Category Australasia

The Twelve Apostles

On Victoria’s southern coast, giant limestone stacks have been sculptured by waves. Nobody knows for how long they will survive.

Alberto-Loyo

On 15 January 1990, a young couple strolled onto a famous rock formation on the Australian coast along the Great Ocean Road. The formation was named ‘London Bridge’ because of its two natural arches that branched out from the mainland. Suddenly the inner arch crashed into the sea. The couple were trapped on an islet. They had to be rescued by a helicopter.

The episode was typical of the coastline stretch known as Port Campbell, situated some 230 kilometres (140 miles) south-west of Melbourne. For thousands of years, powerful waves have pounded against the coastline and gradually torn away the rock. Spectacular sculptures have been left behind...

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Rulers of old

In a large shallow embayment on the Australian west coast lies one of the oldest life forms on Earth.

Rob-Bayer(1)

They look unspectacular, but these stone-like objects hold information that reveals how life evolved billions of years ago. The organisms, located in Shark Bay, a vast marine area on the Australian west coast, are colonies of algae that have formed hard, dome-shaped deposits. For three-quarters of the entire history of life, they dominated the Earth’s ecosystem. Quite simply, they ruled the world. Those left today are living samples of how Earth once was.

The Shark Bay area, listed by UNESCO in 1991, is famous for other things than its ‘living fossils’...

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Balls of stone

On a beach in New Zealand, large spherical stones lie quietly in the sand, some of them 60 million years old. How did they get there?

ian-woolcock

Nature has a habit of surprising you. The moment you think you have seen it all, it throws at you something special, something remarkable, that you never thought it was capable of producing. These things may take a variety of shapes and forms. Such as the strange, alien-like, ice cream cone-ish stone balls at Koekohe Beach, on the south-eastern coast of New Zealand’s South Island.

Some have jokingly labelled them ‘dinosaur eggs’. And in fact, the oldest stones hail from as far back as 60 million years; around the time when the last dinosaurs wandered the earth. (Though apart from that, there is rather little evidence to support this theory...

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Sympathy for the devil

It is fierce, noisy and eats almost everything in sight, but now the Tasmanian devil is facing its biggest threat in 70 years.

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Mention ‘Tasmanian devil’ to someone and chances are they’ll think of Taz, the dribbling Looney Tunes character chasing rabbits and ducks with a boundless appetite. Taz is strong and determined, spinning through trees, rocks and slurping lakes dry through a straw. But he’s also woefully stupid; naïve, temperamental and comically impatient.

The real-life inspiration behind Taz is less known. In the forests of Tasmania, an archipelago of some 300 islands 240 kilometres south-east of mainland Australia, the genuine Tasmanian devil roams. There are between 10,000 and 50,000. Funnily enough, the devil shares many traits with Taz...

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Home of the Hobbits

The legacy of The Lord of the Rings films turned New Zealand’s tourism sector on its head. With the arrival of a second trilogy, The Hobbit, another influx of visitors is expected.

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When watching The Lord of the Rings trilogy (and who hasn’t?) it’s easy to forget that the fabled landscape of snowy mountains, vast farmlands and blue lakes actually exists; that the towering darkness of Mount Doom is in fact a real mountain; not on Middle Earth, the fictional world where the films’ epic narrative unfolds, but somewhere in real life. Though most of the scenes have gone through cinematic processes, the land on which they were filmed has made a popular tourist attraction since the trilogy debuted more than a decade ago.

Indeed, the fact that every scene in Sir Peter Jackson’s much-acclai...

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Green city guide: Sydney

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It is easy to love Sydney. Like a pick ‘n’ mix sweet bag, the multicultural Australian capital contains the best bits of the classic tourism cities; its corporate city skyline supplemented with beautiful harbours, green natural parks, kilometres of beaches and a vibrant cultural scene. The most iconic works are the Sydney Harbour Bridge and a certain opera house.

What about its green prospects? City of Sydney Council aims to provide low-impact energy and water via green networks and infrastructure hubs as part of a scheme dubbed ‘Sustainable Sydney 2030’. There’s also a strong emphasis on business with the introduction of a voluntary ‘carbon offset’ scheme, green conference centres and energy-efficient offices...

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The slow march

Each year, millions of red crabs migrate to the shores of Christmas Island to mate, creating one of the world’s natural wonders.

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It can almost resemble a moving red carpet, gliding slowly but firmly across rocks, hills and roads. Each ‘wet season’, usually between October and December, a large portion of Christmas Island’s 120 million red crabs – or Gecarcoidea natalis – leaves the forest for the shores, instigating a synchronised five-kilometre pilgrimage that virtually crosses everything in its way. As the island’s 1,500 residents know all too well, the crabs do not like shortcuts.

This direct approach poses interesting challenges for Christmas Island, a remote Australia-governed island in the Indian Ocean on which two-thirds of the 135-square-kilometre surface is covered ...

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