On the surface, Australia’s outer beauty—its fuzzy-eared koalas, bronzed surfers, sprawling beaches and postcard-ready city skylines—form its iconic image. But it’s the collective creative output from its people that leaves an indelible image, whether at a modern art gallery in Sydney or theatrical performance in Melbourne. Australia’s Aboriginal culture, dating at least 50,000 years, is also a core part of the country’s fabric, bringing to the mainstream its endemic instrument, the didgeridoo, and dot paintings among other forms of art.
“Australia’s proximity to Asia and history of European settlement, coupled with a strong Aboriginal art and culture scene, make it a unique destination,” said Jane Whitehead, regional general manager, Americas for Tourism Australia.
Australians also know how to celebrate their creativity and robust heritage.
“Australia has a strong track record when it comes to festivals in particular, showcasing everything from the winter lights of Vivid Sydney on the east coast to wines, truffles and produce of the Margaret River Gourmet Escape in the west,” Whitehead said.
DMCs like Ovation Australia can offer bespoke experiences throughout the country as well.
“Adding a cultural element into an event is very popular especially if it allows the delegates to immerse themselves into the Australian culture and heritage,” said Sonja Soderbom, director, destination management, Ovation Australia. “Examples include bringing an Australian indigenous artist to the event and creating a group masterpiece with all delegates either participating in a dot painting or handprint.”
Sydney, capital of New South Wales, stands as a beacon of the country’s arts scene.
“From cultural institutions to annual festivals and major events, Sydney’s arts and cultural scene is easily found on the foreshores of Sydney Harbour, offering stunning water and city views,” Whitehead noted.
“Take for example the internationally renowned Sydney Opera House,” she continued, “which offers unique function spaces, many of which have Harbour views, as well as exclusive experiences for groups including back stage tours. The Sydney Opera House is also part of the annual winter festival, Vivid Sydney, the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas that illuminates the city at night.”
Another main event is an annual Handa Opera production, performed on a unique floating stage in Sydney Harbour.
Other key cultural venues include the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, which can host cocktails for up to 900 and seated dinners for up to 350. MCA offers venues with private outdoor terraces overlooking Circular Quay.
Aboriginal cultural cruises on Sydney Harbour are available with the company Tribal Warrior, offering sails on its Mari Nawi. Onboard, attendees hear stories of the various local Aboriginal tribes and then visit Be-lang-le-wool (Clark Island), an indigenous settlement where groups learn traditional fishing methods and food gathering techniques, as well as participate in an Aboriginal cultural performance.
The city is well-equipped for groups, including its International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney), which opened in December 2016 on Darling Harbour. On the books, InterContinental Hotel Sydney is planning an upgrade that includes a new ballroom. Sydney’s Sheraton on the Park will undergo a renovation in early 2018 that includes updates to its 558 guest rooms.
Access will also get easier from the U.S. next year as United Airlines adds daily flights from Houston to Sydney.
“Melbourne has a strong arts and culture scene that can be found woven throughout the city, from the street art in its laneways to its theaters and cultural institutions,” Whitehead said.