From the reef to rainforest or valley to vineyard, Australia will take your breath away. It’s not just the famous cities that delight. Australia has over 7,000 beaches – and that's before we even think about the attraction of Uluru or The Great Barrier Reef. It's also vast but surprisingly easy to get around, thanks to travel options that suit any budget. Self-drives are hugely popular, as are simple transfers or escorted tours. Our partners this month are Gold Medal, specialists in the land Down Under with a team of travel consultants who have over a century of selling experience and Aussie knowledge between them. They will help us tailor-make your perfect trip. You can choose anywhere in this colossal country – it's 31 times bigger than the UK – but this month we're focusing on two of the lesser-known areas, Northern Territory and Queensland, which perfectly reflect its scope and beauty, and also because our Julie will be Gold Medal's guest visiting these very places.
Stretching from the tropical north right down to the rugged Red Centre of the Outback, Australia’s Northern Territory is an incredible land where red-gold desert contrasts with verdant rainforest, where wetlands teem with native Australian wildlife and stunning rock formations have to be witnessed This is a region of contrasts. Home to an ancient Aboriginal culture – one of the world's oldest – yet with a vibrant and fun-loving capital city, Darwin, which boasts the youngest and most multi-cultural population in the country. Travel from the lush, green wetlands and tropical monsoon forests of the Top End down to the fiery desert landscapes at the centre, and it's obvious why this is known as Australia's Outback. A trip here creates lifelong memories, but here are some hand-picked adventures that you definitely won't forget. Top 10 Adventures
Take an exhilarating airboat ride across the Mary River Wetlands
Enter the 'Cage of Death' at Crocosaurus Cove – the crocodile dive experience
Hike the Larapinta Trail near Alice Springs
Take to the skies at dawn with a Hot Air Balloon ride from Alice Springs
Jump aboard for a Jumping Croc cruise on the Adelaide River, near Darwin
Take in Katherine Gorge from the air on a scenic helicopter flight
Kick up some dirt on a quad biking adventure at Undoolya Station, close to Alice Springs
Soar over majestic waterfalls as part of a scenic flight over Kakadu National Park
See Uluru (Ayers Rock) from the back of a camel
…or from the back of a Harley Davidson
If exhilaration isn't on your list, we have that covered too. There's a relaxed pace to the Northern Territory. Life is lived outdoors and balmy evenings abound – enjoy al fresco lunches by the water in Darwin or outback BBQs and Café Culture in Alice Springs. From prolific birdlife to reptiles, camels and kangaroos plus the world's largest concentration of saltwater crocodiles, there's plenty for nature lovers too. Foodie? Whether you want to try a laksa, a curry or Sundowners at Darwin's Mindil Beach, have a proper Aussie BBQ, try crocodile, emu or kangaroo, learn more about bush tucker or experience fine dining atop a dune under a million stars, the Northern Territory is full of amazing dining experiences with arguably, even more amazing backdrops!
Cairns & Great Barrier Reef, Queensland
Whether you're a thrill-seeker or a sun worshipper, Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef will satisfy. It's where you can wind down at a stunning spa retreat prior to scuba dive or snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest living organism and home to 1500 species of fish. The region's beautiful beaches and islands include Green Island, Mission Beach, Low Isles, Vlassof Cay, Palm Cove and Four Mile Beach. Explore them all. Combine this with unrivalled natural surroundings, as this is the only place in the world where two World Heritage Listed Sites meet, and you have a truly unique and iconic destination. You can opt for a variety of experiences. There is a huge choice of things to do – here 's a small selection: Top 10 Experiences
Snorkel, dive or take a scenic flight and explore the Great Barrier Reef, one of the natural wonders of the world
Kayak along the Tully River
Explore the rainforest by foot and take a bushwalk with an Aboriginal guide at the Mossman Gorge Centre
Enjoy a hot air balloon ride over the Tablelands, taking in the sunrise with hopping wallabies
Dine alfresco on tropical fruits, seafood and indigenous flavours
Swim with dwarf minke whales on the ribbon reefs off Port Douglas and snorkel with turtles at a sand cay (available seasonally)
Discover ancient culture with the famous Tjapukai Dancers in Cairns
Take a tree top view of ancient rainforests by cable car or zip wire, with Skyrail
Spa treatments overlooking Palm Cove beach or the Daintree rainforest
Driving through the Atherton Tablelands, seeing vast agricultural lands and the waterfall circuit
And we wouldn't be doing our job if we omitted to mention what may be the highlight of the coastal landscapes – and perhaps the whole trip - Cape Tribulation, where the Daintree Rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef.
We're only able to give you a flavour of Australia, and have chosen its less-travelled routes here, but we'll help build your dream trip to any destination Down Under.
Book an appointment online or drop by the shop, where we can advise on current special deals. You will also be able to talk to Julie, fresh and ready to share the joys of an Australian adventure.