Most people who have taken part in a pub quiz with a round on Australia will have tripped over a question put there to confound: which national capital is closest to Perth? Your pen scribbles down the word “Canberra” – because that has to be the answer, surely – only for the results to reveal that, by air, there are 1,919 miles (3,088km) between Australia’s chief city and its lone west-coast metropolis, but “only” 1,875 miles (3,018km) between Perth and Indonesia’s kingpin Jakarta. There goes your chance of winning.
It is nuggets of trivia like this which demonstrate just how enormous a country Australia is. Here is a southern hemisphere giant where some of the globe’s most alluring cities knock elbows with some of its sparsest desert; a sunny oasis where soft beaches keep company with colossal coral reefs and stark stretches of dramatic shoreline.
Here too is a place that, in terms of travel appeal, can be broken into seven vast segments – six states and one territory, each a little different from its neighbour: New South Wales (visitnsw.com), where Sydney stands as one of the most recognisable cityscapes on Earth; Victoria (tourismvictoria.com), where the Great Ocean Road is fly-drive paradise; South Australia (southaustralia.com), where Adelaide is an urban jewel, but the Flinders Ranges rise as outriders for the Outback; Western Australia (westernaustralia.com), where Perth and the Kimberley do the same contrast dance; the Northern Territory, where the Outback blazes fully, Uluru its emblem (northernterritory.com); Queensland, where the beach seems to go on forever, the Great Barrier Reef its shadow (queensland.com); and Tasmania (discovertasmania.com.au), the island state where wildlife darts between peaks and lakes.
A broad canvas for holidays, then. And one that has become a little more accessible for British tourists recently. Last March saw Qantas (0800 964 432; qantas.com) launch the first direct flight between Australia and the UK – a 17-hour service to Perth from Heathrow. But it was hardly unreachable before this innovation. Other options include British Airways (0344 493 0787; ba.com), from Heathrow to Sydney, Emirates (0344 800 2777; emirates.com) to Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne from a range of UK airports, via Dubai – and Etihad (0345 608 1225; etihad.com), to Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney via Abu Dhabi from Manchester and Heathrow. Qatar Airways (0330 024 0127; qatarairways.com) and Singapore Airlines (020 8961 6993; singaporeair.com) are further one-stop possibilities, while Qantas serves Melbourne and Sydney from Heathrow as well as Perth.
Today, of course, is Australia Day – the point in the calendar when the country celebrates itself in a happy haze of fireworks, festivities and family fun (albeit during the ongoing heatwave). If their national holiday is enough to make you dream of a Down Under holiday of your own, then one of the 30 getaways described here could be just the trip for you.
New South Wales
Big city brilliance
The capital of New South Wales (uk.sydney.com) is many a traveller’s idea of the perfect context for an Australian holiday – and there is nothing wrong with basing yourself in Sydney and focusing on a metropolis that deals in global landmarks such as Sydney Opera House (sydneyoperahouse.com), the Harbour Bridge and Bondi Beach. A 10-night break, flying from Heathrow on March 10, staying at the five-star Shangri-La Hotel, costs from £1,659 a head with British Airways Holidays (ba.com/holidays). Viator (viator.com) dispenses a day trip (ref: 2230S15) to the Blue Mountains on the city’s doorstep, from £91 each.
The combination of state capitals and near-at-hand wine regions is one of Australia’s most enticing facets – and Sydney matches the viticultural exploits of Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth where the Hunter Valley (winecountry.com.au) spreads across misty slopes 150 miles (240km) to the north. Hunter Valley Wine Tasting Tours runs day trips for A$110 (£61) a head (huntervalleywinetastingtours.com.au), while Trafalgar (0808 271 3054; trafalgar.com) sells a four-day “Sydney’s Food And Wine Discovery” package that visits several wineries – and can be built into a longer getaway. From £835 a head; flights extra.
Road to Mel
The Great Ocean Road – along the southern shore of Victoria – steals much of the thunder when it comes to Australian coastal road trips. But New South Wales can also boast seafront that is worthy of long, leisurely days behind the wheel. Kuoni (0800 140 4764; kuoni.co.uk) suggests a six-night “Sydney to Melbourne Self-Drive” that trundles south-west via the likes of Wollongong (the state’s third-biggest city), Jervis Bay (an oceanic hotspot with famously white sands) and Tilba Tilba (a splendidly picturesque village practically on the state line). From £2,295 a head – including flights and car rental.
Like Sydney, Melbourne (visitmelbourne.com) can easily entertain visitors for a week of its own accord – whether in the waterfront cafes of St Kilda, the lively bars of Fitzroy, or at the National Gallery of Victoria (ngv.vic.gov.au), where paintings by Monet, Picasso and Rembrandt adorn the walls. An eight-night escape with Etihad Holidays (0345 600 8118; etihadholidays.com), flying from Heathrow on Feb 16, and staying at the five-star Westin Melbourne on a room-only basis, starts at £1,659 per person. The booking process lets travellers set up excursions in advance. Adding on day trips (for two) to the wineries of the Yarra Valley, plus the Mornington Peninsula, raises that figure to £1,831 per person.
The need for speed
Melbourne holds a vaunted position in the motorsports world. It has hosted the Australian Grand Prix since 1996 – and on all but two of the subsequent years, the race has been the curtain-raiser to the Formula One season. It is usually a thrilling affair, cars roaring round the Albert Park street circuit. If you’re fast yourself, you can be there for the 2019 edition, on March 17. Motor Sports Travel (020 7183 2022; motorsportstravel.co.uk) is offering eight-night packages (flights, accommodation and grandstand tickets) from £1,799 per person.
So revered is the Great Ocean Road that its reputation dwarfs its real size. This hallowed highway runs for just 151 miles (243km), between the Victoria towns of Torquay and Allansford. However, it crams a lot into its curves and corners – from wave-lashed bluff Cape Otway to the limestone stacks of the Twelve Apostles, as well as the fair chance of glimpses of southern right whales near Warrnambool. It is also often part of a longer trip between Melbourne and Adelaide – such as the eight-day self-drive dispensed by the Ultimate Travel Company (020 3553 9218; theultimatetravelcompany.co.uk), from £1,190 per person – flights extra.
Leaps and bounds
Sometimes unfavourably compared with Sydney and Melbourne, Adelaide can, in fact, compete with its state-capital colleagues – on culture in the natural history of the South Australian Museum (samuseum.sa.gov.au), on wine in the vineyards of the neighbouring Barossa Valley (barossa.com), and on nature in the self-explanatory outcrop of Kangaroo Island. Emirates Holidays (020 8972 8951; emiratesholidays.com) has a seven-night “South Australia Discovery” getaway that spends two nights in the city – before going in search of viticulture. From £2,085 per person – including flights via Dubai.
Of all the state capitals, Adelaide is arguably the most convenient starting grid for dashes to the Outback. The upper reaches of South Australia are a hard precursor to the red-dust majesty of the Australian interior, scratching the sky in the ridges of the Flinders Ranges, and plumbing fascinating depths at Wilpena Pound, a natural amphitheatre of mysterious origins. Australian Sky (01342 889672; australiansky.co.uk) will carry you to both on its four-day “Flinders Ranges 4WD Experience”, from £489 per person – or take you further afield with its 14-night “Heart of Australia Self-Drive”, which forges north from Adelaide, halting at the remote town of Coober Pedy, before crossing into the Northern Territory for dates with Alice Springs and Uluru. From £1,279 per person – flights extra in both cases.
Set at the centre of mainland Australia, Uluru can also be approached from the north – a fine idea, as a journey down from the “Top End” of the Northern Territory shows the soul of the country. Kakadu National Park (parksaustralia.gov.au/kakadu), 100 miles (160km) south-east of the regional capital, Darwin, is a case in point – outcrops in the Ubirr section of the park are coated with aboriginal paintings. Arnhem Land, of which Kakadu is a part, is home to a large population of indigenous Yolngu people – and similarly blessed with ancient art. Access to the area is restricted to travellers with specialist guides – which makes the “Northern Territory Cultural Journey” offered by the Inspiring Travel Company (01244 435879; inspiringtravelcompany.co.uk) an attractive prospect. This 12-night escapade enters Arnhem Land (and Kakadu) en route to Alice Springs and the red monolith beyond (before hightailing it to Sydney). From £3,499 per person, with international flights.
Right on track
It is, of course, possible to scythe down through the Northern Territory in a style whose soft-cushioned luxury is in total contrast to the aridity of the scenery outside the window. The Ghan train line runs 1,851 miles (2,979km) south from Darwin to Adelaide, pausing in Alice Springs at the midway point of its 54-hour journey. It is the highlight of a 15-day trip sold by The Luxury Holiday Company (020 7590 0774; theluxuryholidaycompany.com) – although there is competition from Nitmiluk National Park and the sheer Katherine Gorge, which (along with Uluru) also appear in the itinerary. From £6,740 per person with flights.
Heaven and Perth
Perth may be a metropolitan outpost, removed from its state-capital colleagues, but it can be a fine base for an Australian holiday. It revels in high culture, including a wealth of aboriginal art, at the Art Gallery of Western Australia (artgallery.wa.gov.au), and in fiery sunsets on Cottesloe Beach. It is also a gateway to Margaret River (margaretriver.com) – Western Australia’s wine region, 170 miles (274km) south. Audley Travel (01993 228015; audleytravel.com) offers “Southwest Uncovered” – a 14-day road trip that visits both, as well as the south-coast seaside town of Albany. From £3,425 a head, with flights.
By some distance the country’s biggest state, taking up almost one third of the land mass, Western Australia throws off Perth’s urban stylings in its far north, where the Kimberley region flexes its muscles as a labyrinth of sandstone peaks, limestone gorges and parched terrain under a fierce sun. A superb context for exploration? Absolutely. Intrepid (0808 274 5111; intrepidtravel.com) sells “The Great Kimberley Overland”, a 13-day group tour aimed at younger travellers, which dissects the region in detail – from the coastal town of Broome, where Cable Beach eyes the Indian Ocean, to the cave system of Tunnel Creek, and Purnululu National Park, where the conical rocks of the Bungle Bungle range play games of geometry. The next departure is May 4; from £2,635 per person, flights extra.
The same serrated region can be seen on a more genteel basis via the “Cruise Western Australia” holiday dispensed by Steppes Travel (01285 601 776; steppestravel.com). This 14-day voyage on True North carries its passengers west along the Kimberley’s sharp-toothed coast, from the port of Wyndham (hidden slightly inland on Cambridge Gulf) to Broome. A journey of 600 miles (966km), it also takes in the Gwion Gwion rock paintings, which talk of the region’s aboriginal heritage, and the Mitchell River, where crocodiles skulk in the water. From £13,795 per person, with flights. Sailings between April and September.
From the Cradle
The island state’s relative isolation – it lingers 150 miles (240km) south of the mainland, across the Bass Strait – means it presents a different version of Australia; quieter, greener and less sun-baked. Prestige Holidays (01425 484044; prestigeaustralia.co.uk) proffers a nine-day “Classic Tasmania” road trip, which peers into some of these calmer corners: Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, where the titular peak clambers to 5,069ft; second city Launceston, where vineyards flourish on the outskirts; Freycinet National Park, sweeping down its lonely peninsula on the east coast, the sea gnawing at white-sand beaches. From £2,025 per person, including car hire and international flights.
Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is the remarkable outer packaging to the Overland Track – a popular Tasmania hiking route that winds between the two natural wonders in question. Officially, it is only 40 miles (65km) in length, but when side-paths are also tackled over what is tough terrain, the track can be a challenge, requiring the best part of a week on foot. This is the thinking behind the trip sold by World Expeditions (0800 074 4135; worldexpeditions.com), which takes six days to complete the walk – via landmarks such as the summit of Mount Ossa, the island’s highest peak. From £1,350 a head, flights extra.
Second only to Western Australia in length of shoreline (it rubs shoulders with the sea for 4,333 miles/6,973km), Queensland has come to dominate travel perceptions of the east flank of the country – powdery beaches and the coral shards of the Great Barrier Reef shining in the mind’s eye. This is not an inaccurate image, and if you wish to head to Australia for a tan above anything else, Queensland will meet your expectations. Turquoise Holidays (01494 678400; turquoiseholidays.co.uk) offers a 14-day “Surf, Sand & Sea” break that ticks off the state capital, Brisbane, the epic sandbar of Fraser Island, pretty coastal hotspot Noosa, and Hamilton Island, the largest inhabited island of the Whitsundays. From £4,995 per person, with flights.
Queensland is more celebrated on water than on land – thanks to the Great Barrier Reef, whose 3,000 islets and reefs stretch across 1,400 miles (2,250km) of the Coral Sea. This, of course, is nirvana for those who are never happier than when below the surface. Dive Worldwide (01962 302087; diveworldwide.com) dispenses a 15-day “Queensland Dive Adventure” which spends a week on a liveaboard vessel, charting 450 miles (725km) of this world wonder. This is enough time for up to 26 dives – while there is also a chance to vanish into the heavy tree line of Daintree National Park at the start of the break. From £3,745 a head, including flights.
Such is the length of the state’s coast that it occupies different climate zones – becoming even hotter and more humid where tropical North Queensland swarms across Cape York Peninsula. How to experience this gradual change in an unhurried manner? Perhaps via “Queensland Sand, Sailing & Dreamtime” – a 12-day odyssey aimed at young travellers by G Adventures (0344 272 2010; gadventures.co.uk). This covers the 1,050 miles (1,690km) from Brisbane to Cairns using a variety of vehicles, including a yacht that takes three days to sail through the Whitsunday Islands. Next tour May 18; from £1,549 a head, flights extra.
If feeling the breeze on deck in the Whitsundays is just your thing, but three days are not enough, there is always the option of longer breaks by boat. Sunsail (0330 332 1208; sunsail.co.uk) offers bareboat charters for voyages around an archipelago of 74 islands strewn across 110 sq miles of Queensland water. A seven-night rental (by two passengers) of a Sunsail 403, picking up from Shute Harbour on March 2, costs from £3,929 in total (flights not included). Experienced skippers can be hired at extra cost.
Trick of the trail
The tendency is for travellers to see the Northern Territory from an air-conditioned car or train carriage. But for those who want to feel its dust under their soles, there is lots to be said for attempting the Larapinta Trail – a 140-mile (225km) hiking route that cuts west from Alice Springs to Mount Sonder, the Territory’s fourth-tallest peak (at 4,530ft). Australian Walking Holidays offers a guided “Classic Larapinta Trek”, which manages the distance in six days, staying in semi-permanent camps. Next departure April 8; from A$2,845 (£1,580) a head, flights extra (0800 074 4135; australianwalkingholidays.com.au).
Whale of a time
For all the stories about snakes and spiders of unfriendly temper fomented by nature documentaries, Australia offers wildlife experiences that deal in the serene rather than the scary. This is the case in Western Australia, where the coast is host to some of the planet’s most graceful marine mammals. Trailfinders (020 7084 6500; trailfinders.com) sells a 14-day “Western Shores and Whale Sharks” fly-drive, which provides snorkelling encounters with the big beasts in question along the Ningaloo Reef. Bottlenose dolphins are the order of the holiday in the town of Monkey Mia. From £1,430 a head, flights extra.
Tasmania’s pre-colonial history as an outpost (largely) isolated from the rest of the world bequeathed it a range of wildlife that bears careful inspection. The Tasmanian devil, now sadly endangered, is the headline attraction, but there are intriguing creatures beyond said misunderstood marsupial, such as the 40-spotted pardalote, one of Australia’s rarest birds, only found on Tasmania; and echidnas, egg-laying mammals that look half anteater, half hedgehog. Naturetrek’s (01962 733051; naturetrek.co.uk) “The Wilderness Isle” is a 17-day group trip that seeks all three. Next departure Nov 3; from £6,295 a head, with flights.
While the length of the flight may make the idea seem unpalatable with small children, there is no reason why Australia cannot be the backdrop to a family holiday. Austravel (01293 837119; austravel.com), for example, takes advantage of the laid-back vibe found along the Queensland coast with its “Family Adventurer”. This 15-day itinerary marries time on the beach at the Gold Coast, Noosa and Fraser Island, with days splashing around the Great Barrier Reef within the shelter of a resort on Lady Elliot Island. Prices start at £2,959 per adult and £1,999 per child, including car hire and international flights to Brisbane.
Hop to it
Cox & Kings (020 3797 8825; coxandkings.co.uk) makes a similar virtue of the child-friendliness of Victoria and South Australia in its 12-day “Wildlife and Wilderness Family Explorer”. The focus falls firmly on animal engagements, with a visit to a koala sanctuary near Melbourne, and a jaunt to Phillip Island (to the south of the Victoria capital) to see its fabled penguin population at Summerland Beach. The trend is repeated near Adelaide via three nights on Kangaroo Island – long enough for moments not just with the headline animals, but with the residents of Seal Bay as well. From £3,245 per person, flights extra.
While some of the prevailing images of Australia – whether it be red dirt and solid rocks, or backpacker bars and surfboards – can lend themselves to the idea that this is a country to be seen on the cheap, there are many ways to enjoy it in extravagant style. Even in the Outback. Wexas Travel (020 7590 0634; wexas.com) proves this latter point in its 16-day “Luxury Lodges of Australia” tour, which checks into the five-star Longitude 131° resort as it pays its respects to Uluru. It also opts for similarly stylish accommodation on Lizard and Kangaroo Islands, and in Daintree National Park. From £9,185 a head, with flights.
All in good taste
With its vineyards producing some of the globe’s best wines, and its key cities excelling in the kitchen, Australia can also be a setting for a holiday that luxuriates in the country’s fine flavours. Step forward Scott Dunn (020 3553 3512; scottdunn.com) and its “Culinary Australia” tour – 13 days in and around Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, sticking closely to the restaurant table and the tasting room. From £10,000 per person, including flights.
Jet set, go
The spectre of a bashed-up minivan on a desert highway is comprehensively banished by Abercrombie & Kent (01242 386471; abercrombiekent.co.uk) and its 12-day “Wings Over Australia” package. The clue is in the name – this is a high-end escorted tour that drops in on Sydney, Melbourne and Uluru by private-charter aircraft, deploys a similarly exclusive boat for sailing around Lizard Island and the Great Barrier Reef, and slips into slumbers in top-of-the-range accommodation in every location. From £22,385 per person.
Have it all
When the length of the journey to Australia from the UK is considered, it makes sense to book a holiday that chalks up as much of the country as possible. The great Adelaide-Darwin train is inevitably part of Great Rail’s (01904 521936; greatrail.com) “Australia & The Ghan” tour. But as this particular break spreads to 23 days, so too are Uluru, Sydney, Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road, and the Great Barrier Reef. From £6,695 per person, including international flights.
If the train is your dream mode of transport, the “Adventures Down Under” break offered by rail-holiday specialist Ffestiniog Travel (01766 512400; ffestiniogtravel.com) is sure to chime. This 20-day getaway spurns the “obvious” delights of The Ghan for an east-to-west odyssey through three states – riding the “Overland” train between Melbourne and Adelaide, then picking up the “Indian Pacific” line for the slow ride from the South Australia capital to Perth. From £4,600 a head, including flights, with three days in Singapore en route.
A journey across Australia does not have to feature planes, trains or automobiles. It can just as easily involve an ocean cruise. Perhaps on the Royal Caribbean (0844 493 4005; royalcaribbean.co.uk) grand dame Radiance of the Seas – scheduled to leave Perth on an “Australia Bottom End” voyage on Feb 25 2020. This 18-day sailing will head east to Adelaide and Melbourne, go south to Hobart and Tasmania – and take a lengthy detour to both islands of New Zealand before turning back to Sydney Harbour. Prices from £3,938 a head, not including international flights.
- Amazing Ways to Make Some Real Money Online
- 5 Amazing Ways to Stop Underarm Sweating
- Amazing Ways to Earn Money Immediately
- 2 Amazing Ways to Be Sexier to Women Overnight
- Amazing Way to Make Easy Money For College
- An Amazing Way to Make a Woman to Fall Head Over Heels in Love With You Within Minutes
- Exploring Australia's Kakadu National Park
- 30 Days - Ways to Save Money
- 30 Small Ways to Reduce Calories and Ultimately Get Rid of Your Love Handles
- Productive Article Marketing - Announcing 4 Amazing Ways to Accelerate Your Article Marketing
- Profitable Ebook Writing - Announcing 5 Amazing Ways to Grow Your Ebook Writing
- How to Attract Any Woman - 4 Amazing Ways
- 4 Amazing Ways To Jump Start Your Earnings Online
- Profitable Article Marketing - Revealed - 5 Amazing Ways to Multiply Your Article Marketing
- Ebook Writing - Revealed - 3 Amazing Ways to Excel at Ebook Writing
- Productive Product Funnel Creation-Revealed - 3 Amazing Ways to Improve Your Product Funnel Creation
- Profitable Article Marketing - Latest 6 Amazing Ways to Excel at Article Marketing
- Profitable Article Marketing - Discover 5 Amazing Ways To Breakthrough With Article Marketing
- 30 Practical Ways to Reduce Expenses
- An Absolutely Amazing Way to Get Back Your Ex
30 amazing ways to explore Australia have 3682 words, post on www.telegraph.co.uk at January 26, 2019. This is cached page on Travel News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.