I have 2 weeks in in Australia, flying in & out of Sydney. Just trying to work out a schedule and would love some tips. I have been to Melbourne and Sydney before, so looking for other ideas around mid/east Australia (other than the really obvious ones). Any ideas?
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Hi Ali, it sounds like you may have already done the classic backpacker route along the east coast. This is just about practical in two weeks, provided you fly back from Cairns. For example:
Personally I’d recommend taking it slower. In the mid/east area I’d happily spend a week in Byron Bay, thanks to its relaxed “alternative” vibe and great surfing. There are regular flights from Sydney to Ballina, a 30min drive south of Byron. For something different try Jervis Bay (second most popular dive site after the Barrier Reef) or bushwalking in the Snowy Mountains (here you can climb Australia’s highest peak Mount Kosciuszko).
That said, if you’re arriving during winter in Sydney and Melbourne (May to Sept), I’d suggest getting up to the tropics as soon as you can – temperatures are pleasant (25C) and rainfall is lighter than in the wet season. This is also the best time to visit the “red centre” around Uluru.
Would definitely suggest going a bit further north. If you’ve already done Sydney and Brisbane, then you’re missing out on the Great Barrier Reef and the aboriginal cultural park in Cairns. There is so much to do in this area, beautiful beaches and rainforest. Whilst we were here, we stayed at Villa Marine, which is in our guidebook, just outside of Cairns really close to the airport and by the beach. We stayed in Cairns once, but found there was no beach there.
Go west! You’ve sampled the cities, the coast and the tropics – how about the outback? It’s such an immense area and few travellers seem to really explore it. Try Broken Hill, an isolated mining town close to the border of SA – it’s well set up for travellers; you can stay in hotels, motels, or even on a working sheep station. There are flights from Sydney so you could overland out (don’t drive after dusk – there’s loads of kangaroos around) and fly back to Sydney afterwards, as you don’t have so much time. It’s a fascinating town full of very memorable people and it will give you a totally different take on the whole country.
If you are looking for adventure, head north to SE QLD for some Kayaking on the Noosa River or 4WD fun on Fraser Island. Then continue up to 1770 (that’s the name of the area) for the hugely popular Scooteroo tours.
To experience nature, Australia is flourished with national parks, Daintree rainforest in QLD is worth a visit or if you wanted to see more of Victoria I hear Wilson’s Promontory National Park is simply amazing.
In the NT, check out Kings Canyon as a less obvious choice to Uluru, and drop in to Alice Springs for a taste of culture in the red centre.
HI – I can highly recommend Tasmania if you are interested in exploring a less touristy area.
The scenery there is fabulous and there are some great trekking and biking opportunities in the interior mountains and in the central lakes area.
The east coast is beautiful too and Hobart is worth taking a break in for a few days with great food and a thriving modern art scene.
There is also an opportunity to visit some of the Tasmanian Convict sights around Port Arthur which are both interesting and moving.
I was just going to ask what time of year you plan to come when I see Ozzie has already asked that question.
As a broad outline, if coming between November to April, then visit the southern half, if travelling May – September, then visit the top half of Australia.. Far north Queensland, Darwin and the Top End and the northern part of Western Australia are tropical and have two seasons – wet and dry.
June/July/August is peak season there as is September school holidays.