Planning a trip to Asia? Don’t forget about its southern cousin. Geographically isolated and home to unique cultures, wildlife and landscapes, Australia is a world unto itself. From the country’s billabongs, gorges and deserts, to its unique Aboriginal culture, to its world-class cities, this island-national has much to offer those in search of a transpacific travel adventure.
A superlative city exemplifying Australia’s unique style of relaxed sophistication, Sydney is blessed with sun-drenched natural attractions, dizzying skyscrapers, delicious and inventive restaurants and superb shopping. Don’t miss climbing the Harbor Bridge for stunning views over the city, a tour of the iconic Opera house and the chance to explore the natural wonders just outside the city. Our favorite day trips are the Hunter Valley, a small, eucalyptus-shaded wine region, or the Blue Mountains, a subtropical rainforest bursting with diverse wildlife and picturesque waterfalls.
Great Barrier Reef
No one's Asia Pacific travel goals are complete without an excursion to the world’s most famous coral reef. Take a private helicopter flight to view this labyrinthine natural wonder from above. Then get a closer look by cruising the reef’s turquoise waters aboard a private vessel. Your knowledgeable captain will take you to the best snorkeling sites to explore this riotously colorful underwater world firsthand.
Australia’s vast interior inhabits popular mythology as the wild and rugged Outback or “Red Center,” dotted with sprawling cattle stations and ancient Aboriginal sites. A stop at Uluru (Ayers Rock) is a must, especially when accompanied by a guide from the Aboriginal Anangu tribe, who view themselves as the eternal guardians of sacred Uluru. Afterwards, don’t neglect an exploration of the nearby Olga Range to take in another otherworldly landscape imbued with ancient mythology. And before flying out of Alice Springs, stop in at local galleries to discover contemporary artwork from Australia’s leading Aboriginal artists.
Though it’s the country’s largest state, Western Australia contains just over 10% of Australia’s population, primarily in and around the quirky state capital of Perth. That makes it perfect for the transpacific travel aficionado in search of Australia off the beaten path. Western Australia filled with astoundingly pristine wilderness, sprawling beaches and starkly beautiful desert. Don’t miss the Pinnacles Desert, a collection of natural, limestone pillars that jut from a sandy plain; Margaret River, Western Australia’s up-and-coming wine country; or the Kimberley Coastal Wilderness with its dramatic canyons, towering escarpments and classic white sand beaches.
The island-state of Tasmania, tucked beneath mainland Australia, is nirvana for the Asia Pacific traveler in search of unspoiled wilderness. Nearly half of the island’s land lies in protected preserves. Our favorites are the Freycinet Wilderness Area, which offers some of the island’s best hiking, cycling and sea kayaking, and Cradle Mountain, a sublime landscape of jagged peaks descending into ancient rainforest, alpine heathlands, icy streams and glacial lakes. Urban Tasmania offers ample charms as well. The capital city of Hobart is home a world-class culinary scene and MONA (the Museum of Old and New Art), an emblem of Hobart’s proudly subversive and independent spirit.
Travel expert recommendations
Barossa Valley Vineyards
Climb in a vintage Daimler for private tour of the renowned Barossa Valley vineyards with an expert sommelier. Meet the winemakers, discuss the development of the valley’s wine tradition and taste a variety of the area’s best vintages. Cap off the experience with a picnic lunch of excellent local fare—artisanal cheeses, cured meats and local produce. Then settle into one of the area’s sophisticated B&Bs for the night. Our free travel catalogs and Custom Planners have all the details.
Uncover Melbourne's Hidden Gems
Our goal for all our Asia Pacific travel offerings is to connect travelers to the authentic local culture of their destinations. In Australia, a great way to do this is to join a longtime local to discover Melbourne's hidden gems—arcades, laneways and beautiful back streets only known to natives. Visit independent designers, specialty retailers and quirky cafes, and see avant-garde street art and inspiring architecture. End your wanderings with lunch and a glass of local wine in a locals-only, favorite restaurant.
Snorkel alongside (harmless, vegetarian) whale sharks in Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia. Smaller than the Great Barrier Reef but still incredibly vibrant and diverse (and practically deserted by comparison), Ningaloo Reef offers some of the best snorkeling in the entire Asia Pacific travel region. The resident whale sharks are playful and curious companions to your underwater explorations.
Explore Kangaroo Island
Spend a few days at Stranraer Homestead on Kangaroo Island, one of Australia’s most pristine natural environments. Many of the native animals here are unafraid of humans and allow close approach. Stranraer Homestead was built here in 1930 and has been restored into a quaint bed and breakfast and working farm producing prime lamb, wool and grain. Visitors can experience first-hand the skills involved in growing produce and raising animals, and then enjoy the fruits of their labors firsthand in the fine cuisine offered at Stranraer.
Over a million wild camels roam the Australian deserts. They were originally brought over to help with railroad construction.
Australia is the only continent without at least one active volcano.
If all the sails of the Sydney Opera House roof were combined, they would create a perfect sphere. The architect was inspired while eating an orange.
The male lyrebird, native to Australia, can perfectly mimic the calls of over 20 other birds—and, unfortunately, the sound of a car alarm.
Cuisine & Recipe
During WWI, Australian community groups sent food to their countrymen serving abroad, primarily at Gallipoli. These men were known as the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps). Because of the time delays of shipping food from Australia to Europe, they had to send items that would remain edible without refrigeration for long periods of time while retaining their nutritional value. Thus the ANZAC biscuit (what we Americans would call a cookie) was born.
These sweet, crunchy cookies are still favorites across Australia. Now, they are traditionally enjoyed on ANZAC Day (April 25th), in memory of all of Australia’s fallen soldiers, but also enjoyed year-round. We can also attest that they make great plane snacks if you’re planning a trip to Asia and Australia.
(makes about 30 cookies)
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
⅔ cup sugar
¾ cup shredded coconut
⅓ cup golden syrup (Available at specialty food stores. It’s worth seeking out as it provides the cookies with a unique flavor.)
½ cup (1 stick) butter
1 tsp. baking soda
2 Tbs. hot water
Preheat oven to 325°F. Place the oats, flour, sugar and coconut in a bowl and mix to combine.
Place the golden syrup and butter in a saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring, until melted. Combine the baking soda with the water and add to the butter mixture. Pour into the oat mixture and mix well to combine.
The dough should be fairly dry, but hold together when pressed. If it will not hold together, add a bit more water.
Place tablespoonfuls of the mixture onto cookie sheets lined with parchment and press down to flatten slightly. Allow ample room between cookies as they will spread when baked.
Bake for 8–10 minutes or until deep golden.
Allow to cool on baking trays for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
In a Sunburned Country
In A Sunburned Country is humoristic travel writer Bill Bryson’s report on Australia, the country that doubles as a continent, and a place with the friendliest inhabitants, the hottest, driest weather, and the most peculiar and lethal wildlife to be found on the planet. The result is a deliciously funny, fact-filled, and adventurous performance by a writer who combines humor, wonder, and unflagging curiosity.
Despite the fact that Australia harbors more things that can kill you in extremely nasty ways than anywhere else, including sharks, crocodiles, snakes, even riptides and deserts, Bill Bryson adores the place, and he takes his readers on a rollicking ride far beyond that beaten tourist path. Wherever he goes he finds Australians who are cheerful, extroverted, and unfailingly obliging, and these beaming products of land with clean, safe cities, cold beer, and constant sunshine fill the pages of this wonderful book. Australia is an immense and fortunate land, and it has found in Bill Bryson its perfect guide.