An Aussie Top 10

As a travel journalist I often get asked to list the best things to do. here’s some observations about Australia.

1.The most popular jumping off point for those looking to snorkel and dive the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns is a favourite place to catch a cruise to the reef. There are lots of operators that offer a wide variety of different kinds of cruises to the reef. You may choose between day-cruises or overnight trips, which range widely in price, anywhere from around 0 to much much more.If you aren’t yet qualified to dive, but can’t think of a daytrip to the Great Barrier Reef without doing so, you can easily pick up your certification in a few days at any Cairns dive school. They offer a 5-day scuba course, which gives you your SSI qualification and gives you the opportunity for several open-water dives out on the reef. Virtually all operators have an green tourism rating, which means you don’t have to worry about damaging the great barrier reef while you are diving.

2.Generally thought to be the hot air ballooning capital of the southern hemisphere, Mareeba is just a short drive from Cairns. Champagne Balloons has a ballooning package that incorporates an early morning pickup in Cairns, a buffet breakfast and champers for about 0 . Enjoy the scenic landscape at dawn, enjoy 30 minutes flying in a hot air balloon, and is concluded with breakfast and champagne in a local resort. Checking out the gorgeous scenery from high in a balloon makes this balloon tour a worthy experience.

3.Just south of Cairns<, Mission Beach is the closest mainland point to the Great Barrier Reef. The beach is a 15 km long, white sandy beach, with fantastic views of Bedarra and a handful of other islands just off the beach. There is a tiny town here, where you can learn more about activities like snorkelling or scuba diving, though some would be perfectly happy soaking up the sunlight and swimming in the crystal clear water.You can stay in local accommodation, though most will be on a day trip from Cairns. If you did not hire a car or motorhome for your [holiday|vacation|trip}, there is a company that offers a coach transfer service named Mission Beach Dunk Island Coaches, which takes the scenic road between Port Douglas, Cairns, and the Cassowary coast.

4.Invented in 1850 to keep cricketers fit in the off season, Aussie Rules is a hybrid of rugby, soccer and a charming Australian schoolboy pursuit called stacks on that involves gang-tackling the unlucky soul who has the football. The game is played on an oval-shaped, cricket-sized oval between two teams of 18 men each. The idea is to kick the ball through two upright poles and earn six points. Miss and you get one point, or miss so badly the ball misses the smaller of the adjacent posts and you get zero. A free kick is gained when a catch is taken, awarded when a kick is fielded on the full. This can be the most amazing of sights, players ‘ride’ the backs of their opponents (and team mates) so high they often hurt themselves when they fall back to earth. The players pass the ball by hitting the ball with their clenched fist and can’t run without bouncing it every 10 metres. That’s about the extent of the rules. The rules are so hypocritical that it’s little wonder no-one on Earth bar Victorians know what’s going on. Crowds often reach 100,000, most of whom are as knowledgeable about the history of their team as a history lecturer from Cambridge knows about ancient Greece. Consequently, an Aussie Rules game is definately a must see on a trip Downunder.

5.The Big Day Out is a summer music festival and Australia’s biggest travelling party. Like a mobile Woodstock the show has featured in recent years bands like Limp Bizkit, and PJ Harvey. In the past top acts such as Nirvana and The Prodigy have made the trip down under. From what started as a one day festival in Sydney on Australia day now travels all around Australia and even to New Zealand. It’s a not to be missed activity for anyone under 30, local or tourist.

6.Called ‘The race that stops a nation’, The Melbourne Cup does just that. At 3.30pm on the first Tuesday in November, the whole country downs pencils and tunes in. People that have no interest in horse racing watch. School children are allowed home early to watch it on TV. The entire state of Victoria has a holiday. Flemington, where the race is held, is a heaving miasma of partygoers. At least 150,000 people attend the track, and the same happens at every suburban and metropolitan race track in the whole country. Australians go crazy for ‘The Cup’, everyone becomes an expert and sweeps are held in offices and classrooms everywhere. As a way of seeing how Australians tick, getting to Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day can’t be matched.

7.The oldest continuous area of rainforest in the country, the Daintree National Park is a protected area of unbelievable rainforest an hour or so north of Cairns. The National Park, which encompasses around 1200 square kilometers, is not only World Heritage listed, but is also home to a large variety of plant and animal life—including marsupials, frogs, birds and more. Generally thought to be the oldest rainforest in the world, the Daintree forest is over 145 million years old and has more than 435 different species of bird, including 21 species that are found nowhere else in the world. There are lots of day hikes that allow tourists to experience parts of this giant rainforest without the crowds, as well as guided tours that can help teach you about the ecology on your way.

8.The coastline of Australia’s southern coast is absolutely stunning. The Great Ocean Road runs right along the cliffs of the Southern Ocean where it kind of blew my mind that the next piece of land south is Antarctica. There are amazing sites to see like the Massive rock formations of the Twelve Apostles, volcanic craters that became lakes, waterfalls, and beaches. And there’s nothing like experiencing the lifestyle and culture of the quaint, coastal towns that have the privilege of being situated on this brilliant coast.

9.Attend a surf school and experience the surfing lifestyle. Ever dreamed of riding the ocean swell? Well, now is your chance. Surfing is huge down under. Not just as recreation, but also as a lifestyle. There is something special about the people that live and breath surfing. They have a natural ease and calm for lifelust for life, that is hard to find elsewhere. And it’s difficult to understand it until you actually try it. The two seconds of elation while you stand on the board for the first time, with knees shaking like drumsticks will live with you always. At least long enough to recover from the wave that will try to try to kill you three seconds later.If you ever thought that surfing was easy, you were definately wrong. Surfing is extremely hard, and can be near impossible, but highly worth the effort.

10.Port Arthur is a great tourist destination full of history. Founded as a penal settlement in 1831, Port Arthur originally served the British Empire as a timber station. Industry in the area soon followed and by the 1840s Port Arthur had a convict population of over 1000. However, by the 1870s the convicts were gone and left the buildings of the period that stand to this day that weren’t destroyed by fires in the late 19th century. Tourists soon came with an interest in viewing the “horrors” of a British penal colony. Protection of Port Arthur as a historic site was established with the creation of the Scenery Preservation Board in 1916. Today, ongoing archeological studies continue to dig up the penal colony past. Don’t miss the night ghost tours.

I trust these help any prospective travellers to Australia.

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