Australia Travel Guide
Introduction to Australia
The only country on Earth to wholly occupy a continental land mass, Australia has captured the imagination of the entire world. With wide open spaces, unique fauna/flora, and laid back inhabitants, travellers of all interests will find something to love in this diverse nation.
With an endless assortment of beaches and plenty of rugged outback in its interior, visitors will fall in love with its natural attractions. However, there is plenty on hand for culture travellers as well, as this nation’s well-established Aboriginal culture, abundant street art, and outstanding museums will give these visitors plenty to see and do as well.
Currency: Australian Dollars
What To Do in Australia
Australia is a country packed with highlights – for most, the first of these is the Sydney Opera House. While it is a modernist gem, it is more than just an eye-catching building – it is an unmissable attraction for culture hounds.
40 shows per week are held within its walls, running the gamut from rock concerts to comedic standup acts. True to its name, it also hosts more traditional productions, including plays and operas. Drop by soon after your arrival – chances are, there is something going on that will appeal to you and your travel party.
After getting your fill of culture, head over to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. From its pedestrian decks, you’ll have the perfect vantage point for pictures of the Sydney Opera House and the skyline of the Central Business District.
Not afraid of heights? Get the ultimate thrill by climbing the supports of the bridge. This activity isn’t nearly as dangerous as it used to be, as it is now led by certified guides, and all participants are equipped with a safety harness.
From the top, you’ll get views that will blow away anything you’ll get on the pedestrian deck, so push past your fears and get up there!
Heading north towards Queensland on your Australia adventure? Be sure to stop in Bryon Bay before leaving the state of New South Wales. A chill surf town that become popular in the 1970s after long boarders brought back word of its incredibly long natural breaks, this place has retained its laid-back vibe since its ‘discovery’.
If you aren’t into surfing, fear not: its spectacular views, hip cafes, and its pub-orientated nightlife will give you plenty of reasons to hang out here for a few days.
Looking for a glitzier alternative to Bryon Bay? You’ll find what you are looking for along the Gold Coast. A series of cities in South Queensland known for its condo and hotel towers, upscale boutiques, and thriving nightlife, it is the perfect place for A-type personalities looking to blow off steam.
Looking to cool off, but want to take a break from the ocean? There are numerous water parks where you can ride thrilling water slides and splash around in wave pools – a great option for travellers with kids in tow!
Looking to unplug from civilization for a few days? Spend some time on Fraser Island. The world’s largest island made entirely of sand, it stretches 120 kilometres from end to end, giving you plenty of coast to explore via 4×4.
Don’t miss checking out the Maheno Wreck, a rusting hulk left over from a ship that ran aground decades prior, nor Lake McKenzie, whose crystal clear waters are safe from the sharks and jellyfish which make ocean swimming hazardous during part of the year.
After travelling further up the Queensland coast, go on an expedition to Whitehaven Beach. Located in the Whitsunday Islands, its silica sands and aquamarine waters make this place one of the best beaches in Australia (if not the world).
Don’t want to leave so suddenly? Thankfully, there are camping facilities available through Australia National Parks – just be sure to book well in advance, as this gorgeous spot is no longer a secret to the world.
Arrived in Cairns? Make booking a diving/ snorkelling trip to the Great Barrier Reef your top priority. As the world’s largest reef of its kind, there is no shortage of opportunities to view marine life like stingrays and turtles in their native habitat.
Not a fan of the sea? Head inland to Daintree National Park, where you can hike in the rainforest, soar across exciting zip lines, and go on a cruise to look for crocodiles.
At this point, you can choose to go across the Top End and make for Western Australia or head south from Darwin into the Red Centre. If you choose the latter, make sure Uluru is at the top of your list.
This feature is not a mountain, but the world’s largest rock. Made of sandstone, it is advised that visitors NOT climb it, as this place is held as sacred by local First Nations tribes. Despite this restriction, going on a bush walk around this natural wonder will produce plenty of amazing sights, so don’t let the climbing prohibition dissuade you from experiencing this area fully.
After passing through Alice Springs, you’ll come across the peculiar mining town of Coober Pedy on your way to Adelaide. A place founded around the extraction of opal, the majority of this settlement’s structures have been built underground to shield their occupants from the harsh sun, which can send temperatures soaring towards 50 degrees Celsius in the summer.
From subterranean churches to mines which have been made into museums, there is plenty to occupy yourself in this town.
Headed to Western Australia across the Top End? Be sure to include The Kimberley in your plans. A vast, sparsely inhabited region in a sparsely inhabited country, those seeking to get away from other humans will find solace here. With amazing waterfalls, swimming holes, deserted beaches, and more, it is a wondrous place for nature lovers.
While most of the Kimberley is devoid of people, Broome is an outpost of civilization worth lingering in for a few days. A beach town a long way from anywhere, it offers a number of unique experiences you don’t want to miss.
From touring a pearl farm to riding a camel on the beach at sunset, it will be a worthwhile break from the punishing drives which define travel in Western Australia.
You’ll have to put in long days behind the wheel to get there, but your efforts will be rewarded by the time you get to Exmouth. At the doorstep of the Ningaloo Reef, this place is frequented by whale sharks. With a fraction of the visitors the Great Barrier Reef gets, it is a relaxing place to visit for avid snorkelers and divers.
After taking a few days to relax and soak up the urban delights of Perth (one of the most remote cities of a million people in the world), head south down the coast to Margaret River. The epicentre of Western Australia’s vaunted wine scene, there will be plenty of vineyards to explore during your time here. It is also a great place to break out the surfboard, as many of the breaks in the area are constantly raved about by local wave shredders.
Be sure to load up energetic road tunes before heading out across the Nullarbor Plain. One of the flattest places on Earth, there are next to no geographical features on this massive exposure of bedrock.
This means that roads here are as straight as a pin for 90 miles at a time, a reality which could put your alertness to the test.
After a quick rest in the South Australia capital of Adelaide, head along the coast to the state of Victoria. Here, you’ll find signs guiding you to The Great Ocean Road. Take it, as they will lead you to sights like the amazing 12 Apostles, which are a series of sea stacks which rank among the best coastal scenery in Australia.
Soon after exiting the Great Ocean Road, you’ll happen upon Melbourne, the second largest city in Australia. Known for being the artistic heart of the country, you’ll find plenty of cultural diversions here.
From the National Gallery of Victoria to plentiful street art in the many alleyways in the city centre, it will be easy to keep yourself occupied here for days on end.
Once you have gotten your fill of Melbourne, take the ferry across to the island state of Tasmania. Start in Hobart, where you’ll find vibrant markets, as well as Mount Wellington, the peak which lords over the city from the west.
The latter attraction will give you the perfect excuse to get active, as well as a panoramic view of one of the more charming cities you’ll visit in Australia.
While it may not be the warmest place to go for a swim in Australia, there is no question in our minds that Wineglass Bay is one of its most visually stunning beaches. Part of its charm can be owed to the fact that its location is within a national park, and reaching it involves a walk that can take a couple of hours each way.
Situated a couple hours northeast of Hobart, this place is a must-visit, so be sure to leave time in your schedule for this slice of heaven.
Before heading back to Sydney to catch your flight, take a side trip to the often neglected capital city of Canberra. Here, you’ll find the palatial Australian War Memorial, which was built in the aftermath of World War I to honour the sacrifices of ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) soldiers.
With grand arches, a beautiful reflecting pool, and exhibits inside explaining the war effort in World War I and II, it is an essential attraction for anyone visiting Canberra.
What to Eat in Australia
Australia might not appear to have a distinct cuisine at first glance, but when you consider it has only been a sovereign nation for a few centuries, it makes sense that it has some catching up to do when compared to the ancient cultures of Europe and Asia.
Nonetheless, unique dishes have begun to emerge in modern times which are unique to Australia. We’ll start with Vegemite on Toast – while it is a polarizing snack due to the saltiness of this spread (made from leftover brewer’s extract), it is still widely enjoyed as a morning meal here.
While you are exploring street art in Melbourne (or doing anything else in Australia), stop into a cafe and order a Flat White. An espresso made by pouring microfoam (bubbly steamed milk) into a single or double serving of the aforementioned coffee drink, it is well-loved for the balance it strikes between the strength of the espresso and the velvety smoothness of the milk foam. Accordingly, this coffee variant will become your new favourite during your visit to Australia.
While travelling through the outback, try to get your hands on some Damper. A soda bread first made by cowboys managing herds at cattle stations, its ingredients are simple, usually just flour with water and milk. Eaten with cooked meat or with golden syrup, it is a simple pleasure that needs to be tried to be appreciated.
During your long days on the road in Australia, you will have ample opportunity to try some Meat Pies. From chicken and mushroom to steak pies, there are enough calories in these gas station beauties to keep you filled up until you make it to the nearest town.
Recently, people in Australia were polled on what they considered to be their country’s national dish. Answers varied, but the one which got the most votes was Roast Lamb.
Eaten for Sunday Lunch, or at special occasions like Australia Day, this dish is kept simple: often, it is only prepared with only salt, pepper, and garlic, allowing the slowly cooked meat itself to take centre stage.
Owing to its British roots, Fish and Chips are another popular main course in Australia. Made by battering cod fillets (or whatever groundfish is readily available) in a beer-based batter and frying them in oil, and then serving them with chips (known as fries in the North American parlance), it is a simple yet satisfying meal you’ll find everywhere in this country.
Though it is not widely consumed compared to more contemporary dishes, there is no denying that Kangaroo Steak is a dish unique to Australia. Some shy away from it due to its gamey flavour, but others love it for the same reason. Feted as an environmentally friendly meat, you owe it to yourself to give this flesh a try during your visit to Australia.
When dessert time arrives, there’s no debate among Australians: their favourite dish is invariably Pavlova. A meringue dessert topped with whipping cream and fresh berries, it got its name from the Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova, who had this custom dessert made for her by a hotel chef in Wellington, New Zealand. Eventually, it crossed over to Australia, where it became a hit with the public.
If you can’t find some Pavlova, head to the store and snag some ANZAC Biscuits or Tim Tams. The former cookie, made from rolled oats, coconut, and sugar, was crafted and sold at sales nationwide to raise money for the war effort, while the latter is a common chocolate coated cookie which is often dunked in coffee/hot chocolate in a manoeuvre known as a Tim Tam Slam. One end is bitten off before the move, allowing the hollow interior of the Tim Tam to be used as a straw to suck up the drink.