Australia

The famous lines “I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains” by Australian poet Dorothea MacKellar capture perfectly the essence of Australia in just a few words. A country full of natural beauty distinct from other places due to its physical isolation, the mineral-rich red earth and unique flora and fauna - including the endearing kangaroo and koala - are instant draw cards attracting travellers. To see Australia you need time as the distances are huge, but it's most definitely worth the effort because with its size comes variety. You can explore the vibrant cities and discover the 'coffee-culture' that has overtaken urban life, with each city proudly trying to produce the best cuppa jo. Sydney is a buzzing city with the iconic landmarks of the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Get swept along in the city rush or relax on the beaches and try your hand at surfing. Many like to head north to Queensland to snorkel on world-class reefs and discover abundant wildlife in rainforests. If you like driving, you can cruise through the seemingly never-ending desert landscape to the red centre. Yes, you will wonder why you have come all this way to see a rock, but only until you see it looking on the horizon; what a beautiful rock it is! Its aboriginal name is Uluru, while others call it Ayers Rock. Regardless of what you call it, it truly is serene and is the spiritual heart of Australia. Only the tough can survive here, not to mention the flies! Don’t forget Tasmania, the little island to the south. With its ancient forests and unique atmosphere, there is plenty to explore and it is a haven for hikers and campers. You will see loads of wildlife here, including the spiky echidna and maybe even the elusive platypus. Wherever you go, Australia has an adventure waiting for you, but take heed of the poem and bring your sunscreen; it’s only the red earth that suits the colour of sunburn, not your face! ~ Megan Morlok


A Wild Corner That's Worth the Visit

A small triangular island south of Melbourne, Tasmania floats in the Southern Ocean with Antarctic winds bringing slightly chilly weather for most of the year. The island's shape has lead some Australians to cheekily refer to a part of the female anatomy as her “map of Tasmania”, but otherwise few people talk about this distant corner of the country. Rich in natural beauty and wrapped in a hint of wild, Tasmania is a must-see destination for all outdoor buffs, thanks to its range of with pristine national parks that can only be explored by foot. Dense rainforests with huge ferns as tall as trees will amaze you and make you think of the land time forgot! The weather can be a little off-putting for sun-seekers, particularly from May to December. While this may not be a part of Australia blessed with sunshine, though, the coastline is still one of the most beautiful in the country.

A Unique Experience Awaits Down Under

Sunset at Cottesloe BeachOne of the hottest, sunniest cities in Australia, third most windy city and touted as one of the most isolated cities in the world, Perth is often overlooked by visitors. Perhaps its isolation has kept its secrets in the west, but those who brave the distances enjoy the uncrowded beaches, the relaxed pace and the endless blue skies that stretch over the Indian Ocean. Perth is situated around the Swan River, which is its lifeline. On weekends it is full of sailboats and windsurfers, while ferries cross from north to south and various vessels offer river cruises. A jaunt up-river takes you to the Swan Valley wine region, while north of the water is home to the city centre with skyscrapers clearly visible. This area is the central business district as well as a major shopping area and the nearby suburb called Northbridge is densely packed with cafes, restaurants and nightclubs. In short, Perth has it all. 

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 Full name: Commonwealth of Australia

 Population: 22.02 million (CIA, 2012)

 Capital: Canberra

 Largest city: Sydney (by population)

 Area: 7.741 million sq.km. (496,225 sq. mi.)

 Major languages: English, Chinese, Italian,  Greek, Other

 Major religions: Protestant, Catholic, Other  Christian, Muslim, Other

 Monetary unit: Australian Dollar

 GDP per capita: US $40,800

 Internet domain: .au

 International dialling code: +61

 Source: CIA World Factbook