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Australia A to Z

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Go the ABC way with a selected listing of some of Australia's most interesting attractions, destinations and other information

A is for Australia

Purnululu National Park © Tourism Western Australia
Purnululu National Park © Tourism Western Australia

And for Aboriginal art, Adelaide, Alice, Anzacs, and Arnhem Land

To Australia's neighbors in the southeast, Australia is the big island up north across the ditch. But it is not just a big island but a whole continent comprising one country.

If you haven't yet been to Australia, put the island-continent-nation on your must-visit list for its natural wonders, cosmopolitan cities, and friendly countryside.

It's the country of the Great Barrier Reef, the striped hills of Purnululu, the Uluru rock monolith, popular Australian beaches, such distinctive cities as Sydney and Melbourne, and a limitless variety of other attractions and destinations.

B is for Brisbane

Brisbane skyline © Tourism Queensland
Brisbane skyline © Tourism Queensland

And for Barossa, Blue Mountains, brolga, Broome, and Bungle Bungles

It's probably one of Australia's most underrated capital cities but only because Queensland, of which Brisbane is the capital, boasts of other more popular destinations such as the Great Barrier Reef and the Gold and Sunshine Coasts.

In fact Brisbane is very much a stand-alone destination with its multi-faceted Cultural Centre, buzzing and bustling cafe society and river attractions in addition to being a convenient jump-off point to the holiday coasts and islands, and the farms and forests of the hinterland.

C is for Canberra

Visiting Australian Parliament House, by Steve Keough Photography © Australian Capital Tourism
Visiting Australian Parliament House, by Steve Keough Photography © Australian Capital Tourism

And for Cairns, Captain Cook, Christmas, Coober Pedy, and crocodiles

No, it's not Sydney that is the capital of Australia. It's Canberra within the federal self-governing Australian Capital Territory, part of neither New South Wales which circumscribes its area nor Victoria in the south. The seat of Australian federal government, Canberra is also sometimes referred to as the bush capital of Australia being the country's only capital city not located along the coast and usually at the mouth of rivers.

The inland city was officially named on March 12, 1913, after the site had been selected in 1908. Canberra Day, a public holiday in the Australian Capital Territory, commemorates the city's naming and is held yearly since 2007 on the second Monday in March.

The Australian Parliament House, the National Library and various national museums and galleries are located in Canberra.

D is for Darwin

Darwin Festival dancers © Tourism NT
Darwin Festival dancers © Tourism NT

And for Daintree, Darling Harbour, Devils Marbles, and Daydream Island

Darwin, at Australia's Top End, is the country's northernmost capital city. It is named for English naturalist Charles Darwin (1809-1882), who had been to Australia but not to the city named after him.

Darwin suffered Japanese bombing raids in World War II and was laid low by the fury of a devastating cyclone in 1974.

The Darwin Festival, held yearly in August, is an arts and cultural events. The Beer Can Regatta with boats fashioned from beer cans takes place in July or August.

E is for Eureka

Eureka flag © Melbourne Convention & Marketing Bureau, courtesy Tourism Victoria
Eureka flag © Melbourne Convention & Marketing Bureau, courtesy Tourism Victoria

And for Easter, echidna, Eden, Ekka, and Errol Flynn

There's the Eureka Stockade and there's the Eureka flag.

The Eureka Stockade is where rebel miners protesting unjust conditions in the goldfields of Ballarat, particularly in regard to mining licences, took a stand in 1854 against officialdom and fought against government soldiers sent to quell the revolt. Making a stand at the stockade and flying the Eureka flag, also known as the Flag of the Souther Cross, the rebels were vanquished by the superior government force.

Killed were some 30 miners with the survivors later pardoned for participating in the miners' revolt.

The Flag of the Southrn Cross has become a symbol of protest and continues to be flown at picket lines, rallies and demonstrations.

F is for Fraser Island

The Colored Sands of Fraser Island © Tourism Queensland
The Colored Sands of Fraser Island © Tourism Queensland

And for fairy penguins, Federation Square, Fleurieu Peninsula, Floriade, and Freycinet

The world's largest sand island, Fraser Island, is a World Heritage site accessed by boat, ferry or light plane just north of Queensland's Sunshine Coast. You'll need a permit if you wish to bring a four-wheel-drive vehicle to the island aboard one of the vehicle ferries. Aside from those with accommodation on the island, visitors generally join daytrip tours originating from Hervey Bay or the Gold and Sunshine Coasts.

Long stretches of white sand, colored sand cliffs, freshwater lakes, and ancient rainforests are among the island's attractions.

There are dingoes on the island and visitors are cautioned to be wary of them as some dingo attacks have occurred.

G is for G'day

And for galahs, Ghan, and Glenrowan

Mate, it's a good day for saying G'day wherever you are in Australia. Of course, there are those who would like to see g'day and mate and other Australianisms excised from the vocabulary as being, what, uncultured, and I can just see Croc Dundee with his true blue Aussie yabber turning frenziedly in his grave, fair dinkum.

Of course, if you're talking about Aussie slang, there's a lot of change there, mate, and there always are new terms gaining ground and lots more falling by the wayside.

H is for Hobart

Richmond Bridge just out of Hobart © Tourism Tasmania and Nick Osborne
Richmond Bridge just out of Hobart © Tourism Tasmania and Nick Osborne

And for Heron Island, Highway 1, Hugh Jackman, and Hyde Park

Hobart, Australia's southernmost capital city and the only one in an island state, is separated from the continental mainland by Bass Strait, quite often a rather treacherous stretch of water during the annual Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

The capital of Tasmania, Hobart lies at the southeastern edge of the island along the Derwent River. To the west of it lies the Southwest National Park, part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage site; and to its southeast the historic ruins of the convict penitentiary at Port Arhur.

Historical sites and proximity to wilderness areas are parts of the city's visitor attractions.

I is for Irukandji Jellyfish

And for Ian Thorpe, and Indian Pacific

The Irukandji jellyfish, found in northern Australia waters, is related to the deadly box jellyfish and known as a silent, nearly invisible killer. It is usually found during the jellyfish season which corresponds roughly to the period from the end of October to early May.

Although rare, there have been reports of deaths occasioned by Irukandji jellyfish stings, so it is important to take precautions when entering the northern waters during the jellyfish season.

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