Experiencing Australia means going beyond the city breaks. Sure, you can easily spend a week in the big east coast cities without getting bored. But to see the real highlights of this vast country, you need to “get out there” and discover the diverse landscapes, wildlife, and experiences Australia travel has to offer. Fortunately, Australia was made to discover, and reaching some of those remote wonders is easier than most Globetrotters think.
South Australia is devoted to good living in a relaxed environment that makes the most of the outdoors. It isn’t called the WOW state – Wine, Outback, and Wilderness – for nothing. Part of this is its abundance of great wine-making regions, including perhaps Australia’s most famous wine region, the Barossa Valley. Over 150 wineries dot the valley, producing a wide variety of wines including its famous Shiraz. The area is also a prime destination for foodies, built over a century of German settlement in the region.
One part of South Australia less settled by humans is Kangaroo Island. A treasure trove of Australia’s south coast, this is a place where the wildlife includes 250 species of birds, a large population of seals and sea lions, and of course, familiar Australian natives such as echidnas, wallabies, reptiles, and namesake kangaroos. It also features some of the most striking geological formations in the country.
Equally striking are the rocks of Coober Pedy, an opal mining town with a long, fascinating history and a unique approach to architecture. Escaping the extreme heat of South Australia’s Outback desert, many of Coober Pedy’s structures are hollowed out underground, offering visitors a fascinating insight into life in one of the harshest climates on earth.
South Australia’s outback is also a place of incredible beauty, particularly around the Flinders Ranges. Here, you can visit cattle stations, and take in sweeping views over Wilpena Pound, a vast natural amphitheatre that puts the awesome scale of Australia’s outback into perspective.
The wild adventures to be had in South Australia aren’t confined to the inland. On the Eyre Peninsula, based around the town of Port Lincoln, you can experience both the outback and wildlife of the state. Visit the beautiful salt pan of Lake Gairdner, and see the sea lions of Baird Bay. Those feeling particularly brave can take the plunge and go cage diving in Southern Ocean waters with South Australia’s Great White Sharks.
4-Day Outback & Wine Self Drive
When you think of iconic images of Australia’s outback, there’s a good chance you’re picturing the Northern Territory. Uluru coming ablaze with the light of the setting sun? Only in the Northern Territory. Living examples of Aboriginal culture and life going back tens of thousands of years? Also a very “Territory” image. This is a destination made to discover on Australia travel.
Visiting Uluru is one of those transformative Australian experiences. More than just a “bucket lister,” it’s a chance to visit and respectfully interact with land that the Indigenous people hold sacred. (Out of respect for the local Anangu people, it is discouraged to climb the rock, but there are many other ways to experience this Outback icon.) You can embark on walks around the base, and visit Kata Tjuta, an equally impressive rock formation with its own spiritual mysteries to uncover. If you want to splash out on something special, consider dining under the stars in the desert while Uluru provides the ultimate natural backdrop.
Another awesome example of the Northern Territory’s beauty is Kings Canyon. Despite the fame it gained in The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, we don’t recommend tackling the canyon’s hikes in heels. Instead, strap on your most comfortable and sturdy walking shoes and embark on whichever of the walks suits your fitness level best. See the local highlights known as the Amphitheatre, the Lost City, and the Garden of Eden. Kings Canyon and Uluru pair perfectly with the Outback getaway town of Alice Springs, home to cultural and adventure experiences alike, making for the ultimate Central Australian roundtrip tour.
The northern parts of the Northern Territory offer a very different style of discovery. The tropical rainforests of Kakadu make up one of the most beautiful regions in the country, where Aboriginal heritage dates back tens of thousands of years, and the wildlife dates back millions. Seeing crocodiles leap from the waters of the Adelaide River is an experience you’ll never forget. But don’t worry, there are safe spots for swimming in this idyllic wilderness too.
One of the best places in Australia to explore Aboriginal culture is in Arnhem Land. Occupying the land from Kakadu out to the Gulf of Carpentaria, the region is a living treasure trove of Indigenous heritage largely unspoiled by development. That includes tourism, as special permits must be obtained to travel in this area. A visit here teaches you about the Aboriginal connection to the land, the crucial bush skills and cuisine that have sustained people here for thousands of years, and of course you’ll see the rock paintings telling the story of ancient life here. If you’re looking to go off that well beaten Aussie track, this is the place to do it.
4-Day Ayers Rock, Kings Canyon, Olgas & Alice Springs
Occupying half of Australia’s east coast, The Sunshine State, as Queensland is known, offers a wide variety of climates and attractions for visitors and residents alike to enjoy. It’s famous of course for the Great Barrier Reef, one of the natural world’s undisputed wonders, deserving of a spot on any Australia travel itinerary. But be sure to head inland on Cape Tribulation and experience all tropical North Queensland has to offer. With rainforest walks and wellness focused accommodations, this is a great spot to unwind after a busy few days exploring the Reef.
One doesn’t have to travel to far north Queensland to visit the Great Barrier Reef. The Whitsunday Islands occupy one of the most desirable pieces of coastline in the entire country, with idyllic blue waters never straying far from 26°C. This is also the home of Whitehaven Beach, a natural treasure widely regarded as the most beautiful in the country and one of the most beautiful in the world. An ideal location close to the southern parts of the reef is a major benefit too.
Southeast Queensland is one of Australia’s favourite destinations to stay and play. Set out from the capital city, Brisbane, and visit Tangalooma Island Resort, where you can feed wild dolphins, snorkel artificial shipwrecks reefs, or enjoy a 4WD ride or sand-toboggan down massive sand dunes. Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island, is another favourite offshore destination, known for its endless kilometers of beaches, unique wilderness landscapes, and the most pristine lakes in the world. Fun fact! The freshwater beneath the dunes of Fraser Island could fill Sydney Harbour to overflowing. You’ll find it at the northern tip of the Sunshine Coast, which offers a more relaxed style of a Queensland getaway. Simply name the coastal town of your choice, pick up your apartment keys, and flop for a few days, weeks, or even a month or more. The beaches and laid back lifestyle make a long stay here an alluring prospect on Australia travel.
8-Day Queensland Splendour