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10 Days on the Island - Ringing the Changes
In a nation that has perfect weather almost year round, there's always reason to celebrate. If you're planning on heading down under next year, we recommend keeping this guide to the best Australian festivals the nation has to offer.
· We've talked about the famous Sydney Mardi Gras before, so if you have a need for fabulous debauchery, check it out. The city offers much more than glitter with Vivid Sydney where the buildings and cityscape become the backdrop to colored light to bring the city alive. The festival features installation light-art pieces from late May to the middle of June.
Lonely Planet's Blue List for 2009--their now annual list of the must-visits in the travel world--is due for release on November 1, but is slowly being leaked around the world. But the number one pick is a tiny part of Australia that doesn't want to be famous.
This weekend the UK Times published the top ten destination list and Ko Tao in Thailand, the Basque country in France and Spain and the Big Island of Hawaii all feature. The Bay of Fires in north-eastern Tasmania is glad to be recognized as beautiful, but the local mayor says they don't need all the tourists.
With just a 10-room eco-lodge in the area, which is a national park, Blue List-level fame is really not what the Bay of Fires is ready for. Locals would prefer we check out everything else on this top ten list first and if we've still got time and money to spare, then the Bay of Fires might welcome us. Or not.
Sometimes being second best is still an exciting thing: That's what they're thinking down in Tasmania where they've just discovered the world's second tallest tree.
The giant swamp gum tree measures 330 feet, making it quite a few feet smaller than the tallest tree found in California's Redwood National Park. But being second isn't harming the tourism potential of this tree with plans already taking shape.
Luckily the tree is close an already-existing tourist attraction, the Tahune AirWalk. The forestry people in Tassie are looking at erecting a boardwalk to get visitors close to the massive tree. And they're also hurriedly measuring the rest of forest to see if they can win the tallest tree award too.
Australian explorers were prone to naming landmarks with a few depressing names: Lake Disappointment or Mount Hopeless come to mind. But some Aussies in Tasmania have learned something handy. Bad names like this don't attract tourists.
For this reason Forestry Tasmania has just made a big decision. Dismal Swamp, a tourist attraction near Smithton, has now been renamed Tarkine Forest Adventures and they've added a bunch of nocturnal wildlife spotting and other tours to the only blackwood sinkhole in the world.
There's still a Great Dismal Swamp between Virginia and North Carolina, so perhaps it'll be up next for a name change. Something cheery, please? We'll take suggestions.
By now you've got the idea that Australia likes to build big things: bananas, koalas, potatoes that look like dino poop, the list goes on. Beauty or practicality are completely unimportant. This website catalogues a huge number of these useless big things that nonetheless tend to attract their fair share of tourists.
But would you put this on your list: the University of Tasmania's big slide rule? If you must (and you're part of the new wave of geek tourism) then head to the university's Department of Maths and Physics in Hobart, Tasmania's pretty capital. Obviously you could go to the Cadbury chocolate factory or visit the Salamanca Markets or even take a cruise while in Hobart, but ... surely a giant slide rule's the way to go.
[Photo: weaker vessel]
A small bunch of Tasmanians who're missing Steve Irwin thought it might be a good idea to go surfing with a crocodile as some sort of tribute. Rest easy, they weren't too crazy--they took a big rubber inflatable crocodile out to catch some waves.
It was a surreal, magical day in the surf of Tassie. According to Stu Gibson, the leader of the pack, nature just knew that it was a meaningful moment:
All the boys agreed that the wind dropped out and the sets got bigger with the croc out there. The croc got all the best waves.What's more, the cheap plastic croc survived a battering from high waves. Steve was lookin' out for him, for sure.
[Image via frogmuseum2/Flickr]
Surfers' Tribute [Ananova]
Steve Irwin's Pants [Jaunted]
RIP Steve Irwin [Jaunted]