Explore Australia: The Land of Extremes
Many adventurers have dreamed of a vacation to the other end of the world. Of all the most exciting destinations in the world, millions of backpackers, vacationers, immigrants, and students have chosen to head down under every year, and rightly so, as its hard to find a country as thrilling as Australia! The vast country thrills its visitors with breathtaking nature, a unique underwater world, exciting cities, ancient histories, and coasts with some of the best surfing spots in the world. With an area of more than 7.6 million square kilometers, Australia not only has the largest coral reef in the world but also many more must-sees. Learn more about the activities you absolutely can't miss on your trip to Australia here.
What is the best time to travel to Australia?
There really is no such thing as an optimal time to travel to Australia, as they don't call it the "Land of Extremes" for nothing. The expanse of Australia ranges from the tropical to temperate latitudes. It's possible to have a pounding rainstorm in the north while bush fires rage in the south. Therefore, it's best to check which region you want to visit and then consider which month is most suitable.
Check out our best travel deals to Australia:
Best times to go to Australia—Breakdown by City
|October to April|
|Canberra||October to March|
|Brisbane||March to November|
|Cairns||April to October|
|Melbourne||November to March|
October to March
October to March
|Perth||October to April|
|Broome||May to October|
|Darwin||April to September|
|Alice Springs||April to October|
1. Dive at the Great Barrier Reef
Diving on the Great Barrier Reef isn't exactly a top-secret vacation activity, but it is popular for a reason—it's the largest coral reef on earth! To get a sense of how big it is, it has the approximate surface area of Great Britain. There's a huge diversity of dive areas and anyone can dive here, from beginnesr to professionals. Another highlight (which can be admired also from the dry land) is the twelve apostles. The twelve apostles are a series of stone formations formed by the erosive powers of the sea, wind, and rain that emerge from the sea in front of the cliff
2. Relax on Whitehaven Beach
Whitehaven Beach is a seven-kilometer stretch of Whitsunday Island (the largest of the Whitsunday Islands) that features a bright blue sea criss-crossed by a snow-white tongue of sand. Whitehaven Beach can be reached by boat, seaplane, or helicopter from either Arlie Beach or Hamilton Island.
3. Visit one of the most famous stones in the world
One of the most famous stones in the world can be found in Australia. It is the Uluru, better known as the Ayers Rock, a massive, fire-red sandstone monolith in the heart of the so-called " Red Center " of the Northern Territory. The nearest town is Alice Springs, around 450km from Ayers Rock.
4. Walk through Purnululu National Park
Speaking of big stones, at Purnululu National Park you can spot huge sandstone formations that resemble massive beehives, earning them the name "Beehive Domes". Purnululu National Park has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO .
5. Act like a professional surfer
The beaches of Australia are considered some of the best surf spots in the world and it's possible to find a beach for any skill level. Anyone who has some experience on a surfboard should prove their skills on the longest waves in the world at Snapper Rocks on the Queensland Gold Coast.
The 15 Best Places to Visit in Australia
From the famous Opera House of Sydney to the tropical reaches of Darwin, the dusty Outback to the mythical rises of Uluru, the blue-hazed Blue Mountains to the beaches of Western Australia, this gem of Down Under has plenty of bucket list spots up its sleeve. Check them out!
Forever vying with its near neighbor of Melbourne for the top spot on lists of Australia’s must see cities, Sydney is areal bucket list metropolis to say the least. At its heart sits the shimmering white contours of the Sydney Opera House, encompassed by the deep blues of the Sydney Harbour and its famous bridge. Nearby are the historic quaysides of The Rocks; the site of the first colonial settlements on this natural inlet on the edge of New South Wales. Other travelers make a beeline straight for the sun-splashed sands and surfer dives of Bondi in the Eastern Suburbs, while to the west it’s the Blue Mountains that take over, offering a wild and rugged getaway from Sydney’s boho bars and endless offering of galleries and museums. Here you can get more information about city trips to Sydney.
Melbourne can be found arching its way around the coastal inlet of Port Phillip on the southern reaches of Victoria; a chilled-out, laid-back, artsy city, the nation’s onetime capital, and an indelibly cool and sophisticated place to get acquainted with Australia’s Gold Rush history and modern edginess alike. Amidst the streets of the City Centre, colonial-style buildings edge up to the buzzing bars of the Docklands, while al fresco breweries and beachside eats beckon from the sands of Saint Kilda. There are the likes of the Museum Victoria, Scienceworks and National Gallery to explore too, not to mention one of the country’s best café cultures, popping up in earnest with the live music dives of Fitzroy and Collingwood.
Australia’s neighborhood metropolis par excellence comes spread out along the courses of the Brisbane River on the extreme eastern edge of Queensland. With its unique little pockets of nightlife and café culture, museums and art galleries, historical builds and shimmering, shiny skyscrapers all separated by the endless S-bends of the water, this one has a certain chameleon quality to its character. On the South Bank, for example, the Performing Arts Centre and modern art gallery offer cutting-edge shows and exhibitions. West End, meanwhile, pumps with alternative bars, rock basements and old vinyl shops, while Mount Coot-tha blooms with the beds of the botanic garden, and Sunnybank and Chinatown are alive with the aromas of the Orient.
4. Byron Bay
Perched out on Australia’s easternmost point, Byron Bay is a cocktail of dreadlocks and beach bums, surf hunters and hippies, pretty lighthouses and Buddha-styled backpacker haunts. Free love flows throughout the laid-back streets here, as salt-washed board riders flit in and out of the countless independent bars and live music dives. Byron Beach is always busy; its legendary Pass break something of a rite of passage for any surfers trailing the hotspots of the east coast. Then there are the sands of Watego's and more secluded Tallow's lurking just around the headland, their waters spotted by whale pods during the late winter and swimmers soothing their hangovers by summer.
5. Alice Springs
Shrouded by the dusty ridges and arid scrublands of the Northern Territory and the rolling red-hued dunes of the great Simpson Desert, deep in the very heartlands of the country as a whole, the pop-up oasis town of Alice Springs usually figures on any itinerary that crosses into the wilder reaches of the Aussie Outback. The place is also known for its unique and intimate connection to Australia’s indigenous aboriginal culture, with the mythic mount of Uluru rising to the south and traditional aboriginal art pieces and crafts bursting from the souvenir stalls ad infinitum. Camel riding and ballooning in the Ilparpa Valley is a favorite too, while others will come to wax the walking boots, pitch a tent and look to the heavens - Alice is one of the top stargazing destinations in the world!
Far-flung Perth may not enjoy a place on the popular backpacker routes through Australia, but those who do make the effort and a beeline for the 1.8-million-strong capital of Western Australia rarely leave disappointed! Yes sir, Perth’s penchant for laid-back life Down Under works a charm, and the city draws travelers with the enthralling theaters and museums of the Perth Cultural Centre, or the booming International Arts Festival and Perth Fringe each year. There are beaches too – to rival any on the east coast (as locals are quick to quip!) – complete with pearly white sands and lapping surf at Scarborough and Cottesloe, or wild, windswept and secluded on Rottnest Island out at sea. Partying is big in Perth too, with the districts of Northbridge and Subi booming with café-bars and clubs alike.
Cairns of Far North Queensland started life as a miner transport town in thrall to the boom and bust of the Australian Gold Rush. Today, it’s better known as the prime jumping off point for explorations through the Great Barrier Reef, which stretches more than 2,000 kilometers through the aquamarine waters of the Coral Sea just off the buzzing esplanades and seaside strips of the city itself. However, those who linger just a little here before delving into the great corals and cays of the wonder can discover a truly fun and pretty town, which comes dashed with the occasional palm-spotted parkland, threaded by the tropical Northern Beaches and imbued with its own enticing urban lagoon.
8. Gold Coast
Looking like some sort of UFO as it rises in bulwarks of steel and whitewashed cement from between the palm groves and sun-splashed sand stretches of the Queensland coast, the surfer-hub and canal-cut city of Gold Coast is where some of the nation’s finest beach breaks and reef rollers hit the shore. The appropriately-named beach of Surfers Paradise is a seemingly endless stretch of powdery white sand that beckons the biggest crowds, while Burleigh Heads comes peppered with cafes and beach bars and picnic spots alike. Other attractions include the koala and kangaroo sanctuaries that dot the Hinterland, while night time is the domain of gnarly surfer bars and backpacker parties – you’ve been warned!
9. Fraser Island
A dash of shimmering sands and sparkling turquoiseshore waters that spreads into the Coral Sea from the Queensland coast, Fraser Island has long had a reputation for paradisiacal backcountry. Undulating dunes of seagrasses and pearly white sand come crisscrossed by barely-trodden hiking trails here, concealing brackish lagoons and verdant pockets of waxy palm treewoodlands alike. Cliffs of red-hued rock descend sharply to meet the ocean rollers at other points, while the empty coves come dotted with limpet-studded, seaweed-dressed shipwrecks and backed by hills of fern meadows and babbling creeks. Fraser Island: perfect for outdoorsy types.
Spread out over the coastal bluffs that dip from the far reaches of the Northern Territories into the rollers of the tropical Timor Sea, Darwin is a land of swaying coconut palms and sultry sun. Imbued with one glorious Esplanade, which cuts through the city and overlooks the bobbing sloops and estuary lands of Darwin Harbour in a medley of grassy parks and ocean-side seating, the town centre really makes the most of its soaring dry-season temperatures. History buffs can also check out the old WWII war sites of the Wharf Precinct, while cultural expositions of the region’s rich aboriginal art pepper the calendar and a multicultural vibe means there’s everything from Indonesian to Chinese dumplings on the eclectic menus here.
Rising in a sheer wall of ancient, petrified stone against the sweeping desert lands of Australia’s ochre-hued Red Centre, Uluru is considered the great attraction of the Outback. Loaded with everything from bubbling springs to dank cave systems, the spot – along with the adjoining nearby site of Kata Tjuta – has long been sacred to the indigenous Anangu, who now lead tour groups around the mound revealing tales of the aboriginal dreamtime and anthropomorphic pantheon. The distinctive bloodwood tree peppers the paths here, while the nomadic people of the area share the land with kangaroos and wallabies, bush foxes and pythons. It’s the perfect introduction to Australia’s wilder, more enigmatic side.
Sat where the wine valleys of Barossa and the Australian southmeet the rollers of the Great Australian Bight, Adelaide has done well to cling to its colonial prettiness, and still comes complete with the countless Gothic church spires and steeples that gave it the curious moniker of the City of Churches. Today though, Adelaide is in the process of shedding the zealous, straight-laced rep that’s a direct result of its clean, religious veneer, with microbreweries and casinos now peppering the seaside stretches of Glenelg Beach and Henley Beach alike. Meanwhile, the North Terrace hosts South Australia’s Art Gallery, and cricket crowds and Oz rules football erupts at the Adelaide Oval right throughout the year.
Encompassed by the bushland hills and eucalyptus forests of south-eastern Australia, the oft-overlooked and often unknown capital city of the country is a curious place of perfectly aligned boulevards and hexagonal roundabouts. Right in the heart of the metro area is where visitors will find the proud and sprawling Parliament House of Australia, crowning the square-cut blocks of Capital Hill with stark modernist facades. Lake Burley Griffin is another of the Canberra’s major draws, coming ringed with verdant parks and branches of the National Museum, while Mount Ainslie offers sweeping panoramas of the region and the sobering monument of the Australian War Memorial besides.
Western Australia’s answer to the legendary coral gardens and sparkling seas of the Great Barrier Reef on the other side of the Outback, the Ningaloo Coast runs for a whopping 260 kilometers along the sun-splashed reaches north of Perth. A patchwork of lagoons and multi-colored reefs, sprawling mangroves, sand bars and swamps, the region is famed for its sheer diversity of marine animals, going from spotted whale sharks to mantas to loggerhead turtles and more. Meanwhile, the Ningaloodunes are loaded with pretty lighthouses and the shells of washed up ocean liners alike; a haunting and truly beautiful off-the-beaten-track swathe of coastal Australia.
This aged and historic town of pristine Georgian and Victorian edifices is hardly what you might expect a grown up penal colony on the far-flung isle of Tasmania to look like, but Hobart is a place full of surprises. Coming complete with the lively and photogenic Salamanca Markets and the regal sandstone facades of Battery Point, the city is handsome to the hilt, dotted with earthy English taverns and independent shopping boutiques. It’s also the gateway to the temperate forests, deep eucalyptus woods and roaring waterfalls of the Mount Field National Park, not to mention the windswept coves and sand spits of Bruny Island.
by Jan Meeuwesen, The Crazy Tourist