Washed by the Indian and South Pacific Oceans, the island continent of Australia encompasses six states. Most Australians live on the fertile east coast, fringed with seaside towns and national parks. They run from subtropical Queensland through the rolling farmland of New South Wales to Victoria, the smallest mainland state. Heading inland to the Red Centre deserts, the sparsely populated Outback takes over, with Indonesia a near neighbour to the Northern Territory. Huge distances separate arid South Australia and Western Australia from the east coast. Tasmania is an island but Australians the country over are united by their spirited national character and relaxed way of life.
Most holidays in Australia start on the east coast, in the dazzling harbour city of Sydney or vibrant riverside Queensland capital, Brisbane. National museums and institutions cluster in Australia’s purpose-built capital city, Canberra. Further south in Victoria, European- style Melbourne flaunts a passion for the arts, dining and sport. In South Australia, the fine wines and produce of the lush Barossa Valley make Adelaide a food-lover’s destination, and colonial history is a feature of Hobart, capital of Australia’s island state Tasmania. On the west coast, the glittering skyscrapers of Perth are surrounded by beaches and yachting harbours lapped by the Indian Ocean.
A golden ribbon of beaches skirts the Australian coastline, from the surfing hot spots of Margaret River in Western Australia to Torquay in Victoria and iconic Bondi in Sydney. On the east coast, beach resorts like Byron Bay in New South Wales and Noosa in Queensland set the standard for laidback coastal living. The long white stretch of Cable Beach in Western Australia wins accolades from beach lovers. A gentle bushwalk leads to the tucked-away curve of Tasmania’s world- renowned Wineglass Bay.
Countrywide, Australia’s reputation for superb dining rests on local produce like Sydney oysters and east coast prawns. In the multicultural capitals, the Asian flavours of Malaysian laksa noodles or Thai tom yum soup share the menu with spaghetti and sushi. Australian hotels showcase Modern Australian cuisine, and acclaimed winery restaurants around the nation are the regional stars. Head to Victoria’s Yarra Valley, the Hunter Valley in New South Wales and Tamar Valley in Tasmania to pair shiraz and cabernet sauvignon wines with seasonal tasting menus.
Snorkel the corals of the Great Barrier Reef off Queensland and see friendly dolphins come to play at Monkey Mia in Western Australia. In the Northern Territory, the red rock of Uluru (Ayers Rock) glows in the setting sun and myriad birds fly over the Kakadu wetlands. Seasonal wildflowers turn Western Australia into a sea of color. Winter snow bunnies hit the slopes on the Australian Alps running through New South Wales and Victoria.