A whistle-stop tour of Australia

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Hands up if you haven't been to Australia yet? And how long have you been saying, "One of these days..."? Australia is just a day away, so come on...beat the rush!

You could send off for all the brochures, read about all the places to go, the 3,276 ways to fly to Australia, the 18,539 fares you can choose from, and last week they've gone up, but this week they're down, and how about a super-excursion-dingo-pass-stopover-gutbuster? The good idea of going to Australia begins to sound like hard work. No worries! Let's make a whistle-stop tour, and we'll show you how easy, laid back, informal and relaxing Down Under can be....

"Welcomes" begin in Sydney--with Captain Cook, the first settlers and the world's largest natural harbour. Sydney's modern monorail and skyscrapers blend with the preservation of its first buildings so you can capture the adventurous atmosphere of its pioneers. We'll pause a few days, just to imagine being on the other side of the world. Soon, we'll take a harbour cruise for the best view of all of the magnificent Opera House and Harbour Bridge. We'll take a trip to the Blue Mountains, ride the Katoomba scenic railway and see the curious rock formation called the Three Sisters. And here is your first chance to meet some unique natives of this land, koalas, kangaroos, emus, duck-billed platypuses and wombats! Then stop at Darling Harbour, visit museums galore, see Sydney Tower and Chinatown or laze on Bondi Beach.

No time to linger longer now, our whistle-stop tour continues to the mysterious Red Centre--there, dominating the landscape for miles around, is Ayers Rock, a giant monolith, sacred to the aborigines. We realise our "new" country is in fact thousands and thousands of years old as we witness their chalk drawings in caves at the base of the rock. Climbing the rock no longer allowed, but it doesn't lose any of its magic when you witness the sunrise or sunset while there.

A town like "Alice", five hours away through the desert, grew around a natural waterhole in 1871. Alice was the wife of the postmaster general who pioneered the first telegraph line from Darwin to Adelaide. The old telegraph station is a must to visit, as is the Flying Doctor service and the Outback School of the Air. All serving to bring home to you the isolation and eerie wonder of the Australian Outback.

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Now let's travel to the tropics and turn from history to geography, botany and astronomy! The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest living organism and visible from the moon! The Reef stretches for more than 2,000 kilometres of submerged tropical gardens. In among them the sea is sprinkled with hundreds of paradise islands. There are many ways to appreciate the coral and its rainbow of coloured fish. You can stay dry in a glass-bottom boat, snorkel on the surface or dive as deep as you please with scuba gear. Some islands are self-contained resorts, others, rain forest wonders and some mere sand dunes at the start of their evolution.

Along the coast of Queensland are wide flat sandy beaches. Towns like Cairns and Townsville provide a springboard for excursions to the ocean or inland to the scenic Kurunda railway and Atherton Tablelands. All of Queensland offers us an outdoor life of land and water sports, adventure and quiet marine calm. After spending your day overfilling your senses, look up to the black velvet sky studded with stars and find the Southern Cross--then you'll really believe that you have been to Australia.

Out of breath? And we haven't mentioned Kakadu, Crocodile Dundee country, the Bungle Bungles in Western Australia, Philip Island and its phenomenon of penguins at Melbourne, Brisbane and the Gold Coast or the National Heritage Haven of Tasmania.

Whatever your dream, Australia will fulfil and surpass your expectations. So come and say G'day, all dreams start here!
If you'd like to know more email me: charmaine@hallmarktravel.com

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No, I'm not a Travel Guru, but I have loved travelling since I was five years old, and more than love travel... I love to share my experiences... and show you our Wonderful World through my eyes!

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