As Qantas celebrates its 100th anniversary as Australia's most popular airline, we take a look at some of the country's most dramatic landscapes from above...
In 1920, World War One veterans Paul McGinness and Hudson Fysh had the vision of connecting Australia with the world, and these innovators registered Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd. One hundred years on this outback carrier, now known as Qantas, has become one of the world’s leading airlines.
Much of the fleet has been grounded in their special anniversary year, but now people are looking forward to the easing of the Covid-19 travel restrictions and are starting to plan big trips Down Under for the back end of 2021.
These ten images of Australia provide inspiration from a land home to unique wildlife in the wild, an ancient Aboriginal culture, beaches you can have all to yourself, vineyards run by passionate winemakers, weird and wonderful outback landscapes, incredible journeys, and friendly locals waiting to welcome you.
The 95,000 hectare Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park, about a five hour drive from the vineyard city of Adelaide, is home to rugged mountain ranges, dramatic gorges and lots of Aussie wildlife in the wild. One of the highlights is Wilpena Pound, a gigantic natural amphitheatre encompassing the Flinders Ranges’ highest point, St Mary Peak. Taking a scenic flight over Wilpena or hiking the many trails that surround it makes for a truly memorable outback experience. The name Wilpena comes from an Aboriginal word meaning bent fingers, which describes the shape of the range and the Aboriginal name for Pound is Ikara meaning initiation or meeting place. Taking an interpretive walk with a local Adnyamathanha guide will give you fascinating insights into the history and ecosystem of this incredible place.
South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula is known as Australia’s Seafood Frontier and the coastal experiences here are quite something! As well as being able to swim with sea lions, cage shark dive with Great Whites, and enjoy beaches with epic swells and quiet coves; visitors here can also enjoy a road trip to one of the world’s most photographed pink lakes. Mother Nature’s full palette is on show at Lake MacDonnell, with a high salt concentration and the presence of salt-loving algae resulting in some seriously intense pink colours. If you’re road tripping in the Aussie winter and spring check out the migration of Southern Right Whales at the peninsula’s Head of Bight – one of the best spots to see these gentle 90-tonne giants of the sea.
Wineglass Bay is in Tasmania’s Freycinet National Park up the coast from Hobart. Freycinet is a stunning spot perfect for bushwalking, boating, sea kayaking, rock climbing and relaxing on white sand beaches. The pink granite mountains rising straight from the sea to form a sheltered waterway has made Wineglass Bay famous for all the right reasons. To get a great view back to the bay take to the water on an eco-cruise where you’ve also got a good chance of seeing dolphins, seals, albatross and sea eagles!
The 665 metre long Sea Cliff Bridge is a highlight along the Grand Pacific Drive, which takes in 140 kilometres worth of coastal scenery from the Royal National Park, Australia’s oldest national park, to Nowra on the southern coast of New South Wales. Just an hour’s drive out of Sydney, this picturesque road offers visitors the chance to get out of the car and stretch their legs on a road trip along this section of beautiful, unspoilt coastline. Plus, it’s a great viewing platform for migrating humpback whales during the migration season (May to November). Continue on to Jervis Bay to experience some of the world’s whitest sands and clearest waters.
Ningaloo Marine Park is a World Heritage-listed site found half way up the West Australian coastline. The crystalline water harbours the world’s largest fringing reef, a 260-kilometre (162-mile) long coral reef swarming with turtles, tropical fish, manta rays, humpback whales and the elusive whale shark. Nowhere on Earth do these majestic creatures reliably congregate in such large numbers as here, at Ningaloo Reef. While you’re there don’t miss: the incomparable experience of swimming with a whale shark; flying above migrating whales in an Exmouth microlight flight; and staying in a luxury campsite metres from the coral reef.
At 1,430 miles long, Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef is a sight to behold. Take to the air and heli over it to drink in the views and appreciate the scale of this magnificent wonder. Guests of Hamilton Island can now experience a new ‘Journey to Heart Island’ tour to explore the Great Barrier Reef from above, on and below the waves, and admire the iconic Heart Reef up close.
Just a 40 minute drive south from Adelaide and you’ll find yourself on the Fleurieu Peninusla home to boutique breweries and wineries, farmers markets, gorgeous coastal restaurants and some of Australia’s best beaches. Think jaw-dropping limestone cliffs towering above pristine white shores, sparkling turquoise water, secluded coves and very few people! Pack a picnic full of local produce and spend a day at Sellicks Beach – one of our Fleurieu favourites. Beach cricket anyone?
The Northern Territory is the only Australian region with two World Heritage-listed national parks. In Kakadu National Park (pictured), Australia’s biggest (20,000sqkm), you'll discover ancient landscapes with thundering waterfalls, rocky gorges, breathtaking viewpoints, lush rainforests, wetlands, exotic wildlife, serene swimming pools and the oldest indigenous rock art in the world. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, home to the iconic landmark Uluru (Ayers Rock), is also World Heritage-listed.
The Ghan links the vineyard city of Adelaide in Australia’s south with the tropical city of Darwin in the north, and is one of the world’s great train journeys. Travelling through the heart of the Aussie outback, the Ghan can be combined with Uluru and Kata Tjuta in the Red Centre making for an extraordinary experience.
Just under an hour’s drive from Melbourne the Yarra Valley is a spectacular wine region with outstanding vineyards and mountains. It is a natural amphitheatre, making it perfect to view from above, stunning scenery, native fauna and flora, excellent food and wine and stable weather. Let the breeze usher you along the corridors of grape vines and over the Yarra River as you lose yourself in the breath-taking views, and then enjoy excellent locally grown food and wine.
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