Thanks for all your help in creating a truly memorable holiday.Miss Spencer
Thanks for all your help in creating a truly memorable holiday.Miss Spencer
There are endless things to do in Australia – from snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef to exploring cosmopolitan cities, from discovering Uluru and the surrounding sweeping plains to trekking through humid, tropical rainforest. Even then there are the natural landscapes of Tasmania – an island whose mineral formations have more in common with North America than the ‘mainland’. As there is so much to see and do in Australia, we have broken down the main attractions by region in this guide.
NSW is home to one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world – Sydney. This city is the entry point for most first-time visitors to Australia, and merits a few days to explore its major sights including the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Bondi beach.
Outside of the city the region has much to offer, including the Blue Mountains, the vineyards of Hunter Valley, Lord Howe Island and plenty of beautiful coastal towns.
Also known as the ‘Sunshine State’, Queensland has a tropical climate with countless superb beaches, pristine rainforest and the incredible Great Barrier Reef. Heron, Lizard and Hamilton Islands all offer the chance to stay out amongst the reef. Meanwhile, Cairns and Port Douglas are perfect for exploring the lush tropical north and the Daintree rainforest.
Roughly the size of the British Isles, Victoria offers unique and varied landscapes including sweeping coastlines, pristine beaches, national parks and forests. The capital, Melbourne, is a diverse cultural centre and is the starting point for one of the world’s most scenic drives – The Great Ocean Road. Explore the wildlife of Phillip Island, the beautiful Mornington Peninsula and the wine region of the Yarra Valley.
The classic Australian outback landscapes and the famed Uluru (Ayers Rock) can be found in the Red Centre, reached from the town of Alice Springs. Little-visited are the tropical wetlands of the Top End. This vibrant area is home to many species of birds, flora and fauna, spectacular gorges and ancient rock carvings. The capital city, Darwin, is Australia’s closest city to the equator, and is the first or final stop for The Ghan train. The city is the starting point for visits to the Kakadu National Park and Aboriginal regions of Arnhem Land and the Tiwi Islands.
Sometimes overlooked by travellers, Western Australia has much to offer. Discover the rugged landscape of the Kimberley in the north, with fewer people per square kilometre than almost any other place on earth. Swim in the warm turquoise seas of the Indian Ocean off the Coral Coast, explore the Ningaloo reef in the north-west (and snorkel with the whale sharks), or drive to the vineyards, forests and beaches of the south-west.
South Australia boasts world-class wineries, scenic countryside, classic Australian outback scenery and excellent wildlife viewing. Uncover the cosmopolitan city of Adelaide, the vineyards of Barossa Valley and the wildlife of Kangaroo Island. Visitors to the north of the state can discover the opal-mining town of Coober Pedy – where more than half the population lives underground – and the mountainous Flinders Ranges.
Tasmania has some unique flora, with extremely diverse vegetation ranging from grasslands and eucalyptus forests to alpine heathlands. Much of the natural environment is protected in reserves, national parks, and world heritage sites, resulting in untouched wilderness areas that support an abundance of wildlife with some excellent hiking trails. The island has a fascinating penal history; more than 70,000 men, women and children were transported here in the early 1800s, and many of the towns and structures built during that time are still standing today.
Australian cuisine has continued to develop, influenced by a multicultural society. The result is a fusion of different cooking styles and tastes, and a huge range of experiences, from fine dining restaurants to native bushtucker. Each territory has its own specialities, and the country’s pristine rivers and tropical coastal waters mean that high quality seafood, such as salmon, oysters and barramundi, are widely available. All this can be enjoyed in some incredible outdoor settings, from under the stars in the Red Centre, to remote islands with idyllic ocean views and rolling vineyards in Australia’s many wine-producing regions.
Aboriginal Australians are believed to have lived in Australia for over 50,000 years, with a fascinating culture passed on through art, dance, myths, music and the land itself. The Northern Territory and Queensland are typically the best places to experience Aboriginal culture, although related sights and excursions are scattered over the whole country. The differing styles of Aboriginal art can be viewed, and sometimes bought, in cities throughout Australia, including the Yiribana Gallery, part of the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, and the Mbantua Aboriginal Art Gallery in Alice Springs.
At Australia’s heart is the dusty Red Centre with its striking desert landscape and outback towns. Take a sunrise tour to Uluru and discover its significance to the Aboriginal people, or perhaps enjoy a fine dining experience under the stars while enjoying great views of the rock. Learn about outback life in Alice Springs and explore the spectacular rim of Kings Canyon on a guided walk. Alice Springs is also a stop on The Ghan passenger train. For a special experience, take a scenic flight or helicopter ride over the area for a remarkable aerial view of the landscape.
In stark contrast to the Red Centre, the Top End is a tropical region with rainforest, flood plains and wetlands. Due to the wet season which brings flooding and extreme weather, this part of Australia has a short 6-month window for travel. The huge distances involved make multiple night stays in wilderness areas the ideal way to get the most from a visit, and there are several unique lodges to use as a base for exploring this rugged and wildlife-rich region. This area is a paradise for bird enthusiasts, with over 300 species recorded including jacanas, azure kingfishers, magpie geese and black-necked storks (jabiru).
Australia’s third largest island and one of the country’s top natural wonders. Just a short flight from Adelaide or ferry from Cape Jervis, Kangaroo Island is rich in European history and abundant in wildlife, much like a zoo without fences. Wild native species you may encounter during a stay on the island include tammar wallabies, short-beaked echidnas, kangaroos, koalas, sea lions, little penguins and brushtail possums. Dramatic cliffs, pristine secluded beaches and national parks dominate Kangaroo Island.
See Australia come alive in this image and video gallery, showing off some of the best areas that you can visit and explore.
Discover the temperatures and rainfall you can expect when visiting the main areas of Australia, along with the best time to travel.
We have collated some of the best books and guides to Australia, to help you make the most of your holiday to the country.
Find out more about what you can expect from travelling in Australasia & the Pacific – from internal flights to accommodation standards and local transport.
Learn more about the airlines we use to fly to Australasia & the Pacific, chosen for reliability and good service; as well as any available upgrade facilities.
Before travelling to Australasia & the Pacific, please read more about the entry requirements for each country, as well as any general health advice.
Get to know our expert Australasia tour consultants, their personal recommendations and favourite hotels around the world.