If you think about the fact that the whole of Europe and more can fit into the land mass that is Australia, it’s easy to forget how different it can be from East to West and North to South. Whilst I was there, I was lucky enough to travel both East and West coasts, live in two of the most popular cities and visit the outback. It’s incredible how dramatic the landscape changes as well as what each place has to offer, so here is my simpleton’s guide to the most popular spots in the land of Oz.
Sydney – New South Wales
This is usually the starting point for most backpackers and an awesome one at that. It has all the iconic landmarks like the Opera House and the Bridge and great places for drinks and food both in the city and on the harbour. The train and bus links to some beautiful beaches like Coogee, Bondi and Bronte are regular and easy to work out. You’ll need money for this part of Australia. Most of Australia truth be told. But it’s worth setting aside a bit extra for the place that most people think is the capital.
GO BECAUSE: You can take all those tourist pics at the iconic sights.
BUT: It’s expensive and a bit pretentious in places.
Cairns – Queensland
The place where you sweat as soon as you get out of the shower. It’s HUMID here. The tropical climate and rainforest scenery are a real change from down south. Jellyfish inhabit the shores and you have to swim in the lagoon instead of the sea. This is where you get suitable shit faced at Gilligan’s, eat McDonalds most days and probably get your traveller tattoo or piercing. I loved it here, but a couple of weeks was enough for me!
GO BECAUSE: You’re SUPPOSED to party here, so don’t feel guilty whatsoever.
BUT: You’re liver won’t be the same again.
Darwin – Northern Territory
That bit at the top. Crocodile infested and centering around one main street which includes a tonne of hostels and cheap bars, this place is an odd mix of drunken backpackers and aboriginals. One week was all I needed and I’m thankful I used most of that to explore Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks – Kakadu being the biggest in Australia.
GO BECAUSE: Seeing crocodiles in the wild is an experience like no other.
BUT: It’s a bit backward…
Perth – Western Australia
What I like to call the forgotten city. This was the most pleasant surprise on my trip around Australia. Perth is small but perfectly formed and has some really cool and quirky bars and beautiful beaches (Hello Cottesloe and Scarborough!) and is home to Rottnest Island and the Quokka’s – nothing like I’ve seen before. This city is the largest city in Western Australia (also the largest state in Australia) and it was also the starting point of my West Coast trip. I can’t recommend it enough. Backpackers rarely go West, but DO IT. You won’t regret it.
GO BECAUSE: It’s beautiful and the people are humble and have no need to boast, go see for yourself and you’ll never look back.
Melbourne – Victoria
This is the hipster, coffee filled cornucopia of all things edgy and I LOVED living here for 3 months. It takes itself less seriously than Sydney and is called the world’s most liveable city for a reason. The trams and trains make getting around so freakin’ easy and the nightlife is insane. You could spend so much of your time exploring all the hidden bars, cafes and clubs the city and outer suburbs have to offer. The eclectic mix of culture, art, music and creative souls makes this city top of my list.
GO BECAUSE: You’ll love how accessible everything is to you and will be overcome with good vibes.
BUT: Don’t be silly, Melbourne doesn’t do ‘buts’.
Uluru – Northern Territory/‘Red Centre’
Ayers Rock is situated near the purpose built town of Yulara and and about a 5 hour drive away from Alice Springs, gateway to exploring the big ol’ rock – close in Aussie terms I suppose. The ‘Red Centre’ is a barren, bizarre but beautiful part of the country that has to be seen to be believed. The bright red dirt and rocks in this outback landscape are amazing but really assess whether you want to shell out to see a big rock and a cool canyon.
GO BECAUSE: It’s such an iconic part of Oz.
BUT: It’s such an expensive iconic part of Oz.
Canberra – Australian Capital Territory
So there you have it. Simple explanations of the main destinations you’re likely to tick off should you visit Australia. Oh how I miss it. I’ll be back one day…
With love and lots of Australian appreciation