Australia Travel Guide
- 1 You’re Planning a Trip to Australia. Then Start Reading
- 1.1 First, Let’s get to Know Australia Before Traveling
- 1.2 Accommodation and Sleep
- 1.3 Eating & Drinking
- 1.4 Sights
- 1.5 Arts & Culture
- 1.6 Nightlife
- 1.7 Shopping
- 1.8 Sports & Wellness
- 1.9 Events & Festivals
- 1.10 Tours & Day Trips
- 1.11 More Travel Information For Australia
You’re Planning a Trip to Australia. Then Start Reading
Sydney gets a lot of hype as the pinnacle of Australian travel, and for good reason. It is the NYC of Australia, and it is a great place to go see famous cultural attractions. But, see as much else as possible. Get down to Melbourne, fly over to Tasmania, go to South Australia, Perth, Darwin, The Outback, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, go everywhere you can. There is much to see and much to do, so make sure you leave plenty of time in your travel itinerary.
Wear plenty of sun block when you’re out in the Aussie sun. It’s no fun walking around for two days with a T shirt causing you pain (not to mention the more serious health risks). As for crime risks, the probability is pretty minimal. The CBD’s are all very safe. You are more likely to run into trouble when venturing around the suburbs (but even then, troubles are few and far between).
First, Let’s get to Know Australia Before Traveling
Australia travel can be a great experience. Though the plane ride ‘Down Under’ may prove insufferably long, having landed in Australia, you’ll quickly learn why people endure the longhaul. With more fauna, flora, and breathtaking landscape than one could conceivably see in a lifetime, Australia spoils visitors with its great outdoors. Be it the secluded beaches, dense tropical rainforest, or seemingly endless outback, Australia’s terrain triumphs over humanity. On the whole of the Australian continent, a mere 20 million inhabitants populate its impressive 7.7 million kilometers ².
Occupied first and foremost by Aboriginal peoples, it wasn’t until 1770 that British colonizers began to develop the continent, putting it on the proverbial map for habitation. To this day, however, the sum of Australia’s ‘developed’ parts pail in comparison to the untamed. Of course that’s not to say that one should discount Australia’s urban sprawls, easy on the eyes and boasting thoroughly cosmopolitan crowds. Before tackling the russet red outback, kick back and gear up in Melbourne, Sydney, or another of OZ’s cities. When the desire to know what lies beyond those urban limits grows too strong, it’s time to ditch the metro mindset and brave the vast unknown. Bronze yourself on one of the unspoiled beaches, marvel at the stunning gorges and waterfalls, or conquer the famed back country.
Australia’s climate varies dramatically between its regions. The interior is hot and dry, with about two third consisting of desert. The north, on the other hand, reflexs the conditions of a classic tropical climate, with hot, humid summers and a heavy rain season. In the extreme south, the island of Tasmania is far more temperate, putting it something between these two extremes.
Regions of Australia
- Northern Territory
The Northern Territory of Australia extends from the tropical north to the dry hot, red center of the country. West of Darwin sits Kakadu National Park the largest and certainly one of the most impressive of its kind. Encompassing hundreds of miles of wild terrain, the park boasts 2000 million year old rocks and salt water crocodiles, among countless other natural wonders.
Uluru (Ayers Rock), the mammoth monolith that sits in the heart of the country, is arguable Australia’s most recognizable icon, next to its somnolent Koalas and marsupial friends, of course. The exceptional popularity of this rock formation, however, tends to greatly overshadow the other fascinating features of the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park, including the fauna, flora and fascinating Mutitjulu, the Aboriginal community that resides inside the park.
Queensland represents Australia’s second largest state, with a considerable part of its landmass stretching into the tropics. The scope of Queensland’s notable attractions is seemingly endless, hence, hard to enumerate. The world renowned Great Barrier Reef extends along almost its entire coast. The south of the reef butts up against the city of Brisbane and both the Gold and Sunshine coasts, popular amongst surfers and sunbathers. Cape Tribulation, composed of dense, primeval rainforest, is situated in Queensland’s far north, while a detour away from the coast, inland, will bring you to the famed Australian outback. The Leigh River Fossil Fields, near the town of Winton, is where 25 million year old fossil and immaculately preserved dinosaur tracks seduce archeologists and marvel tourists.
- New South Wales
New South Wales sits in the southeast of Australia and is home to approximately one third of all Australians, who reside primarily in the metropolis of Sydney. The state’s two signature attractions are the Opera House and Harbor Bridge, both of which are claimed by the city of Sydney. To provide contrast to the urban sprawl are the breath taking Blue Mountains, thickly forested with the oil bearing Eucalyptus trees. Farther south is Australia’s highest mountain range, the “Australian Alps”. The section of the alps known as the Snowy Mountains, is a popular skiing destination during its cold winters. The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is an self governing, inner enclave, surrounded by the New South Wales, that encompasses the country’s capital of Canberra.
Victoria is the smallest state of the Australian mainland, with Melbourne, the state capital and the country’s second largest city, located in the southeast. In addition to Melbourne considered to be the country’s cultural core there is the famous Great Ocean Road. Not just any road, the Great Ocean Road is 250 km of scenic beauty. It winds through temperate rain forest along the coast, passing immense rock formations that sit in the sea, including the well known Twelve Apostle. The stretch between Port Campbell and Petersborough, contained by Port Campbell National Park, is arguably endowed with the regions must stunning scenery. North west of Melbourne is Grampians National Park, which, along with Wilson’s Promontory National Park on the southernmost tip, offers great climbing and hiking terrain.
The origin of inspiration for a certain carnivorous cartoon character, Tasmania is an island south of Victoria, perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. Almost a quarter of the island consists of protected wildness, including Freycinet National Park in the East and the Franklin Gordon Wild Rivers National Park on the West coast. Exploring Tasmania by bike is a very popular way to see the island and experience the breadth of its natural beauty. For more Tasmania travel guide
- South Australia
South Australia sits south of the Northern Territory and a bit to the east. Its largest city, Adelaide, is one of the county’s culture capitals possessing great aesthetic charm, with wide streets, sandy beaches and a lush, green periphery. Animal lovers are obliged to ditch the urban landscape in favor of a trip upstream to the renowned Kangaroo Island. Rare species of all kinds, including Kangaroo, Wallabies and Koalas takes refuge there, along with countless penguins. In addition to those fuzzy friends, the island, specifically the Barossa Valley, is known for its superb wine vineyards. Off the small fishing town of Baird Bay, one can bath in the company of wild sea lions, while the waters of Glenelg are home to a large community dolphins. For those who prefer to stay dry, an excursion through the Flinders Ranges in northern South Australia is where rugged wilderness and stunning mountain landscapes reside.
- Western Australia
Western Australia is the county’s largest state, encompassing around one third of Australia’s entire landmass. Its astounding size, however, account for its meager residency of only 10% of the total population. This sprawling landscape is dotted with townships, though the majority of people live in the remote, southwestern capital of West Perth. The Ningaloo Reef in the Coral Coast is small, but just as beautiful as the Great Barrier Reef. In the north lies the Karijini National Park with its spectacular gorges and waterfall, while off the southern coast, in Albany, there are whales in Monkey Mia Coral Coast and the chance to swim with dolphins.
Cities of Australia
Australians mulled long and hard over whether to appoint either Sydney or Melbourne the country’s capital. Indecision, however, led to a third option: the construction of a new city that would serve as Australia’s legislative core. Still in its relative infancy, Canberra was established in 1927, therefore, is lacking in historical depth. Despite that fact, it’s a tourist target, with Central Canberra, one of the five large ‘town centers’, constituting the major area of interest. Its governmental architecture, including the High Court and the Old Parliament House, along with various museums and parklands, account for the city’s major landmarks and attractions.
Many assume that Sydney is the capital of Australia and no wonder. As the country’s largest, oldest, and most important city, both industrially and financially, it’s only natural that all eyes are on Sydney. While the city’s aesthetic appeal and outdoorsy flare might win out against its cultural merit, what’s wrong with that? Not to discount the famed Opera House and interesting Aborigine art and culture, but Sydney’s temperate breezes and beautiful beaches reign supreme. A dip in the Bondi surf beats being cooped up indoors anyday. Sydney’s Harbor Bridge, the world’s largest steel arch, beckons visitors to stand atop and take in its expansive view, while the historical and picturesque Centennial Park houses ornamental lakes, native forests, and expansive grassland.
For more Sydney – Capital Of Australia
Australia’s second largest city of Melbourne is widely considered to be the country’s cultural capital. A bevy of museums, galleries, theaters, and cultural institutions enrich the city, along with highly anticipated events and festivals hosted throughout the year. The Melbourne International Film Festival in August, International Comedy Festival in April, and Art Festival in October, account for some of the city’s most prominent events.
To experience the unique Melbourne temperament, just sit at a sidewalk café or along one of the many narrow streets lined with Victorian era architecture to enjoy the refreshing blend of active urbanity and relaxation. To tap into the more bohemian scene, head over to the inner northern suburbs where live music hangs in the air and cheaper prices are the norm.
For something considerably more posh, Melbourne boasts areas, such as South Yarra and Prahran, with a distinct high society sensibility where decadence can be detected in the fashion, bars, and clubs. For something square in the middle, where one can indulge in a little bit of everything, St. Kilda is a safe bet.
This city, enjoying all the standard, urban amenities, is potently unique in one way: it stands to be one of the most remote cities on earth. Perhaps it’s this perceived isolation from the world beyond that accounts its notably relaxed feel. Most any resident of its 1.5 million will testify to Perth’s laid back, safe and quite character.
Based around the Swan River, Perth is rife with coastal beauty, its many pristine beaches generally devoid of crowds. A boat ride along the Swan, picnic in Kings Park, or stroll on the small island of Rottnest, all guarantee sensory relaxation. To experience a livelier facet of Perth, however, visit the district of Freemantle, where the streets are lined with artisans, designers, and street musicians.
Thanks to the temperate Mediterranean climate, outdoor concerts are held for a good part of the year, most of which are free of charge. The city also has some interesting independent and European cinemas like Paradise, Astor, and The Luna cinemas that showcase everything form Bollywood to classic Italian productions. In line with its relaxed temperament, Perth boasts some of the country’s best wineries, as well.
Adelaide is a city suited for experienced wine drinkers and museum goers. Home to Australia’s most famous wine growing region, the Barossa Valley, wine tasting is a popular pastime. The South Australian Museum, considered to be one of the best in the country, also lies within its confines, along with the world’s largest collection of Aboriginal relics on display at the Aboriginal Cultures Gallery. While certainly catering to the winos and art patrons, the petite metropolis of Adelaide does not discriminate. Stylish architecture, boutique shopping, sandy beaches and other attractions make it a city anyone can thoroughly enjoy.
This tropical city in the northeast, qualifies as the quintessential tourist town. Outside the confines of the rainforest that enclose the city is the Great Barrier Reef, located right along its shore, where aspiring and trained scuba divers are privy to its prime conditions. From Cairns, Kuranda and Daintree are accessible destinations. Besides tourism, the city is supported its agriculture that include sugar cane and tropical fruits.
Darwin is a truly multicultural city, with a population that represents a whooping sixty disparate nationalities. Since the cyclone Tracy nearly leveled the city when it tore through in 1974, impressive restoration has turned the city around, into an even more eclectic and interesting urban sprawl. In addition to its urban elements, including premier shopping and a bustling nightlife, there are a handful of parks in the vicinity, including Litchfield National Park, the Katherine Gorge and the famous Kakadu National Park, that warrant a visit. Due to Darwin’s location in the tropics, the weather is sometimes very extreme, so those with sensitivity to the heat should be wary as to not get weary. The rainy season extends October through March, during which time hurricanes are commonplace.
Accommodation and Sleep
Australia’s sleeping accommodation generally fall inline with “Western” standards. Finding a place for the night should never prove a problem, with countless hotels and hostels to choose from, some which will run you a mere 7 bucks nightly.
Australia also boasts an abundance of campsites situated in its countless national parks. From July to November, popular destinations for travelers like Kakadu and Uluru offer prime camping conditions and impressive scenic surroundings. Seaside resorts that bump up against unspoiled beaches can offer exceptional accommodations, many of which are likely to break the bank, but would be totally worth it.
Eating & Drinking
Like the culture as a whole, Australia’s characteristic cuisine is heavily influenced by its 18th century British colonizers, with Marmite and Vegemite as two of the their less appetizing culinary contributions. Australia has a diverse kitchen for travelers. Not limited to the Brits, however, all immigrant groups, including the post WWII Mediterranean and Southeast Asia surges, pitched in their respective tastes to the culinary landscape.
Additionally, there are increasingly more unique, Australian options, as well, some of which are based on “bush tucker,” the forged food of traditional Aboriginal recipes. Pie floater, a meat pie prepared with tomato sauce and set in pea soup, is a popular dish. Other culinary innovations are made with the amply available Kangaroo meat, which tend to be served to tourists rather than enjoyed by locals. Fish and seafood are far more common among the Aussies themselves. To wash it all down, good wine is a plenty, with Barossa Valley and Coonawarra representing Australia’s renowned wine country.
Not many would contest to the fact that Australia’s most notable attractions are the Opera House and Harbor Bridge of Sydney, the Great Barrier Reef, the Great Ocean Road, and Uluru. The majestic Finder Ranges, one of the most stunning places in Southern Australia, run for 400km into the country’s arid planes.
A sanctuary for wildlife and prominent destination for campers, the Finder Ranges capture the essence of the Australian outback. A series of sites that are perhaps less known amongst Australia’s first time visitors are the unconventional wonders of the “Big Things of Australia.” About 150 sculptures of prodigious size span the country, including the Big Mushroom, Big Ant, Big Beer Can or the Big Boxing Crocodile, offering a great excuse for a cross country road trip.
Arts & Culture
Australia’s culture is the combined effect of two distinct influences: the indigenous Aborigines and the European immigrants. In an attempt to better understand the culture of the Aborigines, one should make a point to visit Kakadu National Park, where their wall, rock paintings a remarkable look into Aborigine life still remain visible. Additionally, there are galleries in both Ubirr and Nourlangie that feature similar paintings. The South Australian Museum in Adelaide (North Terrace) is another institution dedicated to the workings of their unique culture.
With Melbourne representing the cultural capital, one is sure to find countless museums, galleries, concert halls and opera houses, along with a lively rock and pop scene. If classical is your preferred genre, be sure to visit the world famous Opera House in Sydney. For your fill of Australian natural history, stop into Sydney’s Australian Museum, the largest natural history museum in the country.
Canberra claims both the National Gallery of Australia (Parkes Place), as well as, the Australian National Museum (Lawson Crescend). The National Museum is an institution dedicated to the modern state Australia, sure to give you a good sense of the country itself.
Australia’s big cities can certainly cater to the nightlife crowd. “The Exeter” in Adelaide (246 Rundle Street), “Metropolis Concert Club” in Perth (146 Roe Street) and “Ruby Rabbit” in Sydney (231 Oxford Street) are just a few. Many of the smaller towns, however, boast not a single club, with the nightlife scene consisting more commonly of pubs and live music. Melbourne’s nightlife is world famous, with quality clubs, DJ’s, live music guaranteed. The city’s liberal attitude have ensured the bar and clubs geared towards gay and lesbian party goers are well accounted for, as well.
Most are quick to think fauna, flora, and four wheel drive when “OZ” is mentioned, rather than couture shopping. The truth is that all Australia’s big cities offer premier shopping, for artisan markets to high end fashion boutiques. Since there is of course no disputing the fact that offloading is a national pastime, one will always be sure to come across a bevy of outdoor pursuits stores, ready to help you gear up for whatever the impending adventure. For those on the market for some quality souvenirage, opal jewelry and aboriginal handcrafts, like the boomerang, are popular gift items. If you’re looking to thoroughly impressive that special someone and have ample space in the suitcase, attempt to hall back a hefty didgeridoo.
Sports & Wellness
Sports and wellness represent an integral part of the active, outdoor Australian lifestyle. The abundant coastal beauty presents ample opportunities for surfing: one of the most popular Australian sports. The Gold Coast in the south of Brisbane is one spot renowned amongst wave riders. For those who prefer to submerge themselves in the surf and examine exotic sea life, one needs only to hit up the Great Barrier or Ningaloo Reef. To raise your adrenalin, there are a bevy of dry land sports, most notably skydiving, paragliding and bungee jumping, that are offered across the country at a reasonable price.
Events & Festivals
The annual “Big Day Out”, held every January, is one of the most prominent open air festivals of Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. Held every Spring, Adelaide is also grounds for the popular music and dance “Womadelaide” festival, initiated to encourage cross cultural music appreciation. The festival takes place in city’s lush botanical garden, attracting hundreds of musicians and artists who share their seductive tunes for three days and nights.
Tours & Day Trips
Australia is full of daytrip opportunities, many of which can be enjoyed by means of boat, bike or horseback riding. The long distance walking trail, Heysen, of South Australia, extends over 1200 kilometers over natural beauty. While most would be weary to conquer the trial in its entirety, walking sections of Heysen is a popular daytrip activity. For those who prefer to the open seas, wale watching tours off the coast are popular, in addition to the sailing tours bound for the Whitsundays, a group of islands in the Great Barrier Reef. North of Brisbane sits the island Fraser, an UNESCO World Heritage site and a popular day trip destination.
More Travel Information For Australia
- Australia Travel Guide
- Survival Tips For Travelers in Australia
- What to do in Australia Activities for Travelers
- 25 Places to Visit in Australia for Travelers
- Customs & Duty Free Australia
- How to Drive in Australia
- What are the English Equivalents of Slang Words in Australia
- General Travel Tips For Australia
- Safety in Australian Outback for Travelers
Remember to visit Spoyler Travel and stay safe.