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Australia: beyond the icons

Adventures from east to west

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8 November 2022 by David Ward

If you've holidayed in Australia, you'll know all about its wonderful wildlife, rich heritage, awe-inspiring landscapes and friendly locals, and probably have ticked off a few highlights from the typical Australia bucket list. However, there's much more to Australia than the reef and that rock. Look beyond the icons and you'll find the likes of swimming with whale sharks off Ningaloo Reef, spotting Tasmanian Devils in the wild and blending your own wine in the Barossa Valley. Take a look below to find out more.

Cities

Perth, Western Australia

Australia has some of the most captivating and famous cities on the planet, from the silver sails of Sydney's Opera House to the laid-back cool of Melbourne. However, behind the scenes are dozens of under-the-radar metropoles that are more than just a gateway to Australia's natural world, but an attraction all their own. We particularly love Perth, Western Australia's often-overlooked capital, that's host to a laid-back coastal lifestyle, vibrant café culture, sprawling parklands and famed local beaches – as well as the impossibly cute quokkas on neighbouring Rottnest Island. You'll find unexpected delights, too, such as the Northern Territory's surprisingly cosmopolitan Darwin, beautiful beaches in Cairns (also the gateway to the famed Gold Coast), a vibrant arts culture in Adelaide and a world-famous cafe and bar scene in Brisbane.

Great journeys

Road trip through the Outback

Travel in Australia is all about the journey, whether that's by road, rail or on foot. There's everything from tours of the south's wine regions and stunning Flinders landscapes to riding the rails of The Ghan or The Indian Pacific Railway, seeing great swathes of Australia's diverse landscape in a single, unforgettable journey, stopping en route at remote locations otherwise unreachable. There's even the chance to follow ancient songlines and see the country up close with walks such as The Bibbulmun Track in Western Australia, one of the world's greatest long-distance walking trails, and world-famous Freycinet National Park, home to pink-hued peaks, hidden coves and myriad bird species. 

Landscapes

Wineglass Bay viewed from the top of Mt Amos, Tasmania

Australia is home to landscapes like nowhere else on earth, from the two giant coral reefs that run down each flank to ancient rainforests, pristine beaches, Outback deserts and rugged mountain ranges – 16 of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Some, like the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru, have become cornerstones of countless Australian holidays, but many are much more undiscovered. Our top picks include the opportunity to see the Outback and swim with whale sharks off Ningaloo Reef, combine wine and wilderness in South Australia or walk through the Tasmanian countryside on the Overland Track. Down in Victoria, as well as icons like the Great Ocean Road and Twelve Apostles, are lesser-known delights such as Phillip Island's Penguin Parade and iconic Seal Rocks, the sandstone pillars of the Grampians National Park and the world-class wines of the Yarra Valley.

Wildlife


Whale shark, Ningaloo reef

Kangaroos, koalas, wombats...Australia is synonymous with several iconic species, yet there are in fact many more beyond the icons. Western Australia, with its national and marine parks covering more than 20 million hectares, is a top spot for wildlife, or head to The Kimberley to watch humpback whales and dolphins. Then there's Kangaroo Island and Eyre Peninsula – South Australia's wildlife hotspots –and endless opportunities in Tasmania to encounter wildlife such as endemic birds, pademelons and, of course, the Tasmanian Devil.

Food & wine

Barossa Valley vineyard, South Australia

Australia has a wealth of local produce that gives rise to a great food and wine scene. Wherever you go you'll eat well, and not just on the traditional barbie. Discover the gourmet delights of the South West, combine wildlife and wine in South Australia or tackle Tasmania's Food and Wine Trail

Coast & islands


Kangaroo Island, South Australia

With 50,000km of coastline, Australia is the perfect destination for beach lovers. From the vibrant corals of the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Islands to lesser-known highlights like sub-tropical and volcanic Lord Howe Island and secluded Kangaroo Island, enjoy everything from relaxing at luxury beachfront lodges to forest hikes, alongside a plethora of stylish coastal resorts.

Related offers

The Ghan, Australia

The Ghan & Kangaroo Island

12-day tailor-made rail & stay journey from £5,735 pp incl. flights

Travelling from south to north, this tailor-made trip marries one of the world’s greatest rail journeys with tropical Darwin, Adelaide’s heritage and the wildlife of Kangaroo Island.

Great Ocean Road, Victoria

Melbourne, the Grampians & Great Ocean Road

12-day tailor-made self-drive from £2,305 pp incl. flights

Swap Melbourne’s city sights for golden sands, world-class vineyards and the magnificent Twelve Apostles as you drive one of the world’s greatest coastal roads.

Hamilton Island, Australia

Sydney, the Whitsundays and Brisbane

16-day tailor-made holiday from £2,695 pp incl. flights

Between the sights of Sydney and Brisbane, hop out to the Whitsundays to enjoy some island relaxation alongside hikes, cruises, kayak paddles and snorkelling trips.

Cradle Mountain, Tasmania, Australia

Tasmania’s West Coast Explorer

10-day tailor-made self-drive from £2,125 pp incl. flights

Explore the west coast of Tasmania uncovering its convict past, encountering unique wildlife and travelling through some of Australia's most spectacular wilderness.

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Australia’s East Coast: Sydney to Byron Bay

14-day tailor-made self-drive from £2,310 pp incl. flights

Be charmed by the sights of Sydney before discovering golden beaches, characterful towns and lush hinterland on a drive north along New South Wales' glorious coast.

Sea Cliff Bridge, New South Wales, Australia

Sydney to Melbourne Coastal Drive

17-day tailor-made self-drive from £2,515 pp incl. flights

Discover the dramatic coastline between two of Australia's city greats, enjoying the likes of penguin parades on beautiful island reserves and stays in luxury bush camps.

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