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Amazing Australia

In TRAVELER’s May/June issue, we present a 27-page special section to highlight Australia’s eclectic offerings—the first in our “Faces of” series. Online: an introduction to the series and the lowdown on two Aussie adventures.

| Sydney Bridge Climb |
| Hinchinbrook Island Trail |
| Australia Links |

Aborigine

Standing in front of Ayers Rock, Rupert Goodwin, an aboriginal ranger, gazes out across the desolate outback, which covers roughly 70 percent of Australia, a nation as big as the continental United States.
Photograph by Catherine Karnow

TRAVELER’s “Faces of” Series

BIG. Australia is astonishingly big—on my recent trip there, which entailed hitting both the east and west coasts in five days, I got a mere sampling of what the country has to offer. We give you a bit of that in the May/June TRAVELER’s “Faces of Australia.”

This special section is the first of a series of “Faces of” specials on popular destinations, which we’ll run over the next 18 months. Coming up: New England, Canada, California, and the Caribbean.

Keith Bellows

Keith Bellows, TRAVELER editor in chief, profiled the town of Fremantle for “Faces of Australia.”

 
Sydney Bridge

At 426 feet (130 meters) high, the Sydney Harbour Bridge offers a spectacular view of the city and gives climbers a thrill.
Photograph by R. Ian Lloyd



Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb

I’m at the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, a blood-racing 426 feet (130 meters) high, looking straight down onto eight lanes of matchbox-size traffic. To my right is the famously bivalved Sydney Opera House, and beyond, Sydney Harbour. A giant container ship preparing to pass under the bridge gives a great blast of its horn. Looking around I see my nine fellow climbers grinning like kids.

We’re on a guided hike to the top of the suspension arch—a three-hour megathrill that wowed acting sensation Nicole Kidman (what better place from which to see the world with Eyes Wide Shut?). The deal: You sign up with BridgeClimb, the only authorized outfitter (you have to be at least 12 years old and able to walk stairs comfortably). You get trussed up in a “BridgeSuit” coverall and hooked to a harness line (a comfort measure for acrophobes), with an earpiece to hear the commentary. Glasses and even handkerchiefs are tied down, since the smallest coin falling from this height could smash through the windshield of a car passing below. Then you climb maintenance steps and ladders to the tippy top of the bridge before doubling back.

Said one participant: “I didn’t sleep the night before because I was scared. It is a bit of a challenge, but when I got on top of the arch, I didn’t want to come down.”

(BridgeClimb Sydney, 5 Cumberland Street, Sydney, NSW, 2000, Australia; phone: 011 61 2 8274 7777 from the U.S.; fax: 011 61 2 9240 1122 from the U.S.; e-mail admin@bridgeclimb.com, www.BridgeClimb.com. Fee.)

—R. Ian Lloyd

R. Ian Lloyd, a photographer and writer, resides in Singapore and travels frequently throughout Asia, Australia, and the South Pacific.

Hinchinbrook Island’s Thorsborne Trail

A major attraction for experienced hikers is this 19-mile-long (31-kilometer-long) trail (allow two to five days) along the island’s east coast. The trail traverses a mangrove swamp via a boardwalk, climbs to spectacular viewpoints, meanders along sandy beaches, passes through rain forest, and crosses numerous freshwater streams.

It is recommended to hike the trail from north to south. Transportation to the northern trailhead is with Hinchinbrook Island Ferries (phone: 011 61 7 4066 8270 from the U.S.) from Cardwell, while Hinchinbrook Wilderness Safaris (phone: 011 61 7 4777 8307 from the U.S.) makes regular connections between the southern end of the trail and Dungeness, 49 miles (62 kilometers) south of Cardwell.

A quota system operates on this popular trail. Make reservations well in advance through the Cardwell office of the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (011 61 7 4066 8601 from the U.S.).

—Andrew Hempstead

Andrew Hempstead is an avid hiker and author of five books, including the Australia Handbook.
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