By now you've probably got the idea: we really love Australia! But this country is huge, so any trip here requires a fair amount of planning, to fly from Sydney to Perth for example, takes five hours! There are so many incredible places to see but if you only have limited time we've helped narrow it down.
So here's our tips for the best places to see when visiting Australia.
Disclaimer: We haven't visited Western Australia yet, so haven't included the top sights there. Although we would love to see Ningaloo Reef, the Kimberley and Broome (to name a few....)
New South Wales
If you're only going to see one city in Australia, make sure it's Sydney. Ignore the hipsters who'll tell you it should be Melbourne, Sydney's harbour setting is unlike anywhere else. Here ferries are a main mode of transport, and you'll rarely find yourself far from the water.
We like Melbourne, but it just doesn't have that wow factor. Sydney's also a great base to explore bit a more of the East Coast and the nearby Blue Mountains.
If you want to find out to see how to plan a trip to Sydney then check out our following blogs:
- Instagrammable spots in Sydney
- When is the best time to visit Australia
- The best places to see wild kangaroos close to Sydney
- The best Sydney sunrise and sunset spots
- Top 10 beaches in Sydney
- Ultimate guide to Sydney
- Cheap things to do in Sydney
- The best beaches in NSW
The Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains is a place we loved since our first visit in 2013. As a resident of Sydney, it's the perfect weekend getaway, and for visitors it's a glimpse into the stunning Aussie Bush. Here you'll find some of the best day walks in Australia and views you will remember forever.
Check out our blog all about the Blue Mountains to plan your trip!
Jervis Bay may not get the billing of Whitehaven or many of the pristine beaches in Western Australia, but it's here that you will find the "whitest sand in the world" (yes, it's actually in the Guinness book of Records).
All along this beautiful stretch of coast you'll find gorgeous turquoise blue water with bright white sand beaches. Hyams, Murray and Bherwerre Beach (two of which are in our favourite beaches in NSW) are some of the best. It's also a haven for dolphins, we've seen them on every visit to this area and not from a tour boat, but from the shoreline. It really is a magical place to spend a few days.
The West MacDonnell Ranges
There's no better place for a taste of the Outback than the West MacDonnell Ranges. Just west of Alice Springs, this stunning stretch of Central Australian mountain range is home to the Laratpinta Trail, one of the great walks in the world that weaves through red mountains and magnificent waterholes.
You can walk many parts of the track as day hikes and then cool off in one of the water holes when you're done (no crocs here!). If you're not much of a hiker there are plenty of easy to reach look outs and swimming spots and beautiful gorges with well preserved aboriginal rock art.
At night there are few better places to stay than an outback lodge where your standard evening consists of good food (and some more unusual options including camel burger), followed by live music and then some of the best views of the milky way in the world.
It's hard to really explain what is quite so special about Uluru in a few words. It's not just the rock which is huge (it's taller than the Eiffel Tower and two miles wide), but it's the whole area. Uluru sits in the centre of Australia and is surrounded by hundreds of miles of flat, bold red desert. You can see why the indigenous people believe it is sacred, as the rock dominates the landscape and it does stir up a feeling that can only be described as other worldly.
It's worth taking a trip to Alice Springs and the rest of the Red Centre when you visit Uluru, so check out the blogs below:
- Best things to do in Alice Springs
- 20 pictures of Uluru and the Outback that will get you googling flights
If you want to relive Crocodile Dundee, then Kakadu is the place for you. Only two hours outside of Darwin, Kakadu is home to some of the most spectacular wildlife, ancient rock art and natural infinity pools in the world. In the space of a day you can get within a few feet of five metre crocs, see art that was painted over 2,000 years ago and finish the day in an infinity pool that's nearly 200 metres above the ground. There's nowhere else quite like it.
The Great Barrier Reef
If you ask anyone about a trip to Australia, it's likely they'll ask if you're going to visit the Great Barrier Reef. It's something everyone should see in their lifetime and it's even more important to do it soon as it's sadly degenerating at a quick rate.
We love the reef and think it should be a part of everyone's trip as long as people are respectful and do not touch any part of it (this harms the reef). Whilst there are some very healthy stretches of reef that are unbelievable, there are some spots which have suffered bleaching. if time and money permit try and get to the outer reef which tends to be in better shape and is more spectacular than the inner reef.
Popular places to begin your reef trip are Cairns, Port Douglas and Hamilton Island. For less crowded stretches of reef try looking at departing from Mission Beach and Lady Elliott Island.
Not many sights live up to the hype, but Whitehaven definitely does. Arguably the most beautiful beach in the world, Whitehaven is tropical paradise with pristine white sand and coral blue water. The view from Hill Inlet (a short walk up from the beach) is one of the best in Australia and it looks even better from the seat of a helicopter.
It's one of our favourite things to do in The Whitsundays and even if you're not a beach person, this is one place you have to visit. if you prefer to spend a bit of time at Whitehaven maybe opt for one of the full day trips or make sure that the half day trip is going to give you at least a few hours there.
Ours was a full day sailing trip and disappointingly only gave us an hour at the beach which we found disappointing, you spend almost all day on the boat. For an amazing experience that we hope to do next time, use one of the water taxi services from Airlie Beach to get to Whitehaven without a tour group, they allow you to camp there and then pick you up the next day.
We can't even imagine how amazing Whitehaven when everyone one else has gone home would be!
Daintree is the oldest living rainforest in the world at over 180 million years old. It's also a spot where two UNESCO world heritage sites meet and you can see the rainforest meet the Great Barrier Reef at Cape Tribulation.
If you're lucky, you may catch a glimpse of an endangered cassowary - an emu like bird with a blue neck and horn. It's just one of our favourite day trips from Cairns. You can walk in the rainforest canopy at Daintree Discovery Centre or one of the many self guided tracks around Cape Trib or Jindalba National Park (watch out for the wild pigs in the latter, we met a particularly grumpy sow and piglet and they are actually pretty frightening!).
For hardcore hikers, try the Mount Sorrow track, we haven't done this yet but it's on our list! if you have, let us know how it was.
The Prom is an Aussie summer holiday favourite, kind of like Cornwall is to the UK. Just a few hours away from Melbourne, Wilson's Prom is a beautiful national park with multiple white sand beaches and lots of pretty camping spots. It's a great place to go for a hike, chill on a white sand beach and see wild wombats who like to play with the resident campers. It's a wildlife lover's dream and you are guaranteed to see heaps of kangaroos and wallabies, and you'll probably spot emus too. If you're in Victoria, this place is a must.
We're not sure how the Grampians aren't completely over-run with tourists. This national park in Victoria has some of the best day hikes in Australia with interesting and varied terrain, that lead to jaw-dropping viewpoints. Tracks such as the Balconies and the Pinnacle offer views that go for miles and are perfect for sunrise and sunset photography. Add wild emus, roos and wallabies and you have one amazing holiday spot.
The Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is no secret, but it's popular for a reason. This beautiful piece of coastline offers up huge ocean views, stunning waterfalls and one of the best chances to bump into a wild koala that you'll get in Australia. However, spots like the 12 Apostles can get incredibly busy, so it's best to turn up at sunrise and have room to move. if you have time, visit some of the inland waterfalls too, our favourites were Hopetoun and Beachamp in the Otway Ranges. Sorry for the lack of photos of the GOR itself, our camera succumbed to water damage when we were visiting the waterfalls. :(
If you're a wildlife lover, then Kangaroo Island is going to be for you. This beautiful island off the coast of South Australia separated from the mainland over 10,000 years ago, and much of the the wildlife has thrived here.
It's a place that has retained a lot of wilderness, so much so that car companies won't insure you for driving after dark as the odds of hitting a kangaroo are a lot higher than anywhere else in Australia. There is also a thriving koala population, unlike the rest of Australia where they are endangered.
If you want to read up on all the things to do in Kangaroo Island, then check out our more detailed blog post, 12 photos to inspire you to visit Kangaroo Island
If you like your outback experience with a twist, then head to Coober Pedy. It's part of the South Australian outback which - if you can believe it - is even drier than the Red Centre and other outback areas!
With a landscape that could be mistaken for mars, and barely any plants, the residents have taken it upon themselves to create the kinds of things you'd have in most towns but would never imagine seeing here: a golf course without any grass, a cricket pitch (which looks like an oasis) and natural air conditioning by living underground. It's also got plenty of quirky art and incredibly stunning landscapes, so it's well worth making the effort to get there.
If this hasn't convinced you, then check out our blog on why you should go.
Few people visit the Coorong, but it is great for wildlife and it's one of our favourite spots in South Australia. It's a fantastic place to see emus in the wild, we caught the two above strolling along one of the many salt flats. You'll also find jaw dropping pink lakes and some great bush walks.
It's the perfect area for a countryside getaway and we loved retreating back to our house to watch the pelicans fly over the lake as the sun set.
Simply getting to Cradle Mountain is an adventure. You travel on windy roads and through the mist, watching the temperature drop before being welcomed by somewhere that feels more more like Scotland than Australia.
The whole national park has lush vegetation with rivers, heather and of course those incredible mountain views. Throw in hundreds of wombats for good measure and you have yourself the perfect mountain retreat. The walking trails are spectacular and there's nowhere else quite like it in Australia.
When you arrive on Maria Island you'll wonder how being sent to prison here was a punishment (until you learn the history of course). For the modern day visitor, you'll find an island pleasantly off the grid and brimming with wildlife. Every evening you'll see the fields full of wombats, pademelons and kangaroos, most of which will casually walk up to your tent and nibble on the grass nearby.
It's also home to the Bishop & Clerk hike which offers spectacular views for those who want to stretch their legs and beautiful white sand beaches if you prefer to take a dip. if you don't want to camp you can stay in the old penitentiary which is an experience in itself!
You might not associate Tasmania with world-class beaches, so Wineglass Bay could come as a surprise. But what a surprise. It's a stunning beach with bright white sand that goes on forever. It's setting makes it even more stunning, surrounded by Aussie bushland and with a glorious mountain backdrop.
If you're going to see any beach in the Southern part of Australia, make this your choice. We've got some more blogs to inspire you, including Instagrammable spots in Tasmania, Best things to do in Tasmania, Hiking the Walls of Jerusalem and Hiking Bishop & Clerk. It's also home to the Pumphouse, one of our favourite hotels in Australia.
Canberra is normally associated with being a structured city that was built in the middle of nowhere (think the Australian Milton Keynes). However, it's home to the highest density of kangaroos in Australia, and Namadji National Park is one of the best places to see them. It's also got really good hiking trails that will take you to some epic lookouts. Our photos are taken on the way to the excellent Yankee Hat walk which has some really well preserved indigenous rock art at the end of the track.
By far the best view in Canberra is from Mount Ainslie. At sunset there's no better place to watch the sun go down over Lake Burley Griffin and the city. You'll probably bump into some roos and crimson rosellas while you're up there too. You can drive up or if you fancy a bit of exercise take one of the walking trails.
We don't normally write about museums on Walk My World, but Canberra has some of the best in the country. One of the most poignant being the Australian War Memorial, a beautiful tribute to the service men and women. It's a peaceful place and we found it very moving. There are also many excellent exhibitions.
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Are you planning to go to Australia? Where's on your bucket list? Let us know in the comments below!