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Australia is a wild yet beautiful place where one can have soulful and indigenous stories from the color palette of red Outback sands to technicolor Great Barrier Reefs. To capture the Aussie essence of the vast continent, one must travel down here and experience the unique Australian wildlife through the rugged Outback terrain, diving sites along the world heritage Great Barrier Reef, touring the Sydney Opera House, cuddling a Koala or snorkel the Great Barrier Reef.

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Australia

An ancient island-continent, suspended in the world’s southern oceans and surrounded by Asia and the Pacific Islands, Australia is a land of utterly unique experiences.  

- For an incomparably breathtaking and humbling experience, few things can match swimming with the 18 meter-long whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef. Join these gentle giants – the world’s largest species of fish – for their annual gathering off the Ningaloo Coast in Western Australia between mid-March and mid-July. The whale sharks are drawn by the large aggregation of plankton that follows a mass annual spawning of coral – which also attracts humpback whales and a wealth of sea turtles.

- Shift your 4WD vehicle into overdrive as you cruise along the gazetted sand highway of Seventy-Five-Mile beach on Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island. Located a short ferry ride off the east coast of Queensland, you’ll discover a vast sand island covered in majestic rainforest, with more than 40 rare and brilliantly colored ‘perched’ dune lakes – half the world’s supply.  Staying in a beachfront villa, or joining a luxury camping expedition, traverse the island along the beach highway, swim in the aqua waters of Lake McKenzie, roll down the sand dunes into the emerald green Lake Wabby, or float on a tire tube down crystal-clear Eli Creek.

- Australians really love their sport, and summertime is when many of the national sporting spectacles heat up. On the first Tuesday in November, stylish and ultra-fashionable Melbourne hosts one of the world’s great horse races, the Melbourne Cup, followed by the Australian Open Tennis in January, and the Formula One Australian Grand Prix in March. Boxing Day each December sees Sydney’s foreshore crowded with spectators sending off the sleek, high-tech vessels on the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, which pits some of the world’s best sailors against the notoriously wild winds of Tasmania’s the Bass Strait. And every four years, the Australian summer rings to cries of “Howzat!” as Australia welcomes the English cricket team for the fiercely contested Ashes series, played biannually since 1882.

- Explore the otherworldly splendor of the World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest, the world’s oldest living tropical rainforest, opposite the Great Barrier Reef in Far North Queensland. You’ll feel as though you’ve entered a giant’s kingdom as you walk beneath the soaring green canopy, around ancient and gnarled tree trunks so large they provide the perfect shelter for tree-living kangaroos, bandicoots, and giant prehistoric birds. Discover the stunning diversity of this hidden world, as you cruise along the Daintree River, cool off in crystal-clear forest creeks, and make your way up to spectacular Cape Tribulation – the only place in the world where two World Heritage Sites meet.

- Spend an evening cradling and feeding orphaned baby kangaroos at The Kangaroo Sanctuary in Alice Springs, where your host is a six-foot-seven Australian man named Brolga, whose absolute passion in life is to care for these unique creatures.

- Marvel at the beauty of World Heritage-listed Lord Howe Island, a dazzling drop in the Pacific Ocean featuring mountains that soar straight out of the ocean bed and picture-perfect lagoons. A two-hour flight from Sydney or Brisbane, this is one of Australia’s hidden gems. With only a handful of cars on the island, you’ll make your way around by bicycle or on foot, feeding the giant kingfish at Ned’s Beach as they swim around your ankles, borrowing snorkeling equipment or boogie boards (using the time-honored ‘honesty box’), and returning home from dinner by torchlight – making way for the astounding number of mutton birds you’ll encounter on your path. This extraordinary island is Australia’s premier bird watching destination, with 14 species of seabirds breeding here in their hundreds of thousands.

- Latch yourself onto the exposed spine of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, and climb to the summit for an amazing perspective over this stunning city. Gaze down upon the white sails of the Sydney Opera House as it takes center stage in the harbor. For more unique views, at ground level, camp overnight at Cockatoo Island in the center of Sydney, where fully decked out ‘glamping’ tents are available. Part historical, part industrial, follow the well-marked tracks around this inner-city island, which take you from sandstone convict settlements to the giant berths that were once home to Australia’s WWII battle fleet.

- Discover the remarkable wildlife and the living cultural landscape of Kakadu in the Northern Territory: at nearly 20,000km², the largest national park in Australia, and one of the largest in the world’s tropics. A spectacular region laced with soaring escarpments, thundering waterfalls, and freshwater wetlands, Kakadu is the ancestral home of the Bininj/Mungguy people, whose hunting and gathering traditions have echoes in the park’s extensive rock art ‘galleries’, dating back tens of thousands of years.

Being an island of such immense size, visitors can travel in Australia all year round, and find largely temperate weather somewhere on the continent. The seasons generally fall in these months:  Summer - December, January and February Autumn (Fall) - March, April and May Winter - June, July and August Spring - September, October and November As a rule of thumb, it’s preferable to visit the desert regions of Central Australia (Alice Springs, Uluru, Kata Tjuta), the Northern Territory (Darwin, Kakadu) and North West Australia in the cooler months of April to October. Tropical North Queensland (the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforest, the Whitsunday Islands) is hot all year round, although skies are usually clearer in the cooler months.  The southern cities of Sydney, Canberra (the national capital), Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth definitely experience a cool winter, although Sydney and Perth tend to have milder winters, characterized by brisk sunny days with blue skies. Tasmania, tucked at the bottom of Australia, can get very cold in the winter, but the sheer magnificence of the wilderness (and the plentiful log fires) more than compensate for this detail. If you want to experience the real delights of a southern Australian summer (Sydney, Kangaroo Island, Tasmania, Margaret River), then head to Australia between October and April – but remember that it will be hotter in the desert and the northern tropical regions.

 

Australia has a great range of accommodation to suit all preferences. With so many wilderness and World Heritage-listed sites on offer, there is a wide range of luxury eco-lodges nestled within the country’s National Parks, often with day spas attached. All the major cities and many beach and mountain destinations also have a fine choice of luxury hotels, from stylish boutique hotels to leading international chains.  Bed and Breakfast accommodation is also very popular in Australia, from the heritage to the ultra-modern, hosted by open and friendly Australians who love welcoming overseas travelers. For a unique experience in many wilderness locations – including Outback Australia, Fraser Island or Maria Island in Tasmania – we recommend luxury camping to get ‘up close and personal’ with the natural wonders of this captivating continent. Visitors can join guided walking trips and stay at luxury tented camps or eco-lodges en route, which is always a highlight of any Australian adventure. For those drawn to the ocean, take advantage of the country’s stunning coastline and climb aboard a yacht for a nautical adventure around the islands of the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsunday Islands, the wild Northern Territory coast, or Tasmania Freycinet Peninsula. Whatever your preference, Leisure will be able to customize the perfect accommodation for you.

 

Visa and Passport Requirements

Getting a visa to Australia is a very straight and easy process. An Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) provides authorization to travel around Australia for tourism, which is electronically linked to your passport. Americans, or other nationalities, can apply for an ETA online for AUD$20 at the Australian Government website. You can get three months visa that will allow you to stay in Australia.

 

Traveling around the relaxing and friendly country is a complete delight. First comes first, Australians speak English that enables you to engage with the locals in an open and authentic way.  Sydney is the most popular city of Australia which has topped Forbes Magazine’s List of Most Reliable Cities in the year 2013, based on safety, government services, food, and entertainment. Most of the Australian restaurants generally have very high standards of cleanliness, and it is safe to drink water from the taps. While a large proportion of Australians live in cities on the east coast, the more sparse populations of the countryside and coastal regions are also known for their safety and friendliness, with the roadside ‘honesty box’ still alive and well in rural Australia. Crime rates are very low, but like anywhere in the world, travelers need to make sensible decisions such as putting valuables in their hotel safes and walking in well-lit areas late at night.  Australia offers a dual system of public and private health insurance and has excellent medical facilities. Like any holiday, you should ensure that you have suitable medical insurance before you travel.

For visitors who sustain an injury in a remote location, the Royal Flying Doctor Service is an outstanding not-for-profit service that can fly you to a well-equipped hospital from virtually anywhere. Established in 1928 to provide a ‘mantle of safety’ for pioneers living in remote areas, the ‘Flying Doctors’ are a much-loved Australian institution that school children begin raising money for at their first school fair. Most popular beaches are patrolled by volunteer lifesavers, and when on these beaches you should always swim between the red and yellow flags. Although Australia is renowned for its dangerous snakes, spiders and marine life, it’s good to remember that incidents of harm are low, and taking sensible precautions and following your guide’s instructions will do much to minimize any unwanted encounters with the local wildlife.  Australia is one of the safest places in the world with regard to infectious and waterborne diseases. Specific immunization shots are not required, although travelers should be up to date with their routine vaccinations. Insect repellents and measures to prevent mosquito bites are strongly advised for tropical regions of the Northern Territory, Western Australia, and North Queensland, where there are periodic outbreaks of mosquito-borne illnesses such as dengue fever. The other ‘must’ for all travelers to Australia is a high-factor sunscreen. As an island free from many diseases that are endemic worldwide, you may notice that Australian Customs and Border Protection agents can be unusually vigilant about mud on shoes or carved wooden articles, in their efforts to keep foreign weeds and seeds out. For the same reason, travelers are forbidden from bringing any food, vegetables or fruit into the country.

 

Australian Dollar is the official currency, which worth less than the US dollar, although the rate of the currency varies over time. Australia is well-equipped with banks, currency exchange facilities and ATM machines, many of which are linked to the global Cirrus or PLUS networks. In most places, an ATM or credit card is all that you’ll need.  When dining out, many cafes and restaurants offer ‘BYO’ (‘bring your own’), allowing you to take your favorite wine or beer to dinner – although you are usually charged a small corkage fee.

Australian restaurants all charge a mandatory 10% Goods and Services Tax (GST), which goes straight to the government, and tipping, although most welcome, is by no means widespread or expected. Australia does not have a culture of tipping across the board, possibly due to the strong union movements which have always demanded a high minimum wage across all sectors of the workforce. However, for exceptional and friendly service, a tip will always be received most gratefully. Regarding dress codes, Australians tend to be very casual. As long as you are relaxed, they’ll be glad.

Leisure provides a wide array of meticulously planned Australian adventures. We make all the plans so that you can completely enjoy your dream vacation! The entire trips can be customized to specific class and requirements or can be completely tailor-made around particular destinations and special interests. To start your amazing journey for Customized Australia tours, let us know your interests by filling out a Trip Request.  We would then match your requirements with two or three specialist travel agents who will work with you to provide you the best vacation.

 

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