Destination Fact File
Take in the Australian culture and dive the most famous reef in the world.
The east coast of Australia is dominated by the Great Barrier Reef the longest reef system in the world. Labyrinths of green and blue patterns are broken up by sandy cays and forested islands. The Barrier Reef comprises of 2800 individual reefs, shoals and over 900 continental and coral islands. Australia is a fantastic holiday destination as it is a country of so much character and range. It is a diverse continent of unique landscapes. The landscape varies from endless sunbaked horizons to dense tropical rainforest to chilly southern beaches. Scattered along the coasts, its cities blend a European enthusiasm for art and food with a laid-back love of sport, especially water sports and the outdoors.
The name is derived from the word Australia, meaning "of the South". Legends of an "unknown land of the south" dating back to Roman times were common place in medieval geography, but were based on no actual knowledge of the continent.
Australia brings to mind many images. For some these are of its curvaceous backdrop of the Sydney Opera House on a sunny day, for others it’s a blood red Ayers rock, a flat, brown expanse of out back nothingness, or leathery characters with Akubra hats wrestling crocodiles. There are some that still persist with the notion that they will see kangaroos hopping down the street and giant snakes and spiders under every log. It is the sixth largest country in the world and has the world’s lowest population density with only two people per square kilometre. Therefore it is impossible to see this entire fascinating destination in one visit.
Australia once formed part of the super continent Gondwana, which was formed over 600 million years ago, when it, Africa, South America, India and Antarctica bumped into each other and bonded together. Australia only became a separate continent about 100 million years ago when it broke away from Antarctica. Since then it has been drifting north at a rate of about 55mm a year. Australia has two separate zones, therefore meaning that it has 2 geographic zones, Tasman Fold belt and the Australian Craton.
Australia’s biggest attraction is its natural beauty; it is politically divided into six states and two territories, each one differing in beauty, but all magnificent in their own right. The countries terrain ranges from the excitement of the cosmopolitan cities to the famous white sandy beaches, spectacular water sports and world class diving.
It is believed that the Aboriginals were the first inhabitants of Australia and lived there for more than 50,000 years and even today this Aboriginal culture is alive and flourishing. Today most of Australia’s population can be found in the cities, especially in Sydney and Melbourne. Both of these cities have very different cosmopolitan characters, but neither suffers with overcrowding, unlike cities in other countries.