Australia is so big and full of so many activities, iconic places, and beautiful scenery it’s hard to know where to even start. Should I head to the capital cities or to the outback or to the rainforests or beaches? Hmm, it is a tough decision to make but getting some of it done is better than not getting any of it done at all. So, here are some of the places I recommend on your first trip to Australia.
The best capital city in Australia for those who want adventure, iconic Australian landmarks, and overall epicness. Sydney is the largest city in Australia and certainly doesn’t hold back when it comes to looking good. Walk along the banks of the harbour for hours enjoying some quiet time, big city life, and plenty of family-friendly activities. It’s no wonder people love visiting Sydney.
New Years Eve Fireworks
If you are visiting Sydney over New Year make sure to head to the spectacular New Years Eve Fireworks. It is worth the big crowds as the firework display is truly spectacular. A lot of people head down to Sydney Harbour early in the morning to secure a good view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
When I was in Sydney for New Year in 2015 I arrived in the city around 6 pm and headed to Circular Quay where I got a great spot to see the magnificent fireworks. Make sure to research where you want to go and how long you should be there beforehand. We didn’t do this and got really lucky as the gates closed just behind us leaving a number of people stuck outside.
Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb
This is definitely one of the touristy things people should do for a view of Sydney Opera House and the stunning city. I recommend heading up at night time for a phenomenal view of the city lights.
Road Trip North Queensland
Starting in Cairns, the hub for the Great Barrier Reef, enjoy the tropical paradise of North Queensland. See the different sections of the Reef as well as nearby national parks, waterfalls and beaches.
Great Barrier Reef
Listed as one of the top natural wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef is a must see when travelling through Northern Australia. Leaving from the shores of Cairns, explore the depths of the Great Barrier Reef. Snorkel, dive or submarine around the corals, spotting reef sharks, turtles, and fish. Spend all day out on the reef or hop on a tour that will let you stay overnight.
Wooroonooran National Park
Adventure through Wooroonooran National Park keeping a look out for the number of waterfalls located throughout Wooroonooran. There are a number of hiking trails and lookouts. A must do while in Wooroonooran National Park is Josephine Falls, a spectacular waterfall with a walking trail, lookouts and a swimming hole located at the west of Wooroonooran National Park. Don’t forget to check out Tchupala Falls and Wallicher Falls too located 50km south of Josephine Falls.
Go on a waterfall circuit located at the eastern end of Wooroonooran National Park, including Millaa Millaa Falls, Zillie Falls, Ellinjaa Falls, Pepina Falls, and Mungalli Falls making up the 5 waterfalls on this wonderful waterfall circuit. Drive around the circuit stopping at each of the picturesque waterfalls. Millaa Millaa Falls is the most photographed waterfall in Australia and a popular swimming spot for locals and visitors.
Daintree National Park
Head north towards to the Daintree National Park, the oldest rainforest in the world standing at over 135 million years old. See waterfalls and go swimming in one of the swimming holes located around the Daintree Rainforest. Keep a look out for cassowaries and other wildlife as you make the drive through the magical rainforest.
Tip: Beware of crocodiles and marine stingers in Northern Queensland. Seriously, don’t go swimming in the ocean along the north coast – look for designated inland swimming holes to swim in.
The Red Centre
Also known and the Australian Outback, the Red Centre has some incredible sights and attractions suitable for everyone. Explore Aboriginal culture, Australian wildlife, iconic Australian landmarks, and the Australian desert at its finest. Indulge into the best part of the Australian culture and see something a little different.
Alice Springs is the hub to the Red Centre. See the beautiful surroundings of red dirt and mountain ranges. This town is a great place to start your adventure around the centre of Australia because it is full of culture and knowledge.
Head to the Alice Springs Desert Park to see iconic Australian animals such as the dingo, kangaroo, emu, and thorny devil. Learn about Aboriginal culture from the local Aboriginal guides who talk about Aboriginal rock art and paintings, as well as the different symbols used for communication. Walk around to park at your own pace and marvel at the scenery and wildlife.
Located in the heart of the Watarrka National Park, Kings Canyon is a great place to stop and admire the outback. Hike around one of the canyon walks including the big Rim Walk, a 6km Rim Walk that will take you through some of the best locations in the Australian outback. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for dingos and thorny devils.
Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is a massive sandstone located in the centre of the Australian Outback. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is rich in history and Aboriginal culture. Take some time to walk around the base of Uluru and marvel at its size, beauty and culture. Drive 50km west of Uluru to the Kata-Tjuta (The Olgas), a large group of rock formations made up of 36 sandstone domes. Walk to the top of Mount Olga for magnificent views of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
So much to do and so little space to do it in, perfect! Tasmania is a big island located south of Melbourne (a 2-hour flight or a 9-hour ferry ride). A great place for a road trip stopping in the 2 major cities, Hobart and Launceston, and heading to the nearby national parks.
Freycinet National Park
Located along the east coast of Tasmania, the Freycinet National Park is a beautiful, lush national park that offers great hiking spots, pristine beaches, and picturesque mountains ranges. This national park is home to the famous Wineglass Bay, one of the best beaches in the world. Coles Bay, Honeymoon Bay, Wineglass Bay, and the Hazards are just some of the incredible scenery along the Freycinet National Park.
Located in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, Cradle Mountain is like nothing else in the world. With a number of hiking trails, unreal scenery, epic views and loads of Australian wildlife, this area is without a doubt a must-do when travelling along the west coast of Tasmania.
Wherever you decide to travel to around Australia, I’m sure it will be great. From beautiful capital cities to pristine beaches to lush rainforests to the Australian outback, this country is so diverse, beautiful, and full of adventure. What are your favourite places to travel to in Australia?
Head to my Great Australian Road Trip path to see my 60+ different destinations around Australia.