Best Australian Holidays Guide: Part Three

Over four days, 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

Australia. Whatever the survey — meaningful travel, “safest countries to visit” or simply the best places in the world to travel — Australia consistently ranks in the global top 10.

The rest of the world sees it as one of the most idyllic and exotic destinations on the planet. And here it is, right on our doorstep.

In our world of long-haul travel, mega airports, complexities, queues and over-tourism, we’ve already arrived at one of the world’s great destinations, and yet many local travellers may have barely scratched its surface.

It’s a big, brown land fringed by golden beaches and blue seas. It’s a big social mix, from glitzy cities to hokey outback towns. It has big climate ranges, from temperate to tropical. And to see it all, you need 20 big ideas...

11. Festival festivities

Some of us like a “reason” to travel — a prompt, a purpose and a theme. Festivals do that.

We all have our interests and particular tastes, of course, but for the purpose of this exercise, I’m going folk (and sort-of blues and roots) with a top three, in this order:

1 WOMADelaide, in March in South Australia.

2 Woodford Folk Festival in Queensland, over the Christmas and new year break.

3 Port Fairy Folk Festival, in March in Victoria.

12. Sydney city long weekend

Basing yourself around Sydney Harbour and doing all the classic big-city stuff is a real change from being in Perth. A real contrast. A classic long weekend. Sydney feels so different, as it looks out towards the west coast of the US.

Do the Sydney Opera House tour (or at least take a selfie outside), ride the ferry to Manly, eat an ice-cream, walk around The Rocks, pay too much for pasta, and know it’s still less than Perth. Perhaps try to stay near Darling Harbour for great evening strolling.

13. Great Barrier Reef

This nearly slipped out of the list but I pulled myself up. We are international travellers — West Australians are experienced, worldly wise, seeking out great sights. The Great Barrier Reef is still one of the world’s great visitor drawcards — the continent’s only representative in the seven natural wonders of the world (alongside Mt Everest and the Grand Canyon).

And relatively speaking, it’s on our doorstep.

The world’s biggest reef system, composed of nearly 3000 individual reefs and more than 2000km long, it is still a must-see, for all the environmental pressures it’s under (and it’s good to experience it to understand those). Fly direct to Cairns, stay 70km north in Port Douglas, and enjoy the tropical difference.

14. Distilling the experience

Wine touring’s one thing. Craft beer is another. But the newer kid on the touring block is the distilling scene.

Often urban and trendy, having craft distillers in your sights can open up new areas and experiences — in addition to the gins, vodkas, whiskies and rums, of course.

Sydney started it with Archie Rose, then Manly Spirits Co, Poor Toms Gin Hall and the spiced rums at Brix Distillers.

Melbourne joined in with Starward, Littl Lon and Brogan’s Way in Richmond. In Adelaide, look for Prohibition Liquor and Twenty Third Street Distillery on Melbourne, which is now in Renmark, in the Riverland (yes, I know, it’s a confusing world).

In Perth, Whipper Snipper bills itself as Perth’s first urban distillery and there is also the Hoochery in Kununurra.

15. The ultimate Aussie road trip

The Great Ocean Road is 100 years old. Yay. Construction by returned World War I servicemen on the now 243km began on September 19, 1919.

Take your time as you see the Twelve Apostles, Lorne, Apollo Bay and Torquay. Stop for some of the nice marked walks.

Breakfast at The Pond Cafe (Torquay), hamburger-up at The Bottle of Milk (Lorne), sip craft beer at Great Ocean Road Brewhouse (Apollo Bay) and overlook that beach at 12 Rocks Beach Bar (Port Campbell). Fly to Melbourne, hire a car, drive just over 110km to Torquay and you’re on it. And it’s great.

Read the full story, and more, here.

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