Visiting Australia? Nicole Carmichael has planned the perfect itinerary. Credit: Shutterstock

Amazing Australia: All you need to know about the Land Down Under

Author: Nicole Carmichael

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Home to kangaroos, koalas, the Great Barrier Reef and some of the world’s most stunning cities, Australia is a huge country with an even bigger heart. With some great deals now on offer, it’s time to head Down Under says Nicole Carmichael

For some, it was the ‘Ten pound Pom’ scheme. For others it was simply the sight of this stunning, sun-kissed country on TV.

Whatever the incentive, over the years huge numbers of Britons have made new lives for themselves Down Under, and few have ever looked back.

You may not be quite ready for Ramsay Street, but even if you’re just heading to Oz on holiday, you’ll want to stay as long as possible (after all, it is the other side of the world). And no matter how much time you spend in the world’s sixth largest country – the only one that’s also a continent – you’ll never run out of things to do.

Australia is 32 times bigger than the UK but nearly all its major cities are on the coast, so cruising is the perfect way to explore. Fly from the UK to sail from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, or do it the old-fashioned way with a grand voyage across the globe. However you get there, be prepared to be impressed.

The fictional cul-de-sac of Ramsay Street has helped put Australia on the travel map. Credit: Shutterstock

Australia has been inhabited for at least 50,000 years, though no one knows when or how the first humans arrived. Its very existence was unknown to Europeans until 1606, when Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon landed at Cape York, but Captain James Cook claimed the continent for Great Britain in 1770.

A few years after that, Royal Navy captain Arthur Phillip arrived with a fleet of 11 vessels, carrying around 800 convicts and establishing penal colony at Botany Bay, thus founding the city of Sydney.

The flow of convict ships continued well into the 19th century, and then the gold rush of the 1850s brought prospectors from all over the world. Immigration from Europe and the Far East boomed in the latter half of the 20th century, with the result that Australia is now among the most ethnically diverse nations on earth.

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Like its landscapes, Australia’s great coastal cities are world class. Stunning Sydney combines skyscrapers with more than 100 beautiful beaches, not to mention architectural landmarks such as the Harbour Bridge and that iconic opera house.

Equally cosmopolitan Melbourne has made its name as the foodie hub of Australia, and its famous laneways are packed with chic boutiques and hole-in- the-wall cafes and bars. Yet neither is Australia’s capital – that honour goes to the handsome garden city of Canberra, some 90 miles inland.

Everywhere you go in Australia, you’ll see images of the great red sandstone monolith once known as Ayers Rock. Yet no picture can prepare you for the awesome reality of Uluru, a place of great cultural significance for Aboriginal peoples nationwide. It’s a flight away from all the big cities, but an experience you’ll cherish forever.

Queensland in Australia’s northeast corner has the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest – two trips that wildlife-lovers mustn’t miss. You can snorkel, scuba or take a glass-bottomed boat to see myriad marine life on the Reef, and trek the Daintree in search of the duck-billed platypus and the dinosaur-like cassowary.

Sydney Opera House needs no introduction. Credit: Shutterstock

In the south, the Great Ocean Road begins near Melbourne, taking in incredible scenery such as the 12 Apostles limestone stacks and Port Campbell National Park, before heading on to South Australia’s cosmopolitan coastal capital, Adelaide.

In Western Australia, the great city of Perth offers serene white beaches and hipster haven Fremantle, plus wineries galore and flights (or cruises) to the breathtaking Kimberley coast.

If time allows, you should also take a trip to the island state of Tasmania. Here, Freycinet National Park is famed for its views, and if you’re lucky you might also spot a fierce-looking Tasmanian devil (which, despite its name and dagger-like teeth, will flee rather than fight).

Depending on the season, mainland Oz also offers fantastic ski resorts. In fact, it’s hard to think of something you can’t do in this incredible country. So, as Australia’s advertising slogan says: "What are you bloody waiting for?"

Take a stroll around Melbourne's famous city centre. Credit: Shutterstock

Carnival Cruises' 10-night ‘Great Barrier Reef’ cruise aboard Carnival Splendor, round trip from Sydney via Airlie Beach, Cairns and Port Douglas, departs February 17, 2025, from £440 per person.

Coral Expeditions' 10-night ‘Wild Islands of South Australia’ cruise aboard Coral Adventurer, round trip from Adelaide via Kangaroo Island, Cape Donington & MacLaren Point, departs October 31, 2024, from £3,591 per person.


Stunning scenery
Australia has an estimated 12,000 beaches, from famous spots like Bondi to the picture-perfect coves of the Whitsunday Islands. Inland, Oz has it all - from mountains and rainforest to mesmerising Uluru in the scorched Red Centre.

Amazing animals
Having evolved in isolation, Australia’s native mammals are like nothing else on earth, with more than 350 unique species including kangaroos, koalas, kookaburras, wombats,quokkas and dingos.

Top tucker
Australian produce is plentiful, delicious and often organic, and cultural diversity has created a dazzling fusion cuisine that brings out every flavour.

Home comforts
With its British colonial history, Australia has a distinctly familiar look, with right-hand drive cars and pubs selling draught beer (just remember to order midis and schooners instead of pints).

The koala is an iconic Australian animal. Credit: Shutterstock
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