Food and Wine
Australia's gastronomy is shaped by the many people who have settled and immigrated to the country. Fresh seafood, local fruits, world-class cheeses and first-rate beef and lamb are popular mainstays in cooking and dining, while more exotic fare such as kangaroo and emu are also available. From meat pies and tapas to curries and focaccia, Australia's rich cultural diversity is reflected by cuisines that highlight and fuse flavors from around the world. The aromas of Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East can be found in street stalls and five-star restaurants across the country.
Unique to Australia is bush tucker, which includes dishes prepared with native ingredients like paperbark, lemon aspen and bush tomato. Try a cappuccino seasoned with wattle seed or buffalo steaks smoked over banksia cones. Another Australian favorite is Vegemite, a salty spread for bread. Each region of Australia also has its own specialties -- be sure to try King Island cream, Sydney rock oysters, Bowen mangoes, Coffin Bay scallops, Tasmanian salmon and Illabo milk-fed lamb.
Australia is the world's fourth-largest wine exporter. You'll find a tremendous range of wine types here from the hearty Shiraz wines of Barossa Valley to the cool-climate wines of Tasmania. Wine grapes are grown in nearly every state and territory, but the major winegrowing areas are concentrated in the southern half of the continent. Some of the best areas for sampling wines are Barossa Valley, Hunter Valley, Yarra Valley and Margaret River.
The Great Outdoors
Whether it's a game of beach cricket or a desert barbecue, Australians love to take advantage of their country's balmy temperatures and wide expanses of space. The perfect backdrop for romance, relaxation and sports, the outdoors are also the ideal spot for celebrations. On New Year's Eve, you can dance in the sand and watch fireworks on the beaches, while up to 40,000 people head to Bondi Beach in Santa hats and swimwear on Christmas Day.
Australia is also a sports enthusiast's haven. With more than 120 national sporting organizations, in addition to thousands of local, regional and state clubs, it's estimated that 6.5 million people in Australia are registered sport participants. The most-watched sport in Australia is Australian Rules Football, while the National Rugby League is king in New South Wales and Queensland. Major sporting events are held year-round including the Australian Open in January, Formula One Grand Prix in March, and the Melbourne Cup horse race in November. Swimming, surfing, sailing and cricket are also popular.
Hundreds of festivals are held throughout the year in Australia. Enjoy samba and capoeira at Bondi Beach's South American Festival, watch dragon dances on Chinese New Year or head to Sydney Harbor to celebrate Australia Day on January 26. A few popular festivals include Perth International Arts Festival, Melbourne Comedy Festival, Sydney Festival, WOMADelaide in Adelaide, Ten Days on the Island in Tasmania, Orange F.O.O.D. Week in Sydney, and the Margaret River Wine Festival.
Australian cities play host to an array of cultural events and offer art exhibits and music, theatre and dance performances every day of the week. Visit Sydney's urban art galleries, watch a traditional Aboriginal dance performance by Bangarra Dance Theatre, and enjoy ballet, opera and more in Brisbane's huge cultural center on South Bank. Local musicians and dance troupes, as well as handmade arts and crafts, can be found in smaller towns.
Australia's lively culture and inspiring natural surroundings converge to create an intimate and exceptionally romantic experience. From red deserts and white beaches to green valleys and aquamarine waters, this country serves as a vibrant setting for love. Escape to hidden bays and the secluded Outback or make your way hand in hand through quiet parks and lush vineyards.
Australians are warm and welcoming people with a bright sense of humor. English is the official language, but over 226 languages are spoken here, with the most popular after English being Italian, Greek, Cantonese and Arabic. The country also enjoys unique colloquial language called strine, which combines old cockney and Irish sayings with words from Aboriginal languages.