Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sydney, Australia

The gateway to Australia, Sydney is renowned as a dynamic and cosmopolitan city, combining excellent business and education facilities with great leisure.

Famous for its World Heritage-listed Sydney Opera House, Sydney is one of the world's favourite cities, and has been voted "world's best city" by readers of US travel magazinesTravel & Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler. Sydney is also ranked first in the Asia Pacific for quality of life by the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2007.

Australia's oldest and largest city is set on one of the world's most stunning harbours, fringed by easy-to-reach, sandy beaches. Sydney Harbour separates the city into north and south, with harbourside villages, beachside suburbs and inner city areas full of life and their own distinctive character.

The city has a sunny, moderate climate which contributes to Sydneysiders' relaxed lifestyle and love of the great outdoors. There are five major national parks around Sydney with 8,000 square kilometres of open space.

This multicultural city's restaurant and cafe scene is enhanced by outstanding local fresh produce and world-class wines. Sydney has a dynamic arts and cultural scene. It is home to some of Australia's leading arts organisations such as Opera Australia, Sydney Symphony, Sydney Dance Company and Sydney Theatre Company and has produced many talented writers, film directors and performers.

Employment prospects are plentiful, education is world class and healthcare readily available.

Sydney offers a secure environment for families, with excellent facilities, transport and telecommunications.
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Friday, September 19, 2008

Tours of Australia

Tours are a great way to explore Australia. As in the case of any country, tours fit any budget and type of traveler. The Great Barrier Reef tours and the adventure tours are some of the most popular, but there are plenty of city tours as well.

Nature Tours

Nature travel is quite a big part of Australia. That means a lot of rain forest tours, cycling and hiking tours, wildlife tours, diving tours, safaris in desert, climbing tours, 4-wheel-drive tours, skiing tours, in short tours that appeal to both adventure travelers and families.

Each Australian region is famous for its own landmarks. Some of the most sought after tours are the Great Barrier Reef tours, which include diving, snorkeling, cruises, fishing.

The private guide tours are also quite popular. They are aimed at families and small groups (up to 6 people) and are the perfect way to explore Australia. For example the Kangaroo Tour of Australia lasts for 12 days and focuses on East, Central and Northern parts of Australia.

City Tours

When visiting a city, tours can be a great way to visit the most important landmarks without the head-ache of planning your own itinerary. Very popular are the open top double decker buses which allow the travelers to explore the cities at their own pace, hoping on and off the buses as they please. This type of tour costs about AUD 30 for adults and AUD 16 for children.

List of Tours of Australia

Australia's Great Barrier Reef

Home to about 400 types of corals and as many as 1,500 types of fish, Great Barrier Reef generates billion of dollars from the tourist industry. By far the most popular activities are snorkeling and scuba diving, but you can also fish, explore the national parks or take a day trip to one of the islands.

Location and Geography

Great Barrier Reef is located in Coral Sea, off the east coast of Queensland, in NE Australia. It comprises about 3,000 reefs and 900 islands, stretching over an area of 344,400 sq km / 132,974 sq miles. Getting to the Great Barrier Reef usually means flying into Cairns and then going out from there, although there are a few other popular options.

In 1981, Great Barrier Reef has been selected as UNESCO World Heritage Site, while CNN labeled the barrier as one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

Great Barrier Reef can be seen from the space, being the world’s biggest structure made by living organisms. There are about 400 types of coral, 1,500 types of fish and 4,000 types of mollusk. It’s the habitat of important species on the brink of extinction, such as dugong (“sea cow”) and large green turtle.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

A large part of the site is protected by The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. It helps to limit the impact of human use, mainly due to over fishing and tourism.


Extending from Cape York to Bundaberg, Great Barrier Reef allows the tour operators to offer a lot of destinations for the travelers. The most biologically diverse region of the Marine Park is located from the tip of Cape York to just north of Lizard Island. The Cooktown and Ribbon Reefs Region is renowned for the Ribbon Reefs, while Cairns and Port Douglas area includes Green Island, a very popular destination for day trips.

Fishing is popular mainly in the Hinchinbrook Region and Mackay Region.

Because the water is very clear, the area is especially popular among scuba divers. Among the preferred areas we can list: Townsville Region –home to the Wheeler Reef and for the Yongala shipwreck -, Far North –the most biologically diverse area- and Mackay Region. Snorkeling is also very popular among tourists.

The archeological sites attract a lot of visitors in the Whitsundays. However, the area is also popular for the wide variety of marine life it supports, including dolphins, dugongs and humpback whale.

Capricorn Coast area is home to dugong and five species of marine turtles. Here you can also see some of the most interesting birds that permanently inhabit the area or migrate here regularly due to the diverse and abundant marine life.

Tourists can also enjoy nature in one of the National Parks, such as those on the Brampton Island or South Cumberland Island, located in the Mackay Region.

Boat tours and cruises are also offered. You might want to take a day trip to one of the islands or spend several days exploring the entire area. Helicopter tours or glass bottomed boats tours are also popular among tourists.

Beaches of Australia

For those living in the Northern Hemisphere the iconic Australian image is a surfer having fun and tanning on Christmas Day. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the first thing we want to do when we get to any Australian city is…head to the beach.

It’s not that hard to realize that that there are hundreds of beaches all over Australia. So this page won’t bore you to death by describing each and every one of them. Instead, it’s going to be about some of the secret beaches –well, maybe not so secret anymore – and about the best beaches located near capital cities.

Beaches near the Capital Cities

Although there are a lot of beaches really close to Sydney, you should visit Durras , located at about 3 hours drive south of the city. The lake is protected and is home to beautiful wildlife. The trails take you through lush rainforests. The beaches are popular among surfers as well. You can also go canoeing or fishing.

One of the most popular beaches in Sydney is Bondi Beach. It’s popular both among surfers and sun-bathers. The trendy resort is filled with cafes and restaurants, while the parkland offers the best place to play sports and take relaxing walks.

Batemans Bay is the closest beach to Canberra, at about 2 hours drive. The bay is home to natural parks and lovely beaches. Surfing and deep sea fishing are popular activities here.

Cottesloe Beach is the most popular beach in Perth. Very popular among surfers, it’s also one of the best places to view a beautiful sunset. A reef located at the southern end of the beach offers the perfect location for snorkeling.

Secret Beaches – Not so secret Anymore?

Bournda Beach

The beach is part of the Bournda National Park located at about 440 km / 273.4 miles from Sydney.

Once a very popular surf spot, the beach is surrounded by a lush rainforest and is home to both salt and freshwater lakes. A 6 km / 3.7 km walking trail takes you along the rainforest. By the way, don’t be surprised if you end up face to face with a grey kangaroo. They really like to graze here.

Cape Le Grande National Park

Located in Western Australia, about 30km / 18.6 miles south-east of Esperance, this national park is famous for a lot more than the white sandy beaches, crystal clear water and beautiful landscape. The “furry” residents – kangaroos and possums – seem to be very used to the camera and like to “pose” for the tourists.

When you get bored of tanning or taking photos of the “local residents”, you can take the coastal trail and head to Rossiter Bay. The trail is 15 km / 9.32 miles long and offers some of the best views in the area.

Riedle Beach

On Maria Island in Tasmania you will find Riedle Beach. To get here you should take a ferry from Triabunna. You can also take a bike ride (90 min) or walk ( 4 and ½ hours) from Darlington. It definitely rivals with Wineglass Bay, but it’s not crowded at all.

The island is car-free so you will have to walk or bring a bike with you. The national park is teaming with wildlife while the beach is absolutely gorgeous.

If you want to spend the night here, you can camp for free at Encampment Cove or French’s Farm.

Springs Beach

Located in Queensland, south of Agnes Water, this beach is tucked away behind sand dunes, offering the perfect place to relax and catch some tan. It’s very popular among surfers as well, while the crystal clear waters of the Coral Sea are perfect for swimming.

Waterloo Bay

At only 200 km / 124.3 miles east of Melbourne, you will find Waterloo Bay. The white sand and turquoise waters can fool you to believe that you’ve reached the tropics…until you enter the cold waters of the bay.

The beach is hidden and you’ll have to spend some time looking for it. From Tidal Rivers start the 12 km / 7.5 miles trail to the sheltered eastern coast. Once here, head to the camping site at Little Waterloo Bay if you want to stay overnight. The cam permits are very cheap but try to avoid the peak season when it gets very crowded.