Australia and New Zealand enjoy a kind of sibling relationship. There’s lots of squabbling and a fair bit of jealousy, but deep down we love each other. Most of the time, anyway.
Australia isn’t just a country, it’s a continental landmass that’s about the same size as Europe, but much more sparsely populated. Most people live on the east coast, which is where you’ll find the major cities of Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne, with the capital (Canberra) set back a bit from the sea. Adelaide is the biggest city in the south, and Perth is isolated over on the west coast.
All of these cities are worth a visit, and but there’s plenty to do outside of the urban centres.
1. Dive the Great Barrier Reef.
Visit the world’s largest living thing and dive the Great Barrier Reef off Queensland’s coast. If you’re on the west coast, explore the quieter Ningaloo Reef for Indian Ocean goodness.
2. Visit Uluru at the red centre.
Also known as Ayer’s Rock, this massive rock has a mystic draw to it that entices visitors from around the world. Situated near Alice Springs, a visit here is a good chance to explore outback life. You can drive from Alice Springs or do an epic journey from Adelaide — we recommend joining a tour over driving yourself if you choose this option.
Climbing the rock is not recommended as it is a sacred place for local aborigines. Take the time to learn a bit about its significance to Australia’s native people before you arrive.
3. Go wine tasting.
Australia is home to premier wine regions, like the Barrossa, McLaren Vale, Margaret River and Hunter Valley. Wherever you base yourself, you’re likely to be within a short drive of a wine region, so join a tour or hire a car for a self-drive experience. Just make sure to choose a dedicated driver who limits their tastings.
4. Down some espresso in Melbourne.
Melbourne is Australia’s most delicious city, with premier coffees from small producers and roasters alongside worldwide cuisine. Ask around for the best cafes to try, or head into the alleyways of the central city and discover some for yourself. Koko Black is a favourite of ours, though we go there for the chocolate rather than the coffee.
5. Get out of the cities
Travel the roads between cities, and make sure you take off down side roads whenever it’s safe (deviating from the main highways in the outback isn’t recommended). The unique, empty landscape is captivating.
Be aware that distances are immense, so plan your journey accordingly! We loved driving around Western Australia, but the east coast and South Australia also offer fantastic road trip options.
6. Take a photo of the Sydney Opera House.
Nobody knows why there’s such a strong compulsion to get across the harbour and snap yourself in front of the iconic Opera House … but why not? It’s conveniently located in the centre of the city, so it’s a great place to start exploring Australia’s biggest city.
7. Drive the Great Ocean Road.
Australia’s most famous drive takes you past stunning beaches, koala-filled eucalyptus forests, the Twelve Apostles and more. Organised day trips are available from Melbourne, but taking your time is recommended.
8. Visit a zoo or wildlife park.
Australia is home to some strange and wonderful animals and plants. Find out a little by stopping in at a park or two. Some parks allow you to get up close and personal — perhaps you want to hug a koala or feed a kangaroo?
9. Eat some kangaroo.
Speaking of kangaroo, if you’re a meat eater, make sure to taste some too. Avoid the sausages and buy a steak or two to throw on the barbecue for a typical Aussie meal. Add some potato salad and a Little Creatures beer or two, and you’ll be all set.
10. Visit a mini-mountain range.
Australia has lots of flat surfaces, but you can find your mountain getaways in the Blue Mountains or one of the interesting landscapes of Tasmania and the central and western outback.
There’s plenty to do in Australia, from exploring its many awesome cities to getting close to nature. What excites you most about Australia? Leave a comment below.
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