Thanks to reasonably priced flights and an excellent tourist infrastructure, Australia is fast becoming one of the world’s hottest vacation destinations. With plenty to see and do – particularly for the traveler seeking a bit of adventure to spice up their travel experience – Australia doesn’t disappoint.
From rainforests to reefs and crocodile cruising to desert hiking – the adventurous traveler has plenty of options to choose.
Where to Go in Northern Australia
During Australia’s winter months, the best travel destinations by far are in Queensland and the Northern Territory. Western Australia, which includes Perth, is also a good bet; however, the extra cost of flying to Perth may be beyond many budgets.
This article focuses on Week 1 of a three-week itinerary that covers some of the many highlights of Queensland and the Northern Territory.
Flying or Driving on an Australia Vacation
Distance is one of the biggest consideration when creating an itinerary for a trip to Australia – particularly if time is limited. Australia is a very big country – almost as big as the continental United States but without the population and the extensive network of highways.
Driving the 1700 kilometers from Brisbane to Cairns up the Queensland coast for example, could take several days, while a trip from Cairns to Darwin covers 2700 kilometers – much of it on a two line highway through the Outback where services are few and far between. A drive south from Darwin to Alice Springs in the center of the continent requires at least two days and covers 1400 kilometers.
Travelers accustomed to driving holidays may want to rethink their priorities and fly from point to point. Airlines such as Qantas provide visitors from outside Australia with some very good air pass deals that include air fare from North America and several internal flights.
Week One of A Great Australian Itinerary
In the first week of a three-week tour to Australia, start in Queensland. Travel is via a combination of bus, plane, and tour operator. Here is a summary of an itinerary for Week 1:
- Day 1: Explore Brisbane
- Days 2 and 3: Byron Bay and Brunswick Heads
- Day 4: Noosa
- Days 5 and 6: Adventure Tour to Fraser Island
- Day 7: Fly to Cairns
- Day 8: Explore Kuranda
Exploring Brisbane and the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
On your first day in Australia, arrive early in the morning in Brisbane on an overnight flight from North America or Europe and spend the day cruising up the Brisbane River for some serious koala cuddling at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.
Byron Bay and Brunswick Heads
On Day 2, catch a bus south to Byron Bay from Brisbane and then explore the gorgeous beaches while getting over jet lag. A good option for the laid back traveler is Brunswick Heads, a small town close to the beach just north of Byron Bay. Stay two nights in the area for a relaxing time.
On Day 4, take the bus up to Brisbane and then north to trendy Noosa on the Queensland coast. Enjoy some great dining options in the evening along the beautifully kept main street.
Fraser Island Adventure Tour
Early in the morning on Day 5, join a two-day adventure tour to Fraser Island to explore rainforests, drive along endless sandy beaches, and dip into pristine freshwater lakes. Several tour operators offer tours to suit every budget. A good bet is a smaller tour operator that transports visitors in 10-seater four wheel drive jeeps, provides camping accommodation, and includes outdoor activities such as hiking and swimming.
Flying to Cairns
On Day 7, take the bus back to Brisbane from Noosa and then catch a flight to Cairns in northeastern Queensland. Enjoy a walk around Cairns in the evening.
On Day 8, buy a ticket for the full day excursion to Kuranda in the hills outside Cairns. The trip includes a cable car ride up and over the tropical rainforest, time to explore the markets of Kuranda, and then a steam train ride winding down the hills and back into Cairns.
In Week 2, explore Port Douglas and the Great Barrier Reef and then fly to Darwin and take a tour of the Kakadu National Park.
In Week 3, go south to Alice Springs in the Red Centre and catch a three-day adventure tour that includes famed Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kata Tjuka (the Olgas) and Glen Canyon. Then fly back to Sydney for a full day of sightseeing before heading home.