Travelers tend to ignore just how big Australia is.
Fun fact: Australia is 2.97 million square miles, making the continent almost exactly the same size as the continental United States. However, it also has roughly the population of Texas, making it one of the least dense continents in the world. Major cities are most likely going to be separated by huge areas of nothing. It is important to understand these points when planning a trip. Here are five tips on how to properly get around down under.
1. Focus on a single state.
Because the country is so big and spread out, doing a proper trip that’s goal was seeing every major site would take months, maybe years. It’s not like visiting Bruges, a city that can easily be walked in a single day and there isn’t a Eurail going from city to city in a couple of hours. Therefore I recommend sticking to one state unless you are planning on having a prolonged stay or dropping major money on flights. The most popular states for travelers are Queensland, Victoria, and New South Wales. All three are home to enough things to do to keep the average person busy for a solid vacation.
2. Know your limitations.
Flying from the west to east coast of Australia is the equivalent of flying from New York to California. Nobody wants to fly five hours if they don’t have to. This also makes taking a road trip from Sydney to Perth a pretty arduous journey. If you are going to go around to multiple states, establish a central location for your vacation and plan from there. Take Melbourne for example. Melbourne makes a great hub while traveling in Australia because not only is it an amazing city, but it offers easy access to other hotspots such as Tasmania and Sydney.
3. Book your flights early.
Domestic flights in Australia are notoriously expensive, however it is possible to get tickets from places such as Melbourne to Tasmania for as low as $40. It is just a matter of planning well in advance. Spontaneously going to an airport and picking a location isn’t really a fun thing to do in Australia. Also, if someone tells you that taking the train across the country is a cool thing to do, it is not, the 19th century is over.
4. To really experience The Outback – drive.
The outback is Australia’s most heavily romanticized location and therefore a fairly popular destination for travelers. It is possible to fly out to Ayers Rock Airport, which is essentially located right in the middle of the action and named after its proximity to one of the country’s most famous natural landmarks. However, given the infrequency of flights and the fact that there really is not a lot going on out there, flights are expensive. Driving is the best way to experience the outback. Rent a campervan; pick a reasonable start and end point and drive. This will give about as good of a taste of the outback as there is. For example it’s about 9 hours from Melbourne to Sydney. If you are trying to see the outback just drive and camp along the way. Travelers typically discover that the outback is really not that cool after a few days and the decision to end up in a major city will not be regretted. Also, make sure when a sign says “Last Petrol for 300 Miles” you fill up your car. They are not lying.
5. Road trip your way through coastlines.
I am convinced that Australia is the best country in the world for road trips. Aside from the outback, every coastline in the country makes for the perfect drive. The Great Ocean Road runs along the south coast along some of the world’s best surf spots and natural wonders. The west coast gives the opportunity to stop off in Perth, a youthful city that is rapidly gaining an amazing reputation, and then continue north again along some of the country’s best beaches. Northern Australia and Queensland provide a tropical location and the opportunity to drive through forest and alongside the Great Barrier Reef, seeing some of the world’s rarest and most dangerous animals.