Australia Travel Blog Archive

Swimming with Minke Whales in Australia: Everything You Need to Know

Posted on: December 17th, 2018 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments

Visit the Great Barrier Reef Between June & July to Swim with Minke Whales


First recognized by scientists less than 30 years ago, the dwarf minke whale is both elusive and super friendly.

There is so much we don’t know about these whales despite their proclivity to search out human company.

Scientists don’t understand why, but these whales are extremely curious and will often spend hours swimming around snorkelers and divers, giving quite a show! They are known to follow a boat around for hours, stopping for a look at each new dive site.

When to Swim with Minke Whales

Diver and minke whale credit deep sea divers den Jemma Craig Imagery

Minke whales are the most common of the great whale species, found in abundance throughout the world’s oceans. They are mostly found in the North Atlantic, North Pacific and Antarctic Oceans.

They are found off the coasts of Australia and New Zealand between March and December, but the best time to see minke whales is in June and July.

Despite their wide reach, swimming with minke whales only happens in The Great Barrier Ribbon Reefs in Tropical North Queenland, Australia. The great thing about this is that minke whales in the Great Barrier Reef are very social and communicative. Expeditions out to the reef regularly report seeing multiple whales in one day!

These multi-day Liveaboard expeditions depart from Cairns, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. These expeditions visit unique reef sites each day, offering more opportunities to swim with these gentle creatures.

This is one of the only animal encounters in the world that is entirely on the animal’s own terms. When a pod is spotted, a rope is tossed into the water. Groups of up to 10 swimmers hold on to the rope and the whales can approach or leave as they like. The whales are very generous with their time and once a pod is spotted, its rare if someone on the boat misses out on the experience while waiting their turn.

Things to Know Before Swimming with Minke Whales

Divers with minke whale credit Deep Sea Divers Den Jemma Craig Imagery

Being in the water with these majestic creatures is described as a life-changing experience. It’s common for people to emerge from the water crying, screaming or just plain speechless.

If you want to add this encounter to your Australia bucket list, here are a few things you should know!


1. Every Australian winter, the minke whales make their annual migration from Antarctica to the Great Barrier Reef from May to August. Plan your trip between June to mid-July for the best odds of seeing a pod. Peak season is in early July.

2. This special experience might take a bit of effort and luck! Only a handful of tour operators have permits to swim with minke whales and you’re never guaranteed an encounter. Increase your odds of swimming with the genial giants by taking a 3-7 night Liveaboard Excursion. In June and July, you’ll have a 98% chance of encountering the whales. It is recommend that you pre-book your excursion.

3. If you’re not keen on spending nights at sea, you can take a day-trip out of Port Douglas. These day-trips have an encounter rate of about 18%. This decreases your odds quite a bit, but if you do encounter them, you will feel as though you won the lottery! Either way it’s an amazing day out on the Great Barrier Reef. These day-trips often give discounts for multiple days out on the boat and they usually end up at different dive sites each day. So, you could stay a few nights in lovely Port Douglas and increase your odds by taking multiple trips out to the reef without feeling like you’re doing the same thing every day.

4. If you go in July, you might even have a chance to see and/or swim with Humpback whales too!

5. You can contribute directly to ongoing research including photo-identification, behavior research and conservation efforts from your minke whale encounter.

6. Dwarf minke whales are the smallest of the baleen whales. Like Humpback whales, they have no teeth, but a series of baleen plates that they use to trap and filter the food krill.

7. There is still much to be learned about these whales. For example, they have never been seen feeding on the Great Barrier Reef so it is assumed that they feed in Open Ocean while in the tropics, but no one really knows!

Diver with two minke whales credit Deep Sea Divers Den Jemma Craig Imagery

8. They are one of the fastest whales. They can travel at speeds greater than 20 knots or about 23 miles per hour.

9. Minke whales seem to prefer snorkelers to divers. They tend to get closer to and hang around longer when humans are not wearing large air tanks.

Want a chance to cross this amazing experience off your Bucket List?  Visit Australia with the help of a Destination Specialist at About Australia.  We can make your once in a lifetime trip Down Under fun and easy!

Add Swimming with Minke Whales to My Trip

Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).


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What Australian Animal Are You?

Posted on: November 28th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments

Whether you dream of petting a kangaroo or holding a koala, getting up close and personal with Australia’s wildlife is priceless.

When you plan your trip with About Australia, we’ll lead you to the right places!


Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).

Eat Like an Australian: 24 Australian Food Items You Have to Try

Posted on: November 20th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments

Ever wondered what Australians eat Down Under?

Though Australian cuisine is blended with many Asian and Mediterranean dishes, truly traditional Australian food lies in bush tucker, fresh seafood and something to soak up the ale.

Not to mention the delectable pastries and sweets you’ll wish you knew about your whole life!

Here are 24 Australian foods you have to try to eat like an Australian.

1. Vegemite

Vegemite on toast is an australian food

You were probably expecting to see Vegemite listed 24 times in this article, but there’s more to Australian food than this controversial spread.

But what exactly is Vegemite? It’s a dark brown spread made from vegetables, spices and yeast extract, making it more savory rather than sweet.

The most popular way to eat Vegemite is on toast. It tastes extremely salty – just small amount will do. Even less than what you’re thinking. But who knows – you might be one of the lucky ones to fall in love with Vegemite the moment it graces your tongue.

2. Lamingtons

Lamingtons are an Australian food

There’s probably nothing more heavenly than the sweet lamington. This small, rectangular sponge cake is lighter than a feather and more airy than a fluffy cloud. It really is a dream wrapped in a perfect cube of chocolate covered cake and rolled in coconut.

This Australian dessert is a favorite with coffee or tea, and the pride of any baker.

3. Meat Pies

Meat pie is Australian food credit David McLeish

Photo: David McLeish

Pair a meat pie with a beer, at a sporting event or in the morning after a night out. This Australian favorite is made up of flaky pastry filled with minced meat and gravy, sometimes mixed with a variety of vegetables. It’s basically the Australian food equivalent of a chicken pot pie.

This filling snack is perfect on the go or at a pub, and is quintessentially Australian.

4. Tim Tams

Tim Tams

These sweet biscuits (the Australian way to say cookies) have become a favorite on our side of the pond for their chocolatey goodness.

Never had one before? A Tim Tam is basically two chocolate-malted cookies with a layer of creamy chocolate filling sandwiched in between, all coated in melted chocolate.

Walk into any Coles or Woolworths (supermarkets) and you’ll find huge displays of Tim Tams in a variety of flavors. Overwhelmed with options like mint chocolate, iced coffee, white chocolate, chewy caramel and more, you might have a hard time  choosing. The most popular choice is the original, but you might like to play the Tim Tam challenge and try them all!

Biting into one of these is like entering a chocolatey heaven. But for a truly transcendental experience, you’ve got to try the Tim Tam Slam. Bite the corners of the diagonal corners off the cookie and use it as a straw to sip on coffee or hot chocolate.

5. Moreton Bay Bug

Moreton Bay Bug credit Tourism and Events Queensland

Photo: Tourism and Events Queensland

Don’t worry – this isn’t an actual bug. Moreton Bay Bugs are more like lobster, and are often said to taste even better.

You’ll find Moreton Bay Bugs featured in seafood dishes all over Australia. They are usually cut in half, drizzled in butter, oil, lemon or other seasonings and often grilled or barbecued.

After one bite of these “bugs,” lobster won’t compare ever again.

6. Witchetty Grub

Witchetty Grub

Do worry – this IS an actual bug. 

This small, white larva is found in the deserts of the Outback and has featured in traditional Aboriginal bush tucker for thousands of years.

If you’re brave enough to give it a try, you’ll find it tastes like chicken. It also packs a powerful amount of protein – more than an entire steak. Witchetty Grubs are traditionally eaten raw, but they are also served barbecued as an appetizer.

7. Kangaroo

Kangaroo Steak credit Maksym Kozlenko

Photo: Maksym Kozlenko

People like to joke and ask if you can eat kangaroo, and the truth is yes, you can totally eat kangaroo. In fact, it’s quite normal. Kangaroos are essentially like deer in the U.S. – they turn up on quiet plots of land, they like to jump out in front of your car, and they are quite tasty.

Kangaroo meat is low in fat, often grilled on a barbecue to a rare to medium finish. Eat it on its own or in a burger – it’s not often you can say you’ve tried kangaroo!

8. Pavlova

Pavlova

You could almost start a war between Australia and New Zealand over who first invented the Pavlova.

It is said the desert was created in honor of Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova during her tour of Australia and New Zealand in the 1920’s, with both countries laying claim to its creation.

This meringue based cake has a delicate, crispy outer shell and a fluffy, marshmallow-y center, topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit such as kiwi, strawberries and blueberries.

9. Fairy Bread

Fairy Bread

This simple treat is a nostalgic favorite from Australian kids’ birthday parties. It’s simply slices of white bread cut into triangles, spread with butter and covered in hundreds and thousands (the Australian term for sprinkles).

You likely won’t find fairy bread in stores or bakeries, probably because it’s so easy to make.

10. Dim Sim

Fried Dim Sim

This is the Australian food equivalent of dim sum, differing mostly in its tendency to come fried rather than steamed.

These large dumplings are generally half the size of a fist and filled with minced meat and vegetables. Perfect as a bite-sized snack on the go. 

11. Chiko Roll

Chiko Roll

Chiko rolls are Australia’s take on egg rolls. They’re more doughy than the flaky egg roll, deep-fried and filled with beef and a variety of vegetables.

These are often eaten as snacks on the go, found in local fish ‘n chip shops or by snack vendors at popular venues.

12. Fish ‘N Chips

Fish and chips

Fresh fish lightly fried to crispy goodness paired with thick-cut chips (french fries to us on this side of the pond) is a must for those sunny Australian beach days.

Wrapped in paper and seasoned with a bit of salt and lemon adds an undeniably satisfying touch to this classic Australian food.

You’ll find fish ‘n chips in just about any pub or in a waterfront shop by the beach.

13. Damper

Damper bread

This traditional soda bread was an Australian food staple of working class Aussies in the past.

Its simple recipe lends itself to a quick preparation almost anywhere. It’s made up of wheat flour, water and salt, sometimes with baking soda, baked in the ashes of a campfire.

14. Vanilla Slice

Mille-feuille vanilla slice credit George Seguin

Photo: George Seguin

This pastry is said to originate in France, but its exact origin is unknown. In French it’s called the mille-feuille, translating to “thousand sheets.” In English it’s known as the vanilla slice, a delicate dessert with layers of puff pastry and pastry cream or custard, glazed with powdered sugar or icing.

Variations of the vanilla slice are found all over the world, but Australians lay claim to this sweet pastry. With an annual competition for the best vanilla slice baker held in the state of Victoria, the Australians’ passion for the vanilla slice definitely deserves them its ownership.

15. Prawns

Prawns

Ready to slip some shrimp on the barbie?

Well first off, Australians don’t call it shrimp – it’s prawns, mate. And whether you get them at a restaurant or grilled up at a barbecue, you can’t go wrong with prawns. With the freshest seafood found along Australia’s shores, you’re sure to get tasty prawns no matter where you try them.

16. Emu

Emu

Emu meat is lean, low in cholesterol and high in iron and vitamin C. It’s a meat-lover’s dream, yet many people can’t get past the thought of eating this flightless bird.

It’s commonly featured in Australian food, usually in burgers, meat pies and even as a pizza topping.

Telling your friends you’ve tried emu is probably more bewildering than trying kangaroo, so don’t miss out on this tasty bird when you’re visiting Australia!

17. Barramundi

Barramundi

This native Australian white fish is desirable for its delicate taste, succulent flesh, moderate fat content and rich nutrients. It even has less calories than salmon yet still packed with healthy fatty acids.

The rest of the world is slowly catching on to this holy grail fish, but for now you’ll mostly find it served in restaurants across Australia.

18. Chicken Parmigiana

Chicken parmigiana

Simply referred to as a “parma,” this staple is a favorite on the pub specials menu. A parma is basically a schnitzel, or chicken fried in breadcrumbs, topped with tomato sauce and melted cheese.

The best way to eat a parma is at a pub parma night, where you can grab a parma and beer for a decent price.

19. Beetroot

Beetroot

Aussies love to add beetroot to their burgers, sandwiches and salads. You’ll definitely find this vegetable featured throughout many menus across Australia.

Its nutty, earthy taste pairs well with sweet and strong flavors, adding a flair of creativity to any dish. Be sure to try a beetroot burger after trying kangaroo and emu burgers!

20. Bush Dust

Bush Dust credit Tasmanian Gourmet Online

Tasmanian Gourmet Online

Get a taste of Australian herbs and spices with bush dust.

This mixture of Tasmanian native pepper, macadamia nuts, bush tomatoes, herbs and spices is perfect for bread dipped in olive oil or simply as a seasoning. Its deep red color is deceiving – this blend of spices has a mild, nutty taste, rather than hot or spicy.

Try it on fish, chicken, potatoes or vegetables. Really it pairs well with almost any dish.

21. Weet-Bix

Weet-Bix

Weet-Bix is similar to a granola bar made up of whole-grain wheat. High in fiber and low in sugar, it’s a favorite breakfast item so iconic it’s garnered a catchphrase in two countries: “Aussie Kids are Weet-Bix kids,” and “Kiwi Kids are Weet-Bix kids.”

22. Anzac Biscuits

ANZAC biscuit

These cookies have a history rooted in WWI. They were once made by the wives of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) and delivered to their men at war.

Now these cookies are made in commemoration of ANZAC Day, April 25th, honoring those who gave their lives to the war.

The delicious cookies are essentially oatmeal cookies made with golden syrup and desiccated coconut.

23. Violet Crumble

Violet Crumble

This is arguably Australia’s greatest contribution to cuisine. At least, anybody with a sweet tooth will think so.

Violet Crumble is one Australia’s most popular chocolate bars, with a crumbly honeycomb toffee center coated in chocolate.

The texture of the honeycomb toffee is similar to malt candy, though much softer and delicate. It almost has a cotton-candy consistency once you bite into it.

You’ll find Violet Crumble at just about any supermarket. Try it in ice cream to send your taste buds to heaven.

24. Flat White

Flat white coffee

Alright, so this isn’t food per se, but Australians are passionate about their coffee and are strong contenders for the best coffee in the world.

One sip of their coffee and you’ll never be able to go back to Folgers.

Even taking a barista course is an unspoken requirement before getting a coffee gig in Australia.

Locals will proudly say you can’t find a better flat white anywhere else in the world, and they might be right. Stop into a local coffee shop (you’ll find dozens of local coffee shops in any city – locals tend to avoid Starbucks like the plague) and grab yourself a flat white.

Australian Foods You Have to Try

One of the highlights of experiencing a foreign land is trying its culinary delights.

From snack foods to strange meats, give Australian food a try on your next trip to Australia.

Need help planning your trip? That’s our full time job. Contact our Destination Specialists to begin your journey today. Ask us about our favorite Australian food!


Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).


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12 Stunning Islands in Australia

Posted on: November 2nd, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments

12 Islands in Australia header

There’s no better way to recharge than on an island getaway.

But maybe your idea of recharging isn’t all beaches and sun. Maybe it’s discovering wildlife, hiking through lush rainforests or sampling local delicacies.

With over 8,222 islands in Australia, you’re guaranteed to find your own personal island paradise. Each island boasts its own unique qualities that are part of what makes Australia unlike anywhere else in the world.

We’ve gathered a list of the top 12 stunning islands in Australia that will have you dreaming of your next island getaway.

1. Kangaroo Island

Remarkable Rocks Kanagroo Island Australia Must See

Image: Alan & Flora Botting on flikr.com

See wildlife the way it was meant to be seen – out in the wild. No place does a zoo without fences better than Kangaroo Island, located off the coast near Adelaide.

Its separation from mainland Australia has allowed for the wildlife to thrive among untouched wilderness. So yes, you’ll see tons of wild kangaroos, but if you want to get close to them head to Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park.

Though the wildlife is the main star of this island, it’s hard not to be mesmerized by the dazzling landscapes. Long stretches of beaches, turquoise waters and spectacular rock formations – no zoo could even touch this.

Head to Seal Bay to walk among sea lions, swim with wild dolphins off the north coast of the island or spot koalas hanging out on eucalyptus trees at Flinders Chase National Park. Don’t miss the stunning Remarkable Rocks, Kangaroo Island’s signature landmark, looking like something straight out of a Georgia O’Keeffe painting.

2. Phillip Island

Phillip Island Penguins credit Tourism Australia

Image: Tourism Australia

See the tiniest penguins in the world at Phillip Island, just about two hours away from Melbourne.

Phillip Island is famous for its tiny penguins, but its coastal scenery is just as spectacular in its own right. Gorgeous green landscapes crumble into rugged coasts and pink granite cliffs, stretching out into surf beaches with perfectly barreling waves.

Meet the local wildlife at the Phillip Island Wildlife Park or see koalas in the wild at the Koala Conservation Centre. Stop into one of the local restaurants for a classic fish and chips lunch and visit the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit for a race on Australia’s largest four-lane GP slot car track.

As the sun sets, settle into Summerland Beach for a spot to catch the nightly Penguin Parade.

3. Fraser Island

Girl standing in Lake McKenzie Fraser Island credit Jules Ingall

Image: Jules Ingall

For an island holiday with a more adventurous vibe, head to Fraser Island, just off the coast of southern Queensland. This unique island is the only place in the world where the beach never ends. Its ancient, cool rainforest towers over white sand, interrupted only by freshwater creeks and the clearest lakes you’ve ever seen.

Pack your swimmers and head to Lake McKenzie, a pure crystal blue lake ringed by soft white sand and verdant rainforest. Honestly, this lake beats out any chemically-treated pool in clarity. And it’s all untouched, pure rainwater!

One of the best ways to explore the island is on a 4WD. Drive down 75 Mile Beach and discover the SS Maheno Shipwreck or find a spot along the beach to try your hand at saltwater fishing. You might spot wild dingoes along the way, but only admire from afar!

4. Rottnest Island

The Basin Rottnest Island in Australia credit Tourism Australia

Image: Tourism Australia

One of Australia’s favorite holiday island destinations is Rottnest Island. Located off the coast from Perth in Western Australia, many locals like to reach the island by their own boat. Ferries are also available through three ferry operators along Perth.

Though Western Australia is not often on many traveler’s lists, Rottnest Island alone is enough to add it to your bucket list. Impossibly white sand beaches with crystal turquoise waters offer fantastic swimming and snorkeling. Biking is the best way to explore the island, allowing you to beach and bay-hop across its sublime coasts to find your perfect swimming spot. The best part – no roads!

You’ll also meet Rottnest Island’s famous locals – the quokka. This unique Australian animal is found only in Rottnest Island, and has become popular for its photogenic smile.

5. Bruny Island

Neck Beach, Bruny Island Tasmania credit Tourism Tasmania

Image: Tourism Tasmania

Foodies rejoice! Culinary delights are the star at Bruny Island, perfectly paired with otherworldly landscapes.

About two hours away from Hobart in Tasmania, Bruny Island is well beyond the typical tourist trail. But once you step foot on the island you’ll see why it’s a true hidden gem.

Our favorite Bruny Island tour takes you to local artisanal shops showcasing some of Australia’s finest cheesemaking, chocolatiering and whisky distilling. You’ll also try some freshly shucked oysters, locally grown berries and premium wine. Every course on the menu is a stop on your journey!

Make the small journey to The Neck Lookout and see the isthmus connecting the northern and southern parts of the island. The view from the top is absolutely unbeatable.

6. Moreton Island

Dolphin Feeding Tangalooma Resort credit Tourism & Events Queensland Islands in Australia

Want to get up close with dolphins? Moreton Island is your best bet. Just across Moreton Bay from Brisbane, Moreton Island is a must for dolphin-feeding, kayaking, shipwreck snorkeling and sandboarding.

Yes, sandboarding – it’s exactly like snowboarding except with sand! Riding down the large slopes of sand is a lot more fun than you might realize. You might find yourself climbing the slopes again and again, then simply wash off the sand with a dip at the beach.

With no roads on the island, this unspoiled paradise is perfect for relaxing walks and simply taking in the beauty of untouched nature. Be sure to stay after sunset for the chance to hand-feed wild dolphins at Tangalooma Resort.

7. Magnetic Island

Koala in tree credit Tourism Queensland

Image: Tourism Queensland

A popular stop along the east coast of Australia is Magnetic Island. Located just 20 minutes off the coast of Townsville in Queensland, Magnetic Island promises extremely laid-back island vibes.

Time seems to be at a standstill on Magnetic Island, or “Maggie,” as affectionately called by locals. It’s easy to lose track of time here and just let the world go by.

Go for a dip in one of many sublime beaches or zip around the island on a hired mini moke, a small convertible perfect for island exploration.

Take the Forts Walk through historic WWII landmarks ending with incredible views across the ocean. Be sure to keep an eye out for koalas hanging around the trees. As home to Australia’s largest population of wild koalas, you’re almost guaranteed to spot one of these furry creatures.

8. Frankland Islands

Frankland Islands credit Frankland Islands Reef Cruises

Image: Frankland Islands Reef Cruises

One of Australia’s truest hidden gems is the Frankland Islands. Located off the northern coast of Queensland near Cairns, these islands are an untouched slice of paradise.

Only one tour operator is licensed to go to Frankland Islands, and their close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef make for perfect small-group snorkeling excursions. The main island, Normanby Island, boasts white sand beaches and clear waters ideal for snorkeling.

The marine biologist on the Frankland Islands tour crew offers guided walks around the island, exploring rock pools rife with exotic marine life.

Complete with an included lunch as you cruise back to Cairns, the Frankland Islands are a fantastic way to experience the Great Barrier Reef without the crowds. Ask our About Australia Destination Specialists about this special tour!

9. Whitsunday Islands

Whitehaven Beach from Hill Inlet credit Tourism Australia

Image: Tourism Australia

Looking for a tropical island paradise? The Whitsunday Islands offer your pick out of 74 impeccable islands.

These islands off the coast of Queensland sit within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and are just as stunning above the water as below the surface.

With only 8 inhabited islands, the rest are natural sanctuaries of secluded beaches and rainforest bushwalks, making for perfect campsites. The fringing reef protects the waters surrounding the islands, making for calm bays perfect for sailing across the islands. And you don’t even need a license to rent a private yacht for bareboat sailing!

One of our favorite Whitsunday Islands is the main, titular island, the largest of all 74. Here is where you’ll find the unparalleled Whitehaven Beach, often listed in the top 10 beaches in the world.

10. Hamilton Island

Catseye Beach, Hamilton Island

Hamilton Island is the definition of picture perfect paradise. There’s absolutely no bad angle – everywhere you turn is a postcard-ready scene, just waiting to be captured on camera.

As one of the 8 inhabited Whitsunday Islands, Hamilton Island is an Australian favorite for a luxury getaway. Take in incredible views of the ocean from high-end resort infinity pools, tropical cocktail in hand. Explore the roadless island by golf buggy and indulge in world-class dining at one of many renowned restaurants.

It doesn’t get more luxurious at Hamilton Island than in qualia, a 5-star resort embracing its magnificent surrounds in ultimate, couples-only seclusion. More budget friendly options on Hamilton Island include renting holiday homes. With a buggy included in your rental, you’re free to explore the beautiful palm-fringed, white sand beaches on this idyllic island.

11. Lizard Island

Lizard Island Resort Pavilion

Imagine stepping onto a white sand beach right out your door and seeing one of the world’s greatest natural wonders at your feet.

The best way to experience the Great Barrier Reef is being surrounded by it. Situated right on the reef, no island does this better than Lizard Island.

This small island is home to Lizard Island Resort, an all-inclusive luxury getaway up there with some of the highest-end resorts in the world.

You can snorkel some of the reef’s most pristine and young corals right from the beach, or take a scuba diving trip out to spectacular dive sites such as Cod Hole.

See the reef right from your own private infinity pool, explore the local waters on a private dinghy or walk the lush bushland on nature walks and tracks.

Indulge in gourmet meals, taste local and international wines and enjoy a private beach picnic, all included in your stay.

Lizard Island Resort provides the ultimate luxury deserving of the Great Barrier Reef right at its steps, and will be a getaway you’ll never forget.

12. Lord Howe

Couple at lookout on Lord Howe Island

Lord Howe Island is like stepping into a Planet Earth documentary. The only hues on this island seem to be endless gradients of blues and greens, hiding an abundance of wildlife.

Located over 300 miles off the eastern coast of Australia, the only way to get to Lord Howe Island is on a two hour flight from Sydney or Brisbane.

Its pristine beaches lend to some of the world’s cleanest and clearest waters perfect for snorkeling. It’s just like swimming in an aquarium!

The island is strewn with easy strolls through lush palms and forests, but for a one-of-a-kind adventure the Mt Gower climb is a must. Rated as one of the best day-treks in the world, this challenging journey takes you on a guided cliff-face mountain climb for a truly rewarding experience.

See Australia’s Breathtaking Islands

Dreaming of an island getaway on your trip to Australia? Whether you’re looking for a quiet retreat surrounded by stunning beaches or an adventure unlike anywhere else, Australia’s got an island to suit you perfectly.

Our Destination Specialists are experts in all things Australia. We’ll help you pick the best island for your Australia vacation.


Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).


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14 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Traveling to Australia

Posted on: October 22nd, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments

Mistakes to Avoid When Traveling to Australia

Many first time travelers to Australia feel a mixture of all sorts of emotions right before their trip. Excitement, anxiety, fear. You’re either scouring the internet for every single tip on traveling in Australia, or your plan is just to wing it.

Your best bet is to embrace a little bit of both attitudes. Australia is such a dynamic country full of incredible sights. We promise there’s very little you should fear, and so much you should be excited about.

To make your planning a little easier, here’s our list of 14 common mistakes to avoid when traveling to Australia.

1. Underestimating the Size of Australia

For some reason people have this idea that Australia is a rather small island. People think they can hop in a car and drive around the whole country in about a week.

The problem is, Australia is about the same size as the U.S. Hitting the major hotspots such as Sydney, Cairns and Melbourne is like traveling from Miami to New York then Houston. Definitely not a road trip you want to blast through in just a week.

2. Not Being Familiar with the Seasons

Australia’s seasons are opposite to ours in the U.S. Their summer is our winter. The weather also varies throughout different parts of Australia. Up north in Cairns and the tropics the summer season is marked by frequent rains while winters are mild and dry. Down in the southern states of New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, the winters get a little colder.

If you’re planning to hit up the beaches in Sydney in June, you might be in for a surprise!

Check out our guide on the weather in Australia for a detailed look of the average weather throughout different regions of the country.

3. Not Planning in Advance

It’s true that some of the joys of traveling to some place new is discovering its local delights on spontaneous adventures.

While this holds true for many parts of Australia, you’ll want to pre-book your bucket list items or you’ll risk missing out. Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, visiting Sydney during New Year’s, riding The Ghan and other famous Australian rail journeys – these are things you absolutely need to book in advance before your trip. You’re traveling all the way to the other side of the world for some of these spectacular experiences. The last thing you want is to be disappointed on what should be the trip of a lifetime.

Not sure if your must-do adventure should be pre-booked? Talk with your About Australia Destination Specialist.

Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Photo: Tourism Australia

4. Having No Down Time

It’s hard to resist the urge to cram a ton of things to do every day of your trip. We totally get it – you want to see as much as you can with the amount of time you’ve got in Australia.

But some down time is so important to pace your journey and take it all in. You don’t want to stretch yourself thin by being on the go all the time with no breaks in between. You’ll get easily stressed by trying to keep track of everything you have to do.

It’s great to make sure you get to meeting points on time and not miss any departures. But you don’t want your head to be completely filled with logistics when you should be enjoying the moment.

5. Not Budgeting for Australian Prices

There’s no way around it – Australia is expensive. People tend to get sticker shock when they see the prices throughout Australia. Keep in mind, Australia is home to several cities that are consistently rated as the most liveable cities in the world. Prices will reflect that demand. You’ll want to save up a fair bit of money to use while traveling, as well as carry extra cash.

Eating out ranges on average around $30 per meal, not including drinks. On the upside, tipping is not generally customary in Australia. The minimum wage starts at about $18.29 an hour and service workers don’t tend to expect tips.

Definitely splurge here and there and let yourself have fun, but you’ll want to be careful about your spending while in Australia. For more about the currency and using credit cards in Australia, check out our guide on Australian currency.

6. Skipping Out on Travel Insurance

This is something you absolutely do not want to skip out on for any trip, not just Australia.

Travel insurance covers a range of unforeseen events such as medical emergencies, travel delays, bad weather, lost luggage and much more.

No matter how carefully you may plan your trip, sometimes things happen that are completely out of our control. Your trip is an investment – you don’t want to incur a complete loss should something happen.

Couple hike past 12 Apostles

12 Apostles, Melbourne

7. Not Allowing Enough Time for Each Destination

Imagine giving yourself one day to visit New York, then traveling to Chicago the next day, then San Francisco the next. You’d barely see anything!

Australia’s major cities – even its small towns – have so much to offer, and you could easily spend days just exploring one city.

You’ll also want to extend your stays to act as a base for exploring nearby regions. Sydney has the stunning Blue Mountains outside of the city and the Hunter Valley Wine Region a short road trip away. Explore the Great Barrier Reef one day in Cairns, then Daintree Rainforest – the oldest rainforest in the world – the next day.

Think about allowing yourself a free day as well to explore each destination on your own.

8. Leaving the Big Adventures at the End

A good rule of thumb is to schedule big ticket tours at the beginning of your stay rather than later. This is mainly due to the weather, especially important for weather-related excursions. If you’ve booked a Great Barrier Reef cruise at the beginning of your stay in Cairns but the weather causes a cancellation, you’ve at least got the rest of your stay available to reschedule the cruise.

Many tour operators are flexible in rescheduling your booking due to inclement weather, so it’s good to schedule these tours at the start of your stay just in case. Leaving these tours until the end of your stay poses the risk of missing out should anything happen.

9. Over Packing

If you’ve ever fallen victim to over packing, hopefully you remember the utter unpleasantness that comes along with it. Lugging extra bags everywhere you go, forcing all your weight down on your suitcase and praying you can zip it at lease most of the way. Not to mention having no extra room for any souvenirs!

But another pit fall of over packing is going over the airline luggage restrictions and risk having to shell out extra cash for your bags. We recommend booking all your flights within the U.S. and Australia on the same ticket which increases your luggage allowance to two checked bags. Australian domestic flights have strict carry-on limits, so an extra checked bag for free comes in handy. Your About Australia Destination Specialist will do this for you whenever possible.

Also, many hotels throughout Australia are apartment-style and include laundry units within their rooms. This way you can pack light and still have clean clothes throughout your journey.

10. Being Scared of the Wildlife

People hear “Australia” and think they’ll be coiled to death by snakes and eaten by spiders.

But you’re more likely to get injured by a horse than all Australia’s venomous critters combined. Even then, the only places you might actually come across these dangerous creatures are in carefully maintained wildlife parks and zoos.

You definitely won’t see any snakes or large spiders in the cities, or any kangaroos and koalas in the wild, either. There’s a chance you might spot some native wildlife in more open areas outside of city limits and in national parks. As with any wild animal, as long as you leave them alone they won’t bother you.

It’s important to only interact with wildlife in the presence of a professional wildlife handler. That’s how you’ll get those special opportunities to hand-feed kangaroos or take a picture with a koala. And no, drop bears are not real!

Kangaroos at Taronga Zoo, Sydney credit Tourism Australia

Taronga Zoo, Sydney. Photo: Tourism Australia

11. Not Applying Enough Sunscreen

It’s way better to overdo the sunscreen in Australia than to under-do it. It’ll save you a world of pain.

Australia receives extraordinarily high levels of ultraviolet radiation due to its close proximity to the hole in the ozone layer over the Antarctic. This lack of extra atmospheric sun protection makes sunscreen application essential. You’ll want to make sure you use a broad spectrum sunscreen protecting against both UVA and UVB rays.

If you’re heading to the reef, you’ll also want to be sure your sunscreen is reef safe.

Tip: When out on the reef, don’t forget to apply sunscreen to the back of your knees!

12. Not Getting to Know the Locals

Aussies are some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation and let yourself open up. You’ll get the best tips on local secrets such as the best places to grab some food or drinks, as well as extra advice on any places to avoid.

Besides, a new Aussie friend is a great reason to plan a return trip!

Opera Bar, Sydney credit Anson Smart Tourism Australia

Opera Bar, Sydney. Photo: Anson Smart

13. Thinking You Can Catch a Train or Bus to New Zealand

There are no roads, bridges or tunnels connecting Australia to New Zealand. The only way to get there is on a flight, just about 4 hours long.

New Zealand is an incredible country on its own and deserves at least a two week trip to see the highlights. If you have enough time to see both countries, combing the two makes for a fantastic vacation.

But New Zealand is vastly different from its neighbor, and we recommend planning a separate trip if you only have a limited amount of time for your vacation.

14. Sweating the Small Stuff

Planning a trip is stressful enough, and sometimes the anxiety of being in a foreign country makes it easy to let the small stuff get to you. But you’re in one of the world’s top bucket list destinations – don’t let minor setbacks ruin your whole trip.

If you plan your trip with About Australia all the small details will be taken care of, and if you’ve got travel insurance, all the big stuff will be covered.

Avoid These Common Mistakes When Traveling to Australia

Planning a trip to Australia may seem daunting at first, but it’s rather easy to avoid these common mistakes. As long as you keep these tips in mind, it’s actually quite difficult to ruin your trip.  It’s all a matter of researching your destinations and getting in touch with an About Australia Destination Specialist for extra insider knowledge. Once you’re ready to plan your trip, we’ll make sure the process is a breeze.


Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).


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Sydney Harbour

Things to Do Around Sydney Harbour


Things to Do Around Sydney Harbour

Posted on: October 3rd, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments

Sydney Harbour credit Destination NSW

If it’s your first time traveling to Australia, you’re probably landing in Sydney.

The moment you step off that plane – right at sunrise – you’re going to want to make a beeline for your hotel and fall face first into your bed.

But that’s a terrible idea.

Not only will most hotels not have check in until at least 2pm, but you’ll want to stay up to avoid jet lag.

Luckily, Sydney is filled with countless things to do right as you step off the plane.

And there’s nothing better than diving headfirst into this beautiful harbour city in all its splendor by exploring its dynamic harbourfront.

We’ve made it easy for you with these things to do around Sydney Harbour.

Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens

things to do near Sydney Harbour

With extensive grounds of beautifully manicured lawns and gardens, the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens are a tranquil escape right in the heart of the city.

Its many trails are perfect for getting your bearings and taking a leisurely stroll with fantastic views of the harbour.

Walk through the Mrs. Macquaries Road footpath to Mrs. Macquaries Point, a picturesque headland jutting out into the harbour.

Take a seat on the famous Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair for one of the best views directly across the Sydney Opera House.

Continue along the waterfront for more fantastic scenery. With the white Opera House sails set against the Sydney Harbour Bridge across the harbour, you’ll no doubt be stopping for pictures every step of the way.

The gardens are home to an array of stunning native trees, plants and flowers with lawns dedicated to each.

Grab a snack or pack a picnic lunch and rest on the Flower Bed Lawn, a clearing of verdant green grass dappled with towering trees and exotic plants. Stop by the Main Pond for a chance to see the resident eels (don’t worry, they’re harmless!). Head toward the Rose Garden Beds for a charming pavilion lined with roses, complete with a statue of Cupid to accentuate its loveliness.

You’re bound to see locals getting in their morning jog and other groups simply enjoying the resplendent grounds. Learn more about the garden by joining a free tour, hopping on the garden’s Choo Choo Express or take a guided tour led by an Aboriginal leader and taste Aboriginal bush food found in the gardens!

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House Sails credit Tourism Australia

From the Botanic Gardens you can easily reach the Sydney Opera House.

As you take your first steps toward the towering sails, you’ll feel the draw of this undeniably mesmerizing icon.

This is the face of Sydney, its main feature recognized around the whole world. Seeing it for the first time is an experience in and of itself.

So, bask it all in. You definitely won’t be the only one. This architectural wonder draws millions of visitors each year – and as such a unique structure set against one of the most picturesque harbours in the world, it’s no mystery why.

Join a tour to get an inside look at the Opera House with an expert guide detailing the history of the building. You’ll get an exclusive look at the interior of the concert halls – perhaps you’ll want to catch a show here later! 

Circular Quay

Right down the Sydney Opera House is Circular Quay, the hub of Sydney’s harbourfront action and gateway to iconic attractions.

This is where many cruises, ferries and water taxis depart, connecting visitors to the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and the historic Rocks District.

Here buskers tickle out tunes and impress crowds with unique performances. Pop-up restaurants and one-of-a-kind events set up shop along the Quay. Not too long ago, Jeff Goldblum set up his Chef Goldblum’s food truck serving up free hot dogs in the Quay!

Dining with a View

Lining Circular Quay is a progression of fantastic waterfront restaurants promising an essential Sydney experience – excellent food paired with unbeatable views.

Grab a spot at Opera Bar, often lauded as the best beer garden in the world. Perhaps the sweeping panoramic views across the harbour steer the scales in its favor. Peer over from the ledge of the Opera House’s promenade and you’ll spot vine-laden umbrellas perched over tables and bar stools. Order a cocktail or a glass of fine Australian wine and settle into the seats curving along the water’s edge .

For a special occasion, reserve a spot at Aria, only minutes away from the Opera House. Enjoy a delectable four course menu and extensive wine list, both highlighted by sublime views out from the glass walls.

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia credit Tourism Australia

This Sydney staple houses Australian and international contemporary art along with touring exhibitions. Get a glimpse of modern artworks produced around the world today and let your inner artist get lost in the thought-provoking collections you’ll encounter here.

See breathtaking exhibitions by Aboriginal artists, brimming with color and spirituality. Take in puzzling artworks, bemusing at first, but always with something to take away.

The Museum of Contemporary Art will at once welcome and challenge your notions of art and stimulate your imagination. If you’ve never given contemporary art a chance, this is the perfect place to give it a go.

The Rocks District

The Rocks Sydney credit Tourism Australia for Things to do Sydney Harbour

Cobbled laneways cut through some of Sydney’s oldest pubs and historic buildings. Structures gleam with their original eighteenth century colonial architecture, standing proud with their gabled roofs.

This is The Rocks, site of Sydney’s first settlement in 1788.

Brimming with a colorful history of convicts, soldiers and sailors, this is the perfect place to learn about the history of Sydney.

Many walking tours detailing the history of the area are available, some with a focus on Aboriginal history, convict stories or even pub walks. Who wouldn’t want to grab a pint in some of Sydney’s first bars?

Amble over to The Rocks Markets for enticing street food and boutique local shops, celebrating authentic local foodie experiences. The markets recreate a feel reminiscent of the bustling commons that once thrived in eighteenth century Sydney. Discover locally crafted clothes, jewelry and homewares along with gourmet food, artisan meats, cheeses and sweet treats mingling their delicious scents within the air.

Learn more about The Rocks before European settlement at The Rocks Discovery Museum. Housed in a restored 1850’s sandstone warehouse, here you’ll find unique exhibitions showcasing images and artifacts found in The Rocks – some of which you can even hold. The best part – it’s free!

Cruise on the Harbour

You can’t go to one of the world’s most gorgeous harbour cities and not go on a cruise. In fact, it’s a Sydney rite of passage.

Lunch cruises, dinner cruises, ferries and water taxis – the options are almost unlimited.

Get the glamorous harbour cruise experience with a dining cruise. With breakfast, lunch and dinner cruises available, enjoy a spectacular meal any time of the day with million dollar harbour views.

Explore more of Sydney and the sparkling harbour aboard a sightseeing ferry. We like to recommend our clients to get their hands on a Hop On Hop Off 2-day ferry pass for an easy cruise across the harbour highway to 10 famous Sydney stop overs, including Circular Quay, Darling Harbour, Taronga Zoo, Luna Park, Barangaroo and others.

Darling Harbour

Harbourside Shopping Center credit HSC

This lively precinct is home to fun tourist attractions, trendy waterfront dining experiences as well as premier Sydney shopping.

Meet incredible aquatic species at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, one of the largest aquariums in the world. Discover dugongs, sharks, penguins and tropical fish in the aquarium’s differently themed zones. Touch sea stars, shark eggs and coral at the Discovery Rockpool, and get a look into the prehistoric marine life from the dark depths of the ocean at Jurassic Seas.

Stroll down along Darling Harbour to the Harbourside Shopping Center, where the exciting buzz of Darling Harbour emanates from its waterfront dining and boutique shops.

Here you’ll find anything from familiar places to grab a quick bite to eat to waterfront steakhouses. Grab some grub then browse the shops for a new Australian-made outfit or souvenir.

Further along the harbour you’ll come across the Australian National Maritime Museum, where a wealth of seafaring and naval exhibitions provide a look into Australia’s coastal culture.

Climb aboard a replica of Captain Cook’s Endeavor vessel, the tall ship in which he first landed on Australia in 1770. Learn stories about the passengers – settlers and convicts from the 18th century – and their voyages to a new life in Australia. With knowledgeable guides possessing an impressive passion for Australian maritime history, you’re sure to dive deeper into the history of Australia – so closely intertwined with the ocean.

Taronga Zoo

Koala at Taronga Zoo, Sydney credit Tourism Australia

A popular stop on a harbour cruise is Taronga Zoo. With native Australian wildlife, rare exotic animals and breathtaking views of the cityscape across the harbour, Taronga Zoo might just be one of the most gorgeous zoos in the world.

Start with a gondola cable car ride lifting you above the zoo, gliding over trees and bush with views across the harbour.

Meet cuddly koalas, friendly kangaroos and their elusive tree-dwelling cousins, tree kangaroos.

Get up close to the graceful Sumatran Tiger on the Tiger Trek, or see the magnificent Asian elephants. Visit the towering giraffes, who have arguably to best view across the harbour in the whole zoo. Home to over 340 species, you’re bound to find your favorite animal.

Luna Park

Luna Park, Milsons Point credit Steve Back and Destination NSW

Find a true boardwalk amusement park experience at Luna Park, another favorite stop on the sightseeing ferry. Situated across the harbour right along the water, that ferris wheel is guaranteed to have incredible views.

Vibrant with colors and exciting rides for the kids, this is an essential harbour stop for families with little ones. But there’s an undeniable thrill that will strike your very core as you feel like you’re about to be flung into the harbour as you ride the Wild Mouse rollercoaster!

Slide down steep slopes on the Devil’s Drop or spin into a frenzy on the Rotor. Wind down on the Carousel – an amusement park staple – or get lost in the dizzying Mirror Maze.

Luna Park lets your inner kid go wild and immerse yourself in the nostalgia of the perfect carnival day.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge credit Tourism Australia

Past Darling Harbour is the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, an architectural feat to match the likes of the Opera House.

Its famous steel arch has earned it the nickname “The Coathanger.” Luckily, it’s much more supportive than that. In fact, the bridge has eight traffic lanes and two railway lines with a pedestrian walkway on the eastern side of the bridge and a cycling track on the western side.

Haven’t had enough of those gorgeous harbour views? Get a totally different perspective of Sydney Harbour at the very top of the Harbour Bridge arch on a BridgeClimb!

An essential Sydney must-do, this exciting journey combines fascinating history detailing the making of the bridge with a thrilling climb over the arch. You’ll get fitted with a climbing suit, briefed in safe practices and set off in a group led by a bridge climbing pro.

With morning, afternoon and evening climbs available, you can wake your senses with this invigorating climb or see the sunset glow cast over the harbour and Opera House sails. 

Besides, it’s not everybody who can say they’ve climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge!

Barangaroo

Baragaroo Reserve, Barangaroo credit Destination NSW

Barangaroo is the new kid on the block. Or harbour, you could say.

Once a site used for dumping shipping containers, this wasteland has transformed into a spectacular waterfront precinct. Quite the ugly duckling turned into swan story.

The precinct is named after Barangaroo, an indigenous Cammeraygal clan leader from the Eora Nation living around the north harbour at the time of European colonization. She was revered as a free-spirited and strong-willed Aboriginal woman. Several accounts tell about her refusal to wear European clothing to a formal dinner with settlers and turned up painted in white clay with a bone through her nose.

Just as Barangaroo held tightly to her indigenous roots, so does the idyllic parkland known as Barangaroo Reserve. This project is a testament to the achievable beauty of a congenial blend between urban renewal and nature.

Barangaroo Reserve is a 14-acre natural sanctuary created with a mission to restore the endemic trees, plants and shrubs of the area. Join a walking tour through the picturesque reserve and learn about the different plants and their uses, led by a knowledgeable Aboriginal guide.

Barangaroo Waterfront Dining

Head down past Nawi Cove for exceptional Barangaroo dining. The strip directly facing the waterfront features ten unique, carefully selected restaurants showcasing some of Sydney’s best local cuisine.

Indulge in Turkish share plates bursting with fresh flavors at Anason, and top it off with an authentic Baklava pastry. Treat your tastebuds to a feast of eclectic Australian flavors with an eight course tasting menu at Bea Restaurant, housed in the unique Barangaroo House. Pair your delectable dishes such as seared swordfish with bone marrow and wild barramundi with apple and brown butter with premium Australian wines. Order the Rocky Road for dessert for a chocolate experience out of this world!

Explore Sydney Harbour

Sydney is a world-class city with a harbour unparalleled in adventures to thrill history buffs, foodies and daredevils alike. The number of things to do around Sydney Harbour are countless and promise incredible experiences uniquely Australian.

The best part about exploring the harbour is that many of these sightseeing stop are some of the best free things to do in Sydney!

Want more recommendations on things to see around Sydney Harbour? Connect with our Destination Specialists to plan your perfect Sydney visit on your trip to Australia.

Add Sydney to My Trip

Australia Packing List: What to Pack for Every Season

Posted on: September 27th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments

Australia is one of the world’s most varied destinations. Traveling through Australia is like traveling to completely different worlds. From sun-kissed beaches to the world’s oldest rainforest and vibrant cities to the legendary Outback, Australia’s got it all.

This can make packing for your trip a challenge.

We’ve created a list to help you figure out what essentials to pack and what to wear in Australia.

With this Australia packing list, you’ll be ready to take on the land Down Under in no time.

Download and print our Australia Packing Checklist.

What to Pack for Australia

  • Waterproof Phone Case – This item isn’t something that immediately pops into mind when you’re planning your Australia packing list, but once you’re there you’ll wish you brought one along. A waterproof phone case lets you fully use your phone underwater, perfect for snapshots while snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef! It’s also great protection for snapping photos while enjoying the beach. No more worrying about getting water on your phone!

    Shop for a Waterproof Phone Case


  • Australian Power Adapter – Australia uses a different power outlet compared to the rest of the world, so you’ll need a power adapter to keep your electronics charged. A universal power adapter with USB ports is recommended. Realizing that you can’t plug in your electronics to charge for the entirety of your trip is the stuff of nightmares!

    Shop for an Australian Power Adapter


  • Reef-Safe Sunscreen – Australia is heavily exposed to intense sunshine, and in many places a reef-safe sunscreen is mandatory. But what exactly is reef-safe sunscreen? This type of sunscreen is free of chemicals damaging to coral and marine life when washed away into the ocean. Even if you’re not visiting the Great Barrier Reef, you’re most likely spending a few days at the beach, so it’s important to make sure your sunscreen is reef-safe.

    Shop for Reef-Safe Sunscreen


  • Camera – Sometimes a phone camera just can’t do a landscape any justice. As you travel throughout Australia, the jaw-dropping scenery will have you snapping photos every ten seconds. Bring a camera if you wish to capture crisp photos of your travels, especially of Australia’s unique wildlife.

    Shop for a Camera


  • Water Shoes – Whether you’re snorkeling, visiting islands or spending all your days at the beach, you’ll want a good pair of water shoes for water-based adventures. Trust us, just flip-flops won’t do. Many beaches have walking trails you’ll want to explore, such as the Bondi to Coogee walk in Sydney, and water shoes are the perfect versatile footwear for those beach days with a little spontaneous adventure.

    Shop for Water Shoes


  • Portable Charger – There might be days where you’ll always be on the go, with little time to rest. Keeping a portable charger for days like this is always handy, as you may not know the next time you’ll come across an outlet. This is incredibly useful for long days on the road in tour buses or for day trips. Recharge the portable charger once you get back to your hotel, and now you’re ready to go for tomorrow’s adventures!

    Shop for a Portable Charger


  • Prescriptions and Over the Counter Medicines – If you know you are prone to allergies, headaches or motion sickness, it’s a good idea to bring OTC medicines to ease any discomfort. You might want to bring seasickness tablets if you’re planning on any cruise excursions such as a snorkeling trip to the Great Barrier Reef. We also recommend Kaopectate for traveler’s tummy, found in any pharmacy in Australia. And of course, bring along any prescription medicines you regularly take.

    Shop for Kaopectate Upset Stomach Reliever


  • Insect Repellent – You don’t have to worry about bugs or mosquitoes for most destinations throughout Australia, but if you’re hiking or visiting any rainforest regions, insect repellent is not a bad idea. We do, however, fully recommend insect repellent if you’re heading to the Outback or anywhere in the Northern Territory such as Alice Springs or Uluru.

    Shop for Insect Repellent


  • Reusable Water Bottle – Staying hydrated under the heady Australian sun is super important. A reusable water bottle is a great way to always keep water at your side, and refillable wherever you go.

    Shop for a Reusable Water Bottle


  • Underwater Camera – If you want underwater shots to look more crisp than with a waterproofed phone camera, invest in an affordable underwater camera. Nothing beats capturing the underwater wonders of Australia’s marine life – except seeing it all for yourself, of course! But this way you can relive those breathtaking moments of snorkeling the reef or spotting colorful tropical fish.

    Shop for an Underwater Camera


  • Travel Documents – Always know where your travel documents are and keep photocopies of them should anything happen. One of our favorite tips is to keep online digital copies of travel documents. Emailing yourself copies of your passport, trip vouchers, flight confirmations, etc. ensures you can access these documents online anywhere, even if you lose your phone.

 Download and print this Australia packing checklist.

What to Wear in Australia

Figuring out what to wear in Australia can be a bit tough. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not always scorching hot every day of the year.

Almost the same size as the US, the weather in Australia varies throughout each region.

Here’s what to pack for Australia based on each season.


Summer (December – February): Summer is peak season for Australia. The sun is shining bright, the kids are out of school, and everyone is out enjoying the holidays with balmy temperatures averaging between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

This is Australia’s warmest period, so light, summery clothes, comfortable walking shoes, swimwear and thongs (the Australian word for flip flops!) are a must. Australia is pretty casual, but you may want to pack dressier clothes for an evening out in the city or for special events.

If you’re heading to destinations in Northern Territory such as Alice Springs or Uluru, bring breathable clothes, a sunhat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the scorching sun.

Tropical destinations in the north such as Cairns and Darwin see frequent showers, so a raincoat and umbrella are recommended.

Bring a light jacket for southern destinations such as Adelaide, Melbourne and Tasmania for the cooler evenings.

Bondi Beach Culture credit Anson Smart

Photo: Anson Smart


Fall (March – May): Australia enjoys a mild fall season, with temperatures averaging between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. In general, you’ll want to pack cozy layers and summer clothes for the daytime with a jacket for any drops in temperature.

Beach destinations along the east coast, such as Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Brisbane are still quite warm. You might like to pack your swimsuit and light clothes that can be layered up or down according to the weather.

Bring warmer clothes and a light coat for the larger cities such as Sydney and Adelaide, as the morning and evenings can get quite chilly.

Melbourne is known to have “four seasons in a day.” It’s best to be prepared for all kinds of weather, especially rain and cooler temperatures. A raincoat and warm jacket are ideal.

Even in the Outback you’ll want a jacket as the evenings can get surprisingly chilly.

Rooftop bar in Melbourne


Winter (June – August): Winter in Australia is known to be a bit unpredictable, with temperatures averaging between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Some people may find the weather pleasant enough for the beach in northern destinations such as Port Douglas. Coming from the U.S., you most likely won’t find the weather favorable for a swim, so pack versatile layers for warm days and cold evenings.

Cities along the coast can get rainy and windy, so bring a warm coat if you’re heading to Sydney or Adelaide. Melbourne and Tasmania are colder destinations, so warm layers and a coat are essential. 

Northern destinations in the tropics like Cairns and the Whitsundays have very mild, dry winters. Warm days with cooler nights coupled with low humidity make winter a wonderful time to visit these destinations. A sweater or light cardigan will be enough if you’re prone to get cold.

If the Outback is in your itinerary for winter, be sure to pack warm layers or a coat for the evenings. Winter nights in the Outback reach crisp temperatures of around 42 degrees Fahrenheit, with frosts commonly appearing in the mornings!

Standley Chasm credit Tourism NT

Photo: Tourism NT


Spring (September – November): Spring is rather mild throughout most of Australia, but chilly mornings and evenings are still common. Temperatures average between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

The days are warm enough to wear summer clothes, but you’ll want to bring a light jacket or sweater for the evenings. If you can brave cooler temperatures at the beach, go ahead and pack your swimsuit if you’re heading to Sydney.

Pack a raincoat for Melbourne, as spring is the city’s wettest season. Bring a warm jacket and layers, as the temperatures average on the cooler side (49 – 67 degrees Fahrenheit).

Beach destinations like Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Brisbane see warm days reaching temperatures in the high 70’s. Summer clothes with a light jacket for the cooler, windy evenings are perfect.

Cairns and other tropical destinations near the Great Barrier Reef see balmy days reaching the mid-80’s. Pack summer clothes along with a light cardigan for the very mild evenings.

Destinations in the Outback see the most varied temperatures, averaging between 56 – 87 degrees Fahrenheit. A light jacket is recommended for the evenings, with summer clothes during the day.

Cairns Esplanade credit Tourism and Events Queensland and Andrew Watson

Photo: Andrew Watson / Tourism & Events Queensland


No matter what time of the year you’re visiting Australia, it’s always important to use sunscreen.

Now that you know what to pack for Australia, you’re ready to enjoy the trip of a lifetime!

Safe travels from your mates at About Australia!

Australia Must-Do: Phillip Island

Posted on: September 21st, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments

Things to Do on Phillip Island

Phillip Island Coast credit 3B's on Flickr

Photo: 3B’s on Flickr

There’s a little slice of Australian paradise less than two hours away from Melbourne.

Think pristine beaches perfect for surfing, incredible wildlife in their natural habitat and untouched, breathtaking coasts.

One of the world’s largest colonies of fur seals and little penguins call this island home. The world-famous nightly Penguin Parade and Seal Rocks are premier attractions – you could almost say its the local wildlife that call the shots.

Combining the best features of Australia’s natural beauty with its own unique charms, Phillip Island is best explored at ease. Here’s our guide on things to do at Phillip Island.

Take in the Coastal Scenery

Phillip Island Coastline credit Visit Victoria

The sheer beauty of Phillip Island’s coasts will take you breath away – you’ll need something to grab on to.

Fortunately, the island features many coastal walks and trails, some complete with railed boardwalks.

Wander along Woolamai Surf Beach to the Cape Woolamai Trail for truly dramatic views of the Pinnacles. This two hour walk rewards you with sublime scenery – rolling green landscapes crumbling into jagged rocks known as the Pinnacles, jutting up from azure waters. You might spot some wildlife along the way, including echidnas, wallabies and dolphins. During whale watching season you might spot a migrating humpback!

Head to the westernmost point of the island past the Phillip Island Nature Parks toward Nobbies Centre. Stroll on the winding Nobbies Boardwalk stretching along the rugged southern coast. Turquoise waters crash against the green-clad rocks before you in a breathtaking display of coastal splendor.

From the boardwalk you can see Seal Rocks, home to Australia’s largest fur seal colony.

Cruise to Seal Rocks

Seal Rocks credit Visit Victoria

Home to over 25,000 fur seals, Seal Rocks is a natural haven where seals sunbathe, frolic and play in the cool water.

Get a closer look at these friendly animals with a wilderness cruise out to Seal Rocks.

The boat drifts within yards to the seal colony. Younger seals will often swim up to the boat to get a closer look at you, peering up as you peer down.

Surrounded by hundreds of seals in the water, this close encounter with Australian wildlife is part of what makes Phillip Island so special.

Catch Some Salty Waves

Cape Woolamai Phillip Island Victoria credit Visit Victoria

Phillip Island’s dynamic coastline features spectacular beaches and rugged shores.

Calm, sheltered bays line the northern coast while wild surf breaks are found on the southern stretch of the island.

As you first cross into the island you’ll spot the curve of Cape Woolamai, a sweep of golden beach set against ancient pink granite cliffs. Woolamai Surf Beach is one of the state of Victoria’s most popular surfing beaches, with large curling waves attracting keen surfers. If you’re not one to pick up a surf board, the barreling waves are mesmerizing enough to simply gaze at from a soft spot of sand.

Get a dose of surfing and wildlife all in one at Summerland Beach. Home to the famous Phillip Island little penguins, this beach is also hugely popular with the surfing crowd for its consistent year-round waves. Wildlife and waves – it doesn’t get more Australian than that.

For swimming, you can’t go wrong with the seaside holiday vibe and shallow high tide of Cowes Beach. With changing rooms, showers and a picturesque jetty flanked by charming coastal eateries, Cowes Beach has everything set for the perfect beach day.

Stroll Through the Koala Conservation Centre

Visitor and koala at Koala Conservation Centre credit Visit Victoria

As a small haven of native Australian wildlife, no trip to Phillip Island is complete without visiting the Koala Conservation Centre.

This not-for-profit organization focuses on koala conservation and preserving their natural habitat. With knowledgeable rangers and educational information on display at the visitor center, the dedication and expertise of the Koala Conservation Centre will impress you.

Here you’ll come face to face with koalas in their natural habitat. Wander through Australian bushland on tree top boardwalks at branch-level with sinewy Eucalyptus trees. The koalas are blessed with over 14 acres of pristine wilderness to call home – not something you’ll see in most wildlife parks. You’ll spot them hanging high among the trees, munching on leaves or dozing the day away.

Take the Tree Top Koala Boardwalk for superb koala viewing. If they’re feeling active, they might climb down to lower branches only an arm’s length away from you. Many visitors report seeing up to 12 koalas in one visit!

Below the boardwalks you might also spot other native wildlife, including wallabies, echidnas, rainbow lorikeets and other exotic birds.

Explore Phillip Island Wildlife Park

Kangaroos at Phillip Island Wildlife Park credit Unbound Outbound

Photo: Unbound Outbound

For more personal encounters with a larger array of Australia wildlife, head to the Phillip Island Wildlife Park. Here you can hand-feed free-roaming kangaroos, spot echidnas shuffling through grass and Tasmanian devils lazing about in the sun.

As home to some of Australia’s most unique wildlife, some of these animals you might’ve never known existed! With over 60 acres of diverse terrain, every creature has a perfect slice of land to call their own. Other animals you’ll find here include reptiles, wombats, dingoes, emus, cassowaries and quolls. 

Pack a picnic lunch or enjoy some park snacks after meeting the furry locals. Don’t forget to stop by the gift shop to pick up a cute souvenir!

Visit Churchill Island

Churchill Island Heritage Farm Wagon Rides credit Visit Victoria

Churchill Island might just be the closest thing to traveling back in time.

Horse-drawn wagons roll past historic cottages set among tranquil gardens and orchards. Verdant green pastures are dotted with cows and sheep wandering from a restored 1850’s homestead.

Sleepy mornings on this sublime island give way to lively afternoons filled with hands-on farming demonstrations. Watch an authentic sheep shearing, learn how to crack a whip and how to milk a cow. Catch the working farm dogs herd the cheeky sheep back to the farm. 

Grab a bite to eat at the Churchill Island Cafe, where country charm combined with local produce and breathtaking views of the sea create the loveliest dining experience.

Or browse over 40 stalls of fresh, local produce at the monthly Churchill Island Farmers Market. Pick up a treat to enjoy while you take in the panoramic views across the island.

Rustic splendor by the sea – Churchill Island is a quiet slice of paradise you never knew you needed.

See the Famous Penguin Parade

Phillip Island Penguins credit Visit Victoria

As the sun begins to set, the sands of Summerland Beach become a stretch of red carpet.

Crowds gather to catch a glimpse of the Phillip Island famous.

Out of the rolling curls of waves come forth hundreds of tiny tuxedoed penguins, waddling back home to their burrows in the beach.

The miniature size of these little penguins is cuteness overload. They grow to an average of 13 inches, though some may seem as small as the palm of your hand.

Phillip Island Nature Park oversees this nightly Penguin Parade, with the best seats in all the island on a custom-built viewing platform. You can get a closer look at the penguins in an underground viewing platform, where you’ll see them marching right past your eyes.

You won’t catch any paparazzi at this show. No photography is permitted to protect the penguins, as bright flashes might scare or blind them.

After all, the most remarkable wildlife interactions are best experienced as close to nature as possible.

Make the Trip to Phillip Island from Melbourne

Phillip Island makes for a perfect break a whole world away from the hustle and bustle of Melbourne. Get back to nature with native wildlife and unforgettable scenery. 

Plus, how many people do you know that have seen a Penguin Parade?

Add Phillip Island to My Trip

Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).


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10 Best Beaches in Australia

Posted on: August 29th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments

You haven’t gone Down Under until you’ve stepped foot on one of the best beaches in Australia.

With stunning coasts lined in white sand beaches and unbelievably clear waters, Australia boasts some of the best beaches in the world.

But with over 10,000 beaches, choosing the best Australian beaches may seem almost impossible.

Though all its beaches are undeniably beautiful, there is something truly special about our picks for the 10 best beaches in Australia.

Surrendering to the laid-back Aussie beach culture is easy once you set eyes on these coastal gems.

Burleigh Heads Beach

Burleigh Heads Beach, Gold Coast credit Tourism & Events Queensland

The Gold Coast is famed for its long stretches of sun-kissed beaches with boundless waves and endless sunshine.

But as one of Australia’s most popular beach destinations, the increasing crowds and overwhelmingly touristy atmosphere can sometimes take away from the charm of its beaches.

Burleigh Heads Beach is the one exception.

Widely considered by locals as the gem of the Gold Coast, Burleigh Heads combines pristine beach with untouched bush wilderness. The views out toward the Gold Coast skyline add to the stunning panorama.

Its surprisingly clean beach is carefully tended to by locals, remaining relatively unpolluted though situated alongside a major highway.

Host to annual surfing competitions, this is the perfect beach to pick up a surf board and catch fantastic waves.

Vigilant lifeguards patrol several swimming sections and a large parkland area complete with a playground make it a wonderful family destination.

Walking tracks and the fringing Burleigh Heads National Park provide a nice break to the salty waves.

You’ll want to keep an eye out for native wildlife on both land and sea, including brush turkeys, sea eagles, pods of dolphins and even whales.

Main Beach, Noosa

Noosa Main Beach credit Tourism and Events Queensland

With gentle waves, golden sands and clear waters, Noosa Main Beach is one of the crown jewels of the Sunshine Coast.

Located in Noosa, an idyllic beach resort town about two hours away from Brisbane, Main Beach promises something for everyone.

As one of Australia’s few north-facing beaches, this sun-kissed beach is blessed with endless warmth throughout the whole year.

Its calm and year-round patrolled waters make it perfect for swimming and family beach days.

Take a walk on the boardwalk, shaded with palm trees, and browse the numerous restaurants and cafes lining the beach. Fantastic waterfront dining with incredible views are is just a few steps away.

Main Beach is also perhaps one of the best places in all Australia for beginners to learn how to surf. As one of Australia’s top surfing destination, Noosa boasts many high quality surfing schools headed by professional surfers.

No better way to learn how to surf than with one of the pros!

Further up along the beach at the Noosa Park headland you’ll find long peeling waves with perfect barrels, a surfers’ dream. This is the site of the Noosa Festival of Surfing, a world-class event drawing surfers from around the world to compete in divisions such as long boarding, standup paddle surfing and even dog surfing!

Turquoise Bay

Couple sitting on the sands of Turquoise Bay, Ningaloo Marine Park credit Tourism Western Australia

Western Australia, though largely skipped by North American travelers, is home to some of Australia’s most gorgeous beaches.

Known for white sands, turquoise waters and abundant marine life, these gems are slowly gaining popularity for their stunning beauty.

Turquoise Bay encapsulates all the best of Western Australia beaches perfectly, with waters as blue as its name.

Located in Cape Range National Park near the town of Exmouth, this unspoiled beach is an aquatic playground. Crystal clear turquoise waters gently lap at the white sandy shores, teasing at the tantalizing marine life hidden beneath the surface.

Turquoise Bay is perhaps one of the best beaches in Australia for snorkeling. With the fringing Ningaloo Reef less than 200 feet away from the shore, you could almost walk to the reef.

Don on a wetsuit, some flippers and a snorkeling mask and explore the underwater wonderland below.

Confident swimmers can take on the Drift Snorkel, floating along with a current running parallel to the beach and drifting over the colorful reef fish, starfish, sea slugs and even sea turtles below.

As a snorkeler’s paradise, it’ll feel like swimming in a large natural aquarium.

Main Beach, Byron Bay

Main Beach, Byron Bay credit Tourism Australia

Grab a classic fish and chip takeaway from one of the many beachside eateries and settle onto the golden sands of Byron Bay’s Main Beach.

You’ll want to stay after dark for the fire dancers.

Known for its roots as an alternative hippy town, Byron Bay has seen tremendous growth over the last few years as artists, musicians and dreamers of all sorts chase the laid back beach life.

As more urban sprawl and development take over Byron Bay, its beaches still retain their natural beauty.

Main Beach, with its long stretch of surprisingly uncrowded and stunning coastline, adds to Byron Bay’s popularity.

Its north-facing curve lends to its fantastic surf break and outstanding sunsets. With the iconic Byron Bay Lighthouse overlooking from a distance, the scene appears straight out of a film.

As you spend more time in Byron Bay, you’ll find its picture-perfect scenery stretches beyond Main Beach.

Cable Beach

Camels walking past a couple on Cable Beach, Broome credit Tourism Western Australia

As you sit high astride a camel, walking in rhythm with the camel train along turquoise waters edged by red ochre cliffs, you’ll feel like you’re in a completely different world.

The purple and red sky burning to a fiery yellow glow during sunset only adds to the magical atmosphere of Cable Beach.

Located in Broome in Australia’s northwest, Cable Beach and the surrounding region possesses a rich history.

Walk to the southern end of the beach to Gantheaume Point, where red cliffs edged by bright turquoise waters create a stunning contrast breathtaking to behold. At the bottom of the cliffs are real dinosaur footprints over 130 million years old, preserved in reef rock visible at low tide.

Here you’ll also find Gantheaume Point Lighthouse, where you can see dolphins and migrating whales in season.

With soft white sands, aqua blue waters and gentle waves, Cable Beach is perfect for a lazy day and shallow swimming at the beach.

Add in umbrellas, beach chairs, paddle boards and even beach toys for hire and you’ve got a perfect day at Cable Beach.

Opt for an iconic camel ride and stay after dark for an unforgettable end to your Cable Beach day with a spectacular Indian Ocean sunset.

Wineglass Bay

Woman looking out to Wineglass Bay, Freycinet National Park, Tasmania

Many great hikes are about the journey as much as the destination, but no hike can beat that first magical glimpse of Wineglass Bay.

Its turquoise waters perfectly curving into a white sandy shore, framed by bush-clad mountains, are an iconic Australian feature.

Part of Freycinet National Park in Tasmania, this is easily makes the list of the best things to do in Tasmania.

Take the 45-minute uphill trek through the native bush to the lookout, rewarding you with stunning views over the beach and surrounding scenery.

For a truly rewarding experience, take the 20 minute hike down from the lookout to set foot on the beach. As you walk through the bush and come upon the clearing onto the white sands of Wineglass Bay, you’ll know all the work is worth it.

If you’re not keen on stretching your legs, eco cruises, yacht charters and water taxis departing from Coles Bay in Freycinet National Park offer a scenic way to reach Wineglass Bay.

Sea planes and helicopter flights deliver that incredible iconic view over the beach.

Camping grounds on nearby Coles Bay allow beach lovers to overnight at Wineglass Bay. Nothing can beat lying on the soft sand, gazing up at the endless expanse of the Milky Way spread across the night sky.

Remote, peaceful and unbelievably gorgeous, Wineglass Bay is easily one of the best beaches in Australia.

Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach, Sydney credit Tourism Australia

Undisputed as Australia’s most iconic beach, Bondi Beach is like a self-contained world set along one splendid shore.

As the closest beach to the Sydney CDB, Bondi is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.

Its curling waves create a tantalizing rhythm drawing you into its unbelievably blue waters. Even in winter you’re bound to see surfers in full body wet suits, unable to resist the tempting waters.

From fine dining to coastal walks, surfing schools to markets, you could easily spend days exploring all Bondi has to offer.

Taste exquisite regional Italian cuisine at Icebergs Dining Room and Bar, where unbeatable views over Bondi are accented by a glass of exceptional Aussie wine.

Browse the best fresh produce and artisan eats at the Sunday Bondi Markets, where you can grab a snack and chill on the grass knolls looking out to the beach.

Take on the scenic Bondi to Coogee walk, a clifftop coastal walk winding between some of Sydney’s most beautiful beaches.

Behind the beach lies Gould Street, a boutique shopping strip boasting high-end designers and unique finds.

Head to Bondi early in the morning to claim a patch of sand and catch the sunrise over Sydney.

The Basin

The Basin, Rottnest Island credit Rottnest Island Authority

Glimmering emerald waters pooled into a shallow bay, locked into seclusion by smooth reef- this is the Basin.

Located on Rottnest Island off the coast of Perth, this lovely little spot is one of Western Australia’s greatest treasures.

Its shallow waters, soft white sands and excellent snorkeling close to shore make it popular with families.

Buffalo bream fish and other reef fish swim around your ankles, visible from above the water’s surface.

At the western end of the Basin is a big limestone hill with extraordinary views across the beach and Bathurst Point Lighthouse in the distance.

Summer mornings are the best time to beat the crowds and set up your umbrella and chair.

With the sun shining through the crystal clear waters revealing an aqua glow, a dip is simply irresistible.

Whitehaven Beach

Whitehaven Beach credit Tourism Whitsundays

Whitehaven Beach is the sort of place you’d probably see in heaven. Its endless gradients of crystal blue waters blended with swirls of pure white sands create an almost celestial scene.

It’s something you truly have to see to believe.

The powdery white sand is 98 percent silica, a substance found in a high-purity form of sand. With extremely fine grains soft to the touch that never retain heat, a walk down Whitehaven Beach is like walking on velvet. No gingerly hopping across the sand, burning your feet to get to the water!

Framed by untouched tropical rainforest and surrounding reef, this pristine beach is nothing short of immaculate. Strict regulations help the beach retain its heavenly state, which not even the occasional Queensland downpour can mar.

Tucked away on Whitsunday Island of the coast of Queensland, this slice of Aussie paradise can only be reached by boat or air. This means little to no crowds even during peak season.

A high speed catamaran takes about half an hour to reach Whitehaven Beach from Airlie Beach. Most other cruises sail at a more leisurely pace, reaching Whitehaven Beach in about two hours.

For a truly spectacular experience, take a scenic helicopter flight to Whitehaven Beach, departing from Airlie Beach or Hamilton Island. The aerial views of the pure white sands fused with the stunning blue waters create a breathtaking scene you’ll never forget.

Get a glimpse of the same incredible view on Hill Inlet. The best lookout point is at Tongue Point, just a ten minute uphill walk through the tropical bush of the island. At low tide, when the vivid blue waters are at their most shallow and blend with the snowy-white sands, the scene is almost impossible to behold.

But such impossible beauty is what makes Whitehaven Beach one of the best beaches in Australia.

Hyams Beach

Hyams Beach credit Jonas Smith on Flickr

You’ve seen us mention a lot of pure white sand beaches, but only one can lay claim to having the whitest sand in the world.

And it’s only three hours south of Sydney.

Hyams Beach is famous for having the whitest sand in the world, as backed by the Guinness Book of World Records.

Located in the Jervis Bay region, this beach is part of the White Sands Walk, a trail connecting a series of gorgeous white sand beaches.

Framed by crystal clear turquoise waters, the pristine white sands of Hyams Beach are positively radiant and incredibly soft.

Surrounded by the Booderee National Park and native forests, you’re likely to spot wildlife such as kangaroos, parrots and cormorants.

The clear, shallow waters are irresistible, perfect for swimming and snorkeling. Dolphins often swim close to shore, curious and friendly. 

The best part is you’ll always find a stretch of beach to lay your towel on. Hyams Beach is a small beachside town with a population of under 300, and you might find yourself parking among the residential areas of the town.

Though its growing popularity continues to attract larger crowds each year, you might easily have the entire beach to yourself, if only for the morning at least.

But a morning in paradise is better than nothing.

Want to See the Best Beaches in Australia?

These beaches are just a the tip of the iceberg of the best beaches in Australia.

With unique features that make them truly stand out from the rest, you’ll want to add these stunning beaches to your list when traveling Down Under.

Our Destination Specialists are ready to help you plan your ultimate beach holiday in Australia.


Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).


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12 Incredible Things to Do on the Great Ocean Road

Posted on: August 21st, 2018 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments

Amazing Australia Road Trips Part 1

The Great Ocean Road: Melbourne to Port Campbell

There are so many amazing things to do on the Great Ocean Road. Road trips always include great tunes, laughing, singing and conversations. Long days on the road often make for the best stories and fondest memories. Just you, your loved ones, the open road and endless possibilities.

It’s a chance to be spontaneous, resourceful and find joy in the journey.  The unexpected moments, surprise encounters and freedom makes for a very special experience. You really get the chance to appreciate the small things and understand what makes a place special.

Take a road trip in Australia along the Great Ocean Road and not only will you reap the benefits of a good old-fashion road trip, but you’ll be driving along one of the most majestic stretches of road in the world. In this article we’ll show you the most amazing things to do on the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne to Port Campbell. Plus a few great places to eat too!

Insiders Tip:  Look up the time the sun sets at Twelve Apostles. Leave Melbourne early in the morning and plan your day so you arrive at the Twelve Apostles before sunset to witness this amazing sight.

Australian National Surfing Museum

Things to Do on the Great Ocean RoadLooking for a unique surfing experience where you won’t get wet? Visit the Australian National Surfing Museum featuring the Australian Surfing Hall Of Fame, a theater that screens some of the world’s best surf films, informative themes exhibitions, dozens of stunning photographs and an unrivaled collection of surfboards. The Museum is recognized by the International Surfing Association as one of “the most significant centers of world surfing heritage”.

Don’t pass a chance up to go in here – we nearly did thinking it was “just another museum”. Not so. We wandered around the interior of the Tourist Info Centre in Torquay and bought some gifts and then as it started to rain, thought we would pay the few dollars to have a look around, not thinking it would take long.

The building is huge, there is so much information about surf festivals and competitions, surfers themselves, champions and early pioneers of the surf movement, the evolution of surf boards and many boards belong to past champions.

There is an awesome tv exhibition of the waves and how to ride them and that is on for a while so be prepared to sit and watch. There are interactive green screen surf spots where you can take your own picture on the waves and email it back to yourselves.

One of the highlights was a set of surfboards which had been written all over as if from a teenager to his parents, absolutely hilarious, I forget what it was called but well worth the read.

In all – a great visit and one I am really glad we did not miss. Annette Laurie

Visit Anglesea Beach

Anglesea, Great Ocean Road

Credit: Robert Blackburn, Visit Victoria

Just ten minutes from Torquay, you’ll find a quaint surf town with towering cliffs, sprawling white beaches and abundant wildlife. Take a walk on Anglesea’s main beach, a wide sandy expanse next to the Anglesea River. Relax, take a swim or ask your Destination Specialist about booking a 2 hour surf lesson. Anglesea is also a great stop for breakfast. One of our favorite places is Captain Moonlite, a cute restaurant with European fare and amazing ocean views.

Incredible creative and tasty. Fairly large portions. And an amazing view. An incredible place you have to visit.George Popescu

 

Amazing Lookouts at Split Point Lighthouse and Sunnymeade Beach

Lighthouse at Aireys Inlet

Credit: Visit Victoria

Drive or walk up to Split Point Lighthouse where you will enjoy ocean views over Eagle and Table rocks. Tours are available if you have the time. There is another lookout at the end of Boundary Road, off the Great Ocean Road by Sunnymeade Beach.

Highly recommend this scenic spot. Beautiful views along the coastlines. The light is quite beautiful, but the view is to die for.Jonathon Gillard

See the Memorial Arch

The Great Ocean Road is a permanent memorial to those who died while fighting in World War I. Built by returned servicemen, it winds around the rugged southern coast and was a huge engineering feat ending decades of isolation for Lorne and other coastal communities.

During the early years, travelers paid a toll at the gates of the Memorial Arch at Eastern View. Now you can just take a quick stop at the official entrance to learn a little about the history of the road.

You’ll most probably stop by here if you’re out to look at every historical detail of the Great Ocean Road. You can find all the details as shown here online but it is still nice to see the things here with your own eyes. People don’t spend very long here. There is a pathway to the beach too. Minimal parking especially for long vehicles like buses, so do take note. It would be easy to wait around for one though.Wendy Ong

Teddy’s Lookout

Teddy's Lookout Lorne

Credit: Visit Victoria

Teddy’s Lookout is one of the best along the Great Ocean Road.  It provides stunning views from its platform high above the coast where St. George River empties into a small cove. Access off the Great Ocean Road at the end of George Street, then take a short walk through the bush.

Photos don’t do it justice! Not physically demanding but rocky and uneven on the track so footwear with good grip recommended. This is part of a loop walk.Alan King

Mount Defiance Lookout

Mt Defiance | The Great Ocean Road

credit: Robert Blackburn, Visit Victoria

A short drive further south west from Cumberland River is the spectacular ocean lookout at Mount Defiance. The Great Ocean Road here hugs the cliffs and provides a magnificent balance for the sweep of the ocean. There are always people stopped here with cameras running hot.

A lovely viewGary Cheavin

Otway Forest Park Adventures

Otway Forest Park Adventures

credit: Mark Chew, Visit Victoria

Get a change in scenery by heading into the Great Otway National Park. Choose between a Tree Top Walk or Zip Line Tour. The tree top walk is about a 1/3 of a mile long. Explore the towers and suspended arms jutting into the forest. Allow about 1.5 hours to take the walk and check out the shop and bistro.

The Zip Line Tour is a series of flying foxes, moving from tower to tower. Visitors can zip through the leafy treetops of the magnificent Otway Ranges from one ‘Cloud Station’ to another, suspended up to 98 feet above the forest floor. Specialist guides will provide training and unique rainforest insights. This adventure will take about 2.5 hours.

Pre-book your rainforest adventure with your About Australia Specialist.

We had the best afternoon flying through the treetops. Our instructors were amazing- funny, knowledgeable & made our whole group feel comfortable & at ease. If you are considering doing this then don’t hesitate, you really will have an unforgettable experience.Leanne Coxall

Cape Otway Lightstation

Cape Otway Lightstation

credit: Visit Victoria

If you don’t want to go into the rainforest, stay on the Great Ocean Road and head to Cape Otway Lightstation. You might enjoy some lunch at Chris’s Beacon Point Restaurant.

Cape Otway Lightstation is Australia’s most important lighthouse. The lighthouse established in 1848 is perched on towering sea cliffs 295 feet above where Bass Straight and Southern Ocean collide.

Experience the thrill of stepping out onto the Lighthouse Balcony for awesome views, and hear the amazing history of tragic shipwrecks on this isolated and rugged coastline from the passionate guides.

Explore the historic telegraph station built in 1859 and discover Australia’s extraordinary secret war history from World War II. Appreciate and understand local indigenous culture at the Aboriginal meeting hut, with storytelling and bush tucker sessions from local guides.

If you’re lucky, you may even spot whales at play in the ocean below or wild koalas in the the surrounding wooded areas.

This is a great spot to visit and the second most southerly point on the Australian mainland. Make sure to explore the building and save some time for a walk in the surrounding bush as there are some great spot to look out for Koalas. There is a cafe but would recommend packing a picnic lunch for a half day of exploration.Mike A

Gibson Steps

Gibson Steps Great Ocean Road

credit: Mark Watson, Visit Victoria

Be dwarfed by the 230-foot high vertical cliffs and marvel at Gog and Magog, the nicknames given to the giant limestone stacks rising up out of the sea. Weather permitting, make your way down to the beach via the 86 steps that were carved into the face of the cliff by local settler Hugh Gibson, who worked on the route originally used by the Kirrae Whurrong people.

If you have some time, park your car at the 12 Apostles and walk a little over half a mile to the Gibson Steps. The trail starts just behind the kiosk at the Visitor Facility. The path will cross under the Great Ocean Road near the Gibson steps view platform and beach access. Otherwise, you can access the Gibson Steps from its own car park.

Conditions can determine access. Check the Parks Victoria Website for changes in conditions and safety warnings.

Following a long descent down the steps etched into the cliff you arrive to a stunning view of giant rocks in the ocean with pounding surf – it’s nature in your face – it’s well worth the climb down and back up.David Rose

Twelve Apostles Lookout

Twelve Apostles

credit:Robert Blackburn, Visit Victoria

Arguably the most iconic lookout on the Great Ocean Road, the 12 Apostles is a must while on your Great Ocean Road vacation!

“Once upon a time – or up to 20 million years ago – they were connected to the cliffs of the mainland. The waves and wind carved them into caves, then arches, and eventually battered them down into columns that rise up to 45 meters high.” – Australia.com

As the years have come and gone the stacks have withered to the eight that remain strong and triumphant. This destination is one of those “can’t miss” moments because these limestone wonders are literally challenged daily to withstand the high winds and waters that relentlessly beat against them. The most recent stack that fell was in 2005. When visiting The Twelve Apostles, be sure to inquire about the shipwrecks and history that surround these natural wonders. 

Ask your About Australia Destination Specialist about taking a Helicopter Tour for a real treat!

This is a spectacular place with stunning views and coastline. You can also look at these from a helicopter which would be even better (if that’s at all possible). I would definitely come back to see this againJane Rose

Loch Ard Gorge

Loch Ard Gorge

credit: Roberto Seba, Visit Victoria

Located just three minutes west of the mighty Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge is a treasure trove of natural beauty, coastal wilderness and maritime history. Take some time to wander the trails, exploring the blowholes, offshore limestone stacks and towering cliffs. Visit at dusk to watch the short-tailed shearwaters (muttonbirds) fly home. Hear the story of the Loch Ard shipwreck and learn about the rich maritime history of the area at the nearby Port Campbell Visitor Information Centre.

Absolutely amazing place to visit! We walked down to the beach and were able to look down into a cave. The sea crashes through a small gap and looks spectacular as it rushes in. Up higher at the lookout you can see for miles and information boards tell you about parts of the coast including some of the shipwrecks that have occurred on that area and about any of the survivors. Really good place to visit, definitely recommend taking time to see and experience this area.Krystyna Rose

Port Campbell

Port Campbell is a colorful and lively seaside village along the Great Ocean Road. It is home to restaurants and cafes with views of the beach, bakeries selling homemade goodies and plenty of vibrant shops and galleries to explore. We love Port Campbell as an overnight stay. Just minutes from Loch Ard Gorge, the faint lights of Port Campbell are a welcoming sight to travelers who have been on the road all day. Explore this lovely town by taking a walk down it’s main street and select a restaurant for dinner. Follow the main street to the jetty to enjoy an ocean view before you call it a night. 

Try one of our favorite restaurants. The 12 Rocks Beach Cafe is a family owned, laid-back eatery with water views and outdoor tables. Their dinner menu includes lots of fresh seafood, a kangaroo burger, slow roasted Portuguese chicken and more! Another staff favorite is Sow & Piglets Brewery. Enjoy some great local beer and pizza after a long day on the Great Ocean Road.

More Adventure Awaits!

In our next blog post, well take you on the Great Ocean Road from Port Campbell through Warrnambool and on to the scenic drive through the Grampians to Halls Gap.

Want to Travel the Great Ocean Road?

If seeing the Great Ocean Road is a bucket list item for you, let one of our Destination Specialist plan your perfect Australian road trip!


Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).


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