Australia itineraries and SydneyAustralia has so much to offer, it takes months or years to explore properly. Sydney, here represented with the Sydney Harbor Bridge, is a good start for two of my suggested itineraries. What shall you do? This depends on how much time you have:
Less than one month: Explore Sydney, Melbourne and the surroundings including the Great Ocean Road. If time allows, consider including Grampians National Park, Kangaroo island and a favourite for wildlife: Tower Hill State Park.
One month: Travel the East coast. A Greyhoud bus pass worked excellent for me in 2007. Starting at Cairns, and make a number of stops going south. See more below.
Two - three months: Make it a loop, starting in Sydney go up along the East coast, cross over from Cairns to Alice Springs and south to Adelaide and Great Ocean Road via Melbourne back to Sydney.
More than 3 months. Do the trips above, and add the West Coast: Start in Darwin and make your way down along the East Coast to Perth via Broome. If time allows, travel on ground along the South Coast to Adelaide.
For another view of Sydney, go to my Sydney Panorama, (4 MB - large picture) which also supports my suggestion that Sydney is one of the two major cities in the world that has the most beautiful location - the other being Rio de Janeiro.
Sydney is also excellen to explore on foot. I enjoyed walking around many pleasant neighborhoods and small parks, like tihs one where a schoolclass enjoyed the nice weather.
Bondi Beach is well known and seen in many photographs. These rock formations can be found along a waterfront walk near Bondi Beach, another example of interesing areas inside Sydney easily reached with local public transport.
Travelling the East Coast
Byron Bay is an upscale vacation town on the East Coast, but using this beautiful beach is absolutely free. Byron Bay is a nice little town with a number of short, good hikes nearby, like to this beach and a nearby lighthouse. It also offers hostels for individual travellers on a budget.
A side-trip to Nimbin (best done on a local tour that was easy to find while staying at a hostel) is an interesting day-trip for the individual traveller wanting to see an alternative lifestyle. Inquire before you go.
Frazer Island is an interesting place not to miss.
By pure luck, I went on a trip with Trailblazer Tours, and found it to be an excellent choice. For a little more money than being packed up with too many other backpackers in a Landcruiser on a self-drive tour, we got to be driven in this spacious and comnfortable 4WD bus and stay at a cabin on the beach. The tour also allowed plenty of time to enjoy and explore the island. One of the best organized tours I had in Australia.
Frazer Island is an island of sand only (It is claimed to be more sand here than in Sahara), so no surprize it has beaches. This beach is also a public road, and also an airstrip. An aircraft landed, and offered us this aerial view for a few dollars.
Before landing, it makes a low-pass to tell people and cars to move away from the beach so that it can land. Unfortunately, the water is full of tiger sharks, so swimming in not a good idea.
Sailing the Whitsundays is a highlight of any Australian East Coast tour and not to be missed. These are whitbread round the world sailboats with no luxury under the deck (but this is where you only sleep anyway). My boat also carried scubadive gear allowing underwater exploration as well.
Magnetic Island is another worthwile stop on the East Coast. It has a lot of wildlife, and several of the animal photographs to the right, including the koala, was taken there.
Travelling central Australia and the outback
Travelling the Australian Outback is a unique experience. Distances are vast, and you need to be well prepared. This includes extra fuel, two spare tyres and food + water for at least one week. You don't meet many cars here.
On some of the more travelled loads in the outback you sometimes meet these road trains. These are hard to get going if stopped in loose gravel, so they always stay on the part of the road with the hardest surface. You usually see the dust well in advance, warning you to be prepared to move over and give way.
Porcupine Gorge offers a lot of natural beauty, and a great place for outdoor camping. There are some prepared campgrounds that can be used which offer the most basic facilities - usually limited to some sort of toilet.
Uluru (or Ayers Rock) a few hours drive from Alice Springs is the main attraction for those visiting Central Australia, but it is a pity that some make this their only stop here. When I visited in 2007, climbing was allowed, but not anymore.
I climbed Uluru after a very rare rainfall, and there was a lot of small ponds with water on Uluru looking like they were filled with silver.
The rain also caused plains and roads to flood, and as there are hardly no bridges in the outback you need to know how deep water your vehicle can negotiate. Obviously, this road train driver had no issues.
Rainbow valley shown in this picture and the Olgas are other mountains you can visit if you find Uluru too packed with tourists, an prefer more freedom to move around and on top. I find having your own car essential to explore these areas. The roads around Alice Springs to the natural attractions nearby are better than in the rest of the outback, and can easily be explored in a rental 4WD.
Cooper Pedy on the way south from Alice Springs to Adelaide is an opal mining town with a very unique atmosphere, and worth a couple of nights. Try looking for opals yourself, and stay overnight in an opal-mine (which has a nice, cool atmosphere for sleeping). I guess it will not be a top golfing destination, but I found the golf course quite unique.
Kangaroo island is further to the south and offer this interesting rock formations and some wildlife. Well worth a stop if you are passing by.
Grampians National Park offer som very nice scenerey and high mountains from one of which this sunset was enjoyed.
For wildlife photography, I found the Tower Hill State Park in the same region to be a better place. If time allows, you should enjoy both.
Great Ocean Road is a major tourist attarction in the south on your way back to Melbourne. It is a large area with lots of space, so tourists on bus-tours will be perfectly fine to share the experience.