The first opportunity that you get to spend some time in Australia is going to be a magnificent experience. You are probably already dreaming about the pictures of wildlife and plant life that youâ€™re going to be able to bring home. Indeed, the Australian Outback and the Great Barrier Reef are two of the most stunning areas of Australia (and throughout the rest of the world) for those types of experiences. Additionally, each of the major cities in Australia has wonderful parks and gardens that bring nature to its urban areas and provide the traveler with a pleasant retreat from city life. Make sure that you pack a good camera because thereâ€™s going to be a lot that you see in this country that you just canâ€™t see anywhere else!
The Australian Outback
If youâ€™re thinking about exploring the nature of Australia, then the place that you are probably thinking of is â€œthe Outbackâ€. Many people donâ€™t even know what this term means but do know that it applies to the part of Australia where wild animals and unique terrain can be found. Specifically, it refers to the parts of Australia that are not urban but which are rather rural lands where people generally donâ€™t make their homes. This actually refers to a big chunk of Australia since most of the population is centered in the six or seven main cities that make up the countryâ€™s urban environment.
Although there arenâ€™t a lot of residents in the Outback, there are a lot of small towns that have sprung up to support the tourism in this area. People who are interested in a safe exploration of this part of Australia have a number of specific areas to choose from where they can get a sense of what the vast emptiness of Australia is like without taking too many safety risks in the process. Here are a few of the places that you might want to check out if this sounds like something that applies to you:
Nitmiluk National Park. This is located in northern Australia and is an amazing place to visit if youâ€™re interested in the stunning nature of the country. It is home to the Katherine River Gorge which is a popular tourist attraction. It is also home to an impressive waterfall called Edith Falls. Travelers can head here to see the nature of the area and then branch off into remote areas of the Outback with a guide.
Kakadu National Park. This is a World Heritage Site because of the aboriginal art that has been preserved here. People interested in the cultural history of the area but who donâ€™t want to go to a museum to see it find this to be a great natural place to explore. It is home to the three Alligator Rivers and tends to have a more swampy feeling than much of the rest of Australia.
MacDonnell Ranges. Someone who is interested in mountain climbing will want to check out this terrain. There are numerous trails that appeal to different hiking skill levels. Overnight hikes are possible with guides and appropriate safety measures.
These three locations are just starting points for exploring the Outback. If you really want to get into the heart of this part of Australia, you should go with a tour group or tour guide who is familiar with the area. This is a popular part of Australian travel and shouldnâ€™t be difficult to locate.
Great Barrier Reef
Other than the general draw of The Outback, one of the major natural attractions that bring travelers to Australia is the Great Barrier Reef. This is the worldâ€™s largest coral reef system and is home to unique plant and animal life that you canâ€™t see elsewhere. Snorkeling and scuba diving are the two most popular activities in the area. However, people traveling here can enjoy a really vast array of activities because itâ€™s such a big tourist attraction. Resorts have been built up all throughout the area to offer a luxury experience of Australia to those seeking it while backpackers can find hostels to lodge in while they swim here.
It should be noted that there are numerous islands which are located throughout this area and that there are different things to see and experience in each area of the reef. The experience of Australia that you wish to have here really can be as urban or as a nature-based as you see fit. People who are planning to spend time in this part of Australia should look into the areas that most interest them in more depth.
Nature in Australiaâ€™s Cities
Although most people who want to explore Australiaâ€™s nature are going to be focused on the Outback and the Great Barrier Reef, there are also plenty of opportunities to explore nature within the more urban areas of Australia. Every major city in Australia is home to parks and botanical gardens that bring the tranquility of the countryâ€™s nature to the cities. A few of the places that you might be interested in adding to your itinerary are:
The beaches of Sydney. The beaches everywhere in Australia are notable for their beauty but people seem to particularly love the beaches of Sydney. These beaches stretch north and end around Palm Beach which is a serene white-sand beach that many people enjoy.
Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra. There are botanical gardens located all throughout Australia but this is one where you can go to see the entire different flora of Australia in one location.
Japanese Garden in Cowra. If you get the chance to go here in September, you can experience the annual Cherry Blossom Festival that is held here. However, its tranquil beauty is worth enjoying at any time of year.
Boondall Wetlands. There is a really interesting combination of different types of terrain in Australia. You wouldnâ€™t expect it to be swampy or marshy in most places but there are Australian wetlands that provide an interesting contrast to some of the more arid areas of the country. This Brisbane location is a great natural place to experience that.
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Perhaps you would like to see some of the animals that are to be found in Australia but you donâ€™t want to get out in the danger of The Outback to do it. You can see them in safety in an environment thatâ€™s natural by visiting one of Australiaâ€™s wildlife preserves such as Currumbin.
Forest of Tranquility. Located in Sydney, this is one of the most famous natural attractions in the area. It is a natural Australian rainforest where you can go to experience a type of natural beauty that youâ€™ve probably never had an opportunity to see before. You can also learn a lot about the history of the area through the education that is provided on a tour here.
There is much to be seen in Australia and it can certainly be difficult to narrow down your itinerary. People who are primarily interested in the nature of Australia will probably be drawn mostly to the Outback. People who want a more urban experience of Australia can find a bit of nature even in the cities where most Australians are residing. The type of Australian vacation that you are going to have is entirely up to you!
First Time Visitorâ€™s Guide to Australiaâ€™s Urban Attractions
There are many reasons that might compel someone to want to visit Australia. Americans are frequently interested in traveling overseas and may be seeking a nice compromise between the standard European tour and an excessively exotic vacation. Australia provides just the right mixture of exoticness and familiarity to make it a terrific solution for these types of travelers. Moreover, there are numerous places of interest within Australia that make it a destination that people love to explore.
When you think of a trek through Australia, the first thing that probably comes to mind is a wilderness jaunt through the Australian Outback. Alternatively, if youâ€™re interested in the water that surrounds Australia then youâ€™re probably thinking about heading to The Great Barrier Reef. These are terrific destinations and should certainly be explored but thereâ€™s a lot to see in urban Australia as well. The larger cities that make up Australia have a great number of sights that a traveler wouldnâ€™t want to miss on a first trip to the area.
There are five main cities in eastern Australia that you are likely to place on your itinerary if you are planning a tour of Australia. These cities are Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Adelaide. They are within a relatively close proximity to one another in comparison with locations throughout the rest of the country and it is reasonable to plan on seeing something in each of them if you are organized about your trip. If you have an extended amount of time and want to see all of the major cities in Australia, you also want to add two other places to your list: Hobart which is located on the island of Tasmania and Perth which is across the country on the western side of Australia.
Following you will find a list of the major attractions that you will want to make sure to see in each of the five main cities. Hobart and Perth have their own attractions which can be explored more in depth by those travelers who get the opportunity to make it to those regions.
Sydney. Sydney is the most populated urban area in Australia and is home to many of the countryâ€™s major attractions. It became particularly of interest to world travelers after the Summer Olympics were hosted there in 2000. Viewers of the Olympics saw the beautiful beaches and some of the cityâ€™s famous landmarks and started booking their tickets immediately. A few of the urban highlights you would want to see in Sydney are:
Sydney Opera House. This is probably the most famous urban attraction in Australia. It is a performing arts venue that hosts numerous events within the halls of its five theaters. It is also an architecturally stunning building of great interest to fans of art.
Sydney Harbour Bridge. Anyone who goes to see the Sydney Opera House also sees this bridge which crosses the Sydney Harbour. It is both the highest steel arch bridge and the widest long-span bridge in the world which makes it a terrific sight to see.
Sydney Tower. People who want to get up into the sky and see the expanse of Sydney below them will head to this landmark which is located in the cityâ€™s Central Business District.
Chinatown. Believe it or not, Sydney has a Chinatown where historic buildings and The Chinese Garden bring tranquility to the bustling area.
Woolloomooloo. You might want to go here just to tell people the name when you get back. Itâ€™s a traditionally poor Australian neighborhood which has recently seen revitalization. Youâ€™d go here to see Finger Wharf which is the largest wooden structure in the world.
Melbourne. The second most populated city in Australia is Melbourne which makes it another popular destination for travelers. Some of the urban attractions you will want to see here are:
Royal Exhibition Building. This building, which is notable for its architectural design, has the distinction of being the first UNESCO World Heritage site in Australia. It is part of a multi-museum collection called Museum Victoria. Visitors will also want to see some of the other museums which include the Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum and the ScienceWorks Museum.
St. Paulâ€™s Cathedral. This famous church draws a lot of attention from visitors interested in historic landmarks.
Melbourne Cricket Ground. Itâ€™s not just cricket games that are held here but also various other sports events so people interested in the modern sporting action of Australia should get some tickets.
Arts Centre Spire. You donâ€™t have to try to see this landmark because it stands out above the cityâ€™s skyline. At night itâ€™s lit up for you to see.
Brisbane. Brisbane is another large city in Australia and is the furthest north of the cities on this list. Its urban attractions include:
Windmill at Wickham Park. This is believed to be one of the oldest structures in Brisbane.
Old Commissariat Store. This was once an old grain store built by prisoners and is another of the oldest structures in Brisbane. Today itâ€™s a museum where you can learn some of the history of this urban area.
Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium. If you didnâ€™t think that youâ€™d be studying space history while in Australia, think again.
Story Bridge. This isnâ€™t as famous as the Sydney Harbour Bridge but its one not to be missed when youâ€™re in Australia.
Portside Wharf. This is probably the biggest tourist attraction in Brisbane and is where you can find people doing their dining and shopping. Multi-million dollar yachts frequently dock at the wharf here so there will be pictures to be taken.
Canberra. Canberra stands out in contrast with most of the other cities of Australia because it was the only major city that was pre-planned in its development. (Adelaide was also pre-planned but is smaller than Canberra.) Some of its urban attractions include:
Australian Memorial. Anyone interested in war history will want to visit this national war memorial.
National Portrait Gallery. People who want to learn about the famous faces that have dotted Australian History can literally go see them here.
National Library, National Archives and National Museum of Australia. Youâ€™ll find that much of the history of the entire country is held in the attractions that bring people to Canberra.
Captain Cook Memorial Fountain. Australiaâ€™s east coast was discovered by Captain Cook who is commemorated with a water jet that shoots high into the air. Paddleboats can be taken out into the water around it for a closer look.
Adelaide. Adelaide is the smallest of the five major cities of Australia but that doesnâ€™t mean that you should overlook it when doing your trip planning. Here are some of the urban attractions that might draw you there:
Old Adelaide Gaol. This old jail can be seen in the center of the city by visitors interested in a tour.
Parliament House. People interested in both the government and architecture of Australia will find this building to be of interest.
Historic homes. There are numerous historic homes to explore in Adelaide including Ayers Mansion, Grange House and the Carrick Hill House.
Westpac House. People interested in seeing the tallest building Adelaide will head here.
These are just a few of the urban highlights that you would want to see in each of the five main cities that make up Australia. Each city has numerous other sights that a visitor could explore if he or she had the time in their trip to do so. What should be remembered is that there is much to see in Australia that isnâ€™t solely about the undeniably beautiful nature that you are going to find there. The urban areas should also be appreciated by the traveler who is gaining the opportunity to experience Australia for the first time.
Photo credits: Kangaroo, Outback Road, MacDonnell Ranges, Clownfish, Sydney Skyline, Botanic Gardens, Japanese Gardens, Downtown Melbourne, Opera House, Royal Exhibition Building, Planetarium, National Museum, Adelaide.