Have you ever visited Sydney Australia?

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Friends or relatives come to visit me again and again in Australia and I am asked the same question again and again: what should you definitely see in the short time (usually 3-4 weeks) and what can you miss? In a country larger than all of Western Europe, that is of course a good question. In this article I am not giving you route suggestions, but a few food for thought for better planning. A good travel guide (I recommend Lonely Planet) is essential!

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The flight

Everyone who comes to Australia for the first time will find out after arrival at the latest that the way there is a very strenuous and exhausting one. No matter which cities or which airline you fly with, you will spend around 20 hours on the plane. My tip: make a 2-day stopover in Dubai, Bangkok, Taipei, Hong Kong or Singapore on the way there. This not only makes it easier for you to reach Australia, but you can also take some culture from another country with you along the way. (Airlines often offer stopover packages with cheap overnight stays - ask your travel agent!). You can find out everything you need to know about domestic flights in our blog post Domestic Flights in Australia.

Travel times and weather

Remember that the seasons in Australia are "twisted". That means: the summer takes place here in the German winter and vice versa. So if you want to fly into summer (high season!), You have to fly between November and February. Note, however: Australia is a large continent with a subtropical climate in the north and a temperate climate in the south. This means that in winter it is still warm and sunny in the north and quite fresh and wet in the south. So if you want to travel around mainly in the sunny north, it doesn't matter if you come in the off-season, because the weather is always friendly there (except for the rains during the rainy season). However, if you visit Melbourne, Adelaide or Sydney and want to enjoy the sun there, you have to come earlier in spring, summer or late summer.

Check your travel guide to find out which travel time is best for which area. Although it is very hot in the north in summer, the sea is full of so-called Box of jelly Fish that make swimming in the sea next to impossible! The outback has its very own weather conditions that you should know before traveling there.

My tip: come either in spring (around October / November) or in late summer (February / March / April). Then the weather in the south is still warm enough and the north is not that hot anymore.

Regions, landmarks and travel destinations in Australia

The question of what you should definitely see is of course difficult to answer in such a large country. So make it clear to yourself beforehand: you will only see a small fraction of Australia in the 3-4 weeks. Before planning, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I want to see and explore the big cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane?
  • Do I want to spend more time by the sea or inland (e.g. in the outback)?
  • Do I want to meet many other backpackers and tourists on my trip and do many group excursions or should it be more quiet and less touristy?
  • Do I want to sleep in hostels and hotels as often as possible or do I rent a camper and sleep on campsites?

Basically, the east coast from Adelaide via Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane to the north to Cairns is the most popular region among tourists. That means you will find hotels, motels, hostels and campsites in every small town. In addition, you meet other (often German) backpackers and travelers every day. The tourist offer is huge: from whale watching and island safaris to surfing or diving courses, everything that can be sold is also offered. This may sound a bit derogatory and some find this region “overcrowded”, but there is really a lot to see and do there! (Although Fraser Island is overrun with tourists, it is just damn beautiful!). Tip: our tour suggestion for the northern, tropical east coast "Rainforest meets Reef".

GetyourGuide is a great platform for searching and comparing day tours, sights (but also individual multi-day tours), there you also get a good overview of what the local activities cost roundabout.

If you want to explore less developed areas, you should take a look at the outback (not just Uluru) and especially the west coast north of Perth. The north (Darwin) also has its charms and has plenty of flora and fauna that can be explored. These areas also offer lots of tours and excursions for tourists, but are not yet as crowded as the east coast - simply because they are very far apart and many tourists do not make it there in the short time.

Those who are willing to take a longer trip by boat (or a small propeller plane) will still find places on the east coast where there are only a few tourists and nature is still untouched and original, e.g. on Fitzroy Island, which is before the Cairns coastline. During the day there is also a lot of activity (due to the day ferries), but at night only the hotel guests are on the island. Take a look at our detailed report on Fitzroy Island. The island consists entirely of corals and houses a small but fine hotel with a turtle sanctuary.
Of course, there are still islands a lot more off the beaten track, where there is sometimes no TV or radio, but fantastic diving, snorkeling and surfing spots, such as Lady Elliot Island.

To cut a long story short: Yes, the east coast offers a lot of sights (that you know from TV), but other regions are also very interesting and should be considered, especially if you want to escape the masses of tourists.

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Means of transport and travel within Australia

Since you can't do everything by bus / train or car in 3-4 weeks, in most cases a mix of bus or train, camper or car and a few domestic flights is the order of the day. You can travel along the coasts with a camper very well, as there are very safe and very clean campsites everywhere. This allows you to design your own route and is very flexible in planning your trip. I recommend this article on the subject of “Campervan hire in Australia”.
Bus and train travel are also offered. You can buy kilometer passes or temporary passes. In this article you can find out more: Greyhound Australia: Hop-On or better KM Pass?
The fastest means of transport is domestic flight (for airlines, see below). The flights have now become quite cheap - if you book in time, you can get the route from Melbourne to Sydney for less than $ 100. However, you shouldn't spend too much time on the plane, as you won't see anything of the land.

My tip: drive a certain route by car, camper or bus, then "jump" to another point on the map with a flight and from there continue with a car or simply in a small tour group via a tour operator. Back to the place of departure (often Sydney) it’s then again shortly before the end of a domestic flight.

If you want to rent a camper / car, based on my experience, you don't necessarily need an international driving license, but I recommend everyone who wants to get behind the wheel to apply for one in advance at the office (about 6-8 weeks in advance) . The costs are minimal and you are on the safe side. To compare and book small campervans, 4WD or large mobile homes, have a look at CamperHero.

costs

As with every vacation, there are no clear limits to the costs. Due to the mass of tourists, the accommodation options are very diverse. If you don't have high standards, you can sleep in a bed in a shared room in a hostel for around $ 20. (For comparison, I recommend booking.com or agoda.com)
Hotel rooms are available from around $ 50 (more expensive in the cities) and staying overnight on the campsite costs around $ 15- $ 20 for a camper, depending on the type of space. A particularly cheap alternative is "Couchsurfing" - here you have the advantage that you can get in touch with the locals right away, as is the case with AirBnB, the somewhat more professional variant of Couchsurfing 😉

The transport costs are logically based on the means of transport. If you book flights a few weeks or even months in advance, you can save a lot. Bus and train tickets are easily available on site, online or through your travel agency.

The flight to Australia should currently (as of December 2017) cost you between 950 and 1400 euros, depending on the season and the airline. Always inquire about specials and special conditions!

Vaccinations and prevention

One more word about precaution: a foreign health insurance is of course an absolute must. Clarify the details with your insurance company before departure. Australia does not prescribe any specific vaccinations, but it never hurts to check the range of vaccinations again and, if necessary, to renew them. Especially if you are stopping off in Asia and / or spending a lot of time in the tropical north of Australia.

Good Trip! 🙂

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