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Things to Do in Australia - page 4

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Dominique Portet Winery
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Tucked into the serene and picturesque Yarra Valley of Victoria, the Dominique Portet Winery is renowned for its deep roots in French soil — Bordeaux to be exact. The art of winemaking has been passed down through the Portet lineage from 18th­ century France; a father and son duo (ninth and 10th generation) run this winery with experience that spans around the world. The modest space boasts an array of wines in a comfortable, Mediterranean-­style setting. Get lost among the sprawling vines, or relax with a glass surrounded by oak barrels at Dominique Portet. Enjoy tastings from the cellar door, learn more about the Portet history and culture with a vintage tour, or stay for a leisurely lunch overlooking the valley.

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Penguin Parade
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Phillip Island is brimming with memorable wildlife experiences, but its headline act is the nightly Penguin Parade. Each night at dusk, thousands of little penguins—the largest colony in Australia of the world’s smallest penguin breed—can be seen along the shores of Summerland Beach, waddling back to their beachside burrows after a day at sea.

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Fighter World
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With everything from a classic F-111 to the first Australian-built Vampire F-30 fighter, Fighter World boasts an impressive collection of Australian fighter jets. The aviation museum, located on the Royal Australian Air Force Base in Williamtown, offers the chance to peek behind the scenes and climb into the cockpits.

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Gondwana Rainforests of Australia
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Sprawling over more than 360,000 hectares, the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia form one of Australia’s most important ecological sites, famed for its abundance of rare and endangered wildlife.

Protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Gondwana rainforest areas are mostly found along the coastal region of southern Queensland and northern New South Wales and encompass more than 50 national parks, forests and reserves.

The most visited Gondwana Rainforests include the Lamington National Park, Tamborine Mountain National Park and Border Ranges National Park in Queensland, and Springbrook National Park, Dorrigo National Park and Mount Warning National Park in New South Wales. Within the parks, hiking, climbing and camping are among the favorite pastimes of visitors, with a vast network of walking trails and an abundance of natural landmarks, including the mighty Tweed Volcano. For nature enthusiasts, the main draw is the spectacular variety of wildlife, including endemic species like Hastings river mouse, spotted-tailed quoll and mountain tree frog, and rare birds including wompoo dove, marbled frogmouth and lyre bird.

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Central Deborah Gold Mine
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With a maze of mine shafts and tunnels descending to depths of up to 748 feet (228 meters), the Central Deborah Gold Mine is Australia’s deepest underground mine tour. Visit the former gold mine to experience the below-ground world and to gain insight into Australia’s historic gold mining industry.

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Cape Bruny Lighthouse
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Situated on Bruny Island in Tasmania, the Cape Bruny Lighthouse is the second-oldest lighthouse tower in the country, having been first lit in 1838. The structure was commissioned by Governor George Arthur following a series of mishaps and shipwrecks just off Bruny Island and took two years to build by convict labor.

Technological advances in the 1980s and 1990s led to the lighthouse being lit for the last time on Aug. 6, 1996, when it was replaced by a solar-powered light nearby. In December 2000, the lighthouse was declared part of the South Bruny National Park.

Visitors should be prepared for rough roads and a steep walk to reach the lighthouse, although you’ll be well rewarded on arrival; with some fantastic views out to sea, migrating humpback and southern right whales have been spotted from this vantage point.

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Mammoth Cave
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Hidden away in an ancient marri forest and dripping with stalactites and stalagmites, Mammoth Cave is a mesmerizing sight. The limestone cave is one of the largest in the Margaret River region, located in Western Australia’s Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park.

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Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park
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The iconic Aussie kangaroo might be the star sighting for those visiting Kangaroo Island, but the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park is home to many more native Australian creatures. Over 600 animals and 150 different species inhabit the 10-acre (4-hectare) park, including koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas, cassowaries, and little penguins, most of which came to the park as part of their rescue and rehabilitation work.

As well as guaranteed sightings of koalas and kangaroos, visitors to the wildlife park can learn about the cassowary breeding program, see the penguins swimming and playing, and watch the penguins, pelicans, and wombats being fed by zookeepers.

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Gallery Walk
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For many travelers to the Gold Coast hinterland, a trip to the interior means hiking, birding, or searching for thundering falls. In the case of Tamborine Mountain, however, a small town on an elevated plateau of about 1,700 feet, visitors travel from all over the Gold Coast for the chance to shop at the Gallery Walk. On this festive, shop-lined, action-packed strip, visitors will find over 70 stores full of crafts, clothing and art, as well as restaurants, wine shops, cheese shops, chocolate shops, coffee shops, and houses for tea. Peruse the boutiques for everything from crystals to original, Aboriginal art, or pick up imports like Nepalese scarves or fine, German made clocks. Given the number of visitors about town, it’s also common to find talented musicians performing out on the street, and if you’re completely smitten with the entire experience and one day isn’t enough, a number of charming bed and breakfasts are just a short walk away.

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Stockton Beach Sand Dunes
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Stockton Beach has sand like any other beach, but this New South Wales spot has dunes of sand that reach up to 90 feet high. Historically the beach has been the site of several shipwrecks; the wreckage of some continues to wash ashore. The most well known wreck was the Sygna, an enormous Norwegian freight ship that crashed during a storm in 1974. What remains of the ship can be seen from the beach and has become a local landmark.

Today the area is a popular camping, sand boarding and 4WD vehicle area due to its firm sands and massive sand dunes. Camel and horseback rides, quad biking, and surfing make the Stockton Bight sand dunes an adventure and activity hub. There is also fishing and scuba diving in the waters off the coast. Clear rock pools nearby are a fun way to see various marine wildlife as well. The coastal desert wilderness stretches nearly 20 meters.

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More Things to Do in Australia

Flinders Chase National Park

Flinders Chase National Park

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Covering the Western end of Kangaroo Island, Flinders Chase National Park is one of Australia’s most diverse wildernesses. Boasting an intricate network of trails and boardwalks, the park showcases both natural and historic sights.

Popular experiences include visiting the wind sculpted Remarkable Rocks, or the Admirals Arch which stretches over the powerful ocean that shaped it. Also located along the coastline is the Cape Borda Lightstation. Explore by yourself or take a guided tour of the lighthouse and cemetery – the midday tour includes the firing of a restored signal cannon.

The Flinders Chase Visitors Centre provides extensive information about the park, including the best places for wildlife viewing. A colony of New-Zealand fur seals lives on the rocks surrounding Admirals Arch. The Breakneck River Hike offers prime bird watching opportunities, whilst the shorter Platypus Waterholes Walk crosses the habitats of platypus, wallabies, geese, echidnas, goannas and more. The short Cliff Top Hike from the Cape Borda Lightstation ends in a stone lookout that offers prime position for spotting migrating whales from May through October.

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Round House

Round House

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The Round House, a historic 12-sided building, was built in 1831 and is the oldest public building in Western Australia. Travelers can tour this unique architectural destination and learn about the original settlement, as well as how this iconic building was once used to house local lawbreakers.

Visitors can learn about the Fremantle Round House's colorful past and also get an up close look at the famous Whaler’s Tunnel—the oldest underground tunnel in Western Australia. Completed in 1838, the original tunnel spanned some 64 meters, but today measures just 46. And while the 1 p.m. sound call that once rang out daily to alert ships on sea to the official time no longer occurs, travelers can sometimes catch a reenactment ceremony put on by some of the Fremantle Volunteer Heritage Guides.

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Story Bridge

Story Bridge

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Story Bridge is Brisbane’s answer to Sydney’s Harbour Bridge. Iconic in its own right, Story Bridge is a heritage-listed, steel cantilever bridge that allows access between the northern and southern suburbs of Brisbane.

Story Bridge was built between 1935 and 1939, and was known as Jubilee Bridge until mid 1940. The main attraction of Story Bridge, as splendid as it is to view from afar, are the bridge climbs which began in 2005. A guided tour takes visitors up the bridge to stunning panoramic views of the city, out to Moreton Bay, and west across the aptly named Scenic Rim as they stand 80 metres above sea level. It’s also possible to abseil down one of the bridge’s pylons and into Captain Burke Park.

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Alice Springs School of the Air Visitor Centre

Alice Springs School of the Air Visitor Centre

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These days it’s commonplace for many schools to offer programs online, where you can receive a degree without ever seeing a teacher. Well, before the age of the internet, there was radio-- the means of how School of the Air in Alice Springs, Australia, nobly pioneered the idea to reach out to kids in obscure destinations without proper schools. One visit to the school premises, which is now complete with its own visitor center (Alice Springs School of the Air Visitor Centre), and you can share a moving experience that shows how the utilization of technology we take for granted has not only brought people together, but shaped lives.

Teaching primary and secondary level students since the 50’s, today students are outstretched as far as 502,000 square miles from the school. You can watch a film about the history of this truly unique school, and even listen in on live classes, which have since switched from the radio era to a highly more modernized and efficient broadband internet model. If you happen to arrive when sessions are closed, you may listen in on pre-recorded lessons, with interpreters on site to help you with translations and to field any questions.

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Alice Springs Desert Park

Alice Springs Desert Park

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The Alice Springs Desert Park showcases the three main desert environments in Australia. Wander through sand, woodland, and river deserts and learn about their different plant and animal inhabitants. Take the short walking route through the park or explore further afield to find kangaroos and birdlife.

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Seal Bay Conservation Park

Seal Bay Conservation Park

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Kangaroos aren’t the only Aussie creatures that call Kangaroo Island home—you’ll also find one of the largest sea lion colonies in the world here. Seal Bay Conservation Park is dedicated to protecting and preserving the endangered animals, and gives you the chance to admire wild sea lions in their natural environment.

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Twelve Apostles

Twelve Apostles

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Situated right at the end of Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, the Twelve Apostles are a set of eight rock formations—there used to be twelve—jutting out of the Southern Ocean. These limestone pillars were once connected to the nearby cliffs but have been eroded away into caves, pillars, and arches from the harsh conditions of the ocean.

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Sea World Gold Coast

Sea World Gold Coast

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One of Australia’s biggest marine parks, Sea World Gold Coast is home to dolphins, rays, sharks, polar bears, and seals. The family attraction has thrilling rides, educational exhibits, and daily live shows, and it’s also involved in marine life rescue and rehabilitation efforts along the Gold Coast.

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The Pinnacles

The Pinnacles

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The rainbow layers of sand that make up The Pinnacles are a spectacular site on the east coast of Fraser Island. They are one of the reasons why Fraser Island has UNESCO World Heritage listing.

Over the last 2 million years sand has been blowing onto the island and formed fascinating geological sites such as the “perched” lakes, the remarkable dunes and these colorful cliffs. The cliffs change in color throughout the day and are particularly startling early morning and sunset when the reds become beautifully vibrant. The Pinnacles get their color from the iron compounds in the silica sands that are blown across the island.

The traditional owners of the land tell a story about a wife running away with the rainbow man and her hunter husband deciding to kill her with a boomerang. He throws the boomerang but the rainbow man stands in front of the woman to protect her, the boomerang hits the rainbow man and he shatters into a million pieces that cover the dunes and become the Pinnacles.

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Hahndorf

Hahndorf

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Tucked away in the Adelaide Hills, the tree-lined lanes and historic taverns of Hahndorf have a distinctly Bavarian feel; so much so that the village has dubbed itself “Australia’s oldest German town.” Founded by German settlers in the early 19th century, Hahndorf displays its heritage in its culture, architecture, and cuisine.

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Whitsunday Passage

Whitsunday Passage

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The Whitsunday Passage is the waterway that carves through the middle of the Whitsunday Islands in the heart of northwestern Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. These famous islands, perhaps some of Australia's most popular tourist attractions, are named after the passage, which was given its title by the famed explorer Captain James Cook in 1770. The area was discovered on Whitsun, a Sunday feast day held seven weeks after Easter, thus resulting in the name. However, since the international dateline has now been established, it is now said that the day Cook discovered this passage would have actually been a Monday.

Within Whitsunday Passage, there are 74 islands in total, with the largest simply known as Whitsunday Island. Most of these islands have remained uninhabited or are, at the very least, protected by a vast system of national parks. The oldest settlement in the Whitsundays is the town of Bowen, settled in 1861. Later, in 1936, the city of Airlie Beach was established and it remains, in many ways, the heart of Whitsunday Passage. Today, the Whitsunday Passage is sailed constantly by tourists on chartered boats and cruises, while including some of the world's most photographed beaches.

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Sarah Island

Sarah Island

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Modern Australia was famously founded by boatloads of British convicts, and Sarah Island off of western Tasmania was once reserved for the worst offenders. Isolated, wet and completely surrounded by the tempestuous Southern Ocean, not only is it Australia’s oldest penal colony, but the remote outpost was such a fearsome place to be sent that the mouth of the harbor leading out toward the island was simply known as “Hell’s Gate.” The penal colony was short-lived, however, only lasting from 1822 to 1833. During that time, convicts were enlisted for the backbreaking work of felling the surrounding pine trees, and there was a brief time when Sarah Island was the largest ship-building site in Australia.

Conditions on the island were horrendously bad, and prisoners were said to have favored execution over continued life here. Many tried to escape, and though most failed and met a miserable fate, a famous few were able to flee and live a life on the run. Today, all that remains of the penal colony are the ruins of the former quarters, and touring the island is one of the most popular activities for visitors staying in Strahan. Hear stories of scurvy, torture and the misery of solitary confinement, while also gaining insight into the formative years of the pioneering settlers of Tasmania. Oftentimes a visit to Sarah Island is combined with a Gordon River cruise, which provides a scenic and stark contrast of comforts compared to the historic island.

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Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach

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As Australia’s most famous beach—and the star of its own reality TV show, “Bondi Rescue”—Bondi Beach delivers with its crescent of golden sand, crashing waves, and crowds of bronzed sunseekers. Just minutes from downtown Sydney, this is the spot to work on your tan, hit the waves, sip cocktails at a beachside bar, or hike along coastal cliffs.

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Mt. Lofty

Mt. Lofty

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Despite its name, Mt. Lofty is far from lofty, standing just 2,385 feet (727 meters) high in the Mt. Lofty Ranges, part of the Adelaide Hills. The summit offers views across Adelaide and the ocean, with a café, an information center and shop, and hiking trail access. Mt. Lofty Botanic Garden and Cleland Wildlife Park are on its slopes.

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