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Archive for australia

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.

In the Heart of the Reef

By Linda Tancs

In the heart of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is Hayman Island, a private island open to the public and the nearest of the Whitsunday Islands to the Outer Reef, including the famous Heart Reef. It’s home to One&Only Hayman Island, a premier resort where guests can enjoy their arrival by luxury yacht. With direct access to the reef, visitors flock to Blue Pearl Bay, located on the northwestern side of the island. A must for snorkelers and divers, its charms include the resident Maori Wrasse, defending the reef by eating its arch enemies. Best coral cover is in the shallow waters off the southern beach.

A Devil of a Place

By Linda Tancs

Tasmania, an isolated island state off Australia’s south coast, is widely known as the home of the Tasmanian Devil. Reputation aside, this shy creature is the world’s largest carnivorous marsupial since the extinction of the Tasmanian tiger in 1936. But there’s so much more to this island nation than its protected inhabitant. Consider Hobart, Tasmania’s historic waterfront capital. It comes alive each Saturday at Salamanca Market, an outdoor market set between plane trees and sandstone facades of historic warehouses that draws hordes of tourists and locals. More sandstone is on display at Battery Point, the city’s oldest suburb, accessible via the 175-year-old Kelly’s Steps from Salamanca. In addition to beautiful sandstone mansions, you’ll see colonial cottages and delight in impressive river views.

A Hotbed of Activity in Australia

By Linda Tancs

Though it may be like little more than a trickle in a rain bucket, a tiny speck of southern ocean in Australia’s remote southwest is a hotbed of activity every February and March. For reasons yet unknown, Bremer Canyon is one of the only places on earth this time of year where killer whales can be consistently observed in a mass congregation (even more than 100 at the same time). Daily tours capture all the action as pods of killer whales (along with sperm whales, sharks, giant squid, sunfish and schools of tuna) participate in an unparalleled feeding frenzy. This is one annual phenomenon you won’t want to miss.

Cagey in Neptune

By Linda Tancs

South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula is shaped like a shark tooth, an apt construction given that the Neptune Islands off its coast boast the biggest great white sharks on the planet. Eager to draw on shark tourism, the Neptunes offer visitors an up-close-and-personal experience with this apex predator courtesy of underwater cages. Go ahead and take the plunge.

Block 42

By Linda Tancs

Ever wonder what $168,000 tastes like? Apparently, it’s very fruity, with an intense aroma of blackcurrant, dark chocolate and licorice. That’s what you can expect from a bottle of 2004 Kalimna Block 42 cabernet sauvignon, one of the most expensive bottles of wine ever at time of release. Offered by Australian wine producer Penfolds, this limited edition hails from the 10-acre Block 42, planted only 30 years after the great 1855 Bordeaux Classification and comprising the oldest plantings of cabernet sauvignon continuously produced in the world. A wine this special comes with an equally rare casing, a glass vessel based on an ancient jar used to store wine.

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