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Paradise found: in the fragrance of a lei, the taste of fresh mango sorbet and stunning scenery.
Australia is a fascinating and adventurous country filled with vast distances, interesting wildlife, hiking in rugged terrain, spectacular beaches, large cities with amazing structures and attractions, and a chance to visit the Aboriginal Australians and experience their myths, dances, music, fish catching, spear crafting and culture.
One of Australia's main attractions is the Sydney Opera House, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most photographed subject in Sydney. Situated on the tip of one of the world's prettiest harbors, it is considered to be one of the wonders of the modern world with its unique architecture and amazing engineering that resulted in what resembles shimmering sails covered in granite tiles imported from Sweden. Started in 1959 with an estimated cost of $7 million, the building ended up costing $102 million. As part of the first Vivid Light Festival in 2009, the largest sound and light show in the Southern Hemisphere, the sails of the Opera House were illuminated in an array of images, shapes and colors. Having just celebrated its 40th birthday from the time of its opening by Queen Elizabeth II on October 20, 1973, the original dedication was complete with fireworks and a performance of Beethoven's Symphony No 9 and was broadcast to approximately 3 million television viewers worldwide.
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Fine food, great wine, a sense of history and the good life can all be found in elegant Adelaide – capital of South Australia and home to more than a million people. Adelaide is also wine capital of the entire country. Experience Victorian, Edwardian and modern architecture and history by taking one of our Historical Walking Trails. Shop at leisure in Rundle Mall, take in the enticing tastes and smells of the Central Market and enjoy the stimulating nightlife of Hindley Street and West End. Visit the tranquil Adelaide Hills to the east, while a selection of superb sandy beaches, including Glenelg, await to the west. North Terrace is a boulevard of galleries and museums, flowing into the serene, green Botanic Gardens. Rundle Street runs parallel, lined with cafes, bars and restaurants – the bustling hub of the East End.
It's the heart of Australia, capital of the Outback and most romantic country town in the world. It's where people race camels and hold holiday regattas in dry river beds. The town is a self-contained business community catering for its population and the many thousands of annual visitors - who can experience Alice Springs Desert Park, Aboriginal culture, the world's largest classroom - the School of the Air - and is the perfect place to start touring the Eastern and Western MacDonnell Ranges, famous Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) and Kings Canyon. The superb desert climate allows for cycling and walking along an extensive network of tracks.
Brisbane is Australia’s third-largest city and Queensland's capital. Gardens, parklands and flowering trees border the avenues, and the parliament buildings and Botanic Gardens can be found here. Beaches lure residents and visitors to the Sunshine Coast north and the Gold Coast south of Brisbane. In the foothills of the Taylor and D’Aguilar ranges, some of Australia’s most beautiful homes have been built to take advantage of the setting and tropical surroundings. Most notable among architectural landmarks is City Hall – one of Brisbane’s showplaces. City Plaza, an impressive complex of specialty shops and open-air cafés, is in the heart of Brisbane. Visit Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Mount Coot-tha Forest Park and Moreton Bay district. Other sites include John Oxley Memorial, Newstead Park, Miegunyah colonial architecture, and Queensland Art Gallery.
Cairns is the sunny garden city where the Great Barrier Reef meets the Wet Tropics Rainforest, mountains and the gulf savannah not too far away. The city's water front boasts a world class marina and wharf used by visiting cruise liners, yachts and tour vessels. Situated in the Northern end of Tropical Queensland Australia, it's a modern city with a good location to explore some of Australia's vast array of flora and fauna. With a magnificent Casino, Cairns is alive with more activities than a visitor will ever have time for. The principal attraction is the over 60 national parks from the wet tropical rain forests and lush tablelands to the truly wild Cape York Peninsula and the Great Barrier Reef.
Darwin in the upper half of the Northern Territory is isolated from the rest of the nation by thousands of miles of desert. This is Crocodile Dundee country, and Darwin is the frontier town. Visitors enjoy fine beaches and good art galleries. Local color can be experienced in numerous pubs reflecting the rough days when Darwin was a frontier town. The city also provides an ideal base from which to explore the crocodile-filled wetlands and the spectacular Kakadu World Heritage Park. Other attractions include: Northern Territory Museum featuring Aboriginal artifacts and a collection of other unique exhibits, and the lovely landscaped Botanical which contain over 400 species of native plants and flowers.
Melbourne is famous for its mix of the old and the new. Historic buildings sit side by side with modern architecture, creating a unique and beautiful cityscape. Historic buildings, including public spaces such as the Melbourne Town Hall and General Post Office, and restored theatres such as the Princess and Regent, are located right in the heart of the city.
In the Far West of Down Under, the twin cities of Fremantle and Perth are like David and Goliath. Fremantle is a quaint colonial town of terraced houses, and a bay that was heaven for America's Cup yachts. Perth has bloomed into a sky-scrapered metropolis, though life remains peaceful on "Millionaires' Row," and in flower-filled Kings Park.
Sydney is the heart and state capital of New South Wales. A major world port, the city seems to stretch as far as can be seen to the west, north and south over 670 square miles. Where Sydney’s metropolis ends, the open bush of New South Wales begins. Like many major cities, Sydney is a contrast of old and new with soaring glass and steel skyscrapers and the dramatic Opera House and interesting historical buildings. One of Sydney’s best viewing spots, the 48-story Australia Square Tower, is where the entire city can be seen in convenient orientation. Other sights include Cadman’s Cottage, the oldest surviving house in Australia; Royal Botanical Gardens, boasting a magnificent collection of South Pacific plant life; Art Gallery of New South Wales, a short walk from the center, the art gallery has an excellent permanent display of Australian, European, Japanese and tribal art.
Tasmania is an island located 150 miles off the southeast mainland Australia. Encircled by the Southern Ocean, Tasman Sea and Bass Strait, Tasmania breathes the world’s cleanest air and enjoys pure water and fertile soils – part of what brings its wine and food world-wide acclaim. It is an island of dramatic coastlines, rugged mountains, tall forests and sparkling highland lakes. Over a third is reserved in the National Parks Network and Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, a refuge and habitat for rare plants and animals. The island’s European heritage dates back to the early 1800s. Tasmania also has a vibrant cultural life, boasting one of the best small orchestras in the world and literary authors such as Richard Flanagan, winner of the 2002 Commonwealth Writer's Prize. Wilderness, heritage, art & culture, wine & food – they’re waiting for you in Tasmania.
The 70 islands of the Whitsunday group are some of the best known and most developed Barrier Reef islands and are scattered on both sides of the Whitsunday Passage, within 31 miles of Shute Harbour. The actual Great Barrier Reef is at least 37 miles out from here, with Hook Reef at the nearest part of the reef. Many of the Whitsunday islands are National Parks. The large block of mainland national park opposite them, stretching from Airlie Beach south to Conway, is known as the Conway Range National Park.
The Great Barrier Reef
From the exclusivity and luxury of five-star resorts to a ‘back-to-nature’ style of designer-inspired safari tents, the diverse array of islands will compliment your very own Great Barrier Reef experience. The different islands along the vast stretch of reef are there to complement your ideal Great Barrier Reef experience: ecological, luxurious, natural, secluded. From these islands you can choose how you connect with the Reef. Dive into it, snorkel through it, sail on it, or fish it. Swim with turtles or watch whales play. Whichever island you choose, you’ll have an experience that will live with you forever.
A 40 minute chartered seaplane or helicopter flight from Cairns, this island offers rainforests, pristine white sand and the clear blue waters of the Coral Sea. Bedarra is Australia’s most exclusive island, with a resort designed to blend in with the natural surroundings and caters to only 32 guests at a time. When it comes to relaxing in glorious seclusion, Bedarra Island is the perfect retreat.
Dunk Island is made up of golden sands, palm-lined beaches, tranquil waters and a thriving rainforest. With a huge variety of activities, facilities and experiences to choose from, you’ll be tempted to extend your stay indefinitely. Located in a national park, Dunk Island Resort is a 25 minute QuickCat transfer from Mission Beach and is within easy reach of the Great Barrier Reef.
Lizard Island is a ruggedly beautiful island on the northern Great Barrier Reef. Surrounded by coral, ribbon and lagoon reefs, Lizard boasts 24 beaches. One of Australia’s northernmost island resorts, design works in harmony with the island’s spectacular natural beauty. This premium property caters to just 80 guests and can be accessed via daily flights from Cairns.
Surrounded by national park amidst the Great Barrier Reef, Orpheus Island is a nature lover’s paradise. Strictly limited to 42 guests, Orpheus provides the ultimate hideaway for its maximum 42 guests, who fly in from Cairns on the Orpheus Seaplane. The magnificence of this island with its beautiful reefs, pristine beaches and tropical rainforests are a stunning backdrop to an experience in tropical food, wine and privacy like no other.
Thala Beach Lodge
Located an hours drive north of Cairns, this family operated eco-luxury resort sits spectacularly atop a headland with breathtaking views of untouched coastline. An island on the mainland! Bungalows are built on stilts up in the treetops and birds and possums are regular visitors on the balconies. A short hike through the rainforest takes you down to the resort’s secluded beach and a coconut plantation.
Located right on the Great Barrier Reef, Heron Island is a place of stunning natural beauty with sugar-white sands, crystal clear waters and acres of brilliant coral with colorful marine life. At this World Heritage-listed marine national park, all flora and fauna is protected, so the island is a nature lover’s paradise. Helicopters and launches depart daily for Heron Island from Gladstone.
Australia’s most celebrated private island, Hayman is the most northerly of the Whitsunday Islands in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef. Seaplanes, launches and helicopters transfer guests from Hamilton Island, and they are invited into a world of privacy, luxury, relaxation, fine wines and dining and breathtaking scenery. A member of The Leading Hotels of the World, this idyllic retreat has won a host of prestigious local and international awards.
In the heart of the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsunday Islands, Hamilton Island offers an experience like no other: brilliant beaches, stunning coral reefs, unique flora and fauna, fine food and wines, and a multitude of activities. A wide range of accommodation options vary from luxurious and intimate beachfront settings to sweeping views of the Coral Sea.
Top â€śMust-Doâ€ť List
Australia’s cities have so much to do, it’s hard to find where to start. Here is our list of the top “Must Do’s” in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
- Climb to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge (try it at sunset!).
- Ride the ferry across Sydney Harbour to Manly Beach.
- Take a seaplane ride from Rose Bay for unforgettable views of the city.
- Stop for lunch or a drink in a historic pub in the Rocks... and meet some locals!
- Tour behind the scenes inside the Sydney Opera House.
- Soar above the city in a hot air balloon.
- Enjoy a performance at the Victorian Arts Center.
- Savor delicious Italian fare on Lygon Street.
- Cheer on a cricket or Aussie Rules football team at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
- Shop for antiques on High Street in Armadale.
- Splash your way through Australia’s only inner-city beach at South Bank Parklands.
- Sit atop the ancient Kangaroo Point Cliffs in the early morning for magnificent views of the city.
- Cuddle koalas at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.
- Take a stroll or train ride through the world’s largest urban subtropical garden at Roma Street Parkland.
- Tee off at the Greg Norman Brookwater Golf Course.