Australia

Feb 8, 2012


Australia

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Adelaide

The capital of South Australia, Adelaide is a beautiful and graceful little city, easily traversed by foot. Parks and gardens, wide streets, and elegant buildings are nestled between the sea and the Adelaide hills. Cultural pursuits and good food & wine are found in abundance.

Adelaide serves as a gateway to the country’s premier winemaking region, the Barossa Valley, and to some if the best wildlife viewing at Kangaroo Island. The climate here is mild, akin to the Mediterranean, and inspires outdoor pursuits among the spectacular natural beauty of this region. Other nearby attractions are the Flinders Ranges, gateway to the southern Outback, and Coober Pedy, the opal mining capital of the world.

Barossa Valley – Near Adelaide

Blessed with an ideal climate and soil, the Barossa has become one of the world’s great wine-producing areas. Its 500 grape growers and 80 wineries produce about one quarter of Australian wines. Barossa Valley is an artist’s palette of delightful small towns, stone buildings, churches with pipe organs, orchards and vine-patterned hills.

The valley breathes of vintage wine in autumn, stone fruits in summer and log fires in winter. Wander among the galleries and craft shops to the tantalising aromas from delicatessens, bakeries and cafes brewing freshly ground coffee. The valley is renowned for its eclectic variety of festivals: gourmet food, vintage fairs, music under the stars and more. The locals love a party and they’re not afraid to indulge in great food and wine. Events not to be missed include the Barossa Vintage Festival, Barossa Under the Stars and the Barossa Gourmet Weekend.

Port Douglas

Port Douglas, a vibrant resort town that retains the timeless air of its seaside village roots, If the reef, the golf, and the fishing weren’t enough, the fabulous bars, cafes, restaurants and warm, sea-touched breezes make this haven a must.

Located in the heart of Tropical North Queensland, it is the perfect to explore all this region has to offer: the beautiful coastline and islands, the tropical rainforest, the Great Barrier Reef, the sophistication of Cairns, and the rugged Outback made famous by song and story.

Sydney

Sunny, sexy and sophisticated, Sydney is the shining star of the southern hemisphere. While the white-sailed Sydney Opera House sitting over the waters of Sydney Cove and the Sydney Harbour Bridge are the pride and joy, there’s far more this vibrant city has to offer. Cruise the harbour (by day or during an evening dinner cruise), or take in the city’s historic enclaves, restaurants and cafes, beaches, museums and art galleries, and the national parks and wildlife within the city and on its fringes.

Built around one of the world’s most beautiful harbours, Sydney is a free-spirited and vibrant city, boasting more than 70 sparkling beaches in easy reach of its cosmopolitan heart. The city centre is surprisingly compact and served by an efficient public transport service – so it’s easy to pack a lot into a day.

Enjoy its legendary beauty, its laid-back outdoor lifestyle and icons such as the Sydney Opera House, the graceful span of the Harbour Bridge and the golden sands of Bondi beach. In the Rocks, the harbourside quarter where Sydney began, you can enjoy boutiques, historic cottages, top hotels, restaurants, historic pubs, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Nearby is Circular Quay, where you can take a ferry ride across the harbour to the attractive beachside suburb of Manly, or to dozens of other destinations. And don’t miss Darling Harbour, the entertainment centre with museums, eateries, pubs and clubs, and one of the world’s largest aquariums.

Find great nightlife in Kings Cross and the trendy suburb of Paddington, also known for its stately Victorian houses and glamorous boutiques. Other attractions include the Royal Botanic Gardens, a climb to the top of the Harbour Bridge, and bush walks through Sydney Harbour National Park. Add on a boat tour of the harbour, or an evening at the Opera House following a dinner cruise, and you’ll be sorry to leave.

Sydney – Hunter Valley

Just two hours’ drive north of Sydney, there’s a contented world of wide, open spaces, featuring magnificent vineyards, sparkling waterways, rugged mountains, forests, and fascinating towns reflecting Australia’s colonial heritage. The Hunter Valley is Australia’s oldest wine-producing area, with winemaking traditions dating back more than 150 years.

The valley houses some of Australia’s most famous wineries, including Tyrells, Lindemans and McGuigans, and is sprinkled with smaller, boutique vineyards. A mecca for wine enthusiasts over recent decades, the Hunter Valley also offers first-class cuisine, which has emerged to meet the exacting needs of those dedicated to good living. There are dozens of cosy guesthouses, villas, resorts, cabins and motels. Around here, you can take a horsedrawn carriage, soar in a hot-air balloon, tee off from world-class golf courses, or take a leisurely cycle through the rolling countryside.

North Queensland

Tropical North Queensland is home to many starkly different worlds, ranging from the dreamily beautiful coastline and islands to the rugged and dramatic tropics and outback. As gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the top of Australia, and a portal to its red interior, it will open your eyes. Palm Cove, one of the prettiest beach villages in the area, is only 20 minutes north of Cairns and is rapidly becoming Australia’s finest Spa destination.

Port Douglas, once a small vacation village on Four mile Beach 1 hour north of Cairns, is now a bustling gateway to the Barrier Reef and Daintree National Park. At either one you will find the perfect getaway to just dig your toes into the sand and relax, or take any one of a number of exciting tours out into the Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation, or sail out to the Great Barrier Reef for some amazing snorkeling and diving.

Melbourne

The capital of Victoria and Australia’s second-largest metropolis, Melbourne is a city of style, of Victorian architecture, trams, fashion, food, theatres, art galleries, and leafy gardens. Of all Australia’s cities, Melbourne is perhaps the most European in feel. Trams rattle through streets fronted by stern Victorian public buildings, while parks, outdoor cafes and restaurants lend it a Mediterranean air. The city offers easy access to the Victorian Alps and the Grampians, and fabulous coastal scenery. It’s not far either to desert plateaus, fertile river valleys, vineyards, historic goldfield country, and untouched rainforests.

Yarra Valley & Phillip Island – Near Melbourne

Within an hour or so of Melbourne are a range of places well-worth exploring. Among them are the Macedon Ranges – Australia’s spa capital – where you’ll find sumptuous food and wine, and world-renowned mineral springs. Framed by the majestic mountains of the Great Dividing Range, the Yarra Valley’s wineries stretch across an expansive and fertile valley creating a panorama of unparalleled beauty. With over 2,500 hectares of vines and more than 40 wineries, it is one of the premium wine regions in Australia. Bird life and marsupials are plentiful as well. A Yarra Valley highlight is Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary, which houses probably the largest collection of Australian wildlife in the country. Nearby too is the Mornington Peninsula, with lush, beautiful coast scenery and boutique wineries, and Phillip Island off its coast, home to colonies of Fairy Penguins that come ashore every evening.

Uluru “Ayer’s Rock”

The world largest monolith stuns people with its majesty. Yet the sense of mystery of Uluru, or Ayers Rock, is greater still. Here, you can immerse yourself in the timeless landscape of one of the world’s most beautiful natural wonders. With over 65 tours, local activities and attractions within the Resort and the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, your days will be action-packed. Ride a camel across the desert dunes. Hop on a Harley, or embark on a base walk of Uluru (Ayers Rock). Uluru, which belongs to the Anangu Aboriginal people, changes colour in different lights, particularly at sunrise and sunset. For an unforgettable experience, take part in the Sounds of Silence – an unforgettable dining experience in the heart of the Outback overlooking Uluru, under a sky full of stars.

Rainforest

One of the largest rainforest wilderness areas in Australia centres on the Daintree River valley. World Heritage reef and rainforest come together along this section of coast – nowhere else are these two natural wonders seen side by side. A naturalist’s paradise, the region is recognised for its superb wildlife, and eco-tourism operators provide itineraries offering fascinating insights into the creatures that inhabit this remote and beautiful river-system.

The Great Barrier Reef Islands

The Great Barrier Reef, a network of 2,900 coral reefs and more than 1000 islands stretches for 2000 kilometres off the coast of north Queensland. As well as being a World Heritage listed treasure, its islands topped with pristine rainforest, white beaches and fringed with coral gardens create a pleasure playground. People often marvel that the attractions of the islands can be so diverse: simply, there seems to be an island to suit every interest! And they are readily accessible from so many mainland points. You can reach coral sites by air and water taxi, and scuba dive or snorkel. Comfortable accommodation is available on secluded islands.

The Queensland Outback

This land between the Great Dividing Range and the Northern Territory is the outback of Australian song and story. Drive or train through it to absorb the drama of its landscape and crocodile-filled rivers; feel the history of its abandoned goldfields.

Darwin & Kakadu National Park

Darwin, capital of the Northern Territory and the Top End, is a delightful surprise. The vibrant waterfront city offers visitors a cosmopolitan blend of urban delights amid luxuriant tropical scenery. Darwin sits on a harbour twice the size of Sydney harbour and overlooks the Arafura Sea, offering an array of waterfront delights including superb dining, cruising, or wreck-diving.

Closer to Asia than Sydney, it has the vigour and diversity you would expect of a city that is home to 50 ethnic groups. Along with Aboriginal culture, these influences help mould a unique restaurant, market and cultural scene. It also acts as a gateway to other attractions, including Kakadu National Park, a scene of spectacular terrain and a wealth of Aboriginal culture. Sinister crocodiles, pink cockatoos, majestic brolgas… the Darwin region houses an incredible diversity of wildlife, and some 20 national parks and reserves offer the opportunity to explore dramatic beauty, wildlife and Aboriginal culture.

Ghan Railroad

The Ghan. It’s an odd name for a train but in Australian history it is a living legend. Boarding The Ghan in Adelaide or Darwin, experience one of the most fascinating great train journeys of the world. Connections are available on the Indian Pacific and The Overland for guests travelling to or from Sydney and Melbourne. Enjoy 2 nights aboard this great train in either direction. Marvel at the spectacular Australian landscapes from fertile countryside surrounding Adelaide to the rusty hues of the Red Centre, onto the tropical splendour of the Top End. The Ghan is the ultimate journey through the heart of the continent.

Great Ocean Road

One of the world’s most spectacular coastal drives, the Great Ocean Road winds along beside quiet bays, pounding surf beaches, tranquil rainforests, caves, gorges and blowholes, and starkly beautiful columns of rock set in the ocean. Stretching for some 106 kilometres, the route also takes in historic shipwreck sites and plenty of wildlife. In winter, you can watch southern right whales from a viewing platform on Logan’s Beach, Warrnambool, as they migrate there to give birth. Seal colonies and fairy penguin rookeries are also located around the coast, while kangaroos, birds and smaller marsupials inhabit the area’s grasslands and forests. Gorgeous beaches line the coastal road offering both good family bathing spots and some of the world’s best surf.

Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island is fresh air, pristine beaches and dramatic scenery. It’s also one of the best places in Australia to see wildlife in the wild. Look up and see koalas and flocks of birds. Look down and see kangaroos, wallabies, goannas, echidnas, possums and platypus. Along the coast dolphin and seals frolic, little penguins come to roost at night and you can walk among sea lions. Cycling, diving, farming, walking, four-wheel drive tours and fishing all adhere to the rules of eco-friendly treatment. Walk close to wildlife. And when you get hungry, enjoy a diverse menu of naturally fresh seafood, honey, cheeses with home-grown wine.

Tasmania

Tasmania is an island of spectacular alpine and coastal scenery, diverse, ancient landscapes and plant life all in a temperate island climate. It is also a haven to some the most appealing animals and birds – from the Tasmanian devil, the spotted-tail quoll to the orange-bellied parrot and the forty-spotted pardelote. Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, a World Heritage area, is a vast alpine region of wild and stunning beauty, with ancient forests and heaths. Craggy pink granite peaks, spectacular white beaches, turquoise ocean, wetlands, heath lands, coastal dunes and swathes of eucalyptus forest all make Freycinet National Park one of Tasmania’s most stunning. Dolphins and seals play off the coast, whales cruise by, and birds flutter in their thousands. And when you’re hungry, the freshest local ingredients, from strawberries and cheese to seafood and prime beef, make east-coast dining legendary. Vines grow in tidy lines on hills sloping to the water, the grapes ripened by autumn sunshine that adds unique cool-climate complexities to the flavour of the wines.

Hobart, the capital city, is your introduction to Australia’s lush island state. The Derwent River and mighty Mt Wellington frame this small historic capital. The south is a region of vineyards, fertile valleys, winding waterways and historic sites and villages. From Launceston, the island’s second major city, the North East area covers dark green forests, ancient mountain peaks, fields of summer lavender, vineyards, tiny villages, national parks and walking tracks along unspoiled beaches as far as you can see.

 

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