Australia has nearly the same land mass as the 48 contiguous United States, but with far fewer people - and it's the only country in the world to occupy an entire continent. With so much land, there's bound to be something for everyone who visits Australia, whether it's highly urban settings like Melbourne and Sydney, the desert outback which covers much of the interior of the country, or the killer beaches and surfing opportunities that ring basically the entire continent. The Great Barrier Reef is off Australia's northeast coast, and the nature-lover's island of Tasmania lies off the southeast tip of the country.
A one-time penal colony of the British empire, the country has far deeper roots with its Aboriginal population. Relations between Aborigines and non-Aborigines have been rocky at times, though there is increasing awareness of the plight of Australia's native people (similar to that of the Native Americans) and more efforts recently to recognize Aboriginal sacred land such as Uluru.
Australia is also home to several animals which are the stuff of childrens' fairy tales and songs - from the koala and the kangaroo to the kookaburra - all of which can be seen in nature reserves, and some of which can even be held or fed. Your kids will never stop talking about it. Heck, you
may never stop talking about it.
Australians are known for their love of adventure, so there are plenty of death-defying activities you can take part in during your stay, including bungee jumping. Slightly more on the safe side of things, golf, scuba diving and hot air ballooning are other popular activities.
Don't be fooled by what you think is a common language - Aussies might speak English, but native English speakers might still have trouble understanding them! The Australian enthusiasm for life and adventure often spills over into their speech patterns - in other words, they speak really quickly and tend to "slur" words together. With a little practice, you'll be able to understand them just fine, and may even bring a little "G'day" home with you!
You might have to travel a long way to get there, but you won't necessarily have to break the bank to do it. Finding cheap airfare to Australia
can be challenging, but it's not impossible. If you are already in the region it obviously helps, but sometimes you can get good fares from North America as well.
Where to stay
Of course there are thousands of hotels in Australia, and they range from 5-star to bars that literally have bedrooms upstairs so drunks have a place to sleep. There are also tons of hostels in Australia
, although many of them go by the name 'backpackers' instead. You can find them in big cities, but also in small towns since so many Australians are always traveling around and there is always a high demand for cheap sleeps.
You might also want to see if there is an Australia adventure trip
that suits you, too.
To keep learning about this country/continent before your trip, you can browse our Australia travel stories