Australia is one of the most beautiful continents I have visited. From coral reefs to cities like Sydney or Melbourne, from the beaches to the desert, Australia, more than a trip is a great adventure, to see the animals that live there and get to know the Australians and the Aboriginals that enriched me so much, I came back different.
Whether for a long trip on the road, for a holiday or moving to Australia to work, you're in the right place. Australia is the largest island in the world and the smallest continent. A trip to Australia is ideal for those who dream of wide open spaces with wonderful contrasts with tropical forests, endless deserts, savannahs, mountains eroded by the winds, modern cities and the Great Barrier Reef or the green island of Tasmania.
Fascinating and amazing aspects completely different from each other coexist in every corner of the country, while along the shores of Australia are dynamic and modern big cities like Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, or sleepy towns like Perth, Victoria and Adelaide, inland, to a few hundred kilometers from the metropolis, is still an untouched nature, pristine landscapes and a unique fauna in the world.
Its modern cities are also rich in history and the enchanting spectacle of the reef and the mysterious and fascinating monolith Ayers Rock, the tropical forest and the magical Kangaroo Island, Australia is a kingdom of unspoiled nature which houses a unique fauna in the world.
Vibrant culture and the heterogeneous population added value to a continent that has suffered for centuries away from European civilization, the distance that still can be seen from time to time in the little sophistication of the people, much more prone to the simplicity and the naturalness of morals.
The continent with the wild and dangerous nature is made up of young people and is an only opportunity for those who will seize, the Spartan concept of Darwin, where the law of the jungle applies unchallenged.
Such places could only remain in heart and spirit. Australia is an incredibly beautiful country! I'm honest, at the beginning I was not convinced to go there for honeymoon, but I was persuaded and it was one of the best choices I've ever made!
In Australia we liked just about everything, from the cities, lively but with a very relaxed pace, the beautiful landscapes of the Red Centre to the intense blue color of the sea to the Whitsundays! Sea, desert, waterfalls, rain forests, flora, fauna.
In Australia we have seen it all meeting a lot of strange along our path animals like crocodiles, buffalo, wallabies, kangaroos, koalas, echidnas, the smallest penguins in the world of Phillip Island, sea lions and countless insects and colorful birds so fun and so different from what we are used to!
But one of the things that struck me is the sky of Australia which I thought was immensely great as the stars, big, beautiful and lots! The distances from one place to another are huge and to get around is normal to take a plane, otherwise the alternative is to travel thousands of kilometers by car in complete solitude!
Now we just have to stop for a moment, reorder emotions and thoughts and then begin to share with you all the wonderful experiences and adventures we experienced!
Melbourne: A piece of Europe in Australia
After a eleven hour train journey we arrive in Melbourne, the most European of the Australian cities. The state capital, Victoria is perhaps the one that collects the highest number of immigrants, and this is reflected immediately on food stores, which here are full of every culinary sophistication possible. Speaking of food the Queen Victoria Market, the Old Market, is a must. You will find from fruits to vegetables to wine, all types of meat, cheese, and fish, whether organic, different types of bread and delicacies, but also souvenirs, pans, and clothing in general.
Federation Square is the main square from where you can reach the Alexandra Gardens, Anzac is the monument to the fallen of World War II, and the spectacular and fascinating Royal Botanic Gardens. All major cities have botanical gardens, but the ones in Melbourne are those that I have left in the heart.
Not far away are the National Gallery of Victoria and the Australian Centre of Contemporary Art. Returning to the river you can visit the Immigration Museum and Aquarium. The Fitzroy Gardens, are another small chest of wonders from which to depart for a visit to Parliament House, Princess Theatre, St. Patrick's Cathedral and not far the Melbourne Museum and Royal Exhibition Building, Carlton Gardens with.
About an hour away from Melbourne is the Yarra Vale wine region. No wonder that Sydney and Melbourne have been disputed as the capital of Australia and even that in the end was chosen a third city halfway between the two. They are both beautiful: Melbourne has a taste all its own modern and old, grayscale and colorful buildings, symmetrical shapes and not, here everything is the other way around, but they marry very well, and I do not doubt that it is liveable, thanks also to the efficient public transport, partly free. Definitely worth a visit.
Adelaide, South Australia
Twelve hours by bus and an hour and a half's time zone difference, and you will be in Adelaide, in the state of South Australia, only city not to have been built using prisoners, and architecturally speaking, the least impressive. Here water difficulties affecting a large part of the Australian continent are perceptible and recommends the judicious use of water.
The visit may begin by the inevitable Botanic Gardens, perfect and very pleasant on a sunny day. Apart from the usual and relaxing walk, you can benefit from the melodious voice of a singer, and the nearby Wine Centre, wine center that provides automated wine dispensers with rechargeable card. In this park there are also rows of vines, such as Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Merlot and Sangiovese etc etc. There is also an exhibition area and a small museum dedicated to the nectar of Bacchus.
Adelaide Oval stadium is the most famous cricket ground in Australia. Beautiful experience to walk along the banks of the River Torrens. The wine-growing areas within the city are Adelaide Hills, with verdant hills, eucalyptus trees called gumtrees here, where it's not unusual to see a koala crossing the road. Point out the extremely natural producer, Lucy Margaux. McLaren Vale, Clare Valley and Barossa Valley, a wine growing region became famous for its structured wines with strong references of jams, fortunately now less popular.
Perth, free spirit par excellence
If you have two days and at least $ 500 to spend, you can head to Perth by train, which is a scenic journey and, as I mentioned is unforgettable. Perth is a city with a free spirit par excellence, hard to label it as evolving. Located in the state of Western Australia, highly enjoyable, for some it may be a bit boring.
To see the Kings Park and Botanic Gardens, from which you can enjoy the view of the whole city. Are immense, there are bush areas, a panoramic bridge, flowers and meadows that are lost on the horizon, eateries, very colorful gift shop and for my very accessible pockets and Aboriginal art shop very attractive. The esplanade is full of work in progress, here is the Bell Tower.
The Swan Brewery, is a big red building that houses two different restaurants, one dedicated to elegant seafood and a refined where to be a favorite is the meat, including the kangaroo; fantastic, moreover, the view that one enjoys. In Perth Cultural Centre you can visit the State Library of Western Australia, the Western Australian Museum, the Art Gallery of Western Australia. Also this city is proud to have its own aquarium and a zoo.
The two wine producing areas are: the nearby Swan That is about half an hour and the most distant and promising Margaret River.
Sydney: What to See on a Trip to Australia
A visit to Australia would be complete without an inevitable stop in Sydney. If Melbourne was love at first sight, Sydney no doubt, was the charming city that struck us immediately. Despite being the middle of winter, Sydney in Australia today gives me one of its typical warm, sunny days. And there is no better day to discover the CBD, its beautiful bay and the beautiful beaches. Nothing is better that the Sydney Opera House, and so I would say to start this tour of the city from Circular Quay, which is a bit the center of Sydney.
In fact, this is where the British colonists landed in 1788 and established the first Australian colony. Today Circular Quay is a strategic point from which to visit the city on foot, by train, by bus or ferry. Virtually anywhere in the city can be reached from here! But the most important thing is that Circular Quay is home to many of the city's best attractions!
From here you can walk to the Opera House, the undisputed icon of Sydney and Australia. Who would not recognize this beautiful work of art designed by Jørn Utzon, with its white sails, which really were not designed as sails, but as segments of a sphere that sparkle in the sun. Simply magnificent.
From there you can continue your walk inside the Royal Botanic Gardens, an oasis of 30 hectares of up to Mrs Macquarie's Chair, one of the sights of the city, with the Opera House in the foreground and the Sydney Harbour Bridge on background.
After exploring the length and breadth of the gardens, you can walk along Macquarie Street from the New South Wales State Library at Hyde Park. This road is one of the oldest in the city and home to some of its most historic buildings, such as the parliament of New South Wales, the hospital, the mint, the barricades and finally the St Mary's Cathedral. This is the catholic cathedral of the city, and one of the most beautiful churches in all of Sydney!
And so we come to Hyde Park, the most central of the three city parks. As you cross the park in all its length, you cannot help but notice the beautiful trees that line the central promenade and if you come here in the evening you can see dozens of possum running from tree to tree in the park! At the opposite end of the park you can briefly stop at the Anzac Memorial, a monument in tribute to the fallen Australian and New Zealand heroes, which also houses a small museum.
From here you can easily reach Darling Harbour, passing through Chinatown, a must for lovers of Asian cuisine. Darling Harbour is one of the keys of the city centers, and one of the most popular tourist destinations. From the casinos at the Hard Rock Cafe, Imax, the aquarium, through the wealth of restaurants, bars and clubs, here you will find pretty much everything. Not to mention that the city every Saturday at 9 pm offers fireworks, fired from the middle of the bay. This is one really nice free show and a must-see for those in the area.
When you just walk around the city in Sydney, you cannot miss some wonderful beaches! The top destinations and reachable by public transport are the beaches of Bondi and Manly. Bondi Beach is perhaps the most famous Australian beach abroad, and quite right! It is a very long boomerang-shaped beach, almost always populated for swimmers and surfers. Here is also the part of the famous promenade that comes from Bondi to Coogee, always along the coast, from where the view is simply breathtaking, and really is a hike for anyone!
To Manly instead you have to arrive by ferry, with a journey that lasts half an hour and has a spectacular view of the city, the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. At Manly there are a lot of wonderful beaches and is a paradise for surfers and lovers of beaches. And with this limpid sea, here we are at the end of our first journey to discover Sydney.
The Hunter Valley
At about 250 kilometers north of Sydney is the Hunter Valley, the oldest wine region of Australia. My advice is to visit the winery's Tyrell, very interesting wines that sprout prices, unfortunately, little cheap, but well worth it.
If the wine you are interested but not enough to tackle a trip out of town, know that in this valley is also a distillery, and a chocolate factory, in my opinion uninteresting if you have the misfortune of a refined palate, but still fun if you like fudge, here in different versions.
After a month spent visiting Australia, counting a total of 10 flights, up to a maximum of 10 hours of time and spending 21 hours of flight returning from Brisbane via Singapore, we are now at home!
Practical tips for a DIY trip to Australia
COST OF A TRIP TO AUSTRALIA
Australia is expensive, from the intercontinental flights, traveling cost, hotels, cars and restaurants. Everything here is costly. This is not to scare anyone, but you have to deal with reality. Having said that it is also true that if you want you may not spend a fortune and still have an unforgettable experience. We, for example, despite being on honeymoon, sometimes opted for the cheaper solutions such as hostels or lodges booked online, so we could cook in the evening and breakfast in the morning while saving a little something.
In any case the cost of a very comfortable accommodation, also depends on the period in which you visit. We stayed there during New Year, so it is normal to have found in some cases very high prices.
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED TO ENTER IN AUSTRALIA
To enter Australia you must make an online request to obtain a tourist visa. f you need information on other visas, you can check the site of Tourism Australia, where you can find all visas explained one by one. If you have a passport from a European Union country, to get a tourist visa for a period of three months, you will have to apply on the official website of the eVisitor (subclass 651) visa.
After online request, you will receive permission to enter Australia, directly into your inbox, so make sure you entered the correct email address, otherwise you will not have the possibility to recover it.
MOVING AROUND AUSTRALIA
PLANE: Australia is all immensely great and far, and initially could not believe to have to take all of those planes to move from city to city. Then I realized that for example between Melbourne and Sydney, on Google Maps seem so close, is in fact 900 km away (10 hours by car), so here the plane easily wins in both for convenience and for speed, especially if you have a limited time.
CARS: we rented for seven days in the Northern Territory (Darwin, Litchfield National Park and Kakadu National Park) and to make a wonderful on the road trip from Adelaide to Melbourne along the entire Great Ocean Road.
FERRY: To reach Kangaroo Island, we took a ferry which takes about 45 minutes. If you suffer from seasickness equip yourself with anti-vomiting pill and sit in the rear of the ship.
WHERE TO STAY IN AUSTRALIA
Australia is a country suitable for all types of travelers, you will always find beautiful hotels and resorts for those who want a 5 star holiday, as well as more basic options for those traveling low cost. We have tried market hotels, camping and accommodation in bungalows, swags, hostels and apartments. We stayed virtually everywhere.
RENT A CAR IN AUSTRALIA
For driving in Australia, you must have the international driver's license, to require the DMV to time (counted about two weeks for it). You can apply for both versions of the International Driving License accepted because both basically the difference lies in the duration, version of the 1949 Geneva Convention has a duration of one year while the Vienna Convention of 1968 takes three.
Driving in Australia is right, this will destabilize initially a bit, but in fact the streets are so big and there are so few cars around that you will not even notice! We rented in the Northern Territory a 4×4 and for on the road on the Great Ocean Road, with which we have never had problems around the globe. In general, respect speed limits and never drink before you get driving, as the penalties are very high and strict in these cases.
WHAT TO EAT IN AUSTRALIA
Before leaving I was very biased on food in Australia, but in fact I have to say I found always good and much better than in the US. You will find plenty of meat dishes like burgers and fries and a lot of special meats like kangaroo meat, crocodile and buffalo, especially in Northern Territory and Outback. In big cities you will always find food of all kinds, from Chinese to Japanese, from Indian to Mexican, so there really is something for all tastes.
The discovery of the century concerns the most delicious chocolate biscuit in the world called The Tim Tam.
Three days in Perth
After 18 hours of flight, Perth was the first city in Australia where we landed. Perth is a city isolated from the rest of Australia, has a special atmosphere and lively that we have not found in other cities during our trip. My advice is to spend about three days to explore Perth, two for visiting the city and its pearls and one to relax in beautiful Fremantle and enjoy a romantic sunset at Cottesloe Beach. If you want further information about Perth I wrote a post just dedicated.
Where to stay in Perth: Hotel
7 days in the Northern Territory
After landing in Darwin, rent a car. Depending on the time, whether wet or dry season, decide exactly where you need a regular car or a 4×4 and go to the discovery of a wonderful part of Australia that will make you run out of breath for the beauty of its nature. Waterfalls, beautiful landscapes, beautiful animals will be a constant that you will never get tired.
Darwin is a city that you can easily visit in a day, and do not miss the Darwin Waterfront area and a meal of fresh seafood at Stokes Hill Wharf where you can enjoy your meal in the company of a beautiful sea view and some seagulls that sometimes will unscrupulously and gracefully approach you to eat potato chips.
Litchfield National Park. Here you will be immersed in nature, beautiful scenery and wonderful waterfalls.
Kakadu National Park: In any case do not miss a visit to Nourlangie and a small cruise to admire crocodiles, birds and many other animals in the very early hours of the morning.
Where to stay in Darwin: Resort
Where to stay in Litchfield National Park: Tourist Lodge
Where to stay in Kakadu National Park: Lodge
Four days in Outback
The four-day Australian Outback was the most beautiful of my life. Here you drive along kilometers and kilometers without ever meeting anyone. Here you can appreciate Australia, the real one. Here you'll be faced with the enormity of gorgeous natural settings. You'll see Aboriginal people and you will seem to be in another dimension for the duration of the trip.
The 3 Day Ayers Rock Tour lasted 3 days and 2 nights with departure and return to Alice Springs. And an adventure tour, this means that you are together with other travelers, which makes the base in a field where you cook and clean together, where you sleep in the swag on the ground surrounded by a starry sky that I still shudder to think about it and where you should not expect luxury as we know it. Here luxury is to be able to sleep and watch the stars and listen to the sounds of nature in complete silence. And all this is priceless.
What to see in Outback
Uluru: With a sacred rock 867 meters high, Uluru changes color every hour of the day or night. You will be speechless in front of such beauty and you will be even more amazed admiring him walking through the path Base Walk of 10 km around it. Try to respect this place for Aborigines has great spiritual importance so that should not be stepped on by human foot.
Kata Tjuta - (Monti Olgas): A spectacular group of rocks located about 35 km from Uluru. Explore it along the loop trail Valley of the winds along about 7 km (2-4h).
King's Canyon : Follow the Kings Canyon Rim Walk, a distance of 6 km (about 4 hours) that initially provides a challenging climb, but then winds along a fairly flat course surrounded by a really exciting landscape. During the hottest time it is to do at dawn (around 5.30-6) otherwise there are serious risks to their health.
Latest thing is true for all three places. In the hottest time during the course excursions carry more and 2 liters of water per person, as well as sunscreen protection is to be applied several times and a hat to protect from the sun.
One day in Adelaide
After three days in the Outback we take the flight to Adelaide, a flight which not only lead us to the south coast of Australia, it takes us in a completely different dimension from that lived in the Red Centre. It was like waking up from a long and beautiful dream and return to reality.
Adelaide greeted us on Sunday with a beautiful blue sky and a hot sun. The shops, restaurants etc. usually on Sundays are all closed maybe because it was very close to Christmas. So we took the opportunity to relax and explore the city on foot. Adelaide is an easy city to get around and I recommend you to not miss a visit to the Central Market, Adelaide Botanic Garden and try a beer at Coopers Brewery.
Where to stay in Adelaide: Hotel
Two days on Kangaroo Island
After collecting our hire car we are ready for the long awaited Kangaroo Island. The trip with the ferry takes lasts about 45 minutes, but I advise you to take pills or anti-vomiting bracelets because if there's rough seas it will be the longest 45 minutes of your life. Kangaroo Island is an island gem, as here you will find nature, beautiful landscapes, the sea of intense blue color and lots of animals to be admired in all their beauty. The island seems small on the map, but in reality is very large so organized things well worth seeing. I advise you to visit:
Flinders Chase National Park: Located in the west of the island, this park is one of the most famous of cost South Australia. Behind the visitor center you can find many hiking trails, the best known is what is called Rocky River Hike, a path length of about 9 km (3h walk) where you can see many animals in their natural habitat such as kangaroos, wallabies, echidna and huge lizards. Inside the park before leaving visit Remarkable Rocks, a large group of granite boulders sculpted by the elements and Admiral Arch , a large bow on the rocks where you can observe the very noisy sea lions groups.
Seal Bay Conservation Park. Here you can see the Australian sea lions through guided tours. We preferred, considering the price of the tour, to visit the nature reserve on our own. It must be said that if you opt for a guided tour, you can go right on the beach to observe the sea lions up close or you will have to observe it by a wooden walkway that is a little further away.
Where to stay low cost at Kangaroo Island: Lodge or bungalows.
4 days - Great Ocean Road to Melbourne
To return to the coast we took the ferry from Cape Jervis to Penneshaw early in the morning so as to be in the evening at Mount Gambier. Driving time to go to the Great Ocean Road is very long and sometimes boring, we drove 500 km in about anything until you reach the pleasant town of Mount Gambier. A Mount Gambier stop just to sleep and the next morning spread but not before having crossed the 5 km around the Blue Lake, a lake that during the summer is colored with a wonderful deep blue.
The trip on the Great Ocean Road is quite difficult to tell, especially for the many places to visit along the way. My advice is to stop on the street that most inspires you. It's still a road trip so let yourself be carried away by the sense of the journey. In any case, for convenience I have listed below the places that we liked best and where I suggest you stop between Mount Gambier and Port Campbell in Port Fairy, The Grotto, London Bridge, and The Arch and between Port Campbell and Melbourne, in Loch and Gorge, Razorback Lookout, The Twelve Apostles , Teddy's lookout, Torquay and Apollo Bay.
I have almost no words to describe the beauty of the rocks smoothed by the sea and wind, the colors of the sea and the sky and the almost deafening sound of the waves and the wind. The show here is exciting! I recommend you to go there towards the hour of sunset or early morning before getting back in the car to continue your journey.
Where to stay and eat in Mount Gambier: Resort. The meat restaurant in the complex is the most delicious restaurant where I have ever eaten in life. The meat is exceptional as well as the garlic bread, desserts and excellent wine list, and do not miss it for the world!
Where to stay in Port Campbell: Inn
Two days in Melbourne
Melbourne is one of the most vibrant cities in Australia. Here in fact are concentrated cultures and traditions from all over the world, cultural and sporting type events, exhibitions, museums and things to do would be endless. I advise you to spend two full days in Melbourne by adding a visit at Phillip Island.
What not to miss in Melbourne: Federation Square, the vital heart of the city. National Gallery of Victoria International (free admission). Shopping through the central streets. Chinatown. Walking along the river with dinner at one of the many restaurants overlooking the River. Quartier Fitzroy. Melbourne Cricket Ground and Fitzroy Gardens. Move around the city by tram number 35. St Kilda, a place to relax by the sea or strolling through the streets of curly district of shops and places to enjoy a great brunch.
Where to stay in Melbourne: Apartment
One day at Phillip Island
Phillip Island is about two hours drive from Melbourne and here you can not miss the beautiful parade of the smallest penguins in the world, the smaller blue penguins. Every evening at sunset (check out the website for information about opening times) the penguins go up from the sea expecting the other to go and spend the night in their dens. To respect their habitat is strictly forbidden to take pictures with the flash because it would scare them to death and make noise with screaming and shouting. Once the sun is down it will actually be dark but it is the best time to observe the activities of the penguins before they retire for the night.
Practical advice: Bring something heavy to wear because the temperature drops a lot and sandwiches to eat for dinner. Also I recommend you buy tickets online before the entrance because the reserve contains a maximum of 3,800 people and the line of cars to get there is almost endless, and who does not have the ticket may not be lucky and must return in the evening after or totally lose this natural spectacle.
Finally before returning to Melbourne, again at Phillip Island you can visit the circuit or take some pictures from the outside as we did. Our itinerary will continue towards Sydney for New Year, and then spend the last week at sea between the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsundays.