By John Metcalfe
Australia is a country of amazing diversity and awe- inspiring beauty. From grand cities to ancient coral reefs, there is no end of star attractions in the land of Oz and the best way to see them is to book yourself on an Australia cruise.
Sydney and its world famous harbor is a good starting point for an Australia cruise, although it is of course possible to start at other Australian ports, and also at ports outside of Australia. For instance, you could join the US to Australia leg of a round-the-world cruise at Los Angeles and find yourself in Sydney, Australia 30-days later. From Sydney you could depart on a smaller cruise around Australia and/or New Zealand.
Cruise routes around Australia normally concentrate on port stops along the East and North coasts. Brisbane, the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, Port Douglas, Townsville and Darwin are the main ports of call, with cruise durations typically of between 7-10 days. From Darwin, a few cruise lines offer services westwards towards Broome. Cruises along the southern and western coasts are less popular. Here, the main ports of call are Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. A port stop in Tasmania is also incorporated into many an Australia cruise, as are ports of call in New Zealand, such as Auckland and Dunedin, and sometimes ports of call in Indonesia.
So, what great treasures await those who adventure to Australia on a cruise? Sydney, Australia's capital and the jewel in the crown of Australia's south-east coastline, offers a whole host of sightseeing opportunities just on its own. Sydney harbor, the Opera House, Bondi Beach and Watson's Bay are among the top attractions. Sydney is also bursting with museums, fine restaurants and excellent shopping facilities. Two hours outside of Sydney is the world renowned Hunter Valley wine region, where you can sample some of Australia's finest wines.
Further to the North, the Gold Coast - one of the world's hottest surfing locations - and the city of Brisbane await. In Brisbane you will have many shore excursions to choose from, including boat trips up the Brisbane River and a bushwalking experience in Brisbane district's forests.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia's main attractions. You can dive the reef to experience its full glory, join a snorkeling tour of the reef or see the reef from the air. There are also opportunities for landward adventures into the great Australian outback.
Cairns offers a further experience with the Great Barrier Reef, as well as beautiful sandy beaches, while Darwin - one of the hottest coastal regions in Australia during the summer - is another great place in which to relax under the hot Australian sun.
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