A thousand miles from anywhere, Australia really is a world apart. Untouched by Westerners for thousands of years the land was only home to the peaceful Aboriginal tribes. In the past two hundred and fifty years though great cities have sprung up and the advent of air travel has thrown Australia open to the world, making it one of the most popular holiday destinations for people all over the globe.
Although prospectors rushed here in the 18th and 19th century, convinced that the Australian frontier hid as much gold as the Wild West of America, it is only relatively recently that the world has appreciated Australia's true resources of its great natural beauty. It is a vast expanse of golden coasts, snowy mountains, sandy deserts, blue lakes and clear seas.
No matter which part of the world you come from Australia can match it and still offer something different. Everybody knows the great sights and wonders of the country, the Great Barrier Reef, Ayers Rock and the sublime emptiness of the Outback but there is more besides. The beaches of the Gold Coast are echoed all the way around the country, as are the blue coastal waters that lap Queensland's coasts. Chasms almost as deep as the Grand Canyon and deserts as arid and crenellated as the Sahara can be found in the interior.
For those who don't fancy venturing into "the bush" the great cities of Australia rival anywhere in the world. Most people's gateway to the country Sydney is strikingly beautiful. The Old Quarter of The Rocks harks back to the early colonial years while the modernism of the Sydney Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and Stadium Australia dwarf one's imagination. But if Sydney is Australia's San Francisco then Melbourne is the country's LA - a fashion conscious, dynamic city with great energy and vibrancy. Don't forget the country's other larger cities, Adelaide, Cairns, Darwin and Perth, each of which have their own charm and unique appeal.
But where Australia's magic really lies is when the comparisons to other places fail. 80 per cent of its flora and fauna is unique to the territory, and they're not all poisonous. The Aboriginal culture is a unique phenomenon, a centuries old theology that perfectly fits in with Australia's diversity and is perhaps the only thing that manages to encompass one of the world's most fascinating destinations.