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Archive for australia

The Underground Down Under

By Linda Tancs

About 500 miles north of Adelaide in the Australian Outback is the subterranean town of Coober Pedy, where most of the town’s 1,800 or so residents live in underground shelters carved from the sandstone walls, giving new meaning to the phrase “a hole in the wall.” The place is worth a visit to explore the unique lifestyle enjoyed there, which also happens to be the opal capital of the world. Together with the surrounding region, it supplies around 85% of the world’s opal supply.

Australia’s Jumbo Shrimp

By Linda Tancs

Jumbo shrimp takes on a whole new meaning in West Ballina, Australia, where you’ll find The Big Prawn, billed as “the world’s largest artificial prawn.” Nearly 30 feet high and weighing around 40 tons, the beloved crustacean survived demolition years ago and was relocated to its current site beside Bunnings, a hardware store. As you might imagine, the prawn was built to celebrate the local fishing industry.

Between Two Capes

By Linda Tancs

Extending from Cape Naturaliste in the north to Cape Leeuwin in the south, Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park in Western Australia offers more than 300 limestone caves, significant stands of karri and jarrah forest and impressive views from limestone sea cliffs. The park can be entered at many points along the coast. You can also walk the 86-mile territory (over several days, of course) via the Cape to Cape Walking Track between the park’s namesake lighthouses. Whatever you do, don’t miss Sugarloaf Rock, a popular observation area for seabirds and thought to be the only place in the South West region where the red-tailed tropicbird nests.

Australia’s Favorite Steam Train

By Linda Tancs

Easily accessible by fast electric train from Melbourne, Puffing Billy is arguably Australia’s favorite steam train. Over a century old, the train still runs on its original 15-mile track between Belgrave and Gembrook. That route takes you through the Dandenong Ranges, a set of low mountain ranges east of Melbourne, featuring Emerald Lake Park and cool climate gardens. You can book a tour through any of the major day tour operators.

A Taste of Margaret River

By Linda Tancs

The Margaret River region in western Australia is known for its craft breweries, wine and beaches. But don’t neglect its natural wonders, like Cape Naturaliste at the northernmost point. In addition to  excellent walking trails, the area features Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse with breathtaking panoramic views of the Indian Ocean, Cape Naturaliste, Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park and the beautiful Geographe Bay coastline. A fully-guided lighthouse tour will regale you with stories of shipwrecks and lighthouse keeping.

A Rocky Show in Australia

By Linda Tancs

You might say Australia’s Murujuga National Park really rocks. Designated the 100th national park in western Australia, the park lies within a larger National Heritage Listed place, created in July 2007 over the Burrup Peninsula and the Dampier Archipelago. The area is renowned for its extensive rock art collection, comprising shell middens, stone artifact scatters, quarries, stone arrangements, ceremonial and mythological sites, graves and petroglyphs. In fact, the site is thought to contain the highest concentration of petroglyphs of any known site in the world. The rock art has deep meaning for the local Aboriginal people; avoid taking photographs of humanoid rock art figures.

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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