Adventuring in Australia is on the bucket list because it exemplifies and fulfills the saying, “Go big, or go home.” Australia is brimming with natural and man-made wonders; these are six of the “must-see” places and creatures on my list. Consider it a sneak peek at my travel itinerary.
Beautiful birds. Australia is a birder’s delight. Some of the most colourful and interesting avians hail from Australia, including cockatoos (Galah, Yellow Black-Tailed, Gang-Gang, and Major Mitchell’s being some of the more esoteric breeds you’ll have a hard time finding outside of the continent), parrots (the Rosellas), finches (Zebra, Gouldian, Red-Browed, Australian, and Blue-Faced Parrot), kookaburras, and the “big birds” — ostriches, emus, and cassowaries. I am lucky to see a small fraction of these Australian birds here in Vancouver (at the Bloedel Floral Conservatory).
Kangaroos, Tasmanian devils, wallabies, and wallaroos, oh my! Roos may be commonplace sights on Australian roads and golf courses, but the only Canadian zoo that I have seen marsupials in the flesh is a handful of Western Grey Kangaroos and Bennett’s wallabies at the Greater Toronto Zoo in Ontario.
Uluru/Ayer’s Rock. There’s nothing like having a natural museum in the guise of a 1,100+ ft tall sandstone rock formation “in your backyard.” Uluru/Ayer’s Rock is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and home to a large and exotic selection of fauna and flora. It’s also historically significant, being the site of many rock caves, springs, waterholes, and ancient paintings. That Uluru/Ayer’s Rock has also been revered among the indigenous tribes for almost 10,000 years1 adds to its mystique.
Sydney Opera House. Does music carry further and sound better on the water? “Songs on the sea” has a certain alliterative charm, doesn’t it? Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, this distinctively designed performing arts centre–with its shell-like roofs–has hosted more than 60,000 performances in the Sydney Harbour during its illustrious 40-year history (extrapolating from the figure of 1,500 performances per year2).
The Great Barrier Reef. If anything could entice me to learn to scuba dive or snorkel, it’s the largest marine aquarium in the world. With over 3,000 individual reefs3, this UNESCO World Heritage Site, the world’s largest living structure (and the only one to be visible from space)4 is home to many kinds of cetaceans and endangered species, and puts even the largest public aquariums around the world (i.e. Ripley’s Aquariums) to shame!
Kakadu National Park. No visit to Australia would be complete without a visit to this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Breathtaking landscapes that feature wetlands, waterfalls, floodplains, stone country, estuaries, in addition to an eclectic diversity of wildlife. With a land area of almost 20,000 square kilometers (making it the largest national park in Australia),5 I don’t think a one-day pass to this park would be enough time to fully appreciate everything that Kakadu National Park has to offer nature lovers.
1 Uluru/Ayer’s Rock Wikipedia Profile (en.wikipedia.org)
2 Sydney Opera House Wikipedia Profile(en.wikipedia.org)
3 The Great Barrier Reef: Australia’s Great Natural Wonder (greatbarrierreef.org)
4 The Great Barrier Reef: Australia’s Great Natural Wonder (greatbarrierreef.org)
5 About Kakadu National Park (parksaustralia.gov.au)