Well, we have finally reached the number one place I want to visit. The number one place I am dying to visit–and will feel completely unfulfilled about if I can’t see it–is Australia.

“The Land Down Under” is the driest, emptiest, and hottest of the inhabited continents. It has approximately the same land mass as the continental United States, but has about 1/15th of the population. It feels a world away, when really it is a mere 15 hour flight from Los Angeles and 14 hours from Beijing. A majority of the continent is covered by extremely arid desert, but the extreme northern regions contain lush tropical rain forests. There are poisonous snakes that will kill you instantly, and jellyfish that apparently create the most extreme pain known to man. On the other hand, the majestic Uluru (Ayers Rock) is a revered holy site for the native Aborigine population of Australia. It is a land of extremes, and extreme contradictions.

The country is probably most famous for possessing the largest living being on the planet, the Great Barrier Reef. This collection of millions of coral lifeforms brings thousands of tourists to the country each year. People boat, snorkel, swim, and SCUBA dive to get a closer look at this amazing slice of nature. Hundreds of species of fish and thousands of plant species call the Great Barrier Reef home. However, as the ocean temperatures warm, some fish are clearing out and certain plant species are dying off. Various organizations, including the Australian government and UNESCO, have stepped in to protect this large, rare piece of nature.

A very, very small piece of what the Great Barrier Reef has to offer.

A very, very small piece of what the Great Barrier Reef has to offer.

There are a thousand other things to see in Australia: the Whitsunday Islands, koalas, the city planning of Canberra (the capital), Uluru, giant worms, Surfers Paradise, Perth, Tasmania, kangaroos, and the Barossa Valley, among other things. I know for me, personally, it would probably take about three months of straight traveling to see everything I want to see. And that’s a conservative estimate. Ask anyone I know, I am obsessed with Australia. Don’t get me started on how badly I want to see it.

Australia's Wine Belt

Australia's Wine Belt

The book that single-handedly turned me on to Australia is Bill Bryson’s In a Sunburnt Country, in which he travels all over for both research purposes and personal reasons. I highly, highly recommend this book, as it provides and entertaining and comprehensive history of the country, as well as an appreciative narrative on really getting to know this continent. It is one of my favorite books (as are many of his), and a fun read.

So, Australia concludes “Places I Am Dying to Visit Month” here at FoxyCitrus.com. Were there any surprises? Was there any one place that was predictable? I’d like to hear your feedback.