Mark Twain once gave a lecture in Australia. The year was 1895, and he stated this about the continent’s history: “It does not read like history, but like the most beautiful lies … It is full of surprises, and adventures, and incongruities, and contradictions and incredibilities; but they are all true, they all happened.”
We agree with Twain, but we’d add that it’s not only Australia’s history that’s overflowing with disbeliefs and incredulities—so are its land and wildlife. With such whimsical animals, unusual geology and some of the oldest cultures on the planet, you’d almost think that Australia was a made-up place, and a whopper of one!
If you’d like to find out the truth about the Land Down Under, let us help you design a very personalized, Australian adventure tour. For example, you could.
Take a cue from Mark Twain and delve into Australia’s history in the Northern Territory. More than 40,000 years ago, indigenous Australians settled the region. In Kakadu National Park, you could explore billabongs (isolated ponds left when a river changes course), wetlands and prolific rain forests. Walk underneath the lush tree cover and listen to the melodic and unfamiliar birdsong “raining” down on you from high overhead—a third of Australia’s bird species live here. Through rock art that is more than 20,000 years old, get in touch with the long-ago history of an Aboriginal people.
Visit Arnhem Land, located on Kakadu National Park’s border. Arnhem Land is a vast, unspoiled wilderness that still belongs to the indigenous Yolngu, who have occupied the region for at least 60,000 years. They retain strong cultural and spiritual ties to the land. Australia’s famous musical instrument, the didgeridoo, originated here. Wildlife—including dugongs (a “cousin” of the manatee), nesting turtles and saltwater crocodiles—thrive in and along this mesmerizing land’s winding rivers, remote islands, rugged coastlines, dripping rain forests, towering escarpments and savannah woodlands.
Wonder at the prehistoric rock paintings and caves around the UNESCO World Heritage site of Uluru, a large, 600-million-year-old, sandstone rock formation in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the Northern Territory. Uluru is sacred to the Anangu, the Aboriginal people of the area, who believe it was formed by ancestral beings in the Dreamtime, the era of the world’s creation.
Get to know Daintree Rain Forest on the northeast coast of Queensland. At 165 million years old, the forest is one of the oldest continuously surviving tropical rain forests in the world. It is the closest living counterpart to the forests that once covered the ancient supercontinent of Gondwanaland. Due to its incredible biodiversity and large numbers of plants and animals found nowhere else on the planet, it is of immense scientific value. In this place of spectacular forest-clad mountains, stunning valleys, superb beaches, clear streams, magnificent rivers and rolling farmlands, you can hike, take a wildlife-spotting river cruise, zip-line through the canopy, boat to the Great Barrier Reef, ride a horse, take a scenic drive or relax on an uninhabited beach.
Head out to the “Galapagos of Australia”: Kangaroo Island, a third of which is national parklands or wilderness protection areas. Meet up with bushtail possums, brown bandicoots (a marsupial), kangaroos, koalas (they outnumber the people!), wallabies (they outnumber the koalas!), rare echidnas (spiny anteaters), Australian fur seals, goannas (a monitor lizard), little blue (or “fairy”) penguins and platypuses. Stay in a cottage next to a lighthouse that warns ships away from the rocky coast.
Relax in South Australia’s legendary wine country of Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale. Sample delicious vintages from three, world-class wine regions in a single, epic and memorable road trip.
Ferry or fly to the wild and beautiful island of Tasmania. Take in the sights of Hobart, its vibrant capital, or call on a Tasmanian devil sanctuary. Stay in Launceston, one of Australia’s oldest cities, or discover some of the island’s most spectacular wildernesses, such as Cradle Mountain-Lake Saint Clair National Park and Freycinet National Park. Hike ancient rain forests, alpine heathlands and rugged, glacially sculpted landscapes; or kayak miles of unspoiled coastlines and waterways. Even your meals will be extraordinary: Tasmania’s strong tradition of small-scale, organic farming and sustainability—along with pure air, rich soil and clean water—results in truly local, authentic foods.
Australian adventure travels take place in uncommon country. Let the true Australia—to paraphrase Mark Twain—“happen” for you.