Best of the Best - Top Ten Travel Photos From Each Continent: Australia & Oceania

For this, the sixth and penultimate entry in this series, I'll share my best photos from not only the country-continent of Australia, but also nearby New Zealand and the islands of the Pacific, which wouldn't really fit into any other category. In this case I'll start with Australia itself and work my way eastward. Enjoy!

1) Sydney Opera House, NSW, Australia

Sydney Opera House, Australia

The 'sails' of Sydney's opera house are easily recognizable. What was surprising was learning that the outer structure is completely covered in ceramic tiles. Seeing such an iconic landmark up close is always a thrill, and I can attest that it most certainly was for me in February 2005

 

2) Blue Mountains National Park, NSW, Australia

Three Sisters, Blue Mountains National Park, NSW, Australia

 

Just a few hour drive west of Sydney is Blue Mountains National Park, and its signature rock formation - The Three Sisters. This heavily-forested range boasts superb overlooks of the rocky outcroppings and verdant flora the park is known for, including this one taken in February 2005

 

3) Undara Lava Tubes National Park, Queensland, Australia

Undara Lava Tubes National Park, Queensland, Australia

 

When initially planning my trip to Australia, I was determined to experience the legendary Australian 'Outback' - a general term for the vast interior of this mostly-empty continent. On a long day-trip from Cairns in March 2005, my dad and I got to explore this off-the-beaten-track gem and had the chance to taste a sampling of the fabled topography the Outback is known for.

 

4) Sea Turtle, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Sea Turtle, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

 

Being a huge fan of scuba diving, there was no way I was going to come all the way to Australia in March of 2005 and not go diving on the only local Natural Wonder of the World, the famed Great Barrier Reef. This cheeky sea turtle swam right up to me from out of the blue, then pivoted to allow me this ideal profile shot. Wherever you are Mr. Turtle, I thank you for this lasting memory.

 

5) Takeoff From Cooktown, Queensland, Australia

Cooktown, Queensland, Australia

 

My furthest point of exploration in Australia, again back in March 2005, was when our dive liveaboard docked in Cooktown, located amidst the Wet Tropics of Queensland's Cape York Peninsula. On our short flight back to Cairns, we were treated to this ultra-green view of the lush landscape surrounding this tiny outpost of civilization, which was almost immediately followed by a low-altitude flyover of the blue-green hues of the Great Barrier Reef.

6) Pancake Rocks, Paparoa National Park, New Zealand

Pancake Rocks, New Zealand

 

This tiny gem of a national park and its signature pancake-stack-resembling rock formations lie just off the main highway along the South Island's western coast. Had I not done the research ahead of time, we would have drove right past the entrance, which does nothing to indicate the scenic beauty it contains. But by being properly informed, this slight detour at sunset in March 2005 was a worthy diversion, and made for a great entry into my trip photo album.

 

7) Fox Glacier, South Island, New Zealand

Fox Glacier, New Zealand

 

As one of two easily-accessible glaciers located on the west coast of New Zealand's South Island, a hike on the Fox Glacier brought us into contact with incredible, ever-changing ice formations, which provided a wealth of photo opportunities to go along with the burning sensation in our calves on our visit there in March 2005.

 

8) Fiordland National Park, South Island, New Zealand

Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

 

I'm under no delusions of being the greatest photographer in the world. But even if I was, I'm still convinced that no human medium can successfully capture the full scope of the beauty of Fiordland National Park. Even obscure little valleys, such as the one pictured here in March 2005, convey a sense of awe when contemplating a panorama of towering, snow-capped peaks ringed by temperate rain forest, riddled with gorgeous watercourses in a scene too big to fully capture or comprehend. But still, a guy's gotta try . . .

 

9) Milford Sound, New Zealand

Milford Sound, New Zealand

 

At the terminus of the road that brings you into the aforementioned splendor of Fiordland National Park, is Milford Sound. Put simply, I found this channel at the edge of the Tasman Sea to be the most beautiful place on earth. Period. With mighty Mitre Peak perched regally at the entrance, I was mesmerized while taking a boat tour, pictured here in March 2005, that featured gushing waterfalls, groups of seals and dolphins, and towering, four-thousand foot cliffs on all sides. In a land of superlatives, this place reigns supreme, and I only wished I could have spent more time there than a day trip would allow.

 

10) Lagoon of Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Lagoon of Bora Bora, French Polynesia

 

If even the mention of the name Bora Bora conjures images of a tropical paradise, you can imagine how much an actual visit - which for me was in April of 2001 - would confirm such stereotypes. I've seen some beautiful water in my travels, but so far none can compare with the turquoise hues of Bora Bora's famous lagoon. 

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