Top 10 Destinations in Australia
The wilderness of Kangaroo Island, the dense rainforest of the Daintree, the wineries of Margaret River and the beaches of the Gold Coast are some of Australias biggest tourist drawcards… and there wasnt even room for them in this article! That means the 10 places that did end up on this list of Australias best destinations are seriously good. We promise.
Australias biggest city is most international visitors gateway into the country, and the sparkling Sydney Harbour provides a spectacular welcome mat. You cant miss Sydneys two iconic landmarks – the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House – but theres no doubt that the Harbour Citys main attraction is its gorgeous beaches, including Bondi and Coogee in the Eastern Suburbs and Manly on the Northern Beaches.
The countrys second-largest metropolis cant match Sydneys sand or sunshine, but Melbourne makes up for it with coffee, culture, food and sport. The Victorian capital is Australias most cosmopolitan city, made up of moody laneways lined with urban art and hole-in-the-wall cafes, arty boutiques and galleries, a progressive dining scene, and sport. Lots and lots of sport.
3. Great Barrier Reef
See it while you still can. Climate change is bleaching the colour out of the worlds largest coral reef system, which stretches 2,300 kilometres along the sunny Queensland coast, but there are still plenty of dive sites where you can snorkel the warm water to see brilliant coral and amazing marine life. Visit the lush Daintree Rainforest, the remarkable Fraser Island and the serene Whitsunday Islands while youre in tropical North Queensland, too.
Words cant quite capture the majesty of The Rock, a hulking sandstone monolith that emerges out of the ochre-red dust of Central Australia. Uluru carries immense significance to Australias Indigenous people and is one of the countrys most iconic landmarks – take it in by foot, on the back of a horse or a Harley Davidson, from above in a helicopter or hot air balloon, or with a meal at dusk.
The City of Churches really needs a new nickname that more accurately reflects the vibrant, dynamic place Adelaide has become in recent years. Maybe the city of year-round festivals, or the city of charismatic bars, cafes and restaurants that gives Melbourne a run for its money, or perhaps the city with dozens of wine regions on its doorstep, the perfect place to sample the world-class reds South Australia is famous for.
6. Great Ocean Road
Spanning 243 kilometres of rugged Victorian coastline west of Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road is easily Australias most picturesque touring route, and perhaps one of the most scenic road trips on the face of the Earth. Schedule pit stops to marvel at the towering limestone stacks of the 12 Apostles, the postcard-perfect Loch Ard Gorge, and quaint coastal villages such as Port Fairy.
7. Byron Bay
Hippie haven, surfing mecca, celebrity hideaway, compulsory stop on the well-trodden backpacker trail up the East Coast – the most easterly point on the Australian mainland is many different things, including one of the countrys hottest tourist destinations. If you want to avoid the crowds and cost of Byron Bay itself, escape into the pristine hinterland, bliss out in the alternative lifestyle hub of Nimbin, or catch a wave down the road in Yamba.
The capital of Tasmania – a leafy island state just south of the Australian mainland – has always been a pleasant place to visit, but Hobart has turned into a must-see destination for one reason and one reason only: MONA. Opened in a winery in 2011, the Museum of Old and New Art is Australias most exciting cultural experience thanks to a subterranean collection of subversive pieces that has to be seen to be believed.
Australias capital gets a bad rap, mainly because its crawling with politicians. But visitors are treated to a compact city packed full of great attractions too often overlooked by tourists, including the engrossing Australian War Memorial, the modern National Arboretum, the array of museums including Questacon and the National Gallery, plus an exciting (and booming) food and drink scene.
10. Rottnest Island
An island paradise blessed with more than 60 white sand beaches, turquoise water and abundant marine life located just a half-hour ferry from Perth would be a popular enough destination – and thats before you add Australias cutest animal into the equation. The star attraction of Rotto is the resident population of quokkas, an adorable little animal that looks like a miniature kangaroo and isnt afraid to bounce up to admirers for a selfie.