A Trip Down Under
In a country as large as the United States, Australia is a destination that truly offers something special for every traveler. There are cities with amazing architecture, nightlife and fine dining. The Outback spans the center of the country, with the largest wild camel population in the world and sand so coveted that Middle Eastern countries buy it to build upon. As for beaches, if you visited a different one every day, it would take over 20 years to see them all.
Most travelers hit the top three: Sydney, Ayers Rock and the Reef. It’s a good combination of urban and wildlife—all manageable in about a 10-day stretch.
Of all the cities, Sydney has the most to offer visitors. First off, it’s on the coast, meaning you’ve got the beaches (Manly Beach hosts the world surfing competition) as well as the harbor to visit. It also has the greatest number of national parks close by. There are plenty of good hotels, excellent dining options (lots of Asian food), and highlights such as the Opera House and the Harbor Bridge (with phenomenal light shows). The best part is you can catch nonstop flights to Sydney from Houston.
For those with more time, rent a car in Sydney to drive to the Blue Mountains National Park, where you can hike through
rock formations, take aboriginal walks and visit the villages and markets scattered throughout. Or continue to the Snowy Mountains, where you can go skiing in winter (that’s July, August and September in Australia) or mountain bike riding in summer.
If you’re drawn to the idea of driving the west coast of California, then travel farther south to Australia’s Great Ocean Road. Dramatic cliffs, world-class surfing and unique limestone formations are highlights along this unforgettable drive. For the more adventurous, take to the trails and hike along the wind-swept beaches, staying in lodges along the way.
For those with an African Safari or the Grand Canyon on your bucket list, then Uluru, or Ayers Rock, is a must-see on your trip. The iconicsandstone rock jutting out of the heart of Australia’s Outback is held sacred by aboriginals and attracts visitors from across the world. This is the place for stargazing and spotting kangaroos, as well as absorbing the vast desert wilderness. Be sure to inquire about the different ecotours servicing the area.
|On the northeast end of Australia lies the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. The rainforest extends all the way to the coast and is home to the world’s third-largest bird—the cassowary. Rent a boat and head out to snorkel the crystal blue waters of the world’s largest coral reef.|
The colors are beyond description but make sure you go at the right time of year—spring or fall. Summer in Australia (December and January here) brings unwanted jellyfish and makes it nearly impossible to go out snorkeling.
But these are just the start of what Australia has to offer. We can tailor any trip to a customer’s whim or desires. Have a wine aficionado in the group? Visit Hunter Valley, Barossa Valley, Yarra Valley or Margaret River. Want a relaxing trip across the Outback? Hop on The Ghan, a train ride cutting through central Australia from north to south. Or cruise on an expedition ship along the coastline.
Explore Crocodile Dundee territory at Kakadu National Park, where the people are more laid back and have a great sense of humor. It’s a place completely different from anywhere else you will ever travel. Or stay at a luxury cattle station, wher
e you can take part in a cattle drive or watch from overhead in helicopter. Want to get away from it all? There’s a fantastic resort nestled in the Blue Mountains that’s in the middle of nowhere.
Don’t forget the islands either. Tasmania, a former island prison, offers hiking and some of cleanest air in the world. View the penguins and kangaroos at Phillip Island, or watch out for dingoes on Fraser Island–the biggest sand island in the world. In the Whitsundays, Hayman Island caters to luxury resorts while Hamilton Island is more family friendly. Port Douglas is another laid back destination offering all-inclusive resorts.
With so many options, it’s easy to make an itinerary as creative as you’d like. Just remember to be social and talk to everyone (Australians love that) and be sure to get out there and explore. Trust me, it’ll be an experience you’ll never forget.