Best Australian Holidays Guide: Part Four

In this final installment of our Best Australian Holidays Guide, Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield takes a look at some of the most exotic, idyllic and exciting holiday destinations you can visit without leaving the country

16. Best of WA, Ningaloo

Ningaloo Reef, whale sharks, whales, snorkelling, diving, fishing, exploring the gorges of Cape Range. Everyone seems to have something they can do on the North West Cape and in Exmouth — this is a shining example of good and sustainable tourism in WA.

Its industry fits the town, is seasonal (people and place get to recover) and everyone is getting something out of it. I’m happy on the eastern pebble beaches, engaged by the gorges, cognisant of the fact World Heritage Listed was granted not just because Ningaloo is the world’s biggest fringing reef (meaning it comes right up to the shore in some places), but because of its juxtaposition and relationship to the range.

And now travellers can drive one way and fly the other, the result of a brilliant initiative by Australia’s Coral Coast tourism region. It’s worth remembering for when friends and family come to visit.

17. Canberra galleries

Poor old Canberra. I blame my news colleagues, because “Canberra” has become another way of saying “politics”. “Canberra” might have decided .

It has, in my opinion, by far the best collections of art and culture in the country. The National Gallery of Australia and National Portrait Gallery alone are worth the four-hour flight. Add in Canberra Museum and Gallery, for sure, but don’t miss art@parliament — the collection at Parliament House, from Clifton Pugh’s brilliant depiction of Gough Whitlam to the 152,690 brick Lego Parliament.

18. The big lap (on land)

Here’s a question that’s always bothered me. As we drive on the left, is it quicker to drive round Australia anti-clockwise than clockwise — given Highway 1 alone is 14,500km, and detours and side tracks will easily make it a 20,000km lap?

Tourism Research Australia last month revealed that, for the first time, the number of young and midlife couples with no children had overtaken families for the number of nights spent on caravan and camping trips.

It shows 20-29-year-olds are on more caravan and camping trips. Overall, in the June quarter, 55 million nights were spent footloose on the wallaby.

For a more sensible answer to my question, if it’s summer, head south, if it’s winter, head north or to the centre.

Don’t be in the north in the wet season (November-May) when it’s hot and more difficult to get around.

19. The big lap (by sea)

Find a different perspective, seeing the continent from the sea, and spending some days on shore.

Cruise1st has an exclusive 34-night circumnavigation of Australia (and New Zealand) from $5599 on Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas.

Princess Cruises has a 28-day, 13-port Round Australia voyage on Sea Princess, with departures in March and October 2020 and February 2021. It is from $6602 per person, twin share, for an interior cabin, and $11,023 each for an oceanview. That’s starting and finishing in Sydney, going clockwise.

Holland America Line has a 33-day circumnavigation on MS Maasdam (this year’s leaves on November 19).

20. The big lap (by air)

You could buy a pretty decent mid-sized car or, for $33,915, you could do a big lap of Australia in serious style in a Pilatus PC-12 private jet. The 14-night trip includes Melbourne, Tasmania’s Freycinet coast, the Red Centre, Great Barrier Reef and Sydney.

Organisers The Tailor say it’s travelling like a rock star — “a whirlwind adventure of extraordinary landscapes and privileged access”. Oh, and the $33,915 is per person, based on six people travelling, twin share, and valid until March 31.

Read the full story, and more, here.

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