TRAVEL:

From our stun­ning coast to sun­burnt coun­try, con­sider an Aussie des­ti­na­tion in 2017

Life & Style Weekend - - WELCOME // INSIDE TODAY -

IT’S true, there re­ally is no place like home. How far across our great sun­burnt land have you tra­versed? From deserts to sandy shores, great reefs, lush rain­forests, world-class wine re­gions, cos­mopoli­tan cities and true-blue coun­try com­mu­ni­ties, there’s so much to see, do, eat and en­joy right here in our back­yard. It’s time you made a great Aus­tralian Bucket List, and here are just a few rea­sons why.

Cul­ture

It’s said that Aus­tralians have bet­ter cof­fee than Europe. Our cap­i­tal cities are now set­ting the lat­est trends and in­flu­enc­ing coun­tries across the world.

Aus­tralia’s cul­tural in­sti­tu­tions are recog­nised as some of the most avant-garde: MONA has contribute­d to putting Ho­bart on the map with its ground-break­ing ex­hi­bi­tions, fes­ti­val and food and wine ap­pre­ci­a­tion; while Bris­bane’s GOMA is a bona fide cul­tural bea­con that shines across the na­tion, hav­ing hosted sev­eral world-class trav­el­ling ex­hi­bi­tions and giv­ing the ever pop­u­lar NGV (Mel­bourne) and MCA (Syd­ney) a run for their cul­tural prow­ess.

With cof­fee and art un­der wraps, Aus­tralia now leads the way as a top shop­ping des­ti­na­tion too. With in­ter­na­tional high street gi­ants such as H&M, Zara and Uniqlo es­tab­lish­ing flag­ships around the coun­try, you no longer need a pass­port to find the per­fect out­fit.

Wildlife

Come face to face with your Aussie mates. Aus­tralia has a long his­tory with our weird and won­der­ful wildlife. Be­yond cud­dling a koala, you can meet a Tas­ma­nian devil, swim with dol­phins or whale sharks, feed a croc­o­dile or watch the world’s small­est pen­guins wad­dle along the beach.

For pen­guin view­ing, take a two-hour drive south of Mel­bourne and watch the daily sun­set pa­rade at Philip Is­land Na­ture Park.

If swim­ming with sharks is on your bucket list, the Ni­ga­loo Reef that runs along the length of the north west cape of West­ern Aus­tralia is a great place to see these amaz­ing an­i­mals.

From about mid-March to mid-May, you can dive with the world’s largest species of fish – whale sharks of­ten grow to more than 12 me­tres in length and weigh more than 11 tonnes.

Wine

Aus­tralia has more than 60 des­ig­nated wine re­gions across the coun­try. The Hunter Val­ley (NSW) is Aus­tralia’s old­est wine re­gion. Food­ies will re­joice in the re­gion’s fine din­ing, cook­ing classes and lo­cal pro­duce. With more than 150 cel­lar doors to visit, you’ll have your work cut out for you, sampling wines in be­tween play­ing golf, tak­ing a spa day or a hot-air bal­loon ride.

South Aus­tralia is home to the Barossa Val­ley and McLaren Vale wine re­gions. McLaren Vale is home to some of the world’s old­est grape vines. For lovers of full-bod­ied wines, take the Shi­raz Trail, which fol­lows an old rail­way line from McLaren Vale to Wil­lunga.

The Barossa boasts some 150 cel­lar doors and is a great re­gion to ex­plore by bi­cy­cle. Al­ter­na­tively, ex­pe­ri­ence all that the Barossa has to of­fer by mo­tor­bike, vin­tage car or he­li­copter.

In Victoria, both the Morn­ing­ton Penin­sula and the Yarra Val­ley are a short dis­tance from Mel­bourne. This re­gion and the

Yarra are well known for their pinot noir, fresh­wa­ter salmon and caviar.

Beaches

Beaches are quintessen­tially Aus­tralian. They fea­ture in clas­sic tele­vi­sion ads and are a com­mon child­hood beach-hol­i­day mem­ory for most. How­ever, have you vis­ited all of Aus­tralia’s most-loved beach spots?

Queens­land’s Great Bar­rier Reef, 75 Mile Beach on Fraser Is­land and Surfers Par­adise, all the way down to the Great Ocean Road and as far as Ca­ble Beach in West­ern Aus­tralia, we have some of the most in­cred­i­ble coast in the world.

Ad­di­tion­ally there are off­shore re­treats. Kan­ga­roo Is­land, lo­cated off South Aus­tralia, has small-batch dis­til­leries and gourmet lo­cal pro­duce. For award-win­ning lo­cal cheeses be­tween fish­ing, div­ing and re­lax­ing, visit Tas­ma­nia’s King Is­land.

Big things

Aus­tralia loves its “big thing” land­marks, from The Big Pineap­ple, The Big Mango and The Big Banana in sunny Queens­land, to The Big Orange in South Aus­tralia and The Big Prawn in Bal­lina.

How­ever, Aus­tralia’s most iconic gi­ant man-made struc­ture has to be the Syd­ney Opera House: a marvel­lous piece of ar­chi­tec­ture recog­nised world­wide.

Another leg­endary at­trac­tion is Uluru. Wit­ness­ing the rock at sun­rise or at sun­set when its ter­ra­cotta colours change hues un­der the sun are purely spec­tac­u­lar.

The Great Bar­rier Reef, 75 Mile Beach on Fraser Is­land and Surfers Par­adise, all the way down to the Great Ocean Road and as far as Ca­ble Beach in West­ern Aus­tralia, we have some of the most in­cred­i­ble coast in the world.

PHOTO: TREVOR VEALE

Aus­tralia of­fers many ex­cit­ing hol­i­day des­ti­na­tions with unique wildlife to boot.

PHOTO: THINKSTOCK

Make some time to head west and ex­plore the Aus­tralian out­back.

PHOTO: SCOTT POWICK

Our stretches of coast­line are among the best in the world.

PHOTO: LYN­DON KEANE

Aus­tralia has more than 60 wine re­gions through­out the coun­try.

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