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Australia in January

Not looking forward to a frosty January where you live? Good news – January is the height of summer in Australia and a great time to vacation there. Events such as the Sydney Festival and the Australian Open tennis championship take place in January, along with the Australia Day national holiday.There’s no place like “Oz” to kick off a new year; and with spectacular fireworks lighting the Sydney Harbour and its iconic bridge, Australia’s largest city is a global mecca for New Year’s revelers of all ages.The Sydney Festival will celebrate the arts Jan. 8 to Jan. 30, 2011. The “Festival First Night” party on Jan. 8 will attract about 250,000 people to the streets and parks of central Sydney for free performances of music, dance and visual arts. The festival offers an incredibly diverse lineup of 300 performances, ranging from burlesque circus to American rap music to indigenous arts. Some events are free; others are no more than $25 per ticket.The Australian Open is the first of the four prestigious “Grand Slam” tournaments that take place each year. It’s an opportunity to travel to Melbourne and see thrilling tennis played by the best in the world. After you take in a match at the Rod Laver Arena, hop on the free City Circle Tram to explore Melbourne. Spend some time at Federation Square to browse the art gallery, museum and wine center.Australia Day, Jan. 26, commemorates the birth of modern Australia. In 1788, Captain Arthur Phillips landed at Sydney Cove to establish the first European settlement. The site of the settlement, known as The Rocks, is now occupied by a charming 19th century village. There are restaurants, bistros and pubs, souvenir shops, weekend markets and live music to enjoy, along with the famous three-hour Bridge Climb on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.January is also prime time for Australia’s famous beaches. If you’d like to relax on some of the whitest beach sand in the world, take a two-and-a-half hour drive from Sydney to Jervis Bay. To get away from any crowds, seek out secluded Hyams Beach and watch for dolphins frolicking in the water. You can also arrange diving and snorkeling trips in the town of Huskisson.There’s much more to explore during the Australian summer, including Brisbane and the Gold Coast, Perth on Australia’s Indian Ocean coast, Tasmania, the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru (Ayers Rock) and other wonders of central Australia. For more information about enjoying an Australian summer vacation in January, talk with a travel professional.

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