Australia is so much more than two cities and the Great Barrier Reef and lodge owners are finally showcasing remote Australia! With a land mass almost equal to the USA and less than 1/13 of the population, the wilderness experiences are endless. Between their six states and two territories, each region offers varying landscapes, each one more enticing than the last.
Known for their fabulous walks, we highly recommend a three to eight day walk with a small group and a great guide. It’s a great way to meet interesting locals, unwind and appreciate the stunning landscape and interesting wildlife that surrounds you. Other wonderful options include a nature cruise along the wild and uninhabited Kimberly coast in the northwest or a chance to explore the Great Barrier Reef from your own private island. The Red Center showcases the mystifying Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) which you can explore with superb indigenous guides who reveal its spiritual significance. Scramble over and between enormous boulders to discover rock paintings dating from over 20,000 years ago, travel over flood plains and into mysterious swamps on an airboat, or go for a horseback ride among wombats, wallabies and kangaroos not far from Sydney. Australia is also incredibly fertile and every fantastic lodge that you stay at will highlight the region’s food and wine with creative, fresh and tasty offerings. Australia’s natural wonders will never cease to amaze you!
Culturally, Australia’s indigenous and contemporary cultures are intriguing. It is a very old land, with one of the oldest surviving cultures going back over 40,000 years. At the same time, it’s a very new country with a settler history similar to ours. Its “down to earth,” pragmatic culture places great value on a good sense of humor, lack of self-pity, curiosity about others and a fanatical attachment to sports. Whether you encounter an urbane city slicker in Melbourne, an Aborigine in the Red Center, or a sheep farmer in Tasmania, you’ll be warmly welcomed and treated as a friend in this. Australia just may be the perfect place to combine exciting cities, great nature and a heavy dose of pampering.
Add an easy three day walk
Don’t be afraid to rent a car
There are few Australian metropolises and they’re all coastal, which leaves most of the country feeling incredibly remote. For those who love city life, Sydney and Melbourne are standouts. Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) is the physical and spiritual center of the country, rising more than 1000 ft high out of the arid desert around it. The nearby Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), formed from the same red sandstone, complement the experience. It’s both spectacular and humbling to watch the colors of the monolith change throughout the day. Flying north is Kakadu National Park with fabulous floodplains and the best collection of rock paintings in all of Australia. Similar safari-like experiences are in the Flinders Ranges north of Adelaide. For wine country lovers there are the gorgeous Barossa and Hunter Valleys to name only two of many. The Great Ocean Road from Melbourne is stunning and passes the iconic Twelve Apostles. Tasmania with its forests, pure water and pristine beaches is so unique and varied that a week is not long enough. The Kimberly area in northwest Australia is probably the ultimate scenic wilderness destination and is best explored by boat. Being a nation girted by water, beaches and seas are everywhere and most are quite empty and simply stunning. And no visit would be complete without a visit to The Great Barrier Reef. Our favorite way to experience its wonder is from the exclusive paradise Lizard Island, right on the reef. On the northwest coast near Broome, you’ll find a reef to rival the Great Barrier Reef, and with no people. The possibilities are almost endless and we can’t wait to help you explore them!
It is hard to think of anyone who would not love Australia, if it is planned correctly. The trick is to find the authentic experiences and avoid doing what everyone else is doing. The Australia we love and want to share is quirky and fun and off the beaten path. You can expect to do long walks, kayak, snorkel, cycle, horseback ride, and more, all alongside personable and charming locals. The wildlife you see will be in the wild, not in a zoo. You will be surprised at the great wine, whiskey (a Tasmanian distillery won the 2014 World Whiskies award for best single malt whiskey), and food, often straight from the sea or field. There are lodges that rival the best anywhere in terms of service, beauty and sophistication. Everyone speaks English, the infrastructure is better than ours, and they really like Americans, so it is a very relaxing place to be!
People who really hate to fly may find the distance a bit of a drawback, although once the plane leaves California it is a straight and fairly easy flight. Australia is also so vast that you really do need to fly within the country. Because the standard of living is very high, Australia is not an inexpensive country. People who prefer very exotic destinations may find Australia a bit tame. Its charm lies in the very fact that it a very comfortable and easy country to be in; and just different enough to be interesting.
Australia covers a wide range of climate zones where the seasonality of different regions can be opposite. So while winter (our summer) is the perfect time to visit the arid Red Center and tropical northern half of the country, it can be cold, wet, and grey in the southern half, particularly Tasmania. But even in the south, winters can see sunny days and it’s still never as cold as parts of the US. You just need to bring layers! In the Red Center and tropical north, winter is the driest time of year. It may be a bit chilly for swimming along the Eastern Coast, but the ocean water along the Barrier Reef actually stays pretty warm.
The temperate Southern coastal areas get most of their meagre rainfall in the winter but are really pleasant to visit the rest of the year. Another consideration is that wildlife is much more active and visible during the day in the cooler winter months in all areas of Australia. If you plan on exploring multiple regions, spring and fall are your most predictable seasons.
December through February, though popular with Americans, can be challenging. It is very hot and “buggy” in the inland areas (Red Center, Kimberly) and hot and rainy in the tropical north (Queensland). However, beaches south of Brisbane (Byron Bay & Noosa for example) will be lovely. If you are happy to stay in the south, these months can be wonderful. Kangaroo Island and Tasmania will have very long days with little rain – perfect for exploring the island’s abundant national parks and beaches. Another great option in Australia’s summer is Lord Howe Island, which is perfect for snorkeling, bush walking, stunning scenery and relaxation.
Australia has a wide range of accommodation at different price points throughout the various seasons. Australians are well paid, so the more personal your program, the more it will cost. For a truly magical experience that includes luxury lodges and wilderness camps, plan to spend an average of $1500 per person per night, including meals and flights. For a more standard program utilizing seat in bus options for day tours and bigger properties, the budget could be about half that amount.
There are so many wonderful things to do in Australia. Walking may be number one, whether in the cities or out in nature. We have great guides who specialize in really fun food and wine tours, including boat trips in Tasmania to harvest sea food that you eat on the spot! Aboriginal tourism is expanding to every corner of the country. One of our favorites is a day spent with a savvy and fun Aboriginal guide who takes you along the beach to harvest a meal on foot. Explore the rainforests, beaches, mountains and deserts by 4x4, mountain bike, horseback, camelback, boat, kayak, surfboard, or paddleboard. Try your hand at snorkeling, diving, abseiling, windsurfing, or hang gliding. There are stunning canopy walks, sky rails and train journeys ranging from a few hours to a few days. Australia now has the exclusive lodges and camps that add the magic to all of these experiences.
Have you started planning your safari on your own? Are you totally overwhelmed with all the information out there? Let us help you cut through all the conflicting information online and start planning a safari that is completely tailored to you. Get in touch with us and we can discuss your travel passions and help you begin the planning process for your dream safari.CONTACT US