Australia Travel Guide

Australia, with its vast unspoiled spaces ranging from beautiful beaches to deserts, rainforests, the famous “outback,” and the Great Barrier Reef, is a paradise for nature lovers.

Having lived in Australia for two years and traveled for about six months, I’ve explored all the most popular destinations and some less touristy places. Whether planning a backpacking trip, an epic road trip, or simply gathering information to organize a more comfortable tour, you’ll find everything in this guide.

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Steep Point, West Coast Australia.

When to visit Australia

Given the size of the country, it is challenging to discuss climate without making clear distinctions based on the region. Also, remember that the seasons are reversed from the Northern Hemisphere!

Broadly speaking, if we draw an imaginary line that cuts the country in half from east to west (roughly at the height of Brisbane), in the southern half, you’ll find four distinct seasons with hot summers and winters that can be surprisingly cold, especially in Victoria and Tasmania.

The country’s northern half has two seasons: the dry season (April to November), with pleasant temperatures and little to no rainfall, and the highly humid rainy season (November to April), with almost daily thunderstorms.

The coastal regions follow this pattern, while the interior – the so-called “outback,” essentially the entire semi-desert area – experiences little rain throughout the year. Temperatures soar during the Austral summer and are moderate during the day in winter, dropping near zero at night.

The best time to visit the south is from November to April, around the Australian summer (though it’s best to avoid the Christmas period and January due to summer school vacations, higher prices, and crowded beaches). For the north, the best time is from April to November, around the austral winter. Mid-seasons, April to June and October to November are ideal for the outback.

If you have ample time, consider visiting the south during the summer months and heading north as summer ends, transitioning into the dry season. Alternatively, start in the north during the dry season and head south in early summer to avoid the rainy season.


Documents and vaccinations to enter Australia

To visit Australia, you must have an entry visa before arriving there. There are different types of visas, but for most people, I think subclass 651 is sufficient. You can apply for this visa online; it is free and valid for 12 months from the time it’s granted. During these 12 months, you can enter and leave Australia as many times as you wish, staying no more than three months at a time.

As for vaccinations, the only mandatory one is the yellow fever vaccine. If you enter the country within six days of staying in a risky country, I always recommend the Hepatitis A and B vaccines.

Hutt Lake.

What to do and see in Australia

Given the size of the country, I’ve decided to divide this section of the guide into seven areas, spanning distinct federal states and territories starting from the state of Victoria in the south and turning counterclockwise. For each region, you’ll find a more detailed map.

This guide expresses prices in the local currency, called the “Australian dollar,” often abbreviated as “AUD.” The exchange rate, at the time of publication of this article, is 1€ = 1.60 AUD.

For the current exchange rate, I suggest you look at this page.


The small state of Victoria has something for everyone: beautiful beaches along the coast in the southwest, countryside renowned for excellent wine production, numerous national parks, the iconic Great Ocean Road, and finally, Melbourne. Melbourne is one of my favorite cities and is widely regarded as one of the most livable in the world, serving as the undisputed cultural capital of Australia.

Generally, the best time to visit this area is from September to November or April to May.


Melbourne is a clean, livable, and dynamic city with over 4 million inhabitants. It’s a bustling metropolis. Fortunately, all points of interest are situated around the downtown area, also known as the “CBD,” or at least not too far away. Everything is easily accessible thanks to the efficient public transportation system.

Melbourne graffitis.

What to do and see in Melbourne

Within the CBD, I recommend visiting the area around the Flinders Street Station (Google Maps) where, at a stone’s throw away, we find St. Paul’s Cathedral (Google Maps) and Federation Square (Google Maps), which in the evening is extremely livable and often hosts free events, especially on weekends. Finally, you can walk along the Yarra River on the side of the “Southbank” neighborhood, where, if you want, you can climb to the top of the skyscraper Eureka Skydeck (Google Maps),  with a breathtaking view of the city. It is not cheap, but you can save a couple of dollars by booking online. The National Gallery of Victoria and the Shrine of Remembrance are slightly further south. You might want to join a free walking tour of the city that touches on all the points of interest mentioned so far. 

Outside the center, some interesting neighborhoods are Carlton, which has a very strong Italian influence; Collingwood and Fitzroy, which have a hipster vibe with a lot of street art; and finally, St.Kilda and Brighton to the south, where the city’s main beaches are located. The former is also the center of nightlife. Along the famous Chapel Street, you will find some of the city’s most famous clubs, including the infamous Revolver. Meanwhile, Brighton has a quieter, family-friendly atmosphere where you can see the iconic colorful cottages.

Brighton Beach.

How do you get around Melbourne?

As mentioned, getting around within the city is easy – thanks to the excellent public transportation system. Within the CBD, the streetcars are completely free, but to use transportation (streetcars, trains, and buses) outside the CBD, you need a card called Myki. In contrast, the fastest system for transportation to and from the airport is the Skybus (buy your ticket online and save a few dollars). 

Where to sleep in Melbourne?

In general, I recommend sleeping as close to the CBD as possible. For hostels downtown, I recommend Exford Hotel, if you are looking for something cheap, or Space Hotel for something more luxurious, while the party hostel of the situation is the Base in St.Kilda.

Phillip Island

The island, about a two-hour drive from Melbourne, is an extremely popular tourist destination. Not only is it home to the circuit of the same name, known to motoring enthusiasts, but it also hosts a colony of penguins and sea lions.

To explore the island, you can join one of the many tours departing daily from Melbourne. However, I recommend renting a car, which you can use to visit the rest of Victoria.

A possible one-day itinerary starting in Melbourne, which includes the famous penguin march (every day at sunset), might be as follows:

Leave Melbourne around 8:00 to 8:30 to arrive on the island around 10:30 and make your first stop at Woolamai Beach (Google Maps). In addition to enjoying the beach, you could follow the trail to this scenic spot and continue beyond if you feel like it (I recommend downloading organic maps where the trails are all mapped out).

After that, head to nearby Churchill Island. This island was home to the first farm in Victoria, which was later converted into a living museum. Here, demonstrations are held daily between 2 pm and 3:30 pm, showcasing activities such as sheep shearing and sheepdog work. Admission is charged but can be purchased as part of a package, including the Penguin March. (More info here). Alternatively, you could just follow the trail that runs around the island’s perimeter for free for 1-2 hours or so.

The colony of Sea Lions.

Every day at 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. (depending on the time of year, there may be an additional run at 1:00 p.m., times), you can also board a boat called the “EcoBoat Adventure Tour” that will take you to see what is one of Australia’s largest colonies of sea lions. 

You could visit the Koala Conservation Center (Google Maps) and the Nobbies Centre (Google Maps). This interactive museum will teach you much about Antarctica and its inhabitants.

At the end of the day, head to the “Penguin Parade” beach at least an hour before the penguins arrive.

N.B. All the mentioned activities can be paid for individually or by purchasing passes with several activities. Especially during the high season, entrance to the penguin parade must be bought in advance! This is the official website! On Klook Travel, you might find cheaper prices.

March of the penguins.

Wilsons Promontory National Park

The park, located about three hours south of Melbourne, has about 130 km of trails and numerous campsites. The main access point to the park is the village of Tidal River, where the visitor center is located. 

For multi-day hikes, you must register at the visitor center or through the website, where you can find maps, recommended hikes, and other useful information. If you like hiking, I strongly recommend spending a couple of days inside the park. However, if you are interested in some short-day hikes, take a look at this page. Either way, it is worth a visit!

Little Waterloo Bay

Yarra Valley

The Yarra Valley is a wine region just a stone’s throw from Melbourne. It only takes about an hour’s drive from the city center to get into the heart of this region. Many of the wineries are well-marked and easily accessible from the main road.

I don’t remember the name of the winery where we stopped, but if you’re looking for inspiration, you can check out this page.

Great Ocean Road

The famous road that stretches 243 km from Torquay to Allansford is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular in the world. The best way to experience it is by car; ideally, you should have at least two days available. Otherwise, you risk spending the entire day driving. If you don’t have two days, consider joining a tour.

Firstly, here is some advice: if you plan to drive the Great Ocean Road during summer (high season) starting from Melbourne, it’s better to drive the road in reverse. By doing so, you’ll avoid the crowds at the main points of interest!

The recommended itinerary is as follows:

Day 1

Take the inland A1 road and head to Port Campbell. Here, continue briefly towards the west, visiting London Bridge, Bay of Islands Coastal Park, and the cave before returning east and traveling the Great Ocean Road in the opposite direction. Visit the following points of interest: The Blow Hole, Loch Ard Gorge Tom and Eva Lookout, The Razorback, and finally, the Twelve Apostles.

At this point, return to Port Campbell to spend the night. Port Campbell Hostel is also a good option for private rooms.

The Razorback.

Day 2

You could start the day by stopping again at the Twelve Apostles, where you will unlikely find large crowds, and then continue to Gibson Steps for a beach walk. From here, I recommend Teddy’s Lookout (just past this viewpoint is the village of Lorne, where you could have lunch), Split Point lighthouse, and Point RoadKnight Beach (probably the best beach for swimming along the Great Ocean Road). Finally, Bells Beach, which is famous for great surfing.

At this point, you just have to go back to Melbourne.

If you plan to continue to Adelaide or Grampians National Park, you would be better off going east-west, thus following the route just described in reverse!

Twelve Apostles.

Grampians National Park

This beautiful national park, about 3 hours from Melbourne or 2.5 hours if you are coming from the end of the Great Ocean Road, is a great place to stop for a couple of days before continuing the journey to South Australia.

Again, having your vehicle is necessary. I strongly recommend going through the Halls Gap visitor center, where you can get maps, updated information, and anything else you might need. Alternatively, you can consult the official website

The park has numerous trails ranging from a few hundred meters to multi-day hikes. If you are short on time or not much of a hiker, I recommend visiting at least these easily accessible scenic spots and points of interest.

Boroka Lookout, Reed Lookout, and The Balconies are not far away, as are MacKenzie Falls, The Pinnacle Lookout, and the short hike to the Wonderland Grand Canyon. All these places can be visited within a single day, but if you have time, I strongly recommend staying a few days in the park!  

The most practical and economical option for sleeping is camping; free camp in certain areas or stopping at facilities just outside the park, such as Grampians Eco YHA, is also possible.

My sister at Grampians National Park.

New South Wales

With a population of over 7 million, this is Australia’s most populous state. For years, this state was the center of British colonial power, and its capital, Sydney, is the oldest and largest city in the entire country. Its coastline offers some of Australia’s best beaches; to the south, we find the rugged Snowy Mountains; to the west, the outback; and finally, northward, to the Queensland border, we find the beginnings of the rainforest.

Also located within New South Wales is the “Australian Capital Territory,” a small territory within it that is home to Australia’s capital city, Canberra.

Generally, the best time to visit this area is from September-November to April-May. If you plan to visit several national parks, consider buying a pass.


I lived in Sydney for more than six months, and as charming and livable a city as it is, I wouldn’t spend more than a couple of days there (the same goes for Melbourne). I strongly believe that the beauty of this country is found away from the cities.

Here are some of the things I would recommend.

What to do and see in Sydney

Here is my suggested itinerary for two days to spend in Sydney.

Day 1

I would start the day’s exploration in Darling Harbour, an extremely livable area with lots of restaurants overlooking the small harbor. There are also a few points of interest nearby, such as the Chinese Garden (really nice and only costs $6), the aquarium and a zoo.

From there, I would continue to Hyde Park, St. Mary’s Cathedral, the Botanical Gardens, and finally, the Opera House. From the Opera House, I would recommend heading to The Rocks. This neighborhood lies at the foot of the Harbour Bridge, the oldest in the city, and still preserves many historic buildings. From here, go up the famous bridge and walk to the Pylon Lookout, where you can view the bay below and the Opera House.

At this point, you could either head back toward downtown and visit some of the museums/points of interest you are interested in or take the ferry to Manly that leaves from the nearby Circular Quay station (which I recommend). From the ferry, you first have a beautiful view of the bay, and once you arrive at your destination, you can savor a different atmosphere than in the “City.” In Manly, you could simply go to the beach or visit the nearby North Head Sanctuary, where there are some relics dating back to World War II, or walk along the trails with several viewpoints to see the city.

Opera House view from Harbour Bridge.

Day 2

A visit to Sydney cannot be considered complete without visiting the famous Bondi Beach. Reaching it by bus is easy, and once you arrive, enjoy some sea and sun before walking the spectacular Bondi-Coogee walk. 

This is a scenic coastal path about 4-5 km long that connects the two beaches; highly recommended! It starts at this point and ends here. Once you get to Coogee, just take another bus to return downtown.

At both beaches, public BBQs allow you to prepare your lunch in true Australian style. However, be careful because the line to cook could be long during the summer, especially on weekends.

Bondi-Coogee walk.

How to get around Sydney?

As mentioned above, getting around the city is easy; however, to access public transportation, you must have a card called Opal. After that, through the website or app, it is intuitive to figure out which means of transportation to take once you enter the departure and arrival point. Arriving from the airport, the fastest way to get downtown is aboard the train that stops practically inside the airport. This train is, however, relatively expensive as there is a $12 airport surcharge. Suppose you want to save some money and travel light, consider walking about 2 km to the nearest train station (not inside the airport), from T1 (international flights) Wolli Creek Station, and from T2 and T3 (domestic flights) Mascot Station, from both stations. In that case, the train ticket costs exactly $12 less.

Where to sleep in Sydney?

I recommend sleeping as close to downtown as possible so you can explore the city as much as possible on foot. Sydney Backpackers is a great cheap hostel in the town center. If you want something cool, check out Wake Up! Sydney Central also has nice private rooms at competitive rates. For hotels, take a look here.

Blue Mountains 

This mountain range became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. The national park is easily accessible from Sydney as there are frequent train connections.

You could easily spend several days inside the park, but if you don’t have much time, visiting some of the main attractions in a day right from Sydney is possible. 

I recommend taking the train from Sydney Central to Katoomba; the train runs about every hour and takes 2 hours to get to your destination (check the timetable), and admission to the park is free.

Once you arrive in Katoomba, walk to Echo Point, where you will have incredible views of the Jamison Valley below and the rock formation called “The Three Sisters.” You can also visit the visitor center to collect maps and information.

From here, I strongly recommend taking the trail called “The Giant Stairway,” which starts right at Echo Point beside Three Sisters and descends to the valley floor before climbing back up and returning to Echo Point. The trail is well-marked, so you certainly won’t have any problems; it’s about 6 km in total, during which there are waterfalls and spectacular views. You can climb back up from the valley floor on a short rail. See the route in broad strokes here.    

If you have more days available, consider spending the night here and visiting the other towns in the region that offer several hiking opportunities. Some nearby points of interest are Wentworth Falls, a waterfall located on the edge of the town of the same name; Gordon Falls, which you could visit on a day trip from Katoomba; and Govetts Leap, a scenic spot from where several trails start in the nearby town of Blackheath.

Blue Mountains.

Jervis Bay

This huge bay, just under three hours south of Sydney, is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in New South Wales. This is why it can be a relatively crowded area during summer vacations. In any case, the entire region, with its namesake and adjacent Booderee National Park, is worth a visit. 

The best beach by far is probably Hyams Beach. Its sand is so white that in broad daylight, it could blind you, so be sure not to forget your sunglasses! If you have a chance, give yourself a couple of days to visit other beaches in the bay.

Hyams Beach.


Canberra, although technically not part of New South Wales, is included in this section because the Australian Capital Territory, of which Canberra is the capital, is within NSW. Plus, Canberra is only a 3-hour drive from Sydney. Unfortunately, despite having traveled the length and breadth of Australia, I have never had the pleasure of visiting its capital city. So, I refer you to a post where I am sure you will find some great ideas for visiting the city. What to do in Canberra.

Parlament House.

Snowy Mountains

This region, located in the far south of New South Wales on the border with Victoria, is home to the highest peaks in the country. In the winter months, some ski resorts open here, the only ones in Australia. You probably didn’t come to Australia to ski, and you’re unlikely to be around during the Australian winter, but if you get a chance, it’s worth exploring the area. Kosciuszko National Park is named after the mountain of the same name, the highest peak in mainland Australia at 2228 meters.

I recommend this site for an overview of the activities you can do in the region. For some of the most popular treks, look at this article.

Mount Kosciuszko.

Byron Bay

The stretch of coastline from Sydney to the Queensland border offers plenty of possible stops where you can spend a few days relaxing on the beach. However, the majority of travelers, myself included, often head straight to Byron Bay, which is about 8-9 hours away by car and therefore reachable in a day. If you’re looking for intermediate stops, I recommend checking out the Hunter Valley, NSW’s main wine region, and Coffs Harbour, a popular beach destination, especially with families.

Byron Bay is renowned for its excellent surf and relaxed atmosphere. During the right season (June-October), you can also observe the whale migration, making it an excellent place to spend a couple of days on your trip along the east coast. In addition to relaxing on the beach and perhaps trying your hand at some surfing lessons, I recommend the walk from the city center to the Byron Bay lighthouse. The views are breathtaking, and you might spot whales in the distance with any luck. Also, you can say you have visited the westernmost point in mainland Australia.

A popular excursion from Byron Bay is to the small town of Nimbin, about an hour’s drive inland. This village gained fame for hosting a festival in the 1970s, and many of its participants have since decided to stay and live there, giving it an authentic hippie style. Nowadays, the village is the center of an alternative, eco-friendly, and decidedly pro-cannabis lifestyle, with numerous ethnic stores lining the main street.

Finally, if you have a vehicle, you could visit nearby Mount Warning National Park. Admission to the park is free, and a trail about 9 km long leads to the top of the park’s namesake. Other points of interest around Byron Bay are Minyon Falls and Protester Falls.

Where to sleep in Byron Bay?

I strongly recommend Arts Factory Lodge, While for hotels, take a look here.

Byron Bay.


With nearly 7,000 km of coastline, 2,000 islands, and a tropical climate, lovers of sea and sun will certainly have no trouble finding something to do. Add to that the Great Barrier Reef, one of the oldest forests in the world, and the infamous outback to the west, and you’ve got one of the most visited regions in Australia. Generally, the best time to visit this region is from April to November, during the dry season.


Let’s start with the region’s capital, which, with a population of about 2 million, is the third largest city in the country, after Sydney and Melbourne. In contrast to the other two cities where I lived for several months, I was only in Brisbane for a week after a long, on-the-road trip. During my stay, I had to tie up a couple of loose ends, thus not having much time to explore the city. In any case, here is what I suggest doing.

What to do and see in Brisbane

Here is my suggested itinerary for two days to spend in Brisbane.

Day 1

Start your exploration by starting in the CBD and visiting Brisbane City Hall and the Museum of Brisbane. It’s free. After this, you can continue to the Botanical Gardens, which are not far away.

From here, cross the Goodwill Bridge pedestrian bridge to the South Bank neighborhood, where many of the city’s museums are concentrated, such as the Gallery of Modern Art and the Queensland Museum. The whole area extends southward to South Bank Parklands, where public swimming pools, among many other things, are nice.

If you want a little action in the evening, move to the Fortitude Valley neighborhood, where you will find numerous bars and restaurants.

Day 2

Spend the second day exploring the New Farm district. If you happen to be in Brisbane on a Saturday morning, don’t miss the local market inside the nearby park.

From here, you board the boat (the boat system along the river is part of public transportation; you can check the schedule here) direction to the West End, which is considered the alternative neighborhood of the city, especially along the main streets, Boundary Street and Vulture Street. It is common to see street performers performing, the atmosphere is nice, and along the former of the two on Fridays and Saturdays, there is a weekly market.

To end the day you could climb to the top of Mount Coot – Tha from where you have the city’s best views, the bus to take is number 471.

Brisbane view from Coot – Tha.

How to get around Brisbane?

The public transportation system is efficient and sometimes free, as in the case of the red ferry that operates along the river in the city center. However, purchasing a reloadable card called a GoCard is necessary to access public transport for a fee. If you are arriving from the airport, the fastest way is the Airtrain, which however costs $18.50 one way. If you want to save $14, then get on the free T-Bus to Skygate (Airport Village) and wait for the 590 bus, make two stops at Toombul Shopping, Centre, and then take the train to the city. 

Where to sleep in Brisbane?

Summer House Backpackers is a great budget hotel within walking distance of downtown, with some interesting activities going on daily. On the other hand, if you are looking for something inexpensive but more hotel-style with a wide selection of private rooms, check out Bowen Terrace Accommodation.

Gold Coast and Surfers Paradise

Gold Coast is a large city south of Brisbane with several districts, the most famous being Surfers Paradise. The whole area is extremely touristy among both Australians and travelers. I spent only one night in Surfers Paradise to break up the trip between Brisbane and Byron Bay. In some respects, it can be an atmospheric destination, the large buildings that practically touch the ocean are undoubtedly something fascinating, but at the same time, in my opinion, there is nothing more to it, just a big modern city right on the beach. However, if you have time on your hands and are looking for an intermediate stop where you can stay a couple of nights, then it may be a destination to consider; having said that, I think the beauty of Australia can be found elsewhere.

Surfers Paradise.


Though probably just as touristy, Noosa is a stop I would recommend along the East Coast. The atmosphere is much more relaxed than in Surfers Paradise.

In addition to spending a few relaxing days at the beach, I strongly recommend visiting the national park, which is easily accessible from town. Admission is free, and there are several well-maintained trails that you can hike (trail map). I especially recommend the coastal walk (trail number 4 in blue).

Another nice activity is to visit the Noosa Everglades, which, along with the more famous Everglades in Florida, are the only two regions in the world with such an ecosystem. Joining a tour from Noosa is easy, but if you want to save some money and have your vehicle, I recommend driving to Boreen Point, where numerous stores are ready to rent kayaks and provide maps to explore the area on your own.

Where to sleep in Noosa?

Noosa Flashpackers is an excellent hostel a stone’s throw from the national park. For hotels, take a look here.

Coastal walk.

Rainbow Beach and Fraser Island

Rainbow Beach is merely the base for exploring nearby Fraser Island: this island, which measures 120 km in length and 30 km in width at its widest point, is completely composed of sand, making it the largest sand island in the world and the only place where rainforest grows right on the sand.

The island is nothing short of extraordinary, with many attractions ranging from numerous freshwater lakes, including the famous Lake McKenzie, natural swimming pools, and a shipwreck that has become iconic. It is also the last place in the world where you can see purebred dingoes that colonized the Australian continent more than 3,500 years ago; in the rest of the country, the breed has been “contaminated” by other canines.

If you have rented or perhaps bought a 4×4 for your trip to Australia, you can visit the island on your own as I did. Otherwise, you need to join a tour. If you want to book online, I suggest you look at bookme.

Either way, try to spend at least two nights on the island; it is truly an extraordinary place!

Lake McKenzie.

Some info for the DIY tour to Fraser Island

If you plan to drive your 4×4 vehicle on the island, getting your vehicle permit and booking campsites before boarding the ferry is mandatory. My fellow travelers and I did this the same day at the tourist office before boarding, and many of the equipped campsites were full. So, if this is what you are looking for, book online in advance (permit and campsites).

Here, you will find a map of the island with campsites, roads, and attractions. This is the tourist office where we booked campsites and permits, but others are also in the area if you want. Whatever your itinerary on the island, don’t miss McKenzie Lake, Eli Creek, the Maheno Wreck, and the Champagne pools under any circumstances! Especially if you have no experience driving in the sand, drive with extreme caution and take enough food and water with you. On the island, they are available but are extremely expensive!

Once you return to Rainbow Beach, I strongly recommend visiting this spot. There are dunes overlooking the sea where people go sandboarding, but most importantly, it is an amazing place to watch the sunset!

Sunset spot.

Agnes Water & 1770 

For many, this is the next stop after Rainbow Beach. It is a small coastal town with a relaxed atmosphere, chosen to break up the journey to or from Airlie Beach, a crossroads for the famous Whitsundays islands. 

I didn’t find it great, but the trip to Airlie Beach from Rainbow Beach is a good haul. If you have a day or two to spare, it’s worth stopping and relaxing on the beach, maybe even taking surfing lessons.

There are short trails at this point that give access to scenic spots that are a good way to kill some time. If you want, Eurimbula National Park is nearby, but I have not personally visited it, so I don’t know if it is worth it.

Another intermediate stop you might consider before heading to Airlie Beach is the town of Rockhampton. I have not been there, but it is said to be the meat capital with pubs and restaurants attached. Also located is the Dreamtime Cultural Centre, one of Australia’s best cultural centers on Aboriginal culture.

Where to sleep in 1770?

Cool Bananas is a great budget hotel within walking distance of the beach.   

Agnes Water.

Airlie Beach and Whitsundays Islands

Airlie Beach is a port town that serves as a crossroads for the beautiful Whitsunday Islands. The town itself is not much to write home about, and the beaches around it are not particularly picturesque and are often affected by jellyfish. If you have a free half-day before or after your Whitsunday tour, consider visiting the man-made lagoon.

That said, you should consider joining an island tour, typically three days and two nights, although some opt for longer tours or even day trips to Whitehaven Beach. 

I did the three-day tour, and it was incredible. The visit to Whitehaven Beach, snorkeling, and whale watching, all topped off by the fantastic company during my three-day sailing, is something I will never forget and would recommend to anyone visiting this beautiful country.

Like Fraser Island, it’s really easy to join a tour of the islands. There are different formats, from party boats (which I do not recommend) to tours more focused on exploring the islands. There are many options. I did the tour with Spank Me, and it seemed like a good value for money. But as mentioned, there are dozens of options – the choice is yours.

Whitehaven beach.

Where to sleep in Airlie Beach?

Technically, if you plan your trip well, there is no need to stay in Airlie Beach. But if you want to spend the night before or after the tour, Airlie Beach Magnus is not bad.

Townsville / Magnetic Island

Townsville is the crossroads for neighboring Magnetic Island, like Airlie Beach for the Whitsundays islands. The town is not particularly interesting, and many people simply pass through to catch the ferry to the island. Still, if you have an extra day or just a half day, you could visit the Museum of Tropical Queensland, the maritime museum, and walk along the Riverway, with public pools, bars, and a small art gallery. Finally, you could walk or drive up to the top of Castle Hill, which has excellent views of the town and Magnetic Island. 

If you wanted to, you could arrange diving/snorkeling trips to the great barrier reef from Townsville, but since Cairns is closer to the reef, all activities related to the Great Barrier Reef are generally cheaper.

Back to Magnetic Island, the island is pretty and worth spending at least a few days there. More than half of the island is part of the national park, and there are numerous trails, beaches, and small bays that can easily keep you busy for days.

I especially recommend the Forts Walk. This short walk, lasting 1-2 hours maximum, takes you to the ruins of a fort built during World War II; from here, you have excellent views of the whole island. On the way, you might spot some koalas in the trees! In any case, other trails are all quite short that you could do; you can find a map here.

Finally, the snorkeling in Geoffrey Bay is not bad at all. Among the beaches, I recommend checking out Radical Bay and Balding Bay: the former is at the end of a dirt road while the latter is only accessible on foot, both of which are less crowded than the island’s main beaches.

Radical Bay.

How to reach Magnetic Island?

The island is accessible only by ferry from nearby Townsville, which is only 8 km away. Two companies cover the route, and both depart from the Nelly Bay Ferry Terminal. Fantasea offers transportation for pedestrians and vehicles, while Sealink is for pedestrians only; both companies have nearly a dozen daily departures.

Where to sleep on Magnetic Island? 

I slept at the Base on the waterfront; it has a nice party atmosphere. If you’re looking for something more comfortable, check out these chalets.


From Townsville/Magnetic Island, many continue directly to Cairns. It is, in fact, only a 4-5 hour drive. Mission Beach might be for you if you are looking for an intermediate stop to break up the trip further.

It is a small coastal town consisting of four small villages along a 14km beach, all together not even reaching 4000 inhabitants! A perfect place to relax and spend a few days at the beach. If, on the other hand, you are short on time, I strongly recommend pulling straight towards Cairns, perhaps taking a short detour inland to visit Wallaman Falls, a truly impressive waterfall, the second highest in the entire country! If you are willing to take an even longer detour, you could also visit Blencoe Falls, a little further north, Australia’s highest waterfall. 

Josephine Falls is also not bad at all and is more accessible from the main road leading to Cairns.

Wallaman falls.

What to do and see in Cairns

Once you arrive in Cairns, the only thing I recommend doing in town in case you have some time to kill is to pop over to the Cairns Esplanade. It is a park with a nice public pool attached. In the evening, you can take a walk along the waterfront full of bars, restaurants, and stores.

That said, spend as much time exploring what surrounds Cairns, probably starting with the Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef 

It is the largest living organism in the world and the only one visible from space. Over 2000 km long, it is home to thousands of animal species. It is a true wonder. 

There are daily excursions to the reef for diving or snorkeling, barring inclement weather, and are sold by literally anyone in town. Since the competition is so high, you can expect good service from virtually all companies. I would look for some last-minute bargains online at bookme or, better yet, just walk around town. In any case, expect to pay at least a hundred dollars for a day’s snorkeling and about twice as much for two dives.

The Great Barrier Reef.

Atherton Tablelands

This plateau, located just outside Cairns, is a pretty area with waterfalls and distinctive landscapes worth exploring. Below, I have listed a possible itinerary with the main points of interest.

Start the day by heading to Barron Falls. This 260-meter-high waterfall is extremely spectacular during the rainy season, but even during the dry season, it certainly doesn’t disfigure and is worth a visit. The site has several viewpoints connected by short trails.

Barron Falls.

In nearby Kuranda, it is possible to arrive aboard the Skyrail, a tourist attraction consisting of a circuit that can be half traveled by train and half by cable car, giving unique perspectives on the rainforest and Barron Falls. I have not personally done it, but you can find all the information you need here.

From Kuranda, continue to Mareeba, where you might like to visit the local Heritage Museum (free) before heading to Atherton; stop at Emerald Creek Falls.

The small town of Atherton doesn’t have who knows what attractions except for the nearby mountain bike park, which has several excellent trails, and there are several stores in town where you can rent a bike.

From Atherton, continue to Yungaburra and spend the night at On the Wallaby’s beautiful hostel, a stone’s throw from the Watching Platform, where you can see platypus early in the morning (preferably at dawn)! 

Continue the day to the giant fig tree and then head south to Mount Hypipamee National Park, where there is a waterfall and a huge crater, ending with a visit to the iconic Milla Milla Falls. If you still haven’t had enough, visit nearby Zillie Falls before heading back toward Cairns following the Gillies Range Road. With any luck during these two days, you might spot a cassowary. This bird (the third largest in the world) is prehistoric and lives exclusively in northeastern Australia and Papua New Guinea.

N.b. Following the following itinerary with your vehicle is ideal, but if you wish, you can join a tour (the Atherton Tablelands tours in Cairns follow a similar itinerary).

Milla Milla falls.

Where to sleep in Cairns?

I spent my stay in Cairns at the Calypso, which I would really recommend. If you’re looking for a party hostel, check out Gilligan‘s. I’m sure it won’t disappoint you. On the other hand, if you are looking for a more comfortable option, Globetrotters International seems like a great option. 

Daintree forest 

Daintree Forest, located about 3 hours north of Cairns, is one of the oldest forests in the world and can be visited in a day. Still, I think it is worth spending at least a few days there, so I will follow the following itinerary: the classic road trip from Cairns to Cape Tribulation.

After driving the coastal road (scenic in places) north, stop at Mossman Gorge. This is a great place to swim in crystal clear water surrounded by rainforest. There are some short trails, viewpoints, and a suspension bridge; you can easily spend a couple of hours there.

From here, continue north, cross the Daintree River by ferry (frequent rides from 6 a.m. until midnight), stop at the Marrdja Walk, a 40-minute or so equipped trail through the forest, and spend the night at Noah Beach Campground.

Taken from the car window!

The next day, we walked the Dubuji walk before seeing the beautiful Cape Tribulation Beach and nearby Myall Beach. If you feel ready for a not-so-easy hike, then you will find the start of the steep trail to the top of Mount Sorrow. Head back toward Cairns.

N.b. Unfortunately, swimming is not recommended on many of the beaches in this region due to crocodiles and jellyfish. Read the signs and ask the locals before doing anything silly!

In conclusion, if you are driving a SERIOUS 4×4 and have plenty of time on your hands, you could reach Cape York at the end of one of Australia’s best 4×4 tracks (Old Telegraph Track) in one of the country’s wildest regions, a real adventure!

Cape Tribulation.

Lawn Hill National Park

To conclude this section of the guide dedicated to Queensland, I would like to mention this national park located on the border with the Northern Territory. Although little known, it is one of my favorite national parks. Of course, I would not recommend leaving specifically from Cairns to visit the park, but if you plan to continue your trip in the direction of Darwin, then consider it as an intermediate stop.

Within the park are many excellent trails, but most importantly, you can rent kayaks to explore the beautiful gorge on your own and maybe see some freshwater crocodiles!

This is where the visitor center and camp-ground are located at the end of a dirt road about 80 km long. It is not in bad condition, but it is certainly advisable to have a vehicle with good ground clearance. You can find excellent information about the park here.

Lawn Hill National Park.

Northern Territory

Known as the “true outback,” this territory boasts what are undoubtedly true natural icons of Australia. Within the territory, there are as many as 52 national parks and nature reserves, and it is also considered the center of Aboriginal culture; in fact, the country’s largest population and collection of Aboriginal art are located here.

Generally, the best time to visit this region is from April to November, during the dry season. However, even the rainy season undoubtedly has its charms, with waterfalls at full capacity and lush vegetation. The March-April period is ideal as the rainfall is infrequent, but the benefits remain.


Let’s start with the capital city of Darwin. I lived here for four months, and in itself, it is quietly one of the least exciting cities in the country, especially during the rainy season when the city empties as a beach resort does in winter.

There are, however, three things I recommend doing in the city: visit the botanical garden, drop by the Darwin Waterfront, where there is a nice park for lounging in the sun with access to a safe beach and pool, and finally stroll through the sunset market, which is only open during the dry season from April to October. Thursday and Sunday evenings are highly recommended: you will find lots of food, artists, and most importantly spectacular sunsets from the nearby beach!

Getting around Darwin is easy; the city center is compact, and you can walk everywhere.

Finally, on a day trip from Darwin, you could visit the nearby Berry Springs, about a 45-minute drive away. They are nice natural pools nestled in the jungle; avoid weekends if possible. Finally, the jumping crocodile tour is an extremely popular tour offered in Darwin.

Where to sleep in Darwin?

Melaleuca is considered by many to be the best hostel in the city, and indeed, it is not bad at all. However, if you want something comfortable, look at these apartments.

Kakadu National Park

I recommend visiting the park independently by renting a car; much of the park is accessible by regular vehicles, although a 4×4 would be ideal both for convenience and for reaching some less accessible areas. 

Visitors must buy their admission tickets online or at one of the visitor centers within the park.

Here is a possible 4-day itinerary within the park, starting from Darwin and entering from the north. The second day varies depending on the type of vehicle you have. 

Day 1 

The first stop within the park is along the main road, Mamukala Wetlands. Here, a short trail leads to an observation platform over a marshy area, from which it is often possible to see numerous species of birds and crocodiles.

Continue to Cahill Crossing, again, you will find an observation platform with opportunities to spot crocodiles. Head to this spot not far from a series of short trails that allow you to admire examples of rock art. Finally, conclude the trail by climbing to Nadab Lookout, one of the best vantage points in the park, which is particularly spectacular at sunset. 

You could spend the night at the Merl Camping Ground, but from personal experience and that of many others, it is infested with mosquitoes. So consider driving to Jabiru, where you can then sift through different options.

Jim Jim Falls.

Day 2

To keep the 4-day itinerary, you can choose between two options today:


If you drive a 4×4, then I strongly recommend taking the road to Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls. Along the way, you have to cross a river. We managed it with a Ford Explorer without a snorkel, but depending on the water level, you might need one, and in some cases (especially during the rainy season), the road closed. In any case, a 4×4 is necessary.

If you choose this option, stop at the Garnamarr Campground and quickly set up your tent to secure a spot. Then, continue to Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls before returning to the campground and spending the night. Both falls are at the end of a short trail from the two parking lots. 

The 4×4 route and the two waterfalls are really worth it, and I could not recommend them enough, but if, for whatever reason, you are not interested or simply do not drive a 4×4, then you could do the following. 


Stop at Burungku (Nourlangie), where you will find more rock art and a viewpoint not far away. Then continue to Bubba Walk and climb to Mirrai Lookout.

From here, you could spend the night at Maguk Campground (or some other campground in this direction) or stop at Warradjan Cultural Centre, where a small gallery focuses on Aboriginal history in the region.

Maguk  Waterfalls.

Day 3

Spend the night at Maguk Campground and enjoy the rest of the day at Maguk Waterfalls. The place is worth it, and don’t forget to climb to the top of the waterfall, where there are a series of really nice natural pools.

Day 4

Today is Gunlom Waterfall Day. Try to leave early in the morning from Maguk so that you can spend at least half a day at the waterfall before leaving the park. If you have time, you might want to spend another night in the park, sleeping at the campground near the waterfall.

Infinity pool, Gunlom.

Litchfield National Park

Like Kakadu National Park, I recommend visiting it independently by renting a car. Much of the park is accessible by regular vehicles, although a 4×4 would be ideal both for convenience and to reach some less accessible areas.

Here is my 3-day itinerary in the park for those who drive a 4×4. A map can be found here.

Day 1

From the park’s east entrance, begin your visit at the Magnetic Termite Mounds, where a short trail allows you to get a closer look at giant termite nests. Then, continue to The Lost City, where there are nothing short of incredible rock formations (4×4 track). 

From here, head back in the direction of Buley Rockhole and take a refreshing dip in these natural pools before continuing to the Florence Falls campground, where you will spend the night (there are two, one for regular vehicles and the other accessible only by 4×4) leave your car here and walk down to Florence Falls.

Florence Falls.

Day 2

Start the day by going to the Tolmer Falls viewpoint (there is a short loop you can walk if you wish). Then, take the 4×4 track to Tjaynera Falls and Surprise Creek Falls. Afterward, head back along the same track and spend the night at the Wangi Falls campground. 

Day 3

Spend the morning at Wangi Falls, perhaps taking a short hike from where the falls are located and going through the Monsoon forest before leaving the park.

Tjaynera Falls.

Nitmiluk (Katherine) National Park 

There are two easily visited sections:

Edith Falls

The first lesser known is what I call the “Edith Falls”. If you are coming from the north, it is located before the town of Katherine. Spend the night at Leilyn Campground (well-equipped and spacious), which is very close to Edith Falls. If you arrive in the morning, you can do it right away, but if not, I recommend waiting until the next day to complete the circuit you see on this map, especially if you decide to complete the detour leading to Sweetwater Pool. Complete at least the primary circuit leading to the Upper pool; it’s worth it!

Edith Falls, Upper Pool.

Katherine Gorge

The other most famous section of the park is “Katherine Gorge.” The main attraction is the gorge where the Katherine River flows. Some trails run parallel to the gorge, as you can see on this map, but it is recommended that you visit it by renting a kayak through the visitor center. However, access is given to a limited number of kayaks with scheduled departures. Since this activity is very popular, the chances of finding space by showing up on the same day during the dry season are virtually nil. We tried twice within a few weeks and everything was fully booked for the next 3-4 days, so if you have firm dates and are keen on the experience, book in advance. Attached to the visitor center is also the campground.

Katherine Gorge.

Elsey National Park (Mataranka)

This place is simply not to be missed! It is a crystal-clear hot spring system nestled in the forest. Again, there are two easily accessible sections. If you only have time for one, I recommend the first one!

Sleep at the Bitter Springs Campground (they also have bungalows) and spend at least a day lazing in a little river not far away, generated by the springs; the crystal-clear water temperature and the forest around it make it an exceptional place! 

If you have time, the next day you could visit the other more popular section of the park; here you are basically in the same setting, only the pools have been cemented over, so some of the charm disappears, and the place is more crowded. Also, there is a campground a short distance from the pools. From here, if you want, you could walk to Mataranka Falls. The walk along the river is pleasant, but the falls are not impressive.

Bitter Springs.

Devils Marbles

These curious rock formations are located along the Stuart Highway, making them a nice stop between Alice Springs and the long drive to Tennant Creek—a pit stop to break up the journey north or south.

The area is relatively confined, and an hour or so should be more than enough time to explore it.

Devils Marbles.

Alice Springs 

This not particularly charming town, however, is the crossroads for many attractions in the area and an ideal place to stop for supplies before continuing the journey south or north. 

However, if you have a few hours to spend in the city, you could climb Anzac Hill from where you have excellent views of the city and the MacDonnell mountain range in the background, and perhaps visit the botanical garden where there are often Wallabies roaming around.

Where to sleep in Alice Springs?

Alice’s Secret is a nice, inexpensive hostel in the countryside with some curious rooms. Diplomat Motel, on the other hand, seems like a not-too-expensive option for those looking for something hotel-style. 

West MacDonnell National Park

This national park, located just outside Alice Springs, is often snubbed in favor of Ayers Rock and Kings Canyon. Still, if you have a few days to devote to it, I strongly recommend it.

Below is my two-day itinerary inside the park.

Day 1

Starting in Alice Springs, Simpson Gap is the first stop of the day; walk the short trail to the gorge and maybe even swim before continuing to Standley Chasm.

Standley Chasm is a genuinely spectacular canyon as well as one of the park’s main attractions – admission costs $12 per person to walk along the short trail through the canyon. Ideally, it is best to visit the canyon during the middle hours of the day, when the sunlight illuminates the canyon walls spectacularly. 

From here, continue first to Ellery Creek, Serpentine Gorge, Ochre Pits, and then to Ormiston Gorge. Here, there is a short trail to the gorge where you can swim. This is also the best-equipped area in the park, and there is a good campground where you could spend the night. The alternative is to spend the night in nearby Glen Helen, where there is also a hotel facility if you wish.

Standley Chasm.

Day 2

Visit Glen Helen Gorge before heading to Redbank Gorge; the hike here is slightly longer, but it is still not excessive.

At this point, if you drive an elevated 4×4, I strongly recommend visiting Palm Valley, which is located within the nearby Finke Gorge National Park, 3-4 hours from Redbank Gorge. Here, you can camp and explore this beautiful area by following some trails (Arankaia Walk is the trail to the famous valley). For 4×4 trail conditions and other info, I refer you to the park’s official website.

If you don’t have a 4×4 vehicle or just don’t feel up to it, you can always join an organized tour from Alice Springs, or continue your journey to Watarrka National Park!

Watarrka National Park (Kings Canyon)

This park is the ideal stop between West MacDonnell National Park and Ayers Rock (Uluru); spend the night at Kings Canyon Resort, which offers accommodations of all kinds, from camping sites to hotel rooms.

From the resort to where the trails start is only 10 km. There are only four trails within the park; the one I recommend is the Rim Walk, a 7 km circuit that runs along the top of Kings Canyon. Try to start early in the morning to avoid the hottest hours of the day!

King Canyon.

Ayers Rock (Uluru) and Kata Tjuta National Park

For many, this is a must-see destination within a trip to Australia; one day is enough to visit the park. The entrance fee is $25 and is valid for three days.

With 24 hours to spare, here’s what I recommend doing.

Start the day admiring the sunrise at Ayers Rock, this is considered the best spot. After that, join the guided hike by one of the park rangers to the base of the monolith. The hike, which lasts 1-2 hours, is really interesting, and a lot of information is given about the Aboriginal culture and history of the area. The hike is included in your park entrance fee.

The walk starts daily from the “Mala Car Park” at 8:00 am from October to April and 10:00 am from May to September. After that, you could complete one of the other routes. Climbing Uluru is no longer possible.

Sunset at Ayers Rock.

Once you have completed your visit to Ayers Rock, head for Kata Tjuta. Here, I strongly recommend that you undertake the so-called “Valley of the Winds Walk,” a beautiful 7.4-km hike through numerous gorges with outstanding views.

Before heading back to Ayers Rock for sunset, make a stop at this beautiful viewpoint along the main road. It offers beautiful views of both Kata Tjuta and Ayers Rock. Highly recommended!

End the day with sunset at Ayers Rock; this is the main viewpoint

N.b. If, for whatever reason, you want to visit Uluru in the shortest possible time, you could fly directly to Uluru (Yulara), where you could use the services offered by this company to reach the park by bus. Generally speaking, Jetstar is the cheapest airline to provide this air route from major Australian cities.

If you’re interested in visiting the region by participating in an organized tour, a friend relied on and had a great time. So, if it’s something you’re interested in, take a look.

Kata Tjuta.

Western Australia

Western Australia is the largest state in Australia. It covers an area that exceeds Western Europe, with a population of only two and a half million, more than two million of whom live in the capital city of Perth, the most isolated city of this size in the world!

The main attraction of this state lies in the boundless expanses of “nothingness,” where unspoiled nature gives rise to surreal landscapes within what is, for all intents and purposes, the region of Australia that most fascinated me. 

The best time to visit this region varies profoundly as Western Australia is crisscrossed by virtually all of the country’s climate zones; for the classic route along the coast from Perth to Broome, the best times to have good weather both south and north are September-October and April-May (March to July is whale shark season in Exmouth), but the middle months of winter (June-August) are also more than satisfactory. If, on the other hand, you count on visiting the south: Margaret River, Albany, and Esperance, the summer months are the best time.

N.b. If you plan to visit several national parks, it is worth doing the Western Australia pass on this page.


Perth may not have the charm of Melbourne and Sydney, but during my week’s stay, it gave me a very good impression. It is an extremely livable, clean, green-filled city with really nice beaches within walking distance of downtown. It also enjoys sunnier days than any other Australian capital!

What to do and see in Perth:

Unless you have a lot of time, I recommend spending no more than two days there.

Day 1

Start your first day by visiting the Perth Cultural Centre. Here, you will find the Western Australia Art Gallery (free) and many other museums. Government buildings such as the Government House and the Supreme Court are not far away.

Then, move on to Kings Park, located in the heart of Perth and one of the world’s largest city parks (larger than Central Park in New York). End the day by exploring the prison and maritime museum and strolling through Fremantle, which is considered the nicest neighborhood in the city. Don’t miss the local market on Fridays and Saturdays.

Fremantle prison.

Day 2

Dedicate this day to exploring Rottnest Island, an island located just 18 km from Perth. It is a true paradise for nature lovers who can enjoy its 63 beautiful beaches and the company of the famous Quokka who live exclusively here – all without the presence of cars to spoil the tranquility of the island.

Three companies offer transportation to and from the island: RottnestExpress, Sealink, and Rottnest Fast Ferries. I recommend looking at all three as there are often seasonal offers or certain days of the week where there are substantial discounts. For example, combos like ticket+bike rental are also usually offered at bargain prices. Take a look!

As you may have guessed, the best way to get around is by bike, but if you want, you could rely on the bus, which costs $20 and can be used as many times as you wish. The complete tour of the island is about 25 km, which is great for a full day. The whole island is really beautiful, but I especially recommend the pink lakes, Little Parakeet Bay, and Parker Point, where you can go snorkeling.

Rottnest Island.

How to get around Perth?

The good news is that there are free buses called CAT to get around within the main tourist areas (Perth CBD and Fremantle). However, to move between neighborhoods, you need to pay, and you can find all the different options here. If you arrive at the International Terminal (T1), I recommend taking the free bus to the Domestic Terminals (T3 and T4), from where you can take the No. 37 and 37a bus (more or less from 5:00 am to 11:00 pm) to downtown, cost about $4. The airport shuttle on the other hand costs $18. All other options are even more expensive. If you want to take a taxi, use Uber to save money.

Where to sleep in Perth?

Spinner’s Backpacker is a beautiful hostel with a relaxed atmosphere in downtown Perth, while Comfort Hotel seems to be a good budget option for those looking for something other than a hostel.

Margaret River

This region south of Perth is renowned for its vineyards, which produce some of Australia’s best wines. In addition to wine, the area also has excellent beaches. In recent years, mountain biking-related tourism has developed strongly, with numerous trails starting within a stone’s throw of the city. (find a detailed map here).

In town, check out the labyrinths. As far as beaches go, Hamelin Bay is probably the most picturesque in the region, but Yallingup and Smiths Beach further north are also definitely worth a look, as are many other beaches!

I don’t have any recommendations about wineries, so I suggest you take a look here.

To conclude, if you are interested in a trail that seems really interesting, check out the “Cape to Cape Track,” which is 123 km long and crosses the region from north to south. You can find more information here.

Yallingup Beach.


For those continuing their journey south, Albany is about a 4-hour drive from Margaret River and is usually the next stop. If, on the other hand, you are looking for an intermediate stop, take a look at Pemberton. This small town is on the road and is famous for a Giant Eucalyptus forest within Gloucester National Park, where there is one particular tree that can be climbed and was used in the past as a fire lookout.

Finally, about an hour before arriving in Albany, I recommend stopping at Green Pools and Elephant cove – two outstanding beaches one adjacent to the other.

Once you arrive in Albany, Middleton Beach and Emu Point are the two most beautiful beaches in the city. At the same time, Little Beach within the Two People’s Bay preserve is consistently voted one of the most beautiful in the country. 

For great views of the city and the bay, I recommend climbing Mount Clarence, which has numerous viewpoints, in addition to some monuments such as the War Memorial and the Military Museum. Don’t miss nearby Torndirrup National Park, a beautiful coastal park famous for its spectacular rock formations, notably Natural Bridge, The Gap, and Blow Holes.

Emu Bay.


If you want to break the journey to Esperance (it’s about 500km), you could stop in the small town of Bremer Bay. The nearby Blossoms Beach is really worth it. 

Once you arrive in Esperance, enjoy the fantastic beaches the region has to offer. Near downtown, Twilight Beach is probably the best, and while you are there, visit nearby Pink Lake. Then, I strongly recommend moving on to Lucky Bay and Wharton Beach, both within Cape Le Grand National Park. They are undoubtedly three of the most beautiful beaches in the world and should not be missed. 

Lucky Bay.

There are two campgrounds within the park that I recommend booking in advance, especially during the high season (official website). 

Esperance is often the end of a classic road trip south of Perth. At this point, if you have to return to Perth, I recommend stopping at Wave Rock, a curious rock formation that is genuinely unique. It is undoubtedly a great way to end a fantastic road trip in southern Western Australia!

From here on, all destinations north of Perth are included in the “standard” West Coast itinerary.

Wave Rock.

Nambung National Park

This national park, located about 200 km north of Perth, is famous for the “The Pinnacles Desert,” an arid expanse with numerous limestone pinnacles that create a surreal landscape. There is a circuit to follow by car with several rest stops where you can get off and walk among the pinnacles, plus a few viewpoints. Take your time, but in any case, 1-2 hours is more than enough.

Before you leave the park, check out the Discovery Center, which has exciting details about the area and how the pinnacles were formed. 

Admission to the park costs $13 per vehicle, and the park is accessible at all times of the day. The Discovery Center is open daily from 9:30 am to a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The Pinnacles Desert.

Kalbarri National Park

After visiting the pinnacles, continue along the coastal road to Kalbarri National Park. Stop at Hutt Lagoon (Pink Lake) before continuing north. Returning to the park, it is good to know that it is divided into two parts, a coastal and an inland part; the coastal part is located before reaching the town of Kalbarri, the crossroads for the inland part of the park. 

So before arriving in town, I recommend visiting this part in this order: Eagle Gorge, Pot Alley, Mushroom Rock, Red Bluff, and the Blue Holes. These are all short stops to admire some curious rock formations or the scenic stretch of coastline.

Red Bluff.

The inner section of the park is where the main attractions are located, which can be visited within a single day. The park’s landmark is undoubtedly Nature’s Window, a natural arch that perfectly frames the gorge in the background and is reached at the end of a short hike. It is very photogenic!

Move on to Z Bend Lookout, also located at the end of a short trail. And finally, Hawks Head Lookout and Ross Graham Lookout

Entrance to the park costs $12 per vehicle – consider buying a pass. If you are looking for inexpensive accommodation in Kalbarri where you can stay or camp, take a look at Murchison River Caravan Park. Inside the park, there are no campsites. If you are looking for something more “luxurious,” take a look at Palm Resort.

Nature’s window.

Shark Bay 

This bay, which lies about 4 hours north of Kalbarri National Park, is really full of attractions, and if you have the chance, it is worth devoting at least a couple of days to it, especially if you are driving a 4×4.

What to do and see in Shark Bay

If you are in a hurry, the main tourist attractions can be visited in a day. However, as mentioned above, if you drive a 4×4, you can spend much more time exploring this beautiful area, which has been a World Heritage Site since 1991. A detailed map of Shark Bay can be found here.

Hamelin Pool

The Hamelin Pools are home to the world’s oldest and largest living fossil: stromatolites. These organisms that proliferate within Shark Bay can be observed up close at this spot – thanks to unique walkways built over the sea. Nothing exceptional or unmissable, but something interesting to see! 

Hamelin pool.

Monkey Mia

This reserve, located about 25 km north of Denham (the main town in the area), is famous for bottlenose dolphins, which have been visiting the beach daily for more than 40 years. These dolphins are wild, so the number and times of their visits vary, but they generally come to the beach up to three times a day, with more frequent visits in the morning. To maximize the chance of seeing them, it is best to arrive early in the morning. The dolphins are fed by the rangers, and under their supervision, you can try feeding them yourself. However, swimming with them is not allowed. Nonetheless, the dolphins come so close to shore that you can simply stand with the water at your knees and watch them swim by. 

Admission to the reserve costs $6.

Shell Beach

This beach (Google Maps), stretching over 60 km, is truly unique. It is one of only two beaches in the world composed entirely of shells, which in some places reach depths of up to 10 meters—a veritable mountain of shells! During low tide, the water level drops significantly, allowing you to walk hundreds of meters out to sea on just a few inches of water. Spend a couple of hours exploring the beach or soaking in the beauty of this natural wonder.

Shell Beach.

Eagle Bluff

It is simply a vantage point with a short walk along a cliff, but the view of this stretch of coastline and the bay below from the crystal clear water is simply outstanding. 

It’s advisable to arrive before sunset; the location is perfect for watching the sun disappear over the horizon. Seeing sharks, dolphins, and dugongs is not uncommon—I even saw a shark myself!

Eagle Bluff.

Francois Peron National Park

This beautiful park (accessible only to 4×4 vehicles) covers the extreme tip of the peninsula north of Denham and is famous for its red cliffs, beautiful beaches, and crystal-clear water. Find a map of the park here.

If you enter the park in the afternoon, spend the night at the Big Lagoon campground, and the next day, continue north, where there are three more campgrounds (see map). The next day, reach Cape Peron for some breathtaking views. Here, you could hike the Wanamalu Trail along the coast to Skipjack Point, but if it’s too hot or you just don’t feel, just drive there.

I’m not sure if it was the time of year (mid-September) or if it’s always like this, but on the stretch of beach between Cape Peron and Skipjack Point, thousands of birds were constantly coming and going—an incredible sight in an already highly picturesque place.

Remember to bring enough water with you, as there is no drinking water inside the park; just outside Denham, you can refill for pennies.

Francois Peron National Park.

Steep Point (Edel Land National Park)

Steep Point, situated on the outermost peninsula of the two that makeup Shark Bay, is the westernmost point on mainland Australia and undoubtedly one of my favorite places in the entire country. However, it is only accessible to 4×4 vehicles.

Here, you will find a detailed map of Edel Land National Park, within which Steep Point is located. If you are coming from the south, it is best to visit this part of Shark Bay first without retracing your steps.

We visited the park in one day. Starting from Tamala Station, which is about 60 km south of the entrance, I recommend going up to Steep Point following the road that runs along the east coast, passing through beautiful Shelter Bay, and then coming back along the west coast without going down to CrayFish Bay. Doing so makes it possible to visit the park in one but really long day. 

Shelter Bay.

By no means be fooled by the distances; you cannot travel at high speeds. The roads are either heavily corrugated or extremely sandy, so it takes much longer than expected to cover the miles. In any case, I could not recommend it enough; this is, without a doubt, one of the most incredible places I have visited in Australia.

If you want to go even further, you could visit nearby Dirk Hartog Island, which is named after the Dutch captain who first landed on the island back in 1616 and can be reached by a ferry that departs from near Steep Point (info). It is a highly remote place where the logistics of getting enough fuel, water, and food are not exactly easy. If this sounds like something you are interested in, I encourage you to do your due diligence and arrive prepared – we unfortunately had to pass.

Steep Point.

Exmouth, Cape Range National Park, and Ningaloo Reef

Let’s start by providing some clarity since these three names are often mixed up when talking about this leg of a West Coast itinerary: Exmouth is the small town that serves as the gateway to Cape Range National Park whose shores overlook the Ningaloo Reef Marine Reserve. A detailed map can be found here.

The region is popular from mid-March to late July when whale sharks migrate through the bay, peaking between April and May. During this time, tours to spot them and snorkel with them depart daily and are offered just about everywhere in the area. 

I was there in September, and although I did not have a chance to see the whale sharks, I was impressed with the region. I recommend spending at least a couple of nights within the park at one of the many well-equipped campgrounds to use as a base for exploring the main attractions.

The ones I got to see and recommend are undoubtedly Turquoise Bay and Oyster Stacks (the latter during high tide) for excellent snorkeling; Sandy Bay is a beautiful beach for swimming, and finally, if you feel like taking a short hike, Mandu Mandu Gorge. Remember to bring your mask and Snorkel, but most importantly, try to book campsites a bit in advance if you count on visiting the park during the very high season (official website).

Entrance to the park costs $12 per vehicle. Consider buying a pass.

Camping at Cape Range National Park.

Karijini National Park

This is, without a doubt, one of my favorite national parks in the country. I recommend exploring it on foot because you will find deep gorges and remote natural pools, traversing truly picturesque landscapes. I am sure you will be thrilled by it too. You can find a detailed map of the park here.

There are only two options for sleeping inside the park. Dales Gorge Campground, a basic campground with bathrooms but no showers or drinking water. We didn’t mind at all, and the location is perfect for visiting all the main attractions. Karijini Eco Retreat is not precisely in a great location, but it offers a more luxurious experience. If you wanted to, you could stay outside the park at Tom Price, where there are a couple of options, but you would lose a lot of time driving to the park.

Entrance to the park costs $12 per vehicle. Consider buying a pass.

Following this itinerary, I recommend spending three days and two nights inside the park. If you do not have enough time, cut the program on the first day.

Day 1

If you spend the night somewhere between Exmouth and Karijini, head to Hamersley Gorge, spend a couple of hours relaxing, and when the warmer hours have passed, climb to the top of Mount Bruce, from where there are some fantastic views. It’s about a 10 km round trip. Spend the night at Dales Gorge Campground.

Spider Walk.

Day 2 

Visit Weano Gorge and follow the gorge until you get to Handrail Pool. If you feel like exploring, continue further to the top of the waterfall where there is a sign urging you not to continue.

Hancock Gorge then follows. Here, at the end of another challenging, but delightful hike, you arrive at Kermits Pool, another awe-inspiring natural pool. 

From here, visit the “Oxer Lookout” viewpoint; the trail is short and starts near the main parking lot. Then, continue to Knox Gorge and Joffrey Falls before returning to the campground.

Day 3

Spend the day exploring the area around Dales Gorge. Take the trail to the circular pool, which is about an hour one way, and then visit Fortescue Falls and Fern Pool before leaving the park.

Circular Pool.

Eighty Mile Beach

This beach, located about 600 km north of Karijini National Park, is a great place to stop before continuing the journey to Broome. As the name implies, it is a very long beach, exceeding 200 km.   

At this point (after about 10 km of dirt road but in good condition), there is an excellent caravan park, and there is also beach access for vehicles. If you drive a 4×4, you can spend a day exploring the very long deserted beach. Many migratory birds often populate the beach, and it is extremely popular for fishing. Unfortunately, it is not suitable for swimming as there are too many jellyfish, sharks, and stingrays. Nonetheless, it is still a fascinating and peaceful place to spend a day or two on the way to Broome.

Sunset at Eighty Mile Beach.


Here we are at what, for many, is the final destination of a road trip along the West Coast. In contrast, for others, it is the starting point toward another epic road trip in Western Australia, through the region called “Kimberley.”

Broome is a trendy beach destination during the dry season (May to September). I haven’t had a chance to spend much time in town, so I honestly don’t know precisely what it has to offer. However, the main beach, “Cable Beach,” is charming and very busy. The sunsets are breathtaking, and I recommend you don’t miss them if you are in town.

The city is also famous for its crocodile and pearl farms, for which there are tours you can participate in.

Having reached this point, if you intend to continue to the Northern Territory, you have two options:

  • If you drive a 4×4, I strongly recommend taking the Gibb River Road (dashed in red)
  • If you are driving a regular car instead, take the Great Northern Highway (in black) further south, where there are still a few attractions worth visiting.

Below, you will find a guide for both ways.

The Gibb River Road

Let’s start by saying that despite its reputation, the condition of the approximately 650-km-long road has improved greatly in recent years. During the dry season, completing this stretch of road is certainly not a daunting task. 

This is an extremely remote region, so it is absolutely advisable to drive a reliable vehicle and, secondly, bring enough supplies. The only official place where you can shop (at great expense) is about halfway, at Mount Barnett.

I recommend spending at least 7 days broadly following this itinerary. If you wanted to, you could spend many more or cut a few stops, but I think a week is the right compromise.

Day 1 

Broome -> Derby

Derby is a small town a few hours north of Broome, that I don’t think is worth visiting unless you plan to drive the Gibb River Road. Before you get into town, stop at the Boab Prison Tree along the main road. 

The city’s other “attraction” is the highest tide in the country, which can reach up to 12 meters in height and be observed at the pier. After that, you might drop by the visitor center to gather up-to-date information on the state of the roads and possibly some maps.

Spend the night at the Caravan Park and prepare for the next day’s departure. 

Fill up on food, water, and fuel before leaving Derby.

Boab Prison Tree.

Day 2

Derby -> Tunnel Creek -> Windjana Gorge

Head to Tunnel Creek, where you can explore a series of caves filled with interesting rock formations. The path to follow is about 750 meters long (you enter and leave from the same place), and it is pretty much always obvious. You are never too far away from other people, but at times, you have to walk in the water. Take a flashlight with you and enjoy the walk!

Tunnel Creek.

Then head to Windjana Gorge National Park, where there is an excellent campsite to spend the night. During the high season, it is preferable to make reservations. Before sunset, head to the gorge not far away to witness a truly unique spectacle: the river, in fact, practically dries up during the dry season, forming a kind of lake where hundreds of freshwater crocodiles wait for the bats to come out of the caves and catch them on the fly the moment they try to drink!

The shapes in the water are all crocodiles.

Day 3 

Windjana Gorge -> Bell Gorge

Bell Gorge is one of the most beautiful waterfalls along the Gibb River Road. Start early in the morning from Windjana, spend the afternoon at Bell Gorge, which is reached at the end of a short trail, and finally spend the night at Silent Grove Campground, which is not far away.

Bell Gorge.

Day 4

Bell Gorge -> Galvans Gorge -> Mt Barnett Roadhouse -> Manning Gorge

Galvans Gorge is not as spectacular as Bell Gorge, but it is worth a visit. It is surrounded by greenery and has a truly magical atmosphere. There is even a rope to use to launch yourself into the water. From here, head to Mt Barnett Roadhouse, where you can refuel before continuing to the campground, 7 km further north. 

From the campground to the falls is about a 7 km round trip, so you’re probably better off waiting until the following day to undertake the hike at leisure and spend a couple of hours at the waterfall.

Manning Gorge.

Day 5

Manning Gorge -> El Questro Wilderness Park

If you can visit Manning Gorge the night before, it is possible to reach El Questro Station at the end of a very long day. Otherwise, spend the night at one of the rest stops along the Gibb River Road and continue the next day.

Day 6

Zebedee Spring and El Questro Gorge (El Questro Wilderness Park).

El Questro Wilderness Park is a beautiful private park whose entrance costs $22 per person. The campground (if you want, there are also luxurious rooms) at El Questro Station is also quite expensive, but I think it is worth it given the level of services offered: hot showers, bar, restaurant, etc.

With a day to spare, I recommend visiting the Zebedee Springs located here and then El Questro Gorge at this point (I recommend downloading organicmaps, which offers a very detailed offline map of the area). 

Zebedee Springs is at the end of a short trail, while for El Questro Gorge, you have to climb a gorge with some not-so-easy sections but nothing too hard! Both places are fantastic.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to spend any more time inside this part of the park, but there are several more activities to do. If you are interested, look at this page.

El Questro Gorge.

Day 7

El Questro Station -> Emma Gorge -> Kununurra

This is the last day along the Gibb River Road. Leave El Questro Station and return to the Gibb River Road. After a few kilometers, turn towards Emma Gorge. At this point, the trail, about 2km long, begins and leads to a beautiful waterfall where you can swim.

From Emma Gorge, then continue to the end of the Gibb River Road, which joins the Great Northern Highway at this point. There is a giant sign indicating the condition of the road which makes for a photo opportunity at the end of this beautiful adventure!

Before you get to the small town of Kununurra, you might take a slight detour north to “The Grotto,” a lovely natural amphitheater at the bottom of which, after 140 steps, you can swim. If you continue further north, in the small town of Wyndham, there is a beautiful “Five Rivers lookout” vantage point.

While in Kununurra, you could visit the nearby Ngam Warren Conservation Park, which I have not personally visited. Continue your journey to Katherine in the Northern Territory, or perhaps spend a few days relaxing on the shores of Lake Argyle, specifically at Lake Argyle Caravan Park, which has a beautiful infinity pool!

Emma Gorge.

The Great Northern Highway

This part of the guide is for those who cannot (do not have a 4×4), do not want to travel the Gibb River Road, or are simply returning to Broome.

I will preface this by saying that I have not traveled this stretch of road as I continued north once I finished the Gibb River, but after a bit of research, here is what you might consider.

Reach Halls Creek, where you could visit China Wall, a rock formation located just outside of town, and Sawpit Gorge, a desert oasis not far away. From what I have read, Wolf Creek Crater (which would require a day’s drive between round trips) is also visitable without a 4×4, but I recommend asking the visitor center for confirmation.

From Halls Creek, continuing north in a regular car, you are not left with many options other than to go directly to Kununurra, which I discuss at the end of the Gibb River Road section. If, on the other hand, you drive a 4×4 or are willing to join an organized tour, take a look at Purnululu National Park

Purnululu National Park.

South Australia

South Australia is one of the least visited regions in Australia, but it is no less interesting than the other states. It is definitely worth a visit if you are planning a road trip across the country.

The state has a Mediterranean climate with warm summers and mild winters. Almost any month of the year is good for visiting, except for winter, from June to August, especially if you plan to spend a few days at the beach.


Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, with its 1.5 million inhabitants, is significantly less chaotic than Sydney and Melbourne. Additionally, unlike the other capital cities, Adelaide has never been a convict settlement.

What to see and do in Adelaide

I spent only a few days in Adelaide, but honestly, I think one day is enough to visit the city’s main attractions.

I would start the day by visiting the historic district of Glenelg. It is located on the waterfront about ten kilometers from downtown and is extremely livable, especially during the summer months. There are numerous bars and restaurants and, of course, a beach that is not bad at all.

In the afternoon, instead, visit the city center starting at Victoria Square and perhaps visit the nearby Central Market. Then, continue to Rundle Mall, a pedestrian street (the first in Australia) with numerous stores, boutiques, and some iconic sculptures. Walk further north and visit the Adelaide Botanical Gardens.

Rundle Mall.

How do you get around Adelaide?

The city center is very compact, and one can quickly get around on foot, while for public transportation, one needs to purchase a MetroCard.

Where to sleep in Adelaide?

Sunny’s Adelaide Backpacker Hostel is a few years old but cheap. The pancakes for breakfast are delicious. It offers free parking, and the two men who run it are extremely friendly and helpful. The Chancellor on Currie is a good option if you are looking for a hotel.

Kangaroo Island

Unfortunately, I did not have the pleasure of visiting what appears to be a simply fantastic island because, on my road trip from Melbourne to Darwin, I found myself in Adelaide in mid-June with low temperatures and bad weather. So, we reluctantly decided to move on. The same goes for the York Peninsula. In any case, I have gathered some information that I am sure will be useful should you want to visit.

Let’s start by saying that the island can be reached in two ways: by air and by ferry. Qantas operates flights with departures from Melbourne and Adelaide, while Sealink and Kangaroo Island Connect operate ferries. The former allows you to bring your own vehicle on board, while the latter is for passengers only. However, the company allows you to rent a car directly with them upon arrival on the island. Both companies depart from Cape Jervis on the mainland, and bus connections are possible.

To get around the island, it is highly recommended to have a car, as public transportation is virtually absent. Starting from Penneshaw, a possible three-day itinerary could be as follows:

Day 1

Start at Emu Bay, then follow the coast along the North Coast Road until you reach Stokes Bay. From here, continue to the lighthouse, which is within the national park. There are a number of trails here, including the “Cliff Top Hike,” which seems to be really scenic. You could spend the night at Harveys Return campground or further south at West Bay Beach, which seems more inviting.

Admirals Arch.

Day 2

Try to get to Platypus Water Holes early in the morning so you can see platypus. Then, continue on to Admirals Arch, an iconic rock formation where seals can often be seen. Between May and October, you can often spot whales in the distance. 

Numerous trails also start here or get in your car and drive to the Remarkable Rocks. These giant granite boulders have truly fascinating shapes and colors. Finally, visit Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary before stopping at one of the country’s most beautiful beaches, Vivonne Bay, spend the night at Vivonne Bay Campground.

Day 3

Visit Cape Gantheaume National Park. The park offers many trails, but you could simply drive along D’Estrees Bay Road and stop when you feel the need. Climb to the top of Mount Thisby for a great view of the entire island before returning to Penneshaw and catching the ferry.

York Peninsula

As mentioned earlier, I have not enjoyed exploring the peninsula due to the wrong season and bad weather. If I were you, I would check out Innes National Park. Some of the main spots are Ethel Beach, Dolphin Bay, and Cape Spencer Lighthouse.

The York Peninsula has much more to offer, but I invite you to check out this page, where I am sure you will find more than a few ideas.

Cape Spencer lighthouse.

The Clare Valley, McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley

The Clare Valley, McLaren Vale, and Barossa Valley, all located around Adelaide, are the three main wine regions in South Australia.

I have only visited a few wineries in the Clare Valley, but there are so many options. For what it’s worth, Paulett Wines is not bad at all in terms of wine and location; they have a lovely terrace.

Un Favoloso tramonto nella Clare Valley.

Flinders Ranges National Park

This national park is slightly off the main tourist routes. Many people continue the journey north on the Stuart Highway towards Uluru, but if you are willing to take a “small” detour of 170 km, I personally think it is worth it. A detailed map of the park can be found here.

I spent my stay at Wilpena Campground, which I believe is the only one within the park that offers running water and hot showers, but there are many others if desired.

Within the park, there are numerous trails, some of which are a bit difficult, for which I suggest you take a look at this page (or head directly to the visitor center once you arrive). However, I strongly recommend the Bunyeroo Valley Scenic Drive. The road, although unpaved, is in good condition, and it should be possible to drive it even without a 4×4 vehicle. The scenery is fantastic.

Razorback lookout.

Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park

This national park is definitely off the beaten path, and while I enjoyed it a lot, I would advise against visiting it unless you have a lot of time. First of all, to reach it starting from Flinders Range, you need a 4×4: the road is not in excellent condition, especially the section that connects the park to first Maree and then William Creek before joining the Stuart Highway again in the direction of Uluru. For me, even just driving literally in the middle of nowhere and visiting scattered “villages” in the Australian Outback like William Creek (population 10!) was a surreal experience. Still, the fact remains that this “little detour” from the classic itinerary takes several days.

If this sounds like something you’re interested in any way, from Flinders Range, I suggest you head for the small village of Arkaroola. Here, there is a visitor center run by an extremely nice gentleman, among others, and you find accommodations for everyone. 

There are numerous trails to hike or 4×4 tracks, and all kinds of tours are offered, including scenic flights of the area! I suggest you check out the official website for all the relevant information.

Arkaroola in the distance.

Coober Pedy

This small town, which describes itself as the world’s opal capital, owes its existence to the opals mined in this area. Located in the middle of the Outback, it is, in fact, hundreds of miles from civilization, with a decidedly hostile climate where summer temperatures during the day can easily exceed 40 degrees. This is precisely why, in the early years of “opal fever,” numerous buildings were constructed entirely underground to escape the heat. 

As interesting as it is, in my opinion, this small town is not worth more than a day to visit. There are a couple of museums and opal exhibitions where the town’s history is told, and numerous stores sell jewelry set with opals and opals themselves. What fascinated me the most was sleeping underground; several facilities allow this. I slept at the Radeka Downunder Motel, which was the cheapest option, and honestly, it was not bad at all.

Hostel in Coober Pedy.


With Tasmania, the country’s only island state, we conclude the “What to do and see” section in Australia. Unfortunately, this is the only region of the country that I have not had the opportunity to visit firsthand. It’s an extremely wild island and, by many accounts, an extraordinary place for nature lovers and trekkers. Over 45 percent of the land is covered by national parks, and it is by far the most mountainous state in Australia, but the beaches are spectacular too! The classic road trip seems pretty standard and lasts a minimum of one week.

For more information, I suggest you check out these two resources: one-week and two-week itineraries.

Wineglass Bay, Tasmania.

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Recommended itineraries in Australia

If you have made it this far in the guide, you probably wonder, “But how long does it take to visit all these places!” To complete what is often called “The Big Lap,” i.e., a complete overland tour of the country, which I have just described in sections, you start from a minimum of 3-4 months up to a year, although 5-6 months I think is a good compromise. 

I fully realize that very few people have this amount of time and money at their disposal, not least because Australia is certainly not known as an inexpensive destination. Therefore, below, I provide a few itineraries that can be completed in a shorter time. 

As with any place, there is no perfect itinerary given a time frame, and this is especially true here in Australia, where the options are many and much depends on seasonality. So take what follows as inspiration and modify or create the itinerary according to your interests/budget!

Two/three-week itinerary in Australia: East Coast

Following the itinerary described below, two weeks is sufficient to see the main attractions along the East Coast, but it would be advisable to complete the itinerary in three weeks by perhaps adding a few more stops, such as Brisbane and Magnetic Island.

Alternatively, you could visit Uluru or Melbourne with internal flights if you have a few days left over. Generally, the best time to travel the East Coast is from April to November.

Sydney (2 nights)

Day 1-2:

You will find a suggested two-day itinerary in the guidebook’s appropriate section.

Byron Bay (2 nights)

Day 3:

You spend most of this day in the car/bus.

Day 4:

Enjoy Byron Bay, and don’t miss the iconic lighthouse walk. 

Noosa (2 nights)

Day 5:

Transfer from Byron Bay to Noosa in the morning. Afternoon at the beach.

Day 6:

Visit Noosa National Park.

Fraser Island (3 nights)

Day 7-8-9:

If you are traveling by bus, take a look at the various tours; some offer transportation from Noosa. If you are driving a regular car, you might want to drive to Rainbow Beach. If you plan to bring your 4×4 vehicle to the island, take a look at my tips on how to do that in the appropriate section.

Regardless of your choice, on the third day when returning from the island, I recommend spending the night at Rainbow Beach and watching the sunset there.

Airlie Beach – Whitsundays Island (4 nights)

Day 10:

Long day by car/bus from Rainbow Beach to Airlie Beach.

Day 11-12-13:

Three-day, two-night tour of the Whitsundays. On the third day, upon returning from the tour, I recommend spending the night at Airlie Beach.

Cairns (2 nights)

Day 14:

Airlie Beach – Cairns transfer. Explore Cairns in the afternoon/evening.

Day 15:

Snorkeling/diving at the coral reef.

Daintree Forest (1 night) 

Day 16-17:

Explore the coast from Cairns to Cape Tribulation by traversing the ancient Daintree Forest.

As you can see, following the itinerary just described in the letter with three weeks to spare would leave you with a couple of days to use as you see fit. However, if you have two weeks counted, then I suggest you take off Daintree Forest and join shorter tours to Fraser Island/Whitsundays. 

Three-week itinerary in Australia: from Melbourne to Darwin (Outback)

To complete this itinerary, it is impossible to rely on public transportation, and it is preferable (but not necessary) to travel in a 4×4 to visit the many national parks. 

Generally, the best time to complete this itinerary is April to November.

Melbourne (2 nights)

Day 1: 

Explore downtown Melbourne.

Day 2:

Visit the Philip Islands.

Great Ocean Road (1 night)

Day 3:

Drive along the Great Ocean Road to Port Campbell.

Adelaide (2 nights)

Day 4:

Drive the last stretch of the Great Ocean Road before heading to Adelaide.

Day 5:

Explore Adelaide.

Coober Pedy (1 night)

Day 6:

Long day drive from Adelaide to Coober Pedy. If you have time left over in the evening, briefly explore the city or do it the following day. 

Ayers Rock (2 nights)

Day 7:

This is another long day’s drive from Coober Pedy to Yulara.

Day 8:

Visit Uluru and Kata Tjuta as described in the guidebook. 

Kings Canyon (1 night)

Day 9:

Yulara King Canyon Resort transferred in the morning. King’s Canyon Walk in the afternoon. 

At this point, if you are driving a 4×4, I recommend you continue north along the dirt road (you need to buy a permit to travel this road; you can buy it at the resort) in the direction of West MacDonnell National Park where you can spend a couple of nights; otherwise, turn around and take the Stuart Highway toward Alice Springs (as described below).

Alice Springs (1 night)

Day 10:

Transfer from Kings Canyon to Alice Springs. If you feel like it, briefly explore the town in the late afternoon/evening.

Tennant Creek (1 night)

Day 11:

Drive to Tennant Creek (and further north if you feel like it), stopping to see the Devil’s Marbles.

Mataranka (2 nights)

Day 12-13:

Driving from Tennant Creek or wherever you get to Mataranka, I recommend spending the afternoon/evening at the most popular section of the park and moving to Bitter Springs Campground the next day.

Nitmiluk (Katherine) National Park (2 nights)

Day 14:

In the morning, take a kayak and explore Katherine Gorge. The kayak must be booked in advance; see the guidebook.

Day 15:

Move to Edith Falls and complete the circuit as described in the guidebook.

Litchfield National Park(1-2 nights)

Day 16-17:

If you drive a 4×4, it is worth spending two nights in the entire park, while otherwise, I think one night is enough; see guidebook.

Kakadu National Park (2-3 nights)

Day 18-19-20:

Again, the itinerary changes depending on the vehicle; see the guidebook.

Darwin (1 night)

Day 21:

Visit the Sunset Market. 

By cutting out a few days here and there and perhaps one of the national parks to the north, it is probably possible to complete the itinerary in less than three weeks. However, if you have more time, consider other destinations, such as Kangaroo Island, Grampians National Park, and Flinders Ranges National Park.

Two/three-week itinerary in Australia: West Coast

Although this itinerary does not touch any of the more emblazoned destinations, such as Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef, and the two best-known cities (Melbourne and Sydney), I personally prefer it. 

The “classic” itinerary from Perth to Broome can be completed in two weeks (as explained below). However, if you have the opportunity, I strongly recommend adding a week and also completing the Gibb River Road (with a 4×4). If you have even more time available, consider a mini road trip to the southwest part of the coast: Margaret River, Albany, and Esperance. For the classic itinerary along the coast from Perth to Broome, the best times for good weather, both south and north, are September-October and April-May (March to July is whale shark season in Exmouth). Still, the middle months of winter (June-August) are also more than acceptable, even if it is not warm in the south. If, on the other hand, you count on visiting the southern part of Perth: Margaret River, Albany, and Esperance, the summer months (November – March) are the best time.

N.b. It is worth doing the Western Australia pass found on this page. Along the West Coast, long-distance public transportation is virtually nonexistent.

Perth (2 nights)

Day 1:

Visit the city.

Day 2:

Go to Rottnest Island.

Nambung National Park (1 night)

Day 3:

Leave Perth and visit Nambung National Park. Keep driving north towards first Hutt Lagoon and then Kalbarri. Drive as far as you feel like, but stop before the sun goes down.

Kalbarri National Park (1 night)

Day 4:

If you arrive close enough to the park on the previous day, you can visit all the main attractions within a single day and spend the night on your way to Shark Bay.

Shark Bay (2-4 nights)

Day 5-6:

Here, it depends a lot on what kind of vehicle you drive. If you are driving a 4×4, then add two nights for Steep Point and another for Francois Peron National Park; otherwise, two nights are enough.

Exmouth, Cape Range National Park and Ningaloo Reef (3 nights)

Day 7:

Traveling from Shark Bay to Exmouth takes practically the whole day. If it’s the right season, you can arrange a tour to see whale sharks the next day.

Day 8-9:

Possible whale shark tour; otherwise, enjoy the national park.

Karijini National Park (3 nights)

Day 10:

You spend the whole day driving to Karijini National Park.

Day 11-12:

Explore the park.

Eighty Mile Beach (1 night)

Day 13:

Reach Eighty Mile Beach and spend the night here.

Broome (1 night)

Day 14:

Reach Broome and enjoy the sunset over Cable Beach.

How to get around Australia

I believe the best way to explore this beautiful country is by land. That said, there are numerous options to consider.

Regarding public transportation (buses, trains, etc.), it’s highly efficient within major cities. But for longer routes like the one described, relying solely on public transport is feasible only along the East Coast. Three companies offer “hop on hop off passes” there at reasonable prices, especially useful for solo travelers: Greyhound is the most popular, has several daily runs and more modern buses, Premier is the cheapest option, has slightly older buses and in many cases only one daily run, and finally Stray offers a service similar to an organized tour, the passes in fact in addition to transportation include activities.

You either rely on organized tours or arrange transportation yourself. Camper vans are popular as they offer both transportation and accommodation with interior spaces or rooftop tents. There are dozens of companies providing cars, camper vans, and 4×4 vehicles for rent. Some operate only in certain regions, while others have special conditions prohibiting driving in certain areas, such as Fraser Island. I have never rented a vehicle in Australia, so I can’t advise you. But if you’re looking for a list that I think is pretty comprehensive, look at this page under “Car Rental” and do the necessary research.

The car i did most of my travelling with.

Two other options, however, that require a good deal of flexibility are so-called “rideshares,” which are very common among travelers in Australia. I have traveled the West Coast in this way —basically, there are sections of sites such as Gumtree Rideshare or Facebook groups where offers or requests from fellow travelers are posted. 

The second option, on the other hand, is Car/Campervan relocation, another prevalent practice in Australia. It consists of moving vehicles from point A to point B within a given time frame. Sometimes, you only have to pay for the fuel, and the rental is completely free; other times, the fuel is also included, or you may have to pay a small amount. In any case, it is significantly cheaper than renting a vehicle. Numerous sites offer this type of service, one of them being Transfercar

Finally, for long-duration trips (multiple months), I think it is worth considering buying a vehicle to sell once the trip is over; barring any nasty surprises at the end of the day, I think it is the cheapest option.

For domestic flights, the main airlines are Qantas and Virgin, while Jetstar and TigerAir are the low-cost airlines. Some companies, such as Rex, Airnorth, SkyTrans, SharpAirlines, and Ntas, operate small aircraft between cities in regional areas of the country.

Backpacking in Australia: costs

Let’s get one thing straight: Australia is a very expensive country, even by European standards, unless you are used to the cost of living in Switzerland or northern Europe. For a hostel bed, expect to pay at least $20; in Sydney and Melbourne, even $25. For a hotel room, at least $50.

Organized activities are not cheap either, with tours costing a rough estimate of at least $100 daily. For eating out at restaurants, expect to pay at least $20-$40 depending on the level, although mainly in Chinese neighborhoods or so-called “food courts” of department stores, often for $8-$10, you can eat a substantial meal of rice/noodles. As supermarkets go, the cheapest by far is Aldi, followed by Coles and Woolworths.

Alcohol and tobacco are another sore point; the taxes on these kinds of products are high, and a beer in a club can easily cost $10, while a pack of cigarettes go up to over $40.

Outside the big cities, camping is possible almost anywhere in Australia and is part of Australian culture. Some national parks offer free campsites, and others have very well-equipped campsites for as little as $10 per night. You can often pitch your tent in some rest area, deserted beach, or caravan park. Some of these solutions offer high standards, with swimming pools, hot water, and excellent shared areas where you can cook or relax. In this regard, I recommend downloading WikiCamps; it was extremely useful during my road trips.

Tired but happy at the end of the Gibb River Road.

In short, regardless of what kind of traveler you are, if you want to explore Australia’s most beautiful and remote areas, camping is a must and, in my opinion, the number one rule for saving money while traveling in Australia.

In conclusion, a careful low-cost traveler can travel within the country with a daily budget of at least $70-80, or about €50 per day, assuming that they travel by bus along the East Coast or share transportation costs with other people.

Backpacking in Australia: safety

From a crime point of view, Australia is a very safe country, and the statistical data confirms this, so if I were you, I wouldn’t worry too much. What I would be more seriously concerned about are environmental factors.

As you well know, Australia is particularly notorious for the many hazardous animals that live there. Especially in the north, pay particular attention to signs: many beaches are infested with sea crocodiles and the famous “jellybox fish” jellyfish. As if that were not enough, although attacks on humans are extremely rare, sharks are present almost everywhere.

Finally, especially if you are not an experienced swimmer, be extremely careful of strong ocean currents. Some beaches are notorious for having “Rip Currents,” i.e., currents that carry offshore, and if you panic, they can be deadly. You can find a video here.  

On the mainland, the number one dangers are spiders and snakes. I don’t think it needs to be said, but avoid contact with such creatures. If you find yourself camping inside some national park or far from civilization, it is a good idea to always close vehicles and tents to prevent unwanted guests from being in the wrong place at the wrong time!

Tra gli animali a cui piace attraversare la strada.

Of course, it’s not like snakes and spiders are hidden in the bushes waiting for someone to leave a tent open, but as mentioned above, it’s a good idea to close everything behind you. When road-tripping along the West Coast, in the Outback, or other less densely populated areas, carrying several liters of water with you is essential. Even in campgrounds within national parks, potable water is often not taken for granted.

Also, in these less populated regions, avoid driving at night; wild animals are highly active during the less hot hours, and hitting a kangaroo even at 30 miles per hour without a bull bar spells disaster.

P.S. Australians live with the ozone hole over their heads, and for years, skin cancers have been a big problem in this country; use proper protection!

Are you planning a trip to Australia? Check out these posts:

The best cards for traveling

What to bring on your trip

Do you have any questions? Updated information? Feel free to leave a comment or message me on Instagram!

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