Unforgettable Australia – Smallest continent is big in beauty

0007The “Land Down Under” has risen to the top in dream destinations. Australian tourism has seen an incredible boost due to a variety of factors, including competitive airfare, social networking, and Oprah Winfrey’s highly publicized visit.

    While romantic images of the Sydney Opera House, koala bears and kangaroos have long been associated with Australia, savvy travelers know that the smallest continent is also one of the most intriguing places on earth. From the red desert sands to the lush tropical rainforests, from the sun-drenched beaches to the spectacular skyscrapers, Australia is a wonderland of diversity.

Plan for two or three weeks

Most people would say that Jody Meyer of Travel Leaders/Suntime Travel has a dream job. To provide expert travel advice to Rochester clients, Jody recently became a certified Australia specialist.

    “It is a once-in-a-lifetime journey for most travelers,” says Jody, a self-described adventure seeker.

    Jody’s required familiarization trip offered an array of experiences, including a ride on the Kuranda Scenic Rail, a Daintree River excursion to view waterfalls in the rainforest, a catamaran ride to the edge of Australia’s Continental Shelf, and a Darling Harbour cruise.

    “Diving at the Great Barrier Reef was absolutely amazing. I also really enjoyed the rainforest and learning about the culture of the Aboriginal people,” says Jody, who recommends planning at least two or three weeks in Australia.

    What are travelers saying as they return? “They want to go back,” she says. “They just can’t believe how beautiful it is.” Families, singles and college students completing internships have all found that Australia is a destination that makes the 14-hour flight from L.A. more bearable.

    Aussies are known for being some of the friendliest folks on earth and their laid-back style is contagious. “It’s true; everyone I met knew so much about their own country’s history and they wanted to share it with us.”

    Find Jody’s travel blog at suntimetravel.com.

Winemaking region

Travelers with Asia Transpacific Journeys (asiatranspacific.com/ATJ/luxury-travel/australia.aspx) can experience a private winery tour with a local wine expert in the charming Barossa Valley, the country’s premier winemaking region. They can meet the winemakers, discuss the development of the valley’s wine tradition and taste a variety of premium vintages for which the area is renowned.

    It’s also possible for visitors to blend their own wine, a rare opportunity to create their
own signature vintage. Guests may also savor the regional cuisine, which features artisanal cheeses, cured meats and local produce. Automobile buffs can opt for the winery tour by private vintage Daimler.

    Don’t miss the chance to browse through the art shops and galleries that dot the towns and hamlets throughout the valley.   

Amy Brase is a writer who spent five weeks in Australia jazzin’ with the Wartburg College Castle Singers. Her souvenirs include an authentic boomerang and a “no worries” approach to life.