travel in Australia?
This small continent and massive country is diverse, laidback, wild and as
big as Europe,
providing an eclectic hoard of experiences
and endless space for isolation seekers. Spectacular deserts, rainforests, waterfalls,
canyons and a huge array of strange flora and fauna are just
some of the reasons to go this distance.
White sand beaches stretching to infinity provide some of the best snorkelling, surfing, diving and lounging
on the planet while
some cities are home to cutting
edge arts, music and cafe cultures, and if you get your timing right the sun will shine on your Australia holidays.
Amazing contrasts lie in the anonymity of the Outback and Red Centre, underpinned by an ancient and fascinating
Australians are very straight talking
people, tricky at first for repressed, po-faced Brits, but
actually it's a plus point. Get used to it!
If you want to stay longer, work
options for foreigners are ample and varied.
Sydney, Royal Botanical Gardens
The place is HUGE, so unless you have infinite time you must limit
your your itinerary and it's going to cost you to get around. Planes and car rentals are the most time effective way to take Australian holidays, buses the cheapest.
• Nor is accommodation especially cheap,
though you can rough it on a budget.
• The southern hemisphere sun is way more
intense than the north and needs constant care to avoid burns
and possible skin cancer.
• Winter (June - August) can be cold in the south, particularly if you were expecting to spend your days
in a swimsuit.
• Australia's deadly critters require considerable
respect and attention. We once swam in a suburban
Sydney pool, and found a couple of funnel web spiders cooly paddling
about in it - visit Dangerous
• Outback flies can be incredibly persistent
and irritating while leeches, ticks
and mites acquired when hiking can lead to swellings, rashes
• Travelling long distances to some towns expecting an interesting,
lively culture and finding a dull, mall and
beer dominated town can be depressing.
• Spooky, desolate mining district are reminiscent
of moonscapes, without a trace of vegetation or humanity.
Or maybe that's a good thing?
Uluru (Ayers Rock), the Red Centre
November-March (summer) is best for the south
e.g. Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide. Book well ahead for December-February! May-Oct is best for visiting northern parts when humidity
and temperatures become more bearable. e.g. Cairns, The Great Barrier
Worst: the south, April-September (cool
and rains), but skiing may be possible June-Aug.
The North: November-March (rains, humidity and the north-east
coast gets an influx of stingers making diving, snorkelling and
swimming less attractive.
Current Sydney temperature and time.
Loafing caddies just off the Great Ocean Road
Min. worthwhile stay 2 weeks for Sydney,
Recommended: 1 month - 1 year, tho'
regular visas are only valid for three months.
Trekking and camping: half-hour bushwalks to month long 'walkabouts' can be found
in the canyon and rockscapes of the Northern
Territory, as well as around Cairns, the Blue Mountains, Tasmania,
the Grampian Mountains near Melbourne and many other spots.
Tropical Rainforest excursions: can
be done independently or with guide in the Daintree Forest near Cairns, Kakadu National Park near Darwin,
as well as many locations in Western Australia. The wilderness of Cradle Mountain in Tasmania is a terrific off-the-beaten track option.
Camel trekking: in the desert, mainly
Driving: Buying a used vehicle and exploring the coast and vast, red interior is a popular, lowish-cost option for more experienced tourists, offering a glorious
sense of freedom and adventure. 4WD driving and camping is popular in the Kimberley wilderness out west, from the town of Broome. The Great Ocean Road drive from Melbourne is excellent but hardly amazing, needs three days.
Water sports: Resorts on the East coast
such as Cairns, Port Douglas, Byron Bay, Hervey
Bay and the Whitsundays offer everything from sailing, scuba
lessons, white water rafting, sea kayaking, to lazing in the sun tho' little in the way of safe sea swimming, but free beachside 'lagoons' are fine for posing and paddling.
Cairns' terrific, free, salt-water lagoon
Surfing: a national obsession so available
just about everywhere except the NE Barrier Reef area, with plenty
of schools and rental equipment.
Skiing: in the Snowy
Mountains, Great Dividing Range.
Weird and wonderful: dip into the outback
towns and rodeo-ranch lifestyle for a fair dinkum insight into the
Ocker Ozzie world; check out the country's peculiar obsession with BIG things - truly heroic models of crocodiles, kangaroos, lobsters, bananas and more, in the 20 metre high range and randomly scattered around the country; visit Nimbin, a small town that's
been colonised by the New Age, and decorated to match,
rainbow apparel optional.
Wildlife walks: not as easy
as you might think to find wild things in a short time, apart from
Some prime locations are Kakadu National Park in the north (World Heritage Site, very scenic, with Aboriginal art), 800km
(500mls) Flinders Range in the south-east,
and Freycinet Peninsula in Tasmania.
If you want to really get away from civilisation, try visiting
Whale watching: along the east coast
off Eden (NSW) and Fraser
Island (Queensland), and on the south coast off Warrnambool,
both July-Sept. Dolphins all year round in all directions!
Turtle Hatching: mid Oct- end of April
in Bundaberg, Queensland.
See Animal Pictures.
Melbourne's Federation Square
8-30 Jan, Sydney Festival, a solid
tho' conservative arts event, no fringe madness.
Jan, Australia Day, nationwide but especially lively in Sydney with the Big Day Out music festival,
a Regatta and more.
late Jan-mid Feb, Midsumma, gay Melbourne.
1st weekend of Feb, Melbourne Blues Festival,
1st Fri of Feb-early March, Sydney Mardi Gras.
A huge and deservedly famous celebration of gaiety in all artistic
spheres. Fun for straights too!
mid Feb-early March, Perth Arts Festival,
a massive art attack.
early March, a weekend, Melbourne Moomba Waterfest.
An extravagant family festival.
March every 2 years, even dates, Adelaide
Festival. A superb, innovative event.
early March, 2 weeks, Quicksilver Pro Surfing,
mid March, 1 week, Surf Life Saving Championship.
A muscular event.
From 4th Thurs of March for a month, Melbourne
1st Sat/Sun of June, Manly Food & Wine
2nd Sat/Sun of June, Melbourne Good Food &
July, Darwin Beer Can Regatta. Racing craft made of empties.b
3rd Fri of July for 3 days, Boulia Desert
Sands Camel Racing, Queensland. A big giggle.
1st Sat of Oct, Sleaze Ball, Sydney.
An unbelievably queer event.
28 Sept-16 Oct, Floriade, Canberra.
A flowery celebration of spring.
Oct for 2 weeks, Melbourne Arts Festival. A
city-wide arts and culture event.
1st 3 weeks of Oct, Western Australia Pride,
Perth. The west's biggest thing.
1-14 November, Sculpture by the Sea, Sydney.
An extensive display on Bondi's gorgeous coastal path.
Nov-Feb, alternative gatherings across
the country, in particular around the hippy mecca of Nimbin and
Byron Bay on the East Coast.
19-23 Dec, Parmalat Christmas Celebrations,
Brisbane. Jolly, no holly.
26 Dec, Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race,
a great harbour spectacle.
31 Dec, New Year's Eve Fireworks, Sydney.
A spectacular blow-out.
Dec 31, Sydney Pride New Year's Eve Party.
A mammoth fish-barbie restaurant in Daintree
Thanks to considerable Asian, Middle Eastern and European
immigration the dishes available and styles of cooking have increased
immeasurably in Australia recently, improving quality and variety
no end, although this is limited to larger towns. And the price
is right too!
Apart from delicate Greek, Italian, Lebanese,
and all the classic Asian dishes, chunky unsubtle meat
pies are also popular - a relic of English cuisine.
Unsurprisingly seafood is big on the
Aussie agenda, as are all sorts of tropical
fruit for dessert, though the favoured dessert is Pavlova - a sweet meringue cake.
And then there's bush tucker, derived
from native Aboriginal foods, such as possum-tail
soup, kangaroo kebab, crocburgers (chicken/porky), emu au vin (also tasteless
but the wine's good), bunya nuts, witchetty
grub sashimi (peanut butter taste) and, of course, crunchy
'tea' often means the evening meal, and an 'entree' is an appetizer,
cougettes are zuccini, peppers are capsicums and aubergine eggplants.
Vegetarians are fairly well catered
for and shouldn't go hungry, outside the outback at least, and then
there's always witchetty grubs.
Tipping: Not exactly customary but a growing trend. 10-15% would be welcome
but not mandatory.
Rottnest Island near Perth, loaded with coral, marine life and wrecks. And sharks.
the country is so vast that those with limited time, and even budget
holiday-makers, should consider domestic flights. Discount
passes are available, especially for students and some combine air
with buses - hop on/hop off systems. Check before you leave
your home, passes may be cheaper to buy abroad.
are excellent and have different value passes too,
but they're not exactly a cheap way to get around and don't run everywhere,
are really the best way to wander quickly and efficiently
but need a big wallet or a small group to afford.
The ultimate system for short-time tourists is flights between major
destinations and car hire from those airports.
Hitchhiking is not recommended:
Bearing in mind the huge distances between attractions in Australia, the
irregularity of public transport and the generally relaxed and friendly
attitude of the natives, hitching might seem a good option for budget
Unfortunately roadside hitching can easily
lead to lifts with dangerous drivers or assault - especially
If you must, try to roam in pairs, but best
of all is to find lifts beforehand on hostel notice boards, or even
in roadside restaurants (roadhouses) where you can assess
a potential lifter before getting yourself trapped in a tin can
with a lunatic for tooth-grinding hours.
is a a great way to get around for longer term explorers
- especially if you get something you can sleep in. Used vehicles
are on sale privately as well as commercially in most of Australia's
cities, particularly Sydney, but check that the car is legal in
all of Australia's states that you intend to drive through.
Not an easy option
due to monstrous distances, dust, flies and slightly awkward bus
and train freight systems.
230v, 3 flat pins at an oblique angle. i.e.
Visa to Australia
Needed by all except Kiwis! Standard
is 3 months but longer is possible. Online visas, (ETA) are available
for citizens of UK, USA, Canada, most of Europe, Malaysia and Japan.
See Working Guide for more
information on work visas.
Online information on Australia Visas.