Chapter 25 Australia and New Zealand where things are jumping.
But nothing could prepare them for the animals they found in this "land down under": kangaroos who can leap a span of 25 feet; the koala, a bear-like little creature who lives in (and on) eucalyptus trees; and the platypus, a mammal with webbed feet and a duck-like bill who lays eggs. Indeed, the platypus is so weird that European zoologists at first thought it to be a patched-together hoax sprung on them by prankish sailors.
Visitors of today still find the fauna and flora of these two countries astonishing. That and the friendly reputation of their people are a powerful magnet for tourism. Indeed, Australia and New Zealand were two of the genuine travel industry success stories of the 1980s and still continue to draw more and more tourists.
When you sell this area, remember that it's much more vast than people may imagine. The continent of Australia is about the size of the contiguous United States. (But its population is only 19 million.) To its west is the Indian Ocean; to the east are the Coral and Tasman Seas, which in turn open onto the Pacific Ocean.
The principal cities on Australia's charming but less visited western shore are Perth and nearby Fremantle. The nearer east coast is a more popular destination. Here are, from the northern state of Queensland to the southern state of New South Wales: the Great Barrier Reef, a 1,200-mile stretch of coral that's generally accessed from the city of Cairns (which Australians pronounce CANS); the Sunshine Coast, a beach resort area north of the key city of Brisbane; the Gold Coast, an even bigger, Miami-like beach area that starts about 50 miles south of Brisbane; Sydney, Australia's largest and liveliest city; and inland Canberra, Australia's capital. Along the southeastern coast are three popular destinations: Melbourne, Adelaide, and the island-state of Tasmania.
And what's in the middle? Several million square miles of bleak, desolate brush and desert, called the Bush and the Outback. Still, there are two Outback attractions people may ask about: Alice Springs, a frontier town that's a showcase for the culture and art of Australia's original dwellers, the aborigines [ab-uh-RIDGE-uh-neez]; and Uluru (better known as Ayers [AIRZ] Rock), a massive red stone that's best seen in the crimson light of sunset. Even more remote (and less visited) is Darwin, a port on Australia's wet, tropical north coast.
FYI FOR YOUR INFORMATION AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND CAPITALS: Australia: Canberra New Zealand: Wellington AREA (SQUARE MILES): Australia: 2,968,000 New Zealand: 103,736 TIME ZONES: Australia: GMT 18 to 110 New Zealand: GMT 112 DRIVE ON: Left POPULATION: Australia: 19,400,000 New Zealand: 3,900,000 RELIGIONS: Protestant, Catholic LANGUAGES: English CURRENCY: Australia: 1 Australian dollar 5 100 cents New Zealand: 1 New Zealand dollar 5 100 cents ELECTRICITY: 240 volts, 50 cycles AC CAPSULE HISTORY: Australia: Aborigine ancestors arrive, 30,000 B.C.; Dutch land here, 1606; British James Cook explores, leading to a British claim of possession, 1770; island remained a British penal colony until 1850s; gold discovered, 1851; Commonwealth declared, 1901; Australia Act severs many ties with Britain, 1986; Olympics held in Sydney, 2000. New Zealand: Maoris, a Polynesian group, arrived and settled, 1300s; discovered by Dutch, 1642; Britain annexes from Maoris, 1840; Maori wars, 1845-1870; gold rush, 1861; declared "nuclear-free" zone, 1984. For reference sources, tourist bureaus, and suggested lengths of stay, see the Appendices. A surprising 40 percent of Australia lies within the tropics.
New Zealand, about 1,200 miles to Australia's southeast, may be a more difficult sell, since it doesn't elicit the strong mental pictures that Australia does. Yet it's very logical to visit it along with Australia. Its North Island has rolling green hills and considerable geothermal activity. Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, is here; as is Rotorua, a center of Maori culture and powerful, steaming geysers. Wellington, at the southernmost tip of North Island, is New Zealand's hilly and increasingly cosmopolitan capital. The South Island is dramatically mountainous and colder, with many fjord-like inlets. Its chief cities are Christchurch and Queenstown.
How Travelers Get There
Virtually everyone from America who visits the "land down under" arrives via jet. It's a long haul, though; from the West Coast it's more than 7,000 miles. And for travelers flying from any point farther east, it'll be even longer. Most flights stop in Hawaii, Fiji, or Tahiti to refuel. In fact, it's often possible to break up the long trip by stopping over for a pleasant day or two at one of several South Pacific island destinations.
Most Australia-bound travelers arrive through one of three gateway cities: Brisbane (BNE), Sydney (SYD), or Melbourne (MEL). Those heading to New Zealand usually land at Auckland (AKL) or Christchurch (CHC). And don't forget that they'll be crossing the international date line (and therefore changing days) while airborne.
Several U.S. airlines fly to the region. A traveler can also be booked on the countries' principal carriers: Australia's Qantas (QF) and Air New Zealand (NZ). Cruise ships sailing from North America on repositioning cruises often cross the Pacific and terminate in New Zealand or Australia, where they'll begin to operate their "down under" summer itineraries.
Remember that the seasons in these Southern Hemisphere destinations are the opposite of those in North America: the coldest weather is in June, July, and August, while summer heat arrives in January and February (see Figures 25-1 and 25-2). New Zealand's North Island has cool and occasionally rainy winters (June to August), but warm and sometimes humid summers (January and February). The South Island is somewhat colder all year, especially in the mountains.
Tasmanian devils do indeed come from Tasmania, but they hardly look like or behave like the cartoon character.
Australia has a warmer and generally drier climate than that of New Zealand. Cities such as Melbourne and Sydney have wonderful warm summers and mild, chilly-water winters --with relatively modest amounts of rain year-round. (Melbourne is a bit drier than Sydney.) Brisbane and Perth are even warmer, with more rain. Cairns and especially Darwin have a tropical climate (somewhat like Florida's or Mexico's coastal regions) with hot and rainy summers (January to March) and warm, dry winters. The climate of Australia's vast interior is Sahara-like.
High tourist season is December, January, and February, when the locals take their summer holidays and snow birds from North America are hoping to get away from the cold. Bargain rates are most likely in June, July, and August, except in mountain resorts and Queensland, which (because of their weather) become winter getaways for Australians and New Zealanders.
The Great Barrier Reef may be the largest living organism on earth.
[FIGURE 25-1 OMITTED]
[FIGURE 25-2 OMITTED]
The genuinely bizarre creatures down under make a zoo or animal park visit an essential activity.
Being so vast, Australia almost always requires air travel to get from one region to another. (It takes about four to five hours, for instance, to fly from Sydney to Perth.) Qantas and many regional airlines provide internal transportation. Ground transportation is also excellent, with a well-developed system of motorcoach and rail routes. Car rentals are an option, though driving is on the left (as is the case in most former British colonies). Several cruise lines service Australia, with stops at major port cities, or on trips up the Hawkesbury River. Many tour operators offer excellent packages that can be booked ahead of time.
New Zealand's internal transportation options are much the same as Australia's. Since the country is relatively compact, however, visitors are more likely to drive around, take buses, or ride the train from one city to the next, especially on the North Island. (The South Island perhaps warrants flights between its more far-flung points of interest.) Cruises also call at the major New Zealand ports, often continuing on to (or coming from) Australia.
Australia is the world's smallest continent.
One final note: Each country boasts a rather famous train ride. In Australia, it's the Indian Pacific route, from Sydney to Perth. And in New Zealand, it's the Silver Fern, between Wellington and Auckland.
Unlike some countries, Australia and New Zealand have clear-cut centers of tourism. Here are the most important:
With nearly a fifth of Australia's population, Sydney is one of the world's most energetic, stylish, and progressive cities. Though enormous in area, Sydney has most of its tourist sites in a concentrated section near its fine harbor. Among the city's attractions are:
* The Sydney Opera House, an astonishing building with a design so unorthodox and original that it took years before anyone could figure out how to build it properly.
* The Rocks, the old, restored section of Sydney.
* Kings Cross, a nightclub, pub, and restaurant area that's Sydney's liveliest and rowdiest.
* Harbor cruises that afford a superb view of Sydney's lively waterfront area, hill-clinging skyline, and the landmark Harbour Bridge.
* The Queen Victoria Building, now converted into an attractive shopping center.
Because of its shape, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is called the "Coat Hanger." For a hefty fee, visitors can walk to the top of its high, arched superstructure.
* Several nearby beaches, including Bondi [BON-dye] and Port Jackson. Short trips out of Sydney take visitors to Botany Bay (where Captain Cook's Endeavour anchored) and to several wild-animal parks (with up-close views of koalas and kangaroos). Similar parks exist throughout Australia. Three longer day trips can be recommended:
* The Blue Mountains, a scenic area that centers around the town of Katoomba, with its waterfall, railway (which travels steeply down into a valley), and skyway (a cable car that traverses between two cliffs).
The Blue Mountains got their name because their eucalyptus trees make them look blue.
* Canberra, Australia's sedate and isolated capital, which boasts some rather interesting modern architecture and a fountain jet not unlike Lake Geneva's.
* Hawkesbury River cruises, available out of Windsor (a city north of Sydney). Ships take passengers along the river's rugged gorges and into a national park. One- or two-day cruises are available.
Melbourne is home to more Greeks than any other city in the world outside Athens.
Australia's second largest city--a melting pot of diverse ethnic groups--is as cosmopolitan as any of the nation's urban centers. It's well known for its quiet gardens, elegant stores, ever-present streetcars, sporting opportunities, and nearby ski resorts. Most hotels, restaurants, theaters, stores, and government buildings are within the city's "Golden Mile" district.
Tasmania was a British penal colony whose nickname was "Devil's Island."
Just south off the coast from Melbourne is Phillip Island, one of Australia's most famous attractions. It's home to the "fairy" penguins--who, each day at dusk, march dutifully from the beach to their burrows. The area is well lit to ensure that tourists will see these creatures' waddling parade. (At certain times, though, the number of penguins dwindles, making for some disappointment.) Farther offshore is the island-state of Tasmania, with its slow pace, mild climate, and deep-green countryside. Queensland
Queensland is to Australia what California and Florida are to the United States: a region of palmy splendor, striking seascapes, and booming growth. Queensland is vast: It's much larger than any U.S. state. The state's principal points of tourism are, from north to south:
* The Great Barrier Reef. This 1,250-mile-long strip is made up of hundreds of offshore coral islands. Resort hotels anchor many of the larger islands; and the diving, snorkeling, and marlin fishing here provide astonishing experiences. Cairns, at the Reef's northern end, is its principal gateway.
* The Sunshine Coast. This nearly 40-mile-long stretch of beaches, lakes, and mountains has a reputation for being less commercialized than its southerly competition. For vacationers who want relaxation or plenty of sporting opportunities, the Sunshine Coast is ideal.
Off the coast of southern Queensland is the world's largest sand island: Fraser Island.
* Brisbane. Queensland's capital is a lush tropical paradise, with superb landscaping and several animal sanctuaries just outside the city.
* The Gold Coast. About an hour south of Brisbane, this beach resort area is Australia's most developed and crowded. It's somewhat reminiscent of Miami Beach, with many large hotels and resorts, as well as several family theme parks. (One well-known section is Surfers Paradise.) This is for the vacationer who wants seaside hustle and bustle, not a get-away-from-it-all vacation.
The vast, arid, near-empty center of Australia has an otherworldly quality that many visitors find absolutely intriguing. The art and culture of the aborigines, too, layer the region with even more mystery. Though vastly separate, two Outback attractions (usually reached by plane) probably merit attention:
* Alice Springs, a frontier town with many art galleries and surrounded by an almost surrealist landscape of red hills and hard, flat desert.
* Uluru (Ayers Rock), a massive stone outcropping that's best seen at sunset, when its reddish hue is most striking. It's a thousand feet high and six miles around, and is a holy site for aboriginal people. Nearby is the tourist oasis of Yulara, with its unorthodox, tent-like structures.
This, Australia's largest west coast city, is a sunny amalgam of parks, hills, and friendliness. Fremantle, a nearby town, is famous for its yachting, restored buildings, and many art galleries. Few American tourists visit the Perth area, however, since it's a nearly 10-hour round-trip, from Australia's east coast. Still, Perth appeals to just about everyone who decides to see all of Australia.
New Zealand's North Island
New Zealand-bound tourists usually wish to see two cities: Auckland (New Zealand's largest city) and Wellington (its capital). Both cities, though lovely, are relatively small and quiet--the kinds of places with many little points of interest (best seen via a city tour).
Auckland's most notable sights are two waterfront theme attractions: Kelly Tarlton's Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World. Among the major attractions between these two cities are:
* The Waitomo [why-TOE-mo] Caves, where thousands of glowworms turn the ceiling of a deep grotto into a night-sky-like fantasy.
Several kiwi fruit farms in New Zealand are open to visitors and provide a fascinating glimpse of how these delicate fruits are grown.
* Rotorua, a small city whose numerous features make it a must-see. First, Rotorua is an important center of Maori native culture; its Maori Arts and Crafts Institute shows contemporary artists continuing the traditions of the country's first inhabitants. Second, Rotorua is the site of tremendous geothermal activity. Its thermal area boasts geysers, steam vents, and bubbling mud pots.
Rotorua usually smells like sulfur.
* The Agrodome, not far from Rotorua, an offbeat attraction where New Zealand's important sheep-raising industry is explained. It may sound boring, but it's not--visitors love it when 17 different kinds of "trained" sheep trot out to their appointed platforms on stage.
New Zealand's South Island
Colder, larger, and more mountainous than its northern neighbor, the South Island claims several world-class attractions. Christchurch (with its graceful peaks) and Queenstown (a scenic mountain resort town that boasts a very active nightlife) are both essential stops on a South Island itinerary. So, too, are the following:
* Mt. Cook, with its awe-inspiring glaciers, most frequently visited via ski planes.
* Milford Sound, a dramatic, carved sea inlet that's part of New Zealand's picturesque Fjordland National Park.
Other possibilities: a visit to the Te Anau [TAY AH-now] glowworm caves, a cruise on Lake Wakatipu (near Queenstown), or whitewater rafting on any of several South Island rivers.
Because Australia and New Zealand are so distant from the United States, vacationers, once they set out for this region, almost always wish to see as much as possible. Typical is a minimum 10- to 12-day itinerary that includes New Zealand's North or South Island and Australia's east coast, especially the areas around Sydney and Melbourne. Those with the time for a more extended vacation or on a second, in-depth trip will certainly want to see both of New Zealand's major islands and either Australia's west coast (with a stop at Alice Springs and Uluru) or the Queensland region. Finally, those seeking a tropical stay or wishing to drive often limit their stay to Australia's east coast, with perhaps a day or two in Sydney and the rest of the time along the Great Barrier Reef and the beach areas north or south of Brisbane.
North American chains have a strong presence here, as do such local companies as Australia's Southern Pacific, Rydges, and Flag. Both Australia and New Zealand have some deluxe properties (especially in Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef), but most of the accommodations in these countries tend to cluster at a mid-range, first-class level. Motels are popular; it's traditional here for motel rooms to have full kitchenettes, so this type of accommodation may appeal to families and the budget-minded. Home and farm stays can also be easily arranged--they're a wonderful option, since Australians and New Zealanders are among the world's friendliest people. Lists of farm and home-style accommodations are available from each country's tourist bureau.
Among the finest hotels: the Regent Sydney (which offers fine views of the harbor and Sydney Opera House), the Windsor (a historic landmark in Melbourne), and the Hayman Island Resort (on the Great Barrier Reef).
Visiting any of the many Pacific islands that lie between North America and Australia or New Zealand is a wise and popular sales strategy. But other options exist. Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and several other less visited countries lie just to the north of Australia. Even Japan, China, the Philippines, and the nations of Southeast Asia are potential add-on destinations, since visitors are already flying across the Pacific and may feel that they might as well visit other transoceanic places if they have the time. Perhaps the most exotic option of them all: Antarctica. Several companies operate summer cruises from New Zealand to this bottom-of-the-world continent of ice.
Most Americans feel comparatively at home here. Yet Australia and New Zealand have their own customs:
* These are two friendly, very open nations, and visitors should feel comfortable about using first names in greetings. However, a woman should still be allowed to offer her first name to a man before he assumes such an informality.
Australians call people with red hair "bluies."
* Though these countries are easygoing in their ways, customs are more formal than a visitor might expect. Punctuality, for example, is important in both countries. And New Zealanders tend to be more formal than Australians; for instance, they're likely to be restrained with strangers at first meeting.
* A gesture similar to the "thumbs up" sign is considered an obscenity here.
* People visiting a home in New Zealand should be careful about praising any object too highly. They may find it presented to them as a gift.
* Tipping in restaurants isn't common. As a visitor, you may wish to tip, but it's rarely expected.
Vegamite is a weird yeast spread that Australians slather on their bread. (Frankly, it tastes awful.)
* The food here was once considered bland. No longer. Foreign specialties have melded with post-British cuisine to create some wonderful culinary treats. Two major specialties: oysters and lamb-based dishes.
* Nightlife in New Zealand often features Maori-Polynesian entertainment. Australian nightlife ranges from informal pubs to several nightspots that pay homage to Australia's colorful frontier history, as well as to aboriginal music. It's all very touristy, but then again, the locals somehow give it an unjaded, gee-whiz treatment. (Visitors will probably tire of sheep-shearing demonstrations, though, which are done in so many tourist places that they'll half-expect the flight attendants to do it on the plane home.)
Factors That Motivate Visitors
Awareness of what Australia and New Zealand offer is growing daily. Among the features you should emphasize:
* Increasingly, New Zealand and Australia are being viewed as adventure destinations, both for soft adventure activities and "extreme" ones.
* Though distant and offbeat, Australia and New Zealand are culturally very accessible.
* The plants and animals are unlike those anywhere else in the world.
* The people are extremely friendly to tourists, have a wonderfully informal attitude, and speak English.
* Food and lodging are bargains, especially for those staying in motor inns.
* The Queensland beaches are superb and especially uncrowded north of Brisbane, and the diving along the Great Barrier Reef is legendary.
The Great Barrier Reef is so big it's visible from the moon.
* New Zealand and Australia rarely feel hectic or crowded, except perhaps in Sydney and along the Gold Coast.
* The Aborigine and Maori cultures are intriguing. (However, they can be experienced only in certain areas, such as Alice Springs and Rotorua, respectively.)
* These countries bask in their most pleasant summer weather when many Americans are shivering from winter's cold and are ready to get away for a warm-weather vacation.
* There's skiing in southeast Australia and in southern New Zealand, where many slopes are accessed only via helicopter.
* Both countries are extremely stable politically and have a relatively low crime rate.
Australia and New Zealand aren't for everyone. Here are some of the objections that may come up:
* "It's too far." These countries are indeed a long flight from anywhere in the United States. You could break up the trip, however, by adding a stop in each direction (generally with little or no additional airfare) at a Pacific island resort. Travelers from the East Coast could pause a day or two in Los Angeles or San Francisco.
Woolens are a relative bargain, but so are opals, which are mostly gathered and polished in Australia.
* "It's too expensive." Airfares can be hefty, but bargain rates appear in the off season. Once there, tourists can drive around, staying at motels or farmhouses.
* "We can't be away from work that long." If visitors limit themselves to one area of Australia or New Zealand, a round-trip can be done in nine days.
* "There's not all that much to see and do." You must explain the many wonders of this part of the world to offset such preconceptions. You'll hear this objection, especially, about New Zealand, a nation that elicits a much hazier picture in people's minds than Australia.
* "We'd like to bring our children, but they'll have nothing to do." Again, most people don't know about Australia's beaches, New Zealand's family outdoor adventures, and so on. Furthermore, children love animals, and both countries have plenty of weird ones. The one legitimate objection for families: the cost of airfare.
Expand a trip by suggesting that as long as they'll be going to Australia, why not add New Zealand, Fiji, Tahiti, or Hawaii? It will require just a short lengthening of their trip. Suggest a larger rental car, especially if the person expects to drive across Australia's vast stretches. Ski, cruise, and dive packages can all be sold in advance, as can city tours (especially appropriate in Sydney, Melbourne, and Auckland).
TRAVEL TRIVIA Most Bizarre Questions Travel Agents Have Heard: * "When you travel to Australia do you have to fly backwards or upside down?" * "Can I take a Greyhound bus to Europe?" * "Do I need a visa for China? I prefer using MasterCard." * "What time does the sun pass over the pool at the Flamingo Hilton in Las Vegas?" * "Will there be any icebergs en route in the Caribbean?" * "Could you book a room with an ocean view for me in Palm Springs?" * "Can I take a seven-day Mediterranean cruise out of San Juan, Puerto Rico?" * When an elderly lady was told she had to fly through Phoenix, she exclaimed, "Venus? I don't want to go to Venus!"
NAME -- DATE --
MAP ACTIVITY [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] A traveler wants to visit the places listed below. Which number represents each on the map? Place/Attraction In/Near Which City? Number on Map A. Australia's gateway to Queensland's beach resorts A. -- A. -- B. A remarkable opera house B. -- B. -- C. Fremantle's sister city C. -- C. -- D. Geysers and steam vents D. -- D. -- E. A famous rock E. -- E. -- F. "Fairy" penguins can be seen south of this city. F. -- F. -- G. The Great Barrier Reef's air access city G. -- G. -- H. The South Island's principal city H. -- H. -- I.The Blue Mountain's principal city I. -- I. -- J. Australia's capital J. -- J. --
NAME --- DATE --
CASE STUDY Geri Harding wants her two children to see the country where they were born, Australia. (The children were very young when the family moved from Sydney to San Diego.) This will be a costly trip, so Geri would like to find some bargains. Geri can take as long as two weeks from her job as a high school teacher. She wishes to go to Sydney and then travel around a bit by car. Circle the answer that best suits their needs: (1) When would you suggest that they go? July Christmas November April Why? * Which of the following should you tell Geri about? The attractions in Sydney The motor vehicles she can book The weather at the time she's going The great driving distances between cities Why? (3) Which add-on foreign destination might be the most appealing to them? Fiji Singapore Perth Tokyo Why? (4) What might be the most appealing enhancement opportunity? Business-class flights Sheep-shearing lessons A dive package A larger-size car rental Why?
NAME -- DATE --
CREATIVE ACTIVITY You're reading a magazine and see that Qantas is running a "Down Under Mystery Tour" contest. You're supposed to read the "Mystery Tour" description, guess each city or region the tour will visit, fill out the contest blank, then wait to see if yours will be chosen from among the correct entries to receive an all-expenses-paid trip. Here's the description: On the first few days you'll let off a little steam, have the wool pulled over your eyes, and see "stars" at noon. Two days later you'll pretend you're in Norway. Then it's across the water to someplace that everybody says is filled with cans. Next stop: a big reddish thing in the middle of nowhere. The next place is even stranger: it's for the birds, tuxedoed ones at that. We finish off with a drink on the Rocks. Places the Tour Will Visit: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
Marc Mancini, PhD
Department of Travel
West Los Angeles College
Figure 25-3 Qualifying the Traveler Australia and New Zealand APPEAL FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT HIGH MEDIUM LOW Historical and * Cultural Attractions Beaches and Water Sports * Skiing Opportunities * Lots of Nightlife * Family Activities * Familiar Cultural * Experience Exotic Cultural * Experience Safety and Low Crime * Bargain Travel * * Impressive Scenery Peace and Quiet * Shopping Opportunities * To Do Business * FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT REMARKS Historical and Some cities; Maori culture Cultural Attractions Beaches and Water Sports In Queensland Skiing Opportunities In southern mountains Lots of Nightlife Sydney and Queenstown Family Activities Children will find animals interesting; motor hotels plentiful Familiar Cultural Experience Exotic Cultural Animals; Maori culture Experience Safety and Low Crime Bargain Travel Flight expensive but other costs reasonable Impressive Scenery Bush and outback impressively bleak; mountains and seascapes Peace and Quiet In countryside Shopping Opportunities Opals, woolens, leather To Do Business A common language facilitates business
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|Title Annotation:||PART VI ASIA AND THE PACIFIC Rim of Mystery|
|Publication:||Selling Destinations, Geography for the Travel Professional, 4th ed.|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2004|
|Previous Article:||Part VI Asia and the Pacific rim of mystery.|
|Next Article:||Chapter 26 The Pacific fantasy islands.|