Island, country, continent… Australia is a big'un whichever way you spin it. The essence of the place is diversity: deserts, coral reefs, tall forests, snow-cloaked mountains and multicultural melting-pot cities.
Hip Cities Most Australians live along the coast, and most of these folks live in cities. In fact, Australia is the 18th-most urbanised country in the world, with around 70% of Australians living in the 10 largest towns. It follows that cities here are a lot of fun! Sydney, the sun-kissed Harbour City, is a glamorous collusion of beaches, boutiques and bars. Melbourne is all arts, alleyways and Australian Rules football. Brisbane is a subtropical town on the way up; Adelaide has festive grace and pubby poise. Boomtown Perth breathes west-coast optimism; Canberra transcends political agendas. If you're looking for contrast, the tropical northern frontier town of Darwin and chilly southern sandstone city of Hobart couldn't be more different. But whichever city you're wheeling into, you'll never go wanting for a decent coffee, live bands, art-gallery openings or music festival mosh-pits.
Food & Drink Australia has broken the binds of its Anglo meat-and-two-veg culinary past, serving up a multicultural fusion of European techniques and fresh Pacific-rim ingredients. 'Mod Oz' (or Modern Australian) is what the locals call it. Seafood plays a starring role − 'Hardly surprising on an island this big!', we hear you say…but from succulent Moreton Bay Bugs to delicate King George Whiting, there's a lot of variety in the ocean's bounty. And of course, beer in hand, you'll still find beef, lamb and chicken at traditional Aussie BBQs. Don't drink beer? Australian wines are world-beaters: punchy Barossa Valley reds, McLaren Vale Shiraz, Hunter Valley Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc from Tasmania's cool-climate Tamar Valley. Need a caffeine hit? Italian cafes have always known how to make the perfect espresso, but now there are coffee machines in pubs and petrol stations, and baristas in downtown coffee carts − you're never far from a double-shot, day or night.
It's a Wide Open Road There's a heckuva lot of tarmac across this wide brown land. From Margaret River to Cooktown, Jabiru to Dover, the best way to really appreciate Australia is to hit the open road. Car hire here is relatively affordable, road conditions are generally good, and outside of the big cities there's bugger-all traffic. If you're driving a campervan, you'll find well-appointed caravan parks in just about every town of any size. If you're feeling more adventurous, hire a 4WD and go off-road: Australia's national parks and secluded corners are custom-made for down-the-dirt-road camping trips. So embrace your inner road warrior and sing it loud: 'Get your motor runnin'…Head out on the highway…'
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These tours & activities make it easy:
Best places to stay in Australia
The best nudist beaches in Australia
Easygoing Australia has an abundance of choice when it comes to beaches where nudism is legal and accepted. Most of the destinations on this list are nestled away, and home to communities of friendly, like-minded naturists who welcome newcomers. At some you may be the only person there – just you, the sun, the sand, the surf...
Bushwalking in Australia
Australia for kids
Australia destination guides
New South Wales
Brassy, bold, stately and old, New South Wales (NSW) hogs the lion’s share of Australia’s population, and it’s where the country’s modern society was birthed.
Most action-packed jungles
Make like Tarzan and take on one of these truly original rainforest adventures. This article is adapted from Lonely Planet's 1000 Ultimate Adventures. Battlefield crossing, Kokoda Track, Papua New Guinea Hiker on the Kokoda Track. Image by Andrew Peacock / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images.
Australia's East Coast itinerary
Yarra Valley Wine and Winery Tour from Melbourne
Join a full-day Yarra Valley wine tour and visit four of the region's best known wineries: Yering Station, Balgownie Estate, Yering Farm and Domaine Chandon. Over lunch and a series of wine tastings, see why the Yarra Valley is one of Australia's most picturesque wine regions on your Yarra Valley wine tour, the perfect day trip from Melbourne.
Central Rock and Canyon
Welcome to the Outback! Central Australia is a place of Dreamtime spirits, endless vistas and intense beauty. Our tour of the mythical Red Centre reveals the true spirit of Aboriginal history and culture. Discover the mystical history of majestic Uluru and marvel at the rugged expanse of Kings Canyon.
Top 5 reasons to head to Adelaide in 2014
Having always lived in the shadow of its gregarious eastern-seaboard cousins, the ‘City of Churches’ has been quietly loosening its pious shackles and embracing its liberal foundations. Like a perfectly cellared red, this effortlessly chic city is ready to be uncorked and sampled.
Sights in Australia
Activities in Australia
Tours in Australia
Restaurants in Australia
Budget hotels & hostels
Guesthouses and B&Bs
Occupying Australia’s northeastern corner, this vast state is awash with dazzling landscapes, vibrant cities and 300 days of sunshine a year.