I feel like it is about time I shared with you all my absolute favourite places to visit in Australia. I have lived in four out of the eight states and territories, and visited seven (sorry, South Australia, don’t hate me).
So these are the 9 cities or areas I think you should add to your Australia itinerary. There may be some big names missing, but I wanted to create a list based on my personal experiences.
Let’s start with the obvious one. If Melbourne isn’t on your Australia bucket list, SHAME ON YOU. Having lived there and left, I now realise just what a great city it is. Yes, the weather can be unpredictable, so bring all the layers just in case. But the city is full of life, there’s no other way to describe it. There are markets, festivals, seaside suburbs, hipster havens, and an endless array of restaurants, cafes and bars.
You can’t be bored in Melbourne — there is always another area to explore. Please also admire the Victorian architecture in the city and the terrace houses in the suburbs.
2. The Great Ocean Road
Most people travelling to Australia have heard of the Great Ocean Road. But I am here to tell you it is worth the hype. I did a very long day trip along the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne, and I think you should spend at least a weekend exploring the area. There are many small towns, beaches and rainforest walks to see on the way. It was great to see the Twelve Apostles in the flesh, but the real highlight is definitely Loch Ard Gorge.
New South Wales
Now, we all know I don’t really have the urge to live in Sydney anytime soon. But, it is a good city to visit in Australia. It has the best of both worlds: all of the city amenities, with a beach that looks like this minutes away. Some of Sydney’s highlights obviously include the famous Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Give yourself time to walk around The Rocks and past the Opera House to the Botanic Gardens.
I definitely recommend visiting Bondi Beach and walking along the coast to Tamarama Beach or Coogee, if you have time. For lunch, check out the photogenic Grounds of Alexandria. I have also heard good things about Taronga Zoo, Manly and Surry Hills for coffee and brunch.
4. Sunshine Coast
The Sunshine Coast is a special place for me as different members of my dad’s family have lived there since I was about 9 years old. I spent many holidays there over the years, which I obviously didn’t mind. The Coast’s biggest drawcard is that the area encompasses both the beach and bush. It stretches from Caloundra to Noosa, and includes beautiful inland towns like Eumundi.
Eumundi is a quintessential Australian country town surrounded by the Hinterland mountains. Its bookstore is great, but my favourite place is the weekly Eumundi Markets, which are fantastic. You can’t go wrong visiting any town along this coast, but my recommendations include Mooloolaba, Eumundi and Noosa. You should also go to Steve Irwin’s legacy, Australia Zoo.
5. The Whitsundays
Another place from my childhood, the Whitsundays are just incredible. The 74 islands are located on the Great Barrier Reef, so it is the place to go for water activities. Most of the islands are uninhabited, but the biggest and best resorts are found on Hamilton and Daydream Islands. It is also home to Whitehaven Beach, which has been voted best beach in Australia and the South Pacific this year. That is high praise and something worth seeing for yourself.
6. Magnetic Island
I may be biased, but I think Magnetic Island should be on your Australian bucket list. It is a very unique tropical island that is my home whenever I return to Australia. It has beaches, bushwalks, koalas, kangaroos and cute cafes. I’d recommend spending a weekend on Magnetic Island and hiring a topless car to make exploring easy.
7. The Kimberley Region
I was thinking about where in Australia is different from the rest of the country, and I instantly thought of the Kimberleys. The region is in Western Australia’s northwest corner and includes incredible places like Kununurra, Broome and Lake Argyle. It is not an easy spot to get to when travelling around Australia, but you will be rewarded with landscapes that are distinctly Australian and a part of our “Outback” culture.
This part of the country, historians say, has been around for billions of years. Soak up the history by visiting one of the region’s gorges or cruising on Lake Argyle. I remember swimming in the lake when I was about 8, and not caring about the fact it is home to a lot of freshwater crocodiles. Broome is also an impressive spot full of colour: the red dirt, the blue water and the white sand. Indulge in a world famous sunset camel ride along Cable Beach and a pearl accessory or two.
There is just something about Fremantle. It is a slice of Melbourne in Western Australia, with its Victorian architecture and the large amount of cafes and breweries. It is a part of the Perth metropolitan area, but feels like a completely separate entity.
The city’s biggest tourism attraction is the Prison, which is a remnant from our days as a British penal colony. It actually housed convicts and prisoners from the 1850s to 1991. I don’t think there is anything in Perth that is remarkable (except where I was born!), but Fremantle is a beautiful area worth seeing.
I am so glad I got to visit Hobart, even if it was a very brief trip. The city is small but filled with that brilliant Victorian architecture I love so much. It also feels a lot less commercialised than other Australian capital cities, which is only a good thing.
Tasmania is known for its natural beauty, but as I had limited time, I settled on just seeing Mount Wellington. As you can see from the photo, the views aren’t terrible. My recommendation is spending a week road tripping around Tasmania. It is on my list!
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie
As I was writing this post, I realised that every place I mentioned is on the coast. But I guess that is where I believe Australia’s best places are. Granted, if I had actually been to Ayers Rock that would probably totally make the list. However, these are the places I have tried, tested and loved.
Is there somewhere in Australia you love? Let me know!