January 31, 2013 | By Rosie Holliday
Since it’s Australia Day today it seems appropriate to talk about Australia in this article!
Australia Day celebrates the arrival of the First Fleet into Sydney Cove in 1788 and the proclamation of British sovereignty over the Eastern Seaboard, known at that time as New Holland. I am hugely proud to be Australian, since my family on both sides have been there since the late 1700s and early 1800s and that’s probably why I segued from being a teacher to being a travel agent who specializes on Australia.
I always had mixed emotions about Australia Day as it usually meant that the next day we had to head back to boarding school. I have memories of going to the local weir with the families from our district, swimming in the river and picnicking on my mother’s famous egg and bacon pie. Or heading to Lake Cargelligo, for the annual Festival of the Lakes, watching water skiing competitions, speed boat racing and swimming in the lake.
Yes, in the Outback of Australia! A school friend’s father was actually a national barefoot water skiing champion.
This always seems so indicative to me of the Australian spirit — you can do anything, anywhere! Australians love to play, love sports and love to have a good time.
And water plays a huge part in that equation. The most famous body of water is possibly the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The only living organic collective visible from earth’s orbit, it was declared a World Heritage area in 1981. It’s a huge playground to snorkel, dive, sail, stay on a remote island, see marine life, fish and simply just be.
Fishing and diving
Lee Marvin made Marlin fishing famous out of the Cairns area and it’s also renowned for barramundi fishing. Further north, the Gulf of Carpentaria, has fabulous barramundi fishing as does the Northern Territory, particularly during the pre-monsoon season or “build up” from October to December. This season brings a barramundi bonanza to the billabongs and estuaries of the Top End. Or way down south, in Tasmania, try your hand at trout fishing in the famous London Lake area.
While people who head to Australia to dive usually think of the Great Barrier Reef, another lesser known area is the Rowley Shoals in Western Australia. Two of the most remote but truly awesome destinations in Australia are the Kimberly Coast and Rowley Shoals. Referred to as a “once in a lifetime” escape, cruises here offer a myriad of experiences; fishing, viewing rock art galleries, bush walking and breathtaking waterfalls. The Rowley Shoals amazes even the most experienced divers with its pristine waters, abundance of fish and coral gardens, rays, sharks and the giant potato cod.
Further south you can swim with the giant whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef. And heading even further south, try swimming with sea lions in Baird Bay South Australia, giant tuna in Port Lincoln and dive for sea horses on Kangaroo Island.
While you are in South Australia, one of my favorite experiences for the adventure lover is to head out to the Gawler Ranges and do a three-night safari, staying in purpose-built luxury tents.
You will see a huge diversity and profusion of wildlife in numbers rarely seen elsewhere in Australia. It is one of the few places where three large species of kangaroos can be seen together, and in amazing numbers. There are more than 100 species of birds, wild koalas at Port Lincoln and on this safari you can incorporate swimming with sealions and dolphins at Baird Bay.
Since I am on the subject of water I can hardly finish without a mention of the simply fantastic beaches in Australia. From the beaches of the Margaret River area south of Perth, famous for world class surfing competitions, to the pristine Wineglass Bay in Tasmania, or the beaches along the Great Ocean Road (GOR) in Victoria (where you can also enjoy world class hiking along the GOR Walk), Australia’s beaches are worth the trip. There’s also the iconic Sydney beaches of Bondi and Manly, the great surfing meccas of Byron Bay and Noosa and the uninhabited Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsunday Islands to the gorgeous beaches along the Queensland Coast. I think Australia has the best and most amazing diversity of beaches in the world, but then I am probably prejudiced!
Happy Australia Day!
Rosie Holliday is an ex-pat Aussie and longtime local travel agent who owns Holliday Adventures, an affiliate of Andavo Travel – a Virtuoso Agency. While she can and does book the world, her specialties are Australia, New Zealand and Africa. You can reach her at 970-748-9818, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.hollidayadventures.com.