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Sydney, NSW
 
From the Harbour Bridge to the iconic Opera House, Sydney is a self-confident city that glories in its cosmopolitan status. And when you add on beaches like Bondi (Ed: there aren’t any beaches like Bondi), you have to go with the flow of “There’s no place in the world like Sydney”. The largest city on the continent and capital of New South Wales, it now looks across to Botany Bay, the original convict settlement. The Bridge is an engineering marvel that not only fulfils its main traffic purpose but acts as a New Year’s Eve firework ‘picture’ as well as, perhaps uniquely, allowing intrepid visitors to climb it. The shell-like Opera House is to be gawped at … but also offers outstanding international performances inside. The multi-national population ensures a huge variety of cultures (and great food), the surf / swim / dive / sail ocean facilities are unbeatable. Sydney is a fantastic business or pleasure venue – so long as you agree with locals it’s the best.
 
Australia
 
Red desert and golden beaches are just two of the wonders which spring to mind at the mention of Australia. There is so much to take in on this vast continent (Perth is closer to Jakarta than to Sydney!) but there are some things you just shouldn’t miss. Australia has some great cities, the Opera House and Harbour Bridge perhaps making Sydney the most popular. The great outdoors though is where Australia really shines and no trip is complete without venturing deep into the Red Centre to Uluru (Ayer’s Rock). This is as remote as it gets, but worth the journey if just to see the colours change at sunrise. The tropical rainforests of northern Queensland make the perfect backdrop for the awe inspiring Great Barrier Reef, where even novice snorkellers can sample the beauty of the reef. One thing is guaranteed, one visit to Australia is never enough!
 
Adelaide, SA
 
An early settler city – named for William IV’s queen – Adelaide has a well-maintained liberal reputation for political and religious freedom. It is also a beautiful city, with long, beaches and superb modern and 19th century architecture, making it one of the world’s ‘Top 10 Most Liveable’ cities. The centre of the Australian wine industry, based on the notable Barosssa Valley, it has a viticulture museum complete with vineyard. The city has an outstanding collection of public art, much in the open, and a very Australian wry use of unusual locations as visitor attractions: the JamFactory (contemporary art), the Destitute Asylum (migration museum), and the original 1841 Adelaide Gaol.
 
Alice Springs, NT
 
There really isn’t a town like Alice anywhere. Set in the middle of the enormous desert expanse of Australia’s Northern Territory and the very centre of the continent, it is a habitation oasis – that has been inhabited for 50,000 years by Arrernte aboriginals. (Their name for ‘the Alice’ is ‘Mparntwe’.) The optimistically named ‘springs’ dried up immediately after its European discovery and an annual highlight is the Henley-on-Todd Regatta – great fun on the sand bed of the ‘river’ and once cancelled because of water on the course. It grew as a staging post for the telegraph and then the railway, right across the continent. The twice-weekly ‘Ghan’ train still takes 48hrs, Adelaide to Darwin. Just down the road (280m) is Uluru, Ayers Rock, sacred to the local tribes (Alice is a centre for wonderful aboriginal art.)
 
Brisbane, QLD
 
Brisbane, the state capital of Queensland, was one of the original penal colonies in Australia and its oldest buildings is the windmill (in Wickham Park) that was built in 1828 by convicts. It lies on the Brisbane river, where it enters Moreton Bay and the river is a constant feature in the cityscape as it snakes back and forth requiring no fewer than 10 bridges. The most notable of these is the Story Bridge designed by the same man as the Sydney Harbour bridge. Many tourist excursions are by river. Inland through the city and often culminating at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. A popular trip is out to sea to Moreton Island, a protected national park, teeming with birdlife and a good venue for whale and turtle watching as well as surfing/boarding, both sea and sand, on the extensive dunes.
 
Cairns, QLD
 
Cairns’s location on the North Queensland tropical coast means that tourism is its major industry. The nearest sizeable town to the Great Barrier Reef, (just an hour away by boat) it is also the gateway to the highly varied ecology of the Queensland rainforest with excellent facilities for exploring it. The Reef is undoubtedly one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World – 1,600 miles of spectacular coral with countless species of tropical fish and aquatic mammals. The Rainforest is even more diverse - with a fascinating array of visitor options. Horseback, helicopter, hot air balloon, white water rafting, or on foot of course. The Barron Gorge has the Skyrail cableway, almost 5 miles of easy viewing; a popular trip is to do the out or back leg on the historic Kuranda Scenic Railway. A few miles down the road is Port Douglas where you will find the Rainforest Habitat for a slightly more structured view.
 
Cape Tribulation, QLD
 
All very well for Captain Cook to name an empty headland for where “all our troubles began” but it showed little thought for those who now have it as an address for a pleasant village in Queensland’s Daintree National Park. The Park itself is one attraction – including the ‘bouncing stones’ whose density makes them collide like rubber balls. (Sacred to aboriginals, so you’ll be cursed if you remove any!) However the Great Barrier Reef is probably the greater attraction – only 12 miles away and with regular boat charters from the village’s beach. The world’s largest coral reef system, it stretches for 1,600 miles and covers enough sea to comfortably off-set its huge visitor popularity.
 
Melbourne, VIC
 
As locals will readily tell you, Melbourne was founded at the mouth of the Yarra river not by convicts but by free settlers (from an earlier settlement in Tasmania). It became an important port and then in the mid-1850’s was transformed by the Victorian gold rush – no gold in the city but great wealth from supplying prospectors. It has managed to retain Victorian elegance and charm along with modern development and has been the site of both a World Fair (1880) and Olympic Games (1956). More recently the classic TV soap ‘Neighbours’ has been an immense export along with stars Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan. The Little Penguins of off-shore Phillip Island are an equally cuddly attraction while the Museum holds the preserved body of wonder racehorse Phar Lap. As with many cities, the docklands area has been greatly developed and Melbourne has a well-earned reputation for Street Art.
 
Perth, WA
 
Situated a dozen miles inland from the mouth of the Swan River, Perth is the capital of Western Australia and is actually closer to Indonesia than to Sydney or the national capital Canberra. It was a first landing place for many immigrants and the actual port, Fremantle, became a city in its own right. The maritime heritage led to Perth becoming the first ever successful challenger for yachting’s America’s Cup and hosting the defence in 1983. The surrounding area was rich in minerals, including gold, and now holds many of the country’s fine wineries. The original mint still operates and visitors can create their own precious metal medallions. Other visitor attractions include the Swan Bell Tower, the 1835 Old Mill, and Kings Park & Botanic Gardens which unusually includes a large area of natural bush with indigenous wildlife. Amongst the latter is a tiny endearing marsupial, the quokka.
 
Surfers Paradise, QLD
 
Amazingly enough, Surfers Paradise is a coastal resort which offers some of the very best surfing anywhere. In fact, it’s a resort suburb of Gold Coast City … which, again unsurprisingly, is located on Queensland’s Pacific Gold Coast. Warning:- 10 million visitors go there each year. Encouragement:- they go there for some very good reasons. “Surfers” was custom-built to offer every possible tourist attraction in an unsurpassed climate and beach environment. Some business developments followed plus a thriving film industry and these plus an immense choice of hotels created a unique skyscraper-on-the-beach landscape. There isn’t room to list all the beach/water/sport attractions – imagine it and it’s there. Cavill Avenue is the focus for shopping and nightlife … and a should-be-everywhere facility are the Meter Maids in gold bikinis who feed the meter on your behalf!
 

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