Average cost p/day: US$100
Time frame: Many many many months…
Currency: Australian dollar
Australia is my home country! Often people don’t travel their home country very thoroughly – especially when, as Australians, it’s probably cheaper to travel to south east Asia instead! But Australia is a massive country with a lot to offer.
The common backpacker route is to go along the east coast, starting in either Melbourne or Sydney, and ending up in Cairns. While this is a jam packed path full of amazing beaches and other beautiful places, don’t be fooled into thinking this is all you can see in Australia. I would encourage you to go through the centre to get a feel for the ‘outback’ and see Uluru, an iconic symbol of Australia. The west coast is also stunning and incredibly underrated.
There seems to be a common misconception that Australia is a country of year-long summer. While some parts of the country, particularly the north and the center, can be warm year round, Australia is actually a country of diverse weather. Everywhere will be warmer in Summer (December – February) but this is also the rainy season in Queensland. The summer is great! Lots of outdoor activities to do, and obviously the perfect time to enjoy the beaches. The southern states have much colder winters – okay, maybe not cold by northern hemisphere standards, but averaging 5-10 degrees in the winter in Melbourne and even colder in Tasmania. However, there are benefits of the colder months, such as avoiding the crowds and going to see the footy!
WHERE TO GO
As Australia is such a huge country, I’ve divided it into the states and territories to highlight my favourite spots.
My home! Melbourne is an eclectic, diverse, lively city where you will always find something to keep you entertained – including rooftop bars, music festivals, free outdoor activities and wicked street art. Be sure to catch a game of AFL (Australian Football League) at the MCG! Beyond the city, you’ll find the beautiful Mornington peninsula coast, stunning Great Ocean Road, penguin-filled Phillip Island, mountainous Grampians National Park and picturesque Yarra Valley wineries.
New South Wales
Sydney is by far the most iconic city in Australia, mostly due to it’s easily recognisable harbour bridge and opera house. The beaches in Sydney are fantastic, notably Bondi and Manly. Outside of Sydney, you’ll find many nice beach towns such as Byron Bay, a very popular ‘hippie town.’ There’s also the Blue Mountains and the Hunter Valley to explore.
Australian Capital Territory
I’ll be honest… There isn’t a whole lot to see in ACT. It’s just Canberra. And Canberra is a tiny little city made up of roundabouts, parliament and government offices. To be fair, Quest-A-Con (an interactive science museum) seemed pretty cool, back when I was sixteen.
Dubbed the “sunshine state,” Queensland is abundant with beaches and beautiful islands. Brisbane and the nearby Gold Coast are famous for beaches, night life and theme parks. Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo offers opportunities to get up close and personal with native animals like kangaroos and koalas. The biggest sand island in the world, Fraser Island, is great fun to explore by four wheel drive. Further north still, you can admire the beauty of the Whitsundays and snorkel through the Great Barrier Reef.
While it may be a small state, Tasmania has plenty to explore if you’re the outdoorsy type. The beautiful coast and mountainous inland makes for scenic drives and hikes. Hobart is a charming little city with a great crafty market on Saturdays.
In my brief visits to Adelaide, I’ve not found much to write home about. However, the nearby Barosa Valley wineries are some of the best in the country. Further inland, Coober Pedy is a fascinating little town where everything is built underground because it’s keeps the buildings cooler. While exploring the desert you can also see Lake Eyre, the largest salt lake in Australia.
While a lot of NT is covered in desert, it is also home to many natural wonders, such as Uluru and King’s Canyon. There any many national parks to explore with stunning waterfalls and epic hikes. The capital, Darwin, is one of the most multicultural cities in the country and offers easy access to Kakadu National Park.
An absolutely massive state, Western Australia has many places to see. The capital, Perth, is one of Australia’s smallest capital cities but has great restaurants, beaches and wineries nearby. The Botanical Gardens is worth a wander around and you can take a daytrip to Rottnest Island to snap a selfie with a quokka. Broome is a popular holiday spot where you can enjoy the sunshine, ride a camel on the beach and shop at local markets. The beaches all up the coast of WA are absolutely pristine, probably because there are far less tourists on them.