abowithkidsTourism Australia/Chris KapaAustralia. The Land DownUnder. Whatever you call it, the country is endlessly fascinating with unique cultures, creatures and scenery. Here’s a rundown on some of the best, and uniquely Australian selling point for your clients, as well as a look at some of the country’s most intriguing regions.

Indigenous Australia
The world’s most ancient living culture, Australia’s indigenous people have a continuous history spanning at least 50,000 years. Theirs is the oldest story on Earth, providing an irrevocable understanding of the birth of the land, its spirituality and wonder. Some uniquely Australian Indigenous experiences include:
• the landscape that offers an outdoor gallery of ancient art and storytelling dating back 50,000 years.
• viewing pre-historic rock engravings preserved within national parks.
• ceremonies, dance and song dating back thousands of years at the many festivals that are celebrated each year.
• modern interpretations of ancient stories told by groups like the Bangarra Dance Theatre, which has performed in some of the world’s leading venues.
• visiting sites and important spiritual centres with guides descended from original tribes who tell stories about the Dreaming and demonstrate bush survival skills taught to them by their grandparents.
• tasting the world’s oldest cuisine like bunya bunya nuts, quandong, wattle-seed and some bush tomatoes. Or dining in gourmet restaurants that specialize in emu, kangaroo and other unique Aussie flavours.

Coastal Australia
The beach is so ingrained in their culture that Aussies prefer to escape to the sea over any other destination. Any excuse will do – an extended family holiday, a spur-of-the-moment frolic in the waves, a meal at a coast-side café, a deep sea dive, a whale cruise or simple afternoon escape to build sand castles. Some uniquely Australian coast experiences:
• discovering the array of different experiences – from simple hamlets to sophisticated cities; humble beach shacks to stunning architectural masterpieces; rich hinterlands to red deserts; sand-sculpture competitions to operatic performances; Indigenous centres to alternative villages; surf schools to world competitions.
• World Heritage gems like Queensland’s Fraser Island, the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforest and Lord Howe Island.
• joining the thousands travelling in their campervans, towing their caravans or hitching their tents along the world’s longest route – Highway One – a 24,000km road that surrounds the entire continent.
• cruising the coastline into secluded coves and bays that are accessible only by sea or catching a ride with the thousands of Sydney ferry commuters each day across the world’s most beautiful harbour.
• swimming with tropical fish, gentle but massive whale sharks and friendly dolphins.
• diving shipwrecks, relics and reefs.

Food Wine & Lifestyle
Food, wine and all the in-betweens have become a serious passion for Australians who pride themselves on having learnt the techniques, then bent the traditional rules to create impressive wines, spirits, beers and food all their own. Some uniquely Australian food, wine and lifestyle experiences:
• touring a wine region and discovering the people, landscape, traditions and lifestyle behind one of the world’s greatest wine nations.
• following a food trail and talking the local providores who are pleased to share the secrest of their boutique beers, cheeses, chocolate, smoked fish or organic fruit and vegetables.
• taking a cooking class at a market or a gourmet retreat where top chefs teach the techniques used in an array of cuisines.
• learning how to make chocolate confections or cheddar cheese with a specialist.  
• sampling the mix of cooking influences immigrants have bought to Aussie tables like a takeaway gourmet pie or a 16-course degustation menu with matching wines from our many wine growing regions.
• dropping into a country pub for an ice cold beer and a yarn or two.
• discovering traditional ‘bush tucker’ and the methods of sourcing ingredients such as digging for mud crabs, picking berries and more with the custodians of the land.

Nature & Wildlife
From the smallest wonders of our tropical fish, rare plants, birds and gems, to world treasures like the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru and Kakadu National Park, Australia is a spectacular canvas of nature’s finest work. Some uniquely Australian nature and wildlife experiences:
• watching whales and dolphins in the seas, walking fields of native wild flowers, visiting forests, reefs, islands and sacred sites and exploring the national parks, spectacular coast and rivers that flank most cities.
• diving reefs, touring of a sacred site, trekking through ancient mountains, walking on a canopy high an ancient forest, spotting many of the country’s 770 or driving on the world’s largest sand island.
• exploring craggy cliffs carved by the sea, walking on beaches with sand like talcum powder, enjoying the startling contrasts of red desert merging with blue water, and relaxing in the shade of rich rain forests.
• enjoying the formidable deserts and ancient wildness areas of the great outback.
• discovering ancient landscapes, distinctive plants and intriguing wildlife that cannot be found anywhere else in the world – such as koalas, wombats and platypus.

South Australia
There is a wide variety of fascinating experiences and exciting activities waiting to be discovered in South Australia. Clients can discover the grace and charm of Adelaide, award-winning wineries and fine cuisine, abundant opportunities to see wildlife in its natural habitat and all the family fun they could ask for. Some uniquely South Oz experiences:

Elegant Adelaide
• wandering through the remarkable parklands that surround the city centre.
• strolling North Terrace, home to Adelaide’s cultural precinct. The boulevard stretches for 1.6 kilometres incorporating the newly completed Convention Centre, Old Parliament House, the Migration Museum and the South Australian Museum, which houses the Australian Aboriginal Cultures Gallery with over 3,000 artifacts on display. There is also the South Australian Art Gallery, Botanical Gardens and the National Wine Centre nearby.
• touring the National Wine Centre, a showcase for Australia's wine industry that includes a wine-tasting gallery, an interactive exhibit that covers all aspects of winemaking and a working vineyard.
• visiting Penfolds Magill Estate in the Adelaide foothills for tastings, and tours.
• dining on Rundle Street and Gouger Street, where restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs offer everything from Italian to Greek and Thai food. The Red Ochre restaurant on the River Torrens is famous for its marriage of modern Australian cuisine with the flavour and textures of ‘bush tucker’.
• walking the streets of North Adelaide, known as the historic district of Adelaide, where stately old homes and leafy streets are juxtaposed with a contemporary café culture.
• riding the historic city tram to Glenelg, a popular beach destination with a resort-like village and marina complex and the Rodney Fox Shark Museum.

106061-575Tourism Australia/Tom KeatingKangaroo Island
• seeing koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas, sea lions, fur seals, penguins, bandicoots and goannas just to name a few, in the diverse landscape that features cliffs that drop steeply to roaring surf, quiet beaches, vivid blue ocean, vast tracts of eucalypt woodlands, protected coves and hidden caves.
• taking a guided tour at Seal Bay Conservation Park, Kangaroo Island’s most famous attraction, where a colony of around 500 Australian sea lions reside; about 10 per cent of the entire world population.
• viewing natural sculptures like Remarkable Rocks, massive granite rocks perched high on a headland; and Admiral’s Arch at Cape du Couedic, a rocky arch, chiseled out by the elements that soars above a natural coastal auditorium.
• staying at Kangaroo Island’s first luxury resort, Southern Ocean Lodge, opening with 21 suites this month.

Family-Friendly South Oz
• holding a koala at Cleland Wildlife Park, Adelaide's oldest and much loved open range wildlife sanctuary, where clients can also hand feed kangaroos and wander among Australian wildlife through the open space enclosures.
• seeing more than 1,300 native and exotic animals at Adelaide Zoo.
• exploring the Bicentennial Conservatory at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens.
• viewing exhibits at the South Australian Museum on dinosaurs, birds, the giant squid, the Mawson story; in the science centre or the Australian Aboriginal Culture Gallery.
• riding on the only horse-drawn tramway in Australia from the seaside town of Victor Harbor to Granite Island, famous for its colony of Little Penguins.
• playing in Glenelg, at the Beach House fun park and the Rodney Fox Shark Museum.  From Holdfast Shores, the family can jump on board a Temptation cruise for a dolphin swim or dolphin watch cruise.
• getting an adrenalin rush on a sandboard ride down the razorback ridges at Little Sahara sand dunes, kayaking the local waters or riding all-terrain vehicles through the bush land trails on Kangaroo Island.
• swimming with Australian sea lions and bottlenose dolphins in the sheltered waters of Baird Bay on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula.

Southern Food & Wine
• joining a sensory and interactive Gourmet walking tour through the Adelaide Central Market with local food expert, Mark Gleeson. The Market is the largest undercover market in the Southern Hemisphere, offering fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and fish along with the gourmet specialties.
• touring the Barossa, the wine capital of Australia, with more than 60 wineries, ranging from quaint boutique cellar doors, to large international companies. There are plenty of wine experiences beyond the cellar door including the ‘Blend your own Penfold's wine’ tour, tutored tastings at Wolf Blass, touring of the historic Seppelt or Langmeil wineries or taking a masterclass at Two Hands Wines.
• following Clare Valley Riesling Trail, one of Australia's most popular and accessible walking and cycling trails, passing by quiet townships and vineyards, stunning vistas, delightful restaurants, cafes and cellar doors.

One of the world’s most picturesque islands, Tasmania boasts fascinating colonial villages, mysterious rainforests, unique wildlife, idyllic beaches, fabulous foods and world-class wines. Some uniquely Tasmaniac experiences:

History & Heritage
•taking a guided tour, audio tour or evening ghost tour of over 30 restored buildings, convict ruins and galleries at Port Arthur Historic Site.
• following the Tasman Peninsula Convict Trail past seven locations in an area where Tasmania’s convict history is most concentrated, including Eaglehawk Neck, site of the famed Dog Line and the Coal Mines at Saltwater River.
• cruising to Sarah Island – one of the first prison settlements established to punish re-offending convicts and to harvest the valuable Huon pine from the unyielding wilderness.
• touring Hobart Cascades Female Factory – considered to be the female equivalent of Port Arthur.
• visiting Richmond, housed many prisoners including the famous bushranger Martin Cash, to see Australia’s oldest freestone bridge, oldest Roman Catholic Church and many beautiful, restored Georgian buildings.
• strolling past Hobart’s historic Sullivans Cove warehouses, convict-built Parliament House and street after street of original workers’ cottages at Battery Point.
• admiring some of the country’s best examples of Edwardian, Victorian and Federation architecture in Launceston.
• driving the Heritage Highway between Launceston and Hobart, past historic villages like Evandale; Ross; and Oatlands, reputed to have the largest concentration of heritage-listed buildings in Australia.

Adventure Island
• testing tracking skills spotting local wildife including the Tasmanian Devil, an eastern quoll, the spotted-tailed quoll and the Tasmanian bettong, as well as penguins, the orange-bellied parrot, platypus and Australian fur seals.
• trekking or hiking 2800 kilometres of managed walking tracks and 880 separate walks.
• cycling quiet backroads to explore colourful convict and bushranger history and drink in natural beauty.
• scuba-diving in giant underwater kelp forests; with dolphins, seals and seahorses; and through eerie shipwrecks.
• kayaking past massive granite peaks; through prehistoric rainforest; or into the sheltered coves and waterways of Bruny Island and the D’Entrecasteaux Channel.
• whitewater rafting a wide range of graded rivers.
• fishing for wild rainbow, brook or brown trout; battling for marlin, shark, tuna and yellow-tail kingfish.
• cruising the Gordon River into an ancient rainforest or around the Freycinet Peninsula; sailing local waters.
• golfing on one of over 70 courses; Tasmania has more courses per capita than anywhere else in Australia.

Fine Foods
• visiting the string of charming fishing villages like Coles Bay, Bicheno and St. Helens along the east coast and sampling the fare at their intimate seaside restaurants.
• shopping the vineyards and farm gates of the Tamar Valley for black truffles, leatherwood honey, smoked salmon and cheeses.

Wild Beauty
• hiking the renowned Overland Track – a multi-day walk considered one of the finest (and toughest) hiking trails in Australia. Cradle Mountain in Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park is the northern gateway to the Trail, and offers walks for all levels of experience.
• walking the trails in Freycinet Peninsula National Park. The most popular is the 1.5-kilometre trek to celebrated Wineglass Bay. The park’s Bay of Fires was recently named on of the top two beautiful beaches in the world by Conde Nast Traveler.

Wonderful Wildlife
• encountering the Tasmania devil. About the size of a small dog, the devil is the world’s largest surviving carnivorous marsupial and its spine-chilling screeches, dark colour and reputed bad temper led early European settlers to the ‘devil’ description.
• cruising to the sea cliffs of Bruny Island, named after French Rear Admiral Bruni D'Entrecasteaux, to see a menagerie of fur seals, white-bellied sea eagles, peregrine falcons, penguins, and risible dolphins. The world’s largest colony of white wallabies has set up home on the southern end of the island.
• visiting a wild life park for up close encounters with devils, wombats and platypus. At the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park, feed kangaroos, watch devils during feeding and see a bird show where falcons owls, and cockatoos star.

Queensland is a land of colours. There is the blue of the ocean, the red of the Outback, green rainforests and plenty of golden beaches. And then there is the Great Barrier Reef, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, full of colourful life. Some uniquely Queensland experiences include:

Brisbane & The Great Sunshine Way
• taking the two-and-a-half-hour Story Bridge Adventure Climb at Kangaroo Point; the view of Brisbane at the top is breath-taking.
• browsing the Queensland Art Gallery, Queensland Museum, Maritime Museum, State Library and the Performing Arts Centre in Brisbane’s Southbank.
• following the Brisbane Heritage Trail past historic sites like the convict-built Old Windmill, the beautifully restored Customs House, Old Government House, Parliament House, a magnificent collection of heritage buildings and some of the city's finest churches, not to mention distinctive Queenslander-style homes.
• cruising to the islands in Moreton Bay including Moreton Island, famous for its huge sand-dunes and a pod of wild dolphins who visit the shallows near the resort each night; North and South Stradbroke; Bribie; Coochiemudlo and St Helena Island, a former colonial prison which closed in 1932.
• visiting numerous wildlife reserves and parks around Brisbane to cuddle a koala, hand feed kangaroos and get to know other true-blue Aussies like wallabies, emus and wombats.
• swimming and surfing the Gold Coast's 35 golden beaches, patrolled year round by professional lifeguards and during the summer, by dedicated volunteers from the Surf Life Saving Clubs.
• bush walking, bird watching and 4WD touring national parks and reserves including Lamington, Springbrook, Border Ranges, Nightcap and Mount Warning National Parks.
• daytripping to Mount Tamborine for award-winning wines, Gallery Walk, an art and craft precinct, and spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean.
• dropping by coastal towns like Caloundra, Mooloolaba, Maroochydore, Coolum and Noosa along the Sunshine Coast to experience the traditional Australian beach holiday.
• heading into the green, subtropical hills beyond the Sunshine Coast to Montville and Maleny, for excellent counter lunches at old pubs and shopping at the artists studios.
• exploring Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island, with golden beaches, plentiful wildlife, lush rainforest giant sand dunes and more than 40 freshwater lakes.  

031324-575Tourism Australia/D. BergmarkIslands Of The Great Barrier Reef
• honeymooning on Lizrd, Dunk, Hayman, Brampton, Peppers Palm Bay, Hamilton, Haggerstone or Orpheus island.
• diving and fishing on Heron, Wilson and Lady Elliot islands.
• luxuriating in the opulence of resorts on Hayman, Green, Bedarra and Peppers Palm Bay islands.
• making Airlie Beach homeport for cruising adventures through the Whitsunday Islands.

Cairns & Tropical North Queensland
• strolling the Cairns Esplanade along a lovely oceanfront promenade past restaurants, bars, hotels and a saltwater swimming lagoon.
• lazing the day away on Cairns’ 26 kilometres of beaches.
• pumping the adrenalin white water rafting to bungee jumping and skydiving in Cairns.
• sailing, cruising, snorkelling and diving on, in and under the waters of the Great Barrier Reef. Daytrips and extended excursions are readily available.
• driving the scenic Captain Cook Highway from Cairns to Port Douglas.
• joining rainforest walks, 4WD safaris, reef trips, mangrove and crocodile watching tours, and kayaking and horse treks in the Daintree and Cape Tribulation areas, the region’s most famous rainforest.
• looking for 159 bird species and 52 animal species in the World Heritage-listed rainforests of the Mission Beach Region.

Pass, Packages & Train Trips
Qantas Vacations Offers Aussie Airpass Packages: Hailed as the “Best Value to Australia” by Travel + Leisure magazine, Qantas Vacations has created a series of packages designed around the ever popular Aussie Airpass.
Starting at just $2,299, the 12-night packages include international air from Los Angeles, domestic flights within Australia and hotel stays in three different Aussie destinations, including Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, the Outback and the Great Barrier Reef. The packages also include a choice of hotel standard and the ability to customize.
The Airpass, which offers travellers international air to Australia combined with three domestic flights, is also available from New York, San Francisco and Vancouver. For more details call Qantas Vacations at 1-800-248-5826 or visit www.qantasvacations.com.

Goway Has Expanded Downunder: New Boutique Cruises Section: Encompassing boutique cruises in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tahiti, Goway has included a variety of expedition, river and ocean cruises. Also featured are many overnight and day cruises. Goway can also arrange custom shore excursions as well as pre and post touring. EXPANDED Self Drive sections in Australia and New Zealand: Goway’s itineraries are researched, planned and test driven by the staff of their Sydney office. With over 160 pre-planned itineraries, Goway offers something for everyone; from independent drives with accommodation passes to special interest themed itineraries such as food and wine. All travellers on Goway’s pre-set self-drive itineraries also receive a special co-pilot backpack, which includes their detailed itinerary, maps and guides. One of Goway’s most popular Australian self-drive itineraries is the Pacific Coast Explorer priced from $1,815 per person. Travellers will be able to experience the beauty of the East Coast of Australia and can choose from seven-, nine- or 14-day duration in economy or first class accommodations. Also gaining popularity is the 5-day Sydney to Melbourne Coastal Drive. Incorporating sleepy fishing villages, spectacular coastal scenery and national parks, this itinerary offers the opportunity to meet local Aussies and see some of Australia’s picturesque landscapes and can be combined with other self drives or other destinations in Australia. New for 208 are modular self-drives in and around Cairns, Darwin and Brisbane. Motorcoach Tours Cash Incentive: Goway’s range of escorted tours to Down Under will earn agents a bonus $100 cash incentive for new reservations until March 31. Agents should book any of Goway’s fully escorted tours of 10 days or longer and will receive $100 cash loaded to their Goway-Amex Persona Card. New Product: Also new for 08/09 is Qualia, a luxury resort in the heart of the Whitsundays, that Goway classifies as a Stay of Distinction for its service, location and quality accommodations. Goway has introduced more products to their Northern Territory line up, including Bamurru Plains, a luxury camping tour in the Outback, and Dugong Resort.

Boomerang’s East Coast Rail Experience: Clients looking for something a bit different on their trip Down Under? Exotik is offering the option of rail travel between Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns. Featuring relaxed travel, lovely coastal scenery and a leisurely pace, the 11-day East Coast Rail Discovery is a step back to a more civilized way of travel. The package includes three nights hotel in Sydney, arrival transfer in Sydney, half-day Sydney city tour, Sydney harbour cruise, overnight XPT train from Sydney to Brisbane (First Class sleeper when choosing first class option or regular seat when choosing superior), two nights hotel in Brisbane, overnight on The Sunlander Train from Brisbane to Cairns in Queenslander class, and three nights hotel in Cairns (four nights when choosing superior option) for $1,899 Superior Class and $2,198 First Class double occupancy. Trains run daily from Sydney to Brisbane and on Sundays from Brisbane to Cairns. Exotik also offers the option to add extra days and sightseeing in Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns, add hotel and beach stays in the Whitsundays for those looking for beach experience and customize the rail journey to suit your clients’ needs. The package includes flights with Air New Zealand from Vancouver to Sydney, Cairn to Vancouver via Auckland. For more information, visit www.intair.com.