Here’s our list of the top 8 free things to do in the Gold Coast.
1. Feed the Lorikeets at Currumbin National Park
Photo: Tourism and Events Queensland
Become part of an old Gold Coast tradition and feed the colorful lorikeets at Currumbin National Park. These native Australian birds delight visitors with their incredible flying skills and friendly nature, often landing on heads and outstretched arms.
This famous wildlife sanctuary started when founder Alex Griffiths began feeding wild lorikeets to prevent them from damaging his gardens. These bright, colorful birds, coated in green, purple, red and yellow feathers, attracted local curiosity and soon developed into an essential Gold Coast attraction. The park is now home to numerous animals including native Australian wildlife and exotic animals from around the world.
Though there is an entrance fee to the park, the lorikeet feedings are free to attend. For a small donation fee you can personally feed the birds with a plate of nectar – quickly covered in the dazzling colors of the hungry lorikeets! Feeding times are every day at 8am and 4pm.
2. Cycle the Gold Coast Oceanway
Photo: Tourism & Events Queensland
Get some fresh coastal air with stunning beach views on the Gold Coast Oceanway. This 22 mile coastal route is actually a network of different paths along Gold Coast’s best beaches and parks. You’ll find locals and visitors alike exploring the Oceanway by bike or foot. For true beach vibes, try the Oceanway by skates!
The Gold Coast Oceanway stretches from the Gold Coast Seaway at the northern end of Main Beach to Point Danger headland, at the border between the states of Queensland and New South Wales. You can easily spend a whole day walking the full route, dipping into different beaches and grabbing a bite to eat at tasty fish and chip shops along the way.
Staying in Surfers Paradise? Pack a picnic, swimsuits and sunscreen and take on the Surfers Paradise section of the Oceanway. A popular route is walking from Surfers Paradise to Burleigh Heads. The contrast between the glamorous high rises in Surfers Paradise Beach to the turquoise waters and green parklands of Burleigh Heads Beach is a breathtaking sight to behold.
3. Hit Up Gold Coast’s Boundless Beaches
Photo: Tourism Australia & Tourism and Events Queensland
Australia is famous for its radiant beaches, and Gold Coast is the perfect destination to soak up some sun. With over twenty beaches stretched across 35 miles of pristine coastland, you can visit a different beach each day. Here are our favorite Gold Coast Beaches:
Main Beach – Looking for the perfect spot to roll out your towel and just chill? Main Beach is the Gold Coast go-to for relaxed beach vibes. Patrolled by lifeguards and with a range of cafes, restaurants and shops just steps from the beach, Main Beach is also one of the best Gold Coast beaches for families.
Surfers Paradise Beach – Surfers Paradise Beach has all the glamor of a Hollywood beach movie set and the natural beauty to put Instagram filters to shame. This popular beach sits right at the hub of Gold Coast’s main attractions and entertainment, drawing crowds of beachgoers. Its excellent swimming conditions and array of beachside shopping, dining and nightlife make it a favorite among travelers.
Burleigh Heads Beach – There’s no better place to try your hand at surfing than at Burleigh Heads Beach. This is a popular surfing destination due to its excellent surf break, perfect even for bodyboarding and swimming. Its wide, shady parklands are hotspots for barbeques and picnics, or simply for cool shade from the Gold Coast sun.
Coolangatta Beach – This north-facing beach offers sheltered conditions with crystal clear emerald waters perfect for swimming and sunbathing. Clean and well-equipped barbecues are placed along the shore for a beachside grill and bright cafes just across the road offer delectable menus. The view from Coolangatta Beach towards the Gold Coast skyline is simply breathtaking.
4. Explore Gold Coast’s National Parks
Photo: Tourism and Events Queensland
Head to the Gold Coast hinterland for rainforest national parks, sparkling waterfalls and fantastic walking trails. These are our favorite Gold Coast hinterland spots:
Springbrook National Park – Just an hour’s drive away from the hustle and bustle of Gold Coast is Springbrook National Park, a hidden paradise of moss-laden rainforests and refreshing cascades. The crown jewel of the park is the Natural Bridge, a stunning rock formation formed by the force of the waterfall over an erosive cave. Keep an eye out for kangaroos and wallabies while exploring the winding trails!
Lamington National Park – Threaded with walking trails through lush rainforest and waterfalls, Lamington National Park is heaven for nature lovers. The park is part of the Gondwana rainforest system, the oldest living rainforest in the world. Walk the Binna Burra Rainforest Circuit or the Bellbird Lookout track, both strewn with scenic lookouts, tumbling waterfalls and creeks. See the rainforest from above with a Tree Top Walk at the Green Mountains Section of the park.
Burleigh Head National Park – Rainforest meets sea at Burleigh Head National Park, where you can walk along a rocky foreshore through mangroves, grasslands, coastal heath and even among Australian brush turkeys and water dragons. Visit in spring to for the chance to see whales!
Tamborine National Park – Can’t get enough of rockpools and waterfalls? Explore the phenomenal waterfalls of Tamborine National Park, just an hour’s drive away from Gold Coast. Complete with walking trails through lush rainforest and cliff-jumping into the cool waters, this park is the perfect respite for when you’re completely beached out.
5. Discover Treasures at Local Markets
Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets
Markets are a fantastic way of immersing yourself in a city’s local vibe. Gold Coast loves to support its local food vendors, artists and craftspeople with an array of markets. You’ll find everything from fresh produce, creative art pieces, handcrafted clothes, vintage items and even home-brewed beer! Do Gold Coast like a local and check out these markets:
Miami Marketta – One of the best things to do in Gold Coast on the weekend is checking out Miami Marketta, a local favorite of street food, live music and flowing drinks. Every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night, Gold Coast’s Miami neighborhood transforms a large warehouse into a foodie’s paradise, with vendors serving up mouthwatering eats from around the world. You’ll find everything from slow cooked brisket to Spanish paella to Vietnamese bao sandwiches, as well as a stall with over 90 different gins to choose from! Free samples and live music complete everything you need for a great night out.
Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets – Wind your day down with a browse at the stalls of handmade crafts and uniquely Australian products at the Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets. These markets pop up every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday night along the beach esplanade, featuring over 100 different stalls. Find unique souvenirs, onsite artists, boutiques, jewelry, and even a stall where you can take pictures while holding a macaw!
The Village Markets – Bohemian vibes and fashionable finds dominate the Village Markets of Burleigh Heads. Chic stalls focusing on boutique fashion, lifestyle products and delicious eats make this one of the Gold Coast’s best local markets. Explore racks of vintage clothes, handcrafted furniture, creative jewelry and designer clothing from local, burgeoning brands. The Village Markets are open on the first and third Sunday of each month from 8:30am to 1pm.
Marina Mirage Farmers Market – Get your Gold Coast weekend started with a trip to the Marina Mirage Farmers Market for fresh organic produce. Open every Saturday from 7am to 12pm, this farmers market showcases the Gold Coast’s finest seasonal fruits and vegetables, gourmet artisan delicacies, freshly baked pastries and organic products. Pick up something healthy to create a meal back at your Gold Coast accommodation!
6. Stroll the Gold Coast Botanic Gardens
Photo: Friends of the Gold Coast Botanic Gardens
If you’re looking for non touristy things to do in the Gold Coast, check out the Botanic Gardens. This collection of gardens showcases the unique plants found in this hotspot of biodiversity. Almost every aspect of the gardens incorporates stories of the Aboriginal people native to the region.
Easy walking paths and timber bridges cross the gardens, perfect for a quiet stroll. The Kaialgumm Games Trail takes you to six sites where you can use a QR reader from your smart phone or tablet to learn about traditional indigenous games and how to play them.
Wander through the Mangroves to Mountains section of the gardens, linked by several different pathways, to see thriving endemic vegetation. The Montane Rockery also features native species, found on the mountains and escarpments of South East Queensland’s most extreme environments.
For more traditional gardens, the Rose Garden offers delightful blooms of various roses suited to the local climate. Kids will love the playground, a local favorite for birthday parties. Don’t skip the Sensory Garden, where you can get your hands on a range of plants to touch and sniff.
7. Catch a Local Festival
Blues on Broadbeach Festival
The best time to travel to the Gold Coast is always during a festival. From jazz music to sculptures to surfing competitions, the free festivals in the Gold Coast hold something for everyone. Here are some fantastic festivals to plan around your Gold Coast visit:
Surfers Paradise LIVE – This four-day music festival is held on the Surfers Paradise beachfront, showcasing a great lineup of iconic Australian musicians. As night falls, musicians take the stage and fill the Gold Coast nights with electric vibes and incredible shows. Surfers Paradise LIVE usually runs on the first weekend of May.
Blues on Broadbeach – Not only is Blues on Broadbeach regarded as one of Australia’s best blues and soul music festival, but it’s also one of the largest free festivals in the world! International artists and talented acts from all over Australia gather for four days of amazing performances. Visit the Gold Coast in mid-May to catch Blues on Broadbeach.
Swell Sculpture Festival -If you’re visiting the Gold Coast in September, catch the Swell Sculpture Festival at Currumbin Beach. Art installations and sculptures by local and international artists transform the beach into an outdoor gallery, free for all to enjoy. Nothing makes a walk along the beach better than stunning art works set against the backdrop of the Gold Coast skyline.
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast – Want to see how pros take on the waves? Catch the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast surfing competition in early April to see the world’s best surfers ride the barreling waves of Snapper Rocks at Rainbow Bay.
8. Spot Whales from the Shore
Mick Schamburg Park Lookout. Photo: Tourism and Events Queensland
The Gold Coast has many excellent lookout points where you can spot humpback whales swimming close to shore. Though whale watching season in Australia runs from May to November, your best chance of spotting whales in the Gold Coast is between June and October.
Head to Point Danger Lookout for fantastic views across the ocean. Complete with public binoculars, this is one of the best spots in the Gold Coast to see whales for free!
Just north of Point Danger Lookout and along Rainbow Bay is Kirra Hill Lookout. This beautiful spot offers incredible panoramic views of the ocean and across to the high rise coastline Surfers Paradise. Pack a picnic lunch and relax on the sheltered tables and benches on your whale watching break.
Tumgun Lookout in Burleigh Head National Park is one of the more popular spots for whale watching in the Gold Coast. Make a day of exploring the park’s fantastic walks while keeping an eye out for the telling mist of whale water spouts.
Mick Schamburg Park in the Miami neighborhood of the Gold Coast is one of the locals’ hidden gems. Climb to the lookout for commanding views across Surfers Paradise and uninterrupted views across the ocean. This is one of the best spots for whale watching during the season.
Add These Free Things to Do in the Gold Coast to Your Visit!
Gold Coast is no doubt one of Australia’s best destinations for endless beach days and fun in the sun. Combined with its rich hinterland and love of all things local, the hidden gems of free things to do in the Gold Coast offer spectacular experiences for any kind of traveler.
We hope your visit to the Gold Coast is full of unforgettable memories of fresh coastal air and warm sunshine!
Posted on: February 16th, 2019 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments
How do the experts of About Australia know so much about this vast country?
They see it for themselves!
Our Product and Sales Manager, Melanie, recently returned from a whirlwind adventure in Western Australia as part of her trip to the annual Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) in Perth.
ATE allows travel agents and tourism companies like About Australia to meet directly with Australia’s finest tourism businesses, hotel managers and tour operators.
But there’s no better way to ensure the experiences we include in our vacation packages are the best than by testing them out!
Check out Melanie’s incredible adventures in Western Australia. Perhaps you’ll find something new to add to your Australia bucket list!
Perth, the Capital of Western Australia
Elizabeth Quay, Perth. Photo: Tourism Australia
Perth is rapidly becoming a must-see destination for foodie, art, and beach lovers.
One of the best ways to experience Perth is through its local food and drink scene. For one week in April, the annual Perth Noodle Markets awaken the city nights with sizzling stalls of signature Asian and noodle dishes.
For a breath of fresh air, Kings Park and Botanic Garden is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. With over 988 acres of tranquil parklands, Kings Park is one of the biggest parks in the world – bigger than Central Park in New York City!
Melanie explored the many walking tracks strewn across the park, including the formidable Jacob’s Ladder. This twisting staircase is popular with locals and tourists alike, running up and down its 242 spiraling steps.
Making New Friends in Rottnest Island
Perth is also the perfect base for many of Western Australia’s coastal adventures. Rottnest Island, a haven of white sand beaches and amazing wildlife, is just an hour and a half away by ferry.
With no paved roads to disrupt its natural beauty, the island is a popular destination for sunny beach days. The best way to explore its beaches, lakes, snorkeling sites and lighthouses is by bike.
But perhaps the best way to experience the island is by meeting the locals! Rottnest Island is famous for its quokkas, absolutely adorable creatures that roam the island. Their curious smiles have earned them the title of “The Happiest Animal on Earth.” Quokkas are only found on Rottnest Island, drawing visitors from around the world on a quest to capture the iconic “Quokka selfie.”
Melanie befriended a curious quokka on her Rottnest Island adventure – even posed with her for a couple of photos!
Glamping at Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef Safari Camp
There’s nothing better than surrounding yourself in extraordinary landscapes, and Sal Salis does exactly that. This incredible eco-resort puts you right on the beachfront of Western Australia’s gorgeous white sand beaches in Cape Range National Park.
This luxury camping experience allows you to totally disconnect from the world and unwind in a magical setting. The open bar and exquisite three-course meals set against uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean also help!
Guided wilderness activities such as snorkeling on Ningaloo Reef, kayaking and walks among the red terrain of Cape Range National Park are also included. During her stay, Melanie’s group walked through a secluded gorge to spot elusive black-footed wallabies, and even saw a few dingoes.
Waking up to the sounds of wallaroos thumping by and the gentle waves of the beach were some of Melanie’s highlights during her stay.
Swimming with Whale Sharks at Exmouth
Another highlight destination in Western Australia is Exmouth. This port town is known as the gateway to Ningaloo Reef, with natural beauty rivaling the Great Barrier Reef.
It’s also famous for swimming with whale sharks! Despite their name, whale sharks are actually fish – the world’s biggest fish, in fact. As filter feeders, whale sharks pose no threat to humans. The best time to swim with whale sharks is between April and July.
Melanie joined a whale shark swimming and snorkeling expedition out on Ningaloo Reef, and even saw sea turtles and a hammerhead shark! Check out her video of swimming with whale sharks.
Sailing Ningaloo Reef and Coral Bay
Undeniably, the best way to explore Ningaloo Reef and the sparkling coasts of Western Australia is by catamaran.
Sailing tours allow you to see and explore hidden gems no one else can see. Melanie enjoyed a luxury sailing expedition across the turquoise waters of Ningaloo Reef, complete with fine Western Australian wines and dishes featuring local produce.
On her sailing expedition, Melanie soaked up the sun at the best Western Australia beaches of Coral Bay, named due to the breathtaking coral gardens beneath its waters. The group also witnessed a ‘shark cleaning station’ where dozens of gray reef sharks swam below them.
This sailing expedition also offers liveaboard trips for those who want a unique experience staying overnight on a luxury catamaran. Ask an About Australia Destination Specialist about adding this experience to your trip!
Want to See Western Australia?
U.S. travelers are just now beginning to discover all Western Australia has to offer.
White sand beaches with crystal clear waters and no international crowds? Check. Unique wildlife experiences both on land and under the sea? You bet.
And if you want to explore world-class cities or get lost in untouched bush wilderness, Western Australia is the perfect destination.
Let your wanderlust take you to Western Australia – we’ll guide you with the must-see’s and do’s along the way.
Posted on: February 13th, 2019 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments
Cairns is all about tropical vibes. Suits and ties are exchanged for shorts and sunglasses. Days feel like the carefree, relaxed summers of your childhood and nights instantly put you into holiday mode.
As gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics – the oldest rainforest system in the world – your visit to Cairns will no doubt be a busy one.
But if you’re looking for other things to do in Cairns, we’ve gathered a list of local must-see gems. Here’s our list of 7 favorite free things to do in Cairns.
7 Free Things to Do in Cairns
1. Spend a Day at the Cairns Esplanade
Credit: Tourism & Events Queensland
Some people prefer the beach, others prefer the pool.
At the Cairns Esplanade, you get the best of both worlds.
This local landmark combines a large man-made lagoon with a small sandy shore, so you get the feel of a beach at the pool. The crystal clear waters offer a fresh respite from the tropical heat, along with shaded areas to help keep you cool. Lifeguards patrol the lagoon during the day.
A lush, green park surrounds the lagoon, with soft grass perfect for laying out and sunbathing or enjoying a picnic lunch. The park also features picnic benches and BBQ grills free to use, but be sure to get in early to snag a bench!
If you’re in Cairns during the weekend, you can enjoy live bands play in the park from 2pm – 5pm. Feeling a bit more active? Take to the wide boardwalk surrounding the lagoon, equipped with free fitness equipment and a playground for the kids. Continue on to Muddy’s Playground, a small splash park perfect for younger children.
The Esplanade also offers free fitness classes throughout the week, ranging from aqua aerobics in the lagoon to yoga and pilates.
Swimming, grilling, workouts and music – there’s something for everyone at the Esplanade. The best part is it’s all free!
2. Browse the Markets
Rusty’s Market. Image: Tourism and Events Queensland / Andrew Watson
Cairns is famous for its local markets, with Rusty’s Market as the main attraction.
Rusty’s Market is known to draw in visitors from out of town for the freshest produce in Queensland. Early risers are rewarded, too – open only from Friday to Sunday, Rusty’s begins from 5am to 6pm. Fruits and vegetables are freshly gathered in the morning then carted off to the market, making it all truly farm-to-table.
You’ll find everything from mangoes, durians and leafy greens to tropical nuts, lychees and pineapples. Many local vendors also sell their wares at Rusty’s, such as turmeric products, hand made natural soaps and lotions, pastries, and knits.
In the evening you’ll want to hit up the Cairns Night Markets, a mecca of creative sweet treats and Australian souvenirs. Open from 5pm to 11pm every day of the week, browsing the night markets is a great way to spend your free evenings.
With an incredible array of souvenirs, here is where you should do your souvenir shopping. You’ll find staples such as T-shirts, fridge magnets and key chains along with more unique items such as indigenous Australian art, koala dream catchers, and even a stall where you can get a fish pedicure!
If you’re craving something sweet, choose from fish-shaped cream puffs, waffle desserts on a stick, churros served with ice cream or crepes. That doesn’t even touch the full list of sweet treats you’ll find at the Night Markets’ food court, where you’ll also find an array of Asian cuisine sure to get your mouth watering.
3. Explore the Cairns Botanic Gardens
Rainforest Boardwalk, Cairns Botanic Gardens
Get a taste of the rainforest at the Cairns Botanic Gardens. Located near the center of the city, the gardens and its walking paths offer a tranquil escape from the bustling city.
Open every day from 7:30am to 5:30pm, you can enjoy a quiet stroll through its unique gardens, each vastly different from the next. The Watkins Munroe Martin Conservatory houses some of the gardens’ most valuable and rarest plants along with a collection of local butterflies. Step inside and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped right into a bubble of rainforest.
Take to the Rainforest Boardwalk, winding through an ecosystem of tropical palm trees towering over a floor of green ferns. Discover the tropical fruit trees and vegetables of the grounds surrounding the Saltwater Lake, or look out for native birds while you enjoy a picnic by the gardens’ Freshwater Lake.
The Gondwana Heritage Garden displays Australia’s unique flora tracing back from the beginning stages of evolution of its native plants. You’ll find species of plants that were among the first flowering plants in the world.
You can also explore a collection of local plants used by the indigenous people of the region for over 40,000 years at the Aboriginal Plant Use Garden. See a Chinese-style garden at the Zhanjiang Friendship Garden, a perfect spot to stop and take in the tranquility of the gardens.
Join a free guided tour every day beginning at 10am for deeper insight into the gardens, or simply spend a quite afternoon.
4. Visit the Cairns Art Gallery
Cairns Art Gallery
Once you get past the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics – the undisputed stars of Cairns – you’ll get to see the hidden gems the city has to offer.
The Cairns Art Gallery, just a block away from the Cairns Esplanade, is a small but elegant gallery showcasing local, contemporary and indigenous art.
The gallery is comprised of three levels in a heritage building, beautifully styled in classical-inspired architecture. Each level is dedicated to carefully curated pieces and rotating exhibitions featuring everything from photo collections, installations, thought-provoking modern art and Aboriginal artifacts.
After exploring the gallery, pop in to Perrotta’s, the on-site cafe serving up delicious coffee, tasty breakfast options and zesty lunch and dinner menus. Outside seating underneath a shaded verandah creates the perfect ambience for al fresco dining.
The gallery shop offers a great range of specialty gifts, jewelry, books and toys inspired by the in-house exhibitions and collections. You’ll also see pieces from local artists on sale, a perfect memento of your visit to the gallery.
5. Relax at the Northern Beaches
Palm Cove, Tropical North Queensland
Nothing beats a day at the beach, especially in the sun-kissed beaches of Australia.
However, Cairns has no beaches. At least, not within the city itself.
Travel 20 minutes north of Cairns and you’ll come across what are known as the Northern Beaches. The closest and a consistent favorite beach is Trinity Beach, where gentle waves, soft golden sand and its relaxed ambience make it perfect for rolling out a towel and soaking up the sun. Lifeguards patrol the beach during the summer season, and a net keeps out jellyfish during stinger season so you can enjoy a swim.
Palm Cove is another favorite only 30 minutes away. This is the sort of beach you see on the covers of travel magazines, with its serene, blue waters, soft sand and splendid sunsets framed by relaxed palms. A pier juts out into the sea, offering a boarded walk above the sea foam and spray of the fresh ocean breeze.
Yorkey’s Knob is for the adventurers, popular for water sports such as jet skiing, kite surfing and wind surfing. Only 20 minutes away from Cairns, this is the place for an adventurous beach day trying your hand at extreme water sports. If you’re interested in giving kite surfing a go, an onsite kite center offers rental gear and introduction courses.
6. Discover Local Waterfalls and Swimming Holes
Swimming at Crystal Cascades. Image: Tourism & Events Queensland / Andrew Watson
There’s a local secret to staying cool during the hot Cairns summer – swimming holes and waterfalls.
In fact, many locals completely skip the beach and head straight to these hidden gems for a cool, refreshing swim. Surrounded by lush, shady rainforest, these natural rock pools and waterfalls are hidden tropical oases only minutes from Cairns.
The Crystal Cascades is a popular spot due to its close proximity to Cairns (only 15 – 20 minutes away) and its several different rock pool. Water cascades down a mountain rising out of the rainforest, creating many spectacular waterfalls splashing into the refreshing pools. Small streams running over collections of smoothed rock create natural water slides, just be careful to watch out for people before you slide down! This spot is easily accessible from a carpark, with barbecue and toilet facilities available.
Stoney Creek Falls, located 20 minutes from Cairns, is hidden beneath the pristine wilderness of Barron Gorge National Park. This sparkling waterfall cascades down into a refreshing swimming hole, surrounded in crystal clear rock pools and streams. There’s a walking path running along the creek that takes you to an old weir, a popular spot for relaxing and taking in the tranquility of the untouched rainforest around you.
Freshwater Creek, just 10 – 15 minutes from the city center, is a continuation of Crystal Cascades. This clear stream runs under towering, verdant trees and through smooth stones, offering a shady, cool respite. Picnic benches and barbecues are available throughout different spots along the creek.
7. Climb Walsh’s Pyramid
This adventure is not for the faint-hearted.
But if you’re an experienced hiker looking for the best walks in Cairns, Walsh’s Pyramid is the perfect challenge.
Located about 30 minutes south of Cairns, Walsh’s Pyramid is the highest freestanding natural pyramid in the world. Ascending over 3000 feet, this amazing natural formation rewards climbers with truly incredible views out to Cairns.
The whole walk takes about 4 – 7 hours to complete, best started early in the morning to avoid the heat of the day. The marked trail to the summit is rocky and steep, so you’ll need to use your hands for many parts of the hike. Take as much water as you can, and when you think you’ve packed enough, pack even more. You’ll also want to pack snacks to keep you energized throughout the walk. Dab on a good layer of sunscreen.
You’ll likely see many runners summiting the pyramid, training for the annual “Pyramid Race” that takes place every August. They’ll make climbing the pyramid look easy, but don’t feel pressured to keep up. You’ll want to be able to say you’ve climbed the highest natural pyramid in the world!
Try These Free Things to Do in Cairns
As home to the Great Barrier Reef and the spectacular Wet Tropics, your visit to Cairns is sure to hold once in a lifetime experiences. For the free moments you may have in between, these free things to do in Cairns offer a true local’s Cairns experience.
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
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
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!
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!
Posted on: November 22nd, 2018 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments
Image by: Roderick Eime
Australia is on almost every traveler’s bucket list but the long-haul flight can seem like a daunting journey, causing some people to put off the trip. We promise it’s totally worth it and really not as bad as you might think. Here’s what it’s like to fly to Australia from the US with a few tips to make your journey as stress free as possible!
Avoid the headaches!
Unless you found an amazing deal on airfare, we highly recommend taking a direct flight to Australia. Likely, you’ll be flying directly to Australia from Dallas, Los Angeles or San Francisco, so your first step would be to get to one of these main hubs on a US domestic flight. Your best bet here is to make sure you book your US domestic flights with your international flights, so that you can check your luggage all the way through to your destination. Otherwise you will have to get off the plane in Dallas (LA or SF), pick up your bags, check into your international flight, drop off your bags, go through security again and then get on your international flight. We like our clients to be able to do a simple transfer from one plane to the other, knowing their bags will be transferred behind the scenes. Less lines means less stress!
Traveler’s Tip: All of your flights within the US and Australia should be booked on the same ticket as your international flight- your About Australia Destination Specialist will do this whenever possible. Not only will this lessen the stress on your way to Australia, but it also increases your luggage allowance throughout your entire journey! Usually, you’ll get two free checked bags when you book in this manner. Even if you only plan on checking one bag, the ability to check an additional bag comes in handy when you come across a flight in Australia that limits carry-on luggage to 7K (15.4 pounds). Rather than pay $50 to check your overweight carry-on, you can simply check it for free because you booked your international ticket with your Australian Domestic flights. See, it pays to book your travel with a Destination Specialist!
Your flight will most likely take off late in the evening and arrive in Australia two days later early in the morning. No, you’re not on the plane for two days, but you will cross the international dateline causing you to lose one day. So if you leave Dallas at 10:30pm on November 20th, you would arrive in Sydney at 6am on November 22nd. You’ll make up this day on the way back, arriving in the US just a few hours after you leave Australia. It’s like time travel!
So you’ve avoided the stress of the dreaded international transfer. Now it’s time to board your new home for the next 12-17 hours. If you are flying First Class, Business Class or Premium Economy, great for you! The service and food are much better and you will be much more comfortable then the folks in Economy. But these options are quite expensive, so we’ll stick to Coach in this description since that’s how most people will get to Australia.
Traveler’s Tip: Your Destination Specialist will send you information on how you can purchase advanced seat selection. If you want to sit in an exit row (for extra leg room) or sit with your travel companion, you’ll want to spend the extra cash to select your seat ahead of time.
You’ll board your flight and take your seat. Airlines like Qantas, Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand will offer in-flight entertainment from the get-go. They have a ton of options with new and classic movies, TV series, music, games and audiobooks. Get comfortable and start picking out a movie or TV show to watch. These flights also offer USB ports that will keep your mobile device charged throughout the flight. Don’t expect Wi-Fi, though. Most international flights currently don’t offer it, but that is slowly changing.
These larger long-haul planes are much more comfortable then most US domestic planes. You’ll likely have a winged headrest that folds in to catch your weary head and your seat will slide forward when laying back to give you a little bit more recline. The Qantas Airbus A380 even offers little footrest nets for added comfort (but these are not available in the exit rows or bulkhead seats).
The plane will take off and after it gets to the correct altitude, flight attendants will offer bottles of water and perhaps a lemon drink. You’ll receive a menu that tells you all that is on offer. We can’t speak for all airlines, but on Qantas, Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand, everything on this menu is included in the price of your flight – including the alcoholic beverages. Just don’t get carried away.
Here’s what we recommend you do:
Watch a movie and enjoy dinner with a tasty dessert. Then maybe watch a TV show or read for about 45 minutes. Three to four hours into your flight, when they turn down the lights, get out of your seat to stretch your legs. Maybe do a lap around the plane. If you are on the Qantas Airbus A380, you can head to the back and walk up and down the flight of stairs a few times. Then go to the restroom to get ready for bed.
It might help if you bring along a change of clothes and your toothbrush (if you forget this, ask for one). Performing your nightly ritual may help you sleep more soundly. Cuddle up with your airline provided blanket and pillow and try to get a full night’s rest. Most airlines will also have sleep masks available should you need them. Snacks and water are available throughout the night.
Traveler’s Tip: Get lots of sleep and drink a lot of water! It may be tempting to watch all three Lord of the Ring movies while you enjoy glasses of Australian wine, but you’ll hate yourself the next day.
In the morning, the lights will come on about 3 hours before you arrive at your destination and the crew will serve breakfast. Wake up, go for a little walk to stretch your legs, eat and fill out your customs card. You might find yourself asking, “Should I declare…..?”. The answer is yes. Just declare anything that remotely matches the description on the card. It will save you trouble in the long run. Now you’ll have time to watch a short movie or catch a few more Zzzzzs before landing in Australia.
You’ve arrived in Australia!
When you land, you will disembark the plane and make your way through customs. You’ll stand in a few lines, show your passport a few times and they’ll ask you what you are bringing into the country. Then you will collect your bags and a cute dog might come along to sniff your bag to make sure you are not smuggling illegal fruit and whatnot. It’s not the best experience, but it’s not the worst. And again it’s totally worth it because, yeah, you’re in Australia!
Now you have to find your way to your hotel. If you booked with us, you’ll have a transfer waiting for you. The shuttle bus will take you to your hotel where you can try to check in. It’s going to be pretty early in the morning, between 7 and 8 am, so unless you’ve arranged for early check in, they likely won’t have a room ready and waiting for you. This is really a blessing in disguise.
If you had a room ready, you might be tempted to take a nap at this point. This is not a good idea. You have to power through your first day in Australia. Stay awake until at least 9pm. Otherwise, the jet lag will be much worse throughout your vacation. Most hotels will store your bags for you and bring them up to your room when it is ready. Your job is to get out into the city and explore.
Traveler’s Tip: Resist the urge to take a nap on day one!
If you’re in Melbourne, maybe do a city tour to explore the hidden laneways and arcades or hop on the City Circle Tram. This free mode of transportation stops at many places of interest like Federation Square, Melbourne Aquarium and Parliament House. There is also a free tourism shuttle bus with on-board commentary. Look for red signs that indicate the bus stops. It runs every 30 minutes between 9:30am and 4:30pm.
If you follow these suggestions you can avoid serious jet lag and start enjoying your Australian vacation straight away.
Are you ready to start planning your trip to Australia? Talk to one of our Destination Specialists today. We’ll make sure you have an easy and enjoyable vacation!
Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).
About Australia Reviews
Rating of Average of 4.86 on a total of 186 Ratings
Ana Musgray hit the nail on the head!
Fabulous trip to Australia and New Zealand. We asked for photography opportunities-- landscape and wildlife and that's just what we got at a reasonable price. Ana was with us every step of the way to include during the trip, when a hotel owner thought we had unintentionally left things in a room. Amazing service-- friendly, efficient and spot on. Thank you to Ana and to the owner, Paul, too, (...)
Sydney opera house
Every thing was above our expectations. If we knew better, we would have spent more time in New Zealand. All hotels were great except our hotel in Sydney which did not have the best location for our needs. Thank you so much!
Andy & Arlene Houk
Australia and New Zealand - Outstanding in every way!
We recently returned from an amazing 3 week holiday to Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns and Queenstown (NZ) organized by Ana with About Australia. We could not be more satisfied with our trip due to Ana's attention to detail and organization. We are experienced travelers (58 countries and 6 continents so far) and like to balance "do our own thing" with occasional organized activities. Ana guided (...)
I saw the word "Aussie" in Koda's itinerary and thought it was somebody's else reservation. She told me the meaning. I think it was funny.
Koda was an excellent adviser and planner to my trip to Australia. She was always very professional, patient, informative and was careful to the minimum detail. I will recommend her with friends and family.
It was above my expectation
We only have one time in Cairns where the shuttle missed picking us up because the flight was delayed and we have to wait for one and a half hour for the next shuttle
Otherwise, everything else was great! I will recommend it to all my travel buddies.
An excellent orchestration of 13 flights and 31 vouchers
3 countries, 13 flights, 31 vouchers, 0 problems.
This was a well orchestrated trip by Ana at AboutAustralia of Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
Overall we were very happy with About Australia and our coordinator Koda.
All the booking and execution of travel, transfers, hotels, etc went smoothly. The location of and quality of the accommodations in Melbourne and Caines were great, and we really enjoyed the tours we did in those cities.
We especially enjoyed the foodie tour we did in Melbourne. Monique, who ran the tour, wa(...)
Acela Guerra and Ricardo Guerra
Thank you Ana ,you are the best and very professional.
Amazing trip to Australia !!!!!!
Very soon will be back with our son Richard.
Ana did a great job of putting my itinerary together. She has great ideas for tours, the accommodations were fantastic, and it was nice to have transportation arranged to and from the airport.
John & Jeanne Koch
Beautiful country and wonderful people
Jeanne and I highly recommend a trip to Australia and to use About Australia for your arrangements! Everything they recommended we tried to fit into our schedule and it was well worth it. We especially loved Cairns and snorkeling on the Barrier Reef and hope to go back again at some point to spend more time there. One day on the water was not enough!
All of our flight arrangements made by Ab(...)
Trip to Aussie Land
Our 10 day trip to Eastern Australia was extremely enjoyable, and a valuable learning experience. Surfers Paradise was reminiscent of our days on the Jersey shores, only better. The area was very clean, there were many good restaurants and plenty of sites to see. We did sign up for a 1/2 day tour of the waterfalls and rainforest. We could have avoided this since the waterfalls and rainforests(...)
Great value for the price
The paper work including what to do pre trip was great, Australia is a long way so Ana extended my return an extra 10 days so I could have more time with son and visit Tasmania. For my return next year I plan on using their services .
Amazing all-around experience!
The trip that Ana put together for us was nothing short of spectacular and exceeded our expectations which were high. As we traveled from Sydney to Hamilton Island to Byron Bay and back to Sydney we were able to enjoy all the sites and activities we planned and then some! We were privy to some “insider tips” which added so much to our trip. We highly recommend AboutAustralia and plan on using(...)
Robert & Jo-An Ferris
About Australia (Joanne) did a great job working with us and customizing our trip. It was what we wanted. We certainly saw the bush and outback several times. We found animals in the wild besides at sanctuaries and Steve Irwins Zoo. We believe we saw the real Australia and not just cities. The train trips were what we expected and then some. When they stopped and let us off it was very (...)
Such a well rounded first class adventure
Virgin Australia made the lengthy flight enjoyable.The hotel, Breakfree, was in the heart of town, spacious clean comfortable room and front desk staff bent over backwards to assist us with all kinds of requests. The tours were informative and fun. We had time to do a few things on our own, like having dinner at the top of Sydney tower our last night. On the Blue Mountain tour, we even had an(...)
It was an amazing family vacation almost everything was pre-paid and booked we just had to show up and have fun!! Ana was very patient with me and she was able to accommodate all my requeats and answer all my questions.
Linda and David Cole
We had a fantastic experience. Knowing it may be our one and only chance to see down under, we squeezed in as much as possible in 2 weeks. We went to Melbourne, Sydney, Auckland (Tasmania) and New Zealand. The flights, tours and all airport/hotel connections all went off without a hitch. We scheduled many tours but our favorites were the Feeding Frenzy at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary in Tasman(...)
Awesome trip, can’t wait to do another!
F. Brent Betenson
We loved diving the Great Barrier Reef!
Koda, We just returned from our Australian adventure and wanted to thank you for the great job you did in planning and making all the arrangements. We had such a good time and no glitches of any consequence. That is really something when you are dealing with people our age. All of the vendors (i.e. bus drivers, tour operators, accommodation staff, etc) were great and we would readily reco(...)
Everything was great!
We had a great time and we were so grateful that About Australia had taken care of all the details. Eventhough we kept making changes to our plans (dates, cities, activities, etc) even during the trip, the staff was super patient and accommodating.
A couple of suggestions: the hotel in Queenstown was not the best (very dated) and it didn’t have air conditioning. We were also surprised whe(...)
Thank you Katie for being so easy to work with for our Australian adventure. Your communication and planning in a timely manner helped our travel anxiety as seniors.
Crissy & Mike
VIP Honeymoon of a lifetime
This is our first big trip out of the country and using a travel agent. I was extremely hesitant because I am so used to planning everything. As soon as I spoke on the phone with Koda i was so excited and all hesitation went away. We went to Australia for our honeymoon 2 weeks after we got married. We were extremely exhausted so it was nice knowing everything was handled. We felt like we got (...)
Stellar services customized for us! Many thanks
Great travel services covering customized locations and activities. Transfers were seamless and
Accommodations were perfectly located with access to in apt.laundry needs at just the right intervals
for our three week trip. Couldn’t have asked for a better team in getting us flight changes mid-trip and
tracking our needs throughout. All for reasonable prices! Best of the best!
All the planning and the vouchers worked out just fine. No glitches. Well done.
The trip to Australia was amazing. The tours were well planned and interesting. A great value for the money.
David and Susan Waller
Great advice and a great trip, perfectly put together
About Australia put together a perfect trip for us to Australia. Their suggestion that we fly Premium Coach on Virgin Australia worked out great, we slept well both ways and literally experienced no jet lag either direction. We were pleased with all of our accommodations and excursions, and when one of our flights inside Australia was cancelled, the owner was immediately on top of the situa(...)
We had a wonderful time. We enjoyed all of the excursions that were included with our package. We would, however, preferred better hotels. The first one, in Melbourne, was located about 2 blocks from the office where we were dropped off by the shuttle. We had to drag our luggage to the building. We found the apartment to be well appointed, but we had to report to the management that the (...)
About Australia made it easy to plan our trip to Australia and included everything we needed, ensuring we did not miss any of the most popular attractions. We absolutely loved our trip and are already talking about going back.
The trip was very nice overall.
The trip was very nice overall. Very good communication process with About Australia in planning and setting up trip. Agents were pleasant, professional and helpful. The hotels, excursions and shuttles were very good except with a bad shuttle experience in Sydney with RedyToGo both to and from Airport and Hotel. The side excursions and tours booked were very good and well run, especially t(...)
Enjoyed the trip!
We really enjoyed our Australia vacation, especially our visits to Sydney, Melbourne, and Port Douglas. Everything went smoothly - no problems with travel arrangements, and the accommodations were comfortable and spacious. Our snorkel/scuba trip to the Great Barrier Reef was wonderful. Thanks to About Australia for helping us plan the trip of a lifetime!
So glad About Australia and Koda could make my dream come true. Such an incredible trip. Managed to accomplish so many things: Great Barrier Reef, Tjapuka dinner show, whitewater rafting, Wildlife Dome (picture holding koala bear), shopping, Blue Mountain tour (feeding and petting kangaroos), seeing 3 Sisters, using 2 day Harbour Pass to visit most stops, walking the Harbour Bridge and Ro(...)
Thank you for excellent service
Recent Australian trip was an excellent adventure!
The trip of a lifetime for us. All the arrangements worked out beautifully. The accommodations were excellent. All the transportation arrangements happened as expected and we were extremely pleased. Loved all the included tours and those that we chose to do on our own. One day at the Great Barrier Reef, the next at the Rainforest. We especially loved the city of Cairns. Truly one of the best(...)
Troy & Kessy Heinzle
Darin hit it out of the ballpark planning our trip to Australia for us. He made it very easy for us to get from one place to another. Everything went as planned!! He suggested Hamilton Island to us and It was one of our favorite places to go! Absolutely beautiful! Everyone was so friendly and they take such good care of their Island- very clean! We were able to see and do so much and all do(...)
This trip was amazing!!!
Tyler planned an amazing trip to Australia and New Zealand! Everything went smooth from the time we left Newark until we landed back home in Newark. The flights were great, the transfers went smooth, the accommodations were lovely and the excursions were awesome!! Any issues we had were out of everyone’s control and handled appropriately
I would recommend About Australia to anyone who (...)
Loved the locations we visited and the planned excursions. The Mantra hotels were ok but not great. About Australia needs to work on their response times since we didn’t always get answers without feeling like we were nagging. And the day of our departure was very stressful with a changed flight ( no fault of About Australia) and a shuttle driver who arrived 50 minutes late and was lost betw(...)
This was a fun trip that ran very smoothly.
Traveling to 3 Australian cities, I was surprised how effortless the whole trip was. The hotels were very nice, the pickups and transfers from airports were efficient, the included tours were fun, and it was an all around enjoyable and worthwhile experience.
best bargan ever
I went with confidence in About Australia, and ended with confidence with About Australia. Our travel Agent Daren did everything possible to make this a unforgettable trip, and he succeeded. He even went out of his way to change our plans at almost the very last minute. this is very special from a very special person. I certainly have and will recommend them to anyone wanting a trip of a li(...)
I have decided to use a travel agent to plan for my family’s trip to Australia, after trying to do it myself for months. I am glad I did. My agent was Ana. I requested her to plan a trip for us with the most affordable way to fly from San Francisco, to have city experience, to see the Great Barrier Reef, to be able to visit my good friend in Brisbane, and have wildlife experience. She came o(...)
If people go and don't wanna stay they're crazy
It was an amazing trip. The tours were excellent.
Just love Koalas
Our Aussie trip could not have been planned better. The accommodations were all located centrally within short walking distances to restaurants and shopping, not to mention each one was ever so clean and the staff so friendly. The tours scheduled were just what we wanted to see and the tour guides quite knowledgeable. We got to see all the Koalas, kangaroos and wombats that we could possibly(...)
Very impressive, and well organized.
The whole trip was very well organized . Starting with planning the trip consulting Darin Hendry, he made us feel very comfortable and assured us that we would be well taken care of. He told us what to expect at every cities we stopped. The instructions at each airports when we arrived were so detailed. We felt so at ease in unfamiliar places. The whole trip was very relaxed because we travel(...)
Ana & the About Australia/New Zealand team totally exceeded all our expectations!!
We had the best time and I highly recommend Ana & the "About Aus/NZ" team. I looked into a lot of different agencies prior to planning our honeymoon to Australia and New Zealand. Truth be told, I originally planned to complete all aspects of our trip myself. When finding the "About" team, I loved that they specialize in only a few different places. I also liked how they gave us the ability to(...)
This was the best trip of my life hands down. I was afraid that since I was saving so much money I would be getting a lesser quality trip, but I was pleasantly surprised!
This was my first time using About Australia and I was extremely happy with their services. They did an excellent job. Everything was just perfect. The transportation, the hotels, the locations was all spot on. My sisters and I were very pleased. I highly recommend anyone visiting Australia and New Zealand to use About Australia. Thank you so much Marissa for everything you did to make our va(...)
Good enjoyable trip.
Accommodation: clean, good location, easy transportation
City Food Walking Tour: OK
Philip Island Trip: Good
Ocean Drive: Good
Accommodation: clean, good location
Aboriginal: Duplicated day and trip events. Should have taken one, not both: the same thing, same casts.
Accommodation: OK, good location, easy transporttio(...)
Fern & Nick Leier
All the details were handled for us
Thank you, Darin for planning our trip of a life time to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. The whole trip ran smoothly because you had everything set up for us. All the tours were top-notch and beyond enjoyable. The fact that we didn't have to go through the hassle of buying tickets for our tours was super, definitely made our trip so much easier! We seen and experienced so much that we never(...)
Cindy Guillett Beytin
Wow, we booked this trip through About Australia knowing it would probably be our only time to go there. They chose the BEST highlights, arranged EVERYTHING, and it was fantastic! I don't think it could have been better. In Melbourne (Melbin) we did an excellent 3 hour foodie walking tour, rode the free tram everywhere, loved the Market, stayed a an apartment, visited an animal park AND ex(...)
We loved Australia!
Thank you so much Koda for all the recommendations and the itinerary tips! The stay in Melbourne was centered right in the middle - loved the people, lots to eat, lots to do and see. We loved our stay - our balcony was so beautiful - we loved our view so much! Cairns - loved our hotel and everything was in walk-able distance, we had an ocean view, sunrise was magical - wished we extended o(...)
Mindi van Gemeren
Best trip ever
My daughter and I had an amazing time Down Under thanks to About Australia. Our hotels were wonderful and located perfectly in order to explore more of the cities we were visiting. All of the recommendations before we left were extremely helpful. It made a last minute trip into a relaxing vacation.
Ann G Holmes
Amazing down under experiences
After the initial scare of missing our connection in Dallas, because our Denver to Dallas plane was running late, we were rebooked by American Airlines via Los Angeles. After that, every connection, shuttle, hotel, tour was perfectly coordinated. Our trip was a great taste of life in Australia without all the hassle of attempting to book all arrangements ourselves.
It was an amazing trip.
Koda was very helpful in assisting us in planning our first trip to Australia. The apartments in Melbourne and Sydney was Amazing. It is walking distance to major attractions and we felt very safe. We will definitely recommend about Australia to our friends. Thank you.
Enjoying the majestic waterfalls of Doubtful Sound.
We enjoyed a great time in New Zealand. We particularly enjoyed the scenic South Island, and Hobbiton on the North Island.
Too Much Continent and Too Little Time
The trip was incredible. People were unbelievably friendly. Enjoyed the peaceful serenity of Port Douglas. Am very glad we opted for Douglas instead of Cairns. Meridian Hotel was great. Four Mile beach is a must see (sunrise is fantastic) and be sure to climb Flagstaff Hill. Great Barrier Reef trip was ok, but opting not to go into the water was a mistake. Be sure you can tread water or(...)
My fastastic vacation in Australia met my dreams of meeting Australian animals
I asked for a trip to Australia focused on Australian animals and I enjoyed it immensely. I petted koalas at the Australia Zoo and at several wildlife refuges, and photographed them out in the wild. I fed and petted kangaroos and wallabies at the Australia Zoo and at several wildlife refuges, and photographed them out in the wild. While snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, I photographed mul(...)
Karen S. Anders
Six weeks; No hassle; Greatest experience ever
My boyfriend and I (both 72 years of age) have just returned from a six-week, custom-tailored, independent trip to Australia and New Zealand.
We started talking about this trip over a year prior to our departure date. After my initial 2.5 hour telephone conversation with Christopher at About Australia, I knew we had found the perfect "partner" on whom we could depend to help us with all(...)
Absolutely wonderful trip through New Zealand and Australia
Just wanted to share we had an amazing trip through New Zealand and Australia, thank you for coordinating the trip. The voucher process worked perfectly and we liked the location of the accommodations. Wish you did Asia, I would love to use your services again.
It was everything you promised and more!!
Koda was great and kept in contact with us from the intial point and until our return and beyond. All of the events we booked were fantastic. Even though we were fresh off the cyclone the snorkeling of the Great Barrier Reef is a once in a lifetime experience. The tip about getting something for the flight crew paid off as all the flight crew treated us as though we were VIP's and other peopl(...)
I’m extremely happy with the trip that we had About plan for us. I told them what cities we wanted to go, what attractions we wanted to visit and that we were nature lovers. They planned the best tours for us and nailed it! I was also very happy with the smoothness of all the connecting flights and the shuttles to and from the airports/ train stations.
Herman and Betty Pump With Leo and Regina Carbanara
Incredible trip great hotels
Can not describe how wonderful this trip was. Every flight perfect with pickups always on schedule. Each hotel was better than described. The excursions where a highlight of every city and where very fairly priced. We added some additional tours and Chris Reeh our agent from "About Australia" handled these additions with ease.
We enjoyed every day and night . Pickup for tours always on time(...)
Great way to see Australia
Everything was well planned out and taken care of before we flew to Sydney. Plans went smoothly. We had a few changes to make during the planning and Koda was very helpful.
We had a great first time trip to Australia. Darin and About Australia were great to work with. The sites we visited were fantastic. The hotels were excellent. The day trips and operators were first tier. Everything about the trip went smooth and was above expectations. Well Done!
WONDERFUL AND AMAZINGLY WELL COORDINATED BY ANA and ABOUT AU
TO BE FILED UNDER... WHO NEEDS A TRAVEL AGENT ... UNTIL YOU DO!
We traveled to NZ and AU in March and April this year. After a great deal of discussion with friends and colleagues about where to go and how much time to spend, we headed off.
NZ was first, not only was it one of the most spectacular Venues i have ever been lucky enough to visit, but the driving on the "Other side of the(...)
Ana did such an amazing job! She was super kind and patient through out the process and helped answer any and every question I had. She did a wonderful job of getting a grasp on what I was interested in and everything I needed to support completing the entire trip. We had fantastic tours, hotels, and transportation the whole. It really took the stress out of the traveling and allowed us to ju(...)
Loved New Zealand and Australia
We loved our bucket list trip to New Zealand and Australia. However, we felt there should have been an encouragement from Koda to consider adding a day or two at each destination. We didn't realize that in almost all cases of 2 night stays, an entire day was spend traveling. This left us with little time to explore upon arrival. An example was Melbourne. We arrived in the early evening. The e(...)
Experienced help made our trip smooth and memorable.
We managed to see many of the highlights of several locations in Australia without feeling too rushed. Also received good advice how to plan for the excessive heat, which was quite a change from the snow we left here, and some inside information on hot spots and recommended activities. I especially appreciated Ana's patience as we made some last minute changes in plans. Having the transport(...)
Australia was amazing!
Marissa really helped us plan the perfect vacation. She was always available by phone or email, even sometimes after hours. I had a lot of questions and made some changes, and she was very accommodating. We were visiting our son who is attending the University of Newcastle for a semester. We stayed in Sydney and Newcastle during our trip. Some of our favorite things were the sunset cruis(...)
Australia is Awesome!
Fantastic trip, and so affordable! Great flight, outstanding accommodations with wonderful views--39th floor in Melbourne!--Great Barrier Reef and Penguin Island were excellent experiences! Monique and Yasmine were such entertaining guides. This trip with my daughter was one of the very best in this traveler's memory!
We had a wonderful time in Australia and loved the convenience and quality product offered by About Australia. The food tour in Melbourne was great and our apartment was modern and lovely. We were very satisfied overall and thank Koda for helping us with our arrangements.
Best travel agency for Australia
Our trip to Australia would never have been as successful as it was without the help of Koda from About Australia. Using an area specialist made all the difference. She set us up with amazing excursions I doubt we would have found it n our own. She suggested the Phillips Island trip to see the tiny penguin parade when I didn’t even know there were penguins in Australia—and trip included (...)
My husband and his brother had a very nice time in Australia. Thank you for your help in coordinating this adventure.
Joseph & Nancy Froelich
A good trip
Our flight to LAX was delayed due to weather connections (our booking), and therefore missed our flight to Melbourne. However, Virgin Australia was wonderful & put us on a flight to Sydney just a few hours later with a connecting flight to Melbourne to arrive only 5 hours late [THANKS VIRGIN!]. All accommodations were great [Rose Gums the favorite despite heat]. Also John & Sue in Port Dougl(...)
Bucket List Trip #5 accomplished
I had a nice time in Australia. Had the opportunity to meet 4 other women on a similar adventure from various parts of the US. Their package very similar to mine so we spent time doing activities together and having meals together.
I would recommend that you ask more questions about the activities if you are going to book them through the travel agency. There was very limited information g(...)
Don’t ever let Koda go!!!!!
Koda was absolutely amazing. Truly the best trip of our lifetime. We cannot thank you all enough for this. We will always use Koda for future trips. 100% satisfied. About Australia will be referred by us to everyone.
All we booked was easy to do on this fantastic trip!
We booked flights, hotels, shuttles, and activities with Ana at About Australia.
The range of geographical areas and activities was exceptional
I highly recommend About Australia to anyone planning to travel there.
Everything went exactly as planned. There were 5 of us and every hotel room every activity and every shuttle was on time and perfect! Our trip could not have gone better!
I wrote as soon as we got back, but the email did not go through. You did a superb job of booking everything! The trip was perfectly smooth. Both Australia and New Zealand are beautiful and the people are kind. We snorkeled, zip lined, walked, went on planes, trains, gondolas, boats and ferries. We attempted to do every activity and site available and I think we succeeded! Thank you. (...)
It was amazing,
It was amazing, the experience was well worth the cost.
Overall we had a great time.
We had a wonderful time, except for a glitch at the Melbourne airport enroute to Cairns. After spending a couple great days in Melbourne going too the Penguin Parade on Phillips Island and the Mooonlit wildlife Conservation park.We got to the airport, we had a voucher for a nonstop flight to Cairns, which after standing in a long line, we were told that that flight had been cancelled days ago(...)
Carolyn & Jeff Green
Trip Down Under
We couldn't be happier with our trip to Australia that we booked through "About Australia" Travel Agency. Our agent Ana, helped us customize our trip & figure out 3 cities to visit & an excursion in each city to do. The accommodations were convenient & comfy. The excursions got us out & about the city so we could figure out more places we wanted to visit. Ana walked us through getting all o(...)
Amazing Aussie Experience, Mate!
We loved our time in Australia! The diversity between Melbourne, Cairns, and Sydney was great. We did several tours including the Phillip Island Penguins, the snorkeling/diving in Cairns (would like to do that one about 10 more times!), the Kuranda Rainforeststation, and the Hop on/Hop off tour in Sydney. We also did some extra exploring at those places and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We hi(...)
Thank you for making this amazing trip happen!
Our trip was absolutely amazing! I usually like planning my own trips, but this time around we were in the midst of planning our wedding as well. In addition, we felt like we did not know enough about the South Pacific to know where wanted to go. Our trip was put together beautifully, and honestly we wouldn’t change a thing. Every single flight and shuttle from the airport was on time, ever(...)
Edward J Heffernan
I wasn't totally convinced that this would work out. But, it did. Darin Hendry did a fabulous job of making our trip perfect. I was worried- I didn't have to- he's a 5 star pro. We loved it all.
It was amazing
Really wonderful trip. Everything was arranged ahead of time. All hotels were great. The tours were lovely, including the optional daintree dreaming tour. Well, well worth the money
Once in a Lifetime Trip
They helped me plan a amazing anniversary trip that I will never forget. We had minor hicks up but it was taken care of. I just wanted to share how much I enjoy dealing with About Australia. You have great people working to make business travel as painless as possible. I have worked a lot with Chris Reech – he is brilliant.
He is customer focused, cheerful and always willing to help you f(...)
Fantastic trip and awesome customer service
This is my second time booking with About Australia. It was a blessing and pleasure to work with Koda! She was patient, efficient, and did her utmost to meet all my travel requests. I had a customized itinerary with many changes in between. Koda, without any hesitation, helped to meet my requests. Koda delivered friendly and professional services without any trace of Being annoyed or bother(...)
A Big and Diverse Trip to Australia Made Easy
We usually do our own vacation planning. Grab a Lonely Planet guide book, hop on the internet and get started. I quickly realized that Australia may be different. First, its very large, 95% of the size of continental USA. Second, there is so much to do and see. Third, an itinerary can get very complicated very quickly; multiple destinations, multiple flights, rental cars, and a myriad of(...)
Well designed and good value trip, would recommend to friends
Outstanding trip—and so affordable!
Great flights on Qantas, excellent room accommodations (awesome view from Short Stay apartment in Melbourne), loved being up-close with koalas, kangaroos, wallabies , and adorable fairy penguins. Our guides, Monique and Yasmin, were lovely, and snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, was amazing! Australia should be on everyone’s bucket list!
Great trip! Everything went according to plan, seamless!
Absolutely no complaints! Great accommodation! Everyone was on time to pick us up! Really enjoyed Australia!
Lawrence & Wendy McKee
We wish to thank Chris & all at Aboutaustralia.com who enabled our recent trip to Australia & New Zealand. We had 36 vouchers, and in each case had no problem when checking in. We had one minor issue at the hotel in Napier, and Chris responded right away despite time difference, and it was due to a new hotel clerk not finding our existing booking, and was quickly resolved. Also, Chris respo(...)
Very well organized
My husband and I went to Australia September 2019. From the beginning of our planning process Melanie was great. Initially we planned to go on vacation in June but we had some conflicts so requested to move our vacation to September. Since Melanie was out of the office, Melissa helped us get everything organized. Melissa was so great and attentive as well. As our vacation got closer Melanie c(...)
Overall, everything was good
Accommadations were excellent except at the Short Stay Apartments where we were required to walk to another of ther properties— The Australis—which was quite difficult for us to get to with all our luggage. I think it was the one at Kangaroo Island that also wasn’t a good experience because of having to climb 2 flights of stairs to get to the room. The trip to the Great Barrier Reef on the Qu(...)
Fantastic Honeymoon! About Australia took care of everything, all we had to do was have fun!
We really enjoyed the tours that we were scheduled for. The guides on all the tours were excellent, they were all knowledgeable, a lot of fun, we enjoyed chatting with everybody.
Darin Hendry nailed it!
The trip you helped me put together for my clients was absolutely perfect!
Thank you so much!!
So nice to have it all done for us!
We did 24 days in Australia/Tasmania in March/April and loved it! About Australia made all the custom arrangements and things went so smoothly. We had two small issues which were quickly corrected...thank you! Accomodations were great, flights were easy, and the tours were very nice. Loved Kangaroo Island and Tasmania! Would do it all again :-) Thanks to all the agents who helped us!
Services were great !!
I reviewed properties with the travel agency which had some issues, and these comments are said to be considered for future clients. I'm awaiting resolution of an airline baggage charge with which the agency is assisting.
I'll try to post photos after I'm back from catchup mode; having been away a month.
Thank you Ana, for your great service!
Wonderful trip!! Just two issues.
In cairns our pickup to airport for trip to sydney was not organized well. The driver picked us up too late and had 6 additional stops! Claudia and I ran to checkin and there was a long line. So she went to priority and I went to service desk. The service desk checked us in. We were lucky to make the flight due to our quick thinking. Also, we were not that pleased with the location of (...)
Great Knowledge and Execution Made for a Great trip
My husband and I heartily recommend About Australia. Although I had done a great deal of research myself, it was wonderful to have these pros take over the details of day trips, accommodations, flights, transfers, and car rental. They put us in hotels that were wonderfully located but met our budget requirements. All three weeks of our Aussie adventure came off without a hitch.
Our first trip to australia is awesome . Quantas airlines staffs are attentive , helpful to meet my needs & assistance .hotels & apartments provided are awesome , clean , spacious & most of all matrtra on kent , very close proximity at darling harbour in sydney. Tours best is penguin , barrier reef .the only minor complaint i have is to remember to call transfers 24 hours prior . . Australia (...)
Australia is a MUST Country to VISIT!!!
Great planning, awesome communication, and perfect itinerary setup by Kelsey!! Perfect hotel locations to access the wonders of each city within walking distance!!! Australia was amazing, adventurous, and relaxing!! Great job About Australia!!
WE LOVED our trip
Our trip was so smooth and so affordable we could not believe it! Accommodations were wonderful - clean and right in the middle of the action in all 3 areas we travelled. Flights were wonderful and transfers reliable and on time. I cannot think of a way it could have been better!
An amazing trip!
We truly enjoyed the trip you planned for us. Everything went smoothly, and the activities you chose for us were amazing.
This was one of my bucket list vacations and Anna Musgray and About Australia did not disappoint. I cannot
believe everything went smoothly without a single hitch. I expected at least one thing to not go as planned,
but was most pleasantly surprised that each and every detail was spelled out for me and completely followed
through. I'm so glad I made this trip because it was wonderful in(...)
This trip was AWESOME and exceeded my expectations!
Going to Australia and snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef has been #1 on my "Bucket List" since I can remember! All the stars fell in line this year, so we decided, "This is it...we're going!"
About Australia came highly recommended to us by some friends who LOVE Australia (and are going again with them next year for the 5th time!!), so we contacted them to check them out and get the bal(...)
Wonderful trip from bingging to ending
We had a wonderful trip. Koda's help in planning all aspects of the trip was wonderful. Having never travelled abroad before, we relied heavily on her to help us with planning our travels while in Australia. All bookings were perfect for our likes. We only had one hiccup on a planned tour which was cancelled (no fault of Koda), but didn't bother our trip in the least
Everything was as good or better than we expected. Sydney was great. Melbourne was very good. The events all worked out well and were better then expected.The return flight was terrible, since it was badly planned by you or Qantas, who ever planned the connection. There was no way for anyone to make the connection to Phoenix. But other then that, it was a great trip. Lou
Michael Ian Bevan
It was a wonderful trip. well organized. Hotels and people I had to deal with were excellent. I would highly recommend
this outfit to anyone who wants to go to Australia.
Great job Chris!
Our first trip to AUSTRALIA did not disappoint! Our Itinarary was perfect for us Alaskan adventurers! A well rounded trip from Sydney to Cairns and so much in between. We hiked in the Blue Mountains and swam at Lake Eacham walked amongst the kangaroo s and Cockatoo s and held the precious Koala bears. We romped in the rain forest and stayed at Rose Gums enjoyed the 3 bedroom treehouse with (...)
my number one bucket list location to travel too.
About Australia was a great company to work with, did a fantastic job in all the planning. thank you
Awesome trip with plenty of variety. Closing out our trip in Fiji is the best idea ever.
The koala hug was worth the trip!
I was particularly pleased with how smoothly all the transportation and tour arrangements went. We never had a problem or question about shuttles and everyone was expecting us when we arrived. The trip was fantastic and I wish it could have been longer.
A trip of a lifetime!
What an amazing experience. The accommodations and extra excursions we did were wonderful. The only thing I would have changed was I wished we had a little more time in Sydney (it was more like a very long layover rather than a visit to the city). Ana was wonderful and helped us plan a trip I will always treasure!
2 weeks in Australia
Our trip was amazing! Sydney, Fraser Island, and Airlie beach are places we cannot wait to go back to!!! So grateful for the recommendations and trip planning/organization.
About Australia really knows Australia and excellently shared their experience with us.
We had a fantastic and wonderful experience. All our connections went smoothly and the Mantra hotels were very clean and in great locations. The three excursions that were booked for us were exceptional. We would definitely recommend your company to our friends.
Australia is amazing!
I was very please with our trip to Australia. Although we had a bit of a rocky start, (lack of communication from About Australia), in the end, they delivered everything they said. I was very happy that we purchased the Tours and Transfers add on. It was well worth it. We did not have to worry about getting to and from the airport, finding hotel etc. The vouchers required you to call and (...)
Excellent vacation, amazing service!
Thank you for putting together such a great vacation for us, very professional service. We had a blast in Australia!
Chris & Angie England
It was am amazing trip that covered a lot of the country. Only regret was we were running out of time and would have liked to spent more time in each location. Do your study before you go, the instructions in the voucher help but the little things you can miss make it important to study and plan.
Australia is beautiful. Our trip was well planned and very organized. Daily vouchers were easy to understand and all travel documents were very organized. Darin was extremely helpful and readily available for questions and concerns. I would definitely recommend About Australia for your travel needs.
MICHAEL J STRAIN SR.
AWESOME TRIP! WISHED I WOULD HAVE ADD A TRIP OVER TO NEW ZEALAND OR FIIJI
Koda Boulton was the one who helped me and she's was amazing even with all my questions and my unfortunate criminal background. Still got in with no problems and had a great itinerary set up. Couldn't have seen Australia in a better way than that. Strongly recommend About Australia. Good price too! Flexible.
John & Dina Weber
Took care of all the things that might make a trip to Australia difficult.
Airline schedule, visas, hotel accommodations, tours were all excellent. The hotels chosen in Sydney, Melbourne, and Port Douglas were excellent both in terms of the venue and the locations in each city. In Sydney, Potts Point was relaxing but close enough to everything to provide a great experience. Melbourne felt busy, but Melbourne Short Stay Apartments were outstanding. And in Port Dougla(...)
Absolutely NO glitches! FABULOUS!!!!
We got such a great deal, it made me wonder “what’s the catch?” No catch, just a wonderful adventure!
Had a great time. Perfectly Scheduled, not great Hotels. Glad we didn't stay in Cairns 4 nights.
We had a great time, everything happened as planned. No issues there.
The hotel in BroadBeach was great. Hotel in Cairns was old but do able. The hotel in Sydney was not good.
Luckily we changed the plan to stay 3 nights in Cairns and 3 nights in Sydney instead of 4 nights in Cairns. That would have been a big mistake. 2 nights in Cairns would have been enough.
We added a Blue Mou(...)
would do again with only a few minor changes
Australian people are incredibly hospitable and fun to talk with. One story: When we disembarked our train early in the morning in Cooroy, there was no station, just a platform on a country road and no taxi stand. But there was a group of guys meeting up to go kayaking. One offered to drive us free the 30 minutes to our destination ---- the attendant in a filling station was able to call (...)
Michelle T Wahl
For the most knowledgeable, practical and personalize trip
Hassle free if you would like to tackle all three: Northern New Zealand, Southern New Zealand and gold coast of New South Wales, Australia.
Hassle free comes when about Australia was able to arrange shuttles to and from the airport, rental car, airline tickets. Ours were nine flights!. You get the most for your money. Koda did it with such ease and efficiency. About Australia knows what hot(...)
Wow! An Unforgettable Trip
Koda and her company were a dream to work with. Everything was easy to understand and tailored to meet our needs. This was our first time using a tour type package and agent and I was glad we did. Our trip was planned out beautifully for us. Everything was streamlined, easy, fun and friendly with top notch impeccable services, tours and hotels. We had a great balance of scheduled tours and ti(...)
Best Vacation Ever
Everything was perfect for our trip. Everything I wanted to see and the package Chris put together was perfect. It was action packed but got to see everything we wanted to see. Working with About Australia was smooth and an easy process. Chris spend a lot of time putting the package together and we couldn't be more pleased. All the hotels were in great locations for us to visit the sites. C(...)
BEST TRIP EVER!
Awesome,fantastic,wonderful not enough words to describe this experience. It was the best! Everything went smoothly not one glitch in the entire 3 weeks. All the tours, transfers were as described. Couldn’t have been a better experience.
I first asked for a quote, only to find out (while on a short trip) that the trip had been booked. All I wanted to know what the "and up" cost would be for the advertised one. However, it was an excellent price, so I booked it. It seemed too short for the time spent in the airplanes, but we enjoyed the opportunity to see things out of the cities, we added a Dainforest Trip out of Caines, a(...)
About Australia did a fantastic job planning our trip. We enjoyed the flexibility of designing it based on our preferences. I highly recommend this service!
Fabulous, fabulous, and fabulous!
My trip to Australia was amazing! The hotels were impeccable, outings to the Great Barrier Reef and Walkabout to see kangaroos and koalas will last a lifetime. No fusing with transport to and from the airport as it was arranged.Thank you Ana for putting together a fabulous adventure!
THIS TRIP WAS AMAZING WAS ABLE TO SEE DIFFERENT LOCATIONS THROUHGOUT AUSTRALIA, EVERYTHING FROM THE FOOD TO THE PEOPLE WAS AWESOME. ALL OF OUR ACCOMODATIONS WERE FANTASTIC. ABOUT AUSTRALIA IS THE ONLY WAY TO GO IF TRAVELING ABROAD TO AUSTRALIA.
Edward & Davina Webber
Thoroughly enjoyed our vacation
Thoroughly enjoyed our vacation - Princess cruise New Zealand was great. Hotels in Sydney, Gold Coast were excellent, our hotel in Cairns the room itself was lovely, unfortunately the view from the room was a steel roof and brick wall - again the room itself and the staff were very nice.
Great trip. Loved every moment of it. Just what I wanted and more.
Amy (and Brad) Russell
Australia is a big country!! We are so glad we used "About Australia" tour and self-guided services!!!
Sydney was a beautiful city!! clean and lots of action at Darling Harbor ... Our accommodations were two blocks from Darling Harbor ... Easy walking distance to everything: Sydney Opera House, Harbors, Fish Market, and boat taxis to Manly...
The first half of the trip we used three(...)
Mark Williams by
Thoroughly enjoyed the trip.
Very Pleased and Satisfied
About Australia Travel Agency and Christopher R (agent), did a great job in organizing, communicating and providing me and my husband with top notch accommodations and exhilarating excursions. Even though we had a few glitches due to acts of God, everything else went as planned. I give them an 'A' for a job well done.
We have traveled all over the world. Never have we had a trip so well planned. By the third day, we were checking our itinerary and asking ourselves, “what’s the next adventure?” Everything went like clockwork. Hotels, flights, transfers, tours, all were on time and more than we expected. Our only disappointment was having to come home when it was over. Thank you, About Australia, for plannin(...)
The trip overall was AMAZING!
The only feedback I would like to offer pertains to the Penguin Parade excursion. We had no idea how the day would unfold. Turns out, no one was dressed appropriately seeing that Phillips Island is quite breezy and the temps drop as the sun goes down! If you could suggest that long pants, or even a jacket and blanket are brought, would have helped keep everyone more comfortable as we wai(...)
VERY APPRECIATIVE OF THE SERVICE. QANTAS WERE EXCELLENT IN SERVICE AND FOODS OFFERED.
THANKS GUYS FOR THE SERVICE. HAVE NO PHOTOS TO ATTACH UNFORTUNATELY
Down Under was Amazing!
We really enjoyed our trip to Australia. The accommodations exceeded our expectations, especially the apartment in Melbourne. Our first trip to Australia was unforgettable!
Great experience. Already planning our return. Would like to single out Monique on our foodie tour. Note. Some of our contact numbers at the beginning of the trip connected but hung up after being put on hold
Ron & Nancy Sturdevant
Trip of a lifetime
This was a terrifically planned trip. The detail of the planning by About Australia was amazing. Our trip was 7 weeks long and offered us a great opportunity to see & do as much as possible. When weather changed a planned route, our travel consultant, Ana, was quick to rearrange our travel. She was there to answer my many questions by quickly responding to my emails. I am totally impres(...)
Down under was above expectations!
Thanks, Darin, for the wonderful trip you designed for us in Australia. We had a blast! The hotels were right in the middle of things, the tours were amazing and first class, and if I needed advice you were right there for me. I would not have been able to plan this trip without you because you had been to Australia and you knew just where to send me, and in the style I wanted.
ROGER P SEARS
An enjoyable well-planned trip
Everything went smoothly. The accommodations were conveniently located. The transfers were on time. The Short-Stay property in Melbourne was above average. Cairns was an interesting experience.
This was a trip that gave us memories for a lifetime.
I was referred by a friend to About Australia to help put together my "bucket list" trip to Australia and New Zealand. Overall, it was a great success. I saw and did all the things I really wanted to do. High points were the Sydney Bridge Climb, diving the Great Barrier Reef, the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island, driving the Great Ocean Road, hiking in Freycinet National Park, and the feeding(...)
IT WAS AMAZING, BEAUTIFUL EXPERIENCE
My travel agent Darin, did a spectacular job with my tour itinerary, everything was beyond my expectation. all the hotels and their staff, were cordial, helpful and full of important information. the location of the hotels was fantastic, everywhere I wanted to see or visit was at walking distance, it was safe which was one of my main concerns, Darin assured me that everywhere I was staying wa(...)
Picture taken at Sydney Harbor
We had a very well planned trip by about Australia, the activities were fun. The rooms were fantastic. Only complaint it wasn’t long enough. I’d definitely use them again and recommend them to friends.
Had a fantastic time. Great flight arrangements, great cities (Melbourne, Cairns, Sydney), great tours, great food! Our accommodations were very nice, but the location of one was a bit inconvenient (better if had a couple of upgrade options in larger cities). For the most part, we had excellent weather; it rained on two touring days but we were still able to appreciate the sites with the exc(...)
Best Vacation EVER! I'm not one to write reviews - but our trip to Australia was perfect in every way. From the flights, to the transfers, accommodations, & excursions - everything went without any hitches. Accommodations were comfortable, and the people so very nice. We have NO complaints.
Ana, our rep with About Australia, put a trip of a life-time together for us. Thank you (...)
Great trip. Everything was perfect. Thanks Darin for all your help. You did a great job.
It was a wonderful trip and we highly recommend About Australia!
Koda did a great job proposing and organizing our itinerary. She kept us informed of any changes, gave us excellent advice, and reminded us of important things we need to do. We had a wonderful, memorable and very smooth trip. Hope to do business with you again in the future.
It was an awesome vacation except for the 24 hours of traveling(LOL).
The hotels were great but made you pay for WIFI, the US does not make you pay for it.
I would definitely recommend to everyone.
HESTER K JACOBS
Overall, our trip was wonderful. Unfortunately, they had to change agents in the middle of planning so we lost some continuity. Majority of accommodations were great. Tours selected wonderful. My only recommendation for those using About Australia, thoroughly check and read all final documents including seat assignments on airlines.
Great Ocean Road
A most excellent vacation as a result of working with Marissa Stroud! Perfect accommodations, wonderful tours, and accommodating flights with Virgin Australia.
The accommodations were wonderful and the excursions were amazing and informative. Thank you for some amazing memories
David & Judy Dunn
Celebrating a two decade anniversary in Australia
We engaged with About Australia (Darin Hendry) nine months ago for a recommendation on an itinerary for a first time visit and 20th anniversary trip to Australia.
From the beginning the guidance, interaction and ultimate proposal was spot on.
The 2-week journey offered an exceptional variety of terrain, climate and experiences. First stop the Tablelands, rainforest, then beach town, the(...)
Nick and Marcia Anton
We loved the trip!
Melbourne: accommodations were clean and well-located, and the desk staff gave helpful recommendations - it's a walking and foodie city (excellent tour by Monique) - great tour to the animal farm and little blue penguins
Uluru: beautiful accommodations - good dining options - sunrise and sunset tours to Uluru and Kata Juta were amazing - again, informative guides
Cairns: (would have liked (...)
Sunset Camel ride
Making dreams come true. My trip to Australia was amazing and worry free
knowing About Australia had made all the arrangements for an adventure of a lifetime
Thanks a million
Thanks to About Australia, our tour was a great success.
Daren and his colleagues did a wonderful job in getting us set up for our first tour of Australia. We will return to the Land Down Under again and will be certain to engage their assistance in putting the next visit as well.
Everything and more
About Australia and About New Zealand planned our honeymoon amazingly! From listening to the activities we desired to do while there, to ensuring those happened, and arranging all our flights and accommodations, About Australia was great to work with. Our visas were secured and all our travel documentation was provided, which made traveling a breeze! And we had a lot of traveling to do in the(...)
Absolutely Fabulous! Highly Recommend!
The entire experience was amazing! From booking in the short time we had, to the surprise of such a great value and then when we were there, we could not believe how wonderful everything was...from the hotels, to the excursions to the flight and transfers. Absolutely flawless, best value and would highly recommend Marissa and About Australia again! Thank you so much for a wonderful experience!
John and Lorraine Estey
Waiheke - just a short ferry ride from Auckland
Great value and nicely planned!
Everything went well from transfers to tours. We had a 4 hour hiccup with the first flight, but United and Qantas redirected us. We had an extra flight but missed only a few hours of our time on Gold Coast. Tours were a nice addition to the base tour. Wished we had more time in Sydney, but we plan to go back.
Ana Musgray helped me plan my dream trip to Australia and New Zealand. Everything was so well organized all the transfers,or coach buses were right on time and ran seamless. This county is absolutely beautiful and the people on my tour were so much fun! I had the time of my life and will never forget my amazing holiday! I hope to return one day and will definitely contact Ana again.
Overall A Positive Experience
Booking through About Australia made the trip very easy. It was nice not to worry about finding accommodations and flights and they provided good recommendations for each location. I would use the service again. I did feel that we spent too much time in some places and not enough in others, but that likely kept flight costs down.
My only concerns were that two of the accommodations didn't (...)
Amazing time in Australia
Vacation of a Lifetime
This was the most hassle-free vacation I've ever been on. We didn't communicate with the About Australia group very much before the trip simply because we didn't have to. They had all of our travel documents completely organized and squared away. To be honest, I was a little nervous checking into our first hotel in Melbourne simply because I never confirmed that we had a reservation. We d(...)
Had a fantastic time in Fiji thanks to About Australia. They were knowledgeable about the location and the resorts they chose for us were spectacular. Thanks for all of your help.
Fantastic trip and awesome services......
This is my 2nd time booking with About Australia. It was a blessing to work with Koda this time around! She provided outstanding services all around from the time I phoned in to during the trip and the end of the trip!
Koda was very patient, efficient, and tried her utmost to meet all my travel requests.
I had a customized itinerary and Koda diligently and patiently worked with me on (...)
Through the entire trip I kept saying to Betty that I could not believe how smoothly everything was going. It was an amazing, stress free (due to your efforts) trip. The hotels in Cairns and Sydney could not have been more accommodating. The whole trip from beginning to end was just really stress free. Taxi’s to/from airports, airport personnel, etc. were just wonderful. You did an amazing jo(...)
Being "Down Under" was a top experience!
Ana did a great job! In less than 3 weeks we saw the top spots ob Australia's south, middle and north. Everything was well organized, just showing the voucher and we could pass.
Steve and Peggy
This is the 1st Australia trip, we already thinking going back!
This is the 1st Australia trip, we already thinking going back!
All our vacation to Austria was planed by the agency and we were very happy to follow the schedule for each locations we visited. The schedules were easy to follow and it gave us a good opportunities to see all about Australia and histories.
About Australia was amazing to work with making this a vacation of a lifetime! I would highly recommend their services to anyone wanting to travel to Australia. The itinerary was great. The hotels we stayed in were not only wonderful, but were located in super convenient in relation to exploring the cities we were in. Any questions or concerns i had were immediately addressed. Customer servic(...)
Amazing vacation! Bucket list trip!
Chris was great at helping me plan my trip to visit my daughter in Australia while she was studying abroad. We had 2 weeks and a tight budget! He was great at accommodating me. We decided on Cairns, Sydney and Melbourne. The only hiccup was the transfer from Melbourne airport to hotel. The company called con-x-ion (I think that’s how it’s spelled) had the smelliest van I have ever been in. Th(...)
We used About Australia for our 2 week honeymoon. They were very easy to work with and helped us create the perfect itinerary. I loved how customizable everything was and it was very reassuring knowing everything was taken care of. We only had one issue the whole time and that was with our pickup from the airport when we first arrived in Sydney. It wasn’t the way we wanted to start our honey(...)
We had an amazing trip. We would change a couple of things about our time in Sydney. We were right in Chinatown- maybe 5 Aussies in that area the whole time we were there. No Australian food or the English language anywhere. We did not pay all of this money to stay in Asia. We have Chinatown in the states. The hotel was nice. We took public transportation to see the other parts of Syd(...)
Keith & Sandra Holleman
Heading for the dive into the Great Barrier Reef
About Australia and Christopher set up the most amazing vacation for us. If there was a rating above 5 stars, we would place these travel experts into that category.
Traveling to New Zealand and Australia had been on our wish list for awhile and putting trust in Christopher with our travel plan destinations was the best decision we could have made.
Thank you for the memories.
The trip was worth the money. However, VERY disappointed with location of hotel in Sydney. Although BREAKFREE ON GEORGE was a very nice hotel/apartment I did not appreciate being in the middle of Chinatown.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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!
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
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
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 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
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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!
Posted on: November 2nd, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Posted on: October 22nd, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments
Many first time travelers feel a mixture of all sorts of emotions right before setting off to Australia.
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.
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
One 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.
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 while traveling.
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.
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 in Australia 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 least 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. Check out our guide on what to pack for Australia to help you figure out what to bring and what to leave behind.
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!
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. 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 traveling 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 vacation.
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 your Australia travel may seem daunting at first, but it’s rather easy to avoid these common mistakes
As long as you keep these Australia travel 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.
Posted on: October 3rd, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments
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
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!
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!
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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.