When most people think of Australia, they conjure up images of bounding kangaroos, dusty red deserts, and golden sandy beaches. The Sydney Opera House is right up there, too. They imagine drawling accents and slouch hats, suntanned lifesavers, and men who wrestle crocodiles for the fun of it. Its all thatand more (apart from the crocodile wrestling)! This huge continent is truly remarkable, offering everything from rolling green hills, dense ancient rainforests, and historic towns to vast areas of sparsely inhabited ochre-red Outback, giant coral reefs and deserted beaches, unique animals and plants, cosmopolitan modern cities, and intriguing Aboriginal culture for visitors to explore.

Most people who visit Australia for the first time head to Sydney or Melbourne. They explore the Red Centre and the giant rock Uluru, or they take to the warm waters and dive or snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef. But often the places that come to them by chance, or deeper research, are the ones that remain locked in their memories forever. Who could forget holding a koala in your arms, or feeding a kangaroo from the palm of your hand? Or traveling ochre-red dirt tracks and seeing emus running alongside your 4WD? While I will concentrate on the most-traveled areas, the ones on every visitors wish-list, I will at the same time take you to some of the lesser-known treasures of each city and share some of my personal favorite places and experiences. Of course, no travel experience is complete without a little background information, which is where this chapter comes in.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.