Plug in your headphones or earbuds and hold on tight. I’m taking you to Australia. Or Tourism Australia is. They supply the videos, but as an Aussie, I’ll be your guide.
The videos are visual and audio feasts. Minute journeys themed by color -- to evoke the feelings and emotions of what it's like to travel Down Under.
The 8D audio technology makes you feel you are there. It’s the first time a tourism body has utilized this technology for a video series. Your brain will convince you that you’re in Australia.
Ready? Headset on? Let’s go.
1. Blue Joy
Diving in. Esperance, West Australia. The turquoise waters are clear. See pods of dolphins ride waves toward shore. Not keen on surfing out? Australia has shallows where wild dolphins swim to you. If you want to experience this yourself, check out Monkey Mia and Tangalooma.
No need to skydive for this view of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). The world’s largest reef is visible from space, so it’s easily seen on domestic flights. I remember my first sighting. The reef looked like a necklace of precious aquamarine opals displayed in the rippling folds of a jewel-box sea.
The GBR’s coral is bleaching. Visit this World Heritage site while you can. You can boat to a pontoon -- a floating playground to dive, snorkel, take glass-bottom boats, semi-submersible submarines, and helicopter flights -- for a fun day. Sleep underwater at Reefsuites. Turtles and stingrays glide past your bed. The GBR has many island resorts, too. Consider your options here.
Baird Bay is a fishing village on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. Sea lions view humans as playmates. Duck, dive, twirl -- they mimic you. They’ll always beat you at forward rolls. Accommodation here includes luxury beach villas and campgrounds. Enjoy ocean to plate dining while you’re in the area.
Queensland’s Hervey Bay is one of the world’s best places to see humpback whales. They holiday here in the protected waters. Like tourists, they rest, relax, and play. The whales also ready their calves for the massive swim to Antarctica. This is the world's first Whale Heritage Site, and while you’re here, you can enjoy environmentally conscious but close-encounter whale tours mid-July through October.
2. White Peace
The woman steps into nothingness at Lake Eyre, the world’s largest salt lake. It only fills three times a century. Often it’s white salt pans. Donald Campbell set a land speed world record of 649 kilometers (over 400 miles) an hour in his turbine car "Bluebird" here in 1964. It’s sublime to stand in the middle. Lake Eyre is reached by driving South Australia’s Oodnadatta Track. Or view the vastness from a scenic flight.
The blue soldier crabs are on Fraser Island, which is World Heritage-listed and the largest sand island in the world. It’s also home to Australia's purest colony of wild dingoes. Hike, 4WD the 75 Mile Beach, swim in the Champagne Pools where waves froth over volcanic rocks, tube down Eli Creek propelled by millions of gallons of rainwater, or dip in a lake as blue as a swimming pool. Consider checking into a resort or camping. To avoid costly day tours, bring your own transport on the ferry.
We have snow. Our ski resorts include Thredbo in New South Wales and Falls Creek and Mount Hotham in Victoria. The wombat in the video was filmed at Kosciuszko National Park, home to Perisher Blue Ski Resort. He survives winter by digging under the snow for grass and roots.
Sydney’s Opera House is UNESCO World Heritage-listed alongside the Taj Mahal and the Egyptian pyramids. Home to some of Australia's best performances, the white sail roof comprises millions of white tiles. Technology has turned the sails into one of the world's largest projection screens. Images galvanize the nation -- of firefighters during the bushfires and, recently, anniversary footage of Indigenous runner Cathy Freeman winning gold in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
3. Black Inspiration
Great balls of fire! Towers shoot the world’s largest fireballs outside Crown Casino in Melbourne, part of an entertainment precinct with Prada and Louis Vuitton shops, flash restaurants, and a Parisian-style promenade leading to Melbourne’s Arts Precinct. Watch the passing fashion parade. Melbourne is Australia's fashion capital.
“Fairy penguins” and the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island are a 2-hour drive from Melbourne. They cluster on waves at dusk, seeking safety in numbers before commencing the cutest waddle up the sands to their burrows to feed their chicks. Tourists line their pathway. Though not currently open to the public during COVID-19, you can also view the penguins at St Kilda Beach, a short tram ride from central Melbourne without fanfare, or expense.
Those unforgettable waterfalls are in Kakadu National Park. Visit during the wet season (November to April) to see them this powerful. Best viewed by helicopter. Kakadu is Australia’s largest national park. Enjoy dramatic settings, camping, hiking, croc spotting, and wilderness. The nearest city is Darwin.
Trail your fingers through a water wall at the NGV International. Designed by Sir Roy Grounds and opened in 1968, this modernist art gallery is timeless. View the largest stained glass ceiling in the world and be dazzled by colors. Visit a remarkable sculpture garden. The woman walking between black walls is inside the sculpture In Absence. Despite the dramatic presence, it is the absence she feels. Engage with commentary on Indigenous issues.
Aurora australis (like the northern lights) can be seen in Tasmania in winter (May to August). “Tassie” is our smallest state and so verdant it’s dubbed Little England. Its colonial buildings, convict history, gourmet food trails, superb hiking, and circular geography make it perfect for RV or road trip itineraries. Aurora australis was filmed over Cradle Mountain -- home of the Overland Track -- a six-day trek through a World Heritage Wilderness Area. Shorter walks and luxury accommodation are available on the island.
4. Red Escape
The Outback comprises sparsely populated regions away from major towns. Given most of Australia's 25 million residents live in coastal cities -- Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth -- there’s plenty of room out back. In fact, it covers 70 percent of Australia.
As the driest inhabited continent in the world, much of Australia is desert. The Outback is home to stunning rock formations, large cattle stations, mines, heat, dust, and epic road trips. The sounds of didgeridoos and clapping sticks intensify in this video as this is the best place to experience Aboriginal culture, Earth’s oldest civilization.
Australia’s Red Centre is red from high levels of iron-oxidation (rust!) -- scenery forged over 500 million years (opens as PDF). Ayers Rock, now called Uluru, is spectacular at sunset and symbolically feels like Australia’s beating heart.
Corroborees, symbolic Aboriginal night celebrations, occur in cities but there’s magic in seeing bare feet stamping this ancient red earth into clouds of dust. The Uluru-Kata Tjuta hand back (1985) was a landmark in Land Rights history, and why Ayers Rock reverted to its traditional name.
Another red video snippet shows the Outback’s evening light and the timelessness of the moment when the dying light on this ancient landscape glows red.
The footage of a boat speeding through gaps showcases the Kimberley region’s Horizontal Falls. Massive tides trap water which then gushes from one bay to another. Craving remoteness? The Kimberley is the size of California with under 40,000 residents.
5. Magenta Freedom
Novelist Stephen King once said, “I'm having a magenta day. Not just red, but magenta!” -- perhaps remembering his freedom ride across the Nullarbor, one of the longest straight roads in the world, on a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Hutt Lagoon is magenta and also called the Pink Lake. Its colors range from ballet slipper blush to scarlet. The lagoon is ocated along the Indian Ocean Drive from Perth. Or take a scenic flight where the straight line of the road, the patches of dark blue Indian Ocean, and the magenta lake look like an abstract painting. Flights leave from Geraldton and Kalbarri. Australia has many pink lakes. With so much red earth, I guess pink lakes come out in the wash.
The Great Ocean Road is one of the world’s best drives. Starting in Torquay about 90 minutes from Melbourne, it ribbons a dramatic coastline for 150 miles. Nothing prepares you for the clifftop views. Rounding corners, the ocean appears as far as the eye can see. The 12 Apostles are pillars rising from the sea. London Bridge is another noteworthy formation. Despite the wide path and solid structure, I froze with fear crossing when young. The following month, on January 15, 1990, London Bridge fell down. Two tourists were stranded on the far pylon when the middle caved in. While waiting for the rescue helicopter, they sang the famous nursery rhyme to gathering crowds.
Kimberley skies are magenta at sunset and sunrise against the pindan dirt (the color of paprika), green mangroves, white sand, and turquoise waters. Take a luxury cruise along the scenic coastline or a 4WD tour to deep red canyons and swimming holes. Broome is the gateway to the Kimberley, and you can consider my top 11 reasons to add Broome to your bucket list here.
The infinity pool is in Hinchinbrook Island National Park, the largest island in the GBR World Heritage Area. It’s uninhabited and home to a world-famous four-day Thorsborne Trai hike. Only 40 people at a time are allowed, and it’s a BYO tent situation. The pool dip is earned. It’s on top of a waterfall!
6. Green Escape
The Daintree is part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, stretching 280 miles along Australia’s northeast coast. This is the world's oldest tropical rainforest -- older than the Amazon by millions of years. Sir David Attenborough thought it extraordinary. I remember pulling off the side of the road and stepping into the rainforest’s embrace. It’s a forest with plant lineages millions of years old, 80 percent of the world’s fern species, and tropical sunlight filtering through vines. Trek through the jungle. Or take canopy walks through the treetops. Cruise the Daintree River, spotting life from the Cretaceous period -- saltwater crocodiles! Drive from Cairns to Cape Tribulation with World Heritage sites on both sides -- the Daintree one side, the Great Barrier Reef the other.
For more Daintree inspiration, consider seven things you can only experience in this Australian rainforest and our Great Barrier Reef road trip: Bundaberg to Daintree.
Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory is twice the size of Switzerland. I have seen thousands of swooping birds on a boat tour on the Yellow Water Billabong, a tributary of the South Alligator River. This is Crocodile Dundee territory. He wasn’t a real person but was based on one, and the movie was shot here. See buffalos on the floodplains and more than 60 species of birds fan before you -- magpie geese, jabirus, and brolgas. Just watch out for bobbing water lilies. Those are stealthy crocodiles. Thankfully that boat felt safe!
Meet the quokka -- the happiest creature on earth. Take the ferry to Rottnest Island. Enjoy perfect beaches, bike rentals, and historic buildings. Quokkas pop up for a parting selfie.
The Blue Mountains are two hours from Sydney. They’re named after the blue haze you’ll see while looking at the distant eucalypts trees. Arrive, and it’s green. Historically, these rugged mountains blocked Sydney’s expansion. Ten expeditions between 1789 and 1806 failed to hack a route through to the fertile plains. Today, it’s steep but driveable. Experience the world’s steepest railway and a cableway across the Jamison Valley. The mountains seem timeless. They’re full of Aboriginal legends including one about the Three Sisters turned to stone. You’ll meet them here. Enjoy charming villages, galleries, and Devonshire teas. Like so much of Australia, the Blue Mountains is World Heritage-listed.
Those videos were just over a minute long. Imagine how many more colorful memories you’d create with a trip Down Under! See all our Australia travel and trip-planning recommendations here.