Australia is the unexpected: a place where the world’s oldest cultures share vast ochre plains, stylish laneways and unimaginably blue waters with successive waves of new arrivals from across the globe. Australia is a country, or Australia is the name for a land that encompasses many countries; to understand the latter is to walk in the footsteps of the first peoples. Whether you’re tracing outlines of rock art more than 20,000 years old in Kakadu National Park, floating in the azure waters of Rottnest Island or admiring the iconic sites of Sydney Harbour where the Eora Nation traded for centuries, you are on Indigenous land.
Nowhere builds cities quite like Australia: each is a homage to magnificent waterways or beachfronts, while offering different experiences across different geographies. Grab a bicycle from one of Melbourne’s bike-share racks and tour the city’s fashion districts and cafe-lined laneways. Only a city like Darwin can fuse southern-Asian influence with contemporary Aboriginal culture (and leave you with an impressive sunburn to boot). Want a bit of everything? Sydney will take your breath away with its natural beauty and bustling neighbourhoods, while Hobart strikes a chord with its Gothic history and contemporary art.
You only have to travel a stone’s throw from any of Australia’s capital cities before you’ve landed somewhere truly out of this world. Not scared of the deep blue? Dive into famous reefs from the Ningaloo to the Great Barrier Reef, or witness majestic southern right whales along the Great Australian Bight. Like thrills? Head to the incredible wildlife parks outside of Brisbane (Australia Zoo) and Darwin (Crocodylus Park). And nothing will steady your sea legs more than getting on a 4WD tour and hitting one of the many dirt roads leading to rocky outcrops, from Uluru to the Kimberley. Decades of migration combined with the re-emergence of native ingredients has brought Australian cuisine on to the radar of the world’s best chefs.
You can buy a mouth- watering kangaroo steak complemented by indigenous greens at high-end restaurants, or take a bush tucker tour outside Alice Springs and learn first-hand which local plants to taste. No trip to Tasmania would be complete without planning exactly where you’ll slurp freshly shucked oysters, and don’t leave South Australia without a Barossa Valley taste tour. And a word for the brave: Darwinians love their spice!