Australia is truly home to magical travel destinations, with never-ending stunning coastlines, indigenous lands, red sand deserts, wildlife found nowhere else in the world and scenery that is an Instagram travel photographer’s dream. I first came to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa and was surprised to learn that a lot of Ozzies have not travelled around their own country!
It is quite easy and affordable to travel around Oz, using budget airlines such as Tiger Air, Jet Star, taking the Greyhound bus and staying in hostels. It can also be done on a weekend and it would be a shame to miss out one of the most stunning travel destinations in the world! Here are my top 10 Travel Destinations every Ozzie should visit as soon as they get the chance!
1. Uluru – Northern Territory
Uluru is one of the most mystical travel destinations in Australia. It gloats deep red sand, vast landscapes, and stunning skies during the day and night. It feels like being in another world as it is still so untouched, with the world famous Ayers Rock being said to have been created 500 million years ago. Although it is often overlooked, I feel it is essential to experience the true history of the country and learn the story of the Aboriginal people.
Due to its remote nature, the easiest way to get to Uluru is by flight directly to Uluru airport or to Alice Springs, a small town in the Red Centre, a 6-hour drive to the World Heritage listed National Park. You can also drive there, but that would be quite a long journey. It could be a fun road trip if you are up to the challenge! There are also many options for accommodation including camping out at the Ayers Rock Campground or staying at one of the hotels.
There are many things to do in Uluru. Take the base camp walk around the Rock, hike through the Kata Tjuta (other stunning Mountains close to the Rock), take a Sunrise or Sunset Camel ride, dine under the stars and explore the Valley of the Winds. Prepare to be amazed by the history of one of the most sacred Aboriginal places, and one of the places thought to have been where some of the first humans existed!
2. The Great Barrier Reef – Cairns
No trip to Australia is complete without a visit to the world-famous Great Barrier Reef. There is a reason why it boasts the name “Great” and was chosen as home by Nemo’s Dad, Marlin from Finding Nemo! It is the largest living reef system in the entire world, spanning over 2600 kilometres.
Sadly, in recent times, there has been extensive coral bleaching which has severely damaged at least half of the reef. There are measures in place to nurse the reef back to health and hopefully, it can be restored. It’s definitely a good idea to visit the reef as soon as you get the chance!
In order to visit the reef to snorkel or dive, you would need to take a tour out with a Diving or Snorkelling boat from Cairns or Port Douglas. Steve Irwin’s favourite spots were near Port Douglas, however, there are many gorgeous places to visit near Cairns as well.
Cairns is a really happening yet laid back small sunny town, lined with waterfront restaurants, bars and numerous travel agents. Everyone dons summery gear all year round and of course flip flops. It has a really friendly vibe and offers lots of events at night to cater for the numerous backpackers, tourists and divers who come to the town to visit the Reef. There are plenty of party-friendly hostels and quieter ones too. It’s the perfect spot to stay if you’re looking to visit the Reef or Fitzroy Island.
3. Cape Tribulation – Port Douglas
A trip to Cape Tribulation would be perfectly combined with a trip to the Reef when visiting Cairns or Port Douglas as it is quite close by. You can explore the oldest rainforest in the world, the Daintree, and witness the amazing phenomenon of the rainforest meeting the Reef at Cape Tribulation.
There is an option to take the Crocodile Cruise and float over the Daintree River, if you’re brave enough. You might spot some Crocs sunbathing! You can also take a hike within the Rain forest and visit the Mossman Gorge. It’s a sacred spot where you can take a dip in one of the natural rock pools, boasting some of the purest waters in the world.
A visit to Cape Tribulation is definitely an unmissable travel destination on an Australian holiday itinerary. There are options to stay at Port Douglas or even at Cape Tribulation itself, at the Cape Trib Beach House as an example.
4. Whitsunday Islands – Queensland
Many know the Whitsunday Islands, and more notably, Whitehaven Beach, as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The stunning white sand and turquoise blue water are completely unreal. The soft and brilliant white sand is made of Quartz and you can hear your feet squeak as you walk on the beach. We were told to rub the sand on our body for exceptional natural exfoliation. Be aware though for Sting Rays and Sharks; they are very present in this area, even in shallow waters. Unfortunately it is advised to wear a full stinger suit, however, you can don a bikini or swim trunks in the shallow waters!
The best way to visit the Whitsundays Islands is to take either a day trip or overnight boat trip out from Airlie Beach. Airlie Beach is a posh, upmarket town with a gorgeous bay area and plenty of other stunning islands to explore.
5. Wineglass Bay – Tasmania
Wineglass Bay is located on the East Coast of Tasmania, one of the most untouched places in the world. It is one of the most picturesque beaches in the world, taking the shape of a wineglass, with aqua blue waters. Visiting Tasmania is an easy flight from any major Australian airport, with numerous other activities and sights to see around the Island.
6. Kangaroo Island – South Australia
Kangaroo Island, located close to Adelaide in South Australia boasts some of the clearest waters Australia has seen. It definitely takes its name from the numerous Kangaroo that roam the island, along with other wildlife including dolphins! The island is a must visit to explore and bathe in some of the clearest waters found in Australia. It is easily reachable by getting the Sea Link Ferry from the South Australia mainland.
7. Fraser Island – Queensland
Fraser Island is a travel destination you will need to spend at least 3 days exploring due to its vast area. The numerous places to see here include Rainbow Beach, with its stunning rainbow coloured sand; Champagne Rock Pools, where the water crashes onto little rock pools from the sea; and Lake Mackenzie, with its silica sand and some of the purest water in the world. Be sure to stay away from the numerous Dingos that call Fraser Island home and organise to wake up at sunrise. The sunrise at Fraser Island is one of the most incredible experiences in the world. The sea and sand look like glass as the sun rises up, exploding and enveloping the environment.
8. Kakadu National Park – Darwin
Darwin is known as being one of the hottest places in Australia all year round. It is also one of the places made famous by Crocodile Dundee. It is a must-visit travel destination due to its quirkiness, lively nightlife and the world famous Kakadu National Park. Located in the beautifully rural Northern Territory, no visit to Darwin is complete without exploring the National Parks. There, you will be able to swim in tropical waterholes, climb looming escarpments, learn about the indigenous history of the land and see the crocodiles roaming around in their natural habitat. You can reach Darwin by plane or by Greyhound Bus, depending on where you are located in Australia.
9. Exmouth – Western Australia
Western Australia is one of the most underrated places in all of Australia, mainly because its location is further than most of the major cities. The beaches however in Western Australia are absolutely stunning, untouched and pristine, almost more so than their East Coast counterparts. There is a saying that if you are an experienced traveller, then you would choose to travel along the West Coast instead of the East Coast. There is undeniably more magic to experience in Western Australia. One of the most beautiful places to go snorkeling and see the live coral reef is Exmouth. You can see reef sharks, turtle and fish straight from the shore! This beautiful travel destination is definitely a must do if you love to swim and snorkel.
10. Lake MacDonell – South Australia
This lake is perhaps one of the most stunning places in the world. I know this might sound repetitive, but it really is otherworldly to drive across a stretch of sand in-between the crystal clear turquoise waters and deep pink waters of the Pink Lake! The number of stunning places in Australia is numerous, and unfortunately, all of them will not fit into this list. Lake MacDonell would make an amazing road trip from Adelaide, and a sure way to take plenty of Instagram Goals photographs. It is most certainly one of the best travel destinations to explore, especially if you are a local Ozzie.