It may not be the official capital, but Sydney is the focal point of Australian business and tourism. The iconic Sydney Opera House is one of Australia's best-recognised national symbols. Kangaroos and koalas can be seen at Sydney's prestigious Taronga Zoo, and no visit to Australia would be complete without a trip to the famous Bondi Beach or without riding the famous Manly Ferry. But a trip to Sydney is not just about seeing the obvious sights: it's also about taking in a diverse multicultural society, enjoying fine wine and food and launching into the surrounding Australian countryside.
Melbourne may not get the hordes of tourists that Sydney does, but rest assured that Australia's 2nd largest city packs as powerful a punch. Melburnians are a fashionable, trendy lot, provided you ignore the beer-guzzling sports fans cheering for their favourite AFL team at the MCG, Australia's largest sports stadium. Melbourne is a place where heading down dark alleyways could lead you to some of the city's most unique and interesting bars.
Adelaide, referred to by many Australians as the 'city of churches' is the capital of South Australia and with a little over 1.1 million inhabitants, home to nearly 70% of all people living in the state and Australia's fifth largest city. With a nickname originating from the settlement of the area and the desire to create a dignified city, it is a surprise to many that today pubs and nightclubs outnumber the churches. Adelaide is located on the coast, the southern side of South Australia, and the area surrounding Adelaide is popular for surfing. The city is well laid out, with plenty of parks, gardens, wide boulevards and large public squares to give it a spacious and overall relaxing feel. Adelaide is known for its many festivals, arts and sports. With it's location plump in the center of the wine regions of McLaren Vale, the Barossa Valley and Clare Valley, Adelaide is also an opportune location from which to undertake daytrips to the many vineyards in the surrounding areas.
Brisbane is a clean friendly, sunny and pleasant city in which to spend a few days before heading off to explore Queensland, or in which to recuperate after exploring. Brisbane is a rapidly growing modern metropolis which has given it greater stature in recent years, however it still retains the friendliness and relaxed attitude it has always been known for. Known locally as Brissie or Brisvegas, its the country's third largest city. For a city with less two million inhabitants, it certainly has a lot to offer; world class art galleries, massive music venues and a bustling restaurant scene.
Canberra is the capital city of Australia and is located in the Australian Capital Territory to the southwest of Sydney. Following a long dispute over whether Sydney or Melbourne should be the national capital, a compromise was reached: Canberra. It was constructed in the early 1900's following a design by architect Walter Burley Griffin. The highly organised layout is evidence of the planning that went into this city. As a result of being the nation's capital, Canberra is home to many national monuments and institutions such as the Australian War Memorial, the National Gallery of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery currently housed at Old Parliament House, the National Library of Australia, the National Archives of Australia, and the National Museum of Australia.
Darwin is the capital of the Northern Territory and Australia's smallest state capital, home to just over 100,000 people. It is a good base to explore the surrounding natural attractions including the UNESCO World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park. Its blend of Caucasian, Asian and Aboriginal cultures make it an interesting place to spend some time. The city has been virtually wiped out twice in its short history; once due to air raids during WWII and again when Cyclone Tracy hit in the 1970's. As a result, the city has a distinctly modern (albeit small scale) feel to it.
Hobart, the capital of Tasmania and Australia's smallest state capital is a charming harbour city. It is Australia's second oldest city, founded in 1803 as a penal colony. Hobart lies at the foot of Mount Wellington and on the banks of the Derwent River. The waterfront areas Macquarie Wharf, Constitution Dock, Salamanca Place and Battery Point are just gorgeous with their Georgian buildings and the looming presence of Mount Wellington in the background. The locals are very relaxed, super friendly and have none of the snobbery of Sydney and Melbourne inhabitants.
Perth is the capital of the Australian state of Western Australia. A population of 1.5 million makes Perth the largest city in Western Australia and home to three-quarters of the state's residents. The city is also the fourth most populous urban area in Australia, and with a growth rate of 2% is currently the fastest growing major city in Australia. It's also generally considered as the biggest city in the world which is furthest away from any other big city. The nearest in fact would be Adelaide.
Cairns is located in the northeast of Australia, along the northern coastline of Queensland. Although the city itself might not have that much to offer, it's surroundings are stunning. It's the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the Tropical Rainforests of the north, including beautiful Cape Tribulation. Also, Port Douglas and Kuranda are just a short drive away.
Reprinted with permission under Creative Commons Licence Travellers Guide