Australia What To Know

What to know before you go

Visits to Australia are rarely about just one thing. Trips usually combine a variety of activities and locations: cities and outback, nightlife and wildlife, rainforest and reef, fine dining and fine wine. Given the incredible landscapes and thousands of animal species unique to the continent, your trip will undoubtedly feature experiences found nowhere else.

Getting Here
Reaching Australia involves an overnight flight (13.5 -15 hours) nonstop from Los Angeles, Dallas or Vancouver. Trans-Pacific flights touch down in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. Most travelers choose Qantas, but options include Virgin Australia, United, Delta and Air Canada. If you fly Qantas internationally, you can get discounts on Australian domestic flights. It is possible to arrange a stopover in Fiji, Tahiti or Hawaii to break up your flights with a bit of tropical island relaxation. Sydney can also be reached by cruise ship from New Zealand.

Getting Around
It should be said that Australia is a very large place. You can explore small areas by car, but getting from place to place usually requires a flight (given travelers’ commonly tight schedules). You can get to nearly every corner of the country by air. Domestic flights range from less than an hour to 5 hours for a coast to coast journey.

Train journeys are also popular, especially through the Outback. Lines run in an upside down T — connecting Darwin south to Adelaide and Sydney west to Perth.

Popular Activities

  • Diving and Snorkeling:
    Some Australia’s most incredible sights are underwater. The Great Barrier Reef is awe-inspiring. Swim with exotic fish, coral, or with sharks and whales. Take a day trip out to the reef or stay longer on a liveaboard multi-day cruise. Out west, Ningaloo, a vast fringing reef offers tropical adventure off the beaten path.
  • Wildlife Spotting :
    There is an incredible and diverse array of wildlife found in Australia and nowhere else. Kangaroos are nearly everywhere. But you can go spotting for koalas, wallabies, wombats, platypuses, Tasmanian devils and dingoes. Bird-watch for kookaburra or emus. Or check out marine life like penguins, whales sharks and more. Want to hold a koala? Visit a wildlife sanctuary. Even if you’re short on time, you can still head to one of the country’s phenomenal zoos.
  • Beach Bumming & Watersports:
    Australia is home to thousands of miles of sandy beach. Locals have perfected nearly every way to launch yourself through the surf. To the north, there are tropical island beaches. To the south, there are incredible sandy expanses even in the heart of big cities like Sydney.
  • Wine:
    Australian wine is famous the world over. The most popular bottles come from the valleys around Adelaide. There are also major wine regions around Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. Take a day or overnight vineyard tour paired with chocolate, cheese, or olive oil tastings.
  • Scenic Tours:
    Set off alone or on a guided tour of some of the most stunning landscapes on Earth. See the barren red desert of the Outback, the lush rainforest at Daintree, the stunning Blue Mountains, bizarre rock formations, scrubby bush or an island made of dunes.
  • Fine Dining:
    Australia boasts cuisine on par with the best restaurants of Paris, New York or anywhere else. Sydney has terrific fine dining as you’d expect, but Melbourne is a culinary revelation. Outside of the big towns, you can take a chef-led journey like the one that includes cooking lessons on the Mornington peninsula. Food is important here. Nearly every tour we offer features food that is simply sumptuous.
  • Aboriginal Cultural Activities :
    Some aboriginal cultures here are more than 40,000 years old. You can visit cultural centers to see local art, play the didjeridu, learn about local tribes, get the proper technique for throwing boomerangs and spears or take a lesson in dot painting. For a more in depth experience, head out to a tribal area like Arnhem Land.
  • Golf:
    There are top notch golf clubs throughout the country. The most famous and popular courses in the country are just outside of Melbourne — Kingston Heath and Royal Melbourne are just a couple.

Accommodations
Australia is known for its luxury resorts– mostly in remote locations like deep in the Outback or on islands off the Great Barrier Reef. All the major chains have branches in the country and there are several local hotel chains at all levels of quality. There are also quite a number of boutique hotels and resorts.

Dining
Australia’s English roots have given way to a cosmopolitan cuisine. Aussies now combine Asian and European influences to make great use of their local produce and seafood. Try the crayfish (lobster), prawns, Sydney rock oysters and Tasmanian salmon. Or have a taste of the ‘barbie.’ Australians barbecue everything from the steaks and burgers you’d find in America to kangaroo, crocodile and buffalo. Wash it down with a local beer. Every state has a favorite. Your bartender won’t be shy filling you in on the best one in town. Or pair your cuisine with one of a hundred terrific Australian wines.

What to Wear
With such a big country, there are totally diverse weather patterns based on region and season. What you should wear depends on where you are going and when. In the northern tropical areas there are dry and wet seasons. In the south, there are four seasons like in North America. Regardless, Oz is a pretty casual place where formal wear is rarely needed. Even at the opera (and there is great opera here) you’ll find people in jeans.

Essential Tips Before You Go

When To Go
Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Image: Tourism Queensland
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Starting at $3,699

Australia Highlights Travel Package: Great Barrier Reef and Sydney

Short on time? Hit the top highlights of Australia: the Great Barrier Reef and sunny Sydney! Explore ancient rainforests, deserted beaches, and mountains where you can see wild koalas.

Trip Type: Highlights, Cities, Wildlife & Wilderness

Tasmanian Devil, Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. Image: Tourism Tasmania
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Starting at $4,399

Tasmania Vacation Packages: Wildlife and Wilderness

Discover pristine wilderness made of dramatic mountains, clear lakes, rugged coasts, and white beaches. Plus, enjoy privately guided wilderness experiences where you can get up close to your favorite Australian animals.

Trip Type: Wildlife & Wilderness, Outdoor Adventure

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Starting at $2,099

Australia Winter Getaway

This Australia Winter Getaway was planned for a couple who wanted a winter holiday with all the highlights of Australia. This travel package gave them the perfect Australian adventure, with a mix of can’t-miss activities and leisure time. Our clients started their Australia Winter Getaway in Port Douglas, a gorgeous tropical city on Australia’s north coast. Read More…

Trip Type: Cities, Highlights

Port Lincoln, South Australia. Image: Tourism South Australia
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Starting at $2,299

Best of Australia: Western Australia and South Australia Vacation

Discover unique flavors and hidden gems in Western Australia and South Australia. This vacation features beautiful beaches, delicious food and wine, and up-close wildlife encounters!

Trip Type: Cities, Food and Wine, Wildlife & Wilderness

Melbourne Cup Thoroughbred Race. Image: Tourism Australia
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Starting at $2,499

Australia Vacations: Melbourne Cup and Sydney

For one of our favorite Australia vacations, we designed this trip for a family with adult children from Kentucky who loved horse racing. They attended the Kentucky Derby every year and loved getting dressed up for a day at the racetrack, so we made sure to send them to Melbourne during the Melbourne Cup Carnival! The Read More…

Trip Type: Sports and Events, Cities

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade. Image: Tourism Australia
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Starting at $2,499

Gay Vacation Packages: Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras

Don’t miss Australia’s biggest party: Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras! Catch the colorful parade in Sydney, then relax at a beautiful and luxurious beach retreat away from the crowds.

Trip Type: Cities, Sports and Events

Sydney, New South Wales. Image courtesty of Destination NSW
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Starting at $2,599

Australia Family Vacation Packages: Sydney and Batemans Bay

After experiencing New Year’s Eve in Sydney, drive out to family-friendly Batemans Bay. Tour Murramarang National Park and see kangaroos on Pebbly Beach!

Trip Type: Cities, Islands, Beaches & Reefs, Family Travel

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Starting at $2,599

Australian Open Vacation Package: Tennis and Sydney

Savor the thrills and excitement of seeing the world’s top tennis players compete for the champions’ trophies at the 2018 Australian Open! Be amazed by the skill and stamina of the superstars of world tennis when they line up for the first Grand Slam of the year. This is one of only 4 tournaments each year Read More…

Trip Type: Sports and Events

Australian Grand Prix, Melbourne. Image: Tourism Australia
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Starting at $2,599

Australia Travel Package: Australian Grand Prix

Experience the thrilling Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne and watch the city come to life with parties and events! Then head to Sydney and discover this iconic city from a local’s point of view.

Trip Type: Sports and Events, Cities

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Starting at $3,499

Outback Vacation: Ultimate Australia Cultural Experience

We planned this Outback Vacation: Ultimate Australia Cultural Experience for 2 sisters who had visited Sydney and the major Australian cities, and now wanted to get a feel for the local cultures. This journey took them to iconic highlights, including Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef, as well as some spectacular areas off the beaten track. Read More…

Trip Type: Heritage and Culture

Swimming with Whale Sharks in Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia. Image: Tourism Western Australia
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Starting at $3,599

Australian Honeymoon: Sydney, Reef, and Whale Sharks

This is the ultimate vacation for scuba divers and ocean lovers! Enjoy 3 days of diving in the Great Barrier Reef, surfing in Sydney, swimming with whale sharks in Ningaloo Reef, and more.

Trip Type: Romantic Getaways, Islands, Beaches & Reefs

2016 World Cup of Golf Package in Melboune
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Starting at $3,799

Melbourne Golf Package: Kingston Heath and Royal Melbourne

This Melbourne Golf Package was planned for a couple from Florida that had golfed all over the world and wanted a short trip to play some of the top courses in Melbourne: Kingston Heath and Royal Melbourne. While in Australia, they figured they should enjoy some of the nearby wine in the famed Yarra Valley, and see Read More…

Trip Type: Golf, Islands, Beaches & Reefs