Australia map & itineraries
MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR TIME
Getting around Australia definitely whips you into the walkabout spirit and if you have the time to travel under your own steam then more power to you. Routes along the Great Ocean Road, the Coral Coast and the Legendary Pacific Coast take you past some of the world's most enticing beaches where parking up for a picnic or impromptu barbecue can turn into a real event. Trains tend to stop at every single stop however, there are a couple of coast to coast routes that go from Sydney to Perth (via the Blue Mountains and Barossa Valley) and Adelaide to Darwin (via Katherine and Alice Springs), both of which take 4 days and 3 nights.
Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island and stands out from the bounty of beautiful beaches on Queensland’s South Pacific coast. It’s a 45 minute ferry ride from the mainland and features coloured sands and freshwater lakes, many of which are considered the cleanest on the planet. Hikers should check out the 90km walk that, although relatively easy, does require participants to be self-sufficient for up to 8 days.
Great Barrier Reef
There are several ways to maximise time in the Great Barrier Reef with snorkelling, scuba diving and accompanying a marine biologist on a glass bottomed boat all adding to the natural attraction. As several reefs are close to the (900) islands’ white sand shorelines everyone can appreciate the mesmerising marine life, with rainforest and coastal trails offering totally tropical alternatives.
Great Ocean Road
Aside from being an awesome stretch of Victoria’s coastline, running from Apollo Bay to the Twelve Apostles, the Great Ocean Road is also the world’s largest war memorial and dedicated to the soldiers of WWI. A marathon route and over 100km of walking trails will take you via cliff tops, campsites, waterfalls, rivers and sandy beaches, accompanied by kookaburras, wombats, kangaroos and koalas.
Kakadu National Park
Kakadu features over 280 species of birds, many of which are endangered, including Gouldian finch, red goshawk and hooded parrots. A hike or river cruise amongst the billabongs, mangroves, woodlands and waterfalls unveils untold animal encounters; expect to have your journey observed by several sets of beady eyes as crocodiles, wallabies, possums and water monitors watch curiously as you pass.
Sea lions slipping in Southern Ocean spray, rock formations that are nothing short of remarkable and sheep farming tour guides who know landscapes as intimately as their own flock, Kangaroo Island never fails to deliver. Honey from Ligurian Bees, island ‘pure’ sheep cheese and locally produced wines are all worth the trip however, it will be Seal Bay, Cape du Couedic or the dunes at Little Sahara that last a little longer.
Calling all cosmopolitan sports fans and festival goers, Melbourne is Victoria’s city of choice and promises boutique shopping arcades, Victorian era architecture and the world’s largest tram network. With a population that combines Greek, Vietnamese, Chinese and Indian, Melbourne is highly multicultural and this is expressed in the restaurants, food halls and huge open air market, the Queen Vic.
The south and west coasts of Philip Island are deemed Important Bird Areas and although the nightly penguin parade on Summerland Beach attracts flocks of tourists this also pays for the preservation of the natural environment. Aside from the penguins, Philip Island remains relatively untouched with seals and pelicans blending with friendly locals and surfable swells in a charming, old town ambience.
Unmistakable harbour views place Sydney up there with the best of them - you can happily spend a few days skipping between trendy bars, botanical gardens, art galleries and the gentrified streets of the Rocks. Outer suburbs such as Bondi, Coogee and Cronulla offer sandier days out with the 10km Spit Bridge to Manley walk providing an extremely scenic coastal stroll via untouched bush land.
With 19 national parks and 300 smaller islands, including Macquarie, Flinders and King, Tasmania showcases some of the world’s finest natural wildernesses and is much more than just an ‘add on’ destination. Often termed Australia’s ‘veggie basket’, modern Tassie is fast adding to its agricultural appeal with Hobart’s seafood restaurants and art museums (MONA) providing a great base to get out and explore.
The Blue Mountains
Just 50km from Sydney but a world away in terms of scenery, the Blue Mountains provide day trippers and overnight visitors with railed walking paths, panoramic view points and Australia’s steepest aerial cable car, as well as unforgettable photo ops. An early start allows for a full day in the Blue Mountains from Sydney with a train to Katoomba and a bus to Echo Point letting you off at the Seven Sisters.
Camping out in the Bungle Bungles or scrambling over rocks and boulders to lunch within a wildflower meadow, the Kimberley region promises a rarely matched remote experience. From the Aboriginal heritage and untouched beaches of the Dampier Peninsula to the bush walks, gorges and striped rock formations around Broome, nothing says specially guarded secret other than the Kimberley.
Wondering how on earth people survive in such an unforgiving landscape is one of many Uluru ruminations; and as you watch the sun set and rise over Australia’s most iconic rock you may just impart a tiny smidgen of Aboriginal enlightenment. Camping overnight in the Outback and interpretive walks with indigenous guides make a visit to Uluru and Kings Canyon all about experiencing Australia’s outdoors.
Sample Australia itineraries
East Coast highlights (21 days): Sydney ► Bondi Beach Uluru ► The Outback ► Cairns ► Daintree National Park ► Great Barrier Reef ► Cairns ► Townsville ► Airlie Beach ► Rockhampton ► Brisbane ► Toowoomba ► Brisbane ► Coffs Harbour ► Sydney
South Coast highlights (21 days): Sydney ► Blue Mountains ► Sydney ► Canberra ► Melbourne ► Tasmania ► Melbourne ► Great Ocean Road ► Adelaide ► Kangaroo Island ► Adelaide ► Barossa Valley ► Adelaide ► Sydney
West Coast highlights (21 days): Perth ► Geraldton ► Kalbarri National Park ► Denham ► Shark Bay ► Coral Bay ► Exmouth ► Cape Range National Park ► Exmouth ► Karratha ► Port Hedland ► Eighty Mile Beach ► Broome ► Kununurra ► Purnululu National Park (Bungle Bungles) ► Katherine ► Kakadu National Park ► Darwin
Northern Territories Highlights (7 days): Darwin ► Alice Springs ► Kata Tjuta ► Uluru ► Kings Canyon ► Alice Springs ► Western MacDonnell Ranges ► Darwin ► Kakadu National Park ► Darwin
Travel times in Australia
- Sydney to Melbourne: 1hr 35 mins by plane
- Sydney to Byron Bay: 8hrs 40 mins via Pacific Highway
- Melbourne to Launceston, Tasmania: 11 hrs by ferry
- Melbourne to Devonport, Tasmania : just over an hour by plane
- Adelaide to Uluru: 5hr flight via Alice Springs
- Adelaide to Kangaroo Island: 2hrs by car, 45 mins by ferry
- Uluru to Perth: 8hrs 35 mins by plane
- Perth to Kimberley: 11hrs 15 mins fly/drive via Kununurra
- Kununurra to Darwin: 12.5hr bus ride
- Darwin to Kakadu National Park: 3hrs by road
- Darwin to Cairns: 3hrs by plane
- Cairns to Great Barrier Reef: 1hr ferry and walk
- Cairns to Brisbane: 24hrs by train
- Brisbane to Byron Bay: 3hrs on Greyhound bus