For more than 50,000 thousand years, Australia's Aboriginal people have lived and thrived in Australia's unique and challenging natural environment. Australia's rich vegetation and native wildlife helped them establish their presence on the land. Today it is believed the Aboriginals are the world's oldest civilisation.
'Terra Australis' was the last landmass to be discovered by European explorers. Talk of this mystical land and the riches it held inspired explorers to sail into the unknown. It wasn't until Captain James Cook arrived in Botany Bay in 1770 that the great southern land was officially claimed by Europeans.
Australia is made up of six states and two territories. Each state and territory has its own parliament, flag and floral emblem. Australia became a federated nation after the union of the six colonies on 1 January 1901. Bound by one parliament, one constitution and one flag, Australia celebrated its Centenary of Federation in 2001.
Australia's defence force has a long and proud tradition dating back to the original ANZACS (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps). Australian soldiers have fought in both World Wars and numerous allied conflicts. All Australian troops are remembered each year on Anzac Day, 25 April, the anniversary of the first landing of Australian 'Diggers' at Gallipoli during the First World War.
With its temperate climate and reverse seasons, Australia is a year-round holiday destination. The varied terrain ranges from the Great Barrier Reef, to cosmopolitan cities, to deserts spotted with rock formations and ancient Aboriginal sites.
From diamonds, emeralds, gold, silver, industrial minerals and rare earths, Australia's natural resources are fabulous! This amazing natural wealth, still largely untapped, makes Australia one of the most resource-rich nations on earth.
The Australian environment is unique. From unspoilt beaches, tropical rainforest, rugged mountain ranges and vast tracts of desert, Australia is a country of contrast. Home to an amazing 16 World Heritage listed areas, Australia's diversity is yours to enjoy.
With the reverse seasons of the northern hemisphere, Australia enjoys a largely temperate climate. Most of Australia receives more than 3,000 hours of sunshine a year, or an amazing 70 per cent of the total possible hours. Grab a hat and sunscreen and enjoy our delightful climate!
Australia has many world famous landmarks. Beside the Opera House and Harbour Bridge (both conveniently close to one another!), there is a host of other landmarks in the midst of beautiful cities, dramatic cliffs, tranquil bays and the richness of the Australian desert.
There are three time zones in Australia: Eastern Standard Time (EST), which includes New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory; Central Standard Time (CST), which includes South Australia and the Northern Territory; and Western Standard Time (WST) - Western Australia. CST is one half hour behind EST, while WST is two hours behind EST.
Things to do
Australia is a land full of powerful experiences just waiting to be discovered. Encounters with our incredible wildlife on land and in the water will truly open your eyes wide in astonishment. And as well as adventures for adrenaline seekers there are plenty that anyone can enjoy.
You can have some amazing experiences such as:
Climb Sydney's bridge
Swim with dolphins
Pat a koala
See penguins parade
Walk near sea lions
Fly over Heart Reef
Port Arthur ghost tour
Swim with whale sharks
New South Wales ( Sydney, Blue Mountains)
Savor fine dining, climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, or take a backstage tour of the famous Opera House. All are possible in the visitor-friendly city of Sydney. When its time to leave the well-trodden tourist trails behind, head westward to the Blue Mountains and unlock a piece of Australia you never knew existed.
Victoria ( Melbourne)
With its beautiful boulevards, gracious parks, and elegant architecture, Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, is Australia’s most European city and one of the easiest to navigate. A free tram service loops the downtown, water taxis ply the Yarra River, and buses go just about everywhere and run often.
Northern Territory (Ayers Rock, Alice Springs)
Experience the “real Australia” in the vast, rugged land of the Northern Territory. Home to Australia’s nomadic, artistic, and deeply spiritual Aboriginal people, sites such as Uluru, Ayers Rock, date back thousands of years and are decorated with paintings and carving from the native tribes.
Queensland ( Great Barrier Reef Islands, Cairns, Palm Cove, Port Douglas, Tropical North Queensland, Brisbane, Gold Coast)
The Great Barrier Reef, stunning Gold Coast beaches, and luxurious resorts make Queensland an unparalleled tropical jewel. For a mountaintop experience, take the Kuranda Rail up one of Far North Queensland’s most impressive peaks, or travel into and over the rainforest by gondola.