Australia Holidays in 2016: Where you should be going according to the experts
At just over twice the size of Europe, planning a trip to Australia is not something to be done lightly. Popular destinations on most people’s itineraries include Sydney Harbour Bridge, Bondi Beach and the Great Barrier Reef, which are all uniquely fascinating and culturally significant destinations by themselves, but something they all share is their popularity.
Here at All Ways Tailormade, we know a good deal about Australia (we have been creating bespoke holidays to the country for the last 24 years), however rather than us tell you where you should be going when you visit, we thought we would let 21 of the top travel bloggers and writers from around the world tell you instead..
We posed the question “What is one destination/attraction you would advise anyone planning their Australian holidays in 2016 to not miss out on? The less well known, the better.” and the responses we got were exactly what we were after - hidden gems, that those new to the country would probably miss out on. We feel that the insights listed below from these established travellers will both help push more people off the beaten track when travelling down under, as well as aid anyone struggling with what to cram into their agendas when visiting Australia.
Broome and the Kimberley Region (Western Australia)
“Our must not miss destination in Australia is Broome and the Kimberley region in Western Australia. It's a remote region, which makes it less popular for people to visit and helps maintain its charm. Broome has the exotic flavour of Asia and rich Indigenous history, mixed with the rugged Australian outback and the chilled out Aussie beach living. It's also stunning - red dirt, luminescent turquoise water, white sand and vibrant green pockets of grass. It's close to the Gibb River Road which is a 4WD adventurer's dream destination. Rugged dirt roads leading you to magnificent gorges and waterholes.“
Uluru and the Ghan Train to Darwin (Northern Territory)
“A lot of people will normally head to the east coast of Australia to visit cities like Sydney and Melbourne. But, don't forget Australia's Northern Territory. Visit Uluru, spend a couple nights under the stars, and take the Ghan Train through the Red Centre up to Darwin for a unique and incredible Australian experience.”
The Grampians National Park (Victoria)
“My travel in Australia was very exciting and I took the chance of visiting some of its major destinations between Sydney and Melbourne. The Grampians National Park is one of the best tourist sites within Victoria region. Along with rocky landscapes, beautiful waterfalls and endless forests, this park is one of my favourite places. Going up "The Pinnacle" viewpoint allows you to have the most fantastic view over Halls Gap, the Lake Bellfield and the surrounding area. If you're lucky you can spot a Kangaroo fight.”
“Tasmania. The island state so often gets left off traveller's itineraries, and that's a real shame. In summer, the east coast has some of the best beaches in the country -- and unlike elsewhere, you'll likely to have them all to yourself. The hiking in Cradle Mountain National Park is gorgeous, and the history in Port Arthur seeps out of every stone. Hobart is a vibrant, attractive little city, with surprisingly good dining and cafe options, and it's one of the best places in Australia to take a road trip, because distances are small, the roads are empty and the views are amazing. Best of all, Tasmania isn't expensive to get to -- you can pick up return flights from Melbourne for under a hundred dollars at times."
Rottnest Island (Western Australia)
“Western Australia gets a poor run tourist wise as the east coast has so much going for it. So if you want to take home a really treasured experience from the land down under that others won’t have head to Perth and take the ferry over to Rottnest Island for a few days. Crystal clear water, more beaches than you’ll ever have time for, endless bike paths (the island is car free) and you can’t miss the local Quokka population that call it home.”
Cathedral Range (Victoria)
“My favourite place in Australia is Cathedral Range, about 2 hours north-east of Melbourne. The range is around 7 kilometres long, and a large part of that is the aptly named “Razorback”, a sharply upturned ridge with a walking track that weaves its way through, around and under some huge rock slabs. If you can only visit for a day I recommend hiking the southern circuit, which features an almost rock-climb up the range’s tallest summit, Sugarloaf Peak. Those visiting for a couple of days can either complete the whole range as an overnight hike, or base themselves at one of the drive-in campsites and hike it as two separate day-hikes. Rock climbing and abseiling are also very popular, if hiking’s not your jam.”
The Great Ocean Road and Apollo Bay on the way (Victoria)
“It's certainly pretty well known, but no one should miss the Great Ocean Road. Not only is the scenery absolutely stunning, but along the way, you can easily find your own hidden gems. Just stop in any town (Apollo Bay was one of our favourites), find a cafe or restaurant, have something to eat, and just take a stroll on the beach. Does life get any better than that?”
Magnetic Island (Queensland)
"Townsville has a bad reputation among Australians—maybe justly, maybe not—but even if you don't stay within the city limits, make sure you visit nearby Magnetic Island. Known as "Maggie Island" among the locals and accessible by a quick ferry ride from Townsville, Magnetic Island not only features incredible landscapes but adorable rock wallabies whose massive cuteness belies their small size. Magnetic Island is a must-visit on your next Australia trip!"
Dorrigo National Park (New South Wales)
“On the drive between Sydney and Brisbane, near Coffs Harbour, there's an incredible bit of nature hidden just off the highway. It's called the Dorrigo National Park and it's full of ancient rainforest. In fact, the rainforest here is the same type that covered much of the world when the dinosaurs walked across it! There are tracks here that you can take for a bushwalk to waterfalls or lookout points."
Tree Top Walk near Walpole (Western Australia)
“One of the places I always take visitors to here in Western Australia is the Tree Top Walk near Walpole in the south-west. You get to walk on top of and through a forest of massive tingle trees and it's an amazing animal-eye view of the world.”
"The Sunshine Coast, about an hour north of Brisbane, is a great alternative to the Gold Coast. It can be expensive but it's more laid back and family friendly but still has the same fantastic beaches. Mooloolaba, Maroochydore and Noosa are all great towns to explore on the coast with lots of holiday accommodation available. Picking one town to stay in and renting a car lets you explore the whole of the Sunshine Coast, visit Australia Zoo and check out some of the small, quirky mountain towns inland like Maleny and Montville."
Wilsons Promontory National Park (Victoria)
“The Prom’, as it is affectionately known to Melburnians, is a piece of pristine wilderness that I’d never heard of until I lived in Australia. At the southernmost tip of Australia’s mainland, this massive piece of coast environment is a national park rich in stunning beaches and diverse wildlife. Take a coastal stroll from Tidal River to Squeaky Beach, an unspoilt piece of white quartz sand shore. Go for a bush walk in the lush Lilly Pilly Gully, where a warm temperate rainforest flourishes. There’s not much in the way of accommodation beyond camping so expect to get close to nature, especially when you go to the loo in the middle of the night and disturb the wombats grazing outside the toilet block!”
Rottnest (Western Australia)
“People are all about the animals in Australia. Kangaroos, koalas, emus, but there are other native animals that should not be missed on your visit. Head to Rottnest, off the coast of Western Australia to have an interaction with the happiest creature on earth, the Quokka. Or if rodents of unusual size are not your thing then consider a trip to Phillip Island, off of the Victoria coast line, to spot the smallest penguins on earth returning to their home each night”
Raymond Island (Victoria)
“I would recommend Raymond Island in Victoria to see dozens of koalas in their natural habitat. The island is small enough that you can walk all around its neighbourhood and forested areas. Koalas can be seen sleeping, eating, and playing on the top of Eucalyptus trees as well as walking all over the neighbourhood. The experience beats any "Koala habitat" in any zoo.”
The Kangaroo Sanctuary, in Alice Springs (Northern Territory)
“Sunset Walk with the Kangaroo Dundee in Alice Springs. More widely known as the Kangaroo Dundee (thanks to a BBC Documentary feature), Chris “Brolga” Barnes used to be your typical tour guide until one day, when he stopped to check on a dead kangaroo lying by the road. Attracted to the young grass that grows on the sides of the road, Kangaroos are common victims of roadkill. In the pouch, he found a joey, a baby kangaroo, and decided to be, however unlikely, its new mother. He then later established the Baby Kangaroo Rescue Centre, where he accepted more orphaned joeys. At the sanctuary he set up, visitors in small batches get to walk with the kangaroos during sunset, as Brolga himself shares his love for the largest marsupials in the world.”
“The Geelong-Bellarine is easily one of Australia’s great yet underrated food and wine regions. I love quirky Piknik, in a converted roadhouse, for breakfast or lunch – everything is made on site, including delicious relishes and preserves; Chef Aaron Turner’s buzzy late night-opener, Hot Chicken Project for the best spicy fried chicken ever; and charming wine bars like Union Street Wine in Geelong, and Noble Rot, at quaint Point Lonsdale. Nobody knows wine better than For the Love of Grape, who took us to wineries without cellar doors where we sipped vino with the winemakers. Terindah Estate winery and Jack Rabbit Vineyard not only produce exceptional wines, they have wonderful restaurants with breath-taking views of the vineyards and bay.”
Margaret River (Western Australia)
“If you love nature, the beach and excellent local produce a region I can highly recommend for your Australian Holidays in 2016 is Margaret River, Western Australia. Located only 3.5 hours’ drive south of Perth, this region offers more than food & wine tasting tours. Its spectacular coastline landscape is ideal for all nature lovers who want to get active with hiking, biking, horse riding, and a variety of water sports from surfing, snorkelling to kayaking and more. On top of this, an array of events from music, gourmet to outdoor activities will make a trip to Margaret River unforgettable.”
The Whitsundays (Queensland)
“We travelled along the east coast of Australia from Sydney to the Sunshine Coast and some of my favourite stops were the small towns that we stumbled on. Cabarita and Angourie both stole my heart because of their small town feel, friendly locals and gorgeous beaches. If we had known about the Whitsundays before our trip, these islands off the coast would have been at the top of our list of places to visit. You have to take a short plane ride over, but based on the photos and other traveller’s recommendations, it's worth every penny!"
The Australian Open of surfing (New South Wales)
"The Australian Open of Surfing is a must for anyone planning a trip to Australia in 2016. It takes place in Sydney at the end of February and showcases some of the best surfers from around the world at Manly Beach. Even if you aren't a surfer you'll enjoy watching these world-class athletes battle the break before relaxing on one of Sydney's most iconic stretches of sand."
Sofia at sofianaaustralia.com
"Not so long ago if you asked a seasoned Australian traveller where would you go for culture and fine cuisine, the answer would be Melbourne. The answer now is Tasmania. MONA is host to intriguing exhibitions all set against a backdrop any painter would happily capture. Whatever you feel like, be it wine, cheese, seafood, fruit, even whisky, Tasmania has it fresher than anywhere else. All surrounded by the most spectacular and pristine national parks in comparatively short distances apart."
The Grampians national Park (Victoria)
“My favourite place in Australia has to be regional Victoria. Every little town and region in the state has its own very unique personality and vibe. I love them all, but my favourite place has got to be the Grampians. This region, near the Victorian and South Australian border, is home to the Grampians National Park. Think incredible views, strenuous hikes, rushing waterfalls and verdant meadows full of kangaroos. The little town of Halls Gap is actually inside the National Park, meaning you can find a huge range of accommodation within the park itself and are not limited to camping or cabins. It also means you have easy access to ice cream shops and cafe breakfasts.”
We hope these excellent and varied answers have given you some extra insight into what Australia really has to offer, as well as maybe changed a few people’s minds who were basing their Australian holidays in 2016 around the more common sites and destinations.
We would like to say a massive THANKS to all that contributed to this post and please feel free to share if you yourself have found it useful, or do get in touch if there is something that you think these experts have missed.
We cater for all tastes and preferences, so if this post has got you thinking about Australia and what it can offer you, we at All Ways Tailormade are only a phone call away to help you start planning your dream holiday.