Australia: 11 Essential Destinations

Australia: 11 Essential Destinations

From Tasmania's unique wilderness to the stunning locations of The Lord of the Rings in New Zealand , here are a few essential places to visit in Australia

Our Team
June 17 , 2016
10 Min Read

Australia

Great Barrier Reef: The world’s largest coral reef system, the Great Barrier Reef is, well, par­adise down under. One of the biggest natu­ral structures visible from outer space, the reef is composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 2,300 kilometres along the Australian coastline. Under environmental threat for a while, the most popular points to access the reef are in Cairns and The Whitsun­days where you’ll find a host of ‘live­aboards’ to launch your reef tours. Several other cities along the Queensland coast also offer boat tours to the reef. Snorkel­ling, diving, boat excursions, scenic flights and even reef walking—this destination al­lows you to take your pick when it comes to observing its natural wonders.

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Pinnacles:The great outdoor charms of Australia often seem unreal. And the Pin­nacles, in the vast state of Western Aus­tralia, fit right in. The lunar-like limestone formations right by the Indian Ocean make for one of Australia’s most unique and fas­cinating natural landscapes. They are lo­cated in the Nambung National Park, near the town of Cervantes, and are scattered across the desert in their thousands, creat­ing a distinctly eerie landscape. The best season to see the Pinnacles is spring from August to October. The formations are best viewed in the early morning or late af­ternoon as the play of light brings out the colours, and the extended shadows of the formations deliver a contrast that brings out their features

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Tasmania: The country’s only island state is also its smallest, in area and pop­ulation, yet of late, it is easily one of the most popular destinations for travellers. Tasmania is rugged and remote, some­thing the state has turned into an asset. Its top attraction is its unique wilderness, which ranges from soft sandy beaches to the bleak alpine plateaus of Cradle Mountain. The state presents many op­portunities for adventure tourists, from forests trails to hikes deep into the wil­derness. The coastline—very craggy, presents opportunities for kayaking, raft­ing, yachting or just a pleasure cruise around the picturesque coasts. Perfect for someone looking to get away, 40 per cent of its land is protected in parks and reserves, making Tasmania one of the cleanest places on earth. For company, there are Tasmanian devils and penguins. Add a great arts and festival scene, and Tasmania is the place to be in.

Daintree Rainforest: Everything in Australia is done a bit differently from others, including its forests. The Daintree Rainforest, a tropical rainforest region, is the largest continuous area of tropical rainforest on the Australian continent, and it is situated right by the sea. These 1,200 square kilometres of for­ests are located on the northeast coast of Queensland. The tropical rainforest eco­system is one of the most complex ecosys­tems on earth, and represents the origins of its more familiar ‘Australian’ flora. Even though it takes up about 0.1% of the land­mass of Australia, it contains 3% of the frog, reptile and marsupial species in Aus­tralia, and 90% of Australia’s bat and but­terfly species, along with 7% of bird spe­cies in the country.

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Melbourne: Victorian-era architecture, elegant streetscapes, top-notch sports arenas, museums, art galleries, theatres, great seaside location and spaciously landscaped parks and gar­dens—Australia’s second most popu­lous city has multiple claims to being its most attractive as well. Very multi­cultural and totally sports-mad, this city’s harmonious coexistence of vari­ous ethnic communities have regular­ly seen it at the top of the world’s most liveable cities index. Add to that cutting-edge dining options, lush vineyards and great natural attrac­tions just beyond the city limits, and it is easy to understand why Melbourne is on top of everyone’s travel wishlist.

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Darwin: An alluring blend of fron­tier outpost and modern city, small and cosmopolitan Darwin is the tropi­cal capital of the desert-dominated Northern Territory of Australia. Very different from the rest of this vast country, its lush environs and deep connections with the region’s indige­nous people, and Darwin’s unique cosmopolitan makeup has been rec­ognised as a “multicultural icon of na­tional significance” by the Australian National Trust. The city also acts as a gateway to the famous Kakadu Na­tional Park and Litchfield National Park, which are only a few hours’ drive away, while the unique Tiwi Is­lands is a boat-ride away. And, yes, the city is named after the naturalist Charles Darwin. There is even a na­tional park in his name right inside the city as well.

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The Ghan: When a country covers the entire continent, can epic railway journeys be far behind? Regarded as one of the world’s greatest rail jour­neys, the Ghan accesses parts of Australia no other holiday can come close to. The Ghan travels 2,979 kilo­metres from the south to the north, between Adelaide and Darwin on the Adelaide–Darwin railway for three nights and four days through the fiery red centre of Australia, passing epic landscapes en route. Operated by Great Southern Rail, it takes 54 hours to travel, with a four-hour stopover in Alice Springs. As for the name, it’s a version of its previous nickname, the Afghan Express!

New Zealand

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Milford Sound: Situated on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island, Milford Sound is a fjord with a fusion of spectacu­lar natural features. Described by Rudyard Kipling as the “eighth wonder of the world”, Milford Sound, seen as an icon of South Island, is located within Fiordland National Park, and was carved by glaciers during the ice ages. The fjord’s cliffs rise vertically from the dark waters, and the mountain peaks seem to scrape the sky. When it rains, the cliffs mutate into water­falls that cascade downwards, some as high as 1,000 metres. Even getting there is a unique experience, with the Milford Road offering a stunning alpine drive and coach and cruise options offering the best of fjord and open ocean close by.

The Lord of The Rings Tour:  For everyone who fell in love with the locations of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, well, they are there to be visit­ed. The ‘precious’ locales are just as capti­vating close up—a cornucopia of verdant hills and valleys, lakes, rivers, endless plains and more. The landscapes of Mid­dle-earth came alive as New Zealand came firmly on top of the tourism bucket lists across the world. Over 150 real New Zea­land locations were used. The rolling green hills of Matamata in the North Island, dou­bled as the peaceful Shire region of Mid­dle-earth. Recognise Hobbiton in Queen­stown’s snowy jagged mountain peaks. Near Twizel in the Mackenzie Country, Pe­ter Jackson filmed the epic battle of the Pelennor Fields, where thousands of orcs bred by Sauron clashed with the men of Gondor and Rohan. Even the capital Wel­lington is present as Mount Victoria. 

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Rotorua: Popularly referred to as New Zealand’s favourite playground, Rotorua’s pristine lakes, fertile forests, activities and attractions aplenty make Rotorua the perfect place for a family holiday. Built over a geother­mal hot spot, Rotorua has numerous natural vents, hot pools and other geothermal features in and around the city. A water-dominated region, there are several lakes and rivers nearby, and along with the geother­mal wonders, there are also water ac­tivities such as fishing, boating and whitewater rafting. Also the centre of the Te Arawa Maori culture, the area offers a close up view of Maori tradi­tions and hospitality.

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Franz Josef Glacier: A glacier, up close and personal? That’s what you get at Franz Josef Glacier, or Ka Roimata o Hine Hukatere, a 12km-long glacier located in Westland Tai Poutini Na­tional Park on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Along with the Fox Glacier, it is part of Te Wahi­pounamu, a World Heritage Site park. The glacier is five kilometres from the town of the same name, and about a 20-minute walk takes the visitor to its terminal face. From the glacier car park, take a hike to lookout points for a bigger view of this awesome river of ice. Guided ice walks, heli-hikes or aerial sightseeing are other ways of seeing this spectacle of nature. It’s not all about ice though. Nearby are rainforests, waterfalls and lakes. And yes, it is named after Franz Joseph I of Austria, whose nephew’s assassina­tion sparked off World War I.

                                                                                                                                                                


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