Happy greetings to the people of Australia who are celebrating their national day on 26th of January. The national day which is called Australia Day has become the biggest annual civic event in Australia.
Citizenship ceremonies are also commonly held with Australia Day now the largest occasion for the acquisition of Australian citizenship. On 26 January 2012, more than 300 Citizenship Ceremonies took place and 15,000 people from 153 countries took Australian Citizenship. In recent years many citizenship ceremonies have included an affirmation by existing citizens.
Various music festivals are held on Australia Day, such as the Big Day Out, the Triple J Hottest 100, and the Australia Day Live Concert which is televised nationally. For many years an international cricket match has been held on Australia Day at the Adelaide Oval. These matches have included both Test matches and One Day Internationals.
Covering a total area of 7.69 million square kilometers, mainland Australia is the world’s largest island – but smallest continent.
In distance, the continent stretches about 3700 kilometers from north to south and 4000 kilometers from east to west, making it the sixth-largest nation after Russia, Canada, China, the United States and Brazil. Australia currently has a population of almost 24 million people.
Australia has three levels of government – the federal Australian Government, the governments of the six states and two territories, and around 700 local government authorities. Australia has been a nation with a single national government since 1 January 1901. Although it is divided into states and territories which have their own state governments, we are all united as one nation.
Australia is a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom as its head of state, which is why Australia’s national flag comprises the Union Jack (along with the Commonwealth Star and the Southern Cross).
Culture in Australia:
Australian society is made up of people from a rich variety of cultural, ethnic, linguistic and religious backgrounds, and this is a defining feature of modern Australian society. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have inhabited Australia for tens of thousands of years. Most Australians are immigrants or the descendants of immigrants who arrived during the past two hundred years from more than 200 countries. The most commonly spoken language in Australia is English, and the most commonly practiced religion is Christianity, although foreign languages and other religions are also common.
Cities, states and territories:
Australia is divided into six states and two territories.
Canberra is the national capital and the centre of government. It is located approximately 290 kilometers south of Sydney in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Canberra lies on the ancient lands of the Indigenous Ngunnawal people, and its name is thought to mean ‘meeting place’, from the Aboriginal word ‘Kamberra’. It is home to important national institutions, including the Australian Parliament and the High Court of Australia.
New South Wales is Australia’s oldest and most populated state. It was originally settled as a penal colony on the shores of Port Jackson where the bustling capital city of Sydney now stands. More than a third of Australians live in New South Wales, and Sydney is the nation’s largest city.
Victoria is the smallest of the mainland states in size but the second most populated. Melbourne is the capital and is Australia’s second most populated city. During the gold rush of the 1850s, it became one of the world’s largest and wealthiest cities. Melbourne is sometimes referred to as the “cultural capital of Australia” and is the birthplace of Australian film, television, art, dance and music. Victorians’ enthusiasm for sport is also legendary and this is where Australian Rules football began.
Queensland is Australia’s second-largest state in size. The state capital is Brisbane, the third most populated city in Australia. Queenslanders enjoy more winter sunshine and warmth than most other Australian states and it’s perfect for all types of outdoor activities and water sports. Queensland is also home to the world famous Great Barrier Reef as well as five World Heritage listed areas.
South Australia is a state in the southern central part of the country which covers some of the most arid parts of the continent. It is the fourth largest of Australia’s states and shares its borders with all of the mainland states and the Northern Territory. The state capital is Adelaide, the fifth-largest city in Australia. South Australia has a thriving arts scene and is sometimes known as the ‘Festival State’, with more than 500 festivals taking place there every year.
At the top end of Australia lies the Northern Territory.
Darwin, on the northern coast, is the capital, and Alice Springs the principal inland town. Alice Springs is the physical heart of Australia, almost exactly at the nation’s geographical centre. The Northern Territory is home to the famous Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kata Tjuta (the Olga’s) and Kakadu National Park.
Western Australia is Australia’s largest state by area. About three-quarters of the state’s population live in the capitalPerth, this is the fourth most populated city in Australia. The east of the state is mostly desert while to the west the state is bound by almost 13000 kilometers of pristine coastline. In the 1890s gold was discovered and mining is still one of the state’s biggest industries.
Weather in Australia:
Australia experiences temperate weather for most of the year but the climate can vary due to the size of continent. The northern states typically experience warm weather much of the time, with the southern states experiencing cooler winters. Australia is also one of the driest continents on earth with an average annual rainfall of less than 600 millimeters. Like all countries in the southern hemisphere, Australia’s seasons are opposite to those in the northern hemisphere. December to February is summer; March to May is autumn; June to August is winter; and September to November is spring.
Don’t miss the world-famous beaches Bondi and Manly. The city’s coastal walks are a perfect way to take in the golden beaches, dramatic headlands, sandstone cliffs and national parks.
Melbourne is a well planned city with wide flat streets laid out in a grid. Renowned for it’s shopping, in the jigsaw of tiny laneways hidden behind the main streets you’ll find one-off boutiques, galleries, and hole-in-the-wall cafés, bars and restaurants. With its rich multicultural heritage, you’ll find everything from European-inspired cafés to authentic Asian food. Try Lygon Street for its famous Italian cuisine. Further afield, Victoria Street, Richmond; Johnston Street, Fitzroy; and Chapel Street, Prahran offer great shopping and more casual dining.
Hop on a tram to St Kilda; stroll along the Yarra River, or wander through the many parks and gardens that surround the city centre.
Enjoy the bayside beaches that stretch along the arc of Port Phillip Bay. Less than an hour away to the east you’ll find world-class wineries in the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges. Head west for the historic goldfields of Bendigo and Ballarat. To the north lies alpine country. South you’ll find the watery playgrounds of the Mornington Peninsula and the Great Ocean Road.
Extending from the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, the well-planned roads of Canberra offer extensive cycle paths, world-class mountain biking and city walking trails. At night stylish restaurants come alive with a vibrant entertainment scene.
Popular activities include the Story Bridge adventure climb and rock climbing at the Kangaroo Point cliffs; or cycle one of the many bicycle pathways that skirt the city.
Adelaide is a neat, flat city surrounded by superb gardens, overlooking the banks of the River Torrens. Stroll along the wide boulevards and historic buildings of North Terrace and Rundle Mall for boutiques showcasing high-end fashion. Adelaide is highly regarded for its fine food and quality restaurants. Gouger, Rundle, Hutt, O’Connell, Melbourne and Leigh Streets, King William Road and The Parade at Norwood are good places to start. The Adelaide Central Market is a great way to spend a Sunday morning.
There are many ways to enjoy the relaxed lifestyle of Perth. Free buses get you around the CBD where you can visit the Perth Mint, Swan Bells Tower, Art Gallery of Western Australia and many more attractions. King Street, Murray Street and Hay Street malls have many boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants.
Tropical Darwin offers a relaxed outdoor lifestyle combined with multicultural experiences, exciting wildlife encounters and fun events. It’s a small city, and easy to get around. You won’t find skyscrapers and high-rise buildings here, everything about Darwin is down-to-earth.
Sacred Aboriginal sites exist in and around Darwin, where you can learn about the world’s oldest living culture. Darwin also played an important role in Australia’s WWII history and many relics remain from this time.
Much of the city’s social activities take place at open air markets, outdoor festivals, in parks and reserves, by the beach or on boats down on Darwin Harbor.
Mitchell Street is the heart of Darwin’s restaurants and pub scene. The Darwin Waterfront Precinct and Mindil Beach night markets all offer entertainment, while the sleepy suburb of Parap on the outskirts of the city has some of the best collections of indigenous art in Australia.
Surrounded by sea on three sides, Darwin is an excellent base to explore Kakadu National Park, Litchfield and Nitmiluk National Parks, the Tiwi Islands and Arnhem Land.
Hobart is a city of natural beauty and cultural heritage characterized by warm sandstone buildings, bright sails on the water and fishing boats at the docks. Throughout this small, walk able city you’ll find 19th-century waterfront warehouses and many sites showcasing Australia’s convict history. Around Sullivan’s Cove, where the famous Sydney to Hobart yacht race finishes, there are good restaurants and unique shopping. Every Saturday the outdoor Salamanca Market comes alive.
Beach areas around Hobart include Sandy Bay, Cornelian Bay, Nutgrove, Kingston and Howrah. There are many more around Frederick Henry Bay. Take a luxury catamaran from Hobart’s waterfront down the D’Entrecasteaux Channel and you’ll arrive at Peppermint Bay.
With superb golden beaches, including the world renowned ‘Surfers Paradise’, the Gold Coast is a mix of cosmopolitan lifestyles, theme parks, high-end boutiques, and some of Australia’s best sporting events.
Its skyline is dominated by high-rise buildings, including the Q1, one of the world’s highest residential towers. The Gold Coast is all about glitz, glamour and fun. High Street Surfers Paradise is a new precinct for sophisticated food and fashion, while the bars and nightclubs of Cavil Avenue are the main hub of activity. There are also many theme parks close to town.
Popular beaches include South Stradbroke Island, The Spit, Main Beach, Broadbeach, Mermaid Beach, Burleigh Heads.
Broome is a relatively small town where the pace is slow. Take the time to look at the brilliant red color of the earth and the lush tropical greenery and flowers.
Major attractions are riding a camel into the sunset along the white sands of Cable Beach, visiting sites where dinosaurs once roamed at Gantheaume Point and bird-watching at world-renowned Roebuck Bay.
One of Broome’s natural treasures is the Staircase to the Moon. After the full moon from March to October, reflections stretch out across shiny mudflats creating the beautiful illusion of a long silver staircase.
Broome is the western gateway to The Kimberley region of Western Australia. Kangaroo Island, Australia’s third largest island, is located just 15 kilometers off the South Australian mainland. More than a third of the island is preserved as Conservation or National Parks. The island has five significant Wilderness Protection Areas. On its wild coastline, buffeted by the Southern Ocean, you will find abundant Australian wildlife in their natural habitat.
The marine wonderland of the Great Barrier Reef is an explosion of color and biodiversity that stretches for more than 2500 kilometers off the Queensland coast. It’s both the world’s biggest World Heritage Area and biggest coral reef system, and the biggest thing made out of living creatures on earth. It is formed of more than 3000 individual reefs and 900 coral cays and continental islands. These create a web of life for more than 1500 species of fish, one third of the world’s soft corals, 600 species of starfish and sea urchins, six species of endangered marine turtles and more than 30 species of whales and dolphins.
Blue Mountains, NSW:
The blue-hazed beauty, golden sandstone escarpments, dramatic cliffs and deep canyons of the Blue Mountains are just a 90-minute drive from Sydney. As well as a million hectares of World Heritage-listed wilderness, here you’ll find the world’s rarest tree, the prehistoric Wollemi Pine. There is also more than 400 different kinds of unique Australian animals such as the spotted-tail quell, yellow-bellied glider, and the long-nosed Potaro. One of the best ways to take it all in is on the Greater Blue Mountains Drive, a 1200 kilometer touring journey that links 18 different ‘discovery trails’ – each one unique.
Every day at dusk, Summerland Beach in the Phillip IslandNature Park, just 90 minutes from Melbourne, comes alive with thousands of little penguins. The wild ocean beaches, sheltered bays, blowholes and caves are also home to koalas, abundant bird life and fur seals. Join a wildlife cruise to see the colony of 16000 Australian fur seals at Seal Rocks, one of the largest colonies in Australia, and spot koalas among the treetops at the Koala Conservation Centre.
The HMAS Brisbane was sunk off the Sunshine Coast in late July 2005 in order to create a dive able artificial reef in between 12-27 meters (40-89 feet) of water. Operators visit this site from Noosa and Mooloolaba.
New South Wales
The diving in New South Wales is somewhat overshadowed by Queensland to the north. However, there are several dive destinations along the coast that are more than worth a visit: many coastal areas have vibrant local dive communities, and some of the more northern towns do an extensive trade in teaching travelers to dive.
Byron Bay’s excellent diving is starting to become a well known competitor to the best Queensland diving. As in much of northern New South Wales, the waters have a mix of tropical and temperate species. In addition the water temperature goes as high as 27f/81f and the visibility is on average around 15m. The sites are also currently well managed: there are a small number of commercial vessel launching licenses available, vessels use permanent moorings and over-diving isn’t taking place. Dolphin sightings are common on the boat trips and whale sightings regular between May and October.
The Solitary Islands Marine Park off Coffs Harbor has both tropical and subtropical marine life. Notables are grey nurse sharks, hard and soft coral, anemone fish, and colorful wrasse. Seeing large rays is unusual but not unheard of. Visibility is between 10 and 20 meters, and most of the interesting diving is shallower than 20 meters. Water temperature may be up to 25c in summer.
A comprehenive travel guide for Austrlia can be download in pdf format from the following urls: