Capital: Canberra ♦ Population: 23 million ♦ Currency: Australian Dollar ($) ♦ Language: English

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Across the ditch from New Zealand lies Australia, one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. As a New Zealander, I think most of us take Australia for granted, because it is easy to travel to and similar to New Zealand in so many ways. The rivalry remains strong, especially in sport, but at the end of the day Australia is a fantastic neighbour and somewhere that I always get enjoyment out of visiting. With something to suit everyone, and a land mass greater than that of Europe, there is SO much exploring to be done. Where Vegemite is bountiful, kangaroos hop, and summer never ends…

The Outback: Australia’s specialty, Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) is a must visit. There isn’t much else to do in the outback, so I’m sure you’ll find time to be there for both sunrise and sunset.

Melbourne: With a culture like you’ll find in no other Australian city, Melbourne specialises in food, coffee, shopping and sport. With some of the city’s biggest sporting arenas featuring as prominent attractions in the CBD, it is hard not to embrace the atmosphere of an upcoming rugby or Aussie Rules game. It is also home to one of tennis’ four grand slams, the Australian Open. There is loads of street art, markets and galleries; allowing travellers on a budget to easily pass the time just wandering the area.

Sydney: with the Harbour Bridge and Opera House leading the way in some of the world’s most well known icons, this city is Australia’s largest and has plenty to offer. From beaches (Manly and Bondi) to eateries, fascinating neighbourhoods to explore (think The Rocks and King’s Cross) and culture aplenty, there is something for everyone. But, if you do want to escape the city, hike the Blue Mountains or sip some wine in the Hunter Valley.

Brisbane: a gate-way to the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast, Brisbane is more business, less culture. Southbank is still a pretty cool spot, but once you get bored, head up the coast to Mooloolaba, Eumundi and Noosa, or downwards to Surfers Paradise, where you can get your adrenaline fix visiting DreamWorld, SeaWorld, MovieWorld and so on…

Cairns: a tropical city; where you should stay when you want to visit the Great Barrier Reef. Also nearby is the Daintree rainforest; another great place for hiking and scenery.

Did you know?

  • More than 85% of the population live within 50km of the coast.
  • It has more than its fair of crazy animals – wombats, kangaroos, koalas, sharks, alligators, snakes, box jellyfish and spiders – just to name a few!
  • The Great Barrier Reef is the planets largest living structure, but sadly it is rapidly dying.
  • 63% of Australians are overweight.
  • Canberra was created in 1908 as a compromise to both Melbourne and Sydney wanting to be the capital.
  • An Australian man once tried to sell New Zealand on TradeMe – the cheek of it!
  • Tasmania supposedly has the cleanest oxygen in the world.

Useful tips

  • Although Aussie is known as a backpacking/road-tripping destination, the country is HUGE. It isn’t that great an idea to mission it across Australia in a vehicle – unless you have WEEKS to spare.
  • Despite speaking English, the slang can feel like a whole other language.
  • The sun is extremely forceful and dangerous due to a massive hole in the ozone layer – slip, slop, slap and wrap with care!