Most everyone in Australia lives on the coast, in thriving modern cities like Sydney and Melbourne. Australia is also one of the most multicultural countries in the world – largely owing to its founding population of criminals and outlaws – so its food, culture, and entertainment scene is incredibly diverse and varied. A youthful population also characterizes such cities, and you’d be hard pressed to find a place where the nightlife is only subpar. Australians also revere their beaches: surf culture is huge, and people are raised to understand the ocean.
Australia’s interior is extremely dry and arid. Many people feel like this is where the country’s real magic shines through: under bright blue skies, and surrounded by red earth and stunning desert gorges. It’s also home to the famous Uluru (Ayers Rock), and an indigenous group that has been surviving for 70,000 years. The best way to get to know the indigenous peoples is to head to the Northern Territory, where making personal contact is easier than you’d think.
Places to Visit in Australia
- Alice Springs
Unique Things to See and Do in Australia
- Uluru (Ayers Rock)
- Sydney’s Opera House
- Fraser Island
- The Great Ocean Road
- Bondi Beach
- The Whitsundays
Arguably the best reason to come to Australia is to experience what a vast, stunning country it is, and to learn how the landscapes influence the culture. The variety within these borders is astounding: you can hit the desert in the outback, hike the Blue Mountains, hang out on Bondi Beach, or go on a sailing adventure in the Whitsundays (among a few).
If it’s a road trip you’re after, take the Great Ocean Road, considered the world’s most scenic coastal drive. It’ll take you 243 kilometres along the southeast coast of Australia, winding along narrow roads and giving you fantastic views of popular landmarks like the Twelve Apostles limestone stacks. Most people tend to start out on this route in Melbourne, but give yourself plenty of time to do it – there’s an incredible amount to see and do along the way. Believe it or not, many people even hike it.
For a more tropical vacation, Sydney’s Bondi Beach is popular for a few reasons: it’s massive, the sand is soft, and the views are epic! Folks seeking a quieter destination will want to head to Fraser Island where lakes, dunes, and the world’s largest sand island make a perfect destination for photographers. Then there’s the Whitsundays, where the stretches of white-sand beaches hardly seem real. If you’re a surfer, you’ll never be too far from good surf, no matter where you are in Australia (except maybe the outback).
There’s also the Kimberley, considered Australia’s “last frontier.” It’s remote, wild, and surrounded by coastline and deserts. Inside the area you’ll find gorges, tall mountains, and waterfalls galore. Take the Gibb River Road, and you’ll be exploring the REAL outback! You’ll also be able to interact with aboriginals here, especially on the Dampier Peninsula and the Mitchell Plateau.
Getting around Australia
Australia is big and sparse, so you must plan accordingly. Although it’s nearly as big as the USA, its population is only 23 million. You’ll find most of the population on the east coast, in cities like Melbourne, Sydney, Cairns, and Brisbane. In other words: give yourself lots of time to explore. Flying is the quickest and most convenient way to travel between the major cities. There are many domestic airlines, so prices are usually fair. Each city also has very reliable public transit.
However, if you want to do that Great Ocean Road trip (or any other road trip), a rental is your best option. You can hire anything from a car to a motorbike, and you’ll be able to travel at your own pace. You can even drive into Australia’s Red Centre, across the desert. The roads here are very well maintained!
But the most unique way to see the country is by train. It’s affordable, convenient, and gives you a different perspective of Australia’s landscapes. Interstate and intra-state rails connect cities and regional centres, but you can even do a cross-country train trip. For example, The Ghan and Indian-Pacific routes will carry you from one end of the continent to another.
Did you know…?
Melbourne has been named the world’s most livable city!
Did you ALSO know…?
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living thing on the planet.
Best time of year to travel to Australia
Spring is a fantastic time of year to visit Australia (between September and November) because temperatures are not too hot and not too cold. Autumn (from March to May) is also comfortable. Summer temperatures can skyrocket, and flights get expensive during the Christmas season.
Depending on what you’d like to do upon arrival, check to make sure which activities are seasonal. For example, if you’re whale watching, the best time to visit is June!
Ready to plan your visit to Australia? Check out these popular guides and trips.