Australia and New Zealand

sydneyIt’s the top of many bucket lists! Australia has an appeal to many Americans as a last frontier – a wild west sort of place. That’s not very accurate any more — Australia is a highly modern, progressive country, but being isolated as it is from Europe and from the Americas, the people are very independent.

Australia is a land of many contrasts. Almost as big as the continental U.S., the population is only about 23 million with the vast majority within 100 miles of coastline and mostly settled in the major cities. Sydney and Melbourne are big, modern cities, yet there still is an outback with very few inhabitants. There are awe-inspiring national parks, pristine beaches and an underwater wonderland at the Great Barrier Reef.

When you look at a map, you can see that all of the major cities are along the coastline. Most tours go to Sydney, which is the largest city, but not the capital (Canberra). In Sydney, you can stay in world-class (and pricey) hotels, cruise on Sydney Harbor, see the opera house and the beautiful Sydney bridge. You can visit a world class zoo with the indigenous animals that are only native to Australia.

Leaving Sydney, you can choose paths dependent on your interests. North to Brisbane and the Great Barrier Reef and on to Cairns to take a ride on the Kuranda scenic railway or ride the Skyrail cableway above the canopy of a rainforest. Or go south to Melbourne, another beautiful city, known for its museums, beautiful gardens and architecture. From Melbourne, you can take an excursion to Phillip Island to see the amazing fairy penguins that come ashore every night to nest. You also can go to the Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary and see animals in a more open setting.

Do you want to see more outback? A tour that goes to Alice Springs and Ulura (formerly called Ayers Rock) will fit the bill. More time? Kangaroo Island, Tasmania, Darwin, Perth and Canberra are all worth a stop, but you need to plan on a month just in Australia!

How about New Zealand? Once “Lord of the Rings” came out, more people have discovered the beauty that is New Zealand. New Zealand is made up of two islands – North and South. North Island is home to the largest city, Auckland, with its beautiful harbor. North Island is known for its diverse geothermal areas. Rotorua has a thermal wonderland and a geothermal valley. You can see the glow worm grotto, where you take a boat ride into the caves with the famous glow worms. North Island also is home to the best examples of the native Maori culture. South Island is the island you see most in the movies. Breathtaking scenery with alpine areas, ancient glaciers, mountain ranges and rain forests. You will also see plenty of sheep! The sheep outnumber the people. You also can arrange to stay on a farm – maybe see a sheep shearing.

If you are going to go halfway around the world, why not experience both countries in one trip!

Article provided by Alison Finco, CTC with Advance Travel,
6049 E. State Blvd., Fort Wayne

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