Australia is one of the most remote travel destinations in the world. Flights are long and often expensive, so if you decide to make the journey, you better be sure you're not missing out on anything. This gorgeous country has so much to offer in beaches, big cities, and wildlife. Whether you came to Australia to eat, shop, go on an adventure or relax, there's something here for every traveler.
There are plenty of ways to explore the Great Barrier Reef. One thing's for sure: when you're in Australia, you have to see it. This reef is the largest system in the world, home to diverse sea life and colorful coral you can't find anywhere else. Explore the reef by swimming and snorkeling, sailing around the surrounding islands, or taking in aerial views via aerial seaplane.
Kangaroo Island, Australia's natural zoo, lies eight miles off the coast of South Australia and is accessible by plane or ferry. This island is the only place in the world where you can see endangered Australian sea lions. Walk the boardwalk to take in the view or sign up for a guided tour right on the beach to walk alongside the sea lions. There are also large goanna lizards, bevies of black swans, pelicans, and the Koala Walk located in the Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.
Central Tilba is one of the most well-preserved towns in Australia and considered a heritage site. This quaint, secluded town on the southeast coast of New South Wales is the perfect place to get a taste of 19th century Australia. The main street is home to a collection of charming shops selling antiques, leather goods, and gifts. To get a real taste of the town, be sure to sample the sweet treats, teas, delicious cheeses, and local honey.
Coober Pedy is the opal mining capital of the world. Opal was discovered here in 1915, and prospectors built more than 250,000 mine shafts by 1999. One fascinating thing about this town is that most people live underground or in hillside caves to avoid the heat, as temperatures in the summer can exceed 100°F.
North of Perth on the coast of Western Australia is Hutt Lagoon. There are a handful of pink lakes in Australia, but Hutt Lagoon is one of the most extraordinary, changing from bubblegum to lilac to red depending on the time of day and season. Mid-morning and sunset are the best times to visit, especially on a clear day. For a better experience, go during the Australian winter (July to September) when the surrounding countryside explodes with wildflower blooms.
Located just southwest of Canberra, Namadgi National Park is a must-see for nature lovers, especially if you're looking to camp outdoors. This park is part of the Australian Alps and offers hikes through rugged, gorgeous terrain. There's plenty of wildlife to see as well as remnants of Aboriginal culture, rock art, and ancient campsites dating as far back as the Ice Age. Talk a leisure walk along the Bendora Arboretum trail or go horseback riding and mountain biking on the designated trails.
Salamanca Place sits on the southeast coast of Tasmania by the River Derwent. What was once a happening port for whalers and sailors has become one of the most interesting cultural hot spots Down Under. Explore the cobblestone square for dining, shopping, galleries, and live music. There's lots of history to see here, too, as the architecture dates back to the 1840s when the buildings served as warehouses for wool, grain, and apple supplies.
Everyone has heard of the Northern Lights, but did you know that there are Southern Lights, too? You can see them in the night sky across Tasmania, and the view gets better the farther you head south. While the Northern Lights are only visible during certain times of the year, the Southern Lights aren't subject to the same seasonal light changes. You can catch the stunning purple, red, green, and blue light show all year round, though May to August is your best bet for the most vibrant colors.
Mungo National Park contains a series of dried-up lake beds and dunes rich with Aboriginal history. To get the best experience, take a tour with an Aboriginal guide to learn about ancient fireplaces, tools, and burial sites found here. Take a walk along the Walls of China, white dunes built up around what was once Lake Mungo, and stay for one of the most breathtaking sunsets on the planet. If you want to take a self-guided driving tour, keep an eye on the temperature and plan accordingly. In the summer, the heat can reach more than 100°F, and it's not uncommon for winter temps to be below freezing.
Broome is located on the northwest coast of Australia, right on the Indian Ocean. Because of its proximity to Southeast Asia, there are a lot of Asian influences here that gives the city an interesting and unique vibe. It's also considered a melting pot and has a welcoming, tropical atmosphere complete with resorts and white sandy beaches. Take a walk through the town and experience the Chinese-inspired architecture, or go for a camel ride on the beach for something completely different.
About three hours south of Sydney along the east coast of Australia is Jervis Bay, a summer hot spot full of white sandy beaches and plenty of opportunities to explore nature. From April to July and again from August to November, humpback whales migrate through the waters here, so grab a snorkel mask and wait for them to pass. There are plenty of opportunities for scuba diving and dolphin watching, too, and you can camp right in a beach cave if you want. If you do, be sure to check out the beach at night, as this is one of the best spots in the world to witness bioluminescence.
There are a handful of major cities in Australia--Syndey, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth--but Adelaide is quickly becoming one of the hot spots. This coastal city lies in the southeast of South Australia and is home to bustling nightlife, art, music, and cultural festivals like Adelaide Fringe and WOMADelaide. There are plenty of places to shop and eat as well as gorgeous buildings for architecture lovers and beaches for swimming and surfing. There are also 60 wineries close by in the Adelaide Hills if you're up for a drive.