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WALK ON THE WILD SIDE IN AUSTRALIA


Get to grips with the unique native species and vast natural landscapes Down Under, and you could win The Ultimate Aussie Adventure, thanks to Qantas and Tourism Australia


Everyone ends up with a favourite Australian animal – and it’s not always the cute and cuddly ones they thought they’d love before they arrived.


Initial introductions are


easy to make – the key Qantas gateway cities have zoos and wildlife sanctuaries that show off Australia’s native species. So you can cuddle a koala at Lone Pine in Brisbane, hand-feed kangaroos at Featherdale in Sydney or meet an adorably huge wombat at Caversham in Perth.


But the real joy is that when


exploring the extraordinary natural environments that make Australia so special, you’re likely to encounter such creatures in the wild. Take an off-road adventure on Queensland’s Fraser Island, for example, and you’ll probably see dingoes wandering across the sand dunes. Go bushwalking in the Namadgi National Park near Canberra, and roos might bounce up the road in front of you. A visit to the rugged escarpments,


waterfalls and Aboriginal rock art of Kakadu National Park in the Top End will probably involve a cruise on a billabong full of imperious saltwater crocodiles. Even if you’re not feeling


remotely adventurous, you can go for an amble around the Botanic Gardens next to Sydney city centre, and have strutting cockatoos for company. Australia has incredible


variation in natural environments. Walking trails through the dense eucalypt forests of the Blue Mountains or Great Ocean Road have a very different feel to the wildflower-emblazoned southwest or the World Heritage-listed tropical rainforests of northern Queensland. The outback is by no means uniform, either. The furious red dirt around Uluru comes with surprising little gullies of greenery, while giant termite mounds dot Litchfield National Park near Darwin, and a train ride through the South Australian desert offers epic, unyielding


scrub and salt lakes. Above all, much of the


country feels completely unspoilt.


Hit the highway in Oz, and it’ll usually head through natural landscapes rather than sprawling suburbia. The great outdoors feels fresh and untamed – getting out into it has a fabulous destressing effect. And even if this isn’t what you’re seeking, it’s something


you’re likely to stumble upon. Head to Rottnest Island near Perth in search of a selfie with a quokka, and you’ll spend a day snorkelling off white- sand beaches. Go to Byron Bay to kayak with the dolphins, and chances are you’ll discover the hippy spirit of the town comes from the pristine surrounding rainforests. Such happy accidents are a key part of what makes Australia special.


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