What does Australia mean to you? Kangaroos, koalas, Sydney Opera House? It’s all that and so much more. It’s a vast continent with 24 million people and a truly diverse landscape, with aboriginal history and culture in everything you see and do. Australians are warm, friendly people with a great sense of humor. It’s a bucket list item for many people and much easier to get to then you would imagine. The seasons are opposite to the USA, so Australians are having barbecues on the beach in January. On a first visit the main three are usually a must see- Sydney, Great Barrier Reef and Uluru (Ayers Rock). All three are great for families, couples and groups.
A typical itinerary would have 3 or 4 nights in Sydney, 3 nights in Cairns and 2 or 3 at Uluru, with flights in between each city.
In Sydney you can climb or walk the Harbour Bridge, visit the Opera House for a tour or a performance, walk through the Botanical gardens, take ferries across the harbor, watch the surfers at Bondi Beach and even take your own surf lesson. Take a day excursion to the Blue Mountains, go to Hunter Valley for wine tasting and watch movies under the stars.
Queensland is the home of the Great Barrier Reef – a great place to stay is Port Douglas – a charming walkable village full of great restaurants and boutique stores. An inexpensive shuttle runs to all the hotels from the main street, so you never have to worry about driving. Day trips to the reef go from this point and you can snorkel, scuba, do a semi-submersible or sit and enjoy the view of the spectacular coral.
Another great day out is the Kuranda scenic rail, Skyrail and Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park. Stunning scenery from an original steam train – time in Kuranda to visit Kuranda Koala Gardens (who doesn’t want their picture taken holding a cuddly koala?) and then the return journey is on the Skytrain Gondola across the rainforest. At Tjapukai you can learn about the culture of the Aborigines, try your hand at spear and boomerang throwing – not as easy as it looks, and of course, spend time in the gift shop.
Uluru – previously named Ayers Rock, is the huge red rock you see in all the pictures of Australia, and is a sacred site to an indigenous Aboriginal tribe. Rising up from the desert floor in the Northern Territory, it is millions of years old, over 2,800 feet high, and is part of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Sunrise and sunset are the best times to view this sandstone monolith and nothing can beat a ballooning experience over the area. The field of light experience under the stars, is a wonderful pattern of glass globes lighting up the night sky, and this is currently extended until March 2018.
Australia is almost the same size as the USA so it is worth two or three trips to uncover this vast and diverse country. Each region has its own climate so there is no right or wrong time of year to visit.
I am a Certified Australia Specialist and would be happy to assist you with planning your dream vacation DownUnder. Please either email me directly at Pauline@skylandworldtravel.com or fill in the comment form below.