Australia is one of the world’s best-kept far-flung secrets. It’s any wonder that the earth’s empires haven’t recently invaded to lay claim to a place where coffee is an art form, the beaches are breathtaking and irreverence is a way of life.

From the surf town of Byron Bay to the cultural capital of Melbourne to Sydney’s sparkling bayside beauty and all the charming coastal spots in between, Australia’s cities are strung like gleaming pearls along its vast coastline. Australia has 10,865 beaches – you could visit a new beach every day for 29 years!

Starting at the bottom is never a bad idea when you’re exploring the earth’s under parts and while Melbourne may be a southern city, its unique cultural edge elevates it to world-class. Fashion, culture, art, sport and food snobbery all collide here to make up a delicious mélange of things to do and see.

The bush and the beach are never far away though and the Mornington Peninsula is only an hour’s drive from the city. There, charming coastal villages like Portsea, Sorrento and Sommers are ideal summering spots for lazy beach days or wintering by a cosy fireplace and swilling vino from exquisite cool climate wineries.

After culture and quaffing, subtropical sunshine is in order. Head north to Sydney which is balmy no matter the season. This city invented the notion of ‘dazzling’ – there’s no end to its exhibitionist ways, whether its showing off bays lapped by glittering seas, glam beach bodies, glittering fireworks or a fabulous feast. Just an hour out of the city, the Northern Beaches are where the bourgeoisie go to get more of their summer fill and sprawl along white sandy shores without relinquishing their love of boutiques or A-level baristas.

Winding further north along a coastline so achingly blue it hurts the eye, you arrive at Byron Bay. Byron has managed to preserve its ‘summer of love’ surfer vibe while cultivating a persona of high-end organic and biodynamic fare, lush spa-spots and hip boutiques.

If the apocalypse arrives, don’t fret, there’s always Australia – where being so far from the rest of the world is a designer feature that makes it one of the most beautiful and sought-after places on earth.

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