With an abundance of domestic flights, Australia beckons visitors to explore from coast to coast,
and flying point-to-point makes the most of travel time and money. Here are 10 top stops for the trip of a lifetime.
Great Barrier Reef
So large it can be seen from outer space, the Great Barrier Reef stretches 2,600km (1,600 miles) along the coast of northeast Australia. It’s one of the most bio-diverse regions on earth, shared by over 400 species of coral, 1,500 species of fish, sea turtles, whales, dolphins, sharks, stingrays and more.
Uluru, aka Ayers Rock
Measuring 1.6 by 2.4 kilometers (1 by 1.5 miles), the massive red sandstone outcropping in Australia’s interior is one of the country’s most iconic sites. Prime times to visit are sunrise and sunset, when light striking the rock causes a play of colors that’s nothing short of majestic.
Sydney’s harbour, with its landmark Opera House, is actually submerged river valley. Sweeping vistas of islands and peninsulas, coves, bays and estuaries point up its natural beauty. Visitors who don’t mind heights can take the Bridge Climb and see it all from 134 meters (440 feet) up.
Australia has a beach for every mood, from Sydney’s famous see-and-be-seen Bondi to Perth’s laid back Cottesloe on the western coast to wild, unspoiled Monkey Mia in the northwest. If those don’t appeal, there are hundreds more to choose from.
Two outstanding examples of Australia’s many rainforests are the tropical Daintree Forest near Port Douglas and the subtropical Lamington National Park near the Queensland-New South Wales border. Both are World Heritage sites, lush with ancient trees, ferns, waterfalls, gorges, and abundant wildlife.
Australia is proud of its animals and preserves can be found almost everywhere. From the Curumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on the Gold Coast to the late Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo and Brisbane’s Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Australia’s wildlife is always waiting to win hearts.
South of Brisbane lies the Gold Coast, a 70 kilometer (43 mile) stretch that embraces golden sand beaches and some of Australia’s most vibrant nightlife. This is surfing, sun and fun capital of Oz, where natural beauty is just steps away from a fast-paced urban lifestyle that includes luxury hotels, open-late pubs and clubs, restaurants and shopping malls.
Australia’s major cities are all coastal, but that’s almost all they have in common. From sophisticated Sydney to tropical Cairns, relaxed Perth to Melbourne, the country’s cultural capital, visitors quickly learn that there’s no such thing as a “typical” Australian city.
Great Ocean Road
A different kind of coast will be found along the Great Ocean Road, beginning at Torquay near Melbourne and continuing west 243 kilometers (151 miles) to Warrnambool on the southern coast. The scenery is wild and rugged, with steep cliffs and the famous 12 Apostles limestone outcroppings anchored in the sea. This was an early point of British settlement, and small Victorian towns dot the way.
Those who want the ultimate in wild, unspoiled beauty will find it in Tasmania, off the continent’s southeastern tip. Rugged hills, towering sea cliffs, waterfalls and majestic views make this a prime destination for backpackers. Not to be missed is Freycinet National Park’s beautiful, secluded Wineglass Bay, often voted one of the world’s ten best beaches.