Travel Information - B
The Great Barrier Reef is truly one of the great wonders of the world with its myriad coral and colourful fish. There are some southern Queensland islands right on the reef and there are excellent tours to the outer reef from Port Douglas. While it is a divers' paradise, the snorkelling is also wonderful and for those who don't want to get wet there are submersibles and underwater viewing platforms.
The Barossa Valley, just north of Adelaide, is one of the world's great wine growing districts with lush countryside and quaint German villages full of art and craft shops and restaurants. Not to be missed if you visit South Australia.
Australian beaches rank with the best in the world. Golden sand and clean water within easy reach of major cities make them a major attraction for locals and visitors alike. They fall into two categories - still water harbourside beaches and open water ocean or 'surf' beaches. Beaches are very much part of the Australian way of life, for swimming, surfing, family outings or simply lazing about - however, they can be dangerous with deceptive rips, so common sense and obeying the rules should come into play (see Flags and Swimming Safety).
The Blue Mountains, just west of Sydney, make for a great day or overnight trip. Recently World Heritage listed the mountains offer spectacular scenery, charming boutique art and craft shops, restaurants, soft adventure and quality accommodation. The name comes from the blue-ish haze caused by the eucalypt (gum) trees.
Stinging creatures called blue bottles periodically invade Australian beaches. These nasty little critters, which look like a small transparent blue plastic baby's drink bottle, trail long bright blue tentacles that can give you a very painful sting. They are sometimes carried onto beaches by wind and current. Lifesavers will warn swimmers if they are near the beach, and treat anyone who is stung. If the infestation is bad, the lifesavers will cross the red and yellow flags and close the beach. Little is known of these creatures and their incidence is rare. They are NOT deadly.
Brisbane calls itself Australia's 'most liveable city'. It is not as busy or hectic as Sydney or Melbourne but offers a superb sub-tropical lifestyle along with everything a major city should - theatres, restaurants, museums, art galleries and so on - and it sits just an hour or so from the Sunshine Coast to the north and the Gold Coast to the south.