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Doug Cooke

Victoria’s newest marine attraction, the Nobbies Centre in Phillip Island Nature Park in Melbourne has opened after a $6.1 million redevelopment. In a first for Australian tourism, hi-tech cameras allow visitors close-up viewing of the world’s second largest Australian Fur Seal colony at Seal Rock (numbering 20,000) as they frolic in Bass Strait. Dolphins and sharks can also be spotted, as well as the rich bird life nesting in the cliffs. Entry to the centre is free. Phillip Island Nature Park is also renowned as the home of Australia’s most popular natural wildlife attraction, the world famous Penguin Parade. Just 90 minutes from Melbourne, Phillip Island features wildlife reserves, wetlands and breathtaking coastlines, offering some of the most intimate viewing experiences of Australian wildlife in their natural habitats.

Australia is a treasure trove when it comes to natural gems. For some travelers, deciding what to see and do can be a daunting task to tackle on their own. Likely to appear at the top of most visitors’ ‘to-do’ lists are the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru. Both are well-known Australian icons and are seeing increasing numbers of visitors year on year. As a result, accessing the sites from Australia’s key cities is easier than ever before, and even more affordable with the rise in low-cost domestic carriers. Further strengthening their identities as two of Australia’s most famous natural wonders, both Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef have fought off stiff competition recently to sit amongst the 28 finalists for the New7Wonders of Nature campaign, which will be announced on November 11, 2011.

If you were to visit only one African country in search of the ultimate safari experience, you would do well to make Tanzania your destination. The largest country in East Africa, Tanzania has an abundance of national parks filled with the wild Africa animals one dreams of seeing in their natural habitats, including the Big Five: lions, leopards, cheetahs, rhinoceros and Cape buffalo, as well as giraffe, hippopotamus, ostrich, zebra, wildebeest, hyena, gazelle and crocodiles. A prime time to visit is when the wildebeest migrate, the greatest animal migration still taking place in the world. It moves through the northern Serengeti around June and July.

As the creature lumbered ominously closer to our vehicle, our safari leader remarked, “When an elephant starts flapping its ears and stomping its feet, you better take note.” We could almost reach out and touch the coarse potato skin of dust covering its massive flanks.
“Maybe we’ve seen enough,” I thought, wiping the sweat from my palms, while it deliberated and slowly turned its attention back to the herd.

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