The Ultimate Australia Travel Guide

The Ultimate Australia Travel Guide

Almost a year ago, a colleague and friend whom was hired with me, decided to leave our highly-paid, corporate office job to move to Australia. Let me give you some background information: I was hired out of college into a program at a large tech company with thirty recent college grads. We grew to be a very close family. When he announced to the group that he was jumping ship, (and leaving the country) we were astonished by his bravery. Now I am just jealous that he was courageous enough to do it first. Talking to him about his travels in Australia made me realize that I could take the plunge too. Maybe an Aussie adventure is just what I need.

Reasons To Go:

Tasmania

For years, I have been looking for a place to which I can escape. Escape the noise, the clutter, the people, the madness. Tasmania is that place. Drive along the Eastern coastline to be overwhelmed by beautiful, empty, white sand beaches. Make sure your coastal drive includes a stop in Freycinet National Park to be witness to the glory that is Wineglass Bay. Tasmania, commonly refereed to as Tassie, is a beautiful seductress that has stolen the hearts of many over the years. Will you be next?

My adoration for wine began in college. My high school sweetheart’s parents moved to Sonoma, CA when we graduated. Thus, I spent many years frequenting the glorious extravaganza that is summer in wine country. Nothing could be better than sitting on a porch in the sunshine, wine glass in hand, over-looking the neatly tangled rows of grape vines. You can obviously see what drew me towards Hunter Valley in NSW, about 75 miles north of Sydney. For those of you who know nothing about wine, Australia is known for making some damn good bottles.

This region is specifically known for the Shiraz (red, spicy, sweet, licorice flavors) and Semillon (white, usually blended to make Chardonnay, or Sauvignon Blanc). The Shiraz produced in Washington are some of my favorite wines, so I felt an intense need to sample the same varietal grown in a much warmer climate. Sorry about the wine tangent.  I love wine. If you also love wine, visit Hunter Valley.

Ningaloo Reef

Every bucket list known to man includes “scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef.” I am just a girl, sitting behind a computer, begging you to choose the Ningaloo Reef, instead. You are probably confused. Why would I care where you want to go scuba diving? The Great Barrier Reef is supposed to be the dive of a lifetime. However, because it has become a status symbol for divers all over the world, the reef is starting to decompose. The Ningaloo Reef, though lesser known, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011. It is much closer to shore than the Great Barrier Reef, and thus more accessible to your Average Joe with a snorkel and flippers. I promise that it is just as, if not more, beautiful than its more widely appreciated cousin. If I can help divide the thousands of divers a year between the Ningaloo Reef and the Great Barrier Reef, maybe I can help preserve both of these natural wonders for a few more years. PSA over.

Coober Pedy

Coober Pedy is a small town north of Adelaide with a population a little over 1600. The city is home to the world’s largest opal mining area, providing the world with most of its gem-quality opals. None of this sounds very interesting, does it? Why would this tiny town be a reason for me to visit Australia? Well, the entire population lives underground like mole people. You think I am kidding, but I’m not. Due to the excessive heat and lack of rain in the summer, miners who settled here preferred to sleep in caves that they had dug out of the hillside. Eventually, this lead to digging deeper holes and a a complex system of tunnels that connects them. What exists today is a fully-functioning town, underground. I’ve got to see it for myself.

Grampians National Park

Lovingly referred to as The Grampians, this national park is known for being home to the largest collection of indigenous rock art sites in Australia. The sandstone mountain range gives you a panoramic view of the valley below. Nature lovers will go nuts over the availability of hiking trails, waterfalls and other outdoorsy bullshit. I am going for the view.

Tiwi Islands

Whenever someone tells me that I “can’t” go somewhere, I am immediately more interested in going there. That is exactly how I felt about the Tiwi Islands. Though, tourism is not prohibited, it is limited. You can only reach the island through one of the daily tours that leave from Darwin. The aboriginal people living here were largely cut off from mainland development until the 20th Century. There is now a clothing factory on one of the islands, but many people still supplement their day to day lives with a hunter/gather tasks. The Tiwi Football Grand-Final Day is in late March, and that is the only time you can visit without a tour guide.