Remote, with a deadly environment and deadly inhabitants, Australia has long been a mystery to much of the world. It has only been in the past few decades, with advances in travel and technology, that the rest of the world has come to learn more about the Land Down Under.
Australia is a traveler's dream come true, from the beautiful and awe-inspiring Great Barrier Reef to the exotic and desolate Uluru, there's something for everyone. So where should you visit to get the best the land has to offer?
The launching pad for the Great Barrier Reef and Northern Queensland, Cairns has developed a reputation as an international destination for tourist looking for adventure and to explore nature. The Great Barrier Reef, an international icon, offers weeks’ worth of activities. For those more interested in staying on land, the parks and valleys around Cairns offer incredible rainforest habitats and are ripe for exploring, although having a guide is highly recommended due to the high number of dangerous animals.
* Alice Springs
In the middle of the Outback is a small town that is the jumping-off point for some of Australia’s most iconic tourist destinations. From Alice Springs, one can head to Uluru, previously known as Ayers Rock, the iconic red monolith that juts up from the desert. Part of the same national park, the lesser known Kata Tjuta, or The Olgas, is a series of domed mountains that rise up from the same desert. The park is home to a number of rare animal and plant species, such as the Great Desert Skink and the Mulgara.
The capital of South Australia, Adelaide is a rather sedate city, but don’t let that fool you, as it has plenty to offer. A planned city, full of parklands and bordered by reserves, there is plenty of wildlife to be seen around the city. As it was not a convict settlement but instead a free settlement area, Adelaide does not have quite the lurid history, but has made up for it with current culture. The center for Australian wine, helped by weather similar to the Mediterranean and a core of settlers from Germany and France, Adelaide is a great place for oenophiles to make their home base for a tour of Australian vineyards.
The only state of Australia not part of the mainland, Tasmania is quite different from many other stops in the country. Nearly half of the island is set aside as reserves, parks, and World Heritage sites, giving it plenty of unspoiled natural habitat to be explored. With incredibly historic towns such as Port Arthur, and indigenous wildlife like the Tasmanian Devil, the island is chock full of surprises for nature lovers. It is also one of the more supernatural areas of the continent, with myths and legends such as the Tasmanian Tiger hanging heavy over the island.
The second-largest city in Australia, Melbourne is arguably the heart of the country. Temperate and sprawling, encompassing a number of suburbs with their own distinct personalities, it is a blue-collar city and the cultural capital of the country. It is the home of Australian film as well as that distinctly Aussie games, Australian Rules Football. Melbourne is known for street art, architecturally significant buildings, and a coffee culture that rivals Seattle or the Mediterranean areas. It is also known for an abundance of parks in the city, including the Botanical Gardens and the Yarra River parks.