There is a diverse array of options in Australia, from the unique – like riding a camel – to the adventurous and incomparable – like bushwalking or climbing the Sydney Bridge. Experience the outback at an expansive wilderness retreat. Find elegance and charm in the historic towns. Tremble in Tasmania on a ghost tour through the prison colony of Port Arthur or find mystery in former bush outlaw hiding places in the Blue Mountains.
You can become part of a community caught up in timeless evolution as you snorkel and dive around the Great Barrier Reef. Meet a koala at eye-level in a treetop. For a truly magical Aussie experience that delights adults and children, head for the Penguin Reserve on Summerland Beach, Phillip Island, 140 kilometers from Melbourne. The island is renowned for its dusk viewing of little penguins (also known as fairy penguins) as they march across the beach to their sand dune burrows.
If you thrill to speed, Australia provides plenty of excitement: everything from flying a jet fighter (complete with combat kit) to driving a rally car. Zip across Sydney Harbor in a high-speed jet-boat, hire a Harley or catch the action in some of the world's fastest drag bike racing events.
There is so much to see and do in Western Australia, from pristine beaches to exciting events and entertaining family attractions. Check them out and plan your holiday!
Sun, Surf and Sea
Pick any time of the year and there is a part of Western Australia sure to be bathed in warm sunshine. Powdery white beaches stretch the length of the coast, and the ocean dazzles with sunlit shades of blue.
Western Australia's outback landscape provides a dramatic backdrop for an unforgettable wilderness adventure. Vast and rugged, its wide open spaces, fresh clean air and roads that seem to extend forever beyond the horizon will have you dazzled.
Forests and Flowers
Western Australia's diverse landscape and climate has evolved an amazing range of natural attractions across the State.
People and Lifestyle
Western Australians will tell you that their state offers the best lifestyle in the world. With a fantastic climate ranging from temperate in the south to tropical in the north, the natural environment is in a league of its own.
New South Wales
There are thousands of attractions in New South Wales ranging from historic buildings to scenic drives and iconic big things.
Drives There are roads, and then there are drives. Roads you take to get from A to B. Drives you take not so much to get somewhere but for the sheer pleasure of the journey itself – and in New South Wales, there are some inspirational drives.
There are mountain hikes that rise through wildflower meadows to glacier-carved lakes, rainforest rambles, coastal classics and city strolls. Even if you’re in the heart of Sydney with only half a day to spare, there are walks to inspire, to soothe and to satisfy. Put on your walking shoes, and discover a state full of revelation.
If there was a world competition for beaches, New South Wales would be disqualified on grounds of unfair advantage.
Food & Wine Sydney is the hot destination for foodies, with flavors and venues to suit all budgets.
Bush & the Outback
The bush and the Outback set Australia apart from every other corner of the planet, and, in New South Wales, you’ll find an abundance of experiences in the rugged Outback.
Sydney’s most memorable attractions are an inspiring mix of the natural and the man-made. Some of them are recognized around the world as saying “Sydney”.
Adventure in the Snowy Mountains
With nine wilderness areas in Kosciuszko National Park, there are endless opportunities for experiencing the wild scenery and solitude of its 6,900 sq km.
Culture bearers of the Narungga nation, Adjahdura Dancers have developed performances through story telling.
Warriparinga Learn about Kaurna culture and share in the special environment of peace that exists at Warriparinga.
From the coast to the Outback, every part of South Australia has adventure activities to get the adrenalin pumping.
What a way to start the day - with a dawn hot air balloon flight over Strathalbyn and surrounding district.
Wallaby Tracks Adventure Tours
Offering a variety of bushwalking, hiking and mountain biking tours in the magnificent Flinders Ranges.
With thousands of kilometers of coastline, it's only right that South Australia is a place for ocean lovers.
Renmark River Cruises
Take a cruise on the Big River Rambler or explore the backwaters on an adventurous dinghy expedition.
If you like to pitch your tent near the sound of crashing waves, South Australia's got some top camping spots.
Queensland offers an amazing array of diverse experiences throughout its many regions. Whether you are looking for that quintessential ‘Aussie’ beach experience, an islands of the Great Barrier Reef experience, nature & world heritage experiences or indigenous culture, there is a number of memorable experiences to be had as part of your Queensland holiday.
Nature & World Heritage
Explore Queensland’s five World Heritage-listed sites, stretches of unspoiled beaches, breathtaking natural landscapes and hundreds of national parks and forests.
Sports & Activities
With perfect all-year-round climate and an outdoors lifestyle, Queensland offers the perfect setting for experiencing a variety of sports and activities within any number of its diverse regions.
Outback & Farm Stays Experience life in the Australian outback on a Queensland farm stay.
Learn about Queensland's Indigenous heritage and culture through local people, festivals and crafts.
Spa & Wellness
Queensland's amazing array of spas and health retreats offer the ultimate in relaxation with a uniquely Australian twist.
Eco-tourism & Volunteering
Experience one of the most naturally diverse places on the planet and give back through one of the many volunteering programs.
Take a walk or a chairlift to the top of Stanley’s Nut. The remains of an ancient volcano, this rocky formation protects the tiny fishing town at its feet.
In Bicheno, join an evening eco-friendly fairy penguin tour right on the beach.
West Coast Wilderness Railway
In Queenstown ride the steam-powered West Coast Wilderness Railway.
Cruise Macquarie Harbor to the Gordon River or take a scene seaplane flight and land on this mighty river and walk in to see 1,000 year old Huon pine, myrtle and sassafras.
Melbourne boasts great events, a passion for food and wine and a fabulous arts scene. Known as a style-setter, Melbourne is home to a non-stop program of festivals, renowned dining, major art exhibitions and musical extravaganzas.
Meet the Little Penguins on Phillip Island
Phillip Island is a 90-minute drive from Melbourne. Experience Australian wildlife in its natural habitat with penguins, seals, koalas and birds. Take to the track on the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit or see it from the skies on a helicopter tour.
Pan for gold at Sovereign Hill
Sovereign Hill is a fabulous re-creation of the hustle and bustle of life in Ballarat in the 1850s. Set on a former gold mining site, the compound has more than 60 buildings, while over 200 people volunteer to dress in period costume on a regular basis. You can do all the traditional activities like pan for real gold, buy boiled sweets from the confectioners, ride in horse-drawn carriages, travel underground on a tour of the Red Hill Mine, or simply observe the working and living conditions that existed last century.
Australian Capital Territory
Tucked away in the city and surrounding suburbs are lots of stylish cocktail lounges, pumping clubs, and traditional pubs offering live music, beer gardens and live sporting telecasts.
Sport is a vital part of the Australian way of life, and Canberra is home to some of Australia’s top sports heroes. Cheer on Canberra’s top rugby league and rugby union teams, catch an Australian Football League game, watch cricket, play golf on the many outstanding golf courses or cycle through beautiful scenery.
Outdoors and Nature
Canberra is a city in a park, a landscaped capital carefully designed to transform with the four distinct seasons. But beneath the golden autumn leaves and spring blooms is a vibrant city, spread amongst parks and stretches of green open space that are perfect for relaxing and enjoying the fresh air.
Science and Technology
Canberra is a centre for science and technology. Experience an earthquake or get close to a lightning bolt at Questacon – the National Science and Technology Centre – or touch giant stick insects, see a model wind turbine and wind tunnel at the CSIRO Discovery Centre, a showcase for achievements in Australian science and technology.
Canberra offers everything from luxury boutiques, malls and department stores to street markets and local designers.
From viewing crocodile, learning about native flora and fauna, visiting expansive red deserts or canoeing down thundering rivers, the Northern Territory has it all.
Take an epic train journey through the outback, explore the rich color and unique flora of the desert landscape and relax with outback characters in a historic Australian pub.
Ascend steep escarpments, canoe with freshwater crocodiles, ride a camel through the outback or tear it up on a quad bike.
Extensive tidal rivers, scenic inland billabongs and access to kilometers of coastline make the Northern Territory an unrivalled fishing holiday destination.
Walking - Trekking
Awaken your senses on a bushwalk through the monsoon forests of the tropical north or challenge yourself with a trek through the red heart of Central Australia.
Victoria's public galleries house some of Australia’s most important colonial and contemporary works, while private galleries, both large and small, showcase the works of talented local artisans and craftspeople.
The birthplace of Australian Modernism is at Heide Museum of Modern Art, located 15 minutes from the Melbourne CBD. It was here that artists Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd, Albert Tucker and others translated Australian Modernism. The permanent collection features many fine examples of their work.
The National Gallery of Victoria now occupies two homes within the one magnificent arts precinct. The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square exhibits pieces from the gallery's 20,000 Australian art works. The revamped NGV International on St Kilda Road is a breathtaking four-level venue displaying collections of European, Asian, Oceanic and American Art.
The Arts Centre
The Arts Centre occupies a prime location in the heart of Melbourne's leisure and entertainment precinct and is home to Australia's premier performing arts companies.
The Arts Centre consists of the Theatres Building (under the spire), Hamer Hall and the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. Close to all major city hotels, the centre is an easy walk across Princess Bridge, and the landmark spire attracts locals and visitors day and night.
Malthouse Theatre at The CUB Malthouse
Malthouse Theatre, formerly known as Playbox, is a company dedicated to the development, production and promotion of contemporary Australian Theatre. Malthouse Theatre’s task in theatre is to engage broadly and investigate profoundly what it is to be alive, to be human, to be Australian and to be a citizen of the world. Malthouse Theatre is dedicated to building on Playbox Theatre’s three decades of leadership in the nation’s cultural and imaginative life through recognising, and being alive to, the changing dynamics of theatre and theatre practice in contest with the contemporary imagination.
Built in 1920 as the Victory Theatre (a cinema), the National Theatre was converted into a live performance venue in 1972-74. It functions today as a community arts center for over 70 groups including musical comedy performances, dance companies, multi-cultural events and school groups. Annual Festivals are held by groups as diverse as the Latvian Community, Surfing Films and the St Kilda Writers' Festival. Commercial events recently have included Janis Ian, Henry Rollins, Rufus Wainwright and Edgley Productions' Swan Lake. School holidays usually feature the Reel Holidays program - recent release films shown at very low prices (usually free to adults accompanied by children).
While it’s probably difficult to pinpoint the birthplace of modern Australian theatre, La Mama was no doubt one of the delivery rooms. A launch pad for numerous playwrights, actors and directors, the theatre was founded in 1967 by Betty Burstall who had been inspired by New York’s performing arts scene. La Mama’s program steadfastly embraces the new, bold and unconventional with a strong focus on staging local works. Behind the scenes, La Mama nurtures emerging talent via a variety of programs. As the name implies, the theatre is an intimate environment which heightens the sense of thrill of live performance.
See the work of generations of artists who have been inspired by South Australia - its landscapes and towns, its people and their lives and its ideals and ideas. Painters, sculptors, weavers, photographers, musicians, writers - you'll find their work in galleries, museums, studios and arts centers (and wineries, visitor centers and public spaces) all over South Australia.
Art Gallery of South Australia
The major art museum is the Art Gallery of SA on North Terrace. It is home to one of Australia's finest art collections, housed in one of Adelaide's most beautiful historic buildings and has been an important cultural focus since its establishment in 1881, only forty-five years after the first European settlers arrived. The gallery has the most comprehensive collection of Australian colonial art (including the much-loved Australian Impressionists), and fine examples of Western Desert dot paintings, Rodin sculptures, British art, Islamic Art, with a collection of Southeast Asian trade ceramics from Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Adelaide Festival Centre
Adelaide Festival Centre has an ever-growing art collection, displayed throughout the foyers and grounds of the centre, with special exhibitions held in the ArtSpace. The performing Arts Collection is based here and its treasures are shown in the main box office.
JamFactory Contemporary Craft and Design
You can watch artists in action at the JamFactory Contemporary Craft and Design in the West End. Its four studios specialise in glass, ceramics, furniture and metal design, and its three gallery spaces show works by established and emerging Australian craft designer and makers. The shop is perfect for unique gifts.
Aboriginal art always tells a fascinating story. Myths, rituals, spirituality, beliefs, magic and sorcery abound in paintings, drawings, songs and dance. The basis of Indigenous art is the Dreaming, when ancestral spirits came to the land and created rivers, plants, people, animals and tribal laws. Aboriginal rock art provides a fascinating glimpse into the religion, beliefs, economy and social activities of the Indigenous culture.
You'll find the oldest Aboriginal rock art in Australia in the Kimberley. Known as the Bradshaw paintings, they're believed to be up to 60,000 years old - which is at least five times older than the Egyptian pyramids. According to Indigenous legend, the paintings - discovered by Joseph Bradshaw in 1891 - were created by birds using their tail feathers. The paintings show extraordinary sophistication and are widely considered to rank in significance with Nefertari's tomb in Egypt.
Island of Creativity
Tasmania is known as the ‘design island’ - home to artists, writers, musicians and designers producing work that is nationally and internationally acclaimed. Remote and isolated it may seem, but Tasmania has long been making the world sit up and take notice.
Art, Craft & Design Tasmanian craftsmen and craftswomen have a wealth of inspiration around them: endemic soft and hardwood timbers, fine wool, unspoiled landscapes to portray, semi-precious stones and metals to work, and a community that embraces their talents.
You will find galleries featuring many of them in most major towns and villages from Stanley in the north-west to Richmond in the south. Tasmania celebrates the work of artists and designers at various events throughout the year.
Tasmania has a vibrant and rich performing arts culture that is reflected in local theatre companies, festivals and the community's support and love of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.
Tasmania's performing arts are a broad canvas: the Theatre Royal (Australia's oldest theatre); the contemporary Peacock Theatre in the Salamanca Arts Centre; Tas Dance, one of Australia's top regional dance companies; Terrapin Puppets; and IHOS Opera.
Australian Capital Territory
See the essence of Australia’s culture, history and way of life reflected in the national museums, galleries and institutions in Canberra. These national attractions hold and share the treasures of the nation, offering an intriguing insight into Australian character and democracy, and the journey from an Indigenous continent to a modern multicultural nation.
Beyond national museums and galleries, Canberra has a cultural life of its own with a thriving arts scene. At the Canberra Museum and Gallery you can experience Canberra’s rich and diverse social history and visual arts. Upstairs, Craft ACT’s galleries offer contemporary craft and design from Canberra’s world-class craft artists.
The Old Bus Depot Markets offers handcrafted jewelry, art, furniture and much more every Sunday. Numerous privately-owned galleries offer original artworks, one-off gifts and accessories. The Canberra region is also home to some world renowned artisans, including Bison Homewares, Peter Crisp Glass, and the Bungendore Wood Works Gallery.
New South Wales
Sydney Opera House
The chance to see a world-class performance at the famous Sydney Opera House is too good to miss if you’re visiting Sydney. In fact, it’s on most visitors’ “must see” list for this vibrant, cosmopolitan city. This stunning architectural feat, designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon, opened in 1973 and is now one of the most recognized buildings in the world. Situated at Bennelong Point, it is surrounded by lush gardens and the sparkling waters of Sydney Harbor.
Enjoy a spectacular night out at the grand Concert Hall or the Opera Theatre before stepping outside to enjoy a delicious cocktail under the stars by the harbor. There are six performance spaces ranging from the largest, the Concert Hall, to intimate spaces such as The Studio and the Utzon Room. Australia’s premier performing arts companies – Opera Australia, Australian Ballet, Sydney Theatre Company and Sydney Dance Company - attract an audience of around two million each year. Contemporary musicians and international acts also love to perform at the “house” as one-off events or part of the Sydney Festival in January.
Sculpture by the Sea
Sculpture by the Sea is the largest exhibition of contemporary sculpture in Australia. This free event exhibits the work of Australian and international sculptures and attracts large crowds each November.
Indigenous Culture – Modern Masters of Ancient Crafts
Queensland has many Art Galleries and stores supplying a wide range of locally made Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander works of art and souvenirs. Most of the products are hand made by local communities - guaranteeing that traditional crafts are kept alive and handed down, and that you are purchasing an authentic piece of Queensland’s Indigenous work. The Galleries are full of an interesting mix of traditional and contemporary Indigenous artworks - created using a variety of mediums.
Hermannsburg Historic Precinct
Hermannsburg was originally a Lutheran mission and was the first town in Central Australia. It was also home to the famous Aboriginal watercolor artist, Albert Namatjira. In 1982 the area was returned to the Aboriginal people and in 1988, the German style whitewashed buildings were restored to their original 19th century condition. Tearooms, a museum and an art gallery featuring some of Namatjira’s original works, are found within the historic precinct.
Darwin Entertainment Centre
Darwin Entertainment Centre is the premier entertainment and convention venue in Australia's Top End of the Northern Territory. Located in the heart of the city, the Darwin Entertainment Centre hosts major national and international acts as well as local Eisteddfod competitions, school concerts and Darwin-based artists. Facilities include the Playhouse, a large, traditional proscenium arch theatre, seating approximately 1000, and the smaller more intimate Studio Theatre. The studio seats almost 300 in theatre mode, or just over 200 in cabaret configuration, with tables and chairs. There is also an exhibition gallery and rehearsal room. In addition, the centre also manages the Gardens Amphitheatre on behalf of the Darwin City Council.
Find out more about Australia’s 50,000 kilometers of spellbinding coastline. Wherever you find them, the white, sandy beaches are just as you imagine – un-crowded, un-spoilt and utterly enticing. You can marvel at World Heritage-listed wonders, chill out at a beach retreat or just enjoy fish and chips on the shore. However you experience the coastline, the crashing waves and gentle sea breeze are all part of a lifestyle that you won’t want to leave behind.
Beach Yourself in Byron Bay, New South Wales
You’ll love the new age paradise, famous for glorious surfing beaches and a lifestyle that combines hippy chic with hedonistic fun. There you can learn to surf with local experts, take a sunrise walk along Cape Byron Walking Track, get your gear off on the nudist-friendly Kings Beach or ride the wild surf at The Pass. That’s in between drinking lattes, analyzing your aura and getting your palm read of course.
Visit Paradise in the Whitsundays, Queensland
You can’t miss the Whitsundays - 74 pristine, palm-fringed islands tucked inside the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Amongst the white sand and warm, aquamarine waters you can meet marine life, see rainbow-colored coral, tussle with game fish, set sail, party hard or snooze next to the sea. With only eight islands inhabited, you’re sure to find one where only your footprints touch the sand.
Get a Touch of Glamour on the Gold Coast, Queensland
This iconic holiday destination offers 70 kilometers of sun-drenched beaches, World Heritage-listed rainforests, theme parks and non-stop shopping and nightlife. Meet dolphins and polar bears at theme parks, ride rolling surf or do a day trip to an island. Party all night, and then explore the lush, subtropical hinterland. On Australia’s ‘coast with the most’ life is all about having fun.
Make a Splash in the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
Discover top swimming and surfing beaches, historic bayside villages and million-dollar views on this picturesque peninsula on Port Phillip Bay just an hour south of Melbourne. Trek the rugged coastline past dunes, beaches, cliffs and lighthouses. Then spot koalas on French Island, swim with dolphins and seals at Sorrento and stop for lunch at vineyards or olive groves overlooking the sea.
Treat Your Taste Buds in Margaret River, Western Australia
This famous wine growing region is also a natural paradise of surf beaches, tall karri forests, underground caves and bush tracks. The wonderful wine and food of the vineyards meet world-class waves on the 75 beaches. Swim in the crystal-clear waters of Bunker Bay, ride the crashing surf of Surfers Point, and watch whales and explore caves at Cape Leeuwin. Margaret River is a place where breathtaking scenery and good living meld into one.
Soak up Beauty in Wineglass Bay, Tasmania
You can enjoy pristine beaches all to yourself on the stunning Freycinet Peninsula. The most famous is Wineglass Bay, a perfect curve of white sand and turquoise sea against pink and grey granite peaks. Take in the magical view after an easy climb from Coles Bay or challenging trek from the top of Mount Amos. Or connect to this coastal paradise by going sea kayaking, swimming and scuba diving.
Find it all on the Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia
Dive or snorkel dramatic shipwrecks and marine life, visit famous vineyards or hit the surf in this coastal playground, just an hour’s drive south of Adelaide. Stay in cute coastal hamlets Port Noarlunga and Victor Harbor or the historic river town of Goolwa. Take a dip in perfect Horseshoe Bay, windsurf at Sellicks Beach or dive at Rapid Bay. See ancient forests and visit local wineries. Walk across spectacular headlands and get up close to native wildlife. No wonder they say this coathanger-shaped strip has it all.
Aboriginal Culture: A Rich and Timeless Tradition
The Dreamtime is the sacred ‘time before time’ of the world’s creation. According to Aboriginal belief, totemic spirit ancestors emerged from the earth and descended from the sky to awaken a dark and silent world. They created the sun, moon and stars, forged mountains, rivers, trees and waterholes and changed into human and animal forms. Spirit ancestors connect this ancient past with the present and future through every aspect of Aboriginal culture. Rock art, craft and bark painting reveal Dreamtime stories, mark territory and record history, while songs tell of Dreamtime journeys, verbally mapping water sources and other essential landmarks. Their special lyrics have been passed down virtually unchanged for at least 50,000 years, and are often accompanied by clap sticks or the deep throb of the didgeridoo. Similarly, traditional dances reveal creation myths; enact the deeds of Dreamtime heroes and even recent historical events.
Colonial Myths: Battlers, Bushrangers and Brave Soldiers
Australians believe in mate ship and a ‘fair go’ and have a strong affection for the underdog or ‘battler’. These values stem from convicts and early colonialists who struggled against a harsh and unfamiliar land and often unjust authority. Australia’s most famous bushranger Ned Kelly protested against the poverty and injustice of a British class system shipped here along with the convicts. This flawed hero’s fight for 'justice and liberty' and 'innocent people' has been embraced as part of the national culture and inspired countless books and movies. On the goldfields of the mid-1850s, diggers were portrayed in stories and songs as romantic heroes, larrikins and villains who embraced democracy. The bloody 1854 Eureka Stockade, where Victorian miners rose up against an authoritarian licensing system, came to symbolize a triumph of social equality. Later, during World War I, the courageous ANZAC soldiers who served in Gallipoli gave new meaning to the term ‘tough Aussie’.
Australian English: Speaking ‘Strine’
Australians have a unique colloquial language, coined ‘strine’ by linguist Alastair Morrison (imagine saying Australian with your teeth gritted to keep out the flies) in 1966. This combines many long lost cockney and Irish sayings of the early convicts with words from Aboriginal languages. They often abbreviate words and then add an ‘o’ or ‘ie’ on the end as in ‘bring your cossie to the barbie this arvo’. They also like reverse nicknames, calling people with red hair ‘bluey’, saying ‘snowy’ to someone with dark hair, and tagging ‘lofty’ to someone who is small in stature. They tend to flatten their vowels and end sentences with a slightly upward inflection.
Sporting Heroes: The Glory of Green and Gold
It's no secret that Australians are sports mad. With more than 120 national and thousands of local, regional and state sporting organizations, it's estimated that six-and-a-half million people in Australia are registered sport participants. Not bad from a population of just over 21 million! The number one watched sport in Australia is Australian Rules Football (AFL) with its high kicks and balletic leaps, while the brute force and tackling tactics of National Rugby League (NRL) reign supreme in New South Wales and Queensland. Australia’s national Rugby Union team, the Wallabies play on the international circuit and in the Bledisloe Cup, part of a Tri Nations tournament with South Africa. Australia is a nation of swimmers and Olympic medals attest to their performance in the pool. All summer they watch the Australian cricket team in their whites and in January, they flick channels to see the tennis Australian Open. Held in Melbourne, this attracts more people to Australia than any other sporting event. Football is a growth sport, they draw world-class surfers for the Bells Beach Surf Classic and on Boxing Day crowds gather to watch the boats sail out of Sydney Harbour for the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. On the first Tuesday in November, the nation stops for the famous horse race, the Melbourne Cup while and in March rev heads converge in Melbourne for the Formula One Grand Prix. The list of sports they love goes on, and if in doubt about the rules just ask a passionate punter.
An Outdoor Lifestyle: Beach and Barbeques
With more than 80 per cent of Australians living within 50 kilometers of the coast, the beach has become an integral part of their famous laid-back lifestyle. From Saturday morning surf-club training for young ‘nippers’ to a game of beach cricket after a barbeque, they love life on their sandy shores. They jostle for a spot on packed city beaches, relax at popular holiday spots and drive to secret, secluded beaches in coastal national parks. They go to the beach to enjoy the sun and surf or to sail, parasail, fish, snorkel, scuba dive and beach comb. It’s where they socialize and play sport, relax and enjoy romance. It’s also the site for celebration. On New Year’s Eve, revelers dance in the sand and watch fireworks at Manly and Bondi beaches in Sydney and Glenelg in Adelaide. Many beaches host citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day and on Christmas Day up to 40,000 international visitors converge on Bondi Beach wearing Santa hats and swimming costumes. Australia’s most famous beaches - Bondi and Manly in Sydney, St Kilda in Melbourne, Surfers Paradise on the Queensland Gold Coast, Cottesloe in Perth and Glenelg in Adelaide – attract locals as well as international tourists.
Multiculturalism: Diverse Food, Festivals and Faith
Since 1945 more than six million people from across the world have come to Australia to live. Today, more than 20 per cent of Australians are foreign born and more than 40 per cent are of mixed cultural origin. In their homes they speak 226 languages - after English, the most popular are Italian, Greek, Cantonese and Arabic. Their rich cultural diversity is reflected in their food, which embraces most of the world’s cuisines and artfully fuses quite a few of them. You’ll find European flavors, the tantalizing spices of Asia, Africa and the Middle East and bush tucker from their backyard on offer everywhere from street stalls to five star restaurants. Tuck into Thai takeaway, dine out on perfect Italian pasta, do tapas in their city’s Spanish strips and feast on dumplings in Chinatown. You can also embrace their melting pot of cultures in the many colorful festivals. See samba and capoeira at Bondi’s Brazilian South American festival, dance behind the dragon parade during Chinese New Year or stroll through streets transformed into a lively piazza during the annual Italian celebrations. As a nation, they embrace a rainbow of religious belief and you’ll find Catholic and Anglican churches, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist temples, mosques and synagogues lining their streets.
Australian Innovations: From the Hills Hoist to Penicillin
Australia’s unique geography and relative isolation has made it a fertile ground for new ideas. In 1879, Australians developed a way for ice to be manufactured artificially, allowing them to export meat to Great Britain on refrigerated ships. In 1906, the surf lifesaving reel was designed so lifesavers could reach distressed swimmers with a rope attached to their vests. In 1929, Alfred Traeger built a pedal-powered radio as the communications for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Australians were also responsible for more everyday inventions such as notepads (1902), aspirin (1915), the pacemaker (1926), penicillin (1940) the Hills Hoist clothesline (1946), the plastic disposable syringe (1949), the wine cask (1965), the bionic ear (1978), dual-flush toilet flush (1980), anti-counterfeiting technology for banknotes (1992) and long-wearing contact lenses (1999).
Long before European colonization, the Aboriginal people were already leading the world. They invented the aerodynamic boomerang and a type of spear thrower called the woomera. They were also the first society to use ground edges on stone cutting tools and the first to use stone tools to grind seeds, everyday tools which were developed only much later by other societies.
Culture Cravings: Theatre, Film, Books and Visual Art
From theatre to literature, Australians have a quiet love affair with the arts. They flock to the movies and their attendance at galleries and performing arts is almost double that for all football codes. Their cities play host to a huge array of cutting-edge cultural festivals, and offer music, theatre and dance performances and art exhibitions every day of the week. See traditional Aboriginal dance performance by the Bangarra Dance Theatre, throw yourself into the WOMADelaide international music festival in Adelaide and soak up theatre, ballet, opera and painting in Brisbane’s huge cultural center on South Bank. In smaller towns you can catch performances by local musicians and see hand-made art and craft.
Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival
Australia might stop for the Melbourne Cup, but for the rest of the Spring Racing Carnival no-one in Melbourne sits still. This whirlwind of horse racing, fashion and fun starts in September and doesn’t end until mid-November. Flemington Racecourse is the stage for big-name race days such as Derby Day, the Melbourne Cup, Oaks Day but all tracks across the state are part of the action.
Australia’s Summer of Cricket
In Australia, it’s just not summer without cricket. They play it at their picnics and barbeques, in their backyards, on their beaches, roads, in parks and world-class stadiums. Indoors, the Australian cricket team with their trademark baggy green caps, dominate the television screens. In Australia, cricket is almost a religion, uniting players and fans from all walks of life.
Australia's Grand Slam Summer of Tennis
Enjoy January in Australia with a courtside view of the tennis greats. Start the new year watching eight prestigious pairs of men and women play at Perth’s Hopman Cup. See international players warm-up for the Australian Open in sunny Brisbane and historic Hobart. Get spectator seats to top tennis at the Medibank International in Sydney’s Olympic Park.
The Australian Grand Prix, Melbourne
In Melbourne, there’s no missing the Australian Grand Prix, which takes over Albert Park for four days in March. You’ll hear the distinctive pitch of elite Formula One racing cars across the city. At the purpose-built track, watch the world’s fastest drivers vibrate past you at speeds of up to 300km an hour.
The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race
You don’t need to be a sailing buff to enjoy watching the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. Beginning on Boxing Day, December 26, the race is an iconic part of the Australian summertime. See the yachts sail out of the harbor heads with a picnic, barbeque or boat cruise on Sydney Harbour.
New Year’s Eve Fireworks - National
Celebrate the New Year in Australia, where the festivities include huge outdoor parties and spectacular fireworks. Watch pyrotechnic plumes explode off Sydney’s Harbour Bridge in the finest fireworks display. Enjoy live music, DJs, films, rides and family entertainment at the riotous riverside parties in Melbourne and Brisbane.
Fashion Week in Melbourne and Sydney
From runway shows to red-carpet parties, you can’t beat the glamour of Australia’s biggest fashion weeks. Preview the autumn/winter collections of Australia’s hottest designers at L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival – a week-long carnival of cutting-edge fashion and culture in March. In May, join the fashionistas flocking to Sydney for the spring/summer shows of Rosemount Australian Fashion Week.
Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras
Sunny, subversive, cosmopolitan and camp – welcome to Sydney during its annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Whether you’re straight, gay, old or young, you’ll love the gleeful, glamorous energy rippling through the city from late February. Celebrate the festival opening at Fair Day – a huge community party in Sydney’s inner-west.
Uniquely Australian Events
Celebrations are a part of the Australian culture, which might explain why they have so many rich and rare events. Some showcase the gorgeous scenery, others celebrate the sporting passions. Some commemorate the cultural roots, and more than a few demonstrate the self-mocking sense of humor. Dress up for the nation-stopping Melbourne Cup or get your spot on Sydney Harbour for the Australia Day celebrations.
Go Bonkers About Boats, No Water Required
On the last Sunday in August, Alice Springs holds a sailing and rowing regatta on a dry river bed. The outback makes you bonkers. How else can you explain the Henley-on-Todd – an annual sailing and rowing regatta held on a dry river bed in Alice Springs?
Discover it the same way Aboriginal Australians have passed it down for at least 50,000 years - through art, dance, myths, music and the land itself. See Aboriginal art and contemporary dance in the cities.
Adelaide: Frenetic Fun Beneath an Elegant Exterior
There’s a reason Adelaide is called Australia’s festival city. These spacious boulevards and lush gardens play host to a non-stop calendar of fun.
AFL - The Australian Football League
Australia may be secular nation, but religious fervor is the only way to describe the mood at a game of Australian rules football – or AFL – in Melbourne. There in the sport’s birthplace, players are local heroes and teams command a tribal following. But Melbournians aren’t the only ones who are nuts about this athletic and balletic game with the oval ball.
Celebrate Australia Day around Sydney Harbour
Sydney always loves a party, and few are as big and exuberant as Australia Day on January 26. Flag-waving crowds spill across the city, converging around iconic Sydney Harbour for an action-packed program of events. Honour Sydney’s traditional owners at an Aboriginal ceremony in the Royal Botanic Gardens. Cheer as tall ships, small ferries, yachts and even surfboards race across the harbor.
Australia's Motorsport Events
Indulge your passion for motor racing in Australia, which has a year-long calendar of events. Head to Melbourne for the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix or visit the popular motorcycle circuit on Phillip Island. For adrenalin-surging V8 action, there’s the Gold Coast 600 in Surfers Paradise, the Sydney 500 and the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide.
The Bledisloe Cup
Most of the time, Australia and New Zealand have the kind of friendly rivalry you’d expect from Antipodean siblings. They mock each other’s accents, achievements and sporting prowess and squabble over who owns star exports such as Crowded House and Russell Crowe. Only on the sporting field do they get truly competitive, and never more so than at rugby union’s Bledisloe Cup, now part of the Tri Nations series.
Australia's Marathons and Running Events
Whether you’re competing or cheering, you’ll love the excitement of an Australian running event or marathon. Race along the iconic Great Ocean Road past waterfalls, lush national parks and the wild Southern Ocean. Or join elite and fun-runners from around the world in the popular Gold Coast Airport Marathon, where thousands of spectators line the course between Broadwater and Burleigh Heads.
Australia's Endurance Events
Test your sporting stamina in Australia, where they host regular triathlons and the ironmen and iron women are household names. Competitors from around the world go there to run, swim, paddle and cycle against some spectacular scenery, from tropical beaches to stylish cities. Watch elite cyclists whizz around Adelaide, the Barossa Valley and Fleurieu Peninsula in the Tour Down Under.
Learn more about the culinary experiences on offer in Australia - the fun section of foodie heaven The chefs and winemakers have learnt from the best, and then bent the rules for a food and wine style all of their own. They’ve turned Australia’s sun-kissed produce into a melting pot of cuisine and award-winning wines. Whether you want a fresh seafood platter, a racy Riesling, a modern Asian-fused meal or a crocodile sausage, Australia is the place to be.
Get a Taste of the Top End
Welcome to Darwin's Mindil Beach Sunset Market where you can sample the flavors of the Asia-Pacific in a balmy, tropical setting. The coconut palms are swaying in the sunset, and the smell of sizzling satay and spicy noodles is in the air. Held every Thursday night between May and October, these popular markets offer over 60 food stalls to sate your appetite while the sun goes down.
Explore Grapes Galore in the Yarra Valley
Just behind Melbourne’s fringes is the Yarra Valley - a place of pristine beauty, crisp clean water and friendly ambience. Clustered behind its rolling hills are 55 wineries, ranging from small family-owned vineyards to the famous Chateau Yering and Domain Chandon. Dine in gourmet restaurants and taste pinot noir, chardonnay and sparkling in a world reminiscent of French and Italian wine growing regions.
Cellar Hop in the Barossa
Sip wines from more than 60 cellar doors, including Yalumba, Wolf Blass and Peter Lehmann in Australia’s wine capital. In the Barossa you’ll get to meet the people behind the labels and talk to them about their craft. You can also match your favorite wine with locally made cheese on a food and wine trail, tour historic wineries, take a tutored tasting or learn cellar secrets in a wine master class. Of course, nothing beats a long lunch under the gum trees with a bottle of one of the region’s flagship wines, Barossa Shiraz or Eden Valley Riesling.
Discover Cool-Climate Wines in the Coal River
Enjoy pinot noirs, cabernets and medal-winning chardonnays in the scenic Coal River Valley, just a 10 minute drive from Hobart. Sample superb cool-climate wines at the cellar doors and taste fresh Tasmanian produce in vineyard restaurants. Soak up the water views and stop off at the historic village of Richmond before completing your idyllic day trip.
Wine and Dine with Water Views in Bondi
Savor spectacular ocean views with your food in Bondi’s many beachside eateries. Enjoy a gelato at the 1920s Bondi Pavilion or watch the sun go down with a cocktail at one of the acclaimed restaurants. At the cafes on Campbell Parade, Hall Street and clustered around Bondi’s back streets, you’ll find everything from tapas to the world’s best brunch to classic fish and chips.
Wine Down in the Swan Valley
Indulge in divine local produce and award-winning wines in Western Australia’s oldest wine region, just a boat ride from Perth. Take in the vines, waterfalls and lush bush land on a cruise up the Swan River. Then hop off for cellar door tastings, a visit to one of the microbreweries and a vineyard or picnic lunch. The Swan Valley is also great for horse riding, cycling, golf, wildlife watching and heritage walks. Check out the antique shops, pubs and galleries in the historic village of Guildford before you head home.
Taste the Tropics in and Around Cairns
Feast on locally-grown bananas, paw-paws, mangos, pineapples and lychees in the ‘exotic fruit bowl of the world’ near Cairns. But more than fruit flourishes in the region’s rich volcanic soils, green rainforest belt and clean tropical waters. Try seafood, game meats, freshly-made pasta and organic bush foods. Visit an organic permaculture orchard in the rainforest; dine on freshly-caught barramundi in Cairns or sample macadamias and coffee on plantations in the tablelands.
Taste Canberra’s Rural Riches on the Poachers Trail
Visit cool climate wineries, country cafes, art galleries and craft studios on this self-drive through the Canberra countryside. This is a region where you can enjoy the fruits of country labor – a table laden with delicious food and a bottle of last year’s vintage. Stay in a bed and breakfast where you sleep in crisp linen sheets and wake to bird song on the verandah. Buy handmade glassware and pottery from the galleries and taste wood smoked meats and homemade wine on a farm.
Find out where you can get up close and personal to nature’s spectacle in Australia. It’s not hard in a country that holds 550 national parks and 15 World Heritage- listed wonders. You’ll see snow-capped mountains and salt-encrusted lakes, rolling countryside and turquoise sea. Find strange creatures, colorful birds and vibrant fish. This is a country where boundaries blur - ancient rainforests skirt modern cities and waterways surge from craggy red earth. In Australia you can get up close to their native plants and animals and experience spectacular beauty on land, air and sea.
Keep reading to explore just a few of the many natural spectacles of Australia.
Meet the world’s biggest fish – the whale shark – in the clear, turquoise waters of Western Australia’s huge fringing reef. These gentle underwater giants feed on the bright coral reef between April and June. You can also dive, swim or snorkel with dolphins, graceful manta rays and hundreds of species of tropical fish. On Ningaloo, this rainbow of marine life is just meters from the shore.
Kakadu National Park
You’ll be lost for words in World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park – a tapestry of rainforest and Aboriginal cultural artifacts across 19,000 square kilometers. Rugged escarpments, lush wetlands, plunging gorges and cascading waterfalls spill over each other there in the largest nature park. You’ll see millions of migratory birds in the wetlands and crocodiles sun their primitive hides on the banks of the Adelaide River.
Every day at dusk, Summerland Beach on Phillip Island comes alive with thousands of little penguins. Watch them waddle home in riotous packs and pairs after their long day foraging for food in icy Bass Strait. The rugged ocean beaches, sheltered bays, blowholes and caves are also home to koalas, abundant bird life and a large colony of fur seals. It’s hard to believe this teeming natural habitat is just 90 minutes from Melbourne.
Tasmania’s National Parks
Step into the grandeur of the Tasmanian rainforest, and you’ll be stepping back 60 million years. With forty per cent of the island protected as national parks and reserves, pristine wilderness is never far away. The World Heritage area stretches more than 1.38 million hectares - from the rugged alpine peaks and dense rainforests of Cradle Mountain in the north to the island’s remote southern tip.
Great Barrier Reef
Unforgettable is the word most people use to describe the Great Barrier Reef - a spectacle so vast it can be seen from space. This World Heritage marine wonderland is an explosion of color that stretches for 2,600 kilometers off the Queensland coast. You can access this undersea spectacular of marine life and coral reefs from Cairns, Townsville, the Whitsundays or Mackay in the north as well as Gladstone and 1770 (Agnus Waters) in the south.
Meet seals, sea lions, koalas, wallabies, bandicoots and platypus in the wild on Kangaroo Island, an ecological haven accessible from Adelaide. The desert dunes, beaches, forest and farmland are just a short flight from Adelaide or ferry ride from Cape Jervis on the South Australian coast. Watch penguins make their nightly pilgrimage to shore, buy milk, cheese, wine and Ligurian honey fresh from local farmers and see fur seals frolic on the rocks and a colony of Australian sea lions at Seal Bay.
The blue-hazed beauty, dramatic cliffs and deep canyons of the Blue Mountains is just a 90 minute drive from Sydney. Soak up the breathtaking panoramas on a trek along the Six Foot Track, go mountain biking, horse riding and scale the sandstone cliffs. As well as a million hectares of World Heritage-listed wilderness, you’ll find quaint guesthouses, cozy cafes, luxurious resorts and a vibrant community of artists.
Straddling New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory, the Alps has uniquely Australian alpine vistas and year round opportunities for outdoor adventure. Hit Australia’s highest ski fields or hike to the top of Mount Kosciuszko, the highest peak. Immerse yourself in Aboriginal history in Namagdi National Park. Drive the Great Alpine Road past historic villages, wildflower-coated plains, trout-filled streams and rugged gorges. Or go cycling, caving, rafting, kayaking, four wheel driving and horse riding.
Discover Australia’s destinations, starting with icons such as the Red Centre, Kakadu National Park and the Great Barrier Reef. These 16 natural treasures cover a breathtaking diversity of landscapes, from the mountainous Australian Alps to Fraser Island’s sand dunes, rainforest and lakes. Just as distinct are Australia’s cities, where the laidback lifestyle and cosmopolitan culture meet. From beach-fringed Sydney to elegant Adelaide, you’ll find a melting pot of cultures and a medley of theatre, restaurants, nightlife and events. Come, stay and celebrate, then spring into the rest of your Australian holiday. Australia has so much for you to explore, whether you want nature, wildlife, outback adventure, islands, rainforest or reef. Australia’s unique beauty is spread across eight states and territories, so find out more about the distinct attractions within each.
Learn more about Australia’s 16 icons – unforgettable landscapes such as the Red Centre, Kakadu National Park and the Great Barrier Reef. Find out more about what to see and do in each of these uniquely Australian places, from walks through Tasmania’s wilderness to wildlife spotting on Kangaroo Island.
Great Ocean Road
Great Barrier Reef
Namadgi National Park
Discover Australia’s cities, from Sydney’s famous harbour to Melbourne’s cutting-edge cultural precincts and Darwin’s laid back ambience. Visit Canberra’s national attractions, lie on Perth’s white beaches or wander Adelaide’s expansive parklands. In all the cities, the skyscrapers and shopping strips are just a short drive from mountains, ocean, river and bush.
Australia’s States and Territories
Explore Australia’s eight states and territories, from Tasmania’s World Heritage-listed rainforests to Western Australia’s beaches, forests and national parks. Immerse yourself in Aboriginal history in the Northern Territory or dive into Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef. Australia’s natural beauty knows no bounds, but you’ll find something different within each of their boundaries.
Australian Capital Territory
New South Wales
You’ll find large department stores, arcades, malls, and gift and souvenir shops across Australia. Trading hours vary across the country but shops in tourist and city areas are generally open until 6pm, with the exception of late night shopping on either Thursdays or Fridays in different states. In Australia you are covered by Australia's consumer protection laws which require businesses to treat you fairly.
Sport is something of a national obsession in Australia. They are avid followers of ‘footy’, which covers everything from rugby union to the uniquely Australian AFL. They play backyard and beach cricket all summer and turn out in thousands to watch the iconic Boxing Day test at Melbourne’s MCG. Summer is also the season they become amateur commentators at the Grand Slam tennis tournament. They have lush, championship-designed golf courses across the country and host many premier golf events. Their marathons attract hundreds of thousands of runners and rev-heads everywhere know about their car racing events such as the Formula 1 Australia Grand Prix.
Australia’s beloved ‘footy’ covers four codes, which can get a little confusing. Depending on who you’re talking to and the state you’re in, this could mean Australian Football League (AFL), Rugby League, Rugby Union or the soccer that most Europeans know as football! All codes command a strong, loyal fan base and share the same season from March to September.
Australian Football League (AFL) or ‘Aussie rules’
If you see men in shorts leaping to great heights on a large arena with an oval ball, then you’re probably watching a game of AFL or Australian rules football. Developed in Melbourne in the 19th century, AFL is Australia’s premier spectator sport, and the most attended sporting league. Popularity is highest in Victoria, where it’s practically a religion, but Sydney, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane also have passionately supported AFL teams. The league comprises 16 teams which play 22 home and away rounds between late March and September. The four-week finals series culminates in the Grand Final, one of the country’s top sporting events.
Rugby League is a full contact ball sport, which branched out from Rugby Union in the early 20th century. The National Rugby League or NRL (Australia's premier Rugby League competition) is mostly played in Australia’s eastern states, with most of the 16 teams are based in and around Sydney. The NRL season kicks off in early March and culminates with the grand final on the first Sunday of October. State of Origin is a best-of-three series between New South Wales and Queensland. It’s held during the middle of the regular NRL competition, attracting sell-out crowds and huge TV audiences. There are also annual international games such as the Australia Vs New Zealand ANZAC Day test.
Australia’s Rugby Union team is the Wallabies and each year – clad in green-and-gold - they compete with New Zealand and South Africa in the Tri-Nations Series. Their on-field battles with the New Zealand All-Blacks form the Bledisloe Cup, while the games with South Africa are part of the Mandela Challenge Plate. Every four years, Australia competes with rugby-playing nations from across the world in the Rugby World Cup. Seven former Australian players, including Nick Farr-Jones, have been inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame. Australia’s state teams play with each other and New Zealand and South African teams in the Super 14s.
Football (also known in Australia as soccer)
Australia’s first national soccer team was formed in 1922 for a tour of New Zealand. In 1974, Australia made their first appearance at the World Cup finals in West Germany. Today the national team –the Socceroos – has several World Cups behind it and is gaining success on the international circuit. The Socceroos qualified for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa without losing a match. The whole nation will proudly be behind their progress through each round of the competition.
Each January Australia becomes the headquarters for international tennis, hosting a number of tournaments in the lead-up to the Australian Open. Kicking off the season is Perth’s Hopman Cup, where eight top-ranking doubles teams compete for a tennis-ball trophy encrusted with Kimberley diamonds. In the first week of January, top male players warm up for the Australian Open at the Brisbane International. Female tennis stars hone their serves at the Moorilla Hobart International a week later. The tennis greats head to Sydney for the Medibank International, before Melbourne’s Australian Open at the end of the month. It’s the first of four Grand Slam tournaments, the others being the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open.
With more than 1,500 golf courses across Australia, it’s no wonder golf is a popular leisure sport for Australians. They have both public and private courses, some which are champion-designed and many boasting spectacular views. Many courses are connected to luxurious resorts which offer ‘stay and play’ packages. Their top resorts are in southern Queensland, but Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia also have acclaimed resorts. Australia’s world-class players include Greg Norman, Geoff Ogilvy, Adam Scott and Karrie Webb. Their premier golf events are the Australian PGA Championship the Australian Masters and the Australian Open Golf.
Australians have played cricket for more than 200 years and it's one of the most popular sports. Over summer they play it at picnics, barbeques, beaches and parks. The Australian cricket team, with their trademark baggy green caps, is one of the world’s top-ranking teams. The competition consists of Test series lasting from three to five days, One Day Internationals and the Twenty20 series. There is also the Ashes, where Australia and England compete for the charred remains of a wicket. The most famous match is probably the one-day Boxing Day Test at Melbourne’s MCG. Australia’s cricket heroes include Sir Donald Bradman, Ritchie Benaud, the Chappell brothers, Waugh brothers, Shane Warne and Glen McGrath.
Car racing has a passionate following in Australia, which hosts a number of rubber-burning events. Each March, Melbourne’s Albert Park is the venue for the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix. In April or May, elite drivers race around Tasmania for the Targa Tasmania – a five-day tarmac-based rally. Primed V8 Supercars hit the Gold Coast in October for the Nikon SuperGP (formerly the Indy 300). Much fanfare accompanies this high-adrenalin race along the Surfers Paradise Street Circuit. You’ll also enjoy the buzz around the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1,000, held in Bathurst in October.
Marathons are big on Australia’s sporting calendar, and most of these also feature half marathons, 10km and 5km races. The Great Ocean Road International Marathon happens in May and the popular Gold Course Airport Marathon draws distance runners from around the world in June. Each August, elite runners and thousands of Sydneysiders take part in City to Surf, a scenic 14km course between the city and Bondi Beach. The Sydney Running Festival happens in September, with different courses to suit different fitness levels. The 42km marathon travels from Milsons Point, over the Harbour Bridge and through Sydney’s inner-west and CBD to Centennial Park.