These days, many of us are regular travellers to Australia, with friends and relatives living Down Under in the sunshine. If you’ve already been to Australia once, the chances are that you’ve already seen the sights of Sydney, snapped the Opera House and explored the East Coast. So, next time you’re off to Oz for a family reunion, make the journey worthwhile by discovering a whole new region.
Here’s our scoop on the best places to visit in Australia for second-timers, beyond the tourist big-hitters and crowded hotspots:
If you’ve already driven between Sydney and Brisbane or Brisbane and Cairns, it’s time to go west. The wild, rugged and less-visited shores of Western Australia offer a completely different aspect on Australia. Expect fewer crowds – because fewer than one in five overseas visitors makes it over to Western Australia.
Explore a reef you can snorkel to directly from the beach at Ningaloo, meet a colony of quirky little quokkas on Rottnest Island and set off on easy drives against a backdrop of endless blue where the infinite skies meet the Pacific Ocean. On your way, look out for dazzling pink lagoons, wave-shaped rocks and deserts scattered with bizarre pinnacles.
If you don’t believe the west is best and you’ve already explored the east coast, make your way from Melbourne to the beautiful Mornington Peninsula. Next, get ready to drive The Great Ocean Road, which begins west of the city and continues all the way to Adelaide. Prepare for dramatic clifftop views, photogenic lighthouses, historic old gold rush towns, white sandy shores and magnificent views of the rock stacks of the 12 Apostles in Port Campbell National Park!
Everyone expects to see koalas and kangaroos in Australia, but if you’re yet to see these beauts in the wild, we have the answer. Head to Kangaroo Island, just a short flight or 45-minute ferry crossing from Adelaide, South Australia. On a guided walk here, you can expect to see plenty of indigenous Aussie favourites, from seals to koalas, wallabies to kangaroos.
For another scenic spot to encounters kangaroos in the wild, consider a campervan road trip from Perth, through Western Australia – heading to the solitary, picturesque beaches of Esperance and Cape Le Grand National Park. Here you’ll find the ‘roos hopping about on the sands – kept happy by the numerous freshwater springs that pop up on the beach to quench their thirst.
Rugged, raw and virtually untouched, the wilderness areas of Australia’s Northern Territory make the perfect retreat from the modern world. From Darwin, it’s easy to reach Kakadu National Park, Litchfield National Park, Arnhem Land and the Mary River Wetlands. While each one is unique, they share an ancient and remote feeling that you won’t find anywhere else in Australia.
The largest national park in Australia, Kakadu is the size of Wales. Home to croc-filled lagoons, craggy red rocks, crashing waterfalls and natural swimming holes, it’s a rough and ready playground that is perfect for 4X4 trips on bumpy bushland. In contrast, the Mary River Wetlands, where the floodplains are packed with native wildlife. For the best Mary River experience, try an airboat tour to spot saltwater crocodiles among the paperbark forests, as well as monitors, wallabies and exotic geese.
The remarkable Red Centre is where you’ll find Uluru (Ayer’s Rock), and one of the best places to hear first-hand Aboriginal stories and learn some cultural history. If you’ve seen the beaches but haven’t experienced Australia’s interior, you’re missing a trick. The sparsely populated Red Centre is filled with other-worldly rock formations and offers dramatic desert scenery like nothing you’ve seen before.
Stroll beneath the towering walls of Kings Canyon, wander amongst the rounded domes of the Olgas and tick off a once-in-a-lifetime moment as you catch a sunrise or sunset at Uluru. The ultimate way to see it all is with a luxury stay at Longitude 131 in a luxury fixed tent, overlooking Uluru itself. Treat yourself to an experience you’ll never forget.
As much as we love a self-drive, sometimes it’s fun to let someone else do the ‘driving’, giving you even more opportunity to relax and unwind. Despite its size, Australia offers plenty of non-driving options, including river and reef cruises, so you can explore one area, or traverse the entire country.
You might not know it, but Australia is home to the world’s largest collection of active paddle steamers! Board an old-world paddle steamer for a tranquil, leisurely exploration of the Murray River and watch the scenery change as you sail. Alternatively, cruise through the narrow mangrove channels around Hinchinbrook Island and the Great Barrier Reef, spotting incredible marine life as you drift along in the sunshine.
If you get queasy out on the water and you don’t have the constitution for a cruise, why not ride the rails instead? Exploring Australia by train is the ultimate way to grasp the sheer size and emptiness of the country, giving you a different perspective on the Land Down Under. If you’re a rail buff, there’s nothing better.
If you’ve already been to Cairns or Port Douglas and taken a day trip out to the Great Barrier Reef, did you come away just wishing you’d seen even more of this incredible underwater world? If so, why not come back and this time linger longer?
We can arrange some wonderful short cruises or yacht trips so that you can see more of the marine life for longer, or you can stay in the dreamy Whitsunday Islands, with full access to the reef. That way you can take it slow, explore further and soak up more of the beauty on offer.
Beyond the bright lights of Sydney, New South Wales is home to beautiful countryside, vast mountains, rolling vineyards and charming coastal resorts. If you’re based in Sydney but itching to escape the city, try heading for the wine estates of the Hunter Valley, the dizzying Blue Mountains and the sleepy beaches of the Bouddi Peninsula, connected by 8km of scenic boardwalks. All easily reached from Sydney, these quiet spots are lovely places to catch your breath before heading back into the humdrum of the city.
Tasmania doesn’t often make it onto the itineraries of first-time visits to Australia, but quite frankly, it’s a good reason to come back to Australia, on its own. With the cleanest air on the planet and some of the country’s most dramatic scenery, Tasmania is packed with incredible wildlife and local history.
Spend a few days in Hobart with its pretty waterfront and markets, then climb Mount Wellington for a bird’s eye view over the city. Visit a wildlife park to spot the island’s most famed resident – The Tasmanian Devil, then don your hiking kit and head uphill for views over Wineglass Bay, one of Australia’s most idyllic beaches – inaccessible by road. Tasmania offers bucket-loads of natural beauty, and you won’t be tripping over other tourists, which makes a stay even more enjoyable!
We are experts in planning multi-stop flights to Australia with stopovers, Australia road trips and tailor-made Australia holidays. Our consultants can arrange flights, hotels, car hire, cruises and rail journeys within Australia – and no challenge is too big! We can build you an itinerary in Australia with gaps for when you visit loved ones or attend family events. Just send us an email or give us a call on +44 1273320580 to get the ball rolling.