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Friday, September 11, 2009

Amazing Australia; where to go and what to see

Wineglass BayImage via Wikipedia

With the newly released epic movie "Australia", the continent is most likely to attract a lot of tourists this coming year and rightfully so. It is a beautiful place, filled with interesting people and sights. It is a country which will suit everyone's interests and needs many times over. However, Australia is a vast country and it is very hard to fit the whole continent in during one holiday. You will need several months in order to at least attempt to see the most of it.

The best thing to do if you have less than a month is to decide on an area that you wish to explore. There are attractions, beautiful lakes, waterfalls, national parks and interesting islands to visit in all of the states. Some parts of Australia are more accessible and get more tourists than others. You will have to decide if you want to go off the beaten track, or follow the touristy trail along the east coast. Both of which have their charm of course; it just depends on what kind of experience you would like.

I'm fortunate enough to have spent 9 months Down Under and here are the places that I would recommend:

1. Western Australia; it is definitely off the beaten track and a lot less touristy than the East coast. This is a huge state and there are plenty to see and do. Perth is the big city of the west. It is very laid-back and friendly. You can take the train south to the lovely town of Freemantle, where there is a great market and the atmosphere is lovely. A perfect daytrip from Perth is the Rottnest Island. There you can rent a bike and cycle around the place.

Famous and popular is Monkey Mia, where you can get up close and personal with a few dolphins. Once in WA you can't miss the Ningaloo reef. It's just a short walk from the beach and less exploited than the Great Barrier Reef. Whale watching is also popular in the area and you often spot humpback whales. Up north, the town of Broome is worth a visit, especially the old outdoor cinema. Kununurra is the backdrop for the movie "Australia" and have a great rugged feel.

2. Tasmania; it is just a flight or a boat trip from Melbourne and Tasmania really is a hidden treasure. Hobart is a lovely spot to stay, and the scenery at Wineglass Bay is amazing. You will best enjoy the island best by renting a car and drive around the entire island, or by going on a 5 or 7 day tour. The National Park in the north, where the Tassie tiger is supposed to still exist, is marvellous. You are stepping on land where no one ever went before. Access is by boat only.

3. The Northern Territory; here Darwin is an excellent place to stay, very laid-back and with great weather during the summer. The Kakadu National Park is an experience. The Jim-Jim and the Twin falls are amazing. Apparently Jim-Jim is now closed due to crocodiles, but there are plenty of other places to visit in this huge park. You can go on tours where you spend a few nights in the park itself. Close by is the Litchfield and Nitmiluk parks. Both have lovely secluded places to go for a swim, or even a kayaking trip, and the waterfalls are nearly as impressive as in Kakadu. You can visit rivers where you are taken by boat out to see crocodiles and a variety of birds.

4. Sydney; the biggest city in OZ has a lot to offer with the Opera house and the area around the Quay. A trip to either the famous Bondi Beach or the Blue Mountains is a perfect way to spend the day. The Sydney Zoo is also very popular.

5. The East Coast; famous for its partying and the lovely beaches. This coast is filled to the brim with backpackers and tourists alike. There are a variety of attractions to visit, The National Parks south of Cairns, the Crocodile Hunter's famous Zoo or the Fraser islands. Cairns and Brisbane are the major towns on this side and worth a stopover.

6. Ayers Rock; in the centre of Australia lies this famous rock, called Ularu by the aborigines. Here you can stroll around and look at native paintings, learn about the aboriginal culture and see the rock change its colours as the sun sets. A visit to Alice Springs is a must when you are in the area.

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