As a travel writer I often get asked to list good things to do. here’s some observations about Australia.
1.The traditional departure point for tourists looking to snorkel or dive the Great Barrier Reef is
Cairns. There are various companies that offer a wide variety of different kinds of charters out to the reef. You may choose between day-trips or extended tours, which vary greatly in price, anywhere from around $70 to $220. If you aren’t yet qualified to scuba dive, but can’t possibly go on a day tour to the Great Barrier Reef without doing so, you can easily pick up your certification in a few days at Pro Dive Cairns. They offer a 4-day scuba course, which gives you your PADI qualification and gives you the opportunity for several solo scuba dives out on the reef. Pretty much everyone has an ecotourism rating, which means you don’t have to worry about damaging the great barrier reef while you are diving.
2.Happening in February, the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras has grown to be the largest of its type in the world. A million people line Darlinghurst’s streets to see floats so colourful, and outfits so outlandish that Brazilian carnevalists would blush with embarrasment. Streets are closed off, pubs along the way are at capacity, and the gay and lesbian community party for days. It’s their Christmas. Normal folk are allowed along for the celebratory ride but this is a celebration of queer culture. The event began in the late seventies with a parade of 1000 people marking World Gay Solidarity Day. These were much less forgiving days and there were disagreements with police that led to arrests for ‘lewd behaviour’. These days gay and lesbian police march openly – in uniform – in the parade. The whole thing involves thousands of performers. Religious types are always resentful of the blatant sexuality but are generally seen as part of the lunatic fringe during this festival. It’s an unforgetable party and shouldn’t be missed.
3.Just south of Cairns, Mission Beach is the closest mainland point to the Great Barrier Reef. The beach is a 8 mile long, perfect sandy beach, with breathtaking views of Dunk and a couple of other islands just off the beach. There is a small village here, where you can learn more about activities like sea kayaking or scuba diving, though most would be perfectly happy soaking up the sunlight and taking in the beautiful views.You can stay in local accommodation, though most will be driving from Cairns. If you did not hire a car or RV for your vacation, there is a bus service named Mission Beach Dunk Island Connections, which takes the scenic road between Port Douglas, Cairns, and the Cassowary coast.
4.Tropfest is the world’s largest short film festival and is held early in February each year in Sydney’s Domain. Tropfest also screens nationally in Australia’s capital cities. The aim is to ‘showcase the work of young filmmakers and to give them the chance to show their short films for their peers in a festive environment’. For everyone else it’s a chance to watch free films while drinking wine on a hot summer’s evening. Each film must contain a ‘signature item’, something inanimate the organisers decided months previously to ensure the film was made for Tropfest. The event began in 1993 when a local actor/director John Polson screened one of his own short films at the Tropicana Caf? in Darlinghurst. 200 people crammed the caf?. The next year 2000 showed up and chaos reigned on the caf? strip. Last year it’s estimated 100,000 watched the festival in The Domain, while millions more filled the other venues.
5.The Big Day Out is a summer music festival and Australia’s biggest travelling party. Like a mobile Glastonbury the show has featured in recent years bands like Limp Bizkit, and Placebo. In the past top acts such as Nirvana and Bjork have made the trip down under. From what started as an one day event in Sydney on Australia day now travels all around Australia and even to New Zealand. It’s a not to be missed activity for anyone under 30, local or tourist.
6.The thing to do at Ayers Rock – climb to the top of it. Located near Alice Springs aka the Outback, Uluru, one of the World’s Heritage Sites, is a large sandstone formation standing at 1,142 feet in height and turns varying shades of bright red during the day, particularly so during sunrise and sunset. Additionally, Uluru is a dreaming site to the Indigenous people who also believe that a curse is placed on anyone who takes rocks away with them. In the tourist information center, there is an exhibition of rocks that have been shipped back from tourists hoping to get rid of the curse. There is a long chain extending along the side of the trail that acts as a handrail for the climb up and the views from atop this magnificent site are totally unforgetable. The local Aboriginal people do not like tourists climbing the rock, however this decision is up to you.
7.The largest continuous area of rainforest in the country, the Daintree Rainforest is a protected area of thick rainforest 100km’s north of Cairns. The National Park, which encompasses around 1200 square kilometers, is not only a World Heritage site, but is also home to a large variety of plant and animal life-including marsupials, frogs, birds and more. Generally thought to be the oldest rainforest in the world, the Daintree forest is over 135 million years old and has more than 435 different species of bird, including 13 species found only there. There are several day hikes that allow tourists to see sections of this incredible rainforest without the crowds, in addition to guided tours that can help teach you about the ecology on your way.
8.The southern coastline of Australia is absolutely awe inspiring. The Great Ocean Road runs right along the Southern Ocean where it impressed me that the next piece of land south is Antarctica. There are historical sites to see like the weathered rock formations of the Twelve Apostles, volcanic craters that became lakes, waterfalls, and beaches. And there’s nothing like experiencing the lifestyle and culture of the quiet, coastal towns that have the privilege of being situated on this brilliant coast.
9.Go to a surf school and experience the surfing lifestyle. Have you ever dreamed of surfing the waves? Well, now is your chance. Surfing is huge down under. Not just as a sport, but also as a lifestyle. There is something special about the people that live and breath surfing. They have a natural ease and calm for lifelust for life, that is impossibel to find elsewhere. And it’s difficult to understand it until you actually try it. The two seconds of elation while you stand on the board for the first time, with knees shaking like drumsticks will live with you forever. At least long enough to recover from the wave that will See the incredible view of the Sydney Opera House with the world famous Harbour bridge in the background .The Sydney Opera House is widely recognized as the symbol of Australia, as well as being one of the most well known performing arts centres in the world. The main attraction is off course the unique design. On major celebrations in Sydney history, like New Years Eve and the Sydney Olympic games, the bridge has always been the focal point. For the adventurous, it’s also possible to climb the bridge.
10.Coober Pedy is well known for the strange homes of a significant portion of it’s local residents who live underground. This practice came about when local resident sought escape from the oppressive heat before the days of modern air conditioning. Also known as the the Opal Capital of the World, Coober Pedy was first established as an opal mine in the eaerly 20th century. Today tourists can visit the old opal mines, visit underground churches, and lodge underground in a hotel. The local golf course, with sand instead of grass, is played at night with glow in the dark golf balls. The area served as the backdrop for the post-nuclear apocalypse film titled Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome starring Australian son Mel Gibson. Find an Underground hotel and enjoy this must see piece of Austraia.
I trust these help any prospective holiday makers Downunder.