I grew up in a tiny, coastal town where I spent weekends on white sandy beaches, trying (and often failing) to surf, lusting over tanned, blonde-haired boys, and eating ice creams faster than the scorching sun had time to melt them.
My summers smelled of sunscreen, mosquito repellent, smoking barbecues and bitumen roads reaching such a temperature they could turn your thongs (flip-flops) to liquid.
Only a ten-minute drive inland, and I found myself on a farm, a flat and fancy-free playground for riding my horse, burning about on a motorbike, or watching the cattle graze lazily on drought struck grass.
All this within a 12km (7.5 mile) radius of my home, and a classic example of how quickly and drastically the Australian landscape can change.
Nowhere else in the world can you drive for hours without seeing another person — crossing every kind of landscape from pristine beaches to lush rainforests to the rugged outback.
trueThe mighty Uluru, Northern Territory, Photo: Tourism Australia, Photography Warren Clarke
I’m proud to say my country is home to magnificent natural treasures like the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, the Blue Mountains, Twelve Apostles, and the beautiful coastline that encircles this island paradise.
Australia is home also to some of the most obscure looking, flamboyantly colored and highly dangerous wildlife — Aussies enjoy both extreme beauty and extreme danger in equal measure.
I’ve traveled to numerous corners of the world, and have experienced tremendous beauty, many incredible cultures, mouth-watering cuisines, and every type of person imaginable.
I’ve loved every second of these adventures, and as a relatively new country (only colonized in 1788), I feel like the Australian identity is still a work in progress — an eclectic composition of worldly splendors underpinned by a culture that is completely and uniquely our own.
Hear our story — from traditional roots to the Australia of today
To properly understand our culture, visitors can participate in activities run by the country’s traditional owners. You can taste bush tucker, hear ancient stories, enjoy wonderful art, dance, and music. Our history has moments of brutality and eventually beauty, and it’s important that visitors understand how we became the country we are today from the people who experienced it first hand.
Our multicultural make-up brings with it a fusion of cuisines, cultures, and languages. You can dine at Hatted restaurants, in a Melbourne alleyway, or eat fish and chips on the beach.
We celebrate our diverse cultures with music, film, food and wine festivals. And of course, we celebrate Australia in its entirely during Australia Day — a day of music, street parties, barbecuing, inflatable pools, zinc cream, and being rowdy in typical Aussie fashion. If you happen to be in Australia for our national day (26 January), be sure to get amongst the spirit of the occasion and embrace your inner Aussie!
Our language has its own spin on English. In addition to our strange accent, we have a tendency to swear, use slang, shorten already short words, and add an ‘o’ to names like Bottle Shop (Bottle-o), Garbage Collector (Garbo), or Singlet (Singo).
I love how relaxed we are here. Everything is “no drama” or “no worries” — even in fast-paced cities like Sydney or Melbourne, an underlying down-to-earth, “she’ll be right, mate” attitude keeps us grounded.
My taste has certainly changed from a coastal town girl dripping ice cream on her togs (swimsuit) to a self-proclaimed hipster sipping on lattes in the city of Melbourne — a thriving hub of art, music, and culture.
Though comparatively small on the world stage, this city is brimming with opportunities. When you feel like a break from the bustling rooftop bars, long and lazy brunches, vibrant street art and diverse live music scene, you’re not far from natural hot springs, vineyards, and the quaint and quirky towns nestled merely an hour inland.
The greatest challenge for any visitor is finding enough time to truly immerse themselves in our natural wonders and way of life. We cover a huge piece of land — roughly the size of the USA.
There are so many magnificent things to see, do and experience in Australia and it offers something for everyone — the city slickers, the beach bums, the scuba divers, the bushwalkers, the art enthusiasts, the coffee addicts, the wine tasters, the country bumpkins — we cater for all!
If it isn’t already clear, I’m immensely proud of my fair country and want everyone to come and enjoy my island paradise for themselves! If you’re thinking about stopping by, I say “Do it!”
This country has my heart, and it’s sure to capture yours.