It’s true, with a land mass of less than 3 million square miles, Australia is the world’s smallest continent. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in unique features. It is surrounded by oceans and is dry and humid at the same time due to oceanic winds. More than 90% of Australia is covered by vegetation and 80% of the flora and fauna is found only on Australia. If you’d like to explore the land down under, we’re ready at GetAway Travel to help plan your adventure.
A land with so many special features
The island of Australia is famous for its natural wonders. It has wide open spaces, deserts, beaches, “the bush,” “the outback,” mountains and it is composed of eight states and territories. It is considered one of the premier surfing destinations in the world.
It has a number of UNESCO World Heritages sites. World Heritage sites are recognized and protected because of their contribution to social, cultural or world history. Australia actually has two different geographical UNESCO sites that meet. The Great Barrier Reef is on the country’s northeastern coast and the Daintree Rain Forest butts up to the beautiful white sandy beaches that frame the reef.
It is a great dive site with divers urged to respect the area and not damage the reef. The colorful coral labyrinths are home to a spectacular variety of marine life. And if you don’t dive, they say you can rent snorkel equipment and lay in the water to see if you can find Nemo.
Taking a glass bottom boat tour is another way to experience the reef and its occupants. The reef takes on a whole new set of residents from December to February during turtle hatching season.
Speaking of marine life, Christmas Island is one of Australia’s territories. When the first rain of the rainy season falls, usually in October or November, the red crab migration starts and 50 million (yes, 50 million) red crabs migrate from the rain forest to the sea where they mate and spawn. There are actually little crab bridges to help them on their way and about 18 days later, they make their way back to the forest.
Hit the road for some great scenery
The Open Road in Victoria is a 150-mile drive along the coastline that ends at 12 Apostles. Here, the ocean has carved tall pillars of stone pointing to the sky out of the cliffs. Or, drive from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin. Drive this 120-mile trek and you can hit national parks, vineyards and the coastline.
Speaking of parks, Kakadu National Park gives you a great taste of Australia’s wildlife, especially near the end of the dry season. The park wetlands shrink in and the park becomes an open-air zoo with a fabulous array of birds as well as reptiles. In Melbourne, take tram route 96 to the St. Kilda beaches. On the way, you’ll pass the Melbourne Museum Exhibition Buildings, Carlton Gardens, State Parliament, the Rourke Street Mall and Luna Park.
Not far from Sydney, which is Australia’s largest and most urban city, are the Blue Mountains. The mountain range offers an awesome array of photo opportunities including forests, sandstone cliffs, canyons and caves and waterfalls!
Of course, don’t neglect to take a visit to the harbor and get a picture on the famous bridge and visit the opera house.
The Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk in Queensland is conducted by indigenous guides. It is a journey that celebrates the history, tradition and ancient culture of the “original” Australians.
Australia is a botanist’s dream. There are more than 140 botanical gardens throughout the island celebrating the diversity of plants. The Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney is the oldest and it features themed gardens including an oriental garden and a rose garden. Adelaide Botanic Garden highlights plants native to the arid zones and Kangaroo Island lets you enjoy wildlife including kangaroos, sea lions, koalas and birds and long with plant life.
Kangaroo, wallaby, koala and Vegemite
First, a koala is not a bear, it’s a marsupial which means it raises its young in a pouch, like a kangaroo. The bear part evolved when early visitors thought the koalas looked like bears, You can see all of the wildlife Australia has to offer at any of the zoos, but Lone Pine Sanctuary in Brisbane is THE place to get your koala fix. There are more than 70 species native to Australia at the sanctuary (do buy a container of kangaroo food to increase your popularity with the ‘roos who wander through the sanctuary) and the koala are featured in different exhibits throughout the sanctuary. You can stand in line and meet an actual koala up close and personal!
Ok, we’ve all heard that Men at Work song about the Vegemite sandwich. Vegemite is, well, an acquired taste. It’s a dark brown paste made from vegetables, yeast extract and spices. You usually eat it on bread, and you can have it with avocado, melted cheese or tomato. Or, you might smell it and not want it at all!