Australia is a huge continent, – about the size of the USA. So, when travel planning Australia and you’re on limited time, you won’t be able to see all of it – not by a long shot. But it is good to know that you can actually cover large distances across Australia, with domestic flights. Once you arrive at any one locations can either use local transport service or a rental car. A motor home is a very cool option if you’re touring the Australian Outback. It’s such a plus to have air-conditioning, a fridge and a comfortable ride.
It would be virtually impossible to cover all aspects of travel planning Australia, in just the one blog. But I promise you, it will be a great starting point. If, at the end of this blog, you have a few handy Australia travel tips of your own, please feel free to put these in the comments section.
Suggestion 1: Do some initial Australia research
To get started, have a look at the Australia.com Visitor Information site. This will help you get a visual overview on where you want to go and what you’d like to do. These decisions will obviously be based on your interests and level of fitness. Visitors to Australia require an entry visa, so do check this section first. Remember, depending on what passport you are travelling on, the visa application process could take some time. (New Zealand passport holders do not require an entry visa.) A vital part of your Australia research is to sort out your travel dates. The next step is to consider the climate and weather conditions for the time that you’re selected to travel.
Suggestion 2: weather and climate – summer is not always best!
Within the vast continent of Australia, there are different time zones – but more importantly, there are huge climatic contrasts across Australia! This aspect of planning is often overlooked – but trust me, this is so important! Mostly all most travellers assume that ‘summer’ is the best time to travel any country. This is quite the opposite for Australia. In fact, the only exception to this, is Tasmania. The Australian summer season is between November and March. It can be unbearably hot at this time of year. In the summer for 2019, Adelaide recorded 47 degrees celsius or 116 Fahrenheit. Even Sydney and Melbourne, have high temperatures in the summer season. And in the Outback, it can be even worst! For the northern region (e.g. Darwin, Cairns) you have the cyclone season with heavy rain, strong winds and extreme humidity. Not many of us are very happy with these conditions.
Suggestion 3: Focus on key locations and stay longer
There are a few self-drives within Australia you may have time to do. On the other hand, if you could spare a period of 6-8 months, you would be able to criss-cross the continent. But if you have only have 2-3 weeks, don’t even think about it!
I’d recommend a stay of 3-5 nights at one location – this will give you more time to explore each of your chosen areas. To save you time, you can then can use a domestic flight to explore the next region. Sample: Northern Queenstown with Cairns & Port Douglas. One day you could go snorkelling the reef. The next day, a relaxing tour of the Daintree Forest.
Another day, you might do Kuranda or visit the Wildlife Habitat. This approach is very successful and will focus your time. To many people, myself included, have actually driven over these vast distances for many days and have vowed “never again”!
Suggestion 4: Self-driving Australia
Here are the highlight drives we do actually recommend and have done ourselves. As mentioned, you can build these scenic drives into your overall itinerary by using domestic flights:
Great Ocean Road:
This is a very popular ‘classic’ and can be done in 3 nights, or better still, 4-5 nights.
If you want to do the Great Ocean Road, I usually recommend that you travel from Adelaide to Melbourne. That way, you’ll avoid relocation or one-way rental car fees. The longest time you will spend on any one day, will be from Adelaide to Mt. Gambier (6-7 hrs). The next stop after Mt Gambier, is Port Fairy, which is your last stop. After Port Fairy, you’ll be cruising into Melbourne!
Western Australia is a destination on its own. If you have 1 week to spare, you will be able to cover Perth and the Margaret River area. If you have 2 weeks, you can easily add the southern southern coast line to include Denmark and Albany area. These two areas are quite stunning!
Brisbane, Noosa and Fraser Island:
In my opinion, travelling all the way up the eastern coast of Australia is not a good idea. Although some parts are manageable and interesting, it really is quite tedious. Once again, this is where domestic flights come in very handy, especially if you want to visit Fraser Island. And believe me, you will want to do this. Its that type of place a lot of travellers revisit.
My favourite area out of the above 3, would have to be Fraser Island, a heritage-listed island found off Australia’s eastern Queensland coast. In fact, it is the world’s largest sand island, stretching over 120km. I guess you could quite rightly describe Fraser Island as an ecotourism destination.
Suggestion 5: Accommodation options Australia
Australia is full of outstanding accommodation options. Unlike New Zealand, there are not as many Bed & Breakfast options, but you can find some good ones. Many regions are well covered with hotels and resort. If you like ‘special places’ and are happy to spend a little extra, why not choose some of the Luxury Lodges of Australia. They are located in amazing settings and provide exceptional service with top-notch facilities. Many of them include transfer and guiding services.
Suggestion 6: Tours in smaller groups
One key aspect of your holiday in Australia are the activities and tours you will undertake. We believe the key difference between a ‘nice experience’ and a ‘wow experience’ is a personalised tour. These tours mostly have local guides with a wide knowledge. Its it so more more personalised if you’re in a small party with maybe 4-6 travellers. Yes, you will be paying a bit more, but the memory will last a lifetime. Ask yourself, how often do you travel to Australia!? Here is a list of sample tours worthwhile considering.
Aquarium Sailing and Snorkelling from Port Douglas
Instead of being with 500 people on a cruise out to the Great Barrier Reef, why not take a leisurely cruise with just 10-15 people? For something like this, I’d recommend the Aquarius – a luxurious catarmaran -the food will be so much better too!
Daintree Forest Explorer
Again, small is beautiful. You’ll get a Personal guide, attention to details and you’ll meet interesting people! These smaller tours tend to have more flexibility to visit places that may be of great personal interest to you. In other words, they can change the plan on any given day, time permitting.
Uluru Awakening Experiences
Instead of ‘meeting the crowds’ at Uluru at 5.30am why not use a local guide. Either in group or as a private booking?
Kangaroo Island ex Adelaide
This is such a ‘classic’! Instead of the 18 hours coach-ferry-coach trip from Adelaide, why not use a short flight to Kangaroo Island, go with a local operator in a small tour group and be back for dinner!?
Here are some sample travel itineraries providing you with a good ‘kick-starter’.
Summary on your Australia holiday planning:
1. Do the initial research. Check key subjects such as climate and your Australia travel locations.
2. Plan on staying stay longer by choosing fewer locations to explore. Less is more!
3. With your limited time, the smartest way to cover key locations is by using domestic flights.
If you follow the above strategies, I guarantee it will help you to achieve the best possible Australia travel experience. We understand there is much to consider when planning your Australia trip. So, for any questions, please contact us – we’ll guide you in the right direction!
For more travel planing check out some sample Australia holiday itineraries. This will make it all easier for you!
Happy travelling Australia!