Australia Day: 15 photos that will have you dreaming of a trip Down Under
January 26, is Australia Day. Our gallery shows just some of the reasons why you should consider heading Down Under.
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.
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.
The number of Irish seeking work in Australia soared during the recession, peaking at 25,827 in 2011/12, but fell to 6,743 in 2015/16.
Australia has ramped up its call for Irish travellers to apply for its Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa programme, reducing taxes from 32.5pc to 19pc on earnings up to $37,000 (€25,200) from January 1, 2017.
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.
This article has been updated.