When considering a trip to Australia, most people immediately think of the country’s amazing natural scenery and its wildlife (including kangaroos and dingoes!), and of holidays spent on the beach or visiting the outback. Australia is one of the most varied countries in the world – with everything from vineyards to the stunningly beautiful Western Coral Coast to remote bushland farms available to visit, making Australia a fantastic candidate for a holiday. In planning such a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, most will underestimate the appeal of Australia’s cities – which is a pretty big mistake!
Located mostly along the comparatively densely populated eastern coastline, Australia’s cities can act as exciting gateways to the country’s natural attractions. They can be great focal points for a holidat, providing a true insight into Australian life.
Sydney, the most populous Australian city, provides access to the famous Bondi Beach, which hosts events such as the City2Surf Fun Run, an annual race attracting over 63,000 entrants each August. Australia’s international Academy Award short film fest, the Flickerfest, is held on Bondi Beach each January; the Sculpture by the Sea Arts event is held there in November; and beach markets take place every Sunday. This year, Australia Day (26January) will be marked with a special series of events, including the premiere of a new song celebrating Australian life, written by Good Charlotte’s Benji Madden and Joel Madden and inspired by comments and pictures from people across Australia.
For fans of culture and history, Sydney’s world-famous opera house, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Harbour National Park, and a plethora of museums and art galleries (the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Powerhouse Museum, to name just a few) will provide ample entertainment. Life gigs, shopping, and various other attractions can be found in the 649 different suburbs, and Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival is just one of the colourful annual festivals held in the city.
Melbourne is the go-to city for those interested in fashion, in sports, and in festivals. Transformed into one of the world’s wealthiest cities by the Victorian gold rush of the 1850s, it is now full of bohemian flair. It is often referred to as the ‘Garden City’, and is also the cultural capital of Australia. It is the founding place of Australian film, Australian television, Australian rules football, and the Heidelberg school of Australian impressionist art. Sports highlights such as the Australian Grand Prix, the Australian Grand Slam, the Spring Horse Racing Carnival, and the Australian Football League are held annually in Melbourne – any of which would be excellent features of any holiday to Australia.
The city also provides a fantastic starting point for exploring regional highlights of the Victoria state, such as the Mornington Peninsula, with its seaside villages, vineyards, beaches, and national parks. The Yarra Valley can also be reached by car in less than an hour, and offers a completely different landscape with beautiful villages and forests.
Perth is Australia’s westernmost city, and offers unique access to the Indian Ocean Drive’s white beaches, coral reefs, fishing towns, and national parks. Ningaloo Reef and Cape Range National Park make up the assortment of local outdoor experiences that are not to be missed. Ningaloo Reef’s 260 km make it Australia’s largest fringing coral reef, and it is famed for its populations of whale sharks, dolphins, dugongs (large marine mammals closely related to the sea cow), manta rays, humpback whales, as well as many other species of marine invertebrates.
In addition to its nearby outdoor attractions, Perth also offers fantastic shopping and dining, for example in its historic Fremantle port, which served as the main submarine station during Australia’s involvement in World War II; exhibits of maritime warfare can still be seen around the port today.
Australia’s biggest appeal is the huge variety it offers – both in terms of its countryside and its cities. The official Tourism page for Australia is well worth a look as you plan your adventure – and a trip that combines kangaroos and coral reefs with cultural activities, special events, sports, and shopping is likely to make you want to return to Australia again and again!