23 November 2016
Travel Counsellor Elaine has visited Australia more than 20 times. She’s a mine of information on all things Down Under so we decided to pick her brains about where to go and what to see!
“Australia is big. It’s almost as big as the whole of Europe, stretching from the cool temperate South up to the tropical rainforests of North Queensland. This means that, whatever the time of year, somewhere in Oz has perfect conditions for your holiday. And despite its size, getting around Australia is easy because of the good roads and rail services, and excellent flight network.
Australia feels familiar because we share a cultural background. Yet it’s home to a vast range of unique experiences that don’t occur anywhere else on the planet.
It’s a land of extremes. Hot, dry deserts and lush farmland surrounded by seas teeming with life and some extraordinary land animals. Australia hosts world-class sports and cultural events and, just once a year - on Anzac Day, everyone plays Two-Up [a traditional game involving throwing pennies into the air]
Australia is diverse and fascinating - that’s why I love it and keep going back.
Why go down under?
Fabulous beaches. Extraordinary wildlife. Pristine national parks. Welcoming wine regions. Superb food. An indigenous culture that goes back millennia. A vibrant arts scene. Skiing (yes, really!). And, of course, the Great Barrier Reef and Ningaloo Reef.
Is that enough to tempt you?
Well, there’s more! Add in iconic rail journeys. Sailing trips. Birdwatching. Game fishing. Koala-cuddling. Bush walking… The list is almost endless. Plus, the population loves visitors from the ‘old country’!
I know you think it’s a long way, but it’s only a day away!
The airlines that serve Australia are some of the best - they offer comfort, fabulous entertainment systems, and good food and drinks. Can’t face the long journey in one hop? You can have a stopover on the way and see even more of this wonderful world.
First time visiting Oz?
I’d recommend doing a ‘Sydney, Reef and Rock’ itinerary. All of the icons in one trip, Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru. This will give you a taste of the diversity of Australia. You’re bound to come back for more and I’ll guarantee that you can find something new every single time!
What you do and how you do it will depend upon your budget, interests and the time of year. Here are just a few of the things that I’d recommend including in every itinerary…
Take a boat trip
Cruise Sydney Harbour or the Murray River. Set sail from Perth to Rottnest Island. Sail the Whitsunday Islands on a tall ship. Take an expedition cruise around the Kimberley coast. And go dolphin or whale watching in season almost anywhere.
Take a train journey
Cross the continent on the Indian Pacific from Perth to Sydney or The Ghan from Darwin to Adelaide.
If you can’t do such an epic trip, take in the Kuranda Scenic Railway in Cairns, the Puffing Billy near Melbourne or the Walhalla Goldfields Railway in Victoria.
Get up close and personal with the wildlife
Cuddle a koala and feed the kangaroos at Lone Pine Sanctuary. Try spotting a platypus in the wild (not easy but it can be done). Take a camel ride. Head to Kangaroo Island to see koalas, kangaroos, seals, sea-lions and echidnas in the wild. Spot the crocs at Yellow River Billabong or feed the dolphins at Tangalooma or Monkey Mia.
Go snorkelling or scuba diving
The Great Barrier Reef is a must-do, of course, but at Ningaloo Reef you can swim with whale sharks, manta rays and humpback whales. And if you want to learn to scuba dive, either of these are a great place to start.
For an adrenaline rush go cage diving with sharks in South Australia (not me, thanks!)
Learn about indigenous culture
Take a walk with Guurbi Tours in Cooktown. Learn spear-fishing with Kuku Yalanji and visit the Tiwi Islands. Attend a heritage walk in Melbourne Botanical Gardens. Go to Waratah in the Blue Mountains or Tjapukai in Cairns, and add a visit to Aboriginal art galleries to your to-do list.
Visit a winery
The wine regions encourage visitors, and fine wines and gourmet food go together! Try the tasting plates, matching food to wine. Learn about the history of winemaking in Australia. And don’t miss blending your own wine!
I was asked to write 750 words about Australia but I could write 7,500 as it’s such a fascinating country!”
Looking for more things to do and see in Australia? Head over to our Facebook page and ask us your Oz travel questions!