Australia is a country, and continent, surrounded by the Indian and Pacific oceans. Its major cities – Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide – are coastal, but its capital, Canberra, is inland and nicknamed the "Bush Capital." The country is known for its Sydney Opera House, Great Barrier Reef, the vast Outback (interior desert wilderness) and unique animal species including kangaroos and duck-billed platypuses.
The Blue Mountains is a rugged region west of Sydney in Australia’s New South Wales. Known for dramatic scenery, it encompasses steep cliffs, eucalyptus forests, waterfalls and villages dotted with guesthouses, galleries and gardens.
Brisbane, capital of Queensland, is a big, modern city set on the Brisbane River. Clustered in its South Bank cultural precinct are institutions including Queensland Museum and Sciencentre, with noted interactive exhibitions, and Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, among Australia's major contemporary art museums. Looming over the city is Mt. Coot-tha, site of sprawling Brisbane Botanic Gardens, with panoramic views from its summit.
The 74 Whitsunday Islands lie between the northeast coast of Queensland, Australia, and the Great Barrier Reef, a massive stretch of coral teeming with marine life. Most of the islands are uninhabited, characterised by dense rainforest, hiking trails and wide beaches. Skipper-yourself “bareboat” sailing is popular for island-hopping, since there are few other means of transportation.
Tropical North Queensland is the northern part of Queensland, Australia, an area from about the city of Mackay north to the tip of Cape York. The tropical region of Queensland covers 54% of the state's area some 934,600 square kilometres (360,900 sq mi), and includes the whole area above the latitude 23.5 degrees south, taking in an area from Rockhampton north. However, what is generally accepted as Tropical "North" Queensland includes the cities of Mackay, Townsville and Cairns and the Australian islands of the Torres Strait. It also includes several world heritage listed areas, such as the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics.