Best of Australia by Travelers Around the World

Welcome to the third round of our monthly series “Best of Country by Travelers Around the World”!

AUSTRALIA

Every destination has its standard cliched icons. But the best travel experiences are personal, and the things that stay with us are not always the most famous, iconic sights, but those meaningful, inspiring experiences that make travel worthwhile. In this series, we asked travelers to contribute photos that best represent what their time in Australia meant to them.

In 2010, we got the chance to explore the east coast of this continent-nation. What made us fall in love with Australia is the beauty of her nature, and the wild life contained within. The Great Barrier Reef, the gorgeous coastline, the dense rainforest, the salt lakes, just to name a few. Salt water crocodiles, kangaroos, koalas, fairy penguins, and many other astounding animals made us love Australia even more. We had hard time picking only 1 photo!

Our fellow world travelers have been kind enough to send their photos of their best Australian memories, and every single time I opened the email from them, I was thrilled by what I saw. I can’t wait to share this excellent collection of photos with you, and I hope it brings back great memories you have about Australia, or makes you want to visit this beautiful land!

PART I: BIZARRE ANIMAL-TO-VEHICLE CONTACT

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(27*) Kayaking with a Humpback Whale

Kayak with a Humpback Whale (Photo © Off The Path)

Kayak with a Humpback Whale (Photo © Off The Path)

On a grey and cold october weekend I decided to go Kayaking in Byron Bay. It was a birthday gift for one of my friends and we were really looking forward to it. It was raining the whole morning but we decided to give it a try and paddled out. After crossing Julians Rock we saw a Humpback Whale breaching on the horizon and after a couple of minutes he appeared about 200 meters away from us. We were fascinated by this mammal and stopped paddling, we were only drifting in the water. After 4-5 minutes he was gone and we decided that it was time to continue our journey. 2 minutes later my Kayak was lifted by this huge Humpback Whale. Our guide was as shocked as we were, he did these tours for years and never got that close to a whale.

From Sebastian of Off The Path

(* Late entries)

(26*) Hitting a kangaroo with a rental car

Car vs kangaroo collision (Photo © Go, See, Write)

Hitting a kangaroo with a rental car (Photo © Go, See, Write)

Basically, I have no idea how people do NOT hit kangaroos, at least on the roads that I was on. I must have seen 200 of them in a stretch of a hundred kilometers at one point. They just sit on the side of the road. You have no idea when they will hop across the road. They are incredibly erratic and you cannot predict what direction they are going. Hell, I was lucky to hit only one of them, but it was a big one.

Vital tip. You simply cannot drive at night.

From Michael Hodson of Go, See, Write

(* Late entries)

PART II: NATURAL BEAUTY

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1. Great Ocean Road

Great Ocean Road (Photo © Art of Backpacking)

The Great Ocean Road (Photo © Art of Backpacking)

Australia is the land of many long roads and big wide open spaces. I learned that a map of Australia is deceiving. What seemed like a short drive from Adelaide to Melbourne actually took more than 12 hours with numerous stops for pictures. The Great Ocean Road had too many pictures opportunities with stops for views, beaches, forests, and a sunset. At some point I had got tired of taking so many pictures and had to just enjoy it for what it is. It’s a beautiful country.

From Michael of Art of Backpacking

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2. Devil’s Marbles, Northern Territory

Devil's Marbles (Photo © Never Ending Voyage)

Devil's Marbles (Photo © Never Ending Voyage)

We spent three weeks campervanning from Darwin to Alice Springs and loved driving through the wide open spaces of the outback. One of our favourite stops was the Devil’s Marbles – crazy rock formations in the middle of nowhere. We camped right next to them and watched as the rocks glowed at sunset. For us Australia was all about nature and having a camper van was a great way to experience it.

From Erin and Simon of Never Ending Voyage

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3. Karijini National Park, Western Australia

Karijini National Park (Photo © TravelDudes)

Karijini National Park (Photo © TravelDudes)

The Karijini National Park is my favorite insider travel tip for Australia! The gorges are very typical and famous for the Karijini Park and with it, the highlights.

From Melvin of Traveldudes

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4. The beaches in Perth and Queensland

The view Andrea and John had in their wedding week in Hamilton Island (Photo © Inspiring Travellers)

The view Andrea and John had in their wedding week in Hamilton Island (Photo © Inspiring Travellers)

Australia is a huge island and what really defines the country for us is its coastline. Aussies love the beach and a large portion of the population lives close to the ocean. Swimming, snorkeling, diving, surfing and boating are popular activities and famous attractions like the Great Barrier Reef attract visitors from all over the world. The beaches in Perth and Queensland are our favourites. In Perth, where John grew up, you can go out to these wide sandy beaches and just walk and enjoy the sound of the waves crashing – and it isn’t difficult to find a wide open stretch all to yourself. The sunsets in Perth are particularly spectacular. This photo was taken from the deck of a house we rented in Hamilton Island for our wedding week. We chose to get married by the water because it is so important to us.

From Andrea and John of Inspiring Travellers

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5. Beaches in Western Australia

Beaches of Western Australia (Photo © Theres No Place Like Oz)

Beaches of Western Australia (Photo © Theres No Place Like Oz)

As salmon migrate west, fishermen flock to the beaches of Western Australia, hoping to make a great catch. Beaches in WA, both the sand and the water, are some of the most beautiful ones in the country.

From Heather of There’s No Place Like Oz

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6. The environment and everything else are natural

Driving in the outback (Photo © Adventure with Dan)

Driving in the outback (Photo © Adventure with Dan)

The best memories I have of Australia are because of the environment and everything else natural there. One minute you’re sunning yourself on the golden sands, next you’re in the rainforest avoiding the endless list of deadly animals that live there and are out to kill you, then before you know it you’re surrounded by nothing but red dirt for as far as the eye can see. It’s such an immense place down-under! There’s so much to do and everywhere is different. It’s definitely my favorite place on earth!

From Dan of Adventures with Dan

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7. Bondi Beach in Sydney

Bondi Beach Bridge (Photo © Ordinary Travelers)

Bondi Beach Bridge (Photo © Ordinary Travelers)

This photo was taken in April of 2010 during our two week journey up the east coast of Australia. During our stay in Australia we couldn’t miss visiting this iconic beach. This was the last bit of sun we saw that day before it started pouring rain on all the beach goers.

From Scott and Christy of Ordinary Traveler

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8. Purnululu National Park, Western Australia

Purnululu National Park (Photo © Everything Everywhere)

Purnululu National Park (Photo © Everything Everywhere)

Hiker in Echnida Chasm, Purnululu National Park, Western Australia

From Gary Arndt of Everything Everywhere

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9. Pelican of Queensland

Pelican of Queensland (Photo © Don't Ever Look Back)

Pelican of Queensland (Photo © Don't Ever Look Back)

We got up close and personal with an Australian pelican during our time in Queensland. These birds are common throughout the country but they are a beautiful species and definitely make a good photo subject!

From Amy & Kieron from Don’t Ever Look Back

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10. Ellen’s Point on Kangaroo Island

Ellen's Point on Kangaroo Island (Photo © Vagabond3)

Ellen's Point on Kangaroo Island (Photo © Vagabond3)

We drove off the main paved road and carefully made our way to a tiny dot on our map. When we arrived at a dead end, this is what we were starring at- Ellen’s Point. I can’t describe my love for Australia in a few words, but I think this picture gives a good sense of the feeling. There are big cities, lots of wildlife and plenty of space outdoors where you can just be. Here was this beautiful pier, all by itself with no one around and just us. It’s easy to put life into perspective when all you can hear are the ocean waves and your own thoughts. I heart Australia!

From Jade, Bob, and Rob of Vagabond3

PART III: CITIES TO FARMS

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11. Circular Quay of Sydney

Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge (Photo © Dangerous Business)

Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge (Photo © Dangerous Business)

Whenever I think of my short time in Australia, I (like many before me, I’m sure) almost always think of Circular Quay first. This part of Sydney — with the Opera House, Harbor Bridge, The Rocks and so many restaurants, bars and cafes all in close proximity — was my favorite, probably because it was so cool to actually be hanging out in such an iconic place. This particular photo was taken on a ferry from Circular Quay to Darling Harbour, and is still one of my favorite images of Sydney. I feel like it just captures everything I loved about the short amount of time I spent there. I can’t wait to go back someday.

From Amanda of Dangerous Business

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12. Open Air Cinema, Sydney

Open Air Cinema (Photo © Wandering Earl)

Open Air Cinema (Photo © Wandering Earl)

When a friend invited me to see “The King’s Speech” in Sydney a couple of months ago, I had no idea that I would end up at the St. George Open Air Cinema inside of Sydney’s Botanical Gardens, watching the film on a huge waterfront screen, with the Opera House, Sydney Harbor Bridge and the downtown area all in clear view. It was by far the most spectacular setting to watch a film that I had ever come across and luckily, despite the distraction of this perfect night time scene in front of me, I somehow managed to watch and enjoy the film as well!

From Earl of Wandering Earl

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13. Bat night in Royal Botanic Garden of Sydney

Bats hanging form the tree like fruits in Sydney Botanic Garden (Photo © Solo Female Traveler)

Bats hanging form the tree like fruits in Sydney Botanic Garden (Photo © Solo Female Traveler)

Inside the Royal Botanic Garden in the middle of Sydney, Australia, thousands of the world’s most enormous bats slumber in tree branches by day then fly off into the moon when darkness arrives. Darkness is what fellow worldwide vagabond Dina of VagabondQuest and I waited for as we ooh’d and ah’d over the huge round bats swinging gently from the branches in their sleep one dark night. Finally the moon arose and off flew the bats, one by one. “Let’s lie down in the grass!” Dina shouted. So we did. From this ideal vantage point, for 15 quick minutes we got to watch bats the size of Cocker Spaniels fly across the moon. It was chillingly delicious. As the police were repeatedly driving through the park warning loiterers to get out before getting locked in, we had to flee sooner than we would have liked. No matter. Bat night with Dina will always be my favorite Sydney memory.

From Sabina of Solo Female Traveler

(Dina’s comment: Watching flying foxes chasing the setting sun is one of my favourite Sydney memories too, glad I can share it with you!)

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14. Melbourne

Melbourne's street art (Photo © Fearful Adventurer)

Melbourne's street art (Photo © Fearful Adventurer)

My favourite Melbourne activity is to get on a bike and head nowhere in particular, while looking up, down and sideways to tour the spectacular ever-changing artworks that splash the lane-ways and back-alleys. It’s the visual arts culture that makes this city stand out from it’s big sister, Sydney.

From Torre of Fearful Adventurer

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(25*) Just Married at the Newcastle Baths

Just married at the Newcastle Baths (Photo © Aussie On The Road)

Just married at the Newcastle Baths (Photo © Aussie On The Road)

It’s not the best example of my photography, but it was just such a randomly Australian image. Showing my then girlfriend around the Newcastle foreshore, we took a few minutes at the historic Newcastle Baths to shelter in the shade. I looked up and saw this deliriously happy pair of newlyweds (resplendent in thongs which left ‘Just Married’ footprints in the sand) posing at the baths. It just symbolized perfectly the Novocastrian link to the beach. The kids in the background, enjoying the same public baths their grandparents probably did, also speak volumes for Newcastle’s proud beach traditions.

From Chris Walker-Bush of Aussie On The Road

(* Late entries)

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15. Australia and coffee

Cappuccino (Photo © There's No Place Like Oz)

Cappuccino (Photo © There's No Place Like Oz)

One thing I wasn’t expecting about Australia was its strong cafe and coffee culture. After visiting Australia’s eight main states and territories, I found some of the best cappuccinos, lattes, and mochas I’ve ever tried. If you want to order something a little different, ask for a “magic” when you visit Melbourne (a double shot of espresso in a slightly smaller cup than the other drinks). One of my three favorite coffees all year was the cappuccino in this photo (from the Naked Bean in Western Australia).

From Heather of There’s No Place Like Oz

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16. Rugby

Rugby banner (Photo © There's No Place Like Oz)

Rugby banner (Photo © There's No Place Like Oz)

Every year, some of the country’s best rugby league players face off in State of Origin, a best-of-three series in which the Queensland Maroons battle the New South Wales Blues for year-long bragging rights. After watching Origin on TV since 2006, I finally attended two games in person in 2010 and watched my Maroons win the series for the fifth consecutive year.

From Heather of There’s No Place Like Oz

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17. Handmade rocking horses in Kangaroo Valley near Sydney

Rocking horses in Kangaroo Valley (Photo © Twenty-Something Travel)

Rocking horses in Kangaroo Valley (Photo © Twenty-Something Travel)

Handmade rocking horses lined up in Kangaroo Valley, NSW, a very traditional small town a few hours south of Sydney.

From Stephanie of Twenty-Something Travel

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18. Pearl Farming Camp, North Western Australia

Pearl Farming Camp (Photo © yTravel Blog)

Pearl Farming Camp (Photo © yTravel Blog)

This is the pearl farming camp we lived on for 5 months in North Western Australia. The nearest road was 180km away and we would have to catch a sea plane from Broome to camp where we would work for up to 5 weeks straight, tendering to Pearl Shells. It was gruelling work, but we were able to spend our free time exploring what makes the Kimberly area so unique and beautiful It was truly wild and free.

From Caz & Craig of yTravel Blog

PART IV: THE KANGAROOS

Can’t be denied here that kangaroo is the most iconic symbol of Australia and they make big impression in visitors and locals alike! This is reflected in many kangaroo containing photos we received, so we keep the best for last! Surprisingly, we received no photos of Koala.

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19. An affectionate kangaroo

Affectionate kangaroo (Photo © The Professional Hobo)

Bracken the kangaroo (Photo © The Professional Hobo)

Australia has so many iconic experiences for any visitor, and given the 18 months I spent there, it’s tough to narrow it down to just one! Despite the impressionable experiences of surviving bushfires and traveling over 16,000 kms by train, the biggest impression Australia had on me was the wildlife. From personal encounters with birds, to wombats, to koalas, and even the snakes and spiders, Australia has so much unique wildlife to offer. But nothing tops Bracken, the kangaroo that lived on my doorstep for six months and followed me around religiously. Thanks, Bracken, for making Australia, well, Australia!

From Nora Dunn of The Professional Hobo

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20. The stunning contrasts in the land of Australia

Kangaroos in Cape Le Grand National Park (Photo © Sit Down Disco)

Kangaroos in Cape Le Grand National Park (Photo © Sit Down Disco)

Australia is a land of stunning contrasts – the cities are truly world class, but the regional areas which comprise over 99% of the nation’s land mass are from another world. In this photo taken at Cape Le Grand National Park in Western Australia, the nation’s pristine beaches host kangaroos that are more interested in eating seaweed than camera toting tourists. Drive an hour west and you enter the town of Esperance that has all the modern conveniences one could want in a stunning seaside location. The southwest of Australia is truly a spectacular place that has the best of the natural world while being in close proximity to civilization.

From Adam of Sit Down Disco

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21. “My Sister Molly spooning a kangaroo”

Molly spooning a kangaroo! (Photo © Go Overseas)

Molly spooning a kangaroo! (Photo © Go Overseas)

I love Australia and actually spent 6 years growing up in Brisbane. Fond memories =)
Here’s my sister Molly ‘spooning’ a kangaroo. Hahaha, good times! We were at a wildlife sanctuary near the Gold Coast and there were kangaroos every where. All you needed was a handful of food and they would come right up to you.

From Andrew of Go! Overseas

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22. Petting zoo in Cronulla

Playing with kangaroos (Photo © Prolific Living)

Farnoosh playing with kangaroos (Photo © Prolific Living)

Our trip to Sydney in January of 2005 still stands out as one of the best trips – and we travel a lot! There is a warmth of hospitality in Australia that is matched only by a few other nations and our timing could not have been better as the spring/summer season made for a warm escape from winter back in North America.

Our friends took us a petting zoo in Cronulla, a relaxing beachside city just outside of Sydney, and we had a marvelous time roaming around this small zoo and getting close to animals. I had dreamt of seeing kangaroos but didn’t even imagine being able to get so close to feed and touch them. Those make for some of the best memories from Australia. That and the extremely warm hospitality of the Aussies. No wonder we are going back in November for an extended trip!

From Farnoosh of Prolific Living

PART V: HUMOUR

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23. Ballsy kangaroo

Best of Australia by Travelers Around the World

Ballsy kangaroo!

Not only Australia has a lot of funny animal street signs like for kangaroo, wombat, cassowary, and koala, but some people came up with great ideas to modify them. The “before and after” cassowary get hit by vehicle in Daintree Forest is perhaps the most famous one, but the one we love the most is this “ballsy kangaroo” aka kangaroo with balls, that we found on a quiet road somewhere in NSW.

The kangaroo street sign, while cute, is a no joke though. Read Mike’s story below:

From us, Ryan and Dina of VagabondQuest

LAST: CONCLUSION

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24. The Dangerous Australia

Dangerous Australia (Graphic © Travels of Adam)

Dangerous Australia (Graphic © Travels of Adam)

Australia is a dangerous place.
If you’re headed there, watch out!
If you already live there, congratulations on being alive.

From Adam of Travels of Adam

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What about the rest of you, guys? Tell us your favourite memory of Australia!

Got a photo and a story as well that you want to share here? Send it to dina@VagabondQuest.com, and we will update this article!

* * * * *

Next in the series: “Best of JAPAN by Travelers Around the World”

Japan has suffered from a recent disaster, but the vast majority of the country is perfectly safe to visit. We thought this would be a great time to focus on all the things that make Japan one of our favourite countries in the world.

Join the fun!

  • Have you traveled to JAPAN? Do you want to share your memory of it? Anybody can participate!
  • What do we need?
    • 1 photo of Japan that best represents your memories of Japan. You must be the owner of the photo. Photo at least 600—400 px is preferred. (A link is okay too)
    • A short title and a paragraph of description
    • Your name, and if applicable blog name and URL. Please include your Twitter or Facebook if you have one.
    • Optional: If you have written an article in it, you can include the link. We will post it up if it fits.
  • Where to send your submission?
    • Email me at dina@VagabondQuest.com
  • What’s the deadline?
    • 22 July 2011 (Fri)
    • But don’t worry, if you submit later than that, we will update the article with your submission!

For Michael (2 of you), Erin and Simon, Melvin, Andrea and John, Heather, Dan, Scott and Christy, Gary, Amy and Kieron, Jade, Bob and Rob, Sabina, Earl, Torre, Caz and Craig, Nora, Adam (2 of you), Andrew, Farnoosh, Torre, Amanda, Stephanie, and Chris, the contributors to this article:

Thank you so much, this article wouldn’t exist without you!

Previous in the series:

  1. Best of France by Travelers Around the World
  2. Best of Mexico by Travelers Around the World

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47 Responses to “Best of Australia by Travelers Around the World”

  1. Erica
    13 June 2011 at 3:37 pm #

    The Great Ocean Road is what I’m looking forward to (besides the Great Barrier Reef)! I’m in love with road trips and after all the beautiful pictures I’ve seen, I know it will be amazing.

  2. Cailin
    18 June 2011 at 11:40 am #

    Great idea for a series of posts and I love love love Australia too! :)
    Awesome meeting you guys at TBEX! :)
    Let me know what the next country us and maybe I can contribute! :)

  3. Sebastian
    23 June 2011 at 11:55 am #

    I just sent you an email with a story to update this article :) Hope you like it!
    Sebastian´s last post…10 Most Dangerous Animals of Australia

  4. Nomadic Samuel
    4 July 2011 at 10:13 pm #

    I loved the photos in this article – a nice collection from other travelers. The one with the dent from a Kangaroo made me really chuckle.

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