With more than 22,000 miles of glorious coastline and an incredible variety of landscapes ranging from desolate desert wildernesses to stupendous coral reefs, it's no surprise that millions of tourists take holidays in Australia year upon year.
The sixth-largest country in the world, and one of the most affluent, Australia was inhabited by indigenous tribes tens of thousands of years ago, although it was not discovered by Europeans until the early-17th century.
Visit the Sydney Harbour Bridge, an awe-inspiring arch bridge that is more than 1.1km long and was completed in 1932. See the world-famous Sydney Opera House, a prestigious UNESCO World Heritage Site that holds numerous theatre performances, concerts and other major cultural events, and is an exceptional example of 20th-century Expressionist architecture. To soak up the Australian sun, head to Bondi Beach, which is one of the most photogenic urban beaches in the world and very popular with surfers.
Take the family to the magnificent Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium, spend some time admiring the beautifully landscaped Royal Botanic Gardens, or head to Melbourne Zoo and observe well over 300 animal species. Melbourne, which is Australia's second biggest city, is also the home of the National Gallery of Victoria, showcasing many intriguing works of art from Australia and all over the world.
See beloved Perth Zoo, visit the Aquarium of Western Australia, and spend some time in Scitech, a state-of-the-art interactive museum with a spectacular planetarium and a Discoverland for young children. Perth also receives an average of approximately 3,200 hours of sunshine each year, and is the location of the world's largest inner city park, Kings Park, which opened in 1872.
The nation's third biggest city, Brisbane hosted the Commonwealth Games of 1982 and is acclaimed for its Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, which opened in 2006 and exhibits many interesting national and international paintings, sculptures and other artistic artefacts. Other major places of interest in Brisbane include the picturesque City Botanic Gardens, the popular Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, and the scenic South Bank Parklands.
Visible from space, the Great Barrier Reef attracts more than two million visitors annually and is comparable to the size of Italy. The site contains more than 1,500 species of fish, well over a dozen sea snake species, dozens of whale, porpoise and dolphin species, and is (quite rightfully) on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.
Some of Australia's best-rated hotels include the luxurious Park Hyatt Sydney hotel, the value-for-money Meriton Serviced Apartments Campbell Street in Sydney, deluxe The New Inchcolm Hotel & Suites Brisbane - MGallery Collection, and the affordable Albion Manor Apartments & Motel in Brisbane. Other well-regarded hotels include the charismatic, high-end Crown Towers in Melbourne and the budget friendly Cairns Coconut Holiday Resort in Cairns.