Australia should be on everyone’s bucket list, and we’ll tell you why it’s a number one destination!
#1 travel destination for backpackers, honeymooners, and holidaymakers
We need only whisper the word Australia and your mind will dream of endless sunshine, pristine white beaches, road trips in a campervan and, oh, those unforgettable Fosters adverts with the kangaroo.
‘Down Under’ wins accolades for its outstanding natural beauty, for one. It’s not all cork hats, surfer dudes, and shrimps on the barbie, as the clichés would have you believe. Australia has it all – and that is no exaggeration. The country boasts every landscape you can think of, from arid outback, to breath-taking coastlines, wild jungles, vast mountain ranges, coral reefs, and enough islands that you could visit a new one every day for 22 years. Fact. It’s no wonder that there are an incredible 12 natural sites around the country with a reputed UNESCO World Heritage status, not including four outstanding National Parks and the whole of Tasmania. Note: it’s also no surprise that with all that nature you’ll also find enough wildlife to shake a stick at (literally, you might have to).
But Australia is far away…
We understand that one of the biggest hurdles when planning a trip to Australia is its location. It’s far – we know, we’ve been there. A good 24-hour journey away, generally, it’s no surprise that many people balk at the thought of being stuck on a plane for that length of time. But just wait until you get there, and you’ll forget all about that screaming baby in 16F. Promise.
There are hundreds of flights flying daily from all across the world, with many stopping off in the Middle East, China, or Bali. So, if you want to break up your journey, you could even enjoy a mini-break in exotic Indonesia or make the most of Dubai’s Duty Free on your way over. For this reason, most people tend to book a 2-week trip to Australia, or longer, which makes sense as you’re flying half way across the world and you’ll need a good day or two to get your head around the jet lag. To begin with, we suggest you fly into either Sydney, the chic capital of New South Wales, or Melbourne, Victoria’s quirkier alternative. A few days in either will give you a chance to get your bearings and work out your G’days from your how y’goings.
When’s the best time to go?
Australia’s ‘high season’ is our ‘low season,’ so their summer starts from November and runs as far as March, if you’re lucky. Many tourists and travelers plan winter escapes, especially around the period of Christmas and New Year, heading for hotter climes where temperatures average a high of 78.5⁰F/(25.5⁰C) in Sydney and well over 86⁰F/(30⁰C) up in the northern states. There’s a reason it’s called the sunburnt country.
For those interested in water-based activities, the best months for the Great Barrier Reef are June – September when water clarity is at its best (up to 50m!) and when you can see migrating humpback whales, too. But if you’re dreaming of deserts and the arid outback and plan on spending time in the epic Northern Territories, then no matter what time of year it’ll be scorching, so it might be better to plan a visit during the middle of the year, which is their winter/spring time, to make it slightly more bearable.
‘Down Under’ wins accolades for its outstanding natural beauty. It’s not all cork hats, surfer dudes, and shrimps on the barbie.
What kinds of accommodation are there?
For those 18-25 budget backpackers, there is a plethora of hostels with inexpensive dorm rooms to choose from. Australia is one of the most popular destinations for those starting out on their travels or looking to work for a year.
For families, honeymooners, and those with a penchant for luxury, of course there are also wonderful hotels, international chains, and small boutiques to suit all needs. Airbnb is always another reliable option with hundreds of listings everywhere from city centers to beach fronts, should you wish quiet independence. If you like the idea of going off-grid, but in style, Australia eclipses its rivals with award-winning eco-lodges nestled in its outstanding natural beauty, such as wild jungle treehouses, secluded beach huts, and cabins in a private vineyard.
Those vagabonding over vacationing, who prefer to sleep under the stars than in five stars, Australia is also a popular destination for camping and road trips. With some of the most beautiful roads and routes in the world, campsites, and endless stretches of beach to use as your playground, the country is set up for those with a nomadic lifestyle. Many also hitch–hike or car share across the country with nothing but a tent and a smile.
…the country is set up for those with a nomadic lifestyle.
How to choose where to visit first
Australia is a huge country, so unless you have months, or even years, it’s impossible to see it all in one visit – even the highlights! Many start on the East Coast, working their way up from Sydney or Melbourne, to the Great Barrier Reef. This is a perfect introductory route and one of the more popular ones, so you’ll always find a place to stay and plenty or organized tours and activities at the last minute.
The popular East Coast route
Sydney, of course, is the cosmopolitan capital of the East Coast with its iconic Opera House and harbor, Bondi Beach, and breath-taking Blue Mountains a few hours outside the city. A bit further west, is Melbourne, the hip and artsy sister city, renowned for its laid-back vibe and its coffee. While we’re sure you’ll love them both for different reasons, if you ask any Aussie which one is their favorite, you’ll find their fierce loyalties will lie with one city only!
Up the coast is the hippie haven, Byron Bay, an alternative cultural hub with beaches galore and unique to anywhere else in the country. Here you’ll find a younger, barefooted and carefree crowd, addicted to surfing no matter the time of year. With a handful of artisanal shops and delicious gourmet eateries, and just a few hours from the notorious Nimbin, it’s no wonder so many make a beeline for Byron’s bohemia.
Surfing in Byron Bay
Fraser Island is one of Australia’s most famous and most beautiful UNESCO Heritage Sites, accessible by ferry boat and 4×4, and whose only roads are the beach. Spend a night or two camping with the dingoes, swim in the turquoise waters of Lake McKenzie, trek through the dense rainforests, and photograph the shipwreck, exploring the island’s treasures along its 75 Mile Beach highway.
Your next stop from there could be the Whitsundays, the ’74 island wonders’, where you’ve probably seen photos of the picture-perfect Whitehaven Beach and Heart Reef, jewels of the ocean. Take in the breath-taking sea views from aboard a sailing ship, one of the best ways to experience the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef, and don your mask and snorkel to discover the exotic marine life below the sea.
Image credit: Fiona McCoss
Daintree Rainforest is the oldest rainforest in the world – even older than the Amazon! As Australia’s largest rainforest, too, its ecosystem is one of the most complex on the planet and whose dense lush tropical jungle is fringed with beach and reef. This incredible rainforest deserves a good day or two of exploration to learn about all the wildlife and plant life that call this ancient rainforest home.
Image credit: Fiona McCoss
The road less traveled: The Northern Territories & West Coast
The Northern Territories and outback offer some of the most arid landscapes in the world. Located in the more remote parts of the country, Uluru (another World Heritage Site) and Flinders Ranges are top destinations for the intrepid traveler. Head deep into the desert to see the red sands, sparse but spectacular flora and fauna, and ancient Aboriginal carvings in rocks over 350 million years old.
While Australia’s West Coast is a path less trodden, for many this is exactly its appeal. Some consider Australia’s true beauty to lie on the western side of the country, from the Kimberley down to Margaret River. The Kimberley, in the north-west corner of the country, is a huge expanse of wilderness frontier where you’ll find canyons, swimming holes and the city of Broome, home to the epic 14-mile strip of beach.
Australia also boasts some of the best vineyards in the world so it would be a crime not to enjoy a wine tasting while you’re there. The beautiful Margaret River, a few hours south of the West Coast’s quiet capital, Perth, is one of the most renowned and picturesque wine lands in the country so make it a must and add an authentic gourmet experience to your itinerary.
Getting from A to B
Depending on who you’re going with and why will determine how you might want to travel around the country once you’re there. If you’re tight on time, flying is clearly the fastest way to get from A to B, especially if you’re covering a significant distance. Airlines like Tigerair, Jetstar, and Virgin Australia are the most popular domestic airlines, flying at reasonable prices even at the last minute.
Greyhound buses are the preferred option for those traveling at a more leisurely pace. With routes across the country, these coaches run through the day and overnight, and they have Wi-Fi on board, too. Other alternatives include hitch–hiking, should you be really watching your Aussie dollars, or to rent a car and drive yourself splitting the petrol costs along the way with fellow car sharers.
Culture & Cuisine
One of the biggest cultural celebrations in Australia is Australia Day, a public holiday on the 26th January, when, in true Aussie style, you’ll probably be partying from morning until night. This day marks the arrival of the first British fleets at Port Jackson, NSW (along with their cargo of convicts) in the 18th century. So, it’s not surprising given the history that Australia’s culture is fairly Anglicized. But Australia’s true ancestors are the Aboriginals, and you can discover more about their customs, language, spirituality, and way of life, at a number of fascinating museums across the country, such as Australian Museum in Sydney and Canberra’s National Museum of Australia.
If you’re someone who likes to Instagram your meals then you’ll be draining that battery of yours, quick.
When it comes to cuisine, Australia’s food game is another level. Being the health-conscious bunch that they are, you’ll find delicious banana breads (the nation’s staple), avocado toasts, and gluten–free and vegan options on every menu, not to mention fresh juices and smoothies to wash it all down.
Where eating al fresco is concerned, you won’t find a better barbie (BBQ) than in Australia. These kids have grown up to grills and beers in the coolie so, to learn from the pros, we suggest you mingle with the locals to see what’s what – and don’t forget the Goon! That’s a box of cheap wine, to you and me. If you prefer finer dining, Australian seafood is top notch. Fresh, local, and caught daily, there’s ‘barra’ (barramundi) everywhere, alongside mahi mahi, and tuna. Australia is also notorious for its meat eating and, with old British traditions still going strong, you’ll find plenty of mouth-watering roasts and Fish’n’Chip shops across the country. Don’t forget, Aussies don’t do mayo so ask for aoli, their garlic version, instead.
In a nutshell…
We’re not pretending Australia is a new destination, or that it’s virgin turf; but we’re championing it for its longstanding magnetism for intrepid travelers, honeymooners, and family holidaymakers alike, reminding everyone why we love it so much. No matter how much or how little time you have to explore this vast country, you’ll be enamored from the moment you step off the plane and will never want to leave.
(But, when you have to, just try not to dwell on that 24-hour journey back home…)