Australia Day is a fun house mirror version of July 4. Instead of celebrating their independence from Britain, Aussies raise a pint to the arrival of the conquering Limies at Sydney Cove in 1788. Rather than wrapping their national day in patriotism and touting its historical significance, most Australians just go to concerts and enjoy the January sunshine.
Strange as it may be, Australia is boundlessly wonderful and should be celebrated. Its people have a can-do spirit and can openers at the ready. Its landscape is both forbidding and welcoming, offering the wastes of the Outback and the White Sands of Fraser Island. There is much to discover between Cairns and Perth, not the least of which are the numerous poisonous animals that will try to kill you should you try to make the trip from Cairns to Perth.
Yes, Australia is easy to mock. The country's most respected emissary is Paul Hogan and the didgeridoo is ludicrous, unwieldy instrument. But there is also much to love. The terrifying, anything-goes charm of Darwin in the Northern Territory nicely compliments the tony appeal of the wine country due south. Tasmania continues to exist whether you forget about it or not.
With our profound respect (and apologies), here is a tribute to the things that make Australia the "Wonder Down Under."