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Sunday, January 11, 2009


Vast, diverse and enticing, multicultural Australia revels in a Pacific Rim location that drenches it in sunshine and an affable charisma.Sydney boasts the finest natural harbour in the world, comprising sandstone headlands, white sandy beaches and endless surf. Melbourne's Victorian grace and easygoing charm belies a dynamic city that hosts the nation's premier sporting and cultural events. Brisbane, the river city, is gateway to the tropical northeast, Adelaide is an impossibly well laid-out city oozing grandeur, while Perth is young, brash and alluring.Australia may be an island, but it is also the world's largest one, encompassing a range of stunning landscapes, from immense, barren deserts to tropical rainforests and rugged mountains. Isolated from other continents, Australia has an abundance of unique plant and animal life recognisable by cuddly koalas, bounding kangaroos and ungainly emus.One of the country's greatest lures is its sense of space. A beach, patch of tropical forest or piece of sandy desert all to yourself is an easy reality. Watersports are ferociously popular, especially surfing. The hulking form of Uluru (Ayers Rock), an impossibly large rock plonked in the middle of Australia that soaks up the reds and oranges of the outback's fiery sun, is Australia's most iconic image.