Australia is both the world’s largest island and the world’s smallest continent. Surrounded by the Indian and Pacific oceans, it is one of the world’s most highly urbanized countries and well-known for its amazing landscapes, ancient cultures, natural wonders, wide-open spaces, stunning beaches and lively cities. It caters to all travel styles, from honeymooning newlyweds, to families on fun-filled vacations, to friends seeking outdoor adventure, to single travelers. Because Australia is about the size of the U.S., getting around via air travel is the most efficient way; however, taking a train throughout Australia can be a lovely option, depending on your time schedule.
Shel Hansen, Premier Aussie Specialist at Travel Leaders/Goli’s Avenues of Travel (and seven-time Aussie visitor) recommends first-time travelers allow a minimum of two weeks and plan to visit Sydney, Cairns and Melbourne. When in Sydney, a morning coffee cruise (on Sydney’s harbor) is a sure way to start your day; then experience Taronga Zoo to see the native animals and have your picture taken with a koala. Stroll The Rocks area, watch the ships and small boats enter and leave the harbor, and watch the Sydney Harbour Bridge climbers while taking in a pre-show drink and niblets at the Opera Bar with its fantastic views of the bridge in the background. Enjoy Bennelong for an iconic fine dining experience. Head up to Woolloomooloo and try one of the amazing restaurants overlooking the harbor there as well.
The largest natural feature on earth, the Great Barrier Reef, stretches about 1,400 miles along the northeast coast of Australia with more than 2,900 reefs, 400 types of coral, 1500 species of fish and 215 species of birds, providing some of the best diving, snorkeling and bird-watching in the world.
In Melbourne, enjoy the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant for what is not only a culinary delight but a trip into a little piece of the state of Victoria’s history. Enjoy quality wines, taste pastries, shop and sample local coffees.
Shel vividly remembers her first visit to Australia in 1999, as well as her first visit to Dundee’s Restaurant in Cairns. She tried the sample plate, which had a selection of Australian delicacies including crocodile, kangaroo, camel, emu and barramundi. “Crikey, that was good tucker!” (A statement that is very much Aussie slang!) Some foods the locals love include vegemite, bush tucker, meat pies, potato cakes and Tim Tams, plus lamingtons for dessert.
As Shel will attest, there is no better place for adventure and food than Australia.
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