Top ways to... explore Australasia

| May 3, 2019

Have you ever wondered what the best ways to explore Australasia are? Get some expert advice from Cox & Kings below.

An australian sunset. Milford Sound, New Zealand. Photo credit: Thinkstock/ iStock

Australasia is a destination that possesses an almost endless power to enthral. It is a destination of vast landmasses, remarkable landscapes and fascinating history and culture. However, it can also seem a little intimidating to travellers – after all, Australia alone is absolutely colossal, which begs the question, 'What is the best way to travel Australasia?'.

We spoke to Cox & Kings' expert Neill Prothero to find out what the best methods are. Today, we will take you through each of these, and share Neill's tips on the finest experiences to have along the way.

Australasia by coach

Coach tours are an excellent way to explore both Australia and New Zealand, though they lend themselves particularly well to the former, because of the sheer size of the country. Indeed, Neill commented that while you can go on a self-drive holiday in Australia, a coach tour is better if you are hoping to cover large distances.

Explaining that this not only allows you to relax, he added that you can see a lot more if you're not driving yourself – and, after all, that's what your trip is supposed to be about. There are other advantages to travelling by coach too, such as benefiting from the expertise of a local guide, who will give you detailed information on the places you're travelling through and visiting. Of course, this expertise allows you to get that little bit more from your journey than if you were travelling on your own.

Much of Australia is covered by coach tours, but there are some areas where the advantages of this mode of transport really shine. One such destination is the wild and rugged region of The Kimberley, which is located at the top of Western Australia. Characterised by dramatic mountain ranges, stunning gorges and a beautiful coastline, The Kimberley has a wonderful, untouched feel. While this is a key part of its charm, it does make it a little more difficult to drive through, simply because there are fewer places to stop for fuel and refreshments. So, it's much easier to explore it as part of an experienced coach tour than venture into it alone.

Self-drive in Australasia

While the advantages of coach tours are numerous, there are plenty of reasons to embark on a self-drive holiday instead. Your decision may be influenced by where you would like to visit (using the example above, should you have your sights set on The Kimberley, you may find a coach tour more suitable), while you should also consider the level of freedom you crave.

Because of course, the main advantage of self-drive holidays is the fact that you can stop wherever and whenever you please, as well as taking detours. So, they allow you greater autonomy than the same itinerary followed on a coach trip.

Greater freedom is not the sole benefit of self-drive, however. Indeed, if you are a keen motorist then scenic drives are likely to command a strong appeal – and there are some truly spectacular routes to follow in Australia. You can, for example, embark on a seven-day adventure from Sydney to Melbourne, driving through Jervis Bay and the Sapphire Coast, stopping to see the penguins on Phillip Island.

Other tempting prospects include the ten-day drive between Melbourne and Adelaide via the Great Ocean Road, or following the Pacific Coast between Sydney and Brisbane. Any of these itineraries will provide you with plenty of opportunities to stop and explore charming destinations along the way, from little towns and villages to scenic seascapes.

It is also worth bearing in mind that New Zealand is also very well suited to self-drive breaks. Being significantly smaller than Australia, it is easier to tackle behind the wheel.

Iconic Australasian rail journeys

Travelling by rail is an excellent way to explore Australia. Again, this is in no small part thanks to the size of the country; by train, you will have the opportunity to see much more than you would when travelling any other means. After all, flying would mean you miss actually seeing the landscape, while coach or a self-drive trip would take an unfeasibly long amount of time.

Practicality isn't the only advantage, however. Indeed, Australia is home to some truly magnificent train journeys that could be described as attractions in their own right. Neill particularly praised the Ghan, which covers the whole south to north (or north to south – you can travel along it both ways). Running between Adelaide and Darwin via Alice Springs, this historic route whisks you through the stunning landscapes of the Australian Outback.

On this journey, you can admire everything from coastal scenery to the more tropical northern areas and everything in between – a remarkable overview of Australia's diversity. What's more, you can take advantage of off-train excursions to discover these places in more depth. Possibilities include stepping into the underground wonders of Coober Pedy, relaxing in Alice Springs and dining under the stars the MacDonnell Ranges.

Another great Australian rail adventure is crossing from east to west (or vice versa) on the Indian Pacific. Running between Sydney and Perth, it gives you the chance to cross the country is a fraction of the time it would take you by road.

The bulk of Australasia's rail adventures lie in Australia, but there is one notable route in New Zealand too – the TranzAlpine. Connecting Christchurch and Greymouth, this route only lasts a matter of hours (as opposed to the days that the Australian journeys take), but in that time will introduce you to some absolutely stunning scenery.

Cruise around Australasia

Cruising opens up a variety of travel possibilities. Highlighting that there are numerous Australiasian destinations that you cannot reach by any of other means, Neill also noted that cruising is also a very comfortable, relaxing way to travel.

Papua New Guinea is an excellent example of the perfect spot to explore with a cruise; many of the its smaller islands can only be reached by boat. The same is true for parts of The Kimberley in Australia. Then of course, the natural wonder that is the Great Barrier Reef also needs to be visited by cruising – though Neill explained day cruises are the norm here.

Of course, the beauty of a cruise is that it offers more than a means of getting from A to B. While exactly what you can expect depends on the size of your cruise ship, luxury, fine food and comfortable cabins are among the many benefits. Perhaps even more appealing is the fact that some cruises invite experts to talk about the places you're visiting, giving you the opportunity to gain some real insight into them. Biologists, historians and geologists are just a few examples of the kind of speakers offering fascinating lectures – and even answering your individual questions.

See Cox & Kings' holidays to Australasia.

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