Oceania in a Nutshell

Sydney’s iconic architecture, the imposing cliffs of Uluru Rock and the vast expanses of aboriginal Oz all make Australia an attractive proposition for beauty-seeking travelers. Kick off in vibrant Sydney, where you can slurp VB in the bars and bash leather cricket balls around the sandy beaches, or get vertigo walking the struts of the Sydney Harbor Bridge before digging into a traditional meat-filled barbecue. Koalas, Kangaroos and Wombats all wander the wide open spaces of the outback, where you can lose yourself in nature on your very own walkabout. Many follow the crowds, edging around the coasts by van and stopping to surf the hefty east shore waves and dive amongst the underwater gardens of the Great Barrier Reef.

New Zealand is an extreme sports Mecca, with major draws for the adventure traveler including swimming with sharks, whale watching, bungee jumping, white water rafting, caving, para-gliding and sailing. The remote stretches of the pacific coast highway are a classic drive, taking visitors deep into Maori country, where tribes still gather on Maraes and greet each other with ritual challenges and age-old speeches. You can even explore ‘Middle Earth’, a collection of tourist destinations around the country that made up the sets to the Lord of the Rings films, including the imposing Whakapapa Skifield (Mordor) and Mount Sunday (the panoramic capital of Rohan).

The islands of Eastern Oceania are steamy paradises, each unique, but each home to swaying palm trees, white sand beaches and snorkeling to die for. East Timor – one of the world’s newest nations – is increasingly stable and ready to show daring travelers its tropical charms. Fiji’s up-market resorts, laid back outlook and staggering diving brings in the crowds, while yachting around the islands of Tonga and Samoa bring you face to face with tribal cultures and blasting cliff-side blowholes. For all the vibrant mix of culture, however, it’s the crystal seas and sublime beaches that you’ll never forget, and they really are peerless.

Brief history

The island continent of Australia has a culture that stretches back 60,000 years but has only taken its place upon the world stage in the last 200. It is the world’s largest island, smallest continent and sixth largest country after Russia, Canada, China, the USA and Brazil.

For most of its history the country ignored and was ignored by the rest of the world, except for occasional visits by a handful of English, Dutch and Portuguese sailors. It was only after the British were chased out of America that they became interested in Terra Australis (Land of the South).

Five years after the end of the American War of Independence, the British established a penal colony in New South Wales claiming British sovereignty of the country they had declared terra nullius (nobody’s land) some 18 years earlier. A concept disputed by indigenous Australians whose opinion was judicially validated in the final decade of the 20th Century.
Terra Australis aka New Holland was officially named Australia 21 years after the English navigator and cartographer, Matthew Flinders’ circumnavigation of the island 15 years after that first settlement. He contended that the name Australia, for the southern continent that lies between the Indian and Pacific oceans, was “more agreeable to the ear.”

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Written on 11/30/2015 - 13:38 by Shawn Blade

Last modified on 12/12/2017 - 12:01

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