Take off from Melbourne to Adelaide and you'll discover one of the best road trips in Australia as well as a memorial to the soldiers who fought in WW1. From the weathered limestone formations of the Twelve Apostles to the towering trees of Great Otway National Park, the Great Ocean Road is 250km of stunning scenery with plenty of picnic spots and tiny townships to break up the journey.
The Kimberley is swept by the tides of the Indian Ocean where saltwater crocs line the rugged shoreline, protecting the river mouths that snake through this infinite, dusty, red terrain. Drive along the Gibb River Road or fly out to Gumboot Bay before spending time in the Bungle Bungles or on the Fitzroy River as you learn more about Dreamtime and the importance the Kimberley holds within Australia’s Aboriginal heritage.
Just 13km from Adelaide, Australia’s third largest island boasts 450km of wild coastline with Seal Bay Conservation Park and Flinders Chase National Park, which features the Remarkable Rocks, providing protective habitat for an abundance of indigenous animals. Fur seals, koalas, sea lions, bandicoots, kangaroos (obviously) and hundreds of birds, make guided nature walks well worth a hop off the mainland.
From Darwin to Uluru, the Northern Territory takes you closer to the country's true ancestry where rock art, folklore and sacred sites are brought to life under the thoughtful tutelage of an Aboriginal guide. Kakadu National Park exemplifies Australia's unadulterated natural environment with waterfall-filled gorges, hidden billabongs and the Mamukala wetlands alive with thousands of birds and semi-submerged crocs.
This southeast coast city is much more than just Bondi Beach and the Opera House, and if you're looking to climb the Harbour Bridge, shop in the Rocks or spot fruit bats in the botanical gardens, Sydney's got the lot, and then some. Discover beachside suburbs like Manly, Tamarama and Bronte as well as Kamay Botany Bay National Park and the Blue Mountains, all inviting an alternative side to Sydney.
Whether you choose to experience the Great Barrier Reef by glass-bottomed boat, small ship or with snorkel, mask and fins, there really is nothing like this marine phenomenon anywhere else on earth. Giant clams, sea turtles, manta rays and a profusion of tropical fish light up an incredible underwater world ripe with colourful coral gardens and ribbon reefs. Trips to Lizard Island allowing for time on golden sands from where to soak it all in.
Entering the Outback with an Aboriginal guide opens up the relationship between indigenous Australians and the natural environment with everywhere from the Kimberley to the MacDonnell Ranges, offering unforgettable adventures. Anywhere away from urban areas and the coast constitutes “the Outback” and if you're looking for an authentic Australian experience then ‘Go Bush’, and never look back.
Separated from the mainland in every sense, this island has been left to her own devices with hundreds of working farms and family-run B&B's offering a bona fide bite of Tassie life. Self-drive holidays let you explore valleys coated in eucalyptus and myrtle trees where platypus, pademelons, quolls and Tasmanian devils lurk, while Cradle Mountain, the Western Wilderness and the Central Highlands wait around the bend.
Mid-November through to early December is schoolie season when year 12's hit the beach and let their hair down. After that it's the six-week school holidays when families also hit the beach and enjoy popular public areas much more than throughout the rest of the year. Don't expect to find uncrowded beaches at Christmas, especially on the Gold Coast. And sand in turkey dinner – really?!
If in Melbourne you might be tempted to check in on the good folk of Ramsey Street by taking the Neighbours tour. However, it's just a lengthy round-trip with a chatty tour guide followed by selfies by the road sign. Melbourne's awash with architectural heritage and green areas like Albert Park and Carlton Gardens, and places to promenade around the Docklands. Don't waste your time in Ramsey Street; make the most of the real Melbourne.
Coming to Australia in search of sun, sea and sand is one thing but if you're looking for a break from beaches, bronzed bods and similar scenery then do yourself a favour and opt out of the Gold Coast. If you're really looking to fall for Queensland's coastline then head north to the Whitsundays, to Whitehaven beach, and the Great Barrier Reef and you'll soon find a world away from gap year students, surfers and schoolies.
If you've heard about climbing this rock and are tempted to step foot on the sacred stone, then respect Aboriginal heritage, as well as the signs which state quite clearly 'keep off the bloody rock'. It's not illegal but it's totally disrespectful (a bit like climbing a religious temple) and can lead to climbers getting stuck down crevices and costly call outs, in every sense, for the emergency services.