Where to go and what to see in Australia!
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What to see in Australia

We began a mammoth search on what to do in Australia in September 2007. I bought a couple of books, spent hours surfing the Internet and generally got stuck into compiling a wishlist.

Of course, once you start discussing your plans, anyone who has ever been down under will have an opinion! We had several friends and family, a couple of work colleagues, our trusty Trailfinders rep and an uncle that emigrated there all offering good advice.

Compiling the list

I like to be a bit different, so the lesser travelled Western Australia was quite high on my agenda. There's the world's most remote city Perth, the dolphins at Monkey Mia, Ningaloo Reef and Shark Bay, stunning Broome, Kalbarri National Park, Wave Rock.. The list is near endless.

Then there's the Northern Territory, with national icon Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kings Canyon, Alice Springs, the Devil's Marbles, Darwin and the rest of the Outback!

In Queensland, there's the Great Barrier Reef. Nobody can miss that! And while you're there, it'd be a waste not to see Port Douglas, Kakadu, the Daintree and the Whitsundays, right? Brisbane is a great flight hub and not far from Australia Zoo - home of the late Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin himself! - or the Sunshine Coast, with stress free Byron Bay in the other direction.

Some of the world's best wines are produced in the Barossa Valley, just north of Adelaide in South Australia. Kangaroo Island has spectacular and rugged beauty and the picturesque Great Ocean Road snakes along a jaw-dropping coastline.

Victoria, the smallest Australian state is not to be outdone. Melbourne is a sporting nirvana. Not far to the south is Phillip Island and the mesmerising penguins parade.

Sydney in New South Wales is perhaps the world's prettiest city. If you have enough time to get around the local sights, the Blue Mountains are practically on the doorstep.

And we haven't even touched on Tasmania. Or Canberra if you're going to force the issue :o)

So there's a lot of it. It's the 6th largest country in the world, not to mention a whole continent that we're dealing with here.

And then there's the flights. It's a looong way to Australia from here in the UK. You'll be thinking that ideally you want a stop over. Thailand, Singapore or Hong Kong perhaps. They all appeal don't they?

Now had a list longer than your arm. Having the whole of August had felt like a luxury, but it just wasn't going to be possible to fit everything in.

Narrowing the list

Clearly we were going to have to pull together a must see list.

Sydney. That goes without saying. You'll likely fly in and out anyway and I had an uncle to visit on a promise of a typical Aussie barbeque!

Uluru and the red sands of the Australian desert. You can't miss that.

We love snorkelling, so the Great Barrier Reef was a definite. We we're keen to see if it could top the Cook Islands.

Photography and driving (for me at least) are passions too, so the Great Ocean Road had to be in as well.

And maybe just a few days of relaxation in the Whitsundays, to keep a good balance!

There was something of a route developing at this point, so we got onto Trailfinders again to help put some prices together for flights. If you're feeling dizzy, here's the final itinerary.

What are we going to have to go back for?

What did we miss? Too much to mention really, but this lot for starters..

  • Perth
  • Wave Rock (we like rocks!)
  • Monkey Mia
  • Ningaloo Reef and Shark Bay (and the stromatolites!)
  • Broome
  • Darwin
  • Kings Canyon and the Devil's Marbles
  • Katherine Gorge
  • Byron Bay
  • Coffs Harbour
  • Learning to dive or surf
  • The whole of Tasmania (the most southerly point of Australia - and it was winter!)

Staying safe

It's worth getting your travel insurance as soon as you start booking the different elements of your holiday to make sure you are covered. Our current annual worldwide policy is with the AA for under £90, including Asthma cover. The Post Office have seemed reasonable value in the past too.

It's probably also worth getting yourself a sat nav (Comet have some good deals). We took our Tom Tom and bought the Australia maps SD card and it was a real and stress time saver.

Taking some foreign currency with you

We tend to use ATMs as we go around to reduce the risk of carrying too much cash and get the best rates, but it's always worth taking a little currency with you. We've again used the Post Office in the past and found their rates ok, although Travelex offer 0% commission online.

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