Australia

One visit to Australia will leave you wanting more. From the sophistication of Sydney to the unhewn beauty of the Outback, you'll have an amazing time that will leave your camera full of pictures and your mind full of memories.

Australia was uninhabited until stone-culture peoples arrived, perhaps by boat across the waters separating the island from the Indonesia archipelago more than 40,000 years ago. Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, and English explorers observed the island before 1770, when Captain Cook explored the east coast and claimed it for Great Britain. (Three American colonists were crew members aboard Cook's ship, the Endeavour).

Much of Australia's culture is derived from European roots, but distinctive Australian features have evolved from the environment, aboriginal culture, and the influence of Australia's neighbors. The vigor and originality of the arts in Australia--film, opera, music, painting, theater, dance, and crafts--have achieved international recognition.

Australian actors and comedians such as Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Rachel Griffiths, Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Hugh Jackman, Naomi Watts, the late Heath Ledger, Simon Baker, and Dame Edna Everage (Barry Humphries) have achieved enormous popularity in the United States. Directors such as Peter Weir, Philip Noyes, and Russell Mulcahy, the conductor Sir Charles Mackerras, and singers and musicians such as Olivia Newton-John, The Wiggles, AC/DC, Dame Joan Sutherland, Dame Nellie Melba, and Kylie Minogue are well known.

Australian artists with international reputations include Sidney Nolan, Russell Drysdale, Pro Hart, and Arthur Boyd. Writers who have achieved world recognition include Thomas Keneally, Colleen McCullough, Nevil Shute, Morris West, Jill Ker Conway, Peter Carey, Robert Hughes, Germaine Greer, and Nobel Prize winner Patrick White.

In sports, Australian athletes are internationally renowned, particularly in swimming, diving, cricket, netball, tennis, rugby, rugby league, and golf. Australia's share of Olympic medals and world titles is larger than its share of the world's population.

Visit the U.S. State Department link below to educate yourself about traveling to Australia:

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2698.htm