In 2015 Australia’s tourist industry made over A$ 47.5 billion and had an estimated 7.4 million visitors. Due to its varied geography and vibrant wildlife and scenery, it has become one of the most enticing countries on the planet (also one of the most expensive), pulling in people from all over the globe each year to visit places like Sydney, Melbourne, and the Great Barrier Reef.
Sydney is the glamorous capital of New South Wales and one of the most modern cities in the country. This bustling harbour town is host to many unique landmarks and enterprises for people of all ages and backgrounds, and its alluring position on the Tasman Sea gives it the distinct flavour that so many people across the globe admire.
Photo by Daniel Rowson
Perhaps the most famous landmark is the Sydney Opera House, strategically built on the harbour with a design carefully resembling the sails of a boat. Overlooking is the famous Harbour Bridge, which is a key component of the city for both locals and tourists alike. Standing 134 metres high, visitors may opt to take the exhilarating Harbour Bridge Walk where they can go on a guided climb to the top of the bridge for an unforgettable vantage of the city, sea and Blue Mountain Range. For another monumental view one can go to the top of the Sydney Tower for a 360-degree panorama of the city beneath. With both closed and open air platforms, one can learn more about Sydney’s most significant features using its advanced technology system equipped with high-powered binoculars and touch screen panels available in many different languages.
Once visitors find their feet back on the ground, Darling Harbour would be a wise choice to visit as it’s packed full of fine dining restaurants, nightclubs, shopping centres, and entertainment. It is located in the heart of the city with a stunning harbour-side location, and contains some of the most famous tourist stops in the city. Here, one can experience places like the Wildlife Sydney Zoo or the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium. There are also weekly firework displays at 8:30 p.m. from Cockle Bay; harbour cruises; late-night dancing; mouth-watering bistros; and a plethora of waterside wine bars.
After one has had enough of the overload of the city and is ready to retreat into the comfortable confines of nature, there are plenty of places just a 2-3-hour drive outside of Sydney. You can escape to the serenity of the Blue Mountains and indulge in some of nature’s finest attractions. There are cable car rides, dolphin-watching cruises, world famous surf spots, sand dunes and thousands of species of wildlife to experience.
In contrast to Sydney’s metropolitan madness is Melbourne. About an hour and half flight out, Melbourne is an artistic city with rich history and a deeper connection to Australia’s past.
Melbourne, Victoria’s coastal capital city, is not only Australia’s art and fashion hub, but also a gateway to the multicultural diversity that has arisen over time. With a unique juxtaposition of 19th century Victorian heritage and modern architecture, there is a clear distinction between old and new. The Yarra river, which divides the city into two parts, Southbank and Cityside, is an integral part of the city’s DNA, and a key factor in the personalities of each bank. Cityside is the primary location for many of the most prominent points of interest. For sports fans, the Melbourne Cricket Ground cannot be missed as it is the 10th largest stadium in the world and home to a wide range of sporting events. For the market savvy, Queen Victoria Market, built in 1878 and stretching over two blocks, is a shopping paradise, and those interested can choose to explore the market on their own, or with a guided tour.
Photo by mariusz kluzniak
In Melbourne, creativity is king, where street art and public displays can be spotted in nearly every corner and alley you stumble upon. It is an extraction point for all things expressive and this is the pulse the city thrives on. Melbourne is not only a place that gives birth to imagination, but is also an entrance to many of Australia’s natural sensations and aboriginal history.
For the wine lovers, the Yarra Valley (just an hour outside of Melbourne) dishes up many of Australia’s finest wineries, which produce some of the country’s best Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Indulging in some of Victoria’s most exquisite culinary treats and wine pairings makes for a perfect day trip out of the city. From here, many suggest continuing further into the unsheltered Australian landscape to relish the splendours of the famed Great Ocean Road.
Rated as one of the most beautiful coastal roads in the world, this glorious 243 kilometre strip of land takes one on a majestic journey to the limestone rock formations internationally known as the 12 Apostles. As a result of 10-20 million years of erosion, these 12 towers present a stunning image of natural beauty, while the Great Ocean Road carries travellers through rainforest, waterfall and mountain terrain along the way. Throughout the trip there are many attractions to see such as the Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve, a landscape that resides inside a 30,000-year-old extinct volcano. Here, it is quite easy to catch an up-close glimpse of the free-roaming wildlife including kangaroos, wallabies, koala bears and a variety of unique seasonal reptiles.
A trip to Australia would also not be complete without visiting its most treasured prize, the Great Barrier Reef. The drive from Melbourne to Brisbane can take over three hours, but it’s well worth the time spent as Brisbane is one of the most convenient entries to the cherished Great Barrier Reef.
Brisbane/Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living organism on earth, and sitting at a staggering 2,300 kilometres long, it is longer than the Great Wall of China and the only living thing clearly visible from outer space. It is also one of the Seven Wonders of the World, which automatically makes Australia a destination that cannot be missed. Containing hundreds of mesmerising, tropical beaches, there is no shortage of picturesque spots for swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving or sunbathing. Travellers can take their pick of how they would like to experience this world wonder as there are a wide range of options available. You can simply jump in the water and splash around, get an aerial view from a helicopter ride, peer down through a glass-bottomed boat, or rent a dinghy and begin your own adventure.
With the help of the Great Barrier Reef’s immaculate magnetism to visitors, Australia has become one of the world’s most desired travel stops for a reason. Its beauty is humbling and distinguished. Its landscape and wildlife are diverse and astounding. One trip to “The Lucky Country” is not a momentary pleasure, but an irreplaceable and endearing memory that will endure forever.
*Credit: Mr. Thongchai Wibulsaksakul - Executive Director: Australia Marketing Center. The Australian Marketing Center was established by Thongchai Wibulsaksakul and provides marketing support services to Australia and other countries. Mr. Thongchai has been a representative to Australia for over 23 years, and also operates and organises regular tours through the country.