Image Credit: South Australian Tourism Commission
Best Places to Travel in Australia
Australia is one of the most popular vacation spots in the world; no matter where you are, there is always something to do.
This is why we love planning Australia vacations for our clients. Whether you prefer adventure or a relaxed pace, we plan custom trips for every type of traveler.
The most common questions we hear are: “How big is Australia?” “When is the best time to travel to Australia?” & “What to do in Australia?”
Whether you’re planning your first trip, your second trip, or maybe even your eighth trip, there are two things you need to know before you embark on your journey ‘down under’:
Australia is roughly the same size as the continental U.S. and the seasons are reversed. Check out the seasons in Australia below:
Spring: September – November
Summer: December – February
Autumn: March – May
Winter: June – August
Understanding those facts is a vital component in avoiding mistakes before traveling to Australia as you plan your dream getaway.
The country is so large it has developed to cater to every interest. We have compiled a list of the best Australia vacation spots to to make your vacation planning that much simpler.
These destinations encompass the true spirit of Australia and are filled with incredible sights, riveting wildlife, fascinating cultural experiences and thrilling adventures. Each region has attributes that make it unique and special. To help you orientate yourself, here is a map of Australia.
Queensland is nicknamed Australia’s “Sunshine State,” and it’s easy to see why. Lined with sun-kissed beaches on its southeastern coast and tropical towns in the north, this state sees the most days of sunshine throughout the year. Its warm, balmy year-round weather and natural beauty make it one of the best vacation spots in Australia.
Great Barrier Reef. Image Credit: Tourism Australia
Cairns houses two “Natural Wonders of the World,” the Daintree Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef, making it one of the world-famous best places to visit in Australia.
Cairns is a great spot for adrenaline junkies, aquatic adventurers & wildlife enthusiasts, offering over 600 tours a day. It is the closest, and most convenient, mainland entrance to the Reef, giving you easy access to explore the ocean’s beauty.
The World Heritage Listed Daintree Rainforest is the oldest living rainforest and is home to some of the most authentic Aboriginal culture.
Snorkeling the reef, exploring the rainforest and learning about the unique Aboriginal culture of this region are just a few of the best things to do in Cairns.
Brisbane Story Bridge. Image Credit: Tourism & Events Queensland
Brisbane is commonly known as the “river city” and is one of the fastest growing regions in Australia.
With twelve months of sunshine, it is no surprise it is one of the top Australian vacation destinations – the quintessential location for year-round outdoor activities.
There is a variety of both leisurely and exciting river cruises and tours, in addition to thrilling theme parks, national parks, world-renowned zoos and koala sanctuaries, and seasonal whale watching tours.
Gold Coast. Image Credit: Destination Gold Coast
Gold Coast is Australia’s 5th most visited destination by international travelers, one of the best vacation spots in Australia.
It is known as the “surfer’s paradise” due to the consistent waves year-round, with pristine beaches, gorgeous rainforests, and a nice mix of urban culture.
The Gold Coast offers energetic theme parks, exquisite dining, and critically-acclaimed retailers with an upbeat nightlife to give you the perfect mix of entertainment & pleasure. Need more ideas? Here are the top reasons why you should add Gold Coast to your Australia vacation.
New South Wales
Home to one of Australia’s most popular destinations, New South Wales is the state where you’ll find Sydney. Apart from this iconic, international city, New South Wales boasts sublime coastal towns, the oldest wine region in Australia, and incredible national parks.
Sydney is the most culturally diverse and heavily populated area in Australia. It is most commonly known for the iconic Sydney Opera House and gorgeous Sydney Harbor.
In addition, there are a tremendous amount of delicious 5-Star restaurants, magnificent beaches, and attractions that makes travelers drawn to the area.
The beauty of Sydney is that you can kick-back on the beach, stroll through contemporary art galleries, aquariums & botanical gardens.,cruise the harbor and tour the Opera house, or indulge in some world class retail therapy.
If you love wine, you’ll love Hunter Valley. As the oldest wine region in Australia, Hunter Valley is famous for its historic wineries, fantastic views, indulgent food experiences, and full-bodied red wines.
Luxury accommodations in Hunter Valley offer a secluded retreat so you can enjoy some of the best food and wine in Australia without worrying about heading back to the city.
Only about a two-hour drive from Sydney, Hunter Valley is a no-brainer vacation destination in Australia to wine and dine.
Blue Mountains National Park. Image Credit: Tourism Australia
The Blue Mountains region of New South Wales is a popular day trip destination from Sydney, only two hours outside the city. It’s one of the best vacation spots for nature lovers who want a break from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Forest-clad mountains and rugged cliffs covered in eucalyptus trees make up the natural beauty of the Blue Mountains. This region gets its name from the blue haze that emanates from the eucalyptus oil from the trees, creating a soft blue hue.
Well-marked walking trails through streams, waterfalls and valleys are the perfect escape for nature lovers. Guided tours explore the region’s highlights, including scenic lookouts and sacred rock formations. The Jenolan Caves, among the oldest cave systems in the world, are also a must-see in the Blue Mountains.
As Australia’s most southeastern mainland state, Victoria is known for its scenic coasts, boutique rural towns and Australia’s music, art and sports capital – Melbourne.
Melbourne, a close second to Sydney in population size, has an enormous amount of culture that begs to be explored.
Dozens of world-renowned museums and art galleries, along with music venues, restaurants and cafes offer something for every taste. The heart of the city is adorned with historic, Victorian-style architecture and hidden passageways lined with boutique shops, noodle houses, bars, and coffee shops serving some of the world’s best coffee.
The best way to explore Melbourne is on a walking tour of the city, where a knowledgeable local shows you the hidden gems of the city most often missed by tourists.
Great Ocean Road
The Twelve Apostles
The Great Ocean Road is one of the best road trips in the world. Passing through Victoria’s dramatic coastlines and beach towns, this destination is all about the journey.
Along the Great Ocean Road you’ll find the Twelve Apostles, a must-see Australian icon. Other breathtaking rock formations along the trip include Lord Ard Gorge and Gibson Steps. The small coastal towns along the drive also offer fantastic beaches and comfortable accommodations for an extended road trip.
Northern Territory is the spiritual heart of Australia. Encompassing the glowing, red desert landscapes and Aboriginal cultures of the outback, a visit to Northern Territory will transform you.
Uluru (Ayers Rock)
Uluru (Ayers Rock) is another one of Australia’s greatest treasures.
The World Heritage Listed national parks, terrain, and Aboriginal history is what makes this region a top Australian travel destination.
Explore the culture, traditions, and landscapes while on a guided tour by a native Australian Aboriginal. The sunsets are breathtaking and are best experienced in a hot air balloon or helicopter.
South Australia is a unique blend of wildlife, outback, wine and beaches. This state combines all the best of Australia’s top destinations and is a favorite vacation spot for travelers in search of authentic local experiences.
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide. Image Credit: South Australia Tourism Commission
Adelaide, Australia’s food and wine city, is seamlessly vivacious and always has something going on.
There are year-round events and festivals making it the perfect place to visit no matter the season.
We suggest attending a sporting event or head to the wineries for tours and tastings, followed by an incredible dinner at one of the critically-acclaimed restaurants. There’s never a shortage of things to do.
Kangaroo Island. Image Credit: Tourism Australia
If you’re looking for a more “off-the-beaten-path” type experience, we recommend Kangaroo Island for its well-known scenery, wildlife, and adventure.
In addition to kangaroos you will also discover sea lions and other native critters roaming the gorgeous beaches and national parks.
To optimize the adventure, take a hike through a national park, kayak along the coast, or perhaps take a helicopter tour for a birds-eye-view of this wildlife oasis. Whichever you choose, you will certainly be dazzled by the charming nature and adventure on Kangaroo Island.
Ready for Your Trip to Australia?
The essence and incredible culture of Australia can never be fully explained, it is something you just have to experience for yourself.
Let us plan your vacation today so you’re guaranteed to receive an experience catered to your interests and you don’t miss a minute of what Australia has to offer.
The Ghan train in Australia is one of the world’s great rail journeys, traversing the vastness of the Outback through Flinders Ranges and into the heart of the Red Centre from Adelaide to Darwin. It’s an elegant train with comfortable interiors and modern suites.
For first time train travelers, we usually recommend enjoying one leg of the journey by traveling from Alice Springs to Darwin or vice versa. It’s an easy way to experience the wonder without committing a bulk of your vacation to something you are unsure of.
However, once you get on the train and start your journey, you might end up wishing you’d spent more time on The Ghan and here’s why…
The Ghan Is Comfortable
Whether you’re socializing in the Outback Explorer Lounge, relaxing in your Gold Service suite or dining in the Queen Adelaide Restaurant, you are going to be comfortable.
The seats are wide, you have generous leg room and you can move from car to car with ease.
The attentive and professional staff will tend to your every need with a warm smile and friendly demeanor.
By night your cabin is prepared with comfortable bunks that will feel like you are sleeping on air.
With Gold Service, luxurious bathrooms and showers help prepare you for a restful night of sleep as you journey through the outback.
The Journey Is Relaxing On The Ghan
When you’re on The Ghan the only thing you need to do is sit back and enjoy the scenic ride.
There is no traffic to deal with and no worry that you’ll get lost in the Outback.
On The Ghan you get to see the countryside without the responsibility of navigating the journey.
Instead, you’ll spend your time reading, sleeping, writing, eating and enjoying choice beverages all while taking in the views.
Pass the time with fellow passengers as you trade travel stories and learn about each others’ home countries over a glass of wine and a plate of nibbles.
The Australian Outback Is Breathtaking
Sure, The Ghan delivers much more than an extended train ride when it comes to comfort and service, but the one thing that will leave you feeling truly inspired is the fantastic scenery.
You’ll likely find yourself staring out the window for long stretches of time.
But it’ll be difficult to tear your eyes away.
You’ll be transported from the lush green hills surrounding Adelaide into the rusty hues of the Red Centre, then on to the tropical splendor of Australia’s Top End.
Be on the lookout for wildlife hidden within the bush – you’re sure to spot kangaroos taking in the fresh, cool air at dusk!
Time to Explore Authentic Outback Destinations
The Ghan offers whistle stops where you can choose to catch a tour or explore on your own for a few hours. This gives you the opportunity to see and experience places off the beaten path.
Going Northbound, you’ll first stop in the pioneer town of Alice Springs.
Alice Springs is a great place to immerse yourself in Aboriginal history. You can visit a working camel farm, see the region’s birds and wildlife or opt for the Spirit of Mt. Gillen Helicopter Flight, a scenic flight that takes you over Simpon’s Gap and the Larapinta Trail.
Your next stop will be in Katherine. You can cruise down Katherine Gorge, hike in Nitmiluk National Park or maybe kayak down the Katherine River. You may just want to wander around town and explore the local attractions.
Travel Southbound and you’ll find yourself in Coober Pedy, the the opal mining capital of the world where more than half of the residents live underground!
Book the Gold Service or above and you can put your credit card away while you’re aboard The Ghan.
Enjoy three gourmet meals per day and have your fill of Australian wines, beers, base spirits and other non-alcoholic beverages.
Your fare also includes various off train excursions and whistle stop tours!
You can bring up to 110 pounds of luggage per person and you’ll receive complimentary shuttle service in Darwin.
Enjoy Some Privacy
During a busy vacation, sometimes all you want to do is find a place where you can be alone, decompress, and take a breath.
On The Ghan Gold Service, passengers can retire to their private sleepers, either a two-berth for traveling companions or singles-berth if you are traveling solo.
The sleepers are comfortable with freshly made-up beds in the evening and seats during the day.
Lay down and relax as the soothing sounds of those big steel wheels rolling down the track lull to you sleep.
The Food Is To. Die. For.
The Ghan serves fresh, regionally sourced Australian food, complemented by a range of all-inclusive wines, beer and non-alcoholic beverages.
You’ll taste everything from Top End barramundi, Margaret River cheeses, and native Australian fare including kangaroo, saltbush and wild rosella flower.
There’s no doubt many Aussie travelers rate the food in and of itself as a huge draw to experience The Ghan.
Journey Aboard The Ghan
The Ghan is one of the best ways you can experience the Red Centre in all its glory. It’s also a great way to travel to Uluru (Ayers Rock). Once you’re in Alice Springs, take a coach over to Uluru and experience the magic of this inspiring outback landscape.
Are you ready to plan your trip to Australia? Whether you want to include a journey on the Ghan in your Australia vacation or want to know more before you book, our travel experts will take care of all your arrangements.
We’ll make this once-in-a-lifetime rail journey happen.
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The Best Australia Food and Wine for the Gourmet Traveler
When it comes to Australia food and wine, perhaps what instantly comes to mind is Vegemite…and not much else.
Yet the culinary scene throughout the country features some of the world’s most innovative and trend-setting restaurants. And the wine? Some of the best Chardonnay and Shiraz in the world.
For the true food and wine lovers, these are 23 must-see stops in Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide and surrounding wine regions. No vacation to Australia is complete without a little indulgence.
Sydney’s reputation as Australia’s global city precedes itself. Right on the doorstep of the CBD you’ll find incredibly diverse eateries to satisfy any craving imaginable.
From high-end dining to cozy cafes offering anything from Aussie dishes to Malaysian cuisine, you can’t go wrong with any pick.
But if you’re finding your head swimming from trying to choose the best Sydney restaurants, we’ve made it easy for you. Here’s our list of can’t-miss restaurants in Sydney.
Graze MCA – Located in the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, this is one of those rare restaurants that has it all. Brilliant location with an unbeatable view of the Sydney Opera House, amazing food and fantastic service. Simple and fresh ingredients highlight the generous portions of dishes such as bouillabaisse, poached ocean trout and lamb rump. Their wine list is a carefully curated celebration of Aussie and Kiwi wine regions, perfect for sipping while enjoying the views of the harbor.
Hubert – Step back in time to 1930’s Paris as you enter Hubert, a must for French cuisine. Don’t let the unassuming exterior fool you. Once inside, the unmistakably Parisian flair greets you with an ambience of dark elegance illuminated by dozens of candles. The menu boasts items inspired by cookbooks predating World War I. With live music adding to the splendid atmosphere, dining in Hubert is a divine slice of Paris right in the CBD.
Quay– Often lauded as the best restaurant in Sydney, this multiple award-winning restaurant never fails to live up to the hype. This is one of those essential Australian experiences: excellent views of iconic Sydney sights, dishes reflecting a unique blend of bush and local ingredients and a superb wine list detailing even the grape percentages of its champagnes.
Sake – If you’re inkling for a spot of Japanese, Sake is perhaps one of the best choices in all of Sydney. The simplicity of its sushi bar compliments the decadent main dishes, such as the sweet soy braised pork belly and pan seared barramundi. Your visit isn’t complete until you’ve had the famous dragon egg desert, a dark chocolate shell filled with toasted chocolate crumble, passionfruit curd, mango caramel and other vibrant delicacies.
Hungry for more? Check out our list of more amazing restaurants in Sydney you need to try.
Just about three hours away from Sydney you’ll find Hunter Valley, one of Australia’s premier wine regions.
Noted for its Shiraz and Semillon, there’s still a wide variety of wines to taste from one of many cellar doors dotting the region. A wine tasting tour is one of our favorite ways to get to know the region. What’s better than sampling a variety of wines without having to worry about the drive back?
If you’re a true wine lover, not much else.
Here are some of the top wineries in Hunter Valley you need to visit while Sydney.
Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard – If there’s one thing you’ll remember about your visit to Hunter Valley, it’ll be without a doubt the views from Audrey Wilkinson. This is where you’ll get that sweeping view of picturesque vineyards you see on the postcards. This historic winery dates back to 1866 and offers an excellent range of Semillons along with selections of sparkling, Chardonnay and Rose. Surround yourself in Audrey Wilkinson’s vintage charm with a picnic amongst the vines or a behind the scenes winery tour.
Piggs Peake – If you like big, fruit-driven red wines and small hidden gems, Piggs Peake is the place for you. Often recommended by other wineries, this small local winery has big personality. Here you’ll find a casual approach to wine (all wine names have a pig theme) with knowledge as professional and personal as any expert sommelier. Consistent favorites include their House of Sticks Shiraz and the House of Straw Merlot.
Mount View Estate – For a classic Hunter Valley experience with a boutique feel, Mt View Estate is a must-see. This estate has produced some of the most awarded wines in the Hunter Valley for 40 years. Mt View boasts a little bit of everything: a wide range of premium wines, gorgeous grounds and friendly and approachable owners.
Many locals fondly regard Melbourne as the Paris of the South – but then, many Melburnians are rather cheeky.
But there’s an unmistakably European feel about its lush Victorian architecture and grid-like city center, and it can’t be denied that Melbourne is considered as Australia’s undisputed cool kid.
The passion emanating from its world-renowned coffee and food scene is infectious, and your standards will rise to a level you’ll be hard pressed to experience anywhere else.
Attica – Foodies visiting Melbourne should have Attica at the top of their list. Rated as one of the world’s best 50 restaurants in 2017 and as the best restaurant in all Australasia, you’ll need to book at least a month in advance. But the month-long wait is well worth it. The menu consists of 17 courses blending Australian flavors in smaller portions so you can enjoy every plate. With dishes such as kangaroo, wattles and waxflower and camel milk ice, this is the perfect introduction to fine Australian cuisine.
Tipo 00 – Wander down Little Bourke Street to find one of Melbourne’s hottest eateries in one of its smallest venues. Tipo 00 is all about carbs, so leave your carb-counting at home. Don’t be fooled by its simple and small menu – the house-made pasta and risotto dishes crafted from bright and fresh ingredients will delight your taste buds with every bite. Their squid ink pasta is a favorite, and their rabbit tagliatelle is a consistent hit.
Brae – For a minimal yet chic experience, you can do no better than Brae. This restaurant has hopped up and up on the World’s Best Restaurants list, jumping from #65 to #44 in 2017. The experience speaks for itself; a visit to Brae is like visiting a friend’s home. Instead of single servings of one course at a time like regular degustation menus, you’ll be served multiple dishes at one time to graze at your own pace. The feel is reminiscent of an upscale holiday feast.
Less than an hour from Melbourne’s CBD is Yarra Valley, the Nappa Valley of Australia. Make a day trip to indulge in some of the finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay produced from one of many wineries in the region. We also love day touring out to Yarra – winery hopping without the hassle of driving, yes please!
Here are some wineries you need to visit while in Yarra.
TarraWarra Estate – Stunning grounds and Australia’s first significant privately funded public museum make TarraWarra a cultural jewel of the Yarra Valley. Have a glass of their exceptional Pinot Noir or Chardonnay while overlooking the scenic surrounds on a crisp afternoon – paradise for any wine lover.
Yarra Yering – For the serious wine buff, Yarra Yering is a must-see. Reds are the focus here, and if you’re traveling solo you can taste ten wines for $10. An absolute steal considering the selection features their current vintages.
Oakridge Wines – Come for the food and wine, stay for a game of giant chess. What more do you need to draw you in for a visit? Perhaps complimentary wine tasting with no booking necessary? We’re so there. Not to mention the beautiful grounds – you’ll be day dreaming about hosting your wedding here.
A can’t-miss stop for any foodie MUST include a trip to Hobart. Seriously, with the cleanest air and waterways in the world, Tasmania produces some of the finest seafood and distillation around.
A stay in Hobart will be full of feasting on the freshest salmon, oysters, cheeses, whiskey and ciders. Here are our highlights of some of Hobart’s premier dining institutions.
The Source – The Museum of Old and New Art is a Hobart icon – a must for any art lover with the slightest predilection for the controversial. But one of the MONA’s brightest gems is The Source, its in-house restaurant focused on seasonal local produce. Try their own Moorilla wine or delight your taste buds with one of ten thousand bottles from around the world (no, really!).
Mures – Straight from the day’s catch from their own fishing vessel, you’ll be hard pressed to find any seafood fresher than at Mures. The restaurant is split into two decks: Mures Lower Deck provides a more casual dining experience while Upper Deck is more intimate and upscale. Situated on the waterfront, you’ll enjoy superb views of the harbor either way.
The Glass House – A small but insanely popular restaurant where tables are fought over even on Monday nights. But believe the hype: attentive service with smiles, exceptional food and gorgeous views of Derwent River cement The Glass House’s reputation as a Hobart must-do. Highlights are the carefully crafted cocktails and the salmon sashimi.
Willing Brothers – Here you’ll find great eats and an extensive wine list tucked in a cozy venue. Aussie and European labels are proudly displayed on the wall of the bar, and you can even buy a bottle to take home after tasting. Pair your sips with a small but delicious meal from locally-sourced ingredients.
Ettie’s – You won’t find a more rustic chic and stylish restaurant in Hobart than Ettie’s. Its contemporary menu offers a broad range of options from roasted duck ravioli to steak frites. For a lovely leisurely meal, opt for the seven course degustation meal and get your fill of oysters, sardines, mussels and cheese.
Barossa Valley and Adelaide Hills
Adelaide in South Australia is noted for its refined elegance and culture. After getting acquainted with its stately art galleries and museums in North Terrace, take a day trip out to one of the surrounding wine regions. Some of our favorites are Barossa Valley and Adelaide Hills, where you’ll find 5-star wineries and some of Australia’s best cool-climate wines.
Two Hands –For an journey into what Australian Shiraz is capable of, Two Hands is a must. Their Gnarly Dudes Shiraz is a popular favorite. Here you’ll receive a unique sit-down tasting from the day’s selection and you’ll get to take your tasting glass home with you.
Torbreck – Named one of the world’s top 100 wine estates, Torbreck is a small winery excelling in Shiraz and consistency. Though big on rich reds, their whites, particularly the Roussanne Marsanne, plays rights along side their most popular contenders.
Ochota Barrels – This is truly one of Adelaide Hills hidden gems with a well-deserved cult following. All Ochota Barrels wine names are music references sure to delight any punk rock enthusiast. Grab a seat at Lost in a Forest, their cellar door housed in a 130 year-old stone church, and try their wood fired pizza while sipping on their wines. Set within an idyllic scene of bright, lush trees hanging over picnic blankets on the lawn, you’ll feel yourself delightfully lost in a forest.
Rockford – No frills and serious wine is found in Rockford. Though a smaller winery, you’re sure to receive warm and attentive service even throughout peak times. This is the place to go for a more traditional winery experience, housed in restored buildings reflecting the architecture of Barossa Valley’s early settlements. You’ll feel the warmth of their sparkling Shiraz in your very soul.
Penfolds Magill Estate – If you’re at all familiar with Australian wine, you’ll have definitely heard of Penfolds. When in Barossa, you can’t pass up the opportunity to miss this household name at their cellar door. With a wide range of affordable and high end wines, there’s something for every palate. And only 20 minutes away from Adelaide’s city center, there’s no reason for you not to go!
Want More Recommendations on the Best Australia Food and Wine?
Part 2 will highlight food and wine spots in Australia’s east coast, including Noosa, Brisbane and Gold Coast. Your Destination Specialist is also always on hand to give you the inside scoop on restaurants and cellar doors you must visit while on your trip. Give in to your desires and lets start planning the ultimate food and wine trail for your Australia vacation!
I Want to Taste Australia’s Food & Wine!
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Things to See at Flinders Chase National Park
Think of Kangaroo Island as a time capsule of Australian natural history. Its separation from the mainland has allowed endemic species to thrive where they have otherwise been eradicated by invasive species in present day Australia. And if Kangaroo Island is a time capsule, Flinders Chase National Park may be its most important artifact.
Flinders Chase National Park is a look back in time at the Australian outback. See huge swaths of pristine, untouched wilderness perfect for an afternoon hike. Geological wonders ripe for photo opportunities dot the landscape. Nineteenth century architecture provides a look back to the country’s early history.
Take a walk into the past with our guide of things to see at Flinders Chase National Park.
This stunning, natural archway almost looks meticulously sculpted. The multi-layered, rock bridge features gnarled stone and hanging stalactites. Thousands of years of erosion from the water below formed the hollow we see today. Take a walk down to the viewing platform. From there you’ll have the best view of Admiral’s Arch through to the sea beyond. Tip: Sunsets at Admiral’s Arch are breathtaking. From the right point on the viewing platform, you’ll see the sun set over the water centered in the arch. Also be sure to lookout for a colony of New Zealand fur seals that have made their home on the slab of stones directly below the Arch. Those seals scored some of the best real estate in the country!
This signature landmark is almost a rite of passage on your trip to Kangaroo Island. Remarkable Rocks is one of the best photo-ops on the island. The aptly named granite stones look almost unnatural when you look at them. Like they could have been sculpted by humans. But their round-waviness is evidence of the more than 500 million years it took for them to form. Rain and waves from the ocean wore down huge granite boulders to the interesting, pitted rock formations they are today. Orange lichen covers many of the formations found at Remarkable Rocks. Combined with the pink, black and blue granite mix, the rocks take on a multi-colored rainbow hue, especially during sunrises and sunsets. Photographers take note: the “golden hour” here is truly remarkable. No wonder this is one of the most photographed spots on Kangaroo Island.
Cape du Couedic Lighthouse
This Kangaroo Island hike is a beautiful look in to the past. Begin at the Cape de Couedic lighthouse. This 19th century lighthouse is isolated on the tip of Kangaroo Island. In fact, in the lighthouse’s early days the keepers would remain in the keepers’ cottage with their families, only being delivered supplies every 3 months. No wonder lighthouse keepers are said to be reclusive!
Today, the lighthouse is fully automated, eliminating the need for a full-time keeper. The cottages surrounding the lighthouse have been turned in to destination accommodations for those looking to get away from it all.
Weirs Cove Hike
While you’re at the lighthouse, embark on the 2-mile hike down to Weirs Cove. When the lighthouse keepers would receive their once-every-3-month resupply, they would make the same trek down to the cove.
Because of the rough terrain, getting supplies from the cove to the lighthouse required a zipline-winch system pulled by horses. Even after the motor vehicle was invented – horsepower prevailed.
On your hike, you’ll see the remains of this zipline supply system along with sheer cliff faces and stonework more than 100 years old.
Not to mention, the view over the sea from the cove is spectacular!
Platypus Waterholes Walk
“You had me at platypus”.
One of the most sought-after wildlife sightings in Australia is this duck/beaver hybrid creature. The duck-billed platypus is such an odd creature, that the first scientists to examine one thought they were the victims of a prank!
It’s an animal that doesn’t really know if it’s a water creature or a land mammal, or maybe a bird? In any case, the platypus is as cute as it is perplexing.
Enter this walk straight from the Flinders Chase visitors center. The 2.5 mile stroll winds past Aussie bush and watering holes where the platypus’ have been known to make their home.
They can be elusive creatures, so there’s no guarantee you’ll see a platypus immediately. But keep your eyes peeled for this rare animal found only in Australia. Try and time your walk around dawn and dusk to have the best chance at a spotting.
West Bay Beach and Campsite
The perfect way to cool down after a long walk seeing the Flinders Chase sights. This pristine beach is “postcard-ready” with it’s white sand and sapphire-turquoise waters. Though this secluded beach is a favorite among Flinders Chase visitors, it is rare that you’ll find a crowd on this coast. Instead, enjoy the quiet atmosphere and surrounding cove. Swimming and fishing are permitted at West Bay so come to the park prepared for a day at the beach after seeing the sights.
For those looking to rough it a bit on their vacation, nearby West Bay campground is a great spot to stay overnight just steps from the shore. Camping out lets you see the sunrise and set over the coast for an unforgettable experience.
Just remember to pack in all you’ll need for the day and night. The West Bay campground provides a place to pitch a tent and little else. The only creature-comfort you’ll find, luckily, is a toilet – but don’t forget your water and portable stove!
Snake Lagoon Walk
This scenic walk starts at Snake Lagoon and winds through Sugar Gums and mallee before descending into the Rocky River Valley. The trail crosses Rock River and meanders along its band to the Southern Ocean Coast. You can find the trail head about five and a half miles from Flinders Chase Visitor Center off West Bay Road.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Kangaroo Island without the kangaroos! Flinders Chase National Park is a great place for spotting this iconic Aussie creature. You’ll find roos hopping around this protected reserve as nature intended.
Along the walks from the Flinders Chase National Park entrance, keep your eyes peeled for kangaroos that are hopping around and feeding.
Photo: Tourism Australia / Adam Bruzzone
Tip: If you’re driving along the roads that go through Flinders Chase at dusk – be extra careful! Kangaroo are much like deer in that they can cross the roads at the most inopportune times. So take it slow, make sure your head lights are on and be careful for kangaroos!
Visit Flinders Chase National Park
For wildlife spotting, Kangaroo Island can’t be beat. While you’re there, be sure to make your way to Flinders Chase National Park. You’ll get a perfect mix of some of Australia’s best natural sights and outdoor beauty. From the bush and the outback, to the pristine beaches and coast, to the rugged rock formations, Flinders Chase National Park has it all. Plus, how many people do you know that have seen a Platypus in real life?
Add Flinders Chase National Park to My Trip
Ready to start planning your trip now?
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You can tell a lot about a city based on how it treats its art. A well-kept museum attracts visitors from all over the world and oftentimes is one of the greatest memories you take with you when you leave. It’s not often that someone visits Paris and doesn’t go to the Louvre.
But sometimes those huge museums can resemble the worst aspects of an amusement park. The ticket prices high. The ambiance non-existent. The gift shop unavoidable. You came for the culture, not the long lines.
Instead, head on over to North Terrace Adelaide – the cultural epicenter of South Australia. This art and museum district is loaded with great places to take in international and local art,culture and history – stress and entry-fee free.
South Australian Museum
Photo: Adam Bruzzone
Start your tour off with a visit to Adelaide’s premier cultural institution. The South Australian Museum is in a 5-story building on the North Terrace, making it the largest in South Australia. It houses a variety of natural history and sciences, archaeological and biological exhibits. The museum also holds the largest and most comprehensive collection of Aboriginal art and ethnography in the world. You’ll see ancient Aboriginal tools, instruments, jewelry, ornaments and more in the museum’s vast collection.
Tip: Take the guided museum tour. An expert tour-guide walks you through the museum, giving you insightful commentary on the collections within. The in-depth knowledge provided by the guides are a terrific way to make the most of your museum. And did we mention the tours are also free?
State Library of South Australia
On the opposite side of South Australia’s largest museum sits South Australia’s largest library. The State Library of South Australia has tens of thousands of books old and new. Reference materials and ledgers that date all the way back to pre-European settlement offer unique insight in to the history of this Aussie state.
Spend some time in the Mortlock Wing, a section of the library that visitors have referred to as being “Harry Potter-esque”. Victorian-era architecture and old-world charm of the interior make you feel like you stepped straight in to a cozy reading chamber in Hogwarts. The Mortlock Wing was also named one of the most “Beautiful Libraries in the World” by Travel + Leisure Magazine.
We think you’ll love browsing the centuries old library, thumbing through books and appreciating this South Aussie staple.
Botanic Gardens of South Australia
Photo: South Australia Tourism Commission
You won’t have to travel far for a bit of downtime from the hustle and bustle of the city-center. More than 130 acres of thriving greenery make up the Garden, making it the largest in South Australia. In addition to the amazing plant-life found in the gardens, the site is home to three large, glass-structures. The Palm House is an amazing Victorian era glass structure.
Garden designers in 1875 had the entire structure shipped from Germany in flat boxes and reassembled in Adelaide, making this mail-order building the first of its kind. And you thought assembling Ikea furniture was hard! Also check out the Bicentennial Conservatory and the Amazon Waterlily Pavilion for more amazing glass architecture.
Parliament House of South Australia
Photo: South Australia Tourism Commission
You don’t often hear the words “beautiful” and “government” in the same sentence together, but we’ll try anyway: You’ll definitely want to check out the beautiful architecture of Adelaide’s finest government building at the Parliament of South Australia. There, that wasn’t so hard! The huge marble and granite Parliament House building is where the magic happens for South Australia’s lawmakers and heads of state. Take one of the guided tours inside for a look at its great interior design. You’ll also hear the secrets behind the red tape that caused this building to take more than 50 years to complete!
University of Adelaide
This beautiful urban campus is another centerpiece of downtown Adelaide. Walk the grounds of this famed research institution. The University’s public art galleries and museums are a great way to spend some time soaking in some fresh student art and work from artist residencies. The Samstag Museum is one of the best places to see contemporary work from art students and visiting artists. The focus at Samstag is on cutting edge visual art and sculpture in a building whose architecture is as notable as the work inside. The funky glass and concrete structure is a visually striking introduction to the contemporary works inside.
National War Memorial
In honor of those who fought in the First World War, this large concrete memorial sculpture is a historically significant part of South Australia culture. Located adjacent to South Australia Government House, the site serves as a gathering place for Anzac Day and Remembrance Day, both Australian holidays to honor those who served and died in the line of duty.
The North Terrace is home to so many art galleries its almost hard to keep track. Here’s a selection of some of our favorites.
Art Gallery of South Australia 19th-Century International and Aboriginal Works
City Gallery Flinders University Contemporary Visual Works
SASA Gallery Contemporary Sculpture and Visual Works
Royal South Australian Society of Arts Painting and Print Gallery
Jam Factory Contemporary Art Gallery and Functioning Studio
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Want to start planning your trip now?
Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm) and speak to one of our expert Destination Specialists today.
Our favorite ways to see all of the Australia Highlights on a short vacation
Last week we talked about how you can get the most out of a short vacation to Sydney. This got us thinking…What if you only had time to visit one or two Australian cities? What can you do and see in order to create the perfect been-there-done-that Australian vacation? So we’re putting together a blog series that takes all the main reasons people visit Australia and compresses them into an epic vacation comprising of just 1 or 2 destinations.
Here at About Australia, we work with hundreds of clients every week. Most Americans are aware that Australia is an amazing country with a vast diversity of beautiful sights, experiences and wildlife. They want to see the beaches, explore the Great Barrier Reef, experience Australian City life, see kangaroos and koalas, learn about the rich Aboriginal culture, check out the local food and wine and explore the Outback. Australia is on almost every traveler’s bucketlist.
What many people don’t realize is that Australia is a huge country – about the size of the United States to be exact. Once they wrap their heads around that fact, their next question is, “Do I have to travel all over Australia to see all the iconic sights?”
The answer to that question is both yes and no. It all depends on which iconic sights you want to see.
Sydney Harbour and access to the Great Barrier Reef are at least 1,000 miles apart. That’s a 2 -3 hour plane ride or over 20 hours by car. Then, if you have your heart dead-set on seeing Uluru (Ayers Rock), you’ll have to fly over 1,700 miles to the center of the country for a spiritual outback adventure. A similar trip in the US would take you from Orlando to NCY to Denver. So yes, if you want to see the Sydney Opera House, the reef and the Red Centre, you will have to do quite a bit of Australian Domestic Travel. And honestly, that’s ok! As they say in Australia, “No worries, mate!”
This type of trip is amazing! All of the once-in-a-life time experiences and amazing sights more than make up for the additional travel. But this type of trip takes time, a larger budget and quite a bit of patience, especially if you are traveling with young children.
But, you say, “I don’t have a lot of vacation time. Can I still travel to Australia and see the highlights without spending a ton of time and money?” Yes! With a smaller travel budget and just 5-7 days downunder, you can still get a great overview of Australia’s highlights just by visiting one or two select cities.
Or maybe you’re thinking, “I want to take my kids on an Australian adventure. But after that long plane ride to the other side of the world, I don’t want the stress of packing up the kids every few days and flying across the country just so they can get the full Australian experience.” You don’t have to!
Plan your trip to just one or two strategic locations and your kids will have an experience that is both educational and fun – one they will remember long after returning home to the rigmarole of everyday life. It’s one thing to spend your family vacation on the beach with playgrounds, kids programs and free child care. It’s quite another to live in an Australian city for a week visiting beaches, learning about ancient culture and cuddling kolas. I’d argue that the latter is much more engaging and educational.
The 7 major highlights of Australia are Beaches & Aquatic Life, Modern Culture & Art, Wildlife, the Outback, the Rainforest, Food & Wine and Indigenous Culture. A piece of these can be found in all major metro areas. You just have to know where to look…
…And thus the blog series has begun! Every week we’ll show you how you can see all 7 highlights in one city (or the surrounds). Browse through the series to help you pick a few cities which are best for you and your short vacation to Australia.
A word of advice:
Make sure you carefully plan every aspect of your trip. Know exactly what will be on your itinerary each day and book in advance. A lot of people believe they can book the flights and hotels then figure out the rest on the fly. This is a bad idea. The logistics alone can be quite daunting and after investing a lot of time and money into something, you want it to go well. We, of course, are proponents of you contacting us so we can use our expertise to help you plan the perfect trip. Sure, may be able to do it yourself, but you can avoid a lot of stress and worry if you let us do it for you!
Get-A-Trip-Quote or Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).
Things to do in Australia | A Sydney Vacation with All the Australia Highlights
Things to do in Australia | A Melbourne Vacation with All the Australia Highlights
Things to do in Australia | A Brisbane Vacation with All the Australia Highlights
Things to do in Australia | An Adelaide Vacation with All the Australia Highlights
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Things to do in Australia | A Perth Vacation with All the Australia Highlights.