Australian culture is founded on stories of battlers, bushrangers and brave soldiers. Of sporting heroes, working heroes and plucky migrants. It's all about a fair go, the great outdoors and a healthy helping of irony. Today Australia also defines itself by its Aboriginal heritage, vibrant mix of cultures, innovative ideas and a thriving arts scene.
Australia's cultural attractions
From national monuments to boutique galleries and open-air festivals, Australia's cities have a rich and thriving creative culture. Attend a full-scale performance at Sydney's iconic Opera House and discover Canberra's treasure trove of national attractions. Contrast epic exhibitions with laneway art in Melbourne, home to the national opera and ballet companies. Soak up Aboriginal and European culture along Adelaide's North Terrace and browse Aboriginal art or celebrate at an outdoor festival in Darwin. Explore Brisbane's sprawling cultural spaces, from the Queensland Cultural Centre to the futuristic Powerhouse. See a play in Australia's oldest theatre in Hobart and amble from Perth's galleries and museums to Fremantle's seaside art strip.
The History of Australia
Australia’s Aboriginal people were thought to have arrived here by boat from South East Asia during the last Ice Age, at least 50,000 years ago. At the time of European discovery and settlement, up to one million Aboriginal people lived across the continent as hunters and gatherers. They were scattered in 300 clans and spoke 250 languages and 700 dialects. Each clan had a spiritual connection with a specific piece of land. However, they also travelled widely to trade, find water and seasonal produce and for ritual and totemic gatherings.
National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award
Across the country, there are thousands of events in cities and town held to mark the country’s annual national day, Australia Day. Celebrations in cities such as Sydney include concerts by the harbour as well as the annual Ferrython ferry race, a fun run and gala ball in Darwin or the parade, concerts and fireworks in Adelaide.
Your Australian holiday wouldn't be complete without shopping for uniquely Australian gifts and souvenirs. Evoke the ancient mystery of Aboriginal culture with an Aboriginal artwork or artefact. Buy a signature piece of jewellery made from opals, our national gemstone, or Australian pearls, and your Australian holiday wouldn't be complete without shopping for uniquely Australian gifts and souvenirs.
Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras
20 February – 8 March 2015 Sydney, New South Wales The all-too-fabulous Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade is the culmination of a month of camp fun and frivolity that includes everything from same-sex dance classes and tug-of-war matches to daytrips around the city and beyond.
Australia's heritage attractions
Connect to Australia's history, from ancient Aboriginal traditions through to convict and colonial eras. Learn about Sydney's traditional owners and see the colony's beginnings in historic sites stretching from the harbour to Parramatta. Check out Melbourne's grand gold boom architecture and dine, wine and shop in Brisbane's heritage-listed buildings. See Aboriginal and colonial art in Adelaide, near the historic German village of Hahndorf. Trace the Aboriginal lineage of Kings Park in Perth and walk with the ghosts of convicts, whalers and sailors in Hobart. Read Australia's first constitution in Canberra and learn about Darwin's dramatic World War II history.
Melbourne's hidden laneways
You never quite know what's in store when you wander off Melbourne's grid of city streets into the maze of gothic laneways behind them. Even the locals find surprises here, where the venues for food, fashion and art are small, quirky and sometimes hidden. Discover a late-night jazz bar or watch the world go by from a tiny trattoria, browse the boutiques and check out urban art. You can unlock the city's real secrets in these distinctively Melbourne streets.
Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour
27 March – 27 April 2015 Sydney, NSW Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour is not just an opera, it’s a complete night’s entertainment under the summer night sky. This unforgettable event includes Sydney’s iconic skyline as its backdrop. Arrive by water taxi, drink and dine in style at the pop-up bars and restaurants, then sit back in the tiered seats to take in the drama.
Find out more about famous Australian people, whose achievements are spread across categories as diverse as film, sport, music, art, science, literature, politics, invention and exploration. Following is an overview of high-achieving and famous Australians, from ‘The Don' of Australian cricket, Sir Don Bradman, to the Aboriginal artist Queenie McKenzie. Learn about some of the Australian actors who have made it on the world stage, our acclaimed and best-selling Australian writers and the Australian scientists who are Nobel Laureates. Remember this is an introduction, but not an exhaustive list of famous Australians.
Take a look at what's happening around Australia right now.