Australia: it’s a beautiful, isolated country on the other side of the world, home to pristine white beaches, concrete-jungle cities, red-hot deserts, and unique animals that you won’t find anywhere else on the planet. These make the country a must-see place to mark on your bucket lists. Not convinced enough to hop on a plane just yet? Here are the six reasons you need to take a trip Down Under.
1. The Beaches
Australia is abundant with picture-perfect beaches and warm sunny weather—almost year-round in some states. One of the main draws of the country, however, is the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast in Queensland. Home to some of Australia’s most beautiful beaches, these coasts are hotspots for surfers and sunbathers, and for good reason.
Where else can you find insta-worthy beaches? Great Ocean Road in Victoria is home to a whole host of beaches, like chilled-out Torquay. Famous for its surf beaches, Torquay is where most of the world’s famous surf companies, like Rip Curl and Quiksilver, originated.
2. The wildlife
Because of it’s isolation, Australia is home to many animals that you won’t see anywhere else on Earth. Of course, the country is known for its kangaroos and koalas, but it is also home to other unique animals, like emus, echidnas, dingoes, kookaburras, wallabies, and Tasmania’s aptly-named Tasmanian Devil. Catch a glimpse of them in the wild, or visit one of Australia’s wildlife sanctuaries, like the Currumbin Sanctuary in Queensland, to see them up close.
3. The sea life
While there’s plenty to see on land, Australia’s oceans are also home to some amazing sea life, and the famous Great Barrier Reef. For the best view, head to Heron Island in Queensland, one of Planet Earth narrator David Attenborough’s favourite places in the world. The island is right on the reef, so you’ll have a great, up-close view of sea turtles, sharks, sting rays, and more.
4. The culture
Like Toronto, Melbourne, Victoria (undoubtedly the coolest city in all of Australia) is a large city with a unique culture and lifestyle. Visit during the day and have a cocktail at one of thousands of their unique bars, like Naked for Satan, which sits on Brunswick Street and offers a great view of the city from its rooftop patio. Or, enjoy a night at Ponyfish Island, a bar that sits right on Melbourne’s Yarra River. Bars not your thing? Check out Melbourne’s unique lane ways, which are chock-full of restaurants and cafes. Be sure to also get your art fix at Melbourne’s Museum, and the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia’s largest, oldest, and most visited art museum (entry is free!).
5. The outback
One of the coolest places in Australia is, ironically, the hottest. The Australian desert, or the Outback, which sits in the middle of the country in Northern Territory and makes up most of its land, is where you’ll find the famous mount Uluru (formerly called Ayers Rock). This giant red rock is sacred to indigenous Australians, and is a landmark of Australia that you can’t leave without seeing.
6. The shopping
There’s a reason why that Aussie girl you follow on Instagram is always so well dressed. Melbourne is home to some great shopping, and citizens with amazing flare—just look at the Melbourne Cup, a state holiday dedicated to a major horse race, to which racegoers attend dressed to the nines. For the best casual pieces, try Aussie-girl approved brands like Dotti, White Fox Boutique and Esther&Co. And, for all your beauty needs, be sure to hit up Mecca Maxima, Australia’s own version of Sephora (though they have Sephora too), where you can find Australian-made brands like Frank Body and Luna Bronze.
Be sure to also check out the country’s historic shopping arcades, like the Block Arcade in Melbourne, which was built in the 1800s, and houses unique boutiques and cafes.
7. The food
While Australia doesn’t really have an ethnic food specific to its culture, there are some distinctly Australian foods that you need to try whilst there:
– Vegemite . Developed in Melbourne, Vegemite is a thick spread made from yeast extract and vegetable and spice additives. Doesn’t sound too appetizing on paper, but it’s a hit in the land down under (a Vegemite sandwich to an Australian kid is the equivalent of a PB&J sandwich to a Canadian kid). The taste is quite different (more salty and savoury than sweet), but definitely worth a try.
– Tim Tam. This much-loved chocolate cookie is made up of two layers of chocolate-malted biscuit, filled with a slightly gooey chocolate filling, coated in milk chocolate. Have it the true Aussie way with a cup of Twinings English Breakfast Tea.
– Pavlova . The pavlova, a.k.a. Australia’s gift to the world, is a meringue-based dessert with a crisp crust and a soft, fluffy inside. Usually served with whipped cream, berries and passionfruit sauce drizzled all over it, “pavs” are usually made for holidays, and especially for Australia Day.
– Meat Pie . Another heavenly gift from Australia is the meat pie, which is essentially minced meat in a flaky, browned pastry. There are many variations of the pie, but the true Aussie pie is usually minced beef with peas and potatoes, and is eaten with tomato sauce.