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Archive for australia

A Christmas Treat Down Under

By Linda Tancs

Christmas doesn’t normally conjure thoughts of tropical equatorial climates unless, of course, you’re visiting Christmas Island. Just a tiny dot in the Indian Ocean, the Australian territory northwest of Perth is largely a national park. It’s perhaps best known for its native wildlife, particularly the imposing bright red crab. At the beginning of the wet season (usually between October and November), most adult red crabs suddenly begin a spectacular migration by the millions from the forest to the coast to breed and release eggs into the sea, a process that can last up to 18 days. Movement peaks during cooler hours, early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Talk about a red carpet!

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A Living Landscape in Australia

By Linda Tancs

Anangu, the Aboriginals, have lived at and managed Uluru for thousands of years. Better known as Ayers Rock (a massive sandstone monolith), it’s a protected area located in the Northern Territory of Australia, part of Uluru-Kata Tjuṯa National Park. It’s not uncommon to see its inhabitants dot painting, performing inma (traditional dance and song), telling stories or gathering bush tucker. One of the highlights of a visit there is a sunrise or sunset viewing of the rock, with five areas specifically dedicated to viewing and photographing the spectacular hues. At Talinguru Nyakunytjaku you have the choice of three shelters, two viewing platforms and a few miles of walking track to find the perfect spot.

Bringing Art to Life

By Linda Tancs

You might feel like a million bucks (as the saying goes) in Portsea, Australia. That’s where you can see how the other half live along Millionaire’s Walk to Sorrento. But you can’t put a price tag on vistas, like the ones along Sorrento-Portsea Artists Trail. Following the cliff line between Portsea and Sorrento, it’s played the muse to many an artist. In fact, the route is lined with images of paintings positioned as closely as possible to the scenes depicted by the artists. Located 37 miles south of Melbourne, the tony destination also sports a labyrinth of 19th century tunnels and fortifications in Point Nepean National Park that were built to guard Port Phillip heads. Pay a visit to the historic Quarantine Station, established in the early 1800s as grazing land and repurposed as a haven for refugees.

A Unique Regatta in Australia

By Linda Tancs

The annual regatta at Henley-on-Todd in Australia is nothing like its cousin Henley in Oxfordshire, England. That’s because the Australian version is a desert boat race, the single longest running event in the Northern Territory. Various competitions require participants to race on foot carrying facsimile boats provided by the event organizers—or you can build your own. The signature event is the Battle of the Boats, a competition involving motorized land boats that fire cannons filled with flour and water at each other. The races are held on the third Saturday of August each year.

Cuddle with Cuttles

By Linda Tancs

Similar to their squid and octopus relatives, cuttlefish have a large, elongated body with tentacles surrounding their mouths. Despite its name, it’s a mollusc with the visually striking ability to change patterns and colors. This time of year they congregate by the thousands for their breeding season, especially at Stony Point in Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park near Whyalla in South Australia. There is easy access via a boardwalk to shallow water for viewing. Cuttlefish are active day and night, but the best time for snorkeling with them is normally in the morning before the winds pick up in the afternoon.

Australia’s Top End

By Linda Tancs

Australia’s Top End in the Northern Territory includes Darwin, Katherine, Kakadu and Arnhem Land. Tropical in nature, this month marks the start of the dry season, a good time to visit Cutta Cutta Caves Nature Park in the heart of the Top End. About 16 miles south of Katherine, the cave system was carved naturally over millions of years, a limestone landscape covering over 3,700 acres. Guided tours run hourly, and you’re likely to see five species of bats, including the rare ghost bat. About 170 species of birds have been recorded within the park, including the hooded parrot and the endangered Gouldian finch. The park is accessible from Stuart Highway.

On the Fringe in Australia

By Linda Tancs

Located in Western Australia’s Gascoyne region (the Coral Coast), Ningaloo Reef is the largest fringing coral reef in the world at 186 miles. Just footsteps from the shore, the shining turquoise waters beckon any time of year, but especially now. That’s because between seven and 10 days following the full moon in March and April, a spectacular coral spawning event takes place, churning the pristine waters like an underwater blizzard and creating a dazzling display of color. This annual, regenerative event also draws the whale shark, providing opportunities to swim with them from March to August. Spawning and swimming eco-tours are available at Coral Bay and Exmouth.

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