From urban verve to outback wilderness, Australia is a year-round sunny paradise.
A large island nation, Australia delivers the best of both the city and the country, the beach and the bush. The locals here are a laidback and friendly bunch, with a dry sense of humor and their own slang language. Explore cosmopolitan Sydney, home to Bondi Beach's turquoise waters and the architecturally unique Sydney Opera House. Cruise to Australia and visit Queensland to experience the Whitsunday Islands, where you can snorkel to see the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest living organism. For an authentic Australian adventure, head to the outback: Check out Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, with its red dome known as Ayers Rock.
From urban verve to outback wilderness, Australia is a year-round sunny paradise
Join the throngs of sun-kissed Australian surfers and catch some of the world's best waves on Australia's beaches.
Melbourne is a hipster haven and Australia's culture, coffee and sports capital. Grab a flat black (the Australian version of an Americano, with espresso and hot water) at Patricia on Little Bourke Street, then rent a car and start off on the Great Ocean Road, which will take you along sweeping views of Australia's southern coast.
In the remote Northern Territory, visit the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park: See the famous dome-shaped red rock rising out of the Central Australian Desert. Or check out Kakadu National Park, where you can see ancient rock art at Nourlangie or hike to the hidden waterfalls at Motor Car, Twin or Jim Jim Falls.
Get to know the different sides of Australia, from vibrant, modern cities to wild, untamed wilderness.
Snorkel, dive and swim along the Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral reef — you can even charter a glass-bottomed boat to stay dry while seeing the only living organism visible from outer space. The reef is accessible from places like Cairns, Airlie Beach, Townsville and Port Douglas in Queensland.
In Queensland, take a day trip to the surrounding tropical islands: Check out Fitzroy Island and its National Park, where you can laze on the white sands of the coral beach or go bird-watching for for emerald doves and white-bellied sea eagles. See the colored sands at postcard-perfect Fraser Island, or explore the wild island state of Tasmania during your vacation.
Explore Western Australia's Cape Le Grand National Park, which offers stunning coastline set against rolling heathlands filled with kangaroos. Check out Queensland's Gold Coast, where you'll find local favorite Nobby Beach (known colloquially as "Nobby's"). Or get lost in Tasmania's Freycinet National Park, where pink granite cliffs overlook white-sand beaches and clear blue waves.
The best time to visit Australia depends on where you want to go. The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland and the Northern Territory are best explored during dry season (May to September), while summer is the optimal time to visit southern states like Victoria and Tasmania.
Weather-wise, northern Australia enjoys an endless summer, but it does get cold in Victoria and Tasmania during winter. Meanwhile, Melbourne is known for displaying four seasons in one day, so always have a jacket and umbrella on hand, just in case.
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"Fair dinkum" — Aussie slang for "authentic" or "genuine" — Australian cuisine has been influenced by England, New Zealand and even Italy. However, there's nothing more Australian than throwing some steak and snags (sausages) on a barbie (barbecue) — no shrimps allowed.
There are two dishes to order at an Aussie pub: a chicken parmigiana (called a parmi Down Under) or a burger, which will usually come topped with Australian specialties like beetroot or pineapple. Of course, you can always go for a classic steaks: Porterhouses are popular in Victoria, while rump steaks are particularly beloved in New South Wales.
Meat pies — with a flaky pastry crust baked around a savory filling of ground meat (typically beef or lamb) and spices — are a traditional Australian lunch or snack found in bakeries across the country. Another favorite is the Chiko Roll, similar to a large spring roll but filled with the signature Aussie ingredients of mutton, celery, barley, rice, carrots and spices.