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Remarkably, Europeans discovered Australia in 1771 when Captain Cook set anchor in Botany Bay just south of what is now Sydney. Although we think of Australia as a young country, it has been occupied by the Aboriginal people for nearly 60,000 years, making it the oldest existing culture in human history. It is also the only landmass to be considered a continent, an island, and a country all in one, with 80 per cent of the population living within fifty kilometres of the coastline.

Unless you are travelling to see friends or relatives down under and your destination is set for you, wondering where to visit first can be a challenge, simply because of the vast distances involved, so we’ve broken the country down into the various regions to show you the best of Australia.

Western Australia 

For most visitors, Perth and Margaret River are generally spoken about in the same sentence, even though nearly 250 km separates the two places. As one of the most remote cities in the world, Perth is a popular and booming metropolis that maintains a casual and relaxed air. Its main port at Fremantle has beautiful, restored buildings, giving it its own charm. At the same time, just two hours north of the city in the Nambung National Park, you will find a spectacular collection of limestone pillars called the Pinnacles. A 90-minute ferry ride from Perth takes you to beautiful Rottnest Island, where no cars are allowed, and is home to the quokka, an animal only found on this island. Margaret River is a story of wine and waves bordering a beautiful coastline. With 200 wineries in the region and a plethora of wonderful surfing beaches alongside sheltered sandy bays, this is where the arty crowd hang out. The rest of Western Australia consists mainly of vast desert outback country, spotted with occasional towns and settlements. On the coast in the far north, Broome’s exotic pearling town past has left a rich history and a distinctive melting pot of multicultural people. The pristine waters, wide empty beaches, including the 22km long Cable Beach, abundant wildlife and breathtaking colours attract thousands of visitors yearly to the area. 

South Australia 

Most of the 1.5 million population of South Australia live around Adelaide and the fertile plains surrounding the impressive Murray River. Whether visiting Adelaide for its outdoor lifestyle or its many urban pleasures, take time to explore the tranquil inner-city green spaces, from historic parklands to eucalyptus-lined riverside trails. Just offshore is Kangaroo Island, where the residents include koalas, sea lions, penguins and kangaroos. On the mainland, the area has another impressive list of wineries, with Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale among the best known. As a cultured and multicultural city, Adelaide has a variety of museums, theatres, and concert halls. In common with most major cities in Australia, it has an impressive array of beaches.


This state is home to Melbourne, which has the most British feel of all Australian cities despite the fact that it has the most culturally diverse population in the country. One look at the different menus on offer in the multitude of restaurants transports you on a worldwide culinary tour. It’s a combination that creates buzz and excitement, making it the most cool and trendy city on the continent. You can lose yourself in the beautiful and extensive parks, the meandering alleyways, and the river walks, and with free city centre public transport, it’s easy to get around. If you want a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, Williamstown is the nostalgic port district with historic buildings, grand homes and well-worn pubs, while St Kilda leans to the more artistic side, with shabby-chic retailers and craft stalls on the Esplanade. You cannot arrive in Victoria or Melbourne without planning to visit The Great Ocean Road, one of the most scenic road trips in the world. Whether by car or an arranged tour, this area of coastline does not disappoint. This spectacular route has gorgeous beaches, forest waterfalls and lighthouses, the most notable of which is at Cape Otway. A short 13 km detour to the lighthouse provides opportunities to see koalas in the wild clinging to trees at the side of the road. Further along the coast is Port Campbell National Park, famous for its sandstone rock formations, The Twelve Apostles sitting just offshore. However, their title is somewhat misleading as there are now only eight columns still standing! This rugged coastline is surely worth a visit before nature, and the pounding of the waves erode these delicate stacks even further.

New South Wales 

Regularly ranked in the top ten of the world’s most liveable cities, Sydney is the capital of New South Wales. Whether exploring museums, visiting the countless pretty beach suburbs, browsing in the markets, or sampling a raft of gastronomic delights, it has everything a visitor could want. The well-known attractions of the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, the Rocks Historic District and Darling Harbour are a given, but there is so much more to Sydney. It has over 30 beaches stretching 100 km down the coast. Ferries from Circular Quay will take you to the world-famous Taronga Zoo, where the giraffes have one of the most scenic views in the world or the vibrant suburb of Manly. Situated between a tranquil inner-harbour beach on one side and a popular surf beach on the other, it combines an easy-going lifestyle with sophisticated dining and shopping. Further afield, Hunter Valley represents wine country, and the Blue Mountains offer outstanding scenery and walking trails. 


Queensland is home to the 2,300 km long Great Barrier Reef and the famous Gold Coast, with Brisbane and Cairns as its two most notable destinations providing gateways to its 3,000 reefs and 2,000 tropical islands. In Brisbane, it is almost always t-shirt weather, and although it is situated on the coast, it doesn’t actually have its own natural beach, so it created one. Streets Beach, thanks to its central location, is hugely popular and only minutes from downtown, and while you can’t enjoy views out into the ocean, you can take in the city skyline as you relax on the sand or swim in the self–contained waters. The Gold Coast is a major tourist destination with a sunny subtropical climate and has become widely known for its surfing beaches, high-rise skyline, theme parks and nightlife. The 70km coastal strip has over 12 million visitors annually, with large shopping malls, casinos and a myriad of other activities to keep vacationers busy. Along this coastline, in contrast, are the 74 spectacular Whitsunday Islands, the largest being Hamilton Island, famous for its remarkable beauty both above and beneath the water. Luxury accommodation and blissful beaches all come at a price to match its exclusivity. Some 1,700 km north, Cairns is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef with countless boat and catamaran trips. It is also the centre of the tropical rainforest, offering dozens of hiking trails. If you prefer to take it easy, ride the Skyrail, a 7.5km cable car soaring over the forest canopy and gushing waterfalls, before chugging your way back down on the Kuranda Scenic Railway. The 70km drive along the scenic coastal route to Port Douglas is a must, where it has its own fleet of sailing boats heading out to the Reef from this little sophisticated town.  

Northern Territory

Suppose you are looking for the ultimate image of Australia’s vast and dramatic landscapes. In that case, the Northern Territory is the place to go, with the main attractions being Litchfield and Kakadu National ParksAlice Springs and Uluru (or Ayers Rock, as it used to be called); however, the distances between them are mighty. Kakadu is over 250km from Darwin, the main gateway for the area, but there is little interest in the town. Alice Springs sits in the middle of the continent, some 1,500 km by car or 2 hrs by air from Darwin, with Uluru another 5 hours further south, so the logistics are considerable when planning a trip to the state. For many visitors, Uluru is the ‘big one” in more than one sense. Reaching miles below the surface, the rock towers over the landscape at nearly 350 metres and attracts numerous visitors all year round. Sunrises and sunsets are always memorable, but enjoying it here at Uluru-Kata Tjuta, to give it its full name, takes the experience to a whole new level. You cannot climb the sandstone monolith, but you can take a spectacular walk around the base, which takes around 3.5 hrs. Flights from Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns fly directly into Yulara, some 30 minutes from nature’s masterpiece. 

This is just a brief look at some of this country’s great attractions. Still, when you add the friendliness of the free-spirited Australians, the great weather, the exciting culinary choices and the never-ending story that is one of the world’s longest coastlines, you will leave with a lifetime of memories.