Australia Overview

Australians enjoy a famous outdoorsy lifestyle, even in the cities: the average Aussie likes nothing better than starting the day with bracing surf, an early morning run, and a flat white for afterwards. Once you get out of the cities, though, you’ll find the great outdoors gets even greater. National parks such as Kakadu and Purnululu offer splendid isolation. The Northern Territory is a rust-red Outback with soaring rock formations, whilst heading south brings penguins, beaches and vineyards. There’s nothing like an Aussie shiraz to add a bit of pizzazz to your vacation. Read our Australia travel guide.

Our top Australia vacations

B&B self drive tour of Tasmania, meet the locals

From AU $1495 to AU $6000
10 days ex flights
Self-drive staying in Tasmania's most charming B&Bs

Australia vacations, tailor made

From US $18550
22 days ex flights
Explore 3 very different states of Australia

Western Tasmania wilderness tour, 3 days

From AU $1050
3 days ex flights
Showcasing the beauty & heritage of Tasmania's west coast
Small groupDeparts every week September - May

Best time to go to Australia

Australia’s tropical north is best visited from June to October, when it’s drier, whilst the wine regions are an absolute picture from March to May. Across the rest of the country, September through to November is very pleasant; March through to May is also very nice; whilst June through to August can get ‘chilly’ which means you might need some form of jacket. Basically, the best time to visit Australia is whenever you get the chance, although if you’re looking for something more specific check out our guide to the best time to go.
Australia temperature and rainfall chart

Map & highlights

Australia’s best sights fan around its coastlines like petals on a flower, with the exception of Uluru, which sits scorching in the middle of the Northern Territory. The Great Barrier Reef is up in Australia’s tropics, set among 900 islands. Sydney, the surf capital if not the country’s actual capital, is an essential stop, whilst further south Melbourne is your gateway to a road trip along the Great Ocean Road. The island of Tasmania, dropped like a tear 150 miles south from the mainland, is different again: a cornucopia of national parks, farm-fresh produce, and beautiful wilderness.
Great Barrier Reef

1. 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 whilst, on land, rainforest trails offer a totally tropical alternative.
Great Ocean Road

2. 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 dedicated to the soldiers of WW1. A marathon route and over 100km of walking trails will take you via cliff tops, waterfalls, rivers and sandy beaches, accompanied by kookaburras, wombats, kangaroos and koalas.
Melbourne

3. Melbourne

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 majorly multicultural as expressed in the restaurants, food halls and huge, open air market, the Queen Vic.
Sydney

4. Sydney

Unmistakable harbour views place Sydney up there with the best of them and if you’re planning to spend a few days skipping between trendy bars, botanical gardens, art galleries and the gentrified streets of the Rocks then why not? Outer suburbs such as Bondi, Coogee and Cronulla offer sandier days out with the 10km Spit Bridge to Manley walk providing a scenic stroll via untouched bush land.
Tasmania

5. Tasmania

With 19 national parks and 300 smaller islands, including Macquarie, Flinders and King, Tasmania showcases some of the world’s finest wilderness and is much more than just a ‘tag on’ destination. Often termed Australia’s ‘veggie basket’, exploring the island on a self drive tour is a really exciting option with farm stays and family-run B&B’s definitely the best way to taste the Tassie difference.
Uluru

6. Uluru

Wondering how anything survives in such an unforgiving landscape is one of many Uluru ruminations; and as you watch the sun set over Australia’s most iconic rock you may just impart a tiny smidgen of Aboriginal enlightenment. Camping in the Outback and interpretive walks with indigenous guides make Uluru and Kings Canyon all about experiencing Australia’s great outdoors.

Icons everywhere

Australia’s sights can’t help but stand out – whether that’s its futuristic opera house apparently floating on Sydney Harbour or Uluru, a mystical red rock standing out in the desert, as vivid red as Mars manifest on earth. It’s worth visiting the country for the Great Barrier Reef alone, the largest coral formation in the world – where you can jump off from Lizard or Fitzroy Island for excellent diving and surfing. In the south of the country, the 12 Apostles might seem like the standout part of the Great Ocean Road, but the whole road trip is iconic.

Aboriginal culture

Australia’s indigenous culture is worth fighting for, and has lasted in the country for the last 60,000 years. Indigenous Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples are slowly winning back their rights, whilst the colonial atrocities against them are being recognised. Aboriginal persons represent only four percent of Australia’s population, so count yourself lucky if you can meet an Aboriginal guide, who might tell you a story from Dreamtime, share a little of their sacred history with you, or invite you to try bush tucker. Their unique worldviews and the stories they share are tens of thousands of years in the making.

Uluru & the Olgas

The area around Uluru and the Olgas is known as Australia’s Red Centre. One look at the rusty patina that covers the rocks, and you’ll know why. Everyone knows Uluru, the bald, red dome that rises 800m above the plain. Fewer know that there are in fact 36 other domes, making up a formation known as Kata Tjuta, or the Olgas, some 25km west. Most visitors fly into Alice Springs and then drive out to catch sunrise at Uluru. A day of walking around the Olgas and a stop at Kings Canyon makes for a rocking Northern Territory road trip.

More vacation ideas

Uluru and the Olgas tour in Australia

From US $595
3 days ex flights
Experience Australia's rugged land of Dreamtime legends
Small groupThis tour has daily departures.

Southwest Australia tour, coast, forest & wineries

From US $2555
11 days ex flights
An sustainable travel itinerary to Southwest Australia
Tailor made

Tasmania 6 day tour, Australia

From AU $2150
6 days ex flights
Experience Tasmania’s amazing scenery, wildlife & culture.
Small groupDeparts every week September - May

Tasmania wildlife tour

From AU $1295 to AU $4500
15 days ex flights
Extraordinary encounters with Tasmania's endemic wildlife

Australia tour, outback & reef

From US $7265
25 days ex flights
Tailor-made Tour to Australia's Coast, Outback & Reef.
Tailor made

Tasmania self drive vacation for Australians

From AU $1495
8 days ex flights
Discover the hidden paradise on your doorstep
Tailor made
Quote. The secret to a great holiday is that it's great for everyone - you, local communities and nature.
Tourist and Masai

More about Australia

Walking

With ferocious inland temperatures, not everywhere in Australia is suitable for a walking vacation – a fact disregarded by those who choose to hike the Larapinta Trail, right in the middle of the Outback, or the Flinders Range, which rises into high, dry peaks out of Adelaide. More sensible options include Victoria’s Great Ocean Walk and Great Alpine Walk – two great reasons to ditch the car in the country’s cooler southern tip. Tasmania’s even more temperate climate makes tackling the trails in the epic Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park just a little bit easier.

Where to go

It’s best to think of Australia state by state. The most populous is New South Wales, where Sydney gives visitors a taste of city surf. The Northern Territory, where you’ll find Australia’s ‘Red Centre’ has Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park inland and the tropical city of Darwin on its coast. Queensland has gorgeous beaches that stretch from Brisbane up to the Great Barrier Reef. Victoria has Melbourne, South Australia is all about wine, and Western Australia is a behemoth, with Perth right at its edge. Tasmania boasts the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area – a big wilderness for a small island.

Types of vacations

Left to its own devices for thousands of years, Australia’s animals evolved into a marsupial bonanza, making a wildlife vacation a wildly popular option for travelers. You could find yourself in Tasmania, looking out for white wallabies, echidna and Tasmanian devils, or on Kangaroo Island, just off South Australia, swimming with sea lions. Australia is expensive, and you might find joining a small group the best way to keep your trip on budget. And walking vacations tend to ditch the expensive flat whites along with the flat going, favouring motels, picnics and ascents into the mountains.
[Icons everywhere : Rosie Steggles] [Aboriginal culture : Wayne Quilliam Photography / Yothu Yindi Foundation] [Uluru & the Olgas : Christoph von Gellhorn] [Walking : Erico Marcelino] [Where to go : Tim Shepherd] [Types of vacations : Ondrej Machart]
Photo credits: [Page banner: pixculture] [Icons everywhere : Rosie Steggles] [Aboriginal culture : Wayne Quilliam Photography / Yothu Yindi Foundation] [Uluru & the Olgas : Christoph von Gellhorn] [Walking : Erico Marcelino] [Where to go : Tim Shepherd] [Types of vacations : Ondrej Machart]
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