Next up on planning a trip to Australia is to decide what you want really want to see. (see part one where to start here)
The trick here is to be mindful of the sheer size of Australia – it is in dimensions the size of Europe and driving from east to west is just as far as driving from Barcelona to Moscow. Therefore our previous post concentrating on where to start is strategically linked into this.
We will begin by sharing the truly essential locations.
Queensland & New South Wales – (East Coast)
Fraser Island – Literally a huge sand Island situated off the coast of the small town of Hervey Bay, 3.5 hours north of Brisbane. This island holds a true wonder of its own, being that there are no roads just sand tracks throughout the island. You can take a 2-3 day self-drive camping experience on the island, where you are provided the 4×4 and you literally explore the island yourselves. This is an AMAZING adventure, just make sure you stock up on BBQ food and drinks before you head into the wilderness. Some of our finest Wandering Memories revolve around this adventure including the stunning Lake Mackenzie and a huge long stretch of beautiful golden sand known as the highway. Camping under the stars with only the local dingo’s for company was just an experience not to be missed!
Port Douglas – Many people miss this gem of a town as they get too bogged down in the party atmosphere of Cairns. However Port Douglas blows its regional competitor out of the water with a gorgeous beach, relaxed atmosphere and immediate access to the Daintree Natural Forest, further northern Great Barrier Reef and the stunning Cape Tribulation. The last time we visited we spent little to no time in Cairns instead taking full advantage of this wonder.
Magnetic Island – A short ride from Townsville is the idyllic Magnetic Island, a place of true serenity. You can choose to lay on a gorgeous beaches, fish the turquoise waters or hike the national parks in hope of seeing one of the illusive koala population. It really is a place of natural beauty that is a must stop especially if you have come from the hustle and bustle of Airlie.
Byron Bay – Probably the most chilled out location on the East Coast, Byron is a must stop for anyone exploring the east coast. Eight hours north of Sydney, Byron is commonly referred to as New South Wales most iconic hangout. Honestly I can see why it’s a mix of relaxed surf culture meets dream beach location. Not as hot as some of its further north counterparts, it really doesn’t matter as Byron’s atmosphere reigns supreme.
Noosa – In a similar way to Byron, Noosa is a very popular destination on most traveller routes. With its beautiful white sand beaches and pleasant climate, it is the destination of choice for many Brisbane residents for holidays or weekend away. It runs a bit more expensive than some backpackers wish, but it is worth every penny.
South Australia & Victoria
The Great Ocean Road – Moving further south to an hour outside Melbourne is the iconic Great Ocean Road which houses a world of treasures on its 151 miles stretch of road. The road winds around some of Australia’s most stunning coastal scenery, with many hidden beaches, caves, shipwrecks and natural pillars around every corner. One of its most iconic spots is the twelve apostles, essentially a number of limestone pillars stretched out to sea. It’s especially beautiful at dawn or dusk if you can make the journey, as the colours reflect off the pillars. If willing some of Australia’s most incredible surf is also in this area with the iconic Bells Beach located very close to the entrance.
Phillip Island – A small, rather overlooked island just south of Melbourne which is home to a huge colony of Australia’s native Penguins. The Penguin Parade is an experience worth its weight in gold we assure you. Entering the beach stands at dusk and witnessing the colony’s inhabitants returning from their fishing is one of the most awe-inspiring experiences in the world. Phillip Island is also home to a number of small towns, hidden coves and beautiful cliff faces. Well worth a day’s exploration if not more.
Coober Pedy – There is no place in the world like Coober Pedy, it is itself an enigma of civilisation. Located in the far north of South Australia, this is a true Outback town, so much so that the inhabitants all live underground. In fairness the desert temperatures can range from freezing to scorching, and the town does suffer from the occasional dust storm. You could be forgiven for missing the town when diving by, as it simply looks like a number of mines scattered throughout the landscape. The area around the town has been used in movies for the scenery of other planet surfaces and honestly you can see why! It’s so barren and course; it does look like another world.
Please see the Essential Australian series on A Wandering Memory below:
- Essential Australia – Fraser Island
- Essential Australia – Broome
- Essential Australia – Uluru
- Essential Australia – Cape Range
- Essential Australia – The Great Ocean Road
- Essential Australia – Kalbarri