Venture down under, and you’ll discover that Australia is so much more than a sun-drenched convict island.From diverse landscapes to a profound Indigenous cultural history, unique native animals and friendly locals this great southern land needs no introduction, but in case you need a bit more incentive to fly halfway around the world here are 16 reasons why you need to visit Australia at least once in your lifetime.
Great Barrier Reef
Visible from space, the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest living organism stretching 344,400 square kilometres – roughly the size of 70 million football fields. One of the seven natural wonders of the world, the reef comprises 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands. The Great Barrier Reef is home to 1,500 different species of fish as well as mammals, reptiles, and birds which collectively form one of the most intricate ecosystems in the world.
It contains the world’s most livable city
For six years in a row, the prestigious Economist Intelligence Unit’s Liveability Index has rated Melbourne as the world’s most liveable city, scoring highly in education, health care, infrastructure, research and development, tourism, entertainment and sport. Melbourne is also known as a leading financial city in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia’s culture and sporting capital and is recognised as a UNESCO City of Literature.
The impressive native wildlife
Australia’s geographical isolation has allowed for some fascinating feats of animal evolution and the best part is that you don’t even have to visit a zoo to see these unique native creatures. Kangaroos and emus are commonly seen in the outback, koalas are found in eucalyptus trees and on Rottnest Island, you can meet the meet the smiling quokka. From elusive marsupials to reptiles and oceans teaming with sea life Australia is paradise for animal lovers.
The Indigenous Civilization of Australia is the oldest continuous culture in the world, dating back between 61,000 and 52,000 years ago. Central to Aboriginal ceremonies and traditions is the spiritual connection to the land and the belief of the Dreamtime. Today, Ingenious Culture is preserved through sacred sites, music and art and there are a number of tours and experiences which provide an insight into Aboriginal history.
Located in Port Jackson, Sydney Harbour is a postcard perfect waterway brimming with life. Home to the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House the picturesque harbour is the starting point for the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. For the best views of the harbour catch a ferry from Circular Quay or for a bird’s eye view you can climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Australia has more than 500 national parks covering in excess of 28 million hectares which accounts for four per cent of the total land area with a further six percent designated to nature parks, state forests and conservation reserves. Ranging from desert, alpine and marine areas Australia’s national parks include the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Kakadu, Uluru-Kata Tjuta and Purnululu National Parks as well as Flinders Ranges, the Royal National Park, and the Daintree National Park.
Uluru, also known as Ayres Rock is a 600 million-year-old sandstone rock formation located in the Northern Territory. Sacred in the eyes of Indigenous Australians, Uluru emits an atmospheric and spiritual aura and standing its golden shadow will leave you with great admiration for Australia’s natural landscape. Taller than the Eiffel Tower, Uluru stands 348 metres tall and has a circumference of 9.4 kilometres. 10,000 Beaches Surrounded by the Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans as well as the Timor, Tasman and Coral Seas Australia has 34,218 kilometres of scenic coastline, so it’s no surprise that Aussies love the beach.
From Sydney’s Bondi Beach to the most impeccably pristine stretch of sand in the world Whitehaven Beach, Australia has over 10,000 sandy strands to choose from. In fact, Australia has so many beaches it would take approximately 27 years to visit them all. Big things There are an estimated 150 larger than-life roadside attractions dotted across every state and territory in Australia. The first was the Big Scotsman, built-in 1963 in Medindie, Adelaide. Among the most popular of the novelty, attractions are the Big Banana, the Big Merino, the Big Golden Guitar, the Big Pineapple and the Big Ned Kelly. Amazing architecture While Australia may be known for its diverse natural landscape the architectural feats colouring Australian city skylines are worth noting.
Arguably the most recognisable building in Australia is the UNESCO World Heritagelisted Sydney Opera House which overlooks the Sydney Harbour Bridge. In Melbourne, The Royal Exhibition Building is also UNESCO World Heritagelisted and the controversial Federation Square is often a talking point. One of the most significant buildings is Parliament House, Canberra while the tallest is Q1 in Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast. Dreamy islands Many people aren’t aware that Australia is the world’s largest island; however, the country is surrounded by a further 8,222 islands many of which are idyllic vacation havens.
Among the best islands Australia has to offer is Lord Howe Island, Kangaroo Island, Hamilton Island, Fraser Island, Rottnest Island and Phillip Island. The Aussie attitude With a laid back ‘she’ll be right’ attitude Australians or Aussies are a friendly, down-to-earth bunch. As a widely multi-cultural country you will have no trouble fitting in, even if you don’t quite understand the local lingo. Aussies are mad about sports, barbecues and beer and have their own irreverent sense of humour. Above all Australians value mateship which embodies loyalty and friendship.
Dedication to sports From cricket to AFL, rugby, soccer and netball Australians are fanatical about sports. The most popular sporting events include the Australian Open, Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix, The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, The Moto GP, Spring Racing Carnival and the AFL Grand Final just to name a few. In fact, the AFL Grand Final and Royal Melbourne Cup are so popular that public holidays are observed to mark the occasion. Australia has also hosted the Olympics twice, first in Melbourne in 1956 and Sydney in 2000, as well as the Commonwealth Games on four occasions.
The wineries Wine production in Australia began with the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 and since then Australian’s have planted more than 100 different grape varieties across 65 designated wine regions. Wine connoisseurs and foodies flock to regions including the Barossa Valley, Hunter Valley and Yarra Valley for a local drop of wine. The most significant varieties are Shiraz, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon blanc, Sémillon, Pinot Noir and Riesling. Adrenaline rush Adrenaline junkies will be thrilled to find out that Australia is loaded with heart-racing experiences.
Scale the Sydney Harbour Bridge, dive with Great White Sharks in Port Lincoln or even take the plunge with monster crocodiles in Darwin. Those with a need for speed can race in a V8 and you can become a real Maverick jet fighter pilot. If you’re after an exhilarating experience there’s no limit to what you can do down under. Great Outback Australia is the sixth-largest country in the world, and although it may be the smallest continent, it is the biggest island and with 80% of the population concentrated on the coast, the central parts of the country are relatively uninhabited and the landscape unspoiled. Known as the red centre, the Outback defines Australian identity with its harsh climate and spectacular scenery.