Looking for the world’s best countries for expats, we came across all sorts of fascinating information. Amongst others we found a late 2012 report by The Guardian newspaper, which revealed the top five destinations for British expats as Australia, the USA, Spain, Canada and Ireland, while CBS News reported on a 2013 HSBC study revealing the top five expat destinations from an economic perspective as China, Germany, Singapore, Cayman Islands and… Australia again.
Most of us know at least one family member or friend who has moved ‘down under’ for a better way of life. It’s the world’s 6th biggest country with one of the lowest populations. Australia comes second in the UN’s Human Development Index and third in 2013’s Index of Economic Freedom and Prosperity. All of which means it’s a nation with long life expectancies, excellent education, low rates of poverty and a high per-capita GDP.
Other than that, what’s so special about living in Australia? We thought it would be useful to look at the top 10 attractions offered by this enduringly popular destination.
Ten of the best things to do in Australia
1. Sydney itself comes top of our list of cool things to do in Australia. It’s the nation’s biggest city, jammed with remarkable attractions including the famous Sydney opera house, the Hunter Valley Wineries, Harbour Highlights Cruises, Darling Harbour’s stunning marine aquarium and the amazing Jenolan Caves.
2. Fraser Island is a popular holiday destination for Australians as well as people from right around the world. It’s the world’s biggest sand island and home to endangered wild dogs and several unique local fish species. The beaches are heavenly, there’s no other word for it, with their deep azure skies and turquoise seas.Fraser Island’s World Heritage listing ranks it alongside Uluru, Kakadu and the Great Barrier Reef, a genuine tropical paradise. As the website says:
“Fraser island is a place of exceptional beauty, with its long uninterrupted white beaches flanked by strikingly coloured sand cliffs, and over 100 freshwater lakes, some tea-coloured and others clear and blue all ringed by white sandy beaches. Ancient rainforests grow in sand along the banks of fast-flowing, crystal-clear creeks.
Fraser Island is the only place in the world where tall rainforests are found growing on sand dunes at elevations of over 200 metres. The low “wallum” heaths on the island are of particular evolutionary and ecological significance, and provide magnificent wildflower displays in spring and summer.”
3. We can’t create a list of top Australia attractions without mentioning Ayres Rock, now called by its original Aboriginal name, Uluru. It is the world’s biggest monolith, a stunning sight which changes colour throughout the day and is at its most spectacular at sunrise and sunset. Being such a tourist hot spot, there’s even an Ayers Rock resort, offering 65 or more different activities including camel rides, Harley Davison bike rides and rock climbing.
4. The breathtaking Jamison Valley is famous for being one of the most popular attractions in Australia, with its hair raising cable car tour. The massive, remote valley looks like the land time forgot, ancient and wild. It’s part of the amazing Coxs River canyon system, deep in the misty Blue Mountains of New South Wales, about 100km from Sidney and just south of the region’s biggest town, Katoomba.
5. Our list of Australian attractions also wouldn’t be complete without the Great Barrier Reef, a spectacular sight lying just below the surface of the beautiful Coral Sea on the country’s north east coast. It’s one of the planet’s best-known and loved natural wonders. It’s huge, covering 1,430 miles of undersea gardens full of curious, weird and wonderful marine life.
6. The Great Ocean Road is without doubt one of the best things to do in Australia, an excellent way to discover the many marvels of Victoria’s legendary scenic coast. As the Australia.com website says:
“Take a ride through nature on the spectacular Great Ocean Road, which winds alongside the wild and windswept Southern Ocean from Geelong to Portland. This diverse and dramatic region takes in surf beaches, historic ports, whale lookouts, breathtaking mountain ranges, rainforests and national parks.See monster waves at Bells Beach and laze on the golden sands of Lorne. Visit an important Aboriginal site near Tower Hill or spot shipwrecks near the charming fishing village of Port Fairy. Of course, you can’t miss the Twelve Apostles – craggy limestone stacks rising majestically from the Southern Ocean.”
7. The Kimberleys are one of Western Australia’s finest attractions, with truly amazing scenery, ancient, steep-sided mountains, dramatic deep gorges and terrifyingly steep ridges, containing some of the planet’s very oldest rocks and fossils. The region includes Mirima National Park, Cable Beach, Broome (famous for its pearl fishing), pearl farms, breweries, aquaculture, Broome Bird Observatory, the famous Bungle Bungle range with its strange sandstone domes, plus the Malcolm Douglas Wildlife Sanctuary and Crocodile Park.
8. Love wine? Then you’ll adore the Barosa Valley, only an hour from Adelaide and a destination that’s incredibly rich in history, culture, customs and traditions. You can visit the vineyards themselves, visit Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop – run by one of the nation’s most famous foodies – or go hot air ballooning. You can visit the Whispering Wall at Williamstown, which echoes even your quietest whispers across its 100m length loud and clear, and the Hergig Family Tree, a famous hollow red gum thought to be as much as 500 years old.
9. Tasmania is remote, beautiful and promoted as ‘the natural state’ because of its largely unspoiled environment, 37% of which is either a reserve, national park or World Heritage site. As the Brand Tasmania website says:
“Tasmania is the southernmost state of Australia, located at latitude 40° south and longitude 144° east and separated from the continent by Bass Strait. It is a group of 334 islands, with the main island being 315 km (180 miles) from west to east and 286 km (175 miles) north to south.
These islands have a haunting history and their own special mystique. The 512,875-strong community spreads itself across the land; less urbanised than the population of any other Australian state. Hobart, the capital city, is home to more than 210,000 people.”
10. Melbourne is Australia’s second biggest city, often called the nation’s Cultural Capital or ‘the garden city’. Sport, fine food and excellent shopping are all on the cards in this enormously cosmopolitan, cutting-edge and dynamic city, plus the National Aviation Museum, the city’s famous ‘laneways’ full of fascinating independent shops, cool bars, world class arts, museums and galleries… everything a dedicated culture vulture could possibly want.
Is there a downside to living in Australia?
As far as we can tell, just one. According to a recent BBC report, the cost of living in Australia is currently spiralling:
“Australia has managed to come out of the global financial crisis without a recession. But as a result of its booming economy, the cost of living is extremely high.”
Do you already live down under?
If so we’d love to share your favourite attraction with our community.