Updated: Mar 11
With 193 countries in the world to visit, it can be hard to choose which destination to visit next. Last year I had a brain wave (I know, I think I must have had too much chocolate), the idea is to share with you a different country I have visited each month over the next two years. It was a difficult choice to start with, as there are 11 countries to choose from, beginning with the letter A. Australia won hands down! Here is what you need to know about the amazing land down under - Australia.
Whitsunday Islands ©MDHarding
A to Z Country Blog - Australia
Australia has 6 states, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Northern Territory, Western Australia, and South Australia. Each state has something unique to visit, explore and enjoy. The capital Canberra located in Victoria is the 8th largest city with over 400, 000 residents. The entire country has a population of over 24 million.
Australia was inhabited by indigenous Australians (Aborigines) for over 50,000 years before the first British settlers in the late 18th century.
Ancient Aboriginal Cave Art ©MDHarding
How To Get There & Getting Around
There are so many airline options including Qantas, Air New Zealand, British Airways, Virgin, and more. Check out Skyscanner and register with the airlines to get notifications when flight sales are taking place. I flew with Air New Zealand on this trip, booked through BUNAC (work Australia program from the UK). The around-the-world ticket included London - Bangkok - Sydney - Auckland - Fiji - Raratonga - Tahiti - Los Angeles - London.
In Australia, there are greyhound buses traveling throughout and I had great fun on-board the Auz Experience bus. Australia is vast and driving distances huge, you might like to take an internal flight or two. Domestic airlines in Australia include Virgin Australia, Qantas, Jetstar Airways, Tiger Air, Rex, and Air North.
Helicopter Trip Over Coffs Harbour ©MDHarding
New South Wales
New South Wales is famous for its landmarks including the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, the beautiful landscaped Botanical Gardens, and sandy beaches. Then outside Sydney don't miss the natural outstanding beauty of the Blue Mountains with the Three Sisters rock formation. If you're a fan/remember the Home & Away television program, it is filmed in Palm Beach. New South Wales is also home to the capital of Australia - Canberra. Traveling up the coast is beautiful with places to visit such as Coffs Harbour and its giant Big Banana monument also Byron Bay a fun, hippy surfing town.
If your backpacking around Australia on a year out, why not try working on a fruit or vegetable farm? I loved my experience working at a watermelon farm. The people were really nice and very welcoming with the work being lots of fun. I also worked with The Wilderness Society, and dressing up as a Koala was great fun!
Visiting in time for Christmas? You have to check out Bondi Beach and have a BBQ. One of the most surreal experiences of my life. On the beach wear your swimming costume and Santa hat. So much fun. Then comes the big bang of the New Year! Sitting on the grass hill of the Botanical Gardens, spectacular view of Sydney Harbour anticipating the eternal firework display. Awestruck by the colours and dramatic choreography.
Home & Away/Summer Bay Surf Club ©MDHarding
Victoria is a must-visit, travel along Ocean Road, ride a Camel, and see the Twelve Apostles. There is also the evening penguin parade at Philip Island. Museums, Rialto Towers observation deck, and the Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne. If you have more time take a trip to the city of Ballarat, where you can explore Sovereign Hill a replica gold rush town with 1850s streets, shops, and mines or to Belgave outside Melbourne where you can travel back to a bygone era on Puffing Billy a historic steam train and enjoy a Devonshire tea. Do you remember or still a fan of Neighbours the television program? Take the local train and then the bus to Pinoak Court fictional Ramsay Street.
Twelve Apostles ©MDHarding
Brisbane has a great selection of sandy beaches and great surf on the Gold Coast, travel further north to Airlie Beach gateway to the Whitsunday Islands where you can enjoy a boat trip and dive or snorkel the Great Barrier Reef. Then further north is Cairns, and stop to enjoy Mission Beach and Daintree Rainforest. Fraser Island is also worth a visit, take a jeep safari tour to see the panoramic views from Indian Head or Cathedral viewpoints. Then enjoy relaxing on Hervey Bay beach. Did you know Brisbane is also the home of Castlemaine xxxx beer and the oldest European pastries - Knusperlis? Yum!
Boat to Whitsunday Islands ©MDHarding
A visit to Australia must include one of Australia's well-known natural landmarks - Uluru (Ayers Rock) at Kata Tjuta National Park. It's easy to reach with an internal flight from Sydney to Alice Springs. They're depending on your budget you can stay in a luxury hotel or budget hostel. It's an early start to visit Uluru and get the most out of your visit. The sunrise is spectacular and the crowds draw in to climb Uluru and gain a certificate. With it being an Aboriginal sacred site, I decided not to climb but instead enjoyed visiting inside the caves and seeing the ancient Aboriginal cave art. It was a unique and spiritual experience.
Uluru/Ayers Rock ©MDHarding
Perth has so much going on, discover the Perth Mint, visit Rottnest Island, Margaret River wine region, and Broome where you go Dolphin spotting, the Kimberly region is home to ancient Aboriginal rock art and then there are the Bungle Bungle sandstone domes. I loved the jeep safari tour including sand surfing and visiting The Pinnacles rock formations for sunset in Nambung National Park. Voted one of the best awe-inspiring Australian rock formations by Traveller magazine.
Sand Surfing ©MDHarding
Adelaide has great museums such as the Art Gallery of South Australia, St Peter's Cathedral, the zoo, and the botanical gardens. Outside Adelaide visit Kangaroo Island and see the only commercial Eucalyptus Oil Distillery left in South Australia. They have everything from Eucalyptus Oil to Eucalyptus boiled sweets, Delicious! Cooper Pedy is a must-visit to see Umoona Opal Mine and Museum. Then there are the world-class wineries in Barossa and Clare Valley.
Seal Pup at Kangaroo Island ©MDHarding
There is also Tasmania, but I had to have an excuse to return;)
I have loved reminiscing about the wonderful trip to Australia. I hope you have enjoyed reading all about it and are inspired to visit. If you have any comments/questions please do get in touch. Email me at enquiries@MDHardingTravelPhotog@hotmail.com
Happy Travels:) x
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