Australia is a destination on almost everyone’s bucket list, but as the sixth largest country in the world there is plenty of it to see. If you’re planning a trip down under, here’s a quick run-down to help you get the most out of your visit to the ‘Great Southern Land’.
The big cities
While there are a few major cities in Australia you may want to visit, Sydney and Melbourne are the largest, with Brisbane the next largest yet significantly smaller than aforementioned.
With the majority of flights from the US arriving in one of these cities, there’s a good chance you get the opportunity to visit one of these metropolises and it’s well worth venturing out of the airport to experience what the cities have to offer.
Sydney, with its location surrounding the beautiful Sydney Harbour is home to the very iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, world-famous Bondi Beach and the breathtaking Blue Mountains, whereas Melbourne, which set on the shores of Port Phillip Bay, has a slightly milder climate for the most part of the year (with the exception of the summer months) and is best known for its cute city laneways and vibrant café culture.
The touristy spots
If you’re keen to see some of the popular tourist spots, there’s plenty to choose from.
The Gold Coast (in sunny Queensland only a short drive from Brisbane) is one you’ll most likely recognise, famed for its glorious weather, golden sand and beach-side skyscrapers that are somewhat reminiscent of Miami.
The worlds’ largest coral reef, the Great Barrier Reef, in far north Queensland is another major tourist drawcard. Spanning more than 1800 miles from Bundaberg to Cape York (the most northern tip of Australia), take your pick from staying on the mainland in cities like Cairns, Port Douglas, Rockhampton or Townsville, or get a taste of island life by visiting any of the beautiful Whitsunday islands.
If you want to get a taste of the ‘outback’, Uluru in the heart of central Australia is another iconic attraction. Previously known as Ayers Rock, Uluru is a large sandstone rock formation and sacred landmark for Australia’s indigenous Aboriginal people, which will give you a taste of the diverse topography of the country.
The road slightly less travelled
You would need to dedicate a good couple of years traversing Australia to really experience all it has to offer, however if you want to avoid the big three cities and major tourist hotspots, Australia’s other major cities and surrounds are equally as impressive.
Here’s a quick run-down some other options to consider:
• Experience the ‘Top End’ by visiting Darwin. With its tropical savanna climate, it’s an ideal destination if you want to encounter your first crocodile or experience a very different culture to what you’ll find in Australia’s major cities. Make sure you pay a visit to either Kakadu or Litchfield National Park while there.
• Head west to Perth to experience a different side of Australia. Set on the banks of the Swan river, Perth is a neat and tidy metropolitan city with plenty of nearby beaches to enjoy. Make sure you pay a visit to Fremantle or make the trip south to Margaret River.
• Escape mainland Australia and head south over Bass strait to Hobart or Launceston in Tasmania. With a much cooler climate, these smaller cities allow you to experience a quieter side of the country. Filled with colonial architecture and loads of character, they’re also home to some delicious food. Make sure you also get to experience the breathtaking scenery throughout Tasmania, including a visit to Cradle Mountain.
People always underestimate the sheer size of Australia, so it’s important you do some advance-planning to work out which destinations to include in your travels, as flying back-and-forth from city to city will become very costly very quickly.
Once you’re in a city, it’s relatively easy to get around whether you opt for taxis, public transport, car or minibus hire. Just make sure you’ve got the internet and maps on your phone, as you might find it a little difficult to find free wifi on occasion.
If the dream is to do some road-trippin, Australia has plenty of great road trips on offer—just make sure you plan your trip carefully and know where you can get a gas refill, as gas stations can be few and far between in some rural areas.
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