BUNAC’s A-Z of Australia
With BUNACers heading in droves Down Under to do 12-month working holiday visas, we’ve put together an A-Z of Australia to help make the world’s sixth largest country seem a little more manageable. Also, who doesn’t love the alphabet song? Or alphabet spaghetti? Exactly.
Alps: For outdoor pursuits, head to the Australian Alps. The region’s mountains are popular with skiers and hikers, while others head there for the endless cycling, caving, rafting and horse-riding opportunities. Yes, you heard right – SKIING.
Alice Springs: The gateway to Uluru, Alice Springs is home to dusty backpackers, fun nightlife and Aboriginal culture. Get to grips with the mythology, art and traditions of the world’s oldest human culture and experience some of the country’s most sacred indigenous sites.
Byron Bay: This boho surf town in New South Wales is an iconic stop on the East Coast. The East Coast Blues & Roots music festival (Easter) and the Splendour in the Grass festival (July) bring the beats each year.
Blue Mountains: Just a stone’s throw from Sydney, the dramatic sandstone cliffs and forested canyons of the Blue Mountains are a classic weekend escape for mountain biking, horse-riding, hiking, wine drinking and eating (also a legit sport).
Broome: Broome on the West Coast is home to mind-boggling marvels. Such as 130-million-year-old dinosaur footprints and the Staircase to the Moon - a glistening illusion created by the reflection of a rising full moon and something that’s celebrated by locals with live music and markets.
Coorong: Bring on the waterworks and the wildlife. A highlight of any trip to South Australia is navigating the breathtaking lagoons of the Coorong by kayak.
Desert: The Great Sandy Desert, Great Victoria Desert and Gibson Desert are some of the country’s most famous. Nature at its wildest.
Echuca: A riverside town in Victoria, indulge in a spot of paint ball or water sports before heading to the Great Aussie Beer Shed.
Essendon Football club: Based in Melbourne, this Aussie Rules side is the sister club to Manchester United. Certainly catch a game if you're in town.
Fraser Island: Pelicans and birds of prey occupy the skies, rays and dolphins the seas, and dingoes the land. The largest sand island in the world, no trip to Australia’s East Coast is complete without a trip to the magnificent beaches, creeks and trails of Fraser Island.
Festivals: Australia has a killer festival scene. Amongst others, hit up the box office for tickets to ULTRA, Splendour in the Grass, Lost Paradise, Groove in the Moo and Rabbits Eat Lettuce. Did we also mention they have the best festival names? That too.
Great Barrier Reef: This UNESCO World Heritage site and 26,000 kilometres of corals can be seen from space – although an easier way to see them is by donning a snorkel and some fins.
Hot air ballooning: For a great view of Australia, you could treat yourself to a balloon ride. You can really get a sense of the extent of Australia’s natural beauty from the skies.
Islands: Fraser Island, Tasmania, Daydream Island, Kangaroo Island, Phillip Island, Whitsunday Islands… take your pick!
Jazz: The Melbourne International Jazz Festival is fast becoming one of the top music events in a country that loves to party.
Kimberley: Australia’s wild wild west, Kimberley is home to natural beauty of mammoth proportions – with huge gorges, sheer cliffs and caves painted with ancient rock art.
Kangaroo Island: Seals, penguins, sea lions, koalas, wallabies, bandicoots and platypus also occupy Kangaroo Island, but that might have given it quite a long name. Desert dunes, wild beaches and lush forests provide the backdrop; while cheese, wine and honey sold by local farmers provide the sustenance.
Long board: The thing that you’re going to learn to surf on.
Melbourne Cup: Referred to the ‘Race that stops a nation’, the Melbourne Cup is one of the most prestigious horse races in the world. Make sure you’re in sports-mad Melbourne in November to catch it.
Ningaloo: The world’s biggest fish, the whale shark, can be spotted here. Swimming with dolphins, manta rays and tropical fish just off the shore is also a must.
Outback: Outback refers to the vast, unpopulated and arid areas of Australia. AKA, a lot of it. The most famous example is the Red Centre, home to the giant red monolith and ochre-streaked canyons of Uluru and Kata Tjuta – a must for any visit.
Perth: The beaches, wineries and micro-breweries of Perth supply the daytime entertainment, while the evenings are taken care of by its world-class restaurants and vibrant music scene.
Queensland: Queensland perhaps typifies Australia – tropical rainforests, coral reefs, miles of beaches and sunny surf towns.
Rugby Championships: Rugby is huge in Australia. The Rugby Championships (the annual tournament between the Southern Hemisphere giants of Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa) is always a loud and boisterous affair.
Sydney: A picturesque harbour, world-famous Opera House, surrounded by beautiful beaches. You might have heard of it.
Surf: Australia is the perfect place to hang ten. Too many surfing hotspots to mention here.
Tasmania: Home to heather-clad mountains, white coral beaches and weather-beaten clifftops – Tasmania is utterly breathtaking. One for the nature lovers, 40% of the island is protected as national parks and reserves.
Uluru: Geology that rocks, Uluru has incredible spiritual significance for the Anangu Aboriginal people. Legend has it that it was formed by their ancestral spirits. Not far away, strangely-formed natural domes stretching for 3,500 hectares can be found in the form of Kata Tjuta.
Vegemite: Love it or hate it, just don’t call it Marmite. They are very different.
Vineyards: Australia is famous for its new world wine, and you don’t have to travel far to find it. Within an hour of Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide the hills are woven into vineyards.
WWOOFing: If you want to combine work and travel in Australia, then WWOOFing is the solution. Hop from farm to farm at your pace, earning a few dollars along the way fruit picking.
eXtreme sports: Turns out there’s not much that begins with ‘X’ in Australia, but it does offer plenty of opportunities for high energy sports to keep the adrenaline junkies happy. Cairns has become the adventure capital of Oz, with scuba diving, mountain biking, bungy jumps, sky dives and rafting to name a few.
Yarra Valley: Located in Victoria, this region of pristine beauty and gently rolling hills is home to 55 wineries. A perfect way to spend a relaxing weekend – or a year of them.
Yachts: At 630 nautical miles (1,170 km), the Sydney to Hobart yacht race is widely considered to be one of the most difficult yacht races in the world.
Australia Zoo: Established by the legendary Steve Irwin, this world-famous zoo lets its visitors come face to face with some of our planet's quirkiest residents.