Discover Australia’s Top Attractions
Don’t try to cram everything in on your first trip to Australia: It’s just too big! Anyway, even if you are intent on covering the major attractions in a couple of weeks, the laid-back attitude of the Australians is so infectious, you’ll probably abandon your itinerary in favour of a more relaxed (and infinitely more sensible) approach. If time is limited, your two realistic alternatives after you pick up your Sydney Airport car rental are the Reef (Great Barrier) or the Rock (Uluru).
6 Of the Best Places to See Around Australia
Everything in the iconic city of Sydney centers on the impossibly glamorous Sydney Harbour. The city slinks its way through a dazzling network of sandstone headlands, languorous bays and famous surf beaches. Pose among the hip and beautiful at Bondi Beach, take a cruise under the Harbour Bridge, or conquer your vertigo and climb the bridge itself. And don’t forget Sydney Opera House – arguably the greatest architectural masterpiece of the 20th century. Sydney lives outside: The beaches are teeming, street cafés are vibrant, and the harbour is alive with sails.
The Blue Mountains
Sydney-dwellers have been escaping to the cool heights of the Blue Mountains for more than a century. Just a 65km drive inland from the city with car hire, the Blue Mountains rise to a 1,100-metre plateau of sandstone tinted azure by a fine mist of oil from the surrounding eucalyptus forests. For the ideal city retreat, savour the cooler climate surrounded by stunning scenery, unforgettable bush walks, acres of forests and gorges, and enough gourmet restaurants to make even the most confirmed urban dweller feel at home.
Cairns & The Great Barrier Reef
The dynamic town of Cairns enjoys an undeniably lush setting, but this is not the reason it is such a tourist magnet. The real reason why people flock to this buzzing place is because it is the closest gateway to the Great Barrier Reef - the world’s biggest and most remarkable coral reef system . Diving, snorkelling, cruising, fishing, sailing, and island hopping are a way of life here, with a dizzying number of operators providing tours and activities.
Refined yet edgy, Melbourne is a multicultural metropolis with something for everyone. From sedate Victorian architecture and quiet, leafy streets to state-of-the-art developments like Federation Square, Melbourne has an eclectic appeal defined by a buzzing cafe culture and some of the best food, music, art, fashion, theatre, and design in the world. Outside the city, use car hire to take in the stunning variety of wildlife and scenery at Wilsons Promontory National Park, and see the magnificent 12 Apostles (not the famous Last Supper guests but a series of remarkable rock stacks that rise up from the Southern Ocean on Victoria’s shores).
The Great Ocean Road
One of the world’s classic drives, this 500km epic route weaves its way from Melbourne to Apollo Bay, skirting mile after mile of superb surf beaches before sliding into the Otway Ranges. Use car hire rather than booking a tour – the whole point of the Great Ocean Road is to explore the winding route yourself, stopping to admire each new view and fantastic beach. Leave plenty of time for regular stops to appreciate the spectacular scenery (and the koalas).
Uluru / Ayers Rock
A trip to that big, flat-topped rock in the middle of the Australian Outback is top of the list of many visitors’ things to do on a holiday Down Under. Situated 440km south of Alice Springs, this remarkable natural monolith is so sacred to the Aboriginals that they ask you not to climb it. If you decide to scale Uluru anyway, remember it’s a very strenuous climb that is only for the physically fit. And once you get to the top, you may be disappointed: Uluru is the only point of interest in an otherwise unremarkable landscape. Best to admire this enigmatic presence from ground level. At sunset and sunrise, the ever-changing colours are breathtaking.