Like a masterpiece composed in multiple mediums, Australia is a study in contrasting form. Lush green rainforest and deep-blue oceans are seemingly worlds away from the Outback desert’s burnt red isolation. Cosmopolitan metropolises thrive amidst some of the Earth's most inhospitable land. Earth’s oldest culture endures in one of the world's youngest nations. Travel to Australia reveals that this remarkable continent's size and abundance are its greatest allure and its most confounding challenge. Let us steer you through the beautiful vastness and bewildering contrast that is Australia.
A Closer Look
Geographically isolated and home to unique cultures, wildlife and landscapes, Australia is a world unto itself. The country’s billabongs, gorges, canyons and deserts are populated with species found nowhere else on earth—kangaroos, koalas and fairy penguins, to name just a few. The country’s indigenous culture, speculated to be the world’s oldest continuous living culture (at least 60,000 years old), imbues the land with a sacred significance. And the land itself—from the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest living organism, to Uluru (Ayer’s Rock), the world’s largest monolith—is equally vibrant. To top it off, Australia’s cities are jewels of contemporary Aussie culture, worthy rivals of the world’s top metropolises.
With its iconic Opera House and Harbor Bridge, Sydney holds its own among the world’s great, iconic cities. Stately Melbourne, with its historic architecture and progressive, electric tramlines, is less iconic but no less delightful. Each represents a different side of Australia’s good-natured, friendly and sophisticated urban culture.
UNEXPECTED ART & CULTURE
Australia’s art scene is not restricted to Sydney—in fact the remote regional capitals of Perth, Western Australia and Hobart, Tasmania harbor some of the continent’s most vibrant artists’ studios, galleries and museums. In Perth, learn about traditional Aboriginal art, filled with spiritual significance, and in Hobart, don’t miss the contemporary MONA museum—a physical manifestation of Tasmania’s quirky culture.
VINEYARD & VINTAGES
Through a combination of Australia’s favorable climate and the adoption of the finest European vintner’s traditions, Australia’s wine is some of the world’s finest. In the Hunter Valley, cycle between wineries on eucalyptus-shaded lanes. Or, in the celebrated Barossa Valley, join a respected sommelier in his vintage Daimler for a guided tasting tour.
No Australia tour is complete without visiting the famed Great Barrier Reef. Whether viewed from a snorkeler’s perspective or from a bird’s-eye-view via private plane, the Reef is truly extraordinary. Smaller and less-often visited Ningaloo Reef, on the opposite coast, offers the opportunity to swim alongside curious (vegetarian) whale sharks—a unique and awe-inspiring experience.
The Daintree Rainforest’s stunning natural beauty is inarguable, but to appreciate the landscape even more deeply, explore in the company of an Aboriginal elder with a lifelong connection to the land. Tasmania’s Cradle Mountain wilderness area is some of the most untouched on the continent—soaring peaks frame the ancient rainforest, interspersed with crystal-clear lakes and streams.
The landscape of Aboriginal-managed Arnhem Land is rich with diverse wildlife, thundering waterfalls and sweeping plains—true to its Aboriginal roots, each landscape is imbued with unique, spiritual significance. Join a local, Aboriginal guide in viewing millennias-old rock art and learning about the continuity of this ancient culture into the contemporary age. A local, Aboriginal guide also adds immeasurably to the experience of seeing Uluru (Ayer’s Rock)—an ancient, sacred site.