Wherever you travel on this beautiful island – the lanes of Melbourne, the surf beaches of Sydney, the wineries of Western Australia or remote towns in the Outback – you’ll be struck by just how friendly the people are. You’ll discover Australians are an open and curious bunch. They love a chat and a laugh, but nothing beats a great story. Tourism Australia has brought together people from across the country who embody this innate friendliness and want you to come and experience it too. Here we introduce some of them and find out what makes their home so welcoming.
1 Drink in the scenery and wine culture in the Margaret River, Western Australia
It could be the weather. Or perhaps it’s the beautiful open spaces. Or maybe it’s all the good wines and sociable people. Whatever it is, there is something about Western Australia that instantly makes people feel welcome. Vanya Cullen knows a thing or two about conviviality. She is the chief winemaker and MD of Cullen Wines, an acclaimed winery on a family estate in Wilyabrup in the gorgeous Margaret River and has been welcoming visitors to her cellar doors for years. Known for its world-class wines and beaches, Vanya says the region is bonded by “a communal love of nature, great wine and food” that it loves to share with people that visit. The best places to get chatting and mingle with the community is at the region’s approachable wineries, restaurants and food markets, she says.
2 Meet the early risers in Sydney, New South Wales
It’s not unusual for Sydneysiders to go for a hike, surf, swim (or all three) before picking up a great coffee and heading into work before 8am. And they’ll usually do it with mates. The beach is the hub of Bondi’s close-knit community, according to Eugene “Uge” Tan, a photographer, founder of Aquabumps and keen surfer who lives and works near the beach. Shooting at daybreak is his morning ritual. “The beach tends to attract happy, positive like-minded people who all find joy in a swim, a surf and a chat – it creates community. Happy people are usually friendly people, too,” says Uge. It won’t be long before you get chatting to people as you splash, sunbath or shop in this diverse and open suburb. He describes Bondi as a “mixing pot of creatives, corporates, young people and young families – with one beating heart for all things beach”.
3 Have a capital time in Canberra, ACT
Some cities take a while to get to know while others, like Canberra immediately offer up their charms. Author and owner of Canberra Secrets Personalised Tours Margaret Wade knows exactly what makes the city tick. “Canberrans love their coffee and food and wine. You’ll see them noisily congregating in the city’s numerous cafes, restaurants, craft breweries and local wineries,” she says. As well as the capital’s many cultural must-dos, Margaret recommends simply hanging out on Lonsdale Street in Braddon to mingle with the amenable residents. “You’ll pick up the vibe in its pumping cafes, restaurants and specialty shops,” she says. The locals’ easy-going and open nature has a lot to do with their quality of life. “Canberra is a planned city so we enjoy the benefits of no high-rise buildings, few traffic hassles, and lots of green space,” she says.
4 Diverse flavours in Darwin, Northern Territory
Food is something that unites all cultures and communities. And it’s certainly the case in Australia where social occasions hinge around fantastic foods, drinks and conversation. Acclaimed restaurateur Jimmy Shu moved to Darwin from Melbourne after he fell in love with the Northern Territory’s bountiful produce, tropical climate and warm community. He opened Hanuman, renowned for its uniquely Darwinian blend of south-east Asian flavours and top end produce designed for sharing, and immediately drew a loyal crowd. It was such a hit the Sri-Lankan-born chef opened another in Alice Springs. One of the best ways to get a flavour of this multicultural city and to meet the people that call Darwin home is over a cold drink and some spicy dishes at one of its lively restaurants and friendly neighbourhood food markets. Before you know it, you’ll know all the top places to go in the Top End.
5 Championing local in Tasmania
Known as the father or godfather of the whisky industry in Tasmania, Bill Lark founded the Lark Distillery in Hobart in 1992. It was the first Tasmanian distillery to open in 153 years after Bill challenged a convict-era ban on small distilleries. Now artisan distilleries are booming across the island state and Bill has personally supported many fellow entrepreneurs. This generosity of spirit and championing the “little guy” is all part of the Aussie way: they’re always willing to lend a hand and share what they have. That applies to visitors too – ask anyone for a recommendation on what to do or where to go and they’ll be more than happy to help. Although, it’s not hard to find the local scene in compact Hobart – an easy-going city with plenty of excellent galleries, artisan shops, restaurants, markets and, of course, boutique distilleries. Pop in to chat to the passionate locals behind them and, of course, swing by Lark’s to savour a drop of fine Tasmanian malt whisky.
6 Get the inside knowledge in Melbourne, Victoria
Melbourne is well known for its coffee culture, which spills into a shared love of eating out and socialising. Take a wander around the city’s eclectic suburbs and you’ll find friendly people who are fanatical about their city, food and sport and want you to be too. Creativity and innovation are also traits levelled at Australia's capital of cool and are qualities that founder of Lune Croissanterie Kate Reid has in spades. The former Formula 1 engineer turned pastry chef combines precision with art to create next-level croissants (which are created in a climate-controlled lab) at her Fitzroy-based bakery. The queues that snake out the door and around the corner are proof of the locals' devotion to good food. Get chatting in the queue to some Melbournites and and they’re bound to divulge where else is great to go in in the hip Fitzroy district, a hive of vintage stores, bookshops and cafes. They might even go along with you.
7 Feel the festival spirit in Adelaide, South Australia
With a dynamic dining scene, blissful beaches and spectacular wine regions, there’s a lot to keep the people of Adelaide smiling and they’re only too happy to welcome visitors to their city. It’s also known as the Festival City, with a jam-packed calendar of celebrations. Heather Croall oversees its best known, the Adelaide Fringe. The world’s second-largest annual arts festival brings an extra burst of energy to the lively city every summer, drawing residents and visitors from all over the world. “Seeing this city pull together every year for a month of entertainment and madness is riveting. The whole place comes to life and it brings me so much joy to see South Australians proudly claim our Fringe festival as part of their identity,” says Heather. In line with Adelaide’s openness and spontaneous spirit, anyone with a show, exhibition or cultural event can be a part of it. Heather says Adelaide is unique as an “intersection where quaint country life meets the big city. You’re never more than a few degrees of separation from someone you know, everyone’s a local in Adelaide,” she says. And the locals are always up for getting to know new faces.
8 Dive into culture in Queensland
For Blake Cedar, sharing stories with others is part of his heritage. Blake is from Murray Island, the most eastern of the Torres Strait Islands archipelago that lies just north of the Great Barrier Reef. His home is a place, he says, where it’s easy to appreciate the living world. “I’m indigenous Australian and the cultural connection we have with our traditional owners of the land and sea country is mind blowing,” he says. Now he has his dream job: working as a sea ranger for Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel, a locally owned operator company based in Cairns, a community he describes as “very warm”. Here he loves to share his culture and special connection to the environment with visitors from all over the world. “There’s no warmer feeling than going from running next to wallabies, walking with a cassowary to then swimming with Nemo and all the life the Great Barrier Reef brings,” he says. Go on one of Blake’s tours and you’ll get to dive into the traditional Dreamtime stories as well as the world’s most amazing coral kingdom and make some fantastic new friends while you’re at it.
There’s nothing like Australia
There’s plenty to spark your wanderlust in Australia. In every corner of our beautiful country you'll find unique experiences and attractions sure to deliver the most memorable holiday you've ever had.
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