It’s no exaggeration to say that Australia has something for everyone: endless, dusty deserts; cosmopolitan cities; picture-perfect beaches; lush rainforests; and crystal clear seas….the list goes on and on. The easiest way to approach the country is to decide what you want to do, and choose your destinations accordingly. In addition, be sure to speak to a travel agent about your flights – some airlines may include a number of internal flights in their rates, which can help you see a bit more of the country while you’re over there.
Where to stay
For those to-die-for Opera House views, you can’t beat the Park Hyatt, situated right on Sydney Harbour, under the Harbour Bridge.
The ultimate bush retreat has to be Paperbark Camp, which offers luxury tents in Jervis Bay, just two hours’ drive south of Sydney – it makes a great stop if you’re travelling overland between Sydney and Melbourne.
For that real outback, get-away-from-it all (not to mention blow-the-budget) experience, head for the sublime El Questro Homestead in Western Australia.
Australia’s Red Centre is best experienced from the luxury tented camp at Longitude 131°, not least for the unparalleled views of one of the country’s most iconic sights – Uluru.
A gorgeous base for touring Margaret River’s vineyards, Cape Lodge offers sumptuous accommodation surrounded by beautiful parkland, and just a short distance from the sea.
The beautiful Whitsunday islands are full of wonderful places to stay, including the super-luxurious Qualia on Hamilton Island, where rooms all boast superlative views of the turquoise ocean.
Where to go
If this is your first visit to Australia, definitely factor in a few days in Sydney – it’s an incredibly vibrant city in a superlative location, with a fabulous restaurants, excellent nightlife, deservedly famous beaches, and, of course, an iconic harbour.
For foodies, Melbourne remains the big draw, and an especially excellent place for Asian food. In addition, many visitors prefer it to brasher Sydney, enjoying its more laidback, cultural scene, and its proximity to some truly fabulous stretches of coast.
Drive the Great Ocean Road, one of the world’s most scenic drives, which follows the dramatic southeast Australian coastline for 151 miles.
Discover where the rainforest meets the reef in Far North Queensland, at lush Cape Tribulation – offering the perfect combination of beautiful scenery and exhilarating adventure.
Dive among whale sharks and manta rays at Ningaloo Reef or get up close to dolphins at Monkey Mia, both in Western Australia; or charter a boat to go diving or snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef.
Get off the beaten track and head to Tasmania to do the four-day Bay of Fires walk, which will take you through some of the southern hemisphere’s most beautiful coastal scenery.
Drive a 4×4 across the largest sand island in the world – Fraser Island – and discover dense rainforest, crystal clear freshwater lakes, and unspoilt white sand beaches.
All the tourist literarture in the world won’t prepare you for your first sight of Uluru (Ayer’s Rock), rising above the dusty desert. Spend at least a few days exploring the Red Centre to discover equally astonishing sights like Kata Tjuta and King’s Canyon.
The beautiful islands of the Whitsundays are best explored by boat – and definitely factor in time on Whitehaven Beach, where it won’t take long for you to discover why it is so often voted among the best beaches in the world.
Sample the best Australian wines at one of the country’s many celebrated vineyards – from Margaret River in Western Australia to the Barossa Valley near Adelaide, to the Hunter Valley in New South Wales.
When to go
Australia is so large that there are huge climatic variations – which is great news, as it means it’s a great destination throughout the year as generally somewhere will always be warm and sunny. The bottom third of the country (including Sydney and Melbourne) has the most temperate climate, experiencing summer from December to February – this is the best time to visit if you want to head to these cities and spend some time on the beach. At this time of year, however, you’ll most likely find northern Queensland and the Northern Territory far too hot and wet. Visit from April to September, however, and you’ll find the tropical weather much more enjoyable.