New Year’s Day doesn’t necessarily mean frozen winters, heavy padded clothes and a lonely “Happy New Year” scrawled on a misty window. It can be a much more special and unique journey – lay aside all cares and step into a picturesque land full of adventures, exoticism and excitement! Australia, with its gorgeous cities, boundless inland regions, breathtaking beaches and lovely sunshine, is quietly waiting for you in the warm Southern Hemisphere
The Southern Hemisphere of our globe unveils a totally different picture from the white Christmas and New Year of the North. If you happen to arrive in Australia around Christmas Day, you will be lucky enough to witness the grand Lighting Ceremony of Christmas Trees in the breezy summer dusk. Then feast yourself on a romantic New Year Eve alfresco dinner with on-spot music and street dramas pleasing to the ears and eyes.
New Year in Sydney
The New Year Fireworks Party takes place along the 65-kilometer beach offering several locations to enjoy the gorgeous colorful fireworks bursting into the dark blue sky. It is a life-long unforgettable experience to be with your families or friends at that fleeting moment when the amazing lights unlock a brand new year. Then you can wander through the bustling center of Sydney, by Circular Quay or Darling Harbour.
Chinese New Year traditions have also left an indelible mark on Australia. During the festival, every area is filled with a strong breath of Oriental charm: fireworks and crackers, lanterns and decorations, flower floats and dragon dances, as well as an array of cultural shows. The lantern parade and Spring Festival Fair unfailingly remind Chinese people of their hometown memories. You may even see many in red festival garments giving each other “New Year Money”. Traditional activities such as tea drinking, lion dancing, calligraphy performance and Chinese chess contests follow each other. Chinese elements have been implanted into every inch of the city, leaving amazing memories for foreign travelers as well.
Sydney Opera House: Ramble along Circular Quay to explore the unfaded charm of the Sydney Opera House, one of the busiest venues for music and art performance in the city. Join in the Backstage Tour to explore the backstage operations of the Opera House. Such tours offer abundant information translated into many languages including Japanese, Mandarin, French and more.
Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb: Completed in 1932, the masterpiece that is the Sydney Harbour Bridge has a lovely nickname: The Coathanger. It’s a good place for a relaxing walk or cycling. You can even climb onto the bridge. The Bridge Climb Ltd has designed various climbing programs, including the Dawn Climb and Dusk Climb, suitable even for green hands without any special skills.
Queensland, Midsummer Seaside Journey
Australia is a nation facing the ocean with beautiful beaches waiting at every corner. Very often, a casual turn will take you from a busy street to the boundless seafront. You can drive along the seashore in a jeep as the locals often do, and enjoy relaxing moments chorused by sunshine and ocean breezes.
If you are looking for adrenaline, the Gold Coast, known as “Surfers Paradise” should not be missed. There are numerous thrilling water activities available such as deep-sea fishing, water skiing, speed boat paragliding, sail boarding and more. Dive into the ocean to frolic with lovely sea turtles, stingrays and sea horses, or test your surfing skills at one of the four breathtaking reef rock surfing spots. Beginners can also grab their first wave on the glimmering sea with the help of professional trainers.
If surfing does not release your summer passion, the exciting water worlds and roller coaster rides are recommended. From Gold Coast Theme Parks to Warner Brothers Movie World, from Sea World to Dreamworld, there is no shortage of theme parks in The Gold Coast. Then you can visit the World Heritage Sites, Lamington and Springbrook National Parks, and take the mysterious Great Hinterland Walk. Grand waterfalls roar beside ancient volcanoes; wild animals abound and you are amidst them.
For something more peaceful and quiet, The Great Barrier Reef is a second-to-none oasis. This picturesque region boasts a diversity of ocean wonders such as a submarine fault, subsea tunnels and caves. Massage your feet with the soft white silica sands on Whitehaven Beach; explore the lovely islets covered by rainforests and towering rocks; dive into the iridescent sea world to see corals and tropical fish; or fly in a helicopter to overlook the breathtaking seashore stretching thousands of kilometers, as well as the stunning reef groups, lagoons and shoals.
Several national parks are set around The Great Barrier Reef area including the World Natural Heritage Daintree Forest and Eungella National Park. Stray into the tranquil rainforest to explore the nocturnal animals or retreat to the mountains to breathe in the purest air. If you happen to come from November to March, you will be lucky enough to witness one of the most touching ceremonies of nature: sea turtles nesting.
Sunshine Coast: Stretching over several kilometers, the pristine coast is divided into four parts, each with its unique charm. There are safe swimming areas as well as fault zones for surfing.
Whitsunday Islands: Composed of 74 small islands, the Whitsunday Islands border on the sheltered waters of the World Heritage Sites – the Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Sea. Formed several million years ago, the Whitsunday Islands are the largest offshore island group in Australia, named by Captain Cook when he sailed by in 1770.
Magnetic Island: Located in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Magnetic Island boasts an intact natural environment and abundant wildlife resources. About 275 million years ago, the magic power of Nature created the bizarre and fantastic rocks on the island. The area is covered by eucalyptus trees. It is said that when Captain James Cook sailed by here in 1770, the magnetism of the area influenced his compass, hence the name.
Tasmania, Food and Wine Journey
Australia is home to plenty of stories. Vast territory has given the country a variety of landforms and climate types. If you feel less than enthusiastic about scorching beach sunshine, Tasmania is an ideal alternative with its World Heritage wilderness landscape and coveted delicacies and wines. Unlike crowded beaches, this exquisite island offers a more relaxing way to touch the beauty of Australia and experience the hospitality of the locals.
Hang around the art galleries and stores in Deloraine or touch history at the antique shops in Labrobe; enjoy the beautiful wall paintings displayed in Sheffield or visit Devonport for its landmark cruise – the “Spirit of Tasmania”; take a walk or take a ride along the coast, go surfing or boating by the cliff area of the Mersey River. The Narawntapu National Park should not be missed by wildlife lovers where you may possibly come across kangaroos, wallabies and wombats leisurely eating grass. Afterwards, pay a visit to the famous rock – The Nut which is located in Stanley, a small fishing village formed by an volcanic eruption, and then further explore nearby ports to greet seals and dolphins, or climb onto the cape for a bird’s eye view of the ocean.
Boasting some of the purest water and air in the world, this piece of vast land is also home to a diversity of delicacies and wines. Quality salmon and oysters are served in nearly every restaurant on the island, plus all kinds of local cheese, honey, chocolate and freshly picked fruits. You needn’t worry that your short stay will deprive you of the chance of tasting them one by one because the annual Taste of Tasmania Festival which is held during the New Year period at Salamanca Place in Sullivans Cove. This beautiful cobblestone-paved square integrates the old and new with its abundant offerings of delicacies, arts, shops and music. The once-shabby warehouses of Georgian style built in 1830 and used to store food, imports and wool have been transformed into modern art galleries, theatres, bars and restaurants. On Sunday mornings, one of the biggest open air markets in the world – the Salamanca Fair present local delicacies from Tasmania. Moreover, the Farm Gate Market which is also held once a week provides abundant fresh agricultural products and snacks.
Taste of Tasmania Festival: This is one of the most popular food festivals in Australia, held from Dec 28, 2016 – Jan 3, 2017. You can also buy tickets to attend the New Year’s Gala and midnight fireworks show on the spot.thetasteoftasmania.com.au
All about Festivals
In addition to various natural landscapes, a great number of cultural festivals and sports events also leave splendid marks in Australian’s New Year journey. You can join the grand celebration on Australia’s National Day, and appreciate the masterpieces of pioneer art performers in the Sydney Festival or the Perth International Arts Festival. You may also have your senses aroused in exciting events like the Tour Down Under or the Australian Open Tennis Championship. Afterwards, it’s time to satisfy your stomach with the best of Australian cuisine.
Among all the events, The Sydney Festival gathers many international stars and offers plenty of great drama, music, dance and visual arts to meet every art lover’s deep desires. Every street and lane is turned into an ocean of joy with a variety of parties. Hundreds of artists from Australia and abroad give performances in landmark venues including Sydney Theatre, CarriageWorks and City Recital Hall. Moreover, there is Domain Jazz and Symphony Concert which is free of charge, and exciting evening performances held in the Hyde Park Barracks Festival Bar. During the three weeks’ festival, all the distinctive dramas and dances show you the best of summer in Sydney.
As the first stop of the UCI World Tour, Sydney offers every cycle racing fan the best chance to cheer for their favorite riders in the Tour Down Under, and actually meet them in the Tour Village and Bike Expo. They can also closely study how the professional mechanics work on their bikes. More amazingly, there is the Bupa Challenge Tour open for ordinary people with four different routes. Held on the fourth stop of the Tour Down Under, participants can try any of them just before the international riders arrive.
The Summer Food Festivals of Australia will never disappoint any gourmet. Among them, the Cellar Door Fest is one of the top attractions for wine lovers. In the picturesque setting of Adelaide, the 12 most famous wine regions of South Australia display their best products from over 150 vineyards, including professionally and newly selected wines from Barossa Valley, Coonawarra, McLaren Vale and Limestone Coast. You can also attend wine-tasting classes held by sommelier masters or enjoy the fresh produce in local farmers’ market.
Sydney Festival: Held from Jan 7 – 26, 2017, the Sydney Festival welcomes numerous famous artists both from home and abroad. Over 1,000 artists will present 400 performances in 30 artistic venues, including large-scale outdoor concert and various kinds of exciting performances. sydneyfestival.org.au
Tour Down Under: Held from Jan 14 – 22, 2017, Tour Down Under is the first station of the UCI World Tour. The especially designed Bupa Challenge Tour provides four different routes for ordinary people to join in the thrilling game. tourdownunder.com.au
Cellar Door Fest: The Cellar Door Fest is held from Feb 26 – 28, 2017. In three days, you can visit over 180 wineries, wine makers and food manufacturers and taste their best products. Every day, there are long table lunches, exciting dinner parties and various other activities. cellardoorfestival.com
Surfest 2017: As the biggest surfing festival in Australia, Surfest 2017 will be held from Jan 21 – Feb 26, 2017 at Mereweather Beach in Newcastle, 2 hours’ drive north of Sydney. surfest.com