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Published June 7th 2012
Mention a trip around Australia and immediately different images spring to the minds of people. It seems everyone has a different favourite destination and something they love.
It is a vast country with hugely varying landscapes and people. We have lush rainforests and tropical oases, barren plains, deserts and harsh landscapes. There are beautiful beaches and rugged mountain ranges and it seems everything in between. Tourists think of kangaroos hopping down main streets and camel trains in the desert. Locals think of world class vineyards, a foodies paradise, great shopping and cafes on every corner.
View of the Sydney Opera House Photo wikimedia commons - Matthew Field
Our population ranges from our original Aboriginal descendants to a multicultural mix than have migrated from every part of the world. A heady mixture from convicts to noblemen and everything in between.
Australia can be a land of contrasts and for visitors, due to the vast travelling distances, you may take many journeys to see much of it. However, whichever city or town you land in, there's sure to be an iconic attraction. Here are some you shouldn't miss if you can get to these destinations:
The Sydney Opera House is found right on Sydney Harbor at a location named Bennelong Point. For many people, this iconic building is a well loved symbol to represent Australia. Take in a show here.
2. Royal Botanical Gardens The Royal Botanical Gardens are a lush oasis, a break from the bustle of the city and a space of well maintained beauty, serenity and peacefulness. In Sydney - a short walk around the water's edge from the Sydney Opera House will bring you here. In Melbourne - a walk across the bridge from the CBD, just across the Yarra River and your peacefulness awaits.
3. Kangaroo Island If you are wanting to get up close and personal with the wildlife, there's no better place to do it than on KI. There's a range of camping, B&B and hotels and you can see most of the island in a couple of days. Fly in or take the ferry, you can be walking along the beach with the sealions in a couple of hours.
4. Great Barrier Reef
Visit a spectacular natural wonder of the world. The waters of the Great Barrier Reef provide the world's busiest and most varied marine habitats. Go snorkeling, take a day trip or relax in the waves laying on boating nets or in a glass bottomed boat.
Major Mitchell's Cockatoo, also known as Leadbeater's Cockatoo, about to land on a man's cap at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Gold Coast, Australia. Photo from wikimedia commons
5. Gold Coast Known to many to have the most beautiful beaches in the world, "Gold Coast" Queensland Australia. Whilst you are here, visit Currumbin sanctuary to get up close and personal with the rainbow lorikeets. Take a day trip or two to the theme parks to keep the kids happy and my personal favourite - a trip to Mt Tamborine. Walk through the lovely villages, gorgeous cafes, the beautiful mountains and have tea and scones somewhere peaceful.
6. Outback Australia This can encompass a huge range of areas. From the Opal fields at Yowah in far north queensland (where I grew up), to staying in an underground 'dug out' at Lightning ridge or Coober Pedy (where I later moved to). Try your luck at fossicking and Opal finding.
If you really want to unravel the outback, take a trip across the red centre to the Birdsville races, this is one event that needs to be seen to be believed.
This is certainly not a day trip.
Opal from Yowah, Queensland, Australia Photo from Wikimedia commons
7. Daintree Village
If you are a nature lover, you will delight in the Daintree region. Fill your days with tropical birds, butterflies, reptiles and countless species of wildlife. Getting back to nature has never been so easy.
8. Ayres Rock - certainly not a day trip and definitely something to be planned into your itinerary. For many the iconic Big red rock is a true wonder of our great country. There's a fabulous hotel nearby shaped like a crocodile and recently they have introduced luxury tented camps - all the feel good aspects of camping with all the 5 star luxuries thrown in - now that's my kind of camping.
A journey to our Nations capital. If you get the chance go in September when Floriade (our national flower show) is on for a truly spectacular display.
10. Swim with the Dolphins
There's something about swimming with dolphins that evokes a deep sense of connection within humans. We feel as if we relate, we understand, we reach out on another level. You can embrace your dolphin nature at Tangalooma resort in Queesnland, Monkey Mia in Western Australia or around the bay in Melbourne. Each location has well organised Dolphin tours.
There's many more and with such a vast choice, it is extremely difficult to pick just 10, however, I hope this gave some ideas to get you started.
Have you been somewhere you think is worthy of mentioning in our top list of attractions? Add your suggestions in the comments section of this review, we'd love to hear your thoughts.
Blue mountains bush walk down from three sisters to the valley below and back up, easy clear paths (lots of stairs down and then back up again on other side). Just breath taking. Katoomba, govetts leap, leura mall, and went worth falls very fun to explore in surrounding area.