Long-haul holidaymakers are feasting their eyes on Australia this year as the vast and varied country prepares to host the 2017-18 Ashes Series, allowing visitors to combine a sporting experience of a lifetime with a holiday to remember. While the major event offers the perfect opportunity for an incredible trip, there are many more reasons to visit Australia in 2017. Here are the destinations on our radar...
From foodies to sun-lovers, everyone's talking about Perth this year and it's no wonder as Western Australia's capital city is undergoing a significant period of change, with the attention turning from its glorious natural environment to its urban offering. Stage one of the Perth's new waterfront development, Elizabeth Quay, opened to the public in 2016, bringing a number of wining and dining options, a pedestrian and cyclists' bridge, promenades and public art to the space. Although Perth's disused heritage buildings are already home to bustling bars and street art, a food truck revolution is taking place, signalling another new trend for the city. And the city's new heart, Yagan Square, is under construction in Perth's CBD and will offer a range of experiences including green spaces for relaxation, permanent markets offering local produce, cafes and a spectacular lighting installation at night.
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This year, the Gold Coast is investing more than £8.3 billion in major infrastructure projects which are set to change the face of the city. One of the most exciting developments is the Gold Coast Cultural Precinct, which will support the city's thriving cultural evolution and become a hub for arts and culture, bringing festivals, cinema, concerts and events to a new outdoor space. Travellers will also find a whole host of exciting new experiences on the Gold Coast in 2017, including the revamped Islander Resort to become The Island. It now boasts an extended tropical rooftop bar and chic hotel rooms. Meanwhile, Paradise Country is offering the Gold Coast's newest accommodation - a fantastic farm stay. The attraction is inviting visitors to turn their day out at the Aussie farm into an overnight stay in a camp, caravan, motor home or eco tent.
With South Australia being named one of 2017's best regions in the world by Lonely Planet, all eyes are on this beautiful state which offers everything from fine wine and dining to world-class wildlife opportunities. Its cosmopolitan coastal capital Adelaide will host England at the Adelaide Oval in the first-ever day-night Ashes Test during this 2017-18 Ashes series this year, allowing travellers to see the Ashes in action as they experience the amazing city. While here, there's the chance to spend some time in the nearby renowned wine regions, relax in the many fantastic restaurants or bars, and blend into the Adelaide lane-way culture. Adelaide also has superb beaches for relaxing in the Australian sun, or going swimming with dolphins. Elsewhere, the national parks offer spectacular wildlife and Cleland Wildlife Park is the place for cuddles with a koala.
Wine lovers won't want to miss a visit to South Australia, home to 18 wine regions including the birthplace of its celebrated wine industry, McLaren Vale. Boasting 65 wineries, some of the world's oldest grape vines and top-notch weekend farmers' markets, McLaren Vale is a picturesque location to take in Australia's vineyards, enjoy a scenic drive and discover its gourmet offerings. This summer will see the opening of the striking d'Arenberg Cube (pictured), an awe-inspiring five-storey building set among Mourvèdre vines, which will feature a tasting room, a unique wine smelling room and a 360-degree video room to make visitors feel they are floating above the rolling hills of Willunga. There will also be restaurants, bars and private tasting rooms.