The Vast Land decorated by the Earth’s Breath
Sydney, Perth, Hobart, Melbourne (Australia)
Australia is a land of overwhelming natural beauty and unique cities. Highlights include Sydney, one of the world’s three most beautiful harbours; the Blue Mountains, a mystical forest not far away from the city; and Uluru (Ayers Rock), the huge red monolith that rises out of the earth. There are many unique animals that have evolved in their own way, and indigenous cultures that have been passed down over the ages, from generation to generation. Visiting by cruise is a great way to experience the vastness of the Australian continent. Let’s set out on a unique and inspiring journey.
Australia’s Great Outdoors
Perhaps Australia’s greatest attractions is the sheer scale of its wilderness. The Blue Mountains, a World Heritage Site not far outside of Sydney, are a vast forest that spans seven national parks. The area is so named because the oil from the eucalyptus trees reflects the sun’s rays, giving them a hazy blue appearance. There are many things to here, from riding the old mine trolley into the forest to taking an aerial gondola ride above. But, the best way to truly experience the Blue Mountains it is to go for a walk through the pristine forest, with the fresh scent of eucalyptus.
Outside of Perth in Western Australia lies the natural wonderland of peculiar rock formations known as the Pinnacles. Once you see the countless pillars of weathered rock in the middle of the endless desert, you’ll understand why sometimes these have been referred to as tombstones in the wilderness, and why the Pinnacles have been the location for many fantasy and science fiction films. Looking at each rock you will see how unique they are – with some are over three metres high, some sharp like fangs, and others even looking like animals. It’s a lonely and humorous world, and a place that fascinates visitors.
In the red desert of central Australia, in the Northern Territory, rises a huge 348 metre high monolith called Uluru (Ayers Rock). The name Uluru means the ‘great stone’ in the language of the indigenous traditional owners of the land who settled here more than 10,000 years ago, while Ayers Rock was the name given by British explorers. In addition to its geological significance, the Aboriginal murals in the caves at the base of the rock demonstrate that the site has long been revered as a sacred place. Uluṟu is one of only 3% of all World Heritage Sites to be inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List as a ‘composite’ of both natural and cultural heritage.
Tasmania is home to some of Australia’s most precious wildlife. About 20% of the island is wilderness, home to unique and rare animals such as the Tasmanian Devil, the world’s largest carnivorous marsupial, and the platypus, an egg-laying mammal. The Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, the largest in Tasmania, is a great place to get up close and personal with animals in their natural habitat. The reserve is unique in that it not only houses and exhibits animals, but also works to release them back into the wild. The more people visit the reserve, the more animals are rescued, so a sustainable cycle is fostered.
The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the world’s largest koala sanctuary, is located just outside Brisbane and is a rare opportunity to get up close and personal with koalas. The koalas spend only about five hours a day awake and sleep for the rest of the day. But at this sanctuary, where there are about 130 koalas, feeding times are rotated so you can watch them in action. Of course, the koalas tend to stay still in the trees, but occasionally they open their eyes to eat eucalyptus leaves or scratch their bodies, a charming gesture for viewers. It is also very popular to take a photo with a koala at the sanctuary.
A city of diversity
Even within Australia, a country of immigrants, Melbourne is one of the most culturally diverse cities. Here, you can meet languages, cuisines, religions and festivals from all around the world as part of everyday life. Melbourne’s famous coffee culture is also connected to its migrant population. As a former British colony, some people might have the impression that Australia is more associated with tea than coffee. However, the increase in Italian immigrants after the Second World War has led to a well established café culture. You’ll find cafés all over teh city, so take a stroll around and you’re bound to find one you like.
Sydney, located in the south-east of Australia, is one of the most popular ports of call in Oceania for Peace Boat cruises. The city is home to one of the world’s three most beautiful harbours, with its picturesque urban landscape in harmony with nature. The views as you enter and leave sydney, sailing between the World Heritage Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, is a sight to behold.It’s of course beautiful during the daytime, but a special sight at night. The Opera House and Harbour Bridge are lit up, and the lights of the street lamps along the harbour and the skyscrapers in the background add to the colour of the city’s nightscape. As the ship sails out of Sydney, the city bids farewell with a night view worthy of its reputation as one of the world’s three most beautiful harbours.
PHOTO: PEACEBOAT, Kataoka Kazushi, Maruya Kazufumi