Australia - Open your eyes to Oz with Call2Call
A highly developed country and one of the world's wealthiest, Australia ranks highly in the international comparisons for its quality of life, health, education, economic freedom and protection of civil liberties.
But it's not all serious. Australia is known for its export of musical talent, such as Kylie Minogue, AC/DC, INXS; acting legends such as Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe and Mel Gibson - and of course TV we grew up with - who can forget Neighbours and Home And Away?
Australia is HUGE, and the essence of this fantastic conitnent far away from us is diversity, with deserts, coral reefs, tall forests, snow-topped mountains and bustling cities to discover. Just make sure you take your time and explore it ALL.
All that glitters IS gold.
If you're going to Australia for the beaches, then the Gold Coast is known for having the best in the country. But it's not all about the sand and surf. Visit Tamborine Mountain, where the mountain top village has amazing views of the Gold Coast and beyond, and you can also spend a few hours walking through dense and thriving rainforest on the SkyWalk. If you fancy a great day out, try The Gold Coast Turf Club and spend a day watching the horse racing, take in some food at a choice of delicious eateries, or just try your luck at the track.
The great outdoors.
Whatever coast you're on, the outback is on your doorstep wherever you are. Take a coach tour, fly to one of the major outback towns or do it the simple way and join an outback camel safari. The outback is home to animals such as the red kangaroo, emu and dingo, and also Riversleigh, now a World Heritage site because of its vast fossils. Whichever way you look at it, this vast area is full stunning views, mining sites and Aboriginal communities. Just don't forget your camera.
The Great Barrier Reef is said to be "a place that should be on every traveller's 'must see' list" and an underwater world that leaves even the most experienced diver speechless. One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Great Barrier Reef is blessed with the world's largest coral reef and hundreds of picturesque tropical islands. Stay at one of the hundreds of places bordering the reef, and take part in diving, fishing, snorkelling, or even just a peaceful boat trip. If you don't fancy getting your toes wet, you can always see the reef from the sky in a hot air balloon! Hot Air have a selection of fantastic packages starting at $200.00 per person.
See some snow.
When you think of Australia, your first thought is probably of sea, sun a surfers and not snow-topped mountains. Located in the south east of the country, this region is one of the few to experience four seasons throughout the year, and with that brings a range of activities. From skiing and snowboarding in the winter to quadbiking, hiking, caving and abseiling, horse riding and fishing during the other seasons, there are so many opportunities to have some fun in the 'Snowy Mountains'.
Sydney - the mistaken capital.
• Sydney Opera House - There are a few monuments you can see from space - the Millenium Dome, the Taj Mahal - and Sydney Opera House. This iconic performing arts centre was conceived and built by Danish architect Jorn Utzon and opened in 1973, almost 20 years after the date of its conception. As well as the ubiquitous 'Ive been to Australia' photo with you in the foreground (it is impressive), it is home to such performances as the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Australian Ballet, Australian Opera and numerous plays, musical recitals and even used for triathlon events at the 2000 Olympics. It's a must and almost too famous to miss.
• Visit the animals - Nestled on the shores of Sydney Harbour, Taronga Zoo is divided into eight zoogeographic regions. This 52-acre site is home to over 2,600 animals of 340 species and is the second zoo in Australia to breed the platypus. It has daily talks, shows, encounters with some of the animals and loads of frequent events, including the Taronga Dinner in May this year, which raises vital funds for rhinoceros conservation. The zoo is open every day (including Christmas!) and costs $44 per person. There are also chances to get closer to the animals with a guided zoo tour. Say you got up close with a koala...
• Put on your bathers and thongs - To us, this means swimming costumes and flip-flops. But don't get hung up on the lingo - if you're in Sydney, Bondi Beach is a MUST. A beautiful 1km stretch of sand, the beach is almost in the centre of town and is home to more things than sun-worshippers. Often used for music videos, model shoots and surfing competitions, there is always something going on. It is famed for its Bondi Surf Lifesaving Club, notoriously hard to pass the entry test (held once a year) and once passed, these proud lifeguards can be spotted in their easy-to-see yellow and red caps. Just watch out for their rubber ducky, the very fast rib boat that they use to zip over the waves!
• Not just pond life - If you feel you didn't see enough scuba diving and snorkeling, don't worry about missing out - Sydney SEA LIFE Aquarium has plenty for you. Their unique freshwater and marine aquatic environments house 700 different species! Among these are sharks, stingrays, turtles, jellyfish penguins and thousands of tropical fish. You can even get interactive with the discovery rock pool and climb aboard the indoor glass-bottom boat for a closer look at some of the marine life - and even watching a shark feed every day....
Going down under?
Australia is pretty safe; your biggest protection should be the lotion on your back - the sun is very strong there and you'll find even the children are taught about safety in the sun at school! It's an obvious thing, but don't go out into the bush without a guide, and don't go near wild animals while you're there! And don't call it 'down under' when you're travelling, apparently the Australians don't like it...!