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Archive for australia

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.

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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.

Australia’s Oldest Brewery

By Linda Tancs

Goulburn is Australian for beer, mate. Centrally located between Sydney and Canberra in New South Wales, it’s the nation’s first inland city. It’s also where you’ll find the oldest surviving brewery and industrial complex in Australia. Restored to master brewing processes in effect since 1836, the complex is open to tours by groups only by appointment. Workers’ cottages add to the charm, giving visitors a cozy respite 1800s-style, with roaring log fires, earth and brick floors and lime-washed walls in the mews.

A Shark Tank in Cairns

By Linda Tancs

Opened in September, Australia’s Cairns Aquarium is the only aquarium in the world dedicated exclusively to the habitats and species of tropical North Queensland, connecting visitors with the natural wonders of Great Barrier Reef, Wet Tropics, Gulf Savannah and Cape York regions. It sports an acrylic tube for viewing sharks and rays that leads to the Oceanarium, an enormous walk-through tank teeming with sea life. Well, why walk when you can sleep? Starting next month, the aquarium will offer a group shark sleepover experience in the Oceanarium for a minimum of 15 guests. Dinner, breakfast and sleeping equipment will be provided. The facility is located in the heart of the city, an easy walk from The Esplanade, Lagoon Pool and cruise terminal.

Talking to the Animals in Australia

By Linda Tancs

Pat a kangaroo, howl with the dingoes or laugh with the kookaburras. It’s entirely up to you at Fraser Coast Wildlife Sanctuary in Queensland, Australia. Visits are guided and interactions with the animals are monitored by staff. It’s located just 30 minutes from Hervey Bay, the whale watching capital of Queensland and the gateway to spectacular Fraser Island.

World’s Oldest Living Culture

By Linda Tancs

Over 40,000 years. That’s how long Australia’s indigenous culture has thrived. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures represent the original inhabitants Down Under, and you can learn more about them at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park. Located in the once sleepy sugar milling town of Cairns, the park is where, as they put it, Australia begins. Indigenous history is explored through interactive cultural demonstrations, performances and a cultural village. Learn how to play a didgeridoo (a wind instrument) and try your hand at throwing both a boomerang and a traditional spear. Tjapukai is only a 15 minute drive from central Cairns or the Northern Beaches and 45 minutes from Port Douglas.

 

The Pinnacles

By Linda Tancs

Take a three hours’ drive north of Perth (the capital of Western Australia) and you’ll encounter the otherworldly Pinnacles in Nambung National Park. The Pinnacles comprise limestone shells cast as pillars in the desert landscape of the park, their sheer numbers (and oddball shapes and sizes) creating an alien-like environment. They date back millions of years to an epoch when the sand was beneath the sea. The ride down Indian Ocean Drive is well worth it for the views of coastline fringed by white beaches and colorful native bushland, but you can also get there via coach or a 4WD tour from Perth.

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