Choosing Your Own Adventure in Oz
There's nothing like Australia. It's both country and continent, wild and refined.
And in 2018, it's easier than ever to get to Australia from Canada. Air Canada launches daily service in June from Vancouver to Melbourne -- on top of a recent service addition to Brisbane. Air New Zealand, Qantas, United and American have also increased their flight capacity to Australia.
Once you get there, there's so many ways to do Australia. It's a "choose your own adventure" destination, so read below to find a trip to book that matches your personality.
Taking a Walk on the Wild(life) Side
In a country with so much unique wildlife, your goal is to disconnect and make friends with as many marsupials as possible.
Your must-see list should start with the VIP tour feeding kangaroos and koalas at Taronga Zoo near Sydney, then continue on to Tasmania (home of those adorable devils, not to mention a fantastic food scene), and Kangaroo Island (where sea lions and wallabies also hang out with the hopping locals).
Here for the Party
When it's time to celebrate, you want to do it with thousands of new friends. New Year's Eve in Sydney is your adventure -- after all, they are ringing in the new year about the time you'd usually be done shovelling away another overnight snowfall.
The fireworks alone are worth the trip: Picture a 12-minute pyro-palooza launched off the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House and barges around the Harbour.
The More Beach Selfies, the Better
Australia has more than 25,000 kilometres of pristine coastline, so bring your beach towel. Work on your tan while lounging along the aptly named Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast, or pick up a board in Surfers Paradise (yes, that's a real place).
The Gold Coast has undergone a renaissance in preparation for the Commonwealth Games this April. A new light-rail system is a boon for tourists, allowing rapid trips up and down the coast and (by the time the Games start) to the Brisbane airport.
You want to experience some of Australia's best luxury lodges in stunning locations -- including the Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island and Saffire Freycinet on the isolated shores of Wineglass Bay in Tasmania.
Along the way, make the most of private tours of vineyards and art museums like the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), home of Australia's largest private art collection in a stunning subterranean space.
Will Travel for Food (and Wine)
If you're all about the flavour of a destination, start your journey in the Barossa Valley, which is home to some of the oldest living vineyards in the world. Don't miss the chance to sample Old Vine Shiraz and even taste wine from your birth year at Seppeltsfield, a famed winery dating back to 1851.
Or take a foodie tour of Melbourne and discover the city's diverse array of international cuisine and world-class restaurants, tucked away in the city's network of arcades and laneways. Go to Flower Drum for the steamed buns and mud crab siu lung bao. (Just trust us on this.)
After snorkelling the iconic Great Barrier Reef, head off to Sydney. You'll have your choice of places to enjoy fresh seafood paired with matching wines, but it's hard to beat the view available from the famed restaurants of Sydney Harbour.
History and Heritage
You're a bit of a history nerd, but you're okay with that. While many think of Australia as a young country, its Aboriginal culture is considered the most ancient in the world.
Dive into history while travelling through Australia's Red Centre -- a section of the Outback about 1,200 kilometres from any major city, where you'll find 20,000-year-old rock art at Ubirr and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. A cruise down Murray River also offers glimpses of the past, including the ancient rock carvings at Ngaut Ngaut Aboriginal Reserve.
Diving in Deep
You favour an immersive journey rich in new experiences. If you're willing to travel within Australia, you can experience a geographic and cultural diversity seldom found in a single country.
Knock everything off your bucket list on this adventure -- from Sydney and its Opera House to bush dinners in the Outback to snorkelling in the largest coral reef system in the world. You're not done yet: There are vineyard walks in the Barossa Valley, a crocodile farm visit and a champagne sunset toast at Uluru (formerly Ayers Rock).
Just Give Me the Highlights
It's a great big world, and you're a busy person -- so let's cover the basics: Sydney and its dazzling Bondi Beach; Melbourne with its historic laneways and beaches; and the tropical gems of Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef.
Without being too rushed, you can check off these bucket-list spots in under two weeks -- and maybe even sneak in some surfing lessons or wine tastings along the way.
Ready to go? Check out the Australian adventures mentioned above and many more on the Tourism Australia website.