Australia. What comes to mind when I say that? For me it is sun, surf, and beach. But on occasion I also think that when I think of my own homeland of New Zealand. I have not been to Australia myself, although a lot of other Kiwis now call Australia home. I don’t think you can count a stopover at Melbourne Airport as having visited! So what is Australia like, and is my own perspective the correct one?
Sand and sea? That’s how I envision Australia (and Queensland in particular), big clean beaches, emerald blue seas. Australia has a massive coastline of course by being a large island; the ‘length’ is a whopping 25,760 km². But what of its coastal scenery? Are there just beach after beach like I imagined? Australia has 7 well known ‘states’ but also has several ‘territories’, the ones everyone seems to know are: Queensland, Northern Territory, Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales. All of which have coastal borders. But look inland and the landscape changes. The other vision I have is still sand, but this time DESERT; sand, sand, brown, sand, dry, hot, sand …. How wrong is my vision? Come along as I imagine and then correct the picture I have of Australia from state to state.
Queensland has some of the world’s most famous beaches with Surfers Paradise and Gold Coast, perhaps this is where I get my vision from. White sandy beaches, blue water, tanned happy people? But is this all? Yes and no. Along with the white sandy beaches flanked by majestic palm trees, Queensland also has some spectacular rocky coastline, beaches surrounded by lush rainforests and cities located right along breathtaking beaches. Queensland is a state of many landscapes, ranging from sunny tropical coastal areas, lush rainforests to dry inland areas. Queensland is not just beach and sand as I discovered, and I now would even more so like to visit and see all this wondrous beauty for myself. Bunya Mountains is a national park with mountains covered by the largest area of bunya pines remaining in the world. It sounds like a unique place to visit, mild climate, steep terrain and splendid views. Yes, I must go there. And while I’m in the area, another ‘must see’ is the ‘Great Dividing Range’ which is Australia’s most substantial mountain range and the third longest in the world at more than 3,500 km long! The width varies from 160 km to over 300 km, so not something you’ll walk in an afternoon. That was the other thing about Australia, it is so big. Even though I find it hard to imagine, I do know that everything is bigger in Australia than it is in New Zealand. Without seeing it for myself I can’t make the comparison and have to believe what I’m told by those who have seen it. Off course no visit would ever be complete without seeing the ‘Great Barrier Reef’.
It is composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching over 2,600 km. So again, not something you can just see in one afternoon! Told you everything in Australia is BIG. The Great Barrier Reef is a wildlife buff’s paradise and obviously I’ll be putting that on my itinerary. Just look at what lives there, how can you not want to go? Sea-turtles, sea-snakes, corals, 30 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises (which are related to dolphins and whales); saltwater crocodiles, 125 species of shark, stingray, skates or chimaera (a cartilaginous fish) – live on the reef. Close to 5, 000 of mollusk, including the giant clam, 49 species of pipe fish (which is related to the seahorse), 9 species of seahorse and at least 7 species of frog inhabit the islands. Yes, set aside a few days (or weeks) for this location.
After all this gorgeous water I could very well be in the mood for some tropical forests. Well, guess what? Queensland has that too! The ‘Wet Tropics of Queensland’ is about 8,940 km² and has many National Parks and reserves, some of them are ‘Barron Gorge National Park’, ‘Black Mountain National Park’, ‘Cedar Bay National Park’ and ‘Daintree National Park’, as well as over 700 protected areas including privately-owned land. Again, the size alone is spectacular, wonder how big it all is in real life.
I’ll find out soon enough, when I finally do make the trip over. Just looking at what there is to see in one of the states of Australia, I’d say I’ll either be there a very long time looking around or end up being a regular visitor exploring one state at the time. Next time I’ll imagine Northern Territory, want to come and join me?
About the Author : Monica Toretto is a writer, painter, photographer and blogger. She lives with her two young sons in Invercargill near Bluff. She has travelled widely in Canada and the US and worked as a veterinary technician before returning to New Zealand. Her work has appeared in several magazines in the UK and New Zealand. She has also authored a book of poetry and photography called ‘Words’.
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