Australia takes fierce pride in all that it does, and partying is no exception. The country’s biggest holiday, the aptly named Australia Day, takes place each year on January 26. A day off from work, filled with fireworks and smiles, Australia Day also honors those Aussies who exemplify the spirit of the Land Down Under. However, IgoUgo members have honored the country itself, traveling across its wide expanse and sharing their experiences. Here are some of the finer points from one of the finest places on Earth.
Native Australian LenR heads south from his hometown of Townville to give us some Melbourne Highlights: “Everyone has their own idea about city highlights. They can be places to visit, things to do, interesting sights, or just traveling around. For me, Melbourne highlights cover all these things. The Arts Centre is a great place to visit. The Yarra River provides walking and tour opportunities. The city lanes and arcades are a shopping bonanza, while the major city buildings have great sightseeing appeal. The excellent public transport system makes everything so easy.”
On the Far Side of the World—at least from her hometown of Denver—member c_rau found a good partner city to her own: “The streets were clean, but not sterile; buildings were modern, yet classic; stores were busy, restaurants were packed. When you walked down the street you had to walk around people because they were always so engaged in conversion with their companions that they tended to walk at a slower pace. Life was good for them and they were in no hurry.”
Of course, she may have found an even better city; after all, Colorado has no shore: “I strolled the beach, which has soft, fine, brown-sugar sand in a perfect crescent shape. The beach was lined by fir trees towering above the beach walkway and casting late afternoon shadows.”
Soon-to-be Australia denizen stomps has had more than a few Off-the-Wall Experiences in Brisbane, but also some sublime ones, including a stop at nearby Stradbroke Island: “The short trip did not disappoint. Before I even made it to the beginning of the path, I spotted a whale’s blow in the distance. After doing a bit of acrobatics, he swam on. I made it to the first bench on the walk when I spotted gray shimmering in the waters very close to the cliffs below. Dropping my stuff, I moved as close to the edge of the cliff as was safe (there are no barriers and some of the rock is loose, so be careful!) and got a closer look at the pod of dolphins below. At first, I could only see a few, but they soon seemed to multiply. Ah, to be as carefree as a dolphin.”
Longtime IgoUgo member Carmen explored New South Wales’ northern point and Cairns, Where the Reef is Your Front Yard: “At the outer reef location, you get off the boat in some 30 feet of water, then swim over to the most colorful, most abundant coral reef. I had never seen so many fish in one spot, and in so many different shapes, sizes, and colors. It truly was the best snorkeling I’d seen in my travels.”
Though sometimes maligned for its grid layout, Adelaide certainly has enough character to impress cr008k: “What is really neat about Adelaide is that it was a planned city—it was designed by Colonel William Light and basically the city itself is a grid surrounded by parks. The weather was warm and balmy, but not hot or uncomfortable at all. Adelaide is referred to as a city of churches and this was true; there were tons of beautiful churches to visit, and even if you are not a religious person you can still appreciate the architecture and care about what went into constructing these beautiful churches. Adelaide is also on the water; it was beautiful and scenic and definitely worth a visit.”
The Australian Capital Territory is a carefully planned city, devoted to the Australian government and to the legacy of the nation. When member Koentje3000 traveled from his home in Belgium to spend two days in the Australian capital, he took a decidedly diplomatic approach to the less-visited ACT: “Only a few tourists come here, so accommodation is rather cheap and it's a quiet place. And when you visit this huge country, you should visit its capital, should you not?”
Meanwhile, Diana2315 singled out the Australian War Memorial as a must-see for anyone looking for signs of Aussie pride: ”To fully appreciate the whole museum takes many hours; there are dioramas of a number of battles, displays of Victoria Crosses, aircraft, and a discovery room where children can take part in a variety of activities that help them to understand the experiences depicted.”
Londoner blake-d philosophizes on the Theory Behind Darwin when visiting the theorist’s eponymous city: “The real highlight was the relaxed attitude in Darwin; with the heat somewhat oppressive around midday, everyone relaxes, and there is no pressure to do anything. Once the day cools and the night begins, Darwin starts to reanimate, and with a number of good bars and a few clubs, all open to the early hours, it was always a great night out.”
Also exploring the Top End of Australia, Koentje3000 found Kakadu National Park to be the perfect missing link between the laid-back vibe of the city and the resplendent nature that abounds nearby: “The park is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's a unique combination of natural and cultural features. There are waterfalls and natural pools, creeks, rain forest, and aboriginal heritage.
Kakadu is great for hikes. There are plenty of billabongs and pools along the way to take a dip in the fresh water. But beware of the crocs!”
Expat aussieinva minces no words in his claim that The Big Rock Is a Must-See in Australia: “The view from the top of the rock is incredible. You can see for miles, as the air is clean and unpolluted, largely due to the fact that there are no major cities or industries for hundreds of miles. Watching the sun rise and seeing the rock change color as the day broke was definitely an experience that I will always remember.”
Legendary IgoUgo member actonsteve had similar sentiments about his time in the Dead Red Heart of Australia: “The colours of this forbidding land from 20,000ft are mind-blowing. As you cross the Outback it changes into various hues of red—sometimes it was russet red, sometimes it was light pink, other times it was deep mahogany. From up high it is slashed and streaked with yellow, white, black, and brown. It vies with Sydney as my favourite destination Down Under. A lot of it has to do with atmosphere, as it is heavily influenced by aboriginal culture.”
Not to be forgotten when discussing Australia, Tasmania offers a look at the wilder side of the continent. However, LenR continues his explorations around the south and finds Great Stuff in Hobart, including the Salamanca market: “Visitors to Hobart can enjoy the sights, sounds, flavours, and colour of Australia’s best-known outdoor market every Saturday from 8:30am to 3pm. The famous market draws thousands of people for the food, the music, and the fun.”
Happy Australia Day to all Aussies, home and abroad!