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Australia Article by Sunila Patil

9 mins. read

Published in the Saturday Navbharat Times on 09 March 2024

Have you ever dined at a parliament? Yes, it's possible, and you can relish this unique opportunity in the land down under! I've had the privilege of visiting Canberra several times, and on this visit I was having lunch at the Queen’s Terrace café, perched atop Australia's Parliament House. As I looked around, I couldn't help but appreciate the significance of the moment – being seated atop the very institution where the nation's important decisions are made. When you're in Australia, a visit to the Parliament House in Canberra is a must. It's more than just a government building; it's an architectural marvel that symbolizes the essence of Australian democracy and is known for its unique parliamentary experience.

Unlike most countries, Australia's version of democracy invites visitors to witness the workings of government firsthand. So that means that when Parliament is in session, you can actually walk in and see the action, underscoring Australia's commitment to transparency and its citizens' relationship with their elected officials.One of the best things about Australia is certainly the laid back and open culture. The fact that visitors are given access to Parliament House’s roof top garden is representative of that culture. As they say, it is the people’s house. And that’s when we decided that we should certainly include this and more such experiences in our Veena World tours where our guests don't just look at  monuments to photograph them from the outside. Instead, we want our travellers to have the opportunity to explore these architectural wonders from the inside, immersing themselves in their beauty and grandeur, while also absorbing the rich culture of the country.

Since my school days, I've been captivated by Australia, particularly when studying world maps. Its distinctive and unique shape has always lent it an identity unlike any other, leaving me intrigued by its remoteness from the rest of the world. This sense of curiosity has fuelled my desire to visit Australia someday, a dream I've been able to accomplish fortunately. If you're wondering why should I go to Australia, let’s take a quick look at this huge country. A captivating land of diverse landscapes and extraordinary wonders, Australia  encompasses a staggering size of approximately 7.7 million square kilometers, making it the sixth-largest country in the world. Its vastness is matched only by its geographical uniqueness, boasting iconic landmarks like the Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef system on Earth, visible even from space. From the expansive Outback with its ancient rock formations to the lush rainforests of Queensland, Australia showcases a tapestry of natural beauty. Additionally, I find it fascinating that it is home to beautiful wildlife found nowhere else on the planet, including kangaroos, koalas, and the elusive platypus. With its blend of stunning scenery, endemic species, and geological marvels, Australia stands as a testament to the awe-inspiring wonders of our world.

When you conjure an image of Australia in your mind, chances are the iconic Sydney Opera House takes center stage. For me, this holds true, as I vividly recall the first time I laid eyes on its unique shell-shaped design against the backdrop of a clear blue sky – a moment so mesmerizing, I couldn't resist capturing its beauty from every angle. Sailing on the harbor at night only intensified its allure, with the moonlight casting an ethereal glow upon its surface. It was then that I realized the true magnificence of many structures, to be appreciated both in daylight and under the stars. Stepping inside the Opera House with a knowledgeable guide was an unforgettable experience, where I learned that the design of the Opera House was Selected from a pool of over 200 entries in an international design competition.  Designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon  this  UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts a roof adorned with over one million ceramic tiles, shimmering under the sunlight. Today, the Opera House hosts a staggering 1,500 performances annually, spanning opera, ballet, concerts, and theater productions, drawing millions of visitors from around the world. But I also learn that there's a sad part to the story. Even though the Opera House was finished in 1973, the architect who designed it, Jørn Utzon, never got to see it up close. He left the project in 1966 because he had disagreements with the people in charge. Still, his legacy lives on through the Opera House's amazing design. As I stood there, amazed by its beauty, I couldn't help but feel thankful to Utzon for giving us such a wonderful building. It shows how his ideas continue to inspire people even today with its timeless design!

Next up I was sailing the Sydney harbour and soon passed the majestic Sydney Harbour Bridge, spanning the bay with its iconic silhouette. The bridge connects Sydney's north and south and isn't just a transportation link; it's a beloved tourist attraction offering panoramic views of the cityscape and the Sydney Opera House.  Affectionately known as the "Coathanger" for its distinctive shape, you can actually climb up the bridge and enjoy the thrilling moment as you stand on top of the bridge and then enjoy the panoramic view.

Just likethe cities in Australia, the smaller towns hold many enchanting attractions and often remind me of the colonial history here. The best part of Australia for me was getting from one place to another, specially by car. like they say the journey is here is as good as the destination! Australia, for me, is a haven for road trips, boasting some of the world's most picturesque driving routes. With wide-open spaces, endless blue skies, and impeccably maintained roads, every journey behind the wheel here is an adventure. As someone accustomed to driving on the left side of the road, akin to India, navigating Australia's roads feels like second nature. I've often had the chance to drive here and take  memorable road trips with my colleagues and friends for business and holiday. There was one time I was pulled over by a cop as well for exceeding the speed limit ever so slightly. My plea that there was no one on the road in the countryside for miles ahead did not go well with the cop and thankfully I was let off with a warning. To drive with no people on the road was a completely new and pleasant experience for me.

Among the most unforgettable trips was a drive along Victoria's Great Ocean Road, where the sheer beauty of the scenery left me breathless at every turn. Notably, this road stands as the world's largest war memorial, a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by soldiers returning from World War I. Exploring the Great Ocean Road, was simply fantastic with the oceans on one side and the mountains on the other. On Veena World’s Australia tour our guests enjoy the thrill of a helicopter ride offering bird's-eye views of the Twelve Apostles rock formations. If you wish to stay back on the Great ocean road, the seaside villages like Port Campbell and Anglesea, give you the chance to immerse in coastal life, savoring local delicacies and gaining a deeper appreciation for Australia's beautiful landscape.

Just a stone's throw away from Melbourne lies Phillip Island, home to the enchanting Penguin Parade. the island itself is beautiful and I approached the board walk and made my way to the edge. At sunset the small penguins started appearing out of the water and made their way to their nests. Witnessing these adorable creatures waddle ashore at sunset provided a fascinating glimpse into their natural behaviour, adding yet another dimension to Australia's diverse wildlife.

With its varied weather ensuring a perfect holiday destination year-round, Australia truly has something for every traveler. Whether you're drawn to the sun-drenched beaches of the Gold Coast or the vibrant cultural scene of Melbourne, there's magic to be found in every corner of this captivating continent. At Veena World, we're committed to curating tours that immerse you in the essence of Australia, creating cherished memories that will last a lifetime. So come, join me on an adventure, and let's discover the unparalleled beauty of Australia together with Veena World.

March 08, 2024


Sunila Patil
Sunila Patil

Sunila Patil, the founder and Chief Product Officer at Veena World, holds a master's degree in physiotherapy. She proudly served as India's first and only Aussie Specialist Ambassador, bringing her extensive expertise to the realm of travel. With a remarkable journey, she has explored all seven continents, including Antarctica, spanning over 80 countries. Here's sharing the best moments from her extensive travels. Through her insightful writing, she gives readers a fascinating look into her experiences.

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