Australia – the ultimate travel guide
Think you’ve seen it all? Even if you spend every holiday at home, there are so many wonderful experiences in our homeland that you can holiday here for a lifetime and still find it new and fresh. Here are some of our top picks.
Where to go
The Bay of Fires, Tasmania for crystal blue water, and dramatic rocky coastlines interspersed with long stretches of pristine white sand. There are easy and challenging walks to choose from (if you choose a harder walk, take snacks and water as it is very isolated). The area also has some lovely beach cafes along the way.
Noosa – whether you prefer a swim at the beach with the family, river jaunts, bushwalking, eating or shopping, Noosa is perfect. Noosa National Park, Hastings Street and the Noosa River are some of the most beautiful and unspoiled places in Australia for family fun. You can self-cater at one of the many reasonably-priced accommodation resorts in Noosa Heads, or camp at the caravan park (camping is prohibited outside designated parks).
The south coast of NSW for beautiful white beaches and wonderful seafood – try Mollymook, Bawley Point or Culburra beaches for great surf and swimming. As well as beach fun, the hinterland has many small villages with great cafes, antique shops and galleries. Visit Mossvale, a quaint little town, Mittagong for its annual Tulip Time festival, or Kangaroo Valley for lovely art and craft outlets and gourmet cafes.
Arts, food and wine
The Margaret River region is famous for its world-class wine, food and gourmet tucker alongside wild, remote and beautiful bush and beaches – an eclectic mix quite unlike anywhere else in the world.
Try the Mornington Peninsula for well-crafted wines and local artworks. Follow the Peninsula Studio Trail to see or buy original works by fine local artists. Stay at one of the many beautiful B&Bs in the area, or pamper yourself at the Peninsula Hot Springs spa, Victoria’s first natural hot springs and day spa centre.
Canberra National Gallery has outstanding permanent exhibitions as well as international ones. Try to coincide with one of their regular blockbuster exhibitions (past shows have included Turner from the Tate, Gold of the Incas and the work of Toulouse-Lautrec). Combine your gallery ticket with entry to Questacon – the hands-on interactive Science Museum – to keep the kids amused.
Adventure and wilderness
Tarkine Forest Adventures is an eco-tourism forest interpretation centre in Tarkine Dismal Swamp. The Dismal Swamp is not like its name – it forms a 600m underground sinkhole that contains unique local flora and fauna including rare blackwood trees. Walkways keep you off the forest floor until the very end where you can take an exhilarating 110m slide down to the ground if you’re feeling adventurous.
Take your time and appreciate the magnificent forest trees, flowers, wildlife and funghi of this centuries-old, heritage-listed wilderness.
Lake Jindabyne in summer for fishing, hiking, sailing and bushwalking, and in winter for easy access to ski and snowboard fields at Thredbo, Perisher or Blue Cow. All three of these resorts cater for families and have excellent beginner runs.
Kati-Thanda Lake Eyre – fly out from Longreach to experience this often-dry salt pan, the second-largest inland salt lake in the world. Some flights will stop at Birdsville for lunch, or you can bring your own (the flight is around 2.5 hours). The lake is often dry but occasionally, when the rains have been good, it is abundant with birds and wildlife. A trip to this ancient watercourse is a wonderful way to experience the peace and remoteness of the Channel country, and see some of the real Australia.
When to go
The dry season in the tropical north runs from approximately April to September and the wet season, when monsoon-like rains often occur, is roughly from October to March. However, the climate in the southern parts of Australia at this time is usually pleasant, with warm weather and fine days.
Cyclone season usually occurs in late January–February, so keep this in mind if you are visiting anywhere north of the Tropic of Capricorn. Keep the radio on for regular updates and seek shelter as advised if a storm hits. January has also been quite hot in Perth and Adelaide over the past 2 years, with some daytime temperatures reaching over 40C for several days.
Snow season in Australia officially starts after the June long weekend, but the best snowfalls in recent years have been later, in late July and August.
Irukandji (deadly jellyfish) season runs from October to May so be aware of this and do not swim in the east coast tropical ocean during this time. Most resorts have pools so you can keep cool and enjoy yourself looking at the ocean.
Longer summer days occur below the 30th Parallel - Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide and surrounding areas.
How to get around
There are many wonderful road trips to be had in Australia – depending on your plans you can enjoy a coastal drive, take a short trip into the outback or drive right across to experience the vastness of this great continent.
If you have a week or more, drive the Great Ocean Road between Melbourne and Adelaide. Visit Bells Beach or the 12 Apostles for jaw-dropping scenery, or meet kangaroos, emus and many wild bird species at Tower Hill State Game Reserve.
12 Apostles, Great Ocean Road
Travel across Australia on the Eyre Highway and Princes Highway, stopping at Mildura, Ceduna, Eucla and Norseman, for a true outback experience. Or try a road trip from Noosa to Port Douglas, along beautiful tropical beach scenery, rainforest and through quirky little towns.
All major airlines fly between the major cities and also into many regional centres.
Most major cruise companies have short 2 or 3 day cruises between Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. Try P&O or Carnival Cruises or check online.
Australia is pretty safe, and Medicare covers most basics if you need treatment for illness or injury. However, there are some basic precautions that should be taken, especially if travelling with children.
Take reasonable precautions against dangerous wildlife – snakes, poisonous spiders and deadly or poisonous sea life such as box jellyfish, irikandji or stonefish.
If you’re heading off the beaten track, let someone know when you leave and when you expect to arrive – the size and remoteness of Australia takes many people unfamiliar with it by surprise.
Keep your home safe – let the police know that you will be away; lock it up or get a house minder that you trust.
Watch for sunburn and heatstroke, especially with small children – slip, slop, slap and stay hydrated.
Swim at patrolled beaches – many tourists and locals have been drowned in water that looks safe but has hidden currents or rips.
Find out more in our article ‘5 Risks and 5 Rewards of Travelling in Australia’. And while you’re here, check out our Glamping Guide for Australia. If you need domestic cover while you explore our beatiful home, Worldcare can help you.