Discover Australia 1

A Magical Land

I’ve been fortunate enough to visit this wonderful country three times in as many years. There is so much to explore and so many beautiful sites to see.  Not only that, but it’s truly somewhere that I’ve never felt more safe and welcome.  To put it simply, Australia is a magical land that will hold a huge piece of my heart forever.  There is nothing like it on this earth!

Sydney is a great starting point for visiting Australia, and boasts a lively arts and culture scene, abundant with galleries, museums and performance venues throughout the city.

One of the most iconic landmarks in all of Australia is The Sydney Opera House.  Built on Bennelong Point, it is recognizable around the world for its unique architectural design.  The construction alone took 15 years and cost $80 million.  The structure contains several large auditoriums and has an average of 3,000 events a year that are attended by an estimated two million people and includes a 1,547-seat Opera Theatre.

In addition to Sydney, there are countless options to experience in the land down under.  I learned this when I had first visited myself in 2013.  Since then, the destination has drawn me back again in 2014 and 2015.  Australia had long been my dream; top of my bucket list!  The moment I stepped off the airplane, the world around me seemed to stop for a brief moment as I soaked it all in.  It simply took my breath away with its stunning beauty and the amazingly warm people.

The first decision that needs to be made when visiting Oz is which of the six states within its two territories you’d like to visit.  Each is unique from the cities to the countryside.  If you want a truly remote experience, hit the outback, where you can dine at The Sounds of Silence Dinner in Uluru.  This dining journey takes place at Ayers Rock, a portion of the outback that is virtually undiscovered.  Here you will sip champagne while listening to a traditional, Aboriginal didgeridoo.  The colors of the sunset above Ayers Rock are the most brilliant bursts of oranges, reds, and yellows you’ll ever see.

If you crave adventure, head towards the Red Centre.   Red Centre is a desert region near the city of Alice Springs, where you can discover Kings Canyon, Kata Tjuta and the MacDonnell Ranges.  Or, head south for an entirely different experience to the state of Victoria.  Here you can explore the city of Melbourne, take a scenic hot air balloon ride over the Yarra Valley, or drive along the coast to see The Twelve Apostles.  Another option would be to venture off of the mainland to gorgeous Tasmania.  Tassie, as the locals call it, offers you the opportunity to take a stunning hike through Freycinet National Park, or you can take a more casual stroll through the Salamanca Market held on Saturdays.  The Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary in the city of Hobart, offers the experience of feeding Kangaroos and the endangered Tasmanian Devil.

The city of Brisbane is home to The Australian Zoo, where you can witness animals unique to the country and home of the famous “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin.

Within New South Wales, see the vast landscape of the Blue Mountains.  This area gets its name from a blue haze commonly attributed to the area’s eucalyptus forests.  One of the best ways to view these mountains is on the Scenic Railway which is the steepest passenger railway in the world.

If a tropical vacation is more of what you’re looking for, The Whitsunday Islands are where you want to be.  You can take a high speed catamaran to the inner or outer portions of the Great Barrier Reef.  The reef is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and is a magnificent sight to see.  From snorkeling and diving in the crystalline aqua blue waters to spectacular Whitehaven Beach, this an area of the country not to be missed.

No matter what you’re searching for in your travels, you’ll be able to find it in Australia.  From its remarkable scenery, unique wildlife and the Australian people themselves it is an experience of a lifetime.

Dana Fricke writing for Lake Zurich Travel and Lakeside Travel Advisors, Wauconda.