here in winter, too, lured by cosy log-fires and brisk walks along the beach.

Things to try:
Spend the day on Rottnest Island; scuba dive on the HMAS Swan Dive wreck; ride a camel on Cable Beach or invest in some pearls at Broome.


Walk into the desert in search of bush tucker with an Aboriginal tourist guide and you’ll get a pretty good picture of the essence of the Northern Territory. You’ll experience a land full of contrasts; colours from bright blues to burnt oranges, emotions from hope to harsh reality and climates from tropical in the Top End to desert magic in Central Australia.

The characters you meet will be as colourful as the surroundings, as surprising as the changes in landscapes, and as quirky as the legendary Outback pubs, cattle stations and country towns. This is the real Outback in all its vast, open glory. NT is the size of France, Spain and Italy put together – so there’s lots to explore from Darwin on the coast, to Uluru almost at its red centre.

Things to try:
Sunset at Uluru; cool off in the waterfalls at Litchfield National Park; pretend you’re Crocodile Dundee in a river safari; bond with nature at Kakadu National Park; walk the Larapinta Trail.


Fun in the sun. What more could you want? There is everything here from romance, relaxation, adventure and indulgence to family fun. Queensland has a laid-back style of its own, and the warm climate is matched by the welcome you’ll get from the locals.

The Gold Coast theme parks – Dreamworld, Sea World, Warner Bros Movie World, Wet  ‘n’ Wild and White Water World – will keep you busy for days. For a tiny taste of Aussie heritage, check out the horsemanship at the Outback Spectacular. Prefer the simple things in life? Then walk barefoot on white, powdery beaches on an island getaway – there are 74 islands in the Whitsunday group, alone. The Sunshine Coast offers another great escape route .

Things to try:
Head to the top of Mt Coot-tha to put Brisbane in perspective; try the Awesome Foursome at Airlie Beach – jetboat, helicopter, parasail and quad bike; dive on the Great Barrier Reef; visit Stradbroke Island and feed the wild dolphins at Tangalooma; check out the Indy street car race.


Canberra is the nation’s capital and home to all its national treasures. Australia's history and way of life and journey from an indigenous continent to a modern, multi-cultural nation is on show at the national museums, galleries and institutions.
The Australian War Memorial commemorates the sacrifice of Australians who have served in war in magnificently presented galleries.

Canberra is not all serious. You can experience an earthquake at Questacon – the National Science and Technology Centre.  And there is plenty more for the kids. Like specially designed tours at the National Zoo and Aquarium or the chance to mint their own $1 coin at the Royal Australian Mint. Take a tour with an elite athlete at the Australian Institute of Sport, and test your skills at virtual rowing or the gymnastic beam. Each spring, Canberra blooms – literally – with Floriade, Australia's premier spring festival.

Things to try:
Visit Old Parliament House – and the new one; take a balloon ride; hop on a boat tour of Lake Burley Griffin.

•    Toy koala/kangaroo
•    Boomerang
•    Football – the oblong, Aussie version
•    Haighs Chocolates
•    A piece of opal.

  Read: Bryce Courtney’s The Potato Factory, Judy Nunn’s Beneath the Southern Cross and Tamara McKinley’s Wildflowers.•    Listen: Cold Chisel, Men at Work, Silverchair, Powderfinger, Rogue Traders.
•    Watch: Man from Snowy River, Picnic at Hanging Rock and The Castle on DVD and McLeod’s Daughters on TV

•   Real Aussie barbecue
    Fine wine (red or white)
•    Vegemite on toast

    Get a bird’s-eye-view of the Barossa Valley in a hot-air balloon.
•    Take a camel ride into the desert sunset at Uluru.
•    Snuggle up with a glass of port in front of an open fire and a coastline that stretches for miles.
    Savour fresh seafood overlooking Sydney Harbor.
•    Climb Sydney Harbor Bridge and have your photo taken with the Opera House in the background.
•    Hand-feed dolphins at Monkey Mia.
•    Escape the heat and sleep in a dug-out – a romantic underground hideaway at Coober Pedy.
•    Cruise the Whitsunday Islands in a skippered yacht.
•    Take a dip on the Great Barrier Reef.
•    Explore the rugged Kimberley Ranges.
•    Cross the country by train – north to south on The Ghan or east to west on The Indian Pacific.



* New Year’s Eve on Sydney Harbor (Dec 31 – NSW)
* Australia Day Skyworks – Celebrate Australia’s biggest day with fireworks on the Swan River foreshore. (Jan 26 – WA).
* Tour Down Under  - International cycling comes to Adelaide. If  you’re keen, you can even pedal the 134km Stage 4 route between Mannum and Strathalbyn. (Jan 20 to 27 – SA).
* Australian Open Tennis Championships in Melbourne - (Jan 14 to 27 – Vic).


* Clipsal 500 - V8 supercars take to the streets of Adelaide. (Feb 21 to 24 - SA).
* Adelaide Festival of Arts - one of the world’s great arts festivals (Feb 29 to Mar 16 - SA).
* Adelaide Fringe – Australia’s largest arts festival and second biggest in the world after Edinburgh. (Feb 22 to March 15).


* Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras – (early March – NSW)
* Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix – Melbourne (Mar 13 to 16 – Vic)
* Rip Curl Pro surfing event – Bells Beach (Mar 18 to 28 – Vic).


* Anzac Day – the nation pays tribute to Australian service men and women. (Apr 25).


* Islands to Ice - The Great Southern Ocean & Antarctica – Explore the definitions, perceptions, mythology and motivations of Antarctica. (Until March 2009 – Tas).
* The Great Australian Outback Cattle Drive – (May-June, 2009 – SA)

* Pick a day beween June and October when giant Southern Right Whales return to the waters of Victor Harbor's Encounter Bay. (SA)

* Imparja Camel Cup -  Alice Springs (Jul 12 – NT).
* Darwin Beer Can Regatta - A regatta like no other, with boats built entirely out of beer cans. (Jul 27 – NT).


* Garma Festival - Regarded as Australia’s major indigenous cultural exchange event. (Aug 1 to 5 – NT).
* Barossa Gourmet Weekend - Indulge in food, wine and music. (Aug 25 to 26 - SA).
* Dubbo Jazz Festival -  (Aug 15 to 17 - NSW).
* Opera Under the Stars - Famous for its fiery sunsets, Cable Beach in Broome is the breathtaking backdrop. (Aug 25 - WA)
* The Australian Safari – (August 24 to September 1).
* Henley-On-Todd Regatta - Teams race “boats” in the dry bed of the Todd River in Alice Springs. (Aug 25 – NT)


* Floriade in Canberra (Sep 15 to Oct 14 - ACT)


* Indy – Champ Cars and V8 Supercars race on a 4.47km street circuit at Surfers’s Paradise. (Oct 19 to 22 – Qld).
* Tasting Australia - Take your tastebuds on tour as South Australia hosts some of the world's top chefs in some stunning locations. (Oct 13 to 20 – SA).
* Tulip Festival - Music, dance, fun and, of course, tulips at Southern Tasmania's major spring celebration. (Oct 4 to 5 – Tas).


* Great Australian Cattle Drive
* Melbourne Cup – Australia’s favourite horse race (first Tuesday in Nov – Vic)
* Red Bull Air Race World Series – concludes in Perth over the Swan River. (Nov 3 to 4 - WA).


* Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race – the harbor becomes a sea of sails as the yachts head in into open ocean. (Dec 26 - NSW).


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