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Christian Baines Senior Content Editor 7 months, 3 weeks ago

5 Awesome Stops for Your Australia Vacation

  • Sydney Harbour at dusk

Just mention Australia and odds are, you’ll hear someone say how much they’d love to go. There are more options than ever to make the flight more comfortable, and several of Australia’s favorite destinations have reinvented themselves in recent years to offer visitors a more immersive experience Down Under. We can’t hope to cover all Australia has to offer in one article, but here are five essential destinations to start.

Grandparents, daughter, and granddaughter on a cruise passing Sydney Opera House. Sydney, the Glamorous Harbour City

Sydney welcomes visitors Down Under with its iconic ‘coat hanger’ bridge and the shining white sails of the Sydney Opera House. From its traditional owners, the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation, to the many cultures that make up Sydney today, this is a city where countless stories await discovery. Uncover the history of The Rocks, both before and after colonization on two very different walking tours. Discover the architectural vision and bureaucratic tussles that shaped Sydney Opera House, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2023. Sip sparkling wine over lunch on Sydney Harbour, enjoying all the city’s great outdoors has to offer. Immerse yourself in history and culture at the Australian Museum or the Art Gallery of New South Wales, complete with its brand new modern art wing. Follow Oxford Street through Australia's most iconic LGBTQ+ neighborhood, then keep on going until you reach fabled Bondi Beach and the awesome cliff walk to Coogee. Alternatively, unleash your Bohemian side on King Street in Newtown to find that perfect ‘only in Sydney’ souvenir. If you need to escape the ‘Big Smoke’ for a day, head into the beautiful Blue Mountains for a view of the Three Sisters, or the Hunter Valley, the heart of New South Wales’ wine country.

Couple admiring Uluru Uluru and Kata Tjuta National Park, Ancient Formations with Spiritual Stories

No image defines the Outback so much as Uluru at sunset. This awesome red monolith is sacred to the people of Australia’s First Nations and is the largest sandstone monolith in the world. Enjoy cocktails and a romantic dinner in the silent desert, as the rich red hues of sunset give way to a blanket of Southern Hemisphere stars. During the day, guides from the local Anangu people offer tours around the base of Uluru. See the most picturesque spots and learn about Uluru’s role in local indigenous history and culture. Not too far away, explore Kata Tjuta, aka The Olgas. The eroded remains of a monolith that was once even larger than Uluru, these 36 giant domes are said to be the eggs of the legendary Rainbow Serpent, who weaved the world into being.

Sea turtle swimming on the Great Barrier Reef Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef, Where the Reef Meets the Rainforest

If the Outback is all about rich reds, get ready for a kaleidoscope of colors on the Great Barrier Reef. Six of the world's seven marine turtle species, rare species of whales, giant clams, gentle reef sharks, over 1,600 fish species, and over 400 types of coral call it home. Sustainable cruises do their part to both protect the reef’s delicate natural order and ensure visitors leave with a new appreciation of its beauty and vitality. Just in case you thought Queensland’s natural wonders ended at the shore, the Daintree Rainforest, said to be the oldest on Earth, is one of Australia’s most vivid and complex natural treasures. It’s also been the traditional home of the Kuku Yalangi people for over 50,000 years.

Woman photographing street art on Hosier Lane, Melbourne Melbourne, Australia’s Cultural Capital

Melbourne is Australia’s center of all things trendy and tasty. The city offers up exquisite dining, exhilarating sports, and abundant opportunities to experience art. Melbourne is our favorite kind of contradiction. It’s the kind of city that feasts on culture, yet is totally unpretentious about it. Melbournites feel just as comfortable biting into a meat pie at the footy as they do savoring a 9-course dinner guided by an award-winning chef, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. Explore Melbourne Museum, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, and follow a local’s lead through Melbourne’s laneways and arcades to discover boutique shops and colorful street art. Heading out of town, take Australia’s ultimate road trip, the Great Ocean Road, where the Twelve Apostles stand guard against the fierce Southern Ocean. Go in search of eye-popping rural art on the Silo Art Trail, or watch the adorable Little Penguin Parade as it comes ashore each night on Phillip Island to Melbourne’s south. The Yarra Valley isn’t a bad spot for sampling some top vino, either!

Aerial view of Wineglass Bay, Freycinet National Park Tasmania, Wild Australia on the Edge

Reconnect with nature, wildlife, and your taste buds on a trip to the impossibly beautiful island state of Tasmania. Like its vicious yet beloved mascot, the Tasmanian devil, Australia’s smallest state dares you to underestimate it. From the country’s most innovative and irreverent art collection, the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), to some of its most beautiful national parks, and its most infamous penal colony, Port Arthur, Tasmania isn’t afraid of extremes. It invites you to enjoy them in between mouth-watering local specialties. Whether it’s a local pub, a national park, or a cheeky art display, ‘Tassie’ offers a welcome you’ll never forget. If you’re in Hobart on a weekend, pick up a souvenir from local artisans at the Salamanca Market. Venture north to take in the view of Wineglass Bay, the picture-perfect centerpiece of Freycinet National Park. Avid hikers might want to embark on the multi-day trek through Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, but it’s just as beautiful to visit for the day. Even if you’ve only got time for a cheeky trip to Hobart, it’s well worth flying south to the island state. 

Kangaroo on the beach in Western Australia Taking Things Further Down Under

Eager to really get out there? Venture into Australia’s Top End and discover the rainforests and rich Aboriginal history of Kakadu National Park. Sip some of Australia’s best wines just outside Adelaide, before a flight to Kangaroo Island brings you face to furry face with some of Australia’s most loveable native animals. For real bragging rights, take your journey west! From catching a live local band in Perth or Fremantle to swimming with whale sharks on the Ningaloo Reef, or cruising the turquoise waters of the Kimberley, Western Australia is a world unto itself, packed with unforgettable memories.

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8 Feb 2023, 9:56 p.m.

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