Australia can be a daunting place. It is really far from everywhere. It is really expensive. It is really big and there is so much to do that you might go crazy trying to figure out what to do. There are also so many different ways to travel around the country and so many destinations, that if you only have 2-3 weeks then you might go nuts trying to plan. I have spent a ton of time in Australia and it is always my default “what’s your favorite country” answer. So I am here with some Australia Travel Tips to quickly tell you what to do, where to go, when to go, how to go and how to save money traveling in Oz.
The first thing to remember about Australia is it’s really big. It is more or less the size of the United States. It is broken down into several states, all with state capitals and all very different. If you are on a tight schedule of a few weeks then planning what you’re going to do and where you’re going to go is essential. You cannot “do” the whole country in 2-3 weeks as many Americans will try to do. This means you need to figure what you like and want and prioritize from there.
When to go
The best and surely the most popular time to go is during the southern Australia summer of December to March. This is when the big cities of Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide are really hot and full of tourists. It is also probably the most fun time to go with the most festivals and events. The north of the country is pretty much hot all year round which includes the upper Queensland attractions near the Great Barrier Reef and the Northern Territory including Darwin.
Where to go
Australia has no shortage of destinations to visit. From some of the world’s great cities: Sydney; Melbourne; Perth; along with Brisbane, Cairns and Adelaide. With the exception of Adelaide, I love each of these cities and couldn’t recommend them any higher. In fact, if I had a reason to move to Sydney I would in a heartbeat, it’s that great a city.
Aside from cities, Australia is known for its beaches and beach towns. Along the east coast of Queensland and New South Wales is an unending heaven of beaches and small islands to choose from. Some of the best spots are Fraser Island, Whitsunday Islands, Byron Bay, Nimbin, Surfers Paradise, Airlie Beach, Cape Tribulation and Port Douglas.
The seldom visited west coast also boasts great beaches in and around Perth along with the awesome islands nearby including Rottnest Island and down south to Margaret River.
Best things to do
Head to the Outback. Just go, fly to Alice Springs and set up a 3-5 day driving/hiking tour to Ayers Rock, Kings Canyon and you will not be disappointed, trust me. You can book these all over the country.
Go to Melbourne for a sports event. Melbourne boasts several Australian Rules football teams and the historic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). It also hosts the best tennis tournament in the world, the Australian Open which starts this coming weekend. Finally it has the Melbourne Grand Prix Formula One event. All are a lot of fun and shouldn’t be missed.
Stay in a Sydney beach town. Whether it be Bondi (my favorite below), Coogie, manly or any of a number of others, you can’t go wrong. Sydney is my favorite city for a reason. If you love the beach, a laid back vibe and some reasonably cheap eats, hang in a Sydney beach town.
Driving safari on Fraser Island. The world’s largest sand island is awesome. You get in a group SUV and drive the island, camp and just have a blast. You swim in amazing tropical lakes, awesome jungle and have memorable fireside nights of barbie and beers with people from all over the world. Just watch out for the dingoes!
Sail the Whitsunday Islands. Get on a catamaran and head out for a few days of bliss in the Coral Sea. Visit exotic and beautiful islands, snorkel, dive and have a blast amongst your touristic peers. A great way to spend three days.
Make the trek to Cape Tribulation. North of the tourist mecca of Cairns, Cape Trib as it’s known is an awesome alternative to mass tourism. You can trek through tropical jungles, go on crocodile tours and swing into warm rivers whilst feeling like you’re off the usual tourist track.
Go to Western Australia. WA is Australia’s biggest state and is perhaps its least explored and best state. The amazing capital city of Perth is teeming with life and things to do. Margaret River is amazing and Rottnest Island is as nice as it gets. Head up to Broome or just into the desert. Whatever you want to do, just go to WA-it’s worth the flight or long trek.
Be a devil. Tasmania is not just the home of the mythical Tasmanian devils but is also one of the best places in all of Oz. Hire a car and head to historic Port Arthur and to some of the best beaches in all of Oz. Have a beer at the great pubs of Hobart or Launceston. Not to mention, just being in Tazzy is pretty cool.
How to travel Oz
The best way to see a lot of Oz is to buy a car. You can do this is any of the big cities or main International gateways. Buy a car in Sydney and sell it when you want to leave. Many long timers do this. You can even buy a van and sleep in it to save money. I’ve seen people do this and even have a mattress and fridge in the back. Very cool way to travel and maximize things you see and save money.
Another great way is to do the Oz Experience. It is essentially a hop on, hop off bus that takes you up and down the east coast party towns and you meet a ton of travelers, mainly backpackers. For a set price you get to see it all. It is better than a regular bus, which is also available, but you will have much more fun on the Oz Experience.
Air passes or student travel flights. These are widely available in Australia at Flight Centre and several other outfits all over the country. You can also purchase flight pass segments and passes before you visit Oz. This is more expensive but if you decide you want to see WA, the Outback and Darwin, then it’s worth it because you can cover the ground in a short time. Additionally, you can click here to book domestic flights in Australia.