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Vacations By Kelly

9 Things To Do Around Australia

I recently completed the training to qualify as an Aussie Specialist and I have to tell you - I wish I could pack my bags TODAY! I have a vague memory of taking a course in high school called "China and the Pacific Rim" and I'm positive that Australia was on the syllabus. However, if this training had taught me nothing else, it proved that I retained exactly NOTHING from that class. *facepalm* So I sat at my computer, an empty sponge, ready to soak up a little Aussie knowledge. I had planned to spread the training out over the course of a week or so. Cut to: six hours later when a notification popped up to tell me I'd met the necessary requirements. There is still so much to learn and this is certainly a training I will keep up with, but I felt so invigorated and couldn't wait to share some of what I'd learned! I tried to dig deep for some experiences you might not be familiar with, along with some of the more well-known tourist draws. And so without further ado I present to you, 9 Things To Do Around Australia!

9) Eat Your Way Through Melbourne's Food & Wine Festival

Melbourne Food & Wine Festival ©Tourism Australia

Let's start in the Australian state of Victoria. While that name may not strike a chord with you, I'm sure you've heard of it's capital city: Melbourne. Melbourne is a great place for adventure seekers. The city is known for hiding its best venues, rewarding those who dare to explore. In non-Covid times (and we hope in post-Covid times), the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival would come every March. Navigate the labyrinth of laneways, down into basements, and up to dizzying rooftops to discover the vast array of culinary treats that await! No need to wait until the festival rolls back around - Melbourne is a foodie's paradise all year 'round!'

8) Be Awed By The Southern Lights

Southern Lights, Tasmania ©Tourism Australia

You're surely aware of Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights, but did you know you can see a stunning phenomenon called Aurora Australis, or the Southern Lights, from the Australian island state of Tasmania? Early spring is the best time to catch this natural light show. While we are enjoying cooler autumn weather in the US, Australia celebrates their spring equinox in September.

7) Get Up Close And Personal With the Wildlife On Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island ©Tourism Australia

Take a ferry ride from the coast of Southern Australia and get up close and personal with some incredible wildlife on Kangaroo Island. As its name might suggest, 'roos are aplenty here! Check out the Seal Bay Conservation Park on the south coast - the only place in the world where you can walk among endangered Australian sea lions. Short-beaked echidnas and large goannas are all over the island, and be sure to keep an eye out for black swans around American River. You can even get your fill of koalas and wallabies on land or take to sea to watch whales and bottlenose dolphins frolic along the coast.

6) Feast Your Eyes On the Pink Lakes at Hutt Lagoon

Pink Lakes ©Australia's Coral Coast

This country boasts some unbelievable natural wonders, but few are more stunningly mesmerizing than Australia's pink lakes. Western Australia's Coral Coast in particular is known for having some of the most brightly-colored nature found anywhere in the country. North of Perth, Hutt Lagoon is among the most vibrant of these lakes. Depending on the season, time of day and weather, the lagoon changes from red to pink and even to lilac purple. To see this phenomenon at the most vivid end of its spectrum, visit during mid-morning or sundown.

5) Experience the world's oldest culture on the Tiwi Islands

©SeaLink NT - Tiwi Islands, NT

Moving along to the Northern Territory, you'll be able to visit Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock and the world's largest monolith) and Kakadu National Park, but I'd encourage you to also take the opportunity to explore Australia's Aboriginal culture and history by way of the Tiwi Islands. There are minimal tourist facilities around the islands, but don't let this deter you from visiting! The islands provide excellent fishing opportunities and the locals are exceptionally welcoming. You may want to create your own artwork on Bathurst Island, stay in a tropical fishing lodge, or even meet the locals on a cultural tour.

4) Hang Ten On The Gold Coast

Gold Coast ©Tourism Australia

The state of Queensland is known for the world-famous Great Barrier Reef, home to Nemo, Marlin, Crush, and Squirt, and you'll absolutely want to take the time to do some scuba diving when you're in town. But if you'd prefer to stay on land, that's okay too! How impressed would your friends be to hear you learned to surf on Australia's beautiful Gold Coast? I can almost smell the jealousy from here! Need even more adventure? How does zip lining through the rainforest sound? You can do just that at Queensland's Daintree Rainforest, whose ancient ferns, emerald green vines and lush canopy inspired the setting for the movie Avatar.

3) Join a Camel Train in Port Stephens

Port Stephens Camel Train ©Tourism Australia

Perhaps the most iconic touristy city in all of Australia lies in New South Wales. Of course I'm talking about Sydney! By no means should you skip this stop! Take your picture in front of the opera house, climb to the top of the bridge, dine in a world class restaurant, swim at Bondi Beach. Once you've seen all the city has to offer, get your adventure pants on! Journey on over to Port Stephens and try your hand at sand surfing across the dunes, take a dolphin watching cruise, and treat yourself to a camel ride along the coast at the end of the day.

2) Take in some Culture in the Capital

Australian War Memorial, Canberra ©Virgin Australia

The Capital Territory is brimming with culture and you would be remiss not to spend some time discovering its galleries and museums. Visit the Australian War Memorial, the National Museum of Australia, and the National Gallery of Australia and learn about the history of this amazing country. Looking for something a little more family-friendly? Roar with ancient lizards at the National Dinosaur Museum or learn about the mysteries of science at Questacon, the National Science and Technology Centre. Once the kids have had their fun, schedule in some adult time. Canberra is home to more than 30 boutique wineries, and you can sip on your award-winning wines while watching kangaroos lounge in the vineyards.

1) Warm Your Heart with a Cuteness Overload at Phillip Island

Penguin Parade ©Phillip Island Nature Park

I saved the best part of this great cross-country trek for last! We're taking it back to Victoria, to Phillip Island to be exact. Located just a 90-minute drive south of Melbourne, Phillip Island is a wildlife haven. One of the area's most popular events, the Penguin Parade allows visitors to catch a glimpse of the island's native fairy penguins as they come back ashore after a day of fishing. You will not be sorry you experienced the magic of watching little penguins waddle home from the ocean to their burrows. I'm tearing up just thinking about it!

And, as promised, there you have it - nine things to do in Australia! So, here's the pitch. When you're ready to start planning your next trip down under, keep me in mind. Not sure if using a travel agent is for you? Contemplating just booking the whole thing yourself? Before you make that call, be sure to check out my top 10 Reasons to Use A Travel Agent. I'm here to turn the moments of your Australian holiday into memories that will last a lifetime.

Kelly is an independent travel consultant and proud affiliate of Academy Travel, an award-winning agency with over 25 years of booking magical vacations! Academy Travel is a Travel Leaders Network-designated President's Circle agency, which the highest possible recognition from the largest association of Travel Suppliers and Travel Agencies in the world.