Did you know that Australia is the only country that is also a continent*? The Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean, the Tasman Sea, the Coral Sea, the Timor Sea and the Arafura Sea make up Australia’s shores. Aborigines inhabited Australia for over 50,000 years before the British came to Australia in the 1770s and claimed the land from them. Australia became a country, constitutional monarchy, on January 1, 1901. Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia form the six states and two territories of Australia. Canberra is the capital of Australia and the majority of Australians live in urban areas. Australia, being on the south of the equator, has opposite seasons to those in the north. Temperatures may rise to over 100˚ F during the summer in the outback.
Places to Visit
Australia is a traveler’s paradise with awesome scenery, unusual wildlife, the oldest civilization, the oldest rainforest and great beaches. The Indian Pacific Train offers a 3-day journey that has been ranked in the “Top Rail Journeys in the World.” The Ocean Road is a 106 km journey with cliff-top scenery, stunning beaches and forests. Sydney has attractions including magnificent beaches, the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. The Great Barrier Reef is an underwater fairyland extending for over 2,000 km with bizarre and colorful flora and fauna. The Wet Tropics Rainforest is a World Heritage rainforest stretching around Cairns. The Aboriginal Culture Tour in Alice Springs offers an unforgettable experience on the perspectives of Aboriginal life. The Barossa Valley is popular for wines. Western Australia is covered with blue, mauve, pink, red, white and yellow wildflowers every spring. Kimberley is Australia’s last frontier rich in pearls, red soil, crocodiles and rock art.
Popular outdoor adventures include horse trekking, abseiling, white-water rafting, canoeing, surfing, sea kayaking and skiing. The Kakadu National Park is Australia’s biggest national park. The best places to view wildlife include the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, the Daintree and Cape Tribulation national parks, Heron Island, Jervis Bay, Kangaroo Island, the Lamington National Park, the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Montague Island, Monkey Mia, Northwest Cape and Pebbly Beach that offers sights of wildlife such as cockatoos, kangaroos, possums and sharks in their natural habitats. The outback has interesting places such as the Flinders Ranges, dry salt lakes and deserts. Some places to experience the outback include broken hill, Coober Pedy, Kings Canyon, lightning ridge, the MacDonnel Ranges and the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. The best museums include the Alice Springs Telegraph Station Historical Reserve, the Australian National Maritime Museum, the Australians War Memorial, the Migrations Museum, the Nationals Museum of Australias, the Western Australians Maritime Museum and the York Motor Museum.
Popular beaches in Australia include the Cable Beach, the Cottesloe Beach, the Four Mile Beach, the Hyams Beach, the Mission Beach, the Palm Beach, the Surfer’s Paradise Beach, the Whitehaven Beach and the Wineglass Bay. Diving and snorkeling are popular in Cairns, Coral Sea, Heron Island, Lady Elliot Island, Lizard Island, Ningaloo Reef, Port Douglas, Rottnest Island, Whitesunday Island and the Yongala Wreck.
McCollum, S. (2008). Australia. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications.
Mylne, L., Llewellyn, M., Crittall, R. & Atkinso, L. (2011). Frommer's Australia 2011. Hoboken: Wiley Publishing.
* There are two schools of thought about Australia being a continent. One says that Australia is a continent. The other (used in the geographical classification here on www.travel-university.org) says that Australia is the world's largest island, part of the continent called Oceania. Oceania is one of eight terrestrial ecozones, which constitute the major ecological regions of the planet. The Oceania ecozone includes all of Micronesia, Fiji, and all of Polynesia except New Zealand.
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