Australia Travel Guide
Australia despite being remote to much of the world’s population still doesn’t have trouble attracting in tourists and when you get here it isn’t hard to see why with one of the highest standards of living in the world, beautiful landscapes, great weather, great beaches and warm welcoming people.
Its easy to assume that Australia has a simple culture that is a carbon copy of the British culture from which most early settlers came, with many more recent arrivals to the country from Asia though as well as the Aborigines with their own history, culture and traditions Australia is a melting pot and each state has its own feel and features.
Cities to Visit in Australia
Places to Visit in Australia
Beaches to visit in Australia
Things to do in Australia
Adventure sports in Australia
Top Camping and Hiking areas
Hotels to Stay in Australia
Resorts to Stay in Australia
Australia Travel Tips
Festivals in Australia
Shopping destinations in Australia
Restaurants in Australia
Fast Food Joints in Australia
Geography, Climate, History, Economy, Politics, Culture, Holidays
How to get there, in and around
Don’t make the mistake then of only visiting one city and thinking that you’ve seen Australia: get around the vast country and don’t just stay to the cities but see some of Australia’s diverse unspoilt nature from the red heart to rainforests and Tasmania with its mountainous forested landscape.
Cities to Visit in Australia
Hobart – A state capital but much smaller than the mainland state capitals the city of around 250,000 people stretches along the Derwent river and its cooler climate gives it a different feel to other Austrialian cities.
Perth – A long way from any other big cities Perth is a self contained city stretching along a beautiful coast with everything you need here and a number of distinct areas including Fremantle which is a city in its own right.
Melbourne – Australia’s second biggest city after Sydney the two cities have a major rivalry and though it is generally accepted that Melbourne is the cultural and historical centre of the country Sydney’s residents would disagree.
Canberra – A purpose built capital with less history than Melbourne or Sydney, you shouldn’t ignore the city though that has many cultural events as well as being home to national museums and Australia’s National War Memorial.
Cairns – With only 140,000 permanent residents people from across Australia and other countries, including the Japanese and English especially, flock here for the year round sunshine, surrounding rainforests, lagoons and salt lakes, beautiful coast and the Great Barrier Reef.
Darwin – A very cosmopolitan city and traditionally the entry point to Australia for Asian immigrants Darwin is a fantastic city but some people find the heat just too much in the dry season and storms and cyclones too extreme in the wet season.
Brisbane – Brisbane has grown quickly in recent years and though the surrounding area is dominated by industry and mining the city remains a clean and attractive modern location with a thriving business heart and a climate that isn’t too hot, too wet or too cold all year round.
Sydney – Everyone should visit Sydney at some point in their lives, one of the world’s greatest cities. It is Australia’s oldest and largest but the amount of things to do and see are what make it such a don’t miss destination from the opera house and Sydney Harbour Bridge to more hidden gems like the Botanical Gardens and preserved early settlement.
Adelaide – In the centre of Australia’s wine regions and with some beaches and parks nearby the city itself has a lot to offer, its famous Fringe festival, great wining and dining experiences and much more.
Alice Springs – In the heart of the Australian continent and a base for pioneers pushing on into the interior Alice Springs still has that pioneering feel; arguably older than Sydney Alice Springs was originally an Aborigine settlement called Mparntwe.
Newcastle – Australia’s second oldest sea port and still an important port today Newcastle in New South Wales is wedged between great beaches and beautiful mountains.
Ayers Rock – Ayers Rock or Uluru is a sacred place to the Aborigines and arriving there and seeing its scale for the first time you will see why and why people make the pilgrimage to the centre of the continent to visit it.
Sydney Harbour Bridge – Sydney Harbour Bridge should ideally be seen from a distance but then cross the bridge too to take it in close up and enjoy the view of the natural harbour.
Rainforest – Australia has tropical, sub-tropical and temperate rainforests, each are unique with their own flora and fauna
Eucalyptus Groves – It is generally going to be true that it isn’t the trees you come to see but their inhabitants the Koalas; they don’t eat all types of Eucalyptus though and a Koala reserve such as the one in Brisbane is the best place to see them.
Mountains of Tasmania – Mt Ossa is the highest of Tasmania’s mountains and a popular place to aim for on a hiking trip through Tasmania’s forest covered mountains.
Hamilton Island – One of the Whitsunday islands and a real island paradise within the great barrier reef, the island itself has plenty of hotels and facilities and is big enough to allow you to explore the unspoilt south of the island.
Melbourne Cricket Ground – Australia’s most famous cricket ground and home to Melbourne Cricket Club try and catch a match.
Great Barrier Reef – The great barrier reef is the world’s largest coral formation and is just off the coast of north east Australia, best explored under the water snorkelling or scuba diving.
Sydney Opera House – One of the world’s most iconic buildings great to see from outside but why not catch an opera or classical music here.
Blue Mountains – Very easy to reach from Sydney being found just to the west of the city, the Blue Mountains are covered by three national parks and cover a wide area; the further you get from Sydney the quieter it gets of course.
Gold Coast – The Gold Coast city is actually a string of resorts and towns alogn the coast close to Brisbane but the coast is best known for surfing and watersports with Surfer’s paradise being one of the most iconic resorts.
Gunbarrel Highway – Mostly built in the 50s and 60s this highway opened up previously cut off parts of Australia’s interior though even now as you drive the track from Western Australia to the red heart of Australia you can go hundreds of miles without seeing any other signs of civilisation.
The Gold Coast’s Theme Parks – These include water parks like Wet n’ Wild, Seaworld which includes sharks, dolphins and polar bears and amusement parks like Dreamworld and Warner Bros with various rides and other attractions.
Bathurst – Australia’s most famous racing circuit in New South Wales, races include the famous Bathurst 1000 touring car race, or tin tops as their known, this is Australia’s answer to Daytona.
Beaches to visit in Australia
Bondi Beach, New South Wales – Australia’s famous Bondi beach is as much about the lifestyle as the surfing and everyone wants to come here to be seen on the closest beach to central Sydney.
Surfer’s Paradise, Gold Coast, Queensland – Part of greater Brisbane the popular resort is great for surfing though people come here to simply relax on the beach during the day and then party at night as well.
Bell’s Beach, Victoria – More of a serious surfers’ beach its fairly out of the way location means few come here just to sunbathe.
Cottesloe Beach, Perth, Western Australia – One of Perth’s best beaches with a wide range of activities on offer, surfing of course as well as snorkelling, fishing and its popular for swimming too.
Four mile Beach, Queensland – Close to Port Douglas this is a great beach to walk along with fine soft sand; look out to the coral sea where the Great Barrier Reef lies.
Main Beach, Gold Coast, Queensland – This beach almost feels like the city around it is overflowing on to it and the beach is lined with bars, restaurants and clubs with the beach staying busy with revellers at night.
Manly Beach, New South Wales – Reached by ferry across Sydney Harbour there’s a feeling of getting away from it all though this is still a beach with great facilities and schools for almost every water sport going.
Ninety Mile Beach, Victoria – A popular place for fishing as well as other sports, ninety mile beach is great for walking both on the beach and the sand dunes behind: where sandboarding is another popular activity.
Noosa Heads, Queensland – Home to the Noosa festival of surfing there are a number of small beaches along the coast here in small bays.
Palm Beach, New South Wales – Close to Sydney, while Bondi beach is for everyone Palm beach is a little more exclusive and is surrounded by suburbs where some of Sydney’s richest residents live in some of the city’s biggest mansions.
Scarborough,Western Australia – On the outskirts of Perth Scarborough’s beaches are known for being relaxed and laid back.
WhiteHaven Beach – On Whitsunday island there is nothing to befoul this beautiful white beach on what is an uninhabited island, reached by ferries. The necessary trip to get here means it stays quiet though and the four mile stretch of beach means you can find your own quiet slice of paradise.
Things to do in Australia
Hike – Whether you prefer to go walkabout on the relatively flat desserts or get into the mountains there are plenty of hiking opportunities across Australia’s mainland, though Tasmania is still one of the most popular destinations.
Drive – Australia is big but this doesn’t stop visitors hiring a vehicle, often a camper, and heading along some of Australia’s long straight highways.
Swim – It could be indoors or outdoors swimming is a national pastime and there are some great natural spots such as lagoons, thermal pools, rivers, lakes and of course the sea.
Shop – Australians like to shop and most towns and suburbs have a mall plus the big cities offer luxury shopping from the world’s best brands and fantastic local designers too.
Party – Australians like a bit of a party and will take any excuse for a celebration, though sporting success is among the most passionately enjoyed.
Sail – Some of the most beautiful points along the Australian coast are best viewed from the sea and sailing up the coast is popular with many areas, including around Sydney, having quiet bays to weigh anchor and take a dip.
Watch some Sport – Live if possible and if not in a bar with local fans, Australians are true sports fans and most take part in sports regularly as well.
Listen to some live music – Australians enjoy a wide range of different music types from around the world and have many big festivals with international artists as well as local artists playing in bars and other venues.
Meet – Meet the Australians, the every day people whose country you have come to experience, the Australians are very welcoming and a bar is a great place to meet new people.
Eat and Drink – Australians are known more for their wine than their food but the range of different peoples who have come to the country means that there is a good range of food types wherever you go: Australian delicacies include Kangaroo, Crocodile, and Emu.
Adventure sports in Australia
Climbing – The Blue Mountains near Sydney are popular for climbing but there are locations across the country.
Windsurfing – Not as popular as surfing but a close second when it comes to watersports Australia has great conditions for the sport.
Mountain Biking – Either along trails, into the bush or on the mountains, with Tasmania being especially popular for tough climbs.
Bungee Jumping – Mainly setup for tourists bungee jumps are located across Australia and will make sure you don’t forget your trip.
Surfing – You might feel that you have to try surfing if you come to Australia, especially on Bondi beach, choose a beach or a day with conditions to match your skill though to make the most of it.
Scuba Diving – Scuba Diving the Great Barrier Reef takes you into an alien world with fantastic colours and sights that will see you totally lose track of time.
White Water Rafting – Baron River and the Russell River are just two popular spots for white water rafting down stream along with a skilled guide.
Zipline Canopy Tours – Usually on the edge of rainforests before they get just too dense these canopy tours show you a different part of the rainforest to what you would see from the ground and one of the best is close to Cairns.
Skydiving – See Australia from above, the coast close to the Great Barrier Reef being a popular spot as is close to Ayer’s Rock.
Kitesurfing – It may be best to take a course and this can take a little while to get the hang of but after a few hours you should be able to get going with this exhilarating sport.
Caving – The Wee Jaspar Caves near Canberra are among Australia’s most impressive with tiny gaps giving you access to impressive natural halls, fit for a mountain king.
Hang Gliding – Hang gliding, like skydiving, is great for seeing the topography or cities of Australia from the air: though hang gliding is a little more relaxed and can last longer too.
Sand Boarding – Surfing the dunes in Victoria or on Kangaroo Island is easy if you’re an accomplished snowboarder, if not then prepare to fall over a few times but its still great fun.
Top Camping and Hiking areas
Springlawn, Narawntapu National Park, Tasmania – It’s a shame to reduce this national park to just wombats but they are a big part of the attraction within this forested area where you can camp in a large clearing.
Booderee National Park, Jervis Bay, New South Wales – Camping is possible right by these pristine white beaches and you can sit up in summer and watch whales passing by; hike along the coast or through the forests which the beaches back on to.
Poeppel Corner, Simpson Desert National Park, Queensland – One for experienced hikers and campers able to take all they need with them and survive in these harsh and hot conditions.
Mt Field National Park, Tasmania – Fairly easy short hikes take you through the fern forests with their enormous swamp gum trees that tower like skyscrapers over 100 metres tall.
The Fortress, Grampians National Park, Victoria – The fortress is a camping ground giving great views along the Grampian mountains and the first stop on a popular three day hiking trail.
Kosciuszko National Park, New South Wales – One of Australia’s largest national parks you can camp pretty much where you like making it ideal for hiking where you don’t want to have to make it to a specific site each night.
The Grotto, Wyndham, Western Australia – Its hot up here in Wyndham and long hikes taking you too far from water aren’t advisable, the grotto has a water hole fed by a waterfall and is a good place to base yourselves from: you will want to take a dip to cool down quite regularly.
Hotels to Stay in Australia
Simpsons of Potts Point Hotel, 8 Challis Ave, Potts Point, Sydney, New South Wales 2011,
In a great location a luxury Boutique hotel with 12 rooms in a converted Victorian mansion.
The Langham, Melbourne, 1 Southgate Ave, Southbank, Melbourne, Victoria 3006,
A great 5 star in central Melbourne, popular with business travellers and tourists and with great facilities.
Snooze Inn, 383 St Pauls Terrace, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, Queensland 4006,
A little better than a hostel but still great value with clean and tidy, if quite small, rooms.
Moorings on Cavill Avenue 63 Cavill Ave, Surfers Paradise, Queensland 4217,
Geared towards tourists and family friendly this great value three star has a pool and a river front location.
Cairns Coconut Holiday Resort, 51 Anderson Road, Cairns, Queensland 4870,
A holiday park including self contained apartments but with a great restaurant on site so you don’t have to cook: you get your own outdoor space and use of a pool and great facilities for kids.
Clydesdale Manor, 292 Sandy Bay Road, Hobart, Tasmania 7005,
In a converted manor house close to Sandy Bay in Hobart the hotel is far enough from the city centre to give you some real peace and quiet.
Edge of the Forest, 25 Bussell Highway, Margaret River, Western Australia 6285,
Unsurprisingly a hotel on the edge of a forest a real get a way retreat with plenty of opportunities for walking nearby and a choice of rooms or suites.
Woodlands Bed and Breakfast, 348 Oxley Highway, Port Macquarie, New South Wales NSW 2444,
A popular stop off point for those heading along the coast on a road trip, book ahead if possible as the three rooms go fast.
Seymours on Lydiard, 302 Lydiard St., Ballarat, Victoria 3350,
A small but luxurious hotel with all the facilities you would expect from a much bigger city centre hotel.
Kingfisher Motel, 105 Merimbula Dr, Merimbula, New South Wales 2548,
The standard of motels in Australia vary greatly but can be really good as is the case here with clean and well-decorated rooms, pools outside and beautiful surroundings.
Resorts to Stay in Australia
Byron Bay, New South Wales – Important to the history of Australia James Cook used the bay as an anchorage and gave it its name; while here for the heritage you can also enjoy a number of cultural events such as the annual writers’ festival.
Main Beach, Gold Coast, Queensland – A popular resort for sun worshipers and surfers but things really hot up at night where the area comes alive with plenty of bars and clubs.
Kimberley, Tasmania – A spa resort based around the warm springs as Kimberly on Tasmania.
Port Douglas, Queensland – In northern Queensland this town’s tourists tend to be on the sea, in the sea or lazing close to the sea as it does get hot here meaning it can’t help but be a laid back sort of place.
Baird Bay, South Australia – Quiet and isolated Baird Bay is popular with naturalists and hikers but still brings in a lot of tourists who come to enjoy the rugged cliff lined coast and to watch the sea lion colony.
Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef – Not one for those with Herpetophobia this tiny granite island in the middle of the great barrier reef is the perfect place for scuba divers and snorkelers to use as a base to explore the reef with a luxurious resort on the north of the island.
Surfer’s Paradise, Gold Coast, Queensland – Known locally just as ‘Surfer’s’ this resort is about more than surfing, though most people do surf: its about the shopping, the restaurants and the nightlife too.
Kangaroo Bay, Tasmania – Tasmania hasn’t really had any resorts as such until the ongoing development of Kangaroo Bay, likely to be more popular with sailors than swimmers and surfers though with a yacht club recently finished.
Frazer Island, Queensland – The world’s largest sand island the existence of this island could be at risk if sea levels keep rising for now though you can take in rainforest, heath, and animals including kangaroos, wallabies and sea turtles.
Dundee Beach, Northern Territory – A tropical beach resort at a relaxed fishing town with plenty of campsites.
Gippsland, Victoria – Popular for getting away at the weekend with Melbourne residents there’s plenty to do though it’s quiet during the week outside of high summer.
Australia Travel Tips
Costs – Prices on food, drink, clothes and other essentials, including fuel, vary greatly between the major cities and populous areas and the remote areas away from the coast; if taking a road trip stock up before you go.
Solo travel – Australia is a country where solo travel is perfectly viable as long as you take sensible precautions, however if you are heading into remote and rural areas especially mountains or deserts don’t go alone and wait until you’ve made some friends who are happy to have you along.
Family travel – Australia is popular with backpackers who explore the entire country, with children in tow this becomes difficult but by hiring a car you can tour areas such as the coast between Melbourne and Sydney or along the gold coast in Queensland. You may get more out of your break staying in a child friendly resort though and many Australians holidays as families along the Queensland coast’s resorts.
Safe travel – As well as the normal precautions you’d take in any country against crime you also have to stay safe from nature in this country, the weather, animals and even plants.
On routes such as the gun barrel you can check in with local police before you go and let them know when you arrive so if you do break down you can be found; many National Parks have similar systems for hikers.
Budget travel – Australia is setup to make travel easy for backpackers and you will find inexpensive hostels and campsites across the country, make sure you bring a tent and sleeping bag then. If you are time-rich but cash-poor you can become a fruit picker if you arrive at harvest time and earn a little extra money to keep you going.
Driving – Check all driving laws and rules before you go but particular dangers to look out for include trucks driving at dangerous speeds, its best to just slow down and let them get past. Some remote routes have few fuel stops so fill up some jerry cans and plan your route in advance.
Eating Out – Australia has a wide range of cuisine including some, think Indonesian and Balinese, that you will rarely see elsewhere. Australians love their steak but as well as beef it could easily be kangaroo or emu with crocodile meat quite common as well.
Respect for nature – You will come across a number of diverse but fragile habitats and while you are encouraged to enjoy and explore be respectful and remember that animals such as kangaroos, wombats and koalas are wild animals; in sanctuaries where orphaned animals have been rescued you can feed them and have a cuddle but in the wild this isn’t acceptable.
Festivals in Australia
Australia Day, Nationwide – A public holiday celebrating everything Australia this is the mother of all parties with events across the country. Australia Day barbeques are common and families often get together but going out in the cities to events including concerts and fireworks is popular too.
Canberra Festival – If you think that the purpose built capital has no culture head to the Canberra festival for a 17 day long cultural extravaganza.
New Year’s Eve in Sydney – One of the world’s most famous new year’s eve parties up there with Time’s Square the fireworks over Sydney Harbour Bridge are broadcast around the world.
Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras – All are welcome whatever your orientation and the carnival atmosphere and bright colours are all integral parts of the world’s biggest gay pride festival.
Adelaide Fringe Festival – The Southern hemisphere’s answer to Edinburgh Fringe this is a really international festival with all sorts of arts represented.
The Dreaming Festival Queensland – A traditional Aboriginal festival where they show off the beauty and history of their unique culture and arts.
Melbourne International Film Festival – Including features and shorts, international blockbusters and small budget movies by local talent.
Big Day Out, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Gold Coast, – A major international music festival with many of the world’s biggest artists each year as well as new up and coming acts on multiple stages over multiple days.
Shopping destinations in Australia
Chapel Street, Melbourne – Not just for shopping but also the centre of the restaurant and entertainment district of Melbourne this is the city’s beating heart.
Bridge Road, Melbourne – A street for clothes shopping including luxury brands, outlets and unique shops selling the latest from local designers.
Pitt Street Mall, Sydney – A pedestrianised street with a lot of big chain stores including many of Australia’s brands’ flagship stores; look out for exclusive products and offers here.
Westfield Centrepoint, Sydney – One of Westfield’s biggest and most popular shopping malls in the country there are a number of other malls nearby, together offering perhaps the biggest shopping choice in Australia.
Queen Street Mall, Brisbane – A number of malls and arcades in one including the Myer Centre and Wintergarden for fashion shopping.
Westfield, Chermside, Brisbane – On the outskirts of Brisbane this massive mall includes David jones, Myer and Harris Scarfe department stores.
King Street, Perth – Home to many luxury brands outlets including Gucci and Louis Vitton come here if you have a lot of money burning a whole in your pocket: it will soon disappear.
Rundle Mall, Adelaide – An outdoor mall there are over 600 shops along this pedestrianised area from small independents to major national chains.
Chasdstone Shopping Centre, Malvern East, Melbourne – The biggest shopping centre in Australia over in the Malvern East area of Melbourne has 190,000 square metres of shop floor space.
Canberra Centre, Canberra – The capital’s main shopping centre with everything from luxury to discount brands there are also restaurants and entertainments such as a cinema
Restaurants in Australia
Sokyo, Level G, The Darling, The Star, 80 Pyrmont Street Pyrmont, Sydney, New South Wales,
A great, stylish Sushi restaurant that regularly gets great write-ups and awards.
The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant, corner of Normanby Road and Clarendon Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3205,
Melbourne is famous for its trams and you can enjoy Australian dishes in this original tramcar.
Lenzerheide Restaurant, 146 Belair Road, Hawthorn, Adelaide, South Australia 5062,
A luxury restaurant serving a range of European dishes with a focus on Swiss dishes, ideal for a special date or anniversary.
Havana Music Café, 113 Lake Street, Cairns, Queensland 4870,
Mainly Caribbean dishes including fantastic Jerk Chicken; the cocktails are also great as is the live music and general atmosphere.
Jonah’s On The Beach, Cnr Shortland Esplanade & Zaara St, Newcastle, New South Wales 2300,
Enjoy the ocean view while you eat at Jonah’s that sells good value dishes including Australian food.
C-Grill, Chifley Hotel 60-62 harbour St, Wollongong, New South Wales 2500,
A typical Australian restaurant in many ways selling steaks and other popular Australian dishes but the quality makes it a cut above most steakhouses.
The Metz Café, 119 St John Street, Launceston, Tasmania 7250,
Not a great choice for a quiet romantic evening but good food and good service and after your meal stick around in the bar of this thriving venue.
Bayleaf Balinese Restaurant, Corner of Lake & Gatton Street, Cairns, Queensland 4870,
With Bali only a little way to the north and a popular destination for Australians its surprising there aren’t more Balinese restaurants, a must try and great value.
Rustico Tapas and Bar, 61 Rockingham Beach Road Rockingham, Perth, Western Australia,
A proper Tapas bar rather than a restaurant selling Tapas, you can eat at the bar or at a table and stay as long as you like afterwards to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere and regular live entertainment.
Azafran Restaurant, 97 Ekibin Road Annerley, Brisbane, Queensland,
Just a little way out of the city centre this place feels like it is aimed at locals much more than tourists and the prices reflect that, the fact they rely on repeat custom also means the food has to be excellent and it is.
Fast Food Joints in Australia
Burger Urge, 542 Brunswick St, Brisbane, Queensland
Serves great big delicious burgers that are much more meaty than you’d get at a lot of chains there’s plenty of choice too.
Casa Pepe Byron Street, Byron Bay, New South Wales
A vegetarian restaurant but don’t let that put you off even if you usually like to get your teeth into some meat as the pizzas, pies and other choices here taste delicious.
Quick Bite Take Away, Yulara Shopping Centre, Yulara Drive, Yulara Northern Territory
At the resort by Ayer’s Rock you’d expect to pay a lot but this take away offers great value and is a lifesaver for backpackers on a budget.
Dylan’s on the Terrace, 82 Stirling Tce, Albany, Western Australia 6330
Popular for breakfasts and brunchs as well as late night snacks there’s a massive choice of food and drinks available to eat in or takeaway.
5 Nationwide Chains:
Hungry Jacks – Basically Burger King but under a different brand you can still get your Double Whopper here plus a few local variants.
Red Rooster – Specialising in chicken though this includes chicken burgers you can get decent roast chicken portions here too for a much healthier and additive free option than most fast food outlets.
Oporto – A fast food joint with a Portuguese theme selling grilled chicken and burgers mainly, with Portuguese style sauces and marinades.
Eagle Boy’s Pizza – A national Pizza chain with a great range of pizzas and some really interesting options such as Reef and Beef, Spanish Tapas and Butcher’s Block pizzas.
Noodle Box – Actually you can get rice or noodles here in a variety of styles and in a convenient chow mien style box.
What else you need to know
Geography – The British originally only claimed half of the continent and it wasn’t until quite a lot later that more of the continent was explored including the vast interior. The British had made Australia into 6 self governing crown colonies and these plus Tasmania became the states of today.
Australia’s interior tends to be dry and arid but this isn’t the case everywhere and there are a number of distinct desert areas rather than one vast dessert. The most fertile land is close to the coasts and along a few river valleys coming down from mountainous areas; even these areas though can be hit hard by drought.
Climate – Australia is a continent and so in the same way as other continents you can’t sum up the climate for the whole place. The north of the country is tropical and stays hot all year round, the seasons here are dry and wet and you are best to visit in the dry season as cyclones can reek havoc in the wet season. Round the middle of Australia in cities such as Perth and Brisbane it stays warm all year round but without the wet season or extreme temperatures further north.
In the south of the country the winters can get cool if not cold; though a warm spell can hit in winter too the best weather is in the summer. Then there is Tasmania, the environment here is temperate and it can get cold in winter especially a little way up into the mountains.
History – Home for about 40,000 years to the Aborigine people the first Europeans to discover Australia came here in 1606 but it wasn’t until 1770 that the continent was claimed by Great Britain and then settled from around 1778 as a penal colony. A large number of Australians have British or Irish ancestors then but since earliest colonial times the Chinese and other Asian people have immigrated here with major influxes during the gold rush of the late 19th century and in the mid 20th century.
The country became independent from Britain in 1901, though still closely linked, but since then the country has thrived with important industrial areas and business and financial centres that have made it a major world player with a high level of wealth and one of the highest standard’s of living.
Economy – The Australian economy is some would say overly dependent on mining and on the two big mining companies Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, in turn demand from China provides a large amount of the wealth that mining brings in and as such when China sneezes Australia gets a cold.
The Australian securities exchange is the ninth largest stock exchange in the world and Australia is home to many major international banks and financial services companies. Exports are made up of commodities and services primarily therefore with agriculture also being an important part of the economy with many large ranches for beef and lamb and production of fruit and of course some of the world’s best wines.
Politics – Queen Elizabeth II is still the head of state in Australia, which is a constitutional monarchy. The government itself is divided into three areas: the legislature, the judiciary and the executive; the Legislature being the country’s parliament is separated into the Senate and House of Representatives with the prime minister being the head of government.
Using preferential voting, in every state but Tasmania, Australians elect the House of Representatives every three years normally with the Liberal and Labour parties being the two main political parties, though in recent elections minor parties including the National party have done well.
Culture – The Australian culture is certainly influenced by the Anglo and Irish cultures but Asian cultures also have an effect on the national psyche. Though Aborigine culture is still strong amongst those or Aborigine decent it has little influence on the culture of the nation as a whole.
Australians are lovers of art, music and have some fantastic architecture but above all they love sport: the climate and opportunities to enjoy unspoilt landscapes surely a reason for this.
Holidays – National holidays in Australia include Australia day when the country celebrates the country as a whole and Labour Day celebrating the Labour movement, ANZAC Day remembering those who died fighting for Australia and the Queen’s birthday along with Christmas Day, Boxing Day New Year’s Day, Good Friday and Easter Monday are all public holidays.
Australians regularly holiday in their own country with many from the southern cities of Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney heading up to Cairns or the Gold Coast with its theme parks and resorts or across to Perth; Darwin and the very north is often seen as too hot though. Australians love to travel however and many go to south east Asian destinations, the Philippines and Indonesia especially Bali, Australians can generally be found backpacking in almost any city in the world though.
How to get there.
Plane – Qantas is the national flag carrier and can get you to any of Australia’s main city’s airports though for places such as Tasmania and Darwin a transfer may be required. Most flights from Europe have a stop over in South East Asia, often Singapore or Bangkok, this can give you a little bonus on your trip. As well as going east from Europe though consider the slightly longer trip west with a US stopover often in Los Angeles: these flights are often cheaper. From most major American cities you can go direct to at least Sydney and Melbourne.
The only other options for getting to Australia really is to seek passage from South East Asia on cargo ships and end up somewhere like Darwin
Driving – The distances between state capitals are massive and the logistics to make sure you will have enough food, water and fuel can be a headache in some areas. At the same time you get to see a lot more including small towns and unspoilt wilderness.
Trains – You can get trains between all of the mainland state capitals: however to get from Darwin to the east coast you have to go almost all the way back to the south coast and come back on yourself though you get to travel right across the centre.
Internal Flights – Most Australians who just want to get from city to city use internal flights to get around, even for relatively close cities like Melbourne and Sydney.
Getting to Tasmania
You can fly to one of Tasmania’s two main airports at Hobart or Launceston or get a ferry across, do bare in mind though that the ferry takes you to the north of the island and you still have a long way to go to Hobart.
Australia is somewhere that many people go back to again and again and still feel they have missed things, then again most Australians would still like to see more of their diverse and beautiful country.