Tourism Australia is about to unveil the latest phase of its global marketing campaign: "There's Nothing Like Australia," so this seems like an appropriate time to highlight some of Australia's best attributes.The campaign launched in May 2010 by inviting Australians to share their favorite domestic holiday destinations with the world. In what became one of the country's biggest consumer-generated promotions, Australians responded by uploading nearly 30,000 stories and photos to www.nothinglikeaustralia.com. These stories now sit within an interactive, digital map of Australia, giving travelers around the world ideas and inspiration for their Australian holiday. It's a fun site to check out.The map also is on www.australia.com, which draws more than a million unique visitors each month. Incidentally, you will find me on this site, as well, under "Find a Travel Agent." I am one of the 110 "Premier Aussie Specialists in North America," as designated by Tourism AustraliaSome may consider me a bit biased, seeing as how this is my homeland, but Australia truly has so many diverse and unique experiences and locations to offer, it can sometimes be hard to know where to begin. Most of the people I have encountered who travel to Australia have been "experience seekers," who by definition are looking for a unique, involving and personal experience.
Home to the world's most ancient living culture, Australia's aboriginal people have a continuous history spanning more than 50,000 years. I grew up in the Outback on a station (ranch) and had plenty of interaction with aboriginal stockmen, who incidentally are wonderful horsemen, but one of the most awe-inspiring sights I experienced was to see ancient aboriginal rock art in Arnhem Land. Seeing images that dated back to prehistoric times in the middle of nowhere was simply amazing. Aboriginal cultural programs and experiences are about getting involved but also about understanding and respecting the traditions and ceremonies of the people.
You can stay on a cattle or sheep station and become immersed in station life - muster the sheep or cattle, sleep under the southern stars or be pampered in a deluxe Outback lodge.Four wheel drive some of the best desert tracks in the world. You can also hike, rock climb, hot-air balloon or go camel trekking. Cultural safaris, wilderness trips, photographic expeditions, wildlife adventures and fishing tours can all be arranged. Australia is nothing if not active!Heritage listed parksFor the nature lover, you will find 15 World Heritage sites and more than 500 national parks. Australia has flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world. Snorkel and dive the Great Barrier Reef or see koalas, kangaroos and sea lions on Kangaroo Island (Australia's answer to the Galapagos). Discover Kakadu National Park, home to one-third of all Australia's birds and see plants in the Daintree Rainforest that date back to Gondwanaland.In the past few months, the Australian government has created a series of marine reserves around the whole country, comprising nearly 2 million square miles. The number of marine reserves will go from 27 to 60.
Australia's 50,000 kilometers of coastline offer one sandy beach after another about every 5 kilometers. You don't even have to leave the city! Sydney has iconic Manly and Bondi beaches. The wine-growing region of Margaret River has 75 surf beaches and is home to major surfing tournaments. Byron Bay has a laid-back lifestyle, spas galore, and it is famous for its surfing. The Mornington Peninsula offers every kind of aquatic activity, and Wineglass Bay in Tasmania has been rated as one of the world's 10 best beaches.The Whitsundays, Australia's sailing mecca, has 75 islands, and the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef are as diverse as they are plentiful.
Australia has more than 1,800 wineries and 60 wine regions. From gourmet restaurants to "throwing a shrimp on the barbie," there are tons of choices for dining options. (And it's nice to know that no tax is added on and no big tip expected.) Walking, hiking and cycling around the wine regions are popular activities, and there are lovely B&B's and lodges to relax in at night.The major cities of Sydney and Melbourne are as cosmopolitan as anywhere is the world, and the Sydney Harbor is one of the most beautiful in the world. There's great dining, shopping, a vibrant arts scene, culture and history. Climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge or taking in a musical event at the Sydney Opera house is an experience found nowhere else.Rosie Holliday is a longtime local travel agent who owns Holliday Adventures, an affiliate of Andavo Travel - A Virtuoso agency. Reach her at 970-748-9818, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.hollidayadventures.com.