Every year it seems like more and more people from all round the world are choosing Australia as a top holiday spot. In 2018 around 9.2 million tourists headed for the so-called “Lucky Country” compared with 8.7 million in 2017 and just 5.2 million a decade earlier in 2007.
So, what is it that attracts this ever increasing number of people to the land down under? Well there’s the weather for a start – its summers are getting hotter and hotter as time goes on and there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy to make the most of it, whether its enjoying a barbie on the beach or taking a trip out to the Great Barrier Reef.
Sydney’s the obvious draw for many with its world-famous opera house, the iconic bridge across the harbour and a truly cosmopolitan atmosphere. Melbourne offers a more old-world kind of charm with its trolley buses and colonial-style buildings while millions make the trip out to the sacred natural phenomenon of Uluru in the remote Northern Territory.
But while these are the headline grabbers there are many more places to go and see, many of them overlooked in most people’s itineraries. If you check them out yourself there are likely to be fewer crowds – and you’ll be taking home some unique memories too.
Art Gallery of Western Australia
For everyone who thought that all the culture in Australia was centred around new South Wales, the Art Gallery of Western Australia is conclusive proof that it isn’t. Situated in the heart of Perth’s Cultural Centre it celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2019 and welcomes around 400,000 people a year.
The gallery houses the state’s art collection consisting of around 17,000 pieces including 3,000 from indigenous artists. Its range of different temporary exhibitions is nothing if it’s not eclectic and in recent years these have ranged from retrospectives of Warhol’s and Picasso’s work to the history of sneaker design and a pictorial representation of the life of Heath Ledger.
The gallery building itself is something of a work of art taking the Bauhaus school of brutalist design as the inspiration of the architect K. Sierakowski of the Public Works Department who oversaw its construction in 1977 prior to its official opening two years later.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Queensland
You can’t visit Australia without going at least a little out of your way to explore some of the unique wildlife that you’ll find there. And, while there are crocodile farms aplenty and many zoos across the country, there’s only one sanctuary dedicated to the care of the loveable little, eucalyptus-eating koala bear.
You’ll find the Lone Pine Sanctuary 12 miles outside Brisbane in Fig Tree Pocket, Queensland. If you’re travelling from the city, one of the most interesting and relaxing ways to get there is by boat which you catch from outside Brisbane’s State Library. On the way to the Sanctuary you’ll get a great sightseeing tour by water with commentary included.
Once you reach your destination, you’ll find not just orphaned and injured koalas that have been rescued from the wild but also over 100 species of indigenous animals including wombats, dingos and even the fearsome Tasmanian Devil.
Jupiter’s Hotel and Casino, Gold Coast
Another of Queensland’s relatively unsung local attractions is Jupiter’s Hotel and Casino. But for those who do know about this, one of Brisbane’s most glamorous venues, it’s been a great destination for a night out ever since it was opened some 25 years ago.
It’s owned by the Star Group and boasts over 70 gaming tables and an incredible 1,300 slots (or “pokies” as they’re known in this part of the world). The latter have always been a big favourite with Aussie punters and the success of slots online has made them even more popular in the venue.
For poker fans there’s a dedicated room for this and the 590 room hotel is the perfect place to withdraw to if you want to count your winnings. It even has two penthouse suites if you really have won big.
With seven different restaurants ranging from Asian to Australian you can also eat your way round the world as you play.
Susanna Place Museum, Sydney
If you’ve ever wondered what life may have been like for settlers in Australia during the 19th century then the Susanna Place Museum is where you can find out first hand. Situated in
The Rocks district of the city, these four terraced housed were some of a number built in 1844 to house immigrant labourers working on the nearby wharfs.
The houses left standing have been kept just as they would have been when they were home to around 100 people living in the most basic conditions.
The museum tells some of the stories of the people who once lived in the houses to give a real insight into the hardships and struggles that so many people living in such close proximity must have caused. In fact, they tell the real story of how Sydney first began, before becoming the international city it is today.
Luna Park, Sydney
For our final destination, you can step in time in a very different way. Luna Park is one of just two amusement parks in the world that are listed and protected by government legislation.
It was originally built in 1935 and over the following decades has had a chequered career being opened and closed again on several occasions before finally being re-opened in 2004, this time for good.
It’s very much modelled on New York’s Coney Island and even has a section with the same name which is home to Funnyland, the only surviving example of a 1930s style fun house with wobbling floors, a hall of mirrors and an amusement arcade too.
You’ll also find roller coasters, dodgem rides and all the traditional fun of the fair – and you can’t miss it. The entrance is presided over by a 9-metre-wide smiling face welcoming you to the world of fun.