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Australia is the only country that has a whole continent to itself. World famous for its natural wonders and wide open spaces, its beaches, deserts, “the bush”, and “the Outback”, Australia is actually one of the world’s most highly urbanised countries. It is also well known for the cosmopolitan attractions of its large cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.
Australia is the smallest continent but sixth-largest country by land area. It is comparable in size to the 48 contiguous United States. Australia is bordered to the west by the Indian Ocean, and to the east by the South Pacific Ocean. The Tasman Sea lies to the southeast, separating it from New Zealand, while the Coral Sea lies to the northeast. Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Indonesia are Australia’s northern neighbours, separated from Australia by the Arafura Sea and the Timor Sea.
Australia is highly urbanised with most of the population heavily concentrated along the eastern and south-eastern coasts. Most of the inland areas of the country are semi-arid. The most-populous states are Victoria and New South Wales, but by far the largest in land area is Western Australia.
Australia has an area of 7,682,300 square kilometres (2,966,152 sq mi) and the distances between cities and towns is easy to underestimate.
Australia has large areas that have been deforested for agricultural purposes, but many native forest areas survive in extensive national parks and other undeveloped areas. Long-term Australian concerns include salinity, pollution, loss of biodiversity, and management and conservation of coastal areas, especially the Great Barrier Reef.Popular Cities in Australia
- Canberra — the purpose-built national capital of Australia
- Adelaide — the City of Churches, a relaxed South Australian alternative to the big eastern cities
- Brisbane — capital of sun-drenched Queensland and gateway to beautiful sandy beaches
- Cairns — gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Port Douglas, Daintree National Park, and many beautiful beaches and resorts; a great place for people to getaway to and relax
- Darwin — Australia’s tropical northern capital, at the top end of the Northern Territory
- Hobart — picturesque and quiet capital of Tasmania, the site of the second convict settlement in Australia
- Melbourne — Australia’s second largest city, Melbourne is a large sporting, shopping and cultural capital; it is regarded as Australia’s most European city in style
- Perth — the most remote continental capital city on Earth, on the south-western edge of Western Australia
- Sydney — Australia’s oldest and largest city, famous for its picturesque harbour
Popular Destinations in Australia:
- Blue Mountains — a mountainous region in New South Wales, including the Three Sisters
- Dandenong Ranges — these beautiful ranges offer world class gardens and the picturesque villages of Mt. Dandenong
- Great Barrier Reef — off the coast of Queensland, easily accessible from Cairns, and even as far south as the Town of 1770
- Great Ocean Road — a spectacular coastal drive in Victoria past many scenic icons including the 12 Apostles
- Kakadu National Park — outback adventure travel, aboriginal culture and nature activities in the Northern Territory
- Nitmiluk National Park — the amazing Katherine Gorge, close to the town of Katherine
- Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast — beachside and national park playgrounds north and south of Brisbane
- Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park — Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) are iconic rock formations in the Red Centre
- Watarrka National Park — most famous for Kings Canyon, a mighty chasm reaching a depth of 270 metres
Australia is a long way from anywhere else in the world, so for most visitors, the only practical way of getting into Australia is by air.
Approximately half of all international travelers arrive first in Australia in Sydney (SYD), the largest city. After Sydney, significant numbers of travelers also arrive in Australia in Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. There are also direct international services into Adelaide, Cairns, Darwin, the Gold Coast and Christmas Island though these are largely restricted to flights from New Zealand, Oceania, or Southeast Asia.
To Sydney it is a 3 hour flight from New Zealand, a 7-11 hour flight from countries in Asia, a 14 hour flight from the west of the United States and Canada, a 14 hour flight from Johannesburg, a 13-16 hours flight from South America, and up to a 24+ hour flight from western Europe. On account of long journey times from some destinations, some travelers from Europe opt to have a stop-over, commonly in Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur.
If you have to change to a domestic flight in a gateway city, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth all have distinct domestic terminals, requiring some time and complexity to transit, check the guides. Melbourne, Adelaide, Darwin, Cairns and the Gold Coast have all gates in the one terminal building or within easy walking distance of each other.
There are some routes into Australia that are operated by discount airlines. These can often be combined with other fares to make getting to Australia cheaper. Select your point of entry and exit to give you a cheaper round-trip, and possibly some interesting stopover opportunities on the way.
- Air Asia X, flies into the Gold Coast, Melbourne and Perth from Kuala Lumpur, at often deeply discounted fares. You can save money from Europe if having a stopover in Malaysia. Sometimes this is possible also stopping in Bangkok.
- Air Asia Indonesia flies into Darwin and Perth from Denpasar, Indonesia
- Tiger flies from Singapore to Perth.
- Jetstar Airways flies to Hawaii and several Asian destinations, including Denpasar, Osaka, Phuket, Ho Chi Minh, and also operates a substantial Asian regional hub in Singapore.
- V Australia flies between Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, and Los Angeles, and competes strongly with Qantas on these routes.
InfoSource: Wikitravel Under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
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