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Welcome to Australia and Oceania

Australia and Oceania

Australia - so far, so good!

Let's get the bad news out of the way first of all - yes, it's roughly twenty hours on a plane... or you could look at it as twenty hours of enforced drinking, sleeping, eating, movies and reading. Twenty hours of not having to do a single, solitary thing except relax. Hmmm. And once you're in Australia, we promise you, the reality of this remarkable place will slide into your consciousness and call you back time and again.

The wonders of this place, so far away yet so familiar through countless TV programs will constantly amaze you. From the easy lifestyle where the locals seem to dart straight for the beach after knock off, to the scenic vistas of the Great Barrier Reef, the red radiance of the outback and the glorious rainforests that dot the northern end, Australia is such a land of contrast it's hard to do it justice.

Holiday Supermarket can get you flights to Australia without fuss and then the real holidays in Australia begin! You're first taste is likely to be Sydney - and a visit to Bondi Beach is top of your list. Remarkably close to the CBD, Bondi is a different planet of buskers and beach bums, fish and chips on grassy knolls and bikini babes everywhere.

Sydney also boasts the Opera House and you can tour this famous building in the morning and climb the Harbour Bridge in the afternoon. Holidays in Australia have to include the east coast beaches - head to Byron Bay for a taste of where Keith Richards spends time, and further north to the Daintree Rainforest where you walk through the forest canopy gazing down into the dense foliage where 9 of the world's 10 most dangerous animals live.

Far North Queensland, or FNQ as the locals call it, is your jumping off point into the fabulous Great Barrier Reef where you'll swim and snorkel with incredible fish, diving amongst the living coral and rejoicing in the bath-like warmth of the clear blue waters.

Towards Darwin is prehistoric Kakadu; an enormous Top End park teeming with wildlife. This is safari Australian-style with buffalo, 'roos and indigenous history, starry, starry nights and birdlife everywhere. Local rangers escort you on camping tours of billabongs and raging rivers; bush country and soaring escarpments, pointing out croc holes and jumping Barramundi.

To the southeast, in the stark inland desert lies the eerie Uluru where rock paintings dating back 40,000 years tell the local indigenous population where the waterholes are, where to find food and shelter and tell the story of their people. The sound of silence is dreamlike here; people have spoken of herds of animals pounding in the night... only to find it was the blood pumping in their eardrums. Surreal!  The red sand and rock is everywhere, turning the sunsets purple and streaking the dawn skies with liquid pink hues.

Further south still is Melbourne, the southern city renowned for its culture and sophisticated style. Life on the Yarra River here is serene and genteel, British even, yet beaches are never far away as a drive on the Great Ocean Road, just south of Melbourne, will testify. This is Australia's cultural heartland; where music and art thrive in the Harry Potter-ish laneways, where chefs outdo each other on local produce and the weather travels across four seasons in one day.

The great western city of Perth is across the unforgiving Nullarbor. Two days by car, four hours by plane from Melbourne. Crystalline waters lap the city beaches, dolphins and whales caress the coast and boats dot the sea side coves. Wine country, in the form of the great Margaret River region is definitely worth a visit. It's great white shark country too, further cementing Australia's reputation as a wild frontier land full of things that bite.

Be warned! You'll fall in love with the people, the lifestyle and the everyday beauty the locals take for granted. Bondi Beach is a glorious horseshoe bay of giant waves and bronzed gods. The entire east coast is one long beach where 'crowded' means more than two or three families sharing the kilometres of golden sand.

The remarkable interior is completely unlike any other scenery you've ever seen before - harsh, yet sublimely beautiful with a light that causes colours to radiate. The contrast of sophisticated cities like Sydney, one of Asia's financial hotspots, and the giant cataract falls that dot the Top End is extraordinary. The 'bush' as the Aussies call the rural areas, is home to laconic bushman, tough drovers and capable women. Come for a week and you'll pine for more; come for a month and you'll not want to ever leave. Australia bites deep in more ways than one!

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