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Australia is the 6th largest country in the world, which means to explore all that the land down under has to offer, a healthy amount of time is necessary. Without much knowledge of this new land, I opened a map and began my research. Australia has 6 states and 2 major mainland territories. Once I reached a reasonable understanding of the geography, I narrowed down my options into 2 categories that I was interested exploring: culturally laden urban communities and beach communities. The resulting itinerary would begin on the sizzling West Coast of Australia offering both beach and the downtown of Perth, and continue to the artistic culture of Melbourne, continue North to the breathtakingly simple beach lifestyle of Rainbow Bay located on the Gold Coast of Queensland and concluding in Sydney.

A simple conversion from the public temperature in Celsius which blinked periodically on the side of a baking building in Scarborough Beach outside of Perth calculated to well over 100 degrees. The sun pelted ultraviolet rays and a sunburn was as frequent as a sunset.

Western Australia temperature is not the only thing sizzling right now. Due to a highly profitable mining industry, WA’s economy is thriving. Iron ore, Gold and Nickle are some of the most common minerals extracted for the Earth, ultimately pumping finances back into its infrastructure. Development is everywhere and a large percent of the state’s population has found comfortable employment within the industry.

The true beauty and enjoyment rest not thousands of feet underground, but on the surface. Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world stretch the West coast of Australia all the way down to the subtropical South West. The water is the color of a cloudless sky and as warm as a cooling cup of tea. The sand is thick with shell particles with a faint red tint. Flip flops and bathing suits are the attire and sunblock squirts as often barbeques sizzle.

After Australian day celebrations, lots of sun, camping in the South West, music festivals, concerts and nights out in downtown Perth, I said farewell to all my new friends and the beaches of WA and headed for Melbourne where the culturally laden community of Australian urban art awaited.

Without any Melbourne contacts, other than some friendly replies to blind emails, I began my exploration of Melbourne with hours wandering through downtown alleys. First on my list was Hosier Lane, a highly respected and visited lane by both world famous artists, as well as world traveling tourists. The walls are covered with bright sanctioned graffiti and paste ups. Acknowledged as an integral part of Melbourne culture, the city has sanctioned this lane, as well as many other lanes and alleys in Melbourne as legal graffiti and street art zones. School field trips and tourists snap photos of the urban gallery daily as they are lead by guides down the lane and surrounding areas.

Less legal, but just as impressive, if not more, are the communities just outside downtown including Fitzroy, Collingwood and Brunswick. Dozens of alleys and lanes animate with creativity and culture. The sounds of rattling cans echo down the streets and a thick network of photographers capture every addition.

Music festivals sprout up often, museums boast with highly respected exhibits, creativity is contagious and the urban gallery changes everyday. Galleries welcome urban art, as well as the more traditional. Creative gatherings seem to always be in the works. For a city known to have all 4 seasons in one day, the sun always  shines bright on local art in Melbourne.

There are 2 environments I love best: cities and beaches. With a good dose of the urban in Melbourne, I was ready to sink my toes back in the warm sand again. I set off for the Gold Coast of Queensland where I would spend some days under the sun and on the beach of Rainbow Bay.

Aqua blue water crashed upon the beach as I followed tropical coastal paths around winding bases of lush green covered bluffs. Wild Brush Turkeys and giant lizards roamed freely and the coastal ocean water was scattered with dozens, if not hundreds, of wetsuit-less surfers. Ocean blue, white sand and green vegetation kindly monopolized the visual and the hot sun pelted with reminders.

The surf culture is thick with kids as young as preteen who frantically paddled for even the slightest bump in the horizon to old men who navigated long boards amongst the crowds. Surfers ride boards with fins, without fins and drag on their bellies. Families huddled under colorful umbrellas and dripped castles in the ripples. Fathers paddled kids into outside breakers and the distant Surfer’s Paradise skyscrapers loomed in the horizon.

With a pattern of beach and city established, and again with a nasty sunburn, I boarded a plane in route for my next urban exploration of Sydney and my 4th and final state of New South Wales.

Rain was in the forecast, which was a nice change after nearly a month of 90+ temperatures, but that was only background noise. I was in Sydney for the first time and there were heaps of things and places to be explored including the incredible treat for your ears, as well as to the eye, the Sydney Opera House. Also to be enjoyed was the perfect backdrop of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Fortune of War- the oldest bar in Sydney, Surry Hills art district and the amazing art exhibit at the Art Gallery NSW titled PICASSO: Masterpieces from the Museo National Picasso, Paris.

Historical sites scatter the city and offer days of site seeing. The harbor coast is a treat for the eyes in the sun or under clouds and a walk along the Harbour bridge offers rotating views of the Opera House each as amazing as the previous.

A month of extensive exploration began on the beaches of Western Australia with visits to downtown Perth, jumped to the culturally laden community of Melbourne on the eastern side, bounced North for some time on the beach of the Gold Coast and concluded in the downtown of Sydney. Countless observations were seen and life long friendships were made. For a place I was previously unfamiliar with, the land down under exceeded my highest hopes.

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