Popular images of Australia are as varied as they are strange: the shimmering sails of Sydney Opera House; the brooding red hulk of Uluru; the paint-daubed Aboriginal; the cute koala and peculiar platypus; and the vast emptiness of the outback. They’re all here, but the Australian experience is far more subtle and profound than that. The ‘Great Southern Land’ offers beauty and diversity in spades, the world’s oldest living culture and the very last word in weird wildlife. Then, of course, there’s the size of the place. The word ‘big’ doesn’t even begin to cover it. Australia is so outrageously outsized that trying to squeeze it all into one visit is about as feasible as fitting a basketball player with a pair of kids’ shoes. Here in Australia, size matters.
Australia is a land of extremes, of scarcity and excess. Some of the best things about the country, its space, sunshine and wildlife, can also be its worst, but it is exactly this element of the untameable that makes Australia an exciting destination. The place is huge, about the same size as the USA or Europe, yet is one of least densely populated countries in the world. But although there’s plenty of room to spread out, most people live on the edge of the continent by the sea. Not only that, but if you drew a line from Adelaide to Brisbane you would find eighty five percent of Australians living in that southeastern corner. Head inland and nothing comes between you and the horizon but a bright infinite sky because Australia is also the flattest, lowest and driest continent on earth. It is an ancient landscape, eroded down into low-rounded ranges and vast plains, subject to blinding heat and flash floods. In the solitude of the outback or on the never-ending beaches you can always find space and lose time.