Australian heritage and culture is part of a history rich in stories featuring working heroes and courageous migrants, as well as a deep connection with its Aboriginal heritage. Today, you’ll find that Australia is grown from traditions going back generations, as well as new influences from around the world. With such a vibrant mix of cultures living in one country, it’s no surprise that Australia defines itself by it’s diversity, innovative ideas, and amazing art and literature scene. You may find yourself wondering what the difference is between heritage and culture? To break it down, heritage is that which comes or belongs to one from birth; basically everything that makes up a society’s identity. This includes places, values, traditions, events and experiences. Culture is the total ways of living built up by a group of people, which is then passed on from one generation to the next. Heritage and culture go hand in hand, and in Australia it’s something well preserved.
There area loads of cultural and heritage landmarks and sites to visit in Australia. Each place uniquely contributing to Australia’s past, present and future. Below is a list of some of our favorite places to visit, explore, and catch a glimpse into Australia’s past.
Sydney, a cosmopolitan city filled with culture, heritage, and history. From the Sydney Opera House to the Rocks you’ll have no problem finding heritage sites and cultural landmarks. While in Sydney, make sure you follow the cultural trail from the Rocks to Hyde Park. If you’re an art lover, stop by the Museum of Contemporary Art or the Art Gallery of New South Wales. There’s also a thriving theatre scene in Sydney, catch a performance at the Sydney Theatre Company, Bangarra Dance theater located at Walsh Bay, or any number of the independent theatres in Kings Cross and Surry Hills. Want a relaxing but informative visit? Cruise like a local around the Sydney Harbour and soak up the history, as well as the gorgeous scenery around you. Depending on what time of year you visit, you may also want to check out the many festivals taking place throughout the year, including the Sydney Film Festival in June. If you’re a history buff you might enjoy Fort Denison, a small harbor island where criminals were once held, or the Colonial Mansions of Elizabeth Bay. Ready for your Sydney vacation? Click here to learn more about Sydney and its surrounds.
Melbourne is Australia’s second largest city and was recently named the most livable city in the word for the fourth year in a row. Melbourne is a city full of art, literature, sport, and fashion. While in Melbourne explore the meandering Laneways found in the Central Business District (CBD). Here you’ll find tucked away murals, installations, artist-run galleries, cafes, boutique shops and other amazing treasures of Melbourne. For a more formal art setting check out the National Gallery of Victoria at Federation Square or the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in Southbank. Melbourne, like Sydney, also has a thriving theatre scene. If you have the time catch a performance or two at the Melbourne Theatre Company or Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. For a glimpse into Victoria’s Aboriginal past, head over to City Museum and Melbourne Museum, or go on an Aboriginal Heritage Walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens. Feel like just exploring the city’s architecture? Enjoy a picnic in the gardens of Como Historic House, built in 1847. Or explore the World Heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Buildings in Carlton, built in 1880- also the first Commonwealth Parliament site. If festivals are your cup of tea, check out the International Jazz Festival in May, or the Melbourne Comedy Festival in April. Don’t forget one of the biggest sporting events- the Melbourne Cup, is an event not to be missed. This year marks the 154th year of this momentous horse race, you’ll be amazed at the amount of people and amazing hats that are in attendance. What are you waiting for? Click here for more information on Melbourne and surrounds.
Brisbane is the third largest city in Australia, and like the first two is a hub for the arts. From large galleries like Gallery of Modern Art (the largest of its kind in Australia) to more independently ran spaces and productions that you’ll find in the West End, Brisbane will not disappoint. While in Brisbane check out the skeleton of a Queensland dinosaur at the Queensland Museum, as well as the Queensland Cultural Center- home to the Queensland Art Gallery and Queensland Performing Arts Center. Looking for something a little more off the beaten path? Check out New Farm, this industrial space once was the Brisbane Powerhouse and is now a venue for theatre, comedy, dance, art, markets and restaurants. Brisbane is also big on festivals, if you’re here during September stop by the Brisbane Writers Festival. Love history? Learn about the area’s deeply Aboriginal past and experience local Yuggera dancers perform at Kangaroo Point. Read more about Queensland here.
Perth is the fourth largest city in Australia, but don’t underestimate the amount of cultural and heritage sites you’ll find here. Perth is home to the Art Gallery of Western Australia, as well as the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (both visual and performing arts are cultivated here). You’ll also find the Western Australia Museum, where you can delve into the state’s geological past, explore its rich Aboriginal history, and learn about European settlement. Perth is also home to Australia’s only remaining Edwardian theatre- His Majesty’s Theatre, where the Western Australia Ballet, Opera, and Symphony Orchestra all perform. Cultural festivals are held throughout the year, the best of which is the Perth International Arts Festival- jam packed with a theatre, music, dance, and visual arts. Learn more about Western Australia!
Australia’s fifth largest city, Adelaide is no under dog when it comes to arts, culture, and history. Home to the world’s largest collection of Aboriginal artifacts, explore the South Australian Museum and the wonders of the area’s long history. You’ll also find an extensive collection of colonial art at the Art Gallery of South Australia. On the subject of historical past, head over to Parliament House and Government House; or take a guided tour of the colonial mansion of Ayers House Museum. As far as festivals go, the Adelaide Fringe Festival is one of the top! For the entire month of February, dance and film are celebrated throughout the city. South Australia has so much to offer, for more information click here.
People often forget that Tasmania is it’s own entity, while also being part of Australia. Hobart is the capital of Tasmania, offering up a large helping of amazing food, the arts, and a great chunk of history. In Hobart, you’ll find yourself surrounded by colonial architecture and heritage buildings along the waterfront, Port Arthur for example. Hobart is home to a brilliant art scene, including the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), as well as the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery- make sure you check out the pair of preserved Tasmanian Devils and early settler arts and crafts. At Salamanca, in Sullivans Cove Place you’ll find a busy square full of amazing food, galleries, shopping and music. Speaking of music, Hobart is also home to Theatre Royal, Australia’s oldest theatre and rumored to be haunted. Some festivals worth attending include the Hobart Summer Festival and the week-long Tasmania Festival. Learn more about Tasmania here.
Canberra is Australia’s youngest capital city, but don’t let age fool you it’s also full of significant cultural and heritage landmarks. As the federal capital, it is home to many of the country’s cultural institutions, a thriving art scene, and loads of history. While you’re here check out the National Gallery of Australia, home to the finest collection of Australian artwork. Stop by the National Portrait Gallery and experience history through the portraits of famous Australian artists, as well as other Australian historical artifacts at the National Museum of Australia. Australia is very connected to it’s wartime past, if you’re a history buff check out the Australian War Memorial. This site is an amazing archive of the involvement of Australian troops in war, from the colonial period to the present day. Take a peek into Australia’s political system and watch Democracy in action at Parliament House. No matter your interests, you’re bound to discover a lot about Canberra and Australia’s heritage and culture here. Click here and learn more about this wonderful area!
Located in the Northern Territory, Darwin has a tropical climate, so it’s no surprise that there are loads of outdoor cultural experiences . Aboriginal heritage in the area is long and runs deep. Here you can explore Aboriginal heritage and culture in a multitude of ways. From visiting the Museum of Art Gallery in the Northern Territory to taking a guided Aboriginal tour into the bush, learn about bush tucker and traditional medicine, try your had at the didgeridoo, play the clapsticks, and learn to throw a spear. Discover the stories of Dreamtime and it’s cultural significance. Darwin’s past includes playing a large part in WII; visit the East Point Military Museum and watch footage of the air raids on Darwin and learn about the roles Australia took on during this terrible time. For a truly unique experience stop by Deckchair Cinema where you can watch art house movies under a canopy of stars. Food, Art, music, film and dance are all elements of Darwin’s metropolitan center. Make sure you get the chance to experience the Darwin Festival in August- 18 days of music, dance, theatre, comedy, cabaret, film and visual arts all at the George Brown Botanic Gardens. Also during August is the Darwin Fringe Festival, two weeks of seminars, Aboriginal films, poetry, burlesque and art exhibitions. Whether you’d like to explore the bush or wander the streets, Darwin is the place to be. For more information on the Northern Territory, click here.
Are you ready for to explore Australian heritage and culture first hand? Give us a call at 312.951.8517 and we’ll handcraft the trip of a lifetime! Click here for sample itineraries.