Australia has something for everyone. It goes from tropical to chilly, transforms from gorgeous islands to dusty deserts and keeps you entertained with everything from pumping nightlife to the Dreamtimetales of Aboriginal culture.

There’s no chance you’ll get bored.

The face Australia presents to the rest of the world is changing.

From a backward void through the rough ‘n’ raw territory of Crocodile Dundee, via civilised soap opera suburbia to the cutting-edge cities of the 21st century, it’s plain to see this is one young, feisty, up-and-coming island.

The best part is that all these Australias do exist. In one modestly-populated nation you can find remote nowheresville towns, spectacular outback or rainforest landscapes, and ultra-hip nightspots and eateries.

We love it here and we think you might do, too.

Something completely different

The Australia you greet stepping off the plane into one of the major cities is reassuringly familiar.

All the trappings and comforts of home make it easy to get it together, but in weird, parallel-universe kind of ways that you can’t always put your finger on, it’s completely different.

The transport, legislation, and public services are all pretty similar to home. And yet the trains are double-deckered, the pelican crossings sound alarming and the money’s all funny coloured (and surf-proof).

Australians commute to the offi ce on the decks of boats, go for a surf after work, take business trips to tropical paradises and cook their Christmas dinners on the barbie.

There are public holidays for every occasion (including horse races), “mind the wombats” signs on the roadsides and some of the planet’s best cuisine.

Youth, freedom and shocking TV

Some joke that Australia has no culture, but that’s rubbish. While the old world is beleaguered by the weight of propriety, politics and poetry, Australia is bolstered by youth, freedom and hedonism.

So what if the TV is shocking and the radio is more grave-robbing than groundbreaking? You’ll be living life far too much to care.

The main point of being Australian seems to be to enjoy beer, hang out on beaches and drink in the sunshine.

It’s a culture built on wide open spaces and great weather – Aussies definitely work to live, not live to work.

Oh, and then there’s the country’s rich Aboriginal heritage – only the oldest continuously-maintained culture on the planet.
Oz is a traveller’s dream.

The backpacker infrastructure works like clockwork. Free bus transfers often meet you at transit centres. Hostels will book activities and onward journeys for you.

They take credit cards everywhere, and magazines and guidebooks spoil you for choice on where to go and what to do. It’s easy-peasy.

A tale of two cities

In a six-month trip around Australia you could find yourself snowboarding down crystal-white mountains, scuba diving amid the world’s most vivid coral and knocking back cocktails on idyllic beaches.

One week you could be driving in an endless straight line across a sandy desert with the stereo pumping, the next jumping out of a plane, hanging out with rainforest hippies, or watching Mozart being performed at the Opera House.

You can sleep underground in the subterranean opal town of Coober Pedy, hand-feed wild dolphins, kangaroos and lorikeets, and go clubbing in hip urban haunts.

You’ll experience the vibes of Uluru, line-dance in small country towns, play the didgeridoo on a lonely rocky outcrop, muster
cattle in the red dust of the outback and work in a waterfront skyscraper.

Australia’s cities are as diverse as its landscapes, from Hobart in Tasmania – a small, historic city with lots of pretty English-style architecture and a homely feel – right up to raucous Darwin, in the Top End, a multicultural frontier town on the tropical Arafura
Sea with exotic inhabitants and famed night markets.

Sydney, however, is the main port of call for most, and is Australia’s largest and most famous city.

The soaring skyscrapers of the CBD (central business district) are surrounded by harbourfront and beach suburbs, green parks and inner-city villages.

It’s the best bet for fi nding work, but the cost of living here is higher than in other parts of Oz. Sydney life is watery, boozy and cruisey, and the Pacific-rim metropolis boasts more than 30 sandy beaches.

Melbourne is the second city (though Melbournians will dispute this), and has a reputation as the nation’s cultural centre, with the arts, restaurants, cool nightlife and café society adorning its elegant Victorian streets.

On your marks, get set…

The most popular route for visitors is the “east coast run” from Melbourne or Sydney, north up the coast to party town Cairns (which is close to the Great Barrier Reef).

This well-trodden corridor has terrain ranging from the soaring canyons of the Blue Mountains, through to the unique, surf-pounded eco-system of Fraser Island, to the calm turquoise waters and coral reefs of the Whitsunday Islands.

In short, the eastern seaboard is an absolute must-do.

But if you want to get off the beaten track, an entire continent awaits. Try the notorious Nullarbor Plain or the remote yet wonder-strewn west coast.

Don’t miss the crocodiles of Kakadu, the Great Ocean Road, the waterfalls and mossy wilderness of Tasmania, the red dust, rock stars and spiritual vibes of the Red Centre, or the camels of Broome.

Wherever you go, you’ll see some unforgettable places. You can go wherever you want and be whoever you want.

Besides, in the end, it’s not the destination but the journey that counts.


Images: Getty, Queensland Tourism