Ready to head ‘Downunder’ and travel to Australia? More of a continent than an island due to its enormous size, Australia is a vast ensemble of oceans and coral reefs, an exotic universe of wild plains and Aboriginal culture which fill the vast deserts of the interior to this day. Australia is also an example of a vibrant cultural offering, as you will discover in cities such as Sydney and Melbourne.
Famed for its natural wonders, vast open spaces, dynamic megacities and laid-back culture, a trip to Australia is the chance to discover an entire world of opportunity, whether you’re here for the sun-kissed surf, friendly locals or unique wildlife. Nestled between the Indian and Pacific Oceans in the Southern Hemisphere, Australia is composed of the Australian continent, Tasmania and various other, smaller islands. The capital city is Canberra, although the major cities of Sydney, Adelaide, Cairns and Melbourne are more likely to make it onto your itinerary if you take a tour of Australia. From the Great Barrier Reef to the dry wilderness of the Outback, Australia’s enormous size ensures a rich natural diversity. In fact, ‘Oz’ has long been called the ‘Oldest Continent’ due to the ancient rock monoliths that feature across its landscapes and the fact that it was the last continent explored by Europeans, but, of course, Australia had been settled by Aboriginal communities for thousands of years before the arrival of European explorers.
From the surf of Bondi Beach to the mystery of Uluru, a trip to Australia has long been an amazing all-around holiday destination, with sights and experiences to suit all types of travellers.
History of Australia
Indigenous Australians have inhabited this vast landmass for at least 65,000 years. Today, Aboriginal culture is considered one of the oldest continuous cultures on earth. If you travel to Australia, a visit to the sacred site of Uluru, or Ayers Rock, and the ancient rock art sites of the Grampians National Park are good starting points for understanding the indigenous culture that is at the heart of Australian identity and history.
It was not until the 17th-century that Europeans began exploring this remote land. It was the Dutch who led the first expeditions, but later in 1770, Captain Cook famously claimed the land for Great Britain. Between 1788 and 1836, penal colonies were established and thousands of convicted criminals were forced to make the long journey from Britain to colonies in New South Wales.
By the 1850s, the much sought after precious metal of gold had been discovered in Australia, kick-starting the economy and marking the beginning of mass migration of settlers from across Asia to the now free country. In 1901, all states were unified under the Federation, creating the Commonwealth of Australia. Today, if you travel to Australia you’ll notice that many of the country’s major cities have a ‘Federation Square’ at their centre, in memory of this important date in Australian history. Since the end of World War II, Australia has been known for its successful multiculturalism and is now considered one of the world’s wealthiest countries. With Queen Elizabeth II as the head of state, Australia continues to forge close ties with the United Kingdom, the USA and neighbouring countries such as New Zealand.
Nature in Australia
If you take a package tour of Australia, you’ll likely want to explore its rich biodiversity and incredible natural landscapes. Surrounded by the Pacific and Indian Oceans and with 34,218 kilometres of coastline, tropical beaches are in ample supply here. Away from the coast, there’s plenty to discover on this island continent, with environments ranging from dense rainforests to dry deserts, alpine heaths and eucalyptus forests. A megadiverse country, Australia is well known for its unique wildlife such as kangaroos, koala bears, wombats and emus, as well as its more fearsome spider and snake species.
Among the plentiful natural wonders to see on a holiday to Australia are the UNESCO protected Daintree Rainforest, home to ancient trees and exotic wildlife, the legendary Great Barrer Reef, the only living thing visible from space and the towering limestone cliffs known as ‘The Three Sisters’.
Culture in Australia
The diverse heritage of Australia’s population means that an array of cultures are represented here. Many of Australia’s larger cities have flourishing Chinatowns and British culture is seen in many areas of life such as sports, fashion and food. You can find many of the world’s cultures represented in Australia, making it an incredible place to visit. Furthermore, the traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are another important part of modern Australian culture and are protected and celebrated throughout the country today. A trip to Australia, without taking the time to appreciate and get to know the beliefs and traditions of the First Peoples, would be incomplete. Home to over 100,000 Aboriginal rock art sites, these ancient sites are some of the most popular places to visit on a tour of Australia.
Of course, modern Australia has many symbols in popular culture. From barbeques to sports-obsessed locals and a fierce sense of humour, there’s much to enjoy if you travel to Australia. The truth is, modern Australian culture is a sum of all of its parts and is rich in nuance and cultural influences. Whilst English is the national language, Mandarin, Arabic and Cantonese are also spoken by relatively large sections of society.
Nevertheless, Aussies can agree on a few things, namely their love of football, especially Australian Rules, rugby and cricket, as well as their appreciation for all things outdoors, from surfing to skiing, the latter of which takes place in the lesser-known Australian Alps! Australians also love great food and drink, are proud of their thriving coffee culture, whilst the country’s vineyards are regarded as some of the top wine producers in the world.