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  February 20th, 2015 | Written by

Doing Business Down Under

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G’day, mate. How ya’ going?”

You’ll hear that all the time when you visit “The Land Down Under.” I travel to Australia several times a year on business. Of all my travel destinations in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East-Africa regions, comparatively speaking, Australia is the most welcoming in terms of Western culture, business, accommodations, beautiful scenery and food.

When traveling from the U.S., keep in mind that, on the average, our summer months are their winter and vise versa. The best time to travel there is December through February if you like mild-to-hot, summer-like weather.

Most of Australia is semi-arid or desert, with a large part of that in the center of the country. On the east coast is where most of the Australian population resides. Major cities are Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Perth is the largest city on the west coast, Darwin is north central and Adelaide is south. The city of Gold Coast, which is just south of Brisbane, is one of the fastest growing cities in Australia. This is where you will find the beautiful beaches and great night life of the famed Surfers Paradise region.

Six states make up the country of Australia: New South Wales (NSW), Queensland (QLD), South Australia (SA), Tasmania (TAS), Victoria (VIC) and Western Australia (WA). Sydney is the largest city and business hub located on the east coast in NSW and offers an abundance of hotels, restaurants and major sightseeing attractions such as the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, where those who do not suffer from acute acrophobia can take a guided stroll across the top of the bridge, 440 feet above sea level, and take in the beautiful and dramatic sights of Sydney Harbour.

The best and fastest way to get to Australia is on Quantas, Australia’s primary airline carrier. The direct routes from most U.S. airports to Sydney and other cities include travel on the spacious and well-designed Airbus A-380s. A lie-flat Business Class seat makes the time fly by for the 14-hour ride.

Staying in Sydney has its advantages. It is a beautiful city with five-star hotel accommodations and home of the Sydney Opera House, situated on Bennelong Point in Sydney Harbour. This iconic structure is a sight to behold. I usually stay in Darling Harbour or downtown, as both locations provide easy access to taxis or public transportation to the business center of town.

When out and about in Sydney, check out The Rocks. It is an historic inner-city suburb that is very popular with tourists. Many restaurants, art galleries, pubs and shops line the cobblestone walkways with a unique weekend market similar to what we call a swap meet.

Venture a bit farther out from Sydney to the Blue Mountains, about an hour drive. Most notable there is The Three Sisters rock formation, so spectacular that it resembles the USA’s Grand Canyon.

Sydney also offers a ferry system with boats of different sizes regularly plying Sydney Harbour from one destination to another. A wonderful side trip is on a high-speed ferry from Sydney’s main ferry terminal in Circular Quay over to Manly Beach situated at the southern end of Sydney’s northern beaches. It’s about a 30-minute ferry ride with spectacular views of Sydney Harbour along the way. Manly boasts great shops, restaurants, nightclubs and a few cool dive bars.

On the way back from Manly, have a stop in Watsons Bay and eat at one of the many restaurants on the beach that offer a wide variety of fresh seafood and tasty libations. Watsons Bay provides great views of Sydney across the harbor and also of the Harbour Bridge. Take a short stroll up to the Sydney Heads, where you can see the large entrance to Sydney Harbour. South Head has the most dramatic views atop the high cliffs with crashing waves below.

Also of notable interest in downtown Sydney is the Sydney Tower. It’s the second-tallest observation tower in the Southern Hemisphere and affords a 360-degree view of Sydney and the surrounding areas. For the adventurous, take a 40-second ride to the top and enjoy the open-air glass Skywalk.

For spectacular beaches, Sydney’s most famous is Bondi Beach. It’s almost a mile long and features many popular restaurants and hotels with spectacular views of the surrounding headlands.

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