Australia: The Land Down Under

Australia is home to a very diverse set of ecosystems with rare fauna and flora abound. Dive into the blue sea, climb extraordinary mountains, ride camels on the beach, trek through the dense rainforest and more at this all-in-one majestic beauty. If you’re looking for adventure, you’ll certainly find it here!

THE CITY

Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge

How could you claim that you’ve been to Australia without first visiting its most famous city? Sydney, aka Harbour City, features striking architecture, significant museums, and lovely beaches. Launch your journey at the city’s most iconic structure: Sydney Opera House. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is adored for its strange and attractive architecture, which resembles the sails of a boat. It sits right on the water, providing spectacular views for those who come to visit. Inside, the performing arts center is quite the wonder as well, with opera performances, restaurants, theaters, studios, a concert hall, and exhibition rooms.
sydneyoperahouse.com

Close by the opera house is another Aussie favorite, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which is sometimes referred to as “The Coathanger.” It was built in 1932, and is now the biggest steel arch bridge in the world. If you feel like taking a picturesque walk, you can venture to the top of the bridge, or you can opt for a more exhilarating ascent with Bridgeclimb Sydney. The team at Bridgeclimb leads a brave group of people to the summit of the bridge for an unforgettable experience. You can choose to climb during the day, night, twilight, or even dawn!
bridgeclimb.com

THE OCEAN

Bondi Beach

After you’re done catching some sky high views, bring yourself back down to sea level at Bondi Beach. This beach is considered one of the world’s most famous, and it’s easy to see why. Golden sand and smooth blue waves welcome you to take a dip or surf, and if you don’t feel like getting wet, there’s a boardwalk with tons of restaurants, cafes, and bars to enjoy. If you do decide to take a swim, make sure to stay between the flags. The beach is known for its strong riptides, so much so that a TV show called Bondi Rescue follows the lifeguards who have to rescue swimmers each day.

The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef wildlife

Continue your aquatic adventure at one of the most legendary attractions in the whole world: The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. It’s one of the seven wonders of the natural world, so you can finally cross this one off of your bucket list! The expansive park is home to over 3,000 coral reefs, 600 continental islands, 300 coral cays, and over 1,600 species of fish, sharks, dolphins, turtles, rays, and more. The best way to see the reef’s wildlife is to head down below, which you can do by diving or snorkeling. Depending on which part of the reef you decide to swim by, you can see some pretty amazing sights. At Osprey Reef in a spot called North Horn, you can schedule a trip to watch a live shark feeding. At Cod Hole, you can swim next to the huge potato cod fish, which can reach up to 6 feet long and weigh 220 pounds. And at Lighthouse Bommie, in June and July, it’s highly likely that you will be able to swim with the gentle dwarf minke whales.  gbrmpa.gov.au

Fraser Island

Another magnificent water-related wonder is Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world. Its beach is 75 miles long so it’s no wonder that one of the most popular activities to do here is to rent a four-wheel drive. Rent one and take off speedily as you gaze at the sand dunes, shipwrecks, tidal pools, and more. You can also book a horse riding tour, where you can get a glimpse of both the beach and the island’s rainforest.

A dingo on Fraser Island

Whichever way you choose to roam, you’ll run into tons of fascinating animals. The island is known for its population of dingoes and wild horses, as well as dolphins, whales, sharks, bats, and sugar glider squirrels.

Champagne pools on Fraser Island

When you’re in need of some downtime, make sure to check out the island’s champagne pools, which are basically natural Jacuzzis—they’re recreational bubbling pools that have been formed over the years by volcanic rocks!
fraserisland.net

THE MOUNTAINS

Blue Mountains National Park

Retreat from the water (and give your “pruney” fingers a break) by heading somewhere a bit drier. Australia is known for its breathtaking parks, and one of their most notable, Blue Mountains National Park, is a must-visit. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is well-known for the blue color its mountains seem to have, thanks to its numerous eucalyptus trees. Hike or rock climb to a high point and the views will reward you. The sight of the blue mountains is remarkable enough, but other points of interest include The Three Sisters and Katoomba Scenic Railway. The Three Sisters are iconic sandstone rock formations in the park that closely resemble each other, giving them their name, while the Katoomba Scenic Railway allows visitors to ride its steep track down the valley and through a tunnel. When you come out on the other side, you’ll be right in the middle of the lush, ancient rainforest.
nationalparks.nsw.gov.au

THE FOREST

Daintree National Park

Another park that you must experience is Daintree National Park. This park is home to the world’s oldest tropical rainforest, which is suggested to have been around for over 110 million years! You’ll feel as if you’re in the middle of a Jurassic Park or Avatar film as you trek past emerald green vines, towering waterfalls, and trees, crocodile-filled lakes, and more. The park is home to the most biologically diverse animals and vegetation in the world so expect to see unique creatures like the enormous cassowary bird, the striped possum, the platypus, the musky-rat kangaroo, Boyd’s forest dragon, and many others.

Mossman Gorge
Cape Tribulation

The park is split up into two main parts: Mossman Gorge and Cape Tribulation. Mossman Gorge is the perfect place for pictures as it features crystal-clear waters that rush over huge granite boulders. Swimmers often take a break on the boulders, basking in the sun and enjoying the view. Cape Tribulation is where the rainforest meets the Coral Sea. Wander along the golden remote beaches, or book a sailing tour to explore the section of the Great Barrier Reef that reaches out here.
parks.des.qld.gov.au

Kakadu National Park
Ancient rock paintings at Ubirr

Next, embark on an exploration of the historical Kakadu National Park. The park has been home to the Aboriginal people of Australia for over 65,000 years. About 500 of them still live in the park, and their ancient rock paintings (some dating back to 20,000 years ago!) can be seen in various areas. One of the most legendary is at Ubirr, where the paintings document ancient human interaction with the environment. X-ray paintings, as well as drawings of the now-extinct Tasmanian tiger and an encounter with a non-Aboriginal person, are all impressive. There’s also a lot of ground to cover in this park; it’s the largest national park in Australia and the second largest in the world! Here you’re free to journey through monsoon rainforests, mangrove swamps, gorges, and waterfalls. If you’re itching to get some outstanding pictures of the park’s animals, book a boat tour of Yellow Waters Lagoon, where you will be able to watch animals such as crocodiles, brolga birds, sea eagles, snake birds and monitor lizards. parksaustralia.gov.au

THE SAND

Cable Beach camel riding

Once again you’ll switch up your surroundings by venturing to another part of unpredictable Australia: Cable Beach. This isn’t like the beaches back home in South Florida…here you can ride camels into the sunset! When you book the tour with Sundowner Camel Tours, you’ll be able to ride a camel along the white sands as you stare out at the Indian Ocean. On the other side of you, you’ll spot the sand dunes and ochre red cliffs that make this beach one-of-a-kind. The strange arrival of camels on Cable Beach happened in 1987, when a man named Abdul Latif Casley brought his six camels here. He had brought them along with his family as they walked on a five-month voyage from Katherine, a town in Northern Australia, to Broome, a Western Australia town where Cable Beach is. It’s about a 932-mile walk. When he arrived on Cable Beach, he began operating camel tours, and once it grew, other people began to offer them, until it blossomed into the tourist attraction it is today!
visitbroome.com.au

Purnululu National Park

Explore a different type of sand at Purnululu National Park. Purnululu means “sandstone” in the language of the Aboriginal Gija people, who were the first ones to set their sights on this beauty. The word sandstone is key here because the main feature of the park is the Bungle Bungle Range, which are a collection of beehive-shaped striped sandstone domes that jut out from the grassy plains. Besides taking in the astonishing domes, you can also discover the many chasms and gorges that reside here, two of the most popular being Cathedral Gorge and Echidna Chasm.
parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au

THE END

After traveling through some of Australia’s most noteworthy destinations, it’s easy to see why the country is sometimes referred to as “Oz.” It’s certainly just as magical as the world Dorothy finds herself in in the film, Wizard of Oz. However, even though you’ve visited these highlights, there’s still so much more to do in this vast country. Make sure to keep track of your favorite spots, you’ll get to visit them plus more on your return to the Land Down Under!

By Aaliyah Pasols