From an American expat who makes her home Down Under, our list of the 10 best places to visit in Australia includes scenic attractions and natural beauty.
Australia is a country jam-packed with natural attractions, amazing wildlife and one-of-a-kind-experiences. The country is large and sparsely populated, with many different kinds of terrain to explore and ancient secrets to discover. While we’ve spent time in the Northern Territory ( Darwin), Brisbane, and Toowoomba, we didn’t even scratch the surface of what Australia has to offer. Guest author, Olivia Bourke, an American expat living in Oz, weighs in with her opinions on the 10 best places to visit in Australia.
Recently named the most livable city in the world, Melbourne is a bustling city complete with a full program of arts and cultural events, sporting events and cool, late night bars and eateries. Located in Australia’s south east in Victoria, Melbourne is full of tourist spots and hidden gems.
Sip cocktails at one of the city’s many rooftop bars, check out the cool breweries and bars in Fitzroy and Carlton, or get lost in the hidden, graffiti-laden laneways filled with delicious food and interesting eateries.
Visit the National Gallery of Victoria to see amazing art from local and international artists, enjoy all-night transport (a rarity in AU,) or make a trip to Phillip Island to see the fairy penguins on parade!
- Art and cultural events
- Hip bars
- Sweet dining spots
Old Melbourne Gaol: Melbourne’s oldest and most infamous prison which was once home to Ned Kelly
Put all your Melbourne travel information in your pocket with any of these iPhone apps.
Melbourne Travel Guide and Offline City Map – Built to be used on or offline. No connection to Internet required. With augmented reality to quickly discover what is near you. Use the GPS feature to easily get where you want to go. Expandable for other cities. The app is free providing limited features. Unlock for $3.99 for full features and maps.
Melbourne – Travel Guide & Offline Map – The Melbourne City Guide from tripwolf includes the Melbourne offline map, the hotspots of the city selected by the experienced travel authors at Fodor’s Travel and MARCO POLO. This lite version is free, upgrade for $1.99 to access full features for Melbourne. Expandable to add any of 600 other destinations.
Melbourne Travel Guide by Triposo – A detailed sights section with all the monuments of Melbourne, eating out section with Melbourne’s best restaurants, bars, pubs & discos. Mini guides for day trip destinations close to Melbourne plus an offline map of Melbourne. Currency converter. Works offline. Free.
Australia’s biggest city, Sydney is a cosmopolitan mix between city life and stunning natural attractions. Situated on the east coast in New South Wales, Sydney is famous for its iconic harbour and its beautiful beaches.
Check out The Rocks, one of the first areas to be built up after the First Fleet arrived in Australia, to explore gorgeous sandstone buildings and walk its historic cobbled laneways. Nature lovers should head to the Royal National Park to enjoy bushwalking, birdwatching and more.
- Bondi Beach, arguably Australia’s most iconic beach.
- Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk to discover stunning headlands and more amazing beaches.
Great Barrier Reef
One of the seven wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef is an awe-inspiring coral reef formation that runs along the north east coast of Australia. The reef stretches over 2,300 kilometres along the Queensland coast, starting in Cape York in the north and ending in Bundaberg in the south. There are many amazing ways to get to reef, which will allow you to see cities like backpacker hotspot Townsville and Cairns.
Global warming has led to the coral bleaching of the reef, so make this trip a must-do for your Australian adventure to catch the colourful coral before it’s gone.
- Travellers wanting a full-on nature experience.
- Check out the world-famous scuba diving experiences on the shores of Heron Island.
Byron Bay is one of Australia’s most beautiful towns, filled with natural attractions and great nightlife. Located in at the very tip of the north coast of New South Wales, Byron Bay is loved by surfers all over the world and is a haven for hippies and world travellers.
Spend the day lazing on the pure shores of Byron’s main beach, join in a drum circle at twilight and enjoy the coastal town’s late night hotspots.
Byron Bay also has many bushwalking opportunities, and the surrounding areas of Suffolk Park, Ballina, Tweed Heads, Nimbin and Mullumbimby offer a chance to traverse the region’s lush hinterland, adventure tours and more.
- Those who enjoy the laid-back beach lifestyle.
- Take the Cape Byron Coastal Walk to see Australia’s most eastern point
- quieter beaches like Little Wategos Beach.
Uluru (Ayers Rock)
Uluru is a spectacular sandstone monolith and the beating heart of the Northern Territory. The region holds great significance in Aboriginal culture and is thought of as the spiritual heartland of Australia.
Take on the 10.6 kilometre loop around the base of Ayers Rock to get a feel for the sheer scale of the rock, or try a guided walk for to hear stories of Australia’s Indigenous history. When day turns to night, lay back and enjoy stargazing at the mesmerizing beauty of the unpolluted night sky.
- Taking in Australia’s prehistoric scenery and learning more about the country’s Aboriginal history.
- See the sunset over Uluru for a once in a lifetime experience.
Jervis Bay is known for its pure shores and unspoilt beauty. The area has the whitest sands in the world and is the perfect place to unwind and leave the world behind. Located on the south coast of New South Wales, Jervis Bay is just a three hour drive from Sydney.
Enjoy water sports and activities in crystal clear waters near Hyams Beach, find secret coves and bays and try bushwalking and looking for wildlife in Jervis Bay National Park and Booderee National Park. Pitch a tent on the beach and let go in sublime surrounds.
- Nature lovers who want to explore the area’s many stunning beaches, bays and national parks.
- Hanging out with native kangaroos on Pebbly Beach.
Lord Howe Island
Lord Howe Island can be found around 600 kilometres off the east coast of Sydney and is a truly wonderful pacific paradise. The UNESCO World Heritage Listed island attracts surfers, couples and adventure-lovers from around the world.
Climb the island’s highest peak, Mount Gower, for dreamy ocean views, or enjoy the calm, turquoise waters and lagoons that surround the island. Be sure to try a snorkeling and diving trip to get up close and personal with furry seals, turtles and more astounding marine life.
- Feeling a million miles away and getting in touch with nature.
- Handfeeding colourful tropical fish on the shores of Ned’s Beach.
Head to the Kimberley to be amazed by 423,000 kilometers of ancient, red-earthed landscapes and wilderness. Follow bygone cave systems at Tunnel Creek National Park, Purnululu National Park, or go wild on a four-wheel drive experience along the Gibb River Road.
Travelers can join a guided tour to learn more about the Indigenous people of Australia, discover ancient rock art and hear Dreamtime stories where the Dreamtime began. The area is also famous for its pearling and mining history, and there are many diamond and pearl tours and opportunities available in the region.
- Nature-loving thrill seekers.
- Camel riding along the beach at sunset.
The Whitsundays are one of Australia’s most beautiful natural attractions. Made up of 74 islands, the Whitsunday Islands can be found just of the north east coast of Queensland. Head to Airlie Beach on the mainland to explore the coastal hub of the Whitsundays and enjoy the party atmosphere, or check out the white silica sands of Whitehaven Beach. For a truly tropical experience, go exploring on Hayman Island and Hamilton Island.
- Honeymooning and couples retreats.
- Sailing the waters surrounding the islands,
- discovering uninhabited lands and
- catching a glimpse of the shimmering Great Barrier Reef.
Freycinet National Park, Tasmania
Tasmania is an often forgotten destination and yet another string to Australia’s bow of natural wonders. Head to Freycinet National Park to discover the striking pink granite peaks of the Hazards Range and quiet beaches.
Enjoy amazing ocean views of the Tasman sea, brilliant bushwalking opportunities and water sports like surfing, sailing, swimming, snorkelling and more. Kayak in the picturesque surrounds of Coles Bay and explore the Freycinet Peninsula.
- Bushwalking and nature-lovers.
- The stunning view of Wineglass Bay
Olivia Bourke is an adventurous traveler who just wants to explore all the world has to offer. She is an American who has slowly made her way to the beautiful land down under, Australia, and is loving every minute of exploring this ever so scenic country, one state at a time. Check out her blog – Great Lost!