Is it too far to travel to Australia?
The land downunder has so much to offer it’s worth travelling a little further and for longer
It’s surprisingly easy and more affordable than you think to travel to Australia from North America or the UK these days, especially if you’re not afraid to stay in less than 4-star accommodation, love to go glamping, RVing or hitch a caravan/trailer to your rental car and just drive or even take the train.
The most difficult task is deciding which area of Australia to visit first…the largest island nation on the planet is vast, diverse and truly unique. Each state or territory has so much to offer the adventure-hungry, as well as those who love beautiful landscapes and remarkable geology, pristine beaches and crystal clear oceans, a unique history and culture as well as warm and friendly hospitality. Once you’ve been once, you’ll definitely want to go back to experience even more.
North Regions: Lush tropical forests and thermal pools
The northern regions, which are closest to the equator are hot all year-round, with a rainy summer season (December-February) and dry winters (June-August), resulting in lush green tropical forests and spectacular waterfalls. (Note: the seasons are opposite to those in the northern hemisphere.)
The north also offers plunge pools and walking trails, as well as a natural infinity pool and thermal pools. What’s more, the region abounds in Aboriginal culture in the form of paintings, carvings and fabric designs.
Southern Regions: Stunning coastal scenery, majestic mountains, unique fauna and world-class vineyards
The southern regions and most of the eastern and western coast, by comparison are temperate and mild, more like the Mediterranean. Although cooler than the north, it rarely gets cold during the day even in winter, except for high on the mountains, where it’s cold enough to ski. It can get cool at night in the winter, particularly further south, such as in Tasmania.
The southern, eastern and western states offer spectacular coast lines, unique fauna not found in the wild anywhere else on earth, and majestic mountains, as well as vibrant cities and towns full of Aboriginal history, culture and Australian traditions, not forgetting world-renowned vineyards and golf courses.
The Red Centre: Unique and diverse landscapes rich in Aboriginal history and culture
The middle latitudes can be very dry, especially in the centre of the country, known as the Outback or Red Centre, where temperatures are the most extreme and the landscape is unique and diverse.
The interior is known for its dry red deserts and, of course, such landmarks as Uluru (or Ayers Rock), its deep canyons, lush valleys, towering gorges and natural waterholes, not to forget it has an interesting long Aboriginal history and culture.
Easy to navigate
A well-maintained road circumnavigating the island, hugging the coast in many areas, the longest railway in the world, and roads connecting major cities, as well as a network of domestic airlines, provide tourists with convenient routes and a variety of ways to travel round and through the entire country.
With such a long coastline and vast interior, there is so much to see, do and experience in Australia, no matter which area of the country you decide to visit.
Where else in the world can you see endemic animals such as koalas, kangaroos, wallabies and other marsupials roaming freely in their natural habitat?
If you’re not convinced yet, below are some of my must see-do experiences (going clockwise from Sydney) to put on your travel bucket list. Some you may have heard of before, while others may experiences may be new to you:
New South Wales
High on the must see-do experiences if you visit the vibrant city of Sydney are:
- climbing the Sydney Bridge is a must-do experience on a visit to Sydney, especially if you enjoy adventure
- a boat tour around Sydney Harbour, the best way to see many of Sydney’s sites
- taking in an evening show at the Sydney Opera House
- a drive or bus ride to Bondi Beach is a must-do if you’re a surf fan
- a ferry ride to Manly Beach, one of the best beaches in Sydney, is also a must see for surf fans, but is also a great place for shopping and sightseeing.
- If you prefer quieter beaches, like me, you’ll find 10 secluded Sydney beaches here.
Blue Mountains National Park
This World Heritage listed National Park is a must see-do experience for nature and adventure seekers. In summer, go walking, hiking or ziplining, or go skiing in the winter months. You can even ride the steepest incline railway in the world. You’ll also enjoy magnicent views such as the Three Sisters (pictured).
Capital City Territory
- Canberra, the capital city, where the first explorers arrived in 1820 and the first settlers came in 1824;
- the 12 Apostles – stunning coastal rock formations about 80 km south of Melbourne;
- Phillip Island – about 140 km south of Melbourne, where you’ll meet millions of fairy penguins (see where else in Australia you can see these tiny penguins);
You’ll need to hop on a ferry or plane from Melbourne to reach Tasmania (assuming you’re circumnavigating Austrailia), but it’ll be well worth the trip.
For such a small island, there is actually a wealth of stunning landscapes, wildlife, history and culture to experience. You can see 5 things you’ll love about Tasmania here, but here are my must see-do experience here include:
- A hike on the Overland Track in Cradle Mountain National Park
- A boat tour of Wine Glass Bay
- Sampling the fish in Stanley
- Kangaroo Island – southwest of Adelaide, where you’ll find kangaroos that are different from the mainland species;
- Taking the Ghan Railway through the Outback to Alice Springs and Darwin. This is a bit of a detour (or can be done if touring the country in a figure 8) but I think this is the best way to reach the Red Centre overland as it saves a lot of driving.
- Rottnest Island – Located near Perth, a visit to this car-free island is almost at the top of the list of my must-see-do experiences in Australia. Here you’ll find a large population of the cutest little marsupials unique to Australia, known as quokkas;
- Monkey Mia – located about 900 km North of Perth, this is at the top of my must-see-do list if you’re on a road-trip from Perth. Here the dolphins come to the shore twice daily to be hand fed by humans. Only a few are lucky enough to be chosen to feed them too.
For me, there are too many must-see-do experiences in Western Australia, but I highlight 10 things you will love here.
- Devils Marbles (or Karlu Karlu). These rockforms (pictured above) are not only unique and unusual geomorphological features but are also of great Aboriginal significance both culturally and spiritually;
- Uluru (or Ayres Rock). A visit to the most famous landform in Australia is, of course, on everyone’s bucket list. But did you know you can marvel at this natural wonder while dining under the stars or breakfasting at sunrise?
A road trip from Brisbane to Cairns is a must do. It’s the only way you’ll get to see all these wonderful coastal must sees in Queensland.
- the Great Barrier Reef (of course)
- Whitsunday Islands
- Fraser Island
- The Sunshine Coast
- and so much more.
Want to experience 2 Australian States and a Territory in 14-21 days?
If any of the above excites you and your Australian bucket list is filling up, you probably don’t know where to start. Take a look at this circular road-trip between Melbourne in Victoria and Sydney in New South Wales.
While you won’t get to see ALL the must-see-do experiences mentioned above, it’s a good place to start and can easily be done during most people’s annual vacation time (give or take a week).
The journey takes in some of the must sees, dos and experiences in the southern regions of Australia, including 3 capital cities, and will give you a taste of the country. So much so, it will have you wanting to go back for more, again, and again.