Everything seems upside down Down Under. On this vast, bizarrely beautiful continent, wild bush gives way to coral reefs, kangaroos bounce through vineyards, a seemingly empty red-earth center pulses with spirituality and its most famous building—the Sydney Opera House—is breathtaking not just in its grandeur but in its refreshing originality. Home to the world’s oldest living culture and one of its youngest societies, its major cities cling to the coast, where some of the best food is to be found in cheery neighborhood cafés. Australians are ever more cosmopolitan and sophisticated, all the while retaining their signature good humor—an attraction in itself.

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Example Itinerary 1

Food, Art and Wilderness in Tasmania

Steeped in convict history and home to rugged green wilderness, the southerly island of Tasmania has surprised many with its recent culinary and creative transformation. Journey to the epicenter of the metamorphosis, Hobart, for a curatorial tour of the edgy Museum of Old and New Art (MONA)—an architectural marvel carved into a sandstone riverside cliff—that has helped kickstart the state’s artistic coming of age.

Venture beyond to the hamlet of New Norfolk for a paddock-to-plate cooking experience at the Agrarian Kitchen. Pluck produce, forage in the orchard and herb garden, and prepare a seasonal feast in the19th-century farmhouse.

Explore the region further, going behind the cellar doors of innovative wineries that have quietly gained cult status for savory pinos and crisp chardonnays, and see the dolerite cliffs and wild rivers of its southwestern corner among eucalyptus trees, Tasmanian devils, and orange-bellied parrots.

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Example Itinerary 2

Australia’s Wild North

Sail the sapphire waters of the Great Barrier Reef, the oldest living organism on Earth, and scuba dive with scientists on a vibrant, unseen reef site to learn about efforts to conserve its 400 varieties of coral. Afterwards, stay in a private lodging on the secluded tip of an island populated with wallabies, ospreys and yellow-crested cockatoos.

Fly to the center of Australia’s wide ochre desert to the giant monolith of Uluru, where indigenous guides will share local lore and insight on the profound significance of the site to the Anangu people. Stay in a tented pavilion at Longitude 131 with uninterrupted views of the 1000-foot-tall sandstone formation.

Travel northwest to the unfathomably vast baoab-tree-studded plains of Australia’s remote Kimberley region. Take a helicopter to fish in ancient waterholes, ride by horse to cascading waterfalls and lodge in the El Questro homestead overlooking the still waters of the Chamberlain Gorge.

Oh and also...

Take a tour with a leading curator of Aboriginal painting to connect with a globally prized art form with a 40,000-year lineage.

See the New Year’s Eve fireworks from a private apartment overlooking Sydney Harbour and dine at restaurants in one the new gastronomic capitals of the world.

Catch a wave at one of the prime surfing spots in bohemian Byron Bay.