Tuesday 6 December 2016

Australia Day: 15 photos that will have you dreaming of a trip Down Under

January 26

Published 26/01/2016 | 08:04

A jumping kangoroo at sunset. Photo: Deposit
A jumping kangoroo at sunset. Photo: Deposit
Uluru, Australia. Photo: Deposit
A Qantas A380 flies over Sydney, Australia. The airline was named the world's safest by AirlineRatings.com
The Great Barrier Reef. Photo: PA Photo/Tourism Australia.
Rainbow Beach Horse Rides allows guests to take their horse for a ride into the ocean in Queensland. See rainbowbeachhorserides.com.au for more.
Gold Coast, Australia: A Surfer in Burleigh head beach with Surfers Paradise skyline in the background. Photo: Deposit
Block Arcade, Melbourne. The city's neighbourhoods are buzzing. Photo: Deposit
The Bay of Fires conservation in Tasmania in Australia. Photo: Deposit
A sign advertising the last pub for 386 kilometers is seen on the outskirts of Windorah, Australia. Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images
Outback road mirror reflection, Central Midlands. Western Australia: Photo by May,ll/ullstein bild via Getty Images
The Ghan traverses Australia north to south over three days. Photo: Australia.com
Beach, Gibson Steps, Victoria. The Great Ocean Road is one of the world's great driving routes. Photo: Tourism Australia
The gate of the Old Melbourne Gaol, Victoria's oldest surviving penal establishment, and the place where Ned Kelly was hanged. Photo: Deposit
Australian wildlife: A 700 kilogram crocodile called Rex is pictured at WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo in 2012. Rex was a so-called 'rogue' crocodile who was captured and placed into a crocodile farm near Darwin in the Northern Territory when his taste for local pet dogs drew him too close to the human population. Photo: WILLIAM WEST/AFP/GettyImages
Perth, Western Australia, reflected in the Swan River. Photo: Deposit

January 26, is Australia Day. Our gallery shows just some of the reasons why you should consider heading Down Under.

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Australia Day (australiaday.org.au) marks the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet of 11 convict ships from Great Britain, and the raising of the Union Jack at Sydney Cove by its commander Captain Arthur Phillip, on January 26, 1788.

The day is widely celebrated with fireworks, barbecues, parties and flag-raising, but is also controversial - with some arguing that it should be moved from a date that also marks the invasion of indigenous communities and their land.

For potential visitors, of course, Australia Day pulls a focus on the amazing variety of landscapes and cultures in this bucket list destination. 

Australia is home to Uluru and the Great Ocean Road. It boasts an epic outback, thunderous surf and the Great Barrier Reef - a 2,300km-long ecosystem that, as Sir David Attenborough recently reminded us, is visible from space.

Australia has four of the 10 most "liveable" cities in the world, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, including Melbourne at No.1.

A Qantas A380 flies over Sydney, Australia. The airline was named the world's safest by AirlineRatings.com
A Qantas A380 flies over Sydney, Australia. The airline was named the world's safest by AirlineRatings.com

Adelaide (5), Sydney (6) and Perth (7) also feature in a list based on factors such as stability, healthcare, infrastructure and culture.

Irish visitors have been travelling Down Under since the earliest days of colonisation - not always making the trip by choice. Famously, the outlaw Ned Kelly's parents were Irish, his father arriving from Fethard, Co. Tipperary, via Van Diemen's land.

More recently, the number of Irish seeking work in Australia soared during the recession, peaking at 18,200 in 2012, according to CSO figures.

Excellent wine, a grá for sports, Melbourne's neighbourhoods and Sydney's sizzling food scene are other draws. As is the sunshine.

And that's not even starting on the kangaroos and koalas.

What's your favourite thing about Australia? Share your tips on Independent Travel's Facebook page here. This article has been updated.

NB: For hotel breaks in Australia, see Independent Hotels.

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