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Australia: Far Away and Right at Home

What are some of the best places for first-time international travelers to get a taste of Australia?

Guarderas: Almost all first-time travelers are going to visit Sydney. Cairns is very popular with the Great Barrier Reef and the rainforest. There are also a lot of wine regions. We’ve done tours with wine lovers out of Sydney or Adelaide. We also have really popular agricultural tours in New Zealand, and some of those go into Australia as well.

Brossaurd: Sydney, of course, is the best. But if you want to go out onto the Great Barrier Reef and do something accessible on a seven-day trip, there are nonstop flights from Sydney out to Hamilton Island. It’s a lot easier than trying to go way up north to tropical Queensland. So you can do a seven-night itinerary, see Sydney and the Opera House, go out to Hamilton Island, hold a koala and get the full experience.

Tandy: For first-time travelers, the east coast is a definite attraction. It’s a little closer for American travelers and combines the iconic beaches with stunning tropical islands and a real sense of outback adventure. Our 12-day East Coast Adventure, from Sydney to Cairns, is really popular for Americans.

New for 2016, our four-wheel-drive adventure form Cairns to the tip of Cape York will be the only tour to visit the Steve Irwin Wilderness Reserve, where world-leading research is taking place into the study of Australia’s Salt Water Crocodiles and other endangered species.

What is a great Australian destination for more experienced international travelers?

Guarderas: Darwin is way up in the north and is really small and hard to get there. But when travelers visit there they love it. There are national parks like crazy up there that are just beautiful, and they focus on the Aboriginal culture.

The other one is Perth, a cosmopolitan city on the west coast. It has lots of kitschy little restaurants and cafes. That coast is really popular for swimming with huge, gentle whale sharks. It’s not the easiest place to get to, so usually first-timers don’t go there. But second- and third-timers love it.

Brossaurd: Tasmania is one of the best-kept secrets of Australia. The landscape and terrain remind me a lot of the Pacific Northwest in the United States. There’s a lot of hiking, biking and wineries.

There’s also Kangaroo Island, which is very adventurous. There are lots of animals in the wild, as well as lots of hiking and great beaches. You can combine that with south Australia and visit some of the high-end wineries.

Tandy: Without a doubt, the Kimberley region leads the way. The Bungle Bungle Range, the ancient indigenous rock art, abundant and fascinating wildlife, stunning vistas and the lush waterfalls make for an unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experience.

What is an unforgettable experience that travelers should seek out when touring Australia?

Guarderas: You have to go to the Great Barrier Reef and experience Reef Magic or Quicksilver. They have this experience where you go out on a boat to a platform in the middle of the reef, where you can snorkel or dive. They have helicopter rides, food service and a bar. They have a fish there named Wally, who is bigger than a man. He won’t leave you alone until you rub his tummy.

Brossaurd: Kangaroo Island has a very special place in my heart, but if you’re not nature-focused, it probably isn’t the best fit. So go to the Great Barrier Reef. You can fly over Heart Reef in a seaplane, which is an amazing experience. The reef is vast and is one of the most fabulous wonders of the world.

Tandy: It’s the interesting characters you meet in the outback that really make this place special. When in the outback, seek out Aboriginal communities or stop for chats with locals to learn about the sense of adventure needed to live in the remote parts of this country, which is nearly as big as the U.S. but has just over 23 million people. That space and relative small population help preserve the Aussie culture as unique.