Known as Australia Day, today's national holiday marks the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet of 11 convict ships from Great Britain, and the raising of the Union Jack at Sydney Cove by its commander Captain Arthur Phillip, in 1788. Nowadays, Australia Day is all about celebrating what's great about this beautiful country, with a public holiday full of ‘barbies’ and fireworks. So we thought we’d get into the spirit of things and tell you all about our highlights from down under.
Photo courtesy of fugm10
The Land of Oz is home to a whole host of wildlife that you just won’t find anywhere else in the world. As a land mass Australia has been isolated for thousands of years resulting in the evolution of a unique fauna and flora.
First there’s the cute and cuddly Koala which interestingly has the sweetest breath of any animal due to its diet of eucalyptus leaves. Then there’s the Kangaroo, the largest living marsupial on Earth and the inspiration for the endlessly entertaining TV series “Skippy the bush Kangaroo”. Not forgetting the Galah the animal behind one of Australia’s most famous sayings, often quoted by Home & Away’s Alf Stewart: “you big Galah”.
Other favourites include the Echidna, known fondly as spiny anteaters; wallabies; Tasmanian wolves; Tasmanian devils; dingos; wombats; the cockatoo; the kookaburra; the lyrebird and the flightless emu to mention just a few. But beware it’s not all fun and games when the huntsman and funnel web are around.
With so many golden beaches the choices are endless. As we move into February the Australian surfing season’s really going to be heating up, with the World Series hitting the nation’s shores. Opening with the Quicksilver Pro at Queensland’s Gold Coast - this is one for surfers and fans alike, with events taking place at Kirra, Broadbeach and Snapper Rocks Superbank – where surfers can enjoy some of the world’s longest waves.
Next on the surfing road trip, it’s to Newcastle in New South Wales for the march Surfest – Australia’s biggest surf festival. Then it’s time to head to Western Australia to Surfers Point in Margaret River where the world’s top surfers battle for valuable series points and the tidy sum of AU$100,000 in prize money. Lastly comes Rip Curl Pro at the famous Bells Beach in Victoria – this is one of the longest running surfing contests and boy it doesn’t fail to impress, with pro surfers from all over the world tackling steep, drawn out waves.
So not only will you be enjoying some of the best waves in the world but you may find yourself surfing alongside the likes of Parko, Owen Wright and Mike Fanning, who are amongst some of the best pro surfers in the world. With many of Australia’s beaches fully stocked with surf equipment, hire facilities and surf schools, you’ll have everything on hand to get out there and make the most of Australia’s fantastic waves.
The Coral Reefs
The Aussie shores boast some of the largest and most stunning coral reefs found anywhere on Earth. Covering over 116,000 square miles, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef. Situated along the coast of Queensland, in northern Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is thought to include more than 3,000 coral reefs and be home to more than 1,500 species of fish and 200 species of birds.
As one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Great Barrier Reef is internationally recognised for its outstanding biodiversity. The reef is renowned as an amazing diving site and offers some of, if not the best, coral reef diving experiences in the world. To check out some amazing footage of the Australia’s Coral Reefs check out the BBC’s series Great Barrier Reef.
Australia has so much to offer but here are some of the ones we reckon are a definite must see. The Sydney Opera House, designed by architect Jorn Utzon is not only a masterpiece of modern architecture but a world-class performing arts centre. Bondi Beach is probably the most famous beach in the world. Ramsay Street – the home of hit Australian soap Neighbours which has blasted characters such as Dr Carl Kennedy and Harold Bishop into the soap hall of fame. If you want to visit Ramsay Street there are regular tours around the Pin Oak Court cul-de-sac in Vermont South and Global Television studios in Forest Hill where the series is filmed. Perhaps one of Austrlia's most famous and visited landmarks is Ayers Rock. This natural sandstone formation stands 348m high and is known for its cultural significance for Aboriginal tribes. Finally it’s the Great Ocean Road on the Shipwreck Coast in Victoria, which is home to the spectacular 12 Apostles and Loch Ard Beach – this one is a definite must see!
What better way to see these sights than to head to Australia with a backpack or alternatively jump in a campervan, pack your surf gear and hit the roads. If you’re going to need to earn a bit of dosh along the way, then stopping off en route to do a spot of fruit picking is a great option.
Check out our latest mixtape, packed with great tunes linked (somewhat tenuously in some cases) to Australia.
By Hannah Jones