Updated: 1/23/20 | January 23rd, 2020
Australia is one of the most remote countries in the world and, ironically, one of the most popular places to visit, especially among backpackers and budget travelers.
Because of its distance from the US, not many Americans tend to visit Australia. The flights are long and expensive, and when you only have a few weeks of travel, wasting a few days flying probably doesn’t make sense to a lot of travelers.
Nevertheless, here are a few reasons to save up your vacation time and brave that long venture across the Pacific:
1. The Great Barrier Reef
One of the most famous reef systems in the world, the Great Barrier Reef is world renowned for its abundance of marine life and world-class diving opportunities. When I was there, I saw turtles, sharks, vibrant coral, and beautiful fish (even a fish pooping, which was as weird as it sounds). It was everything it was cracked up to be. You can spend one day or a few diving this reef. Though everyone leaves from Cairns, leaving from Port Douglas will get you to less crowded dive spots.
Read more about diving the Great Barrier Reef and how you can do it on your trip!
Known for its famed opera house and harbor, Sydney also boasts an incredible bridge, great parks, delicious food, lots of free stuff to do, and amazing surfing. Whether you go to Manly Beach or hang out with everyone else at Bondi, Sydney’s a place to relax in the sun and enjoy the water. Darling Harbor has a number of good restaurants and great entrainment venues, and the Chinese Garden is quite relaxing. For a night out on the town with colorful locals, there’s nothing like King’s Cross.
For more information about Sydney, check out these helpful posts:
- My 15 Favorite Things to Do in Sydney
- 13 Ways to See Sydney on a Budget
- What It’s Like to Visit Sydney
- Sydney Travel Guide
You wouldn’t think that a giant round rock covering eight kilometers of land would be breathtaking, but it is. The wind-blown cuts throughout the rock make it look like a wave of sand climbing over the desert. The iron in the rock produces amazing shades of red and orange during sunrise and sunset.
You can take tours here from nearby Alice Springs. Click here to learn how to do so and plan your trip.
Aussies do a lot of things well, and one of the best is throwing a barbecue. The Aussie barbecue is a serious tradition, and most parks and public areas have at least three barbecue pits. In fact, I don’t know what Australia would be without a barbecue. There’s nothing better than a beautiful warm night, a few good beers, and some grilled-up kangaroo to make you love this place. Barbecuing is a great budget friendly option too!
5. The Wine
Australia has some great wine regions, which include Margaret River near Perth, the Barossa Valley near Adelaide, and the Hunter Valley near Sydney. There’s a lot of good wine to be tried while in Australia, especially shiraz and pinot noir. You can take day trips to any of the wine areas from the nearby major cities or simply take a trip to the wine store and get drunk in the park…while having a barbecue.
6. Western Australia
This is my favorite part of Australia. It’s truly beautiful, with its large expanses of outback and white sand beaches that stretch for miles without a soul in sight. I’m glad a lot of people don’t visit Western Australia; otherwise, it could end up like the East Coast — crowded and overbuilt. Karijini National Park puts Kakadu and Litchfield to shame, and Coral Bay and the Ningaloo Reef are even better than Cairns or the Great Barrier Reef. I love it here.
For a funn story, read about the time I got stuck in the outback while in WA!
Sydney and Melbourne get all the attention, but Perth can hold its own against these two heavyweights. There are great beaches, one of the world’s largest city parks, surfing, and nearby Fremantle, where you can have Australia’s best beer (Little Creatures). Perth is a city filled with young people and has the vibe of a city in motion that’s just coming into its own. Don’t forget Sunday drinking sessions at the famous Cottesloe Hotel.
Read more about traveling in Perth, check out my destination guide to the city.
8. Lush Jungles
One day I’ll settle down, and when I do, it’ll be in some lush, tropical place. Maybe Queensland will be that place. Here you’ll find one of the oldest continuous tropical rainforests in the world (it dates back to the age of the dinosaurs!). There are great places to go hiking, tons of wildlife and birds (watch out for crocodiles, though), and some really nice rivers and swimming holes to cool off in. If you really want to get away from it all, head far north to Cape Tribulation, where it’s just you, the jungle, and some ocean.
For the best jungle trips, head up to visit Cairns, the gateway to the oldest forest in the world!
Australia may not have invented surfing, but it might as well have, given how ingrained it is in Australian culture. The best surfing is on the East Coast, and there are a million places where you can catch a good wave. You can head to Sydney and places like Bondi Beach, but I find the best surfing is up in Queensland. I personally think Noosa is one of the best places to surf because there are waves for both professionals and beginners.
10. Beautiful Beaches
With over 50,000km of coastline, there’s no way this country could exist without beautiful beaches. The ones on the East Coast are far busier than the deserted beaches on Australia’s western coastline. But with so much to choose from, you’ll always find a spot to relax by yourself. My favorites include Coral Bay, Cable Beach, Noosa, Manly, and any beach in Perth.
Read more about my beach paradise Coral Bay and see what Australia’s beaches are like with no one around!
Let these things pull you there too and use the articles listed below to help you plan your next big trip!
For more information about Australia or to plan your visit, read these other articles:
- Things to See and Do in Australia
- How to Travel Around Australia Cheaply
- The Cost of Traveling Oz
- My Favorite Hostels in Australia
Book Your Trip to Australia: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines, because they search websites and airlines around the globe, so you always know no stone is being left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. My favorite hostels in Australia are:
- Base St. Kilda (Melbourne) – They have a lively bar for hanging out and mingling, organize lots of events and activities, and it’s a great place for meeting people!
- Wake Up! Sydney (Sydney) – Wake Up has a great bar for socializing and meeting peopleand it’s conveniently located near the central station. They offer discounts for booking direct and have female-only dorms too.
- Surf n Sun Hostel (Gold Coast) – With an awesome location right near the beach, this lively hostel is a fun place to hang out and peet people. It’s super social and they have a free shuttle service from the bus station as well.
If you’re looking for more places to stay, here for my favorite hostels in Australia!
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it, as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use — and I think they will help you too!
Looking for more information on visiting Australia?
Check out my in-depth destination guide to Australia with more tips on what to see and do, costs, ways to save, and much, much more!