Soak up Darwin's balmy weather and the melting pot of food and cultures in the city's many outdoor festivals and markets. Then explore the region's dramatic history - from World War II air raids to Cyclone Tracey - in the museums and galleries. Sail Darwin harbour at sunset, cruise next to crocodiles and bushwalk through monsoon forest. Swim in the crystal-clear waterholes of Litchfield National Park and visit the colourful communities of the Tiwi Islands. This vibrant, tropical capital has a youthful energy you'll find hard to resist.
Five ways to discover Darwin and its surrounds:
1. At festivals, markets and on the harbour In Darwin, the action happens outside - in markets, parks, by the beach or on boats. You can join the locals with a crate and a plate of sizzling satay at The Mindil Beach Sunset Markets from May to October. Or watch them build boats out of beer or soft drink cans at the annual Darwin Beer Can Regatta in July. At the Deckchair Cinema from April to November you can watch movies under a canopy of stars with a drink from the bar and a picnic dinner. Soak up Darwin's tropical weather with a harbourside dinner at Cullen Bay Marina or a sunset harbour cruise complete with a history lesson.
2. With wildlife and in tropical parklands
Cycle past orchids and bromeliads and traditional Aboriginal plants in George Brown Botanic Gardens. Swim, have a sunset barbecue and explore sacred Aboriginal sites at Casuarina Coastal Reserve. In Berry Springs Nature Park, you can spot birds in monsoon forest and fish in the crystal clear swimming holes. Get up close to fish, birds-of-prey, nocturnal animals and reptiles in the Territory Wildlife Park, a 45-minute drive from Darwin. Have a close crocodile encounter at Crocodylus Park, the Darwin Crocodile Farm or on a crocodile cruise along Darwin's coastal fringe and rivers.
3. Hot on the heels of history
Learn more about Darwin's rich Aboriginal heritage in the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. Here you can also relive the tragic Cyclone Tracy which hit Darwin on Christmas Eve in 1974. See the Chinese Temple it nearly destroyed in Litchfield Street. Darwin endured 64 Japanese air raids in World War II, and you can watch dramatic footage of the bombings and visit the bunker where Top End defense strategy was planned at East Point Military Museum. See original B52 bomber planes at the Aviation Heritage Centre and a network of walking trails leading to World War II oil tunnels around the Wharf Precinct. In Myilly Point Historical Precinct you can see some of the few surviving cottages designed by architect B.C.G Burnett in the colonial style popular before World War II.
4. Under the waterfalls of Litchfield National Park
Make time for a day trip to the waterfalls and plunge pools, wildlife and birdlife, ranges and rainforest of Litchfield National Park, a one-and-a-half hour drive from Darwin. Swim in the crystal-clear swimming hole at the base of Florence Falls and bush-walk through monsoon rain-forest to Walker Creek. Picnic next to roosting fruit bats at Wangi Falls and see sweeping valley views at Tolmer Falls. Take a wildlife cruise on the Reynolds River, part of a working cattle station. Explore this Tarzan landscape with traditional Aboriginal owners the Wagait people or peer into a pastoral past in the ruins of Blyth Homestead.
5. On a trip to the Tiwi Islands
Join in the excitement of the Tiwi Islands Grand Football Final, held every March in Nguiu. Browse and buy Tiwi art, distinctive for its strong design, decorative features and vivid colours. Take billy tea and damper tea with Tiwi ladies as they demonstrate traditional weaving and painting. Then watch them perform a traditional dance and a smoking ceremony to clear bad spirits. Catch big barramundi on a fishing tour on the Tiwi coast. You'll find a warm welcome and a lush landscape of rainforest, beaches and rock pools on Melville and Bathurst Islands, together known as the Tiwi Islands. Explore them on a day or overnight tour, traveling a 20-minute flight or two-hour ferry from Darwin.
Soak up Sydney’s gorgeous harbour, seductive outdoor lifestyle and great natural beauty. Kayak under the Sydney Harbour Bridge or wave at the Opera House as you ride a ferry across the harbour to Manly. Learn to surf at Bondi Beach or swim in the calm waters of Coogee. Lose yourself in the cobblestone cul-de-sacs of The Rocks or in the markets, boutiques, cafes and pubs of Paddington. As well as a world-famous harbour and more than 70 sparkling beaches, Sydney offers fabulous food, festivals and 24-7 fun.
Five Sydney Experiences Not to Miss:
1. Explore the historic Rocks
Discover Sydney’s colorful convict history in the harbourside quarter where it all began. Just five minutes from Circular Quay, you can hear stories of hangings and hauntings on a ghost tour, wander the weekend markets or climb the span of the Harbour Bridge. In amongst the maze of sandstone lanes and courtyards, you’ll find historic workman’s cottages and elegant terraces, art galleries, hotels with harbour views and Sydney’s oldest pubs. See people spill out of them onto a party on the cobblestone streets when The Rocks celebrates Australia Day on January 26th, Anzac Day on April 25th and New Years Eve.
2. Hit the world-famous harbour
Sail past the Opera House on a chartered yacht or paddle from Rose Bay in a kayak. Take a scenic cruise from Circular Quay or Darling Harbour, past waterfront mansions, national parks and Shark, Clark, Rodd and Goat islands. Tour historic Fort Denison or learn about the life of Sydney’s first inhabitants, the Gadigal people, on an Aboriginal cultural cruise. Watch the harbour glitter from the green parklands of the Royal Botanic Gardens, which curves around its edge. Or take in the view from a waterfront restaurant in Mosman, on the northern side of the bridge, or Watsons Bay at South Head. Walk from Rose Bay to Vaucluse or Cremorne Point to Mosman Bay, on just some of the 16 spectacular routes hugging the harbour foreshore.
3. Visit Manly on the ferry
Travel across Sydney Harbour on a ferry to Manly, which sits between beaches of ocean surf and tranquil inner harbour. Wander through native bushland on the scenic Manly to Spit Bridge walk, learn to scuba-dive at Cabbage Tree Bay or ride a bike to Fairy Bower. Picnic at Shelly Beach on the ocean and sail or kayak from Manly Wharf round the harbour. Hire a scooter and do a round trip of northern beaches such as Narrabeen and Palm Beach. Explore the shops, bars and cafes along the bustling pine tree-lined Corso and dine at world-class restaurants with water views.
4. Enjoy café culture and top shopping in Paddington
Meander through the Saturday markets, browse fashion boutiques on bustling Oxford Street or discover the antique shops and art galleries in upmarket Woollahra. Visit the 1840s Victoria Barracks Army base, open to the public once a week, and see restored Victorian terraces on wide, leafy streets. Ride or roller-blade in huge Centennial Park, then stop for coffee and lunch on Oxford St or in the mini-village of Five Ways. Catch a movie at an art-house cinema or leaf through a novel at midnight in one of the huge bookstores. Crawl between the lively, historic pubs. They hum even more after a game at the nearby stadium or a race day, when girls and guys arrive in their crumpled trackside finery.
5. Walk from Bondi to Coogee
Take in breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean as you walk the winding, sea-sculpted sandstone cliffs between Bondi and Coogee. Swim in the famous Bondi Icebergs rock pool or just watch the swimmers with a sunset cocktail from the restaurant above. See wild waves in Tamarama, nicknamed Glamarama for the beautiful people who lie on its golden sand. From mid-October to November, the stretch from here to Bondi is transformed into an outdoor gallery for the Sculptures by the Sea exhibition. You can surf, picnic on the grass or stop for a coffee at family-friendly Bronte. Or swim, snorkel or scuba dive in Clovelly and tranquil Gordon’s Bay. See the graves of poets Henry Lawson, Dorothea Mackellar and aviator Lawrence Hargrave in Waverley Cemetery, on the edge of the cliffs. Finish your tour in the scenic, backpacker haven of Coogee.
Cairns is the sunny garden city where the Great Barrier Reef meets the Wet Tropics Rainforest, mountains and the gulf savannah not too far away. The city's water front boasts a world class marina and wharf used by visiting cruise liners, yachts and tour vessels. Cairns is situated in the Northern end of Tropical Queensland Australia. It's a modern city with a good location to explore some of Australia's vast array of flora and fauna. With a magnificent Casino, Cairns is alive with more activities than a visitor will ever have time for. The principal attraction is the over 60 national parks from the wet tropical rain forests and lush tablelands to the truly wild Cape York Peninsula and the Great Barrier Reef.
It is the world's largest monolith rising almost 1,000 feet above the desert floor with a circumference of almost 26,250 feet. It is considered one of the great wonders of the world and is located in Kata Tjuta National Park which is owned and run by local Aboriginals. Depending on the time of day and the atmospheric conditions the rock can dramatically change color, anything from blue to glowing red ! Many avid photographers set up for days and record the many changing colors of Uluru. Some believe that there is a light source emanating at various times of the year.
This elegant city is known for its colonial stone architecture, expansive parklands, lively festivals and incredible sense of space. Explore the museums and libraries of North Terrace, dine on dedicated 'eat streets' or picnic in gardens that sprawl over almost half the city. Go bike riding in Botanic Park or row past rose gardens in Rymill Park. Swim with dolphins or learn to sail in Glenelg or fish from the jetty in Henley. Just beyond the city centre you'll find the picturesque Adelaide Hills and the world-class wineries of the Barossa Valley.
Five ways to immerse yourself in Adelaide:
1. Hit the eat streets
Sample everything from Asian fusion to Argentine cuisine in the exotic, bustling foodhalls of Chinatown. Embrace the alfresco ambience of Rundle Street in Adelaide's East End or live it up in one of the city's many elegant wine bars and fashionable restaurants. Enjoy a beach sunset with your meal in the coastal suburbs of Glenelg and Henley Beach or wind down with a wine at the National Wine Centre. If you're a fresh food addict, Adelaide Central Markets offer premium produce from growers across the state.
2. Feel green and serene in Adelaide's parks
Hire paddleboats and bikes in Elder Park or row past formal rose gardens in Rymill Park. Picnic in the local's beloved Botanic Park or cycle from the hills to the coast in River Torrens Linear Park. For serious tranquility, head to the classic Japanese oasis of Adelaide-Himjei Garden. Adelaide's 29 parks take up almost half of the city, and come with walking trails, quiet spaces and sporting fields for everything from football to archery.
3. Head for the coast
Swim with dolphins or learn to sail in Glenelg, which bustles with sidewalk cafes, alfresco dining and summer entertainment. In the beach suburb of Henley, you can fish from the jetty or go on a culinary world tour at the ethnic food stores and eateries. Explore the museums, markets and historic harbour of Port Adelaide, the city's maritime heart. Or see heritage buildings and colourful summer sideshows in family-friendly Semaphore. Further along the spectacular Le Fevre Peninsula, you can swim on protected beaches and walk one of the state's few heritage-listed jetties at Largs Bay.
4. Soak up Aboriginal and European heritage
Do a cultural tour of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens with traditional custodians the Kaurna people. You'll learn how native plants have been used for sustenance, shelter, ceremonies and medicines for thousands of years. Browse the world's largest collection of Aboriginal antiquities at the Aboriginal Cultures Gallery at the South Australian Museum and visit Tandanya, the National Aboriginal Cultural Institute. Adelaide also has a proud European heritage for you to explore -in the museums and libraries of North Terrace, in Adelaide Town Hall and in Port Adelaide, the state's first declared heritage area.
5. Escape to the hills
Drive to the Adelaide Hills, where the picturesque farmlands and charming villages have inspired many generations of artists. Stay in Bavarian-inspired chalets and browse the bakeries, craft shops and galleries of Hahndorf, Australia's oldest surviving German village. Visit The Cedars, once the gracious old home and studio of famous landscape artists Sir Hans Heysen. Then hit the markets of Lobethal, a fairytale town which celebrates Christmas with metres and metres of colourful lights.
Don't miss this small, scenic capital, famous for its Georgian buildings and crisp air. Browse bustling Salamanca Markets and run your hands over the sandstone buildings in Salamanca Place. Climb craggy Mount Wellington for sweeping views over Hobart and the wide Derwent River. Do a ghost tour in Battery Point, walk across Australia's oldest bridge in Richmond and visit the cute coastal hamlet of Kettering. Wind past forest and farmland to the cool-climate wineries of the Coal Valley. See bright spinnakers on the water and dine on fresh seafood from one of Hobart's waterside restaurants.
Five must-have Hobart experiences:
1. Wander Salamanca Place
Step back in time in Salamanca Place, the captivating cobblestone square on Hobart's waterfront. On Saturday mornings, you can wander through bustling Salamanca Markets and see glassblowers, potters and painters selling their wares. Buy a one-off piece of craft or pick up organic fruit and vegetables, farmhouse cheeses and freshly-cut flowers from the friendly local growers. Drink coffee under the sun umbrellas while listening to the slap of sails on masts and busking string quartets. Explore the galleries, theatres, craft shops and restaurants in the 1830s Georgian warehouses, once the haunt of sailors, whalers and workmen.
2. Climb Mount Wellington
Take in panoramic views over Hobart, Bruny Island, South Arm and the Tasman Peninsula from the interpretation centre at the top of windswept Mount Wellington. Stroll through cool forested gullies along the historic Pipeline Track or traverse Wellington Range on the back of a horse or mountain bike. Climb Sphinx Rock and see the Octopus Tree, the forest's tallest tree. Abseil or climb the Organ Pipe's craggy dolerite towers. Camp under the stars, four wheel drive along rough mountain trails or bike-ride down the mountain on an exhilarating tour. Mount Wellington's wilderness experience is 1,270 metres above sea level but just 20 minutes from the city centre.
3. Stay in Hobart's oldest suburb
Stay in bed and breakfasts next to grand old mansions and simple fishermen's cottages in Battery Point, named after a battery of guns put on the point in 1818. The guns have long been dismantled but Battery Point has retained its original seafaring charm. Visit elegant old buildings such as Arthur Circus Cottages, St. George's Anglican Church and Van Diemen's Land Folk Museum, a Georgian building on landscaped grounds. Check out Kelly's Steps, built by legendary adventurer James Kelly in 1839. Or walk in the footsteps of convicts, bushrangers, whalers, sailors, barmaids and prostitutes on a ghost tour.
4. Visit Richmond and Kettering
You can walk across Australia's oldest bridge and stand in the cell of its oldest jail in picturesque Richmond, a 30-minute drive north-east from Hobart. Explore the cobblestone streets by the lantern light of a ghost tour or picnic on the banks of the Coal River. Check out local art and craft in the galleries and cafes. On your way back to Hobart, stop off at one of the Coal Valley's many wineries. South from Hobart, you'll find the sleepy seaside town of Kettering on the shores of the D'Entrecasteaux Channel. Have lunch watching the yachts and fishing boats bob on the sheltered harbour or take the ferry to Bruny Island.
5. Fill up on seafood and fine wine
Savour classic cool-climate wines at the cellar doors and wineries of the Coal River Valley, Derwent Valley and Huon Valley, all a short drive from Hobart. You can team them with a plate full of fresh produce in a sunny vineyard restaurant. Feast on freshly shucked oysters at Barilla Bay and fresh-off-the-boat fish from Salamanca Markets. Or you can watch the catch being unloaded from the balcony of one of Hobart's waterside restaurants. Wrap yourself in the aroma of ground coffee in the cafes of Salamanca Place. Or spice up your holiday with a meal at one of Hobart's many great Indian eateries.
Melbourne is a maze of hidden laneways, opulent bars, exclusive restaurants and off-the-beaten-track boutiques. Here you can soak up culture, hit the sporting grounds, taste the dynamic food and wine scene, dance til dawn or wander the parks and leafy boulevards. Visit Federation Square, the city's landmark cultural space, and enjoy a sunset beer on the St Kilda promenade. Shop till you drop on funky Brunswick Street or upmarket Chapel Street. Wander Southbank's cafes, bistros and bars and get a world tour of cuisines in Carlton, Richmond and Fitzroy. Take an Aboriginal Heritage Walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens and cheer with a capacity crowd at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Five Must-Have Melbourne Experiences:
1. Shop till you drop
Bag a bargain at the Rose Street Artist's Market and browse the funky boutiques on Brunswick Street. Buy designer labels such as Akira Isogawa and Zimmerman on Chapel Street in Prahran or in the historic Melbourne General Post Office, which covers an entire city block. For everything from fashion to furnishings at fantastic value, visit Bridge Road in Richmond. Melbourne is a shopper's haven, offering eclectic boutiques, high-end fashion, funky homeware stores and European style piazzas in the city's arcades and hidden laneways.
2. Bar hop and dance till dawn
Sip a cocktail in a converted sea container in Chinatown, enjoy a sunset beer in a St Kilda pub or listen to cabaret in lush retro surroundings in jazz bars in the city. Linger over exquisite tapas and exotic wine in a Little Collins Street bar and mingle in a pink parlour with fake grass in Bourke Street. You can party from dusk in the bars of Brunswick Street. Or dance till dawn in bars in the city's lantern-lit laneways, secret apart from the spill of coloured light under heavy brass doors.
3. Get into the gourmet goodness
Let the aroma of good coffee waft over you in Melbourne's gothic European laneways. The city is famous for its coffee and old-world café culture but there's so much more to explore. Once you've downed a 'short black' or taken an afternoon aperitif, try tea in a nineteenth-century hotel or salivate over your silver spoon in acclaimed restaurants like Nobu, Botanical and Becco. Pick up fresh fruits, vegetables and seafood at the Queen Victoria Market on a Saturday, known for its bustling crowds and buskers. Try out the restaurants, cafes, bistros and bars in Southbank or Federation Square. Make your way around Melbourne's multicultural cosmos of cuisines: Carlton for Italian classics, Richmond for budget-friendly Vietnamese and Fitzroy for Spanish tapas.
4. Fill up on culture
See a performance by the Australian Ballet, which is based here in Australia's cultural capital. Or enjoy a dazzling musical at the Princess Theatre. Browse the Southern Hemisphere's best collection of international art at the National Gallery of Victoria. Or visit the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Federation Square, a landmark cultural 'space' for Melbournians. Challenge yourself with the creative collections in the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in Southbank. To learn more about Melbourne's Aboriginal cultural heritage, see contemporary and dreamtime art or take an Aboriginal Heritage Walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens.
5. Go sports mad
Cheer for an Australian Rules Football game with a capacity crowd at the Melbourne Cricket Ground over winter. Go cricket mad in summer, when the city hosts the Ashes and one day internationals. Or join the huge crowds watching the Australian Tennis Open at Melbourne Park. Rev heads head to Melbourne in March for the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix in Albert Park. And whether you are a racing fan or just a casual punter, you won't want to miss the Melbourne Cup - the world's richest horse race on the first Tuesday in November.
Kakadu National Park in Australia's Northern Territory offers cascading waterfalls, rocky escarpments adorned with aboriginal drawings, and picturesque plateaus. Visitors have the chance to come close to wildlife, and for the more adventurous, travellers can take a crocodile infested river tour. During the dry season visitors can join rangers for free activities throughout Kakadu, including daily art site talks, walks, cultural activities and night-time slide shows. These tours allow visitors the chance to learn more about the diverse history and wildlife of this amazing region.