Australian flora and fauna is unique to the island, the result of having been isolated from the rest of the world for millions of years. Amongst Australian animals are a large group of marsupials mammals with a pouch and monotremes mammals that lay eggs. Just some of the animal icons of Australia are the kangaroo national symbol and the koala. A visit to Australia would not be complete without taking the chance to see some of these animals in their natural environment.
Wildlife parks and zoos
are in every capital city, but also check out the animal parks if you are passing through smaller towns, like Mildura or Mogo, or staying on Hamilton Island. See the Warrawong Fauna Sanctuary if you are in South Australia, or visit the koalas with best view in the world, at Taronga Zoo in Sydney.
and wallabies reside in national parks all around the country. You won't see any kangaroos hopping down the street in Central Sydney, but they are common on the outskirts of most urban areas. There is also a famous group which make their home on the of grounds of the University of the Sunshine Coast, in Queensland.
are present in forests around Australia, but are very notoriously hard to spot, and walking around looking upwards into the boughs of trees will usually send you sprawling over a tree root. Best seen during the day, there is a thriving and friendly population on Raymond Island near Paynesville in Victoria. You have a good chance on Otway Coast, on the Great Ocean Road, or even in the National Park walk near Noosa on the Sunshine Coast.
are found in reedy flowing creeks with soft river banks in Victoria, Southern New South Wales, and the very southern region of Queensland - seen at dusk and dawn - you have to have a bit of luck to see one. Try the platypus reserves in Bombala or Delegate in New South Wales, or in Emu Creek at Skipton just out of Ballarat.
Sport is an integral part of the Australian culture from the capital cities to country towns. The majority of games are played over the weekend period from Friday night to Monday night.
In the winter in Victoria Aussie Rules Australian Rules Football is more than just a sport, it is a way of life. Catch a game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The Australian Football League is a national competition with teams from Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, and the Gold Coast, but roughly half of the teams and hence, most of the matches are Melbourne-based.
In summer, international cricket is played between Australia and at least two touring sides. The games rotate around all the capital cities. To experience the traditional game catch a day of the New Year's test match at the Sydney Cricket Ground, usually beginning on January 2nd, or the Boxing Day Test match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Whilst 'test matches' last for up to five days, many spectators attend just one day, or watch from the comfort of their own home. For a more lively and entertaining form more suited to those unfamiliar with the sport, try a Twenty20 match, which only takes a few hours. Only a handful of international T20 matches are played each year, with no more than one per city, but the domestic Big Bash League runs throughout the summer, providing more frequent spectating opportunities. A third form is "One Day" Cricket, with international matches generally starting at 13:00 and finishing at 22:00 or 23:00 a "Day-Nighter", with most domestic and occasional international matches played from 11:00 to 18:00. The Australia Day One Day International is usually held in Adelaide on 26 January.
The Australian Open, one of the tennis Grand Slams, is played annually in Melbourne. Or the Medibank International in Sydney Olympic Park in January.
Catch a rugby union Super Rugby game, with teams playing from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney during late Summer/Autumn. The Australian national team, the Wallabies, also host international teams during winter, including New Zealand, South Africa and starting in 2012 Argentina for The Rugby Championship formerly the Tri Nations tournament.
Rugby League is the dominant winter sport in New South Wales and Queensland. The National Rugby League NRL competition includes teams from Melbourne in Victoria, Brisbane, North Queensland and the Gold Coast in Queensland, a team from New Zealand, with the rest of the teams coming from suburban areas in Sydney, and some in regional areas of New South Wales such as Newcastle and Canberra. Aside from the NRL Grand Final, Rugby League's centrepiece is an annual series of three 'State of Origin' games played between New South Wales and Queensland.
Netballis Australia's largest female sport, and there are weekly games in an international competition between Australia and New Zealand teams.
Football (Soccer)is a small event by European standards, but there is a national A-League, which is a fully professional league involving teams from Australia and one from New Zealand, with games played weekly during the summer. Most cities have a semi-professional "state league" played during winter, with most clubs being built around a specific ethnic/migrant community.
Melbourne also hosts the Formula One Australian Grand Prix, which is run once a year. The 2013 race will take place between the 14th and 17th of March, with the main race on the 17th.
Horse Racing - All major cities and most regional towns have their own courses and race betting is popular throughout the country. The annual Melbourne Cup is possibly the best known meet when most Victorians take a day off work to celebrate or attend. It is common to see some of the country's top celebrities dressed in their finest in the stands.