Australia may be over 14 hours from Los Angeles, but a visit to any one of these destinations will make you glad you took the plunge Down Under. Whether you’re looking for a beach retreat, camping, sailing or a cosmopolitan getaway, Australia has so much to offer.
New Years in Sydney
Be one of the first to celebrate the New Year overlooking Sydney’s unbelievable harbor, where one of the world’s best fireworks displays lights up the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Opera House. Be sure to arrive early, as the day is full of festivities ranging from live music to an air show featuring all types of classic airplanes. Bring a bathing suit, because January is in the heart of summer, and a trip to Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach is a must for any newcomer to this great city.
Australian Football Grand Final in Melbourne
Australia’s answer to the Super Bowl, this amazing sporting event takes place in the last Saturday of September and draws millions of fans to the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground). Learning about Aussie Footy is a great way to take in the culture of this sports capital of Australia, and make sure to wear proper colors, as the fans take it very seriously. Flights to Australia are cheaper being that this is the end of winter, but if you’re looking for a summer trip to Melbourne, the tennis major, The Australian Open, is held in January each year.
Sail the Whitsunday Islands and Great Barrier Reef
Located in tropical Northern Queensland, this chain of islands is a breathtaking destination for a honeymoon or a raucous trip for a group of friends. There are dozens of vessels that sail the area, and each can cater to the type of trip you desire. You can scuba dive or snorkel, live aboard a yacht with the amenities of a 5–star hotel or party on a catamaran with backpackers. Almost all ships visit arguably the most beautiful beach in the world, Whitehaven Beach, and a few even venture out to the Great Barrier Reef, where the ocean’s greatest gift is a diver’s playground. The best time of year to visit here is actually in Australia’s winter (May-October) as it is this tropical region’s dry season.
Camping on Fraser Island
The best kept secret in Australia just north of Brisbane, Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world, and a remote paradise for anyone looking to get away from the doldrums of everyday life. Rent an off-road vehicle and journey through the rainforest or on the island’s only highway, on 75-Mile Beach, to find any of the dozens of breathtaking lakes that dot the island’s landscape. Lake McKenzie is a particularly beautiful site, as the white sands and mesmerizing turquoise fresh water make for a paradise you won’t soon forget. Beware of dingoes however, as this is one of the last remaining habitats where they live freely, though staying in groups and taking care of your food usually keeps them from being a nuisance, but it is this closeness to nature that makes it one of the most unique trips to experience.
Take the Ghan Train through the Outback
Though Australia is known for its phenomenal beach vistas, the majority of the country Down Under is the Outback, and the best way to see this arid landscape is from the comfortable confines of a railcar. This journey starts in South Australia’s capital of Adelaide and it journeys through Alice Springs and ends in Northern Territory’s capital of Darwin. See the amazing wildlife this matchless environment has to offer, from kangaroos and wallabies to cockatoos and snakes. Stay in the “red center” of Alice Springs for a trip to Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, as this amazing sandstone rock formation is a sacred and mystical icon of the country’s aboriginal population and provides some of the best sunrise and sunset vistas the country has to offer.