THE DIVERSITY OF AN AUSTRALIA VACATION
The Infinite Potential
When we think of an Australia vacation, our minds usually wander to trite clichés of opera houses, harbor bridges, big, red rocks, blonde-haired surfers, and big, big knives (cue: Crocodile Dundee impersonation).
I must confess that I am beginning to fall in love with Australia, and it is for reasons far greater than these. From contemporary cosmopolitan cities to wilderness snowfields, from luxurious private islands to primordial rainforests, there is such diversity across the world’s largest island that the possibilities are simply endless.
Few visitors – and many residents – fail to appreciate the immensity of Australia. Quite simply, Australia is vast. It is so large that it could contain all of Europe, most of North America (except for Alaska), or three Indias. The Great Barrier Reef alone is as long as the Colorado River and could stretch halfway across mainland USA, but it spans less than half of the country’s eastern coastline.
It can be snowing at one end and 100 degrees at the other, yet you can surf in the morning and ski in the afternoon. With such exceptional size and diversity, Australia is a country with so much to offer every traveler.
Another benefit to Australia’s immense girth is that there is never really a wrong or bad time to visit, if you are willing to be a little flexible. Summer can be scorching, winter can be icy and yes, the northern states and territories do have wet and dry seasons. But if your window of travel is specific and your heart is set on the Antipodes, there is a journey that can be crafted to give you the quintessential Australia vacation experience.
Let’s immerse ourselves in the Land Down Under:
The southern reaches of Australia follow the familiar seasonal pattern of Spring through Winter, though in reverse, with the calendar year starting with summer, winter commencing in June, and the warm, sometimes rainy Spring closing out the last three months of each year. The festive season is typically hot and sunny, with Christmas, Hanukkah and other December celebrations taking place at the beach, around the barbecue or by the pool.
This presents a wonderful warm-weather opportunity for those in the Northern Hemisphere, and the uniqueness of seeing Santa arrive on a surfboard is truly a sight to behold!
As you travel north, the heat increases and the seasons diminish. In South East Queensland, approximately the halfway mark of the East Coast, Spring and Fall have dwindled to a handful of intervening and unpredictable weeks, changing from hot to cold, wet to dry, with each passing day. Despite its potential for inconvenience, these short periods are actually a wonderful time to see the mid-coastal regions, with crisp, clear days, warm sun, yet plenty of respite in the cooler evenings.
As you progress northwards, crossing the lower end of the Great Barrier Reef, only wet and dry seasons remain. Few Australians understand how the “Top Enders” endure the wet season; stiflingly hot, torrentially wet and the ocean offering little respite as it is the season for stingers – a virulent subspecies of jellyfish.
Yet despite these far from appealing traits, Far North Queensland has much to offer. It’s dry season, ranging from May to October, offers a far less volatile oceanic experience, cooler, with still pleasantly warm temperatures and bright blue skies. This is an excellent time of year to visit the prehistoric Daintree Rainforest, filled with the oldest plant species in the world and some of the dinosaurs’ closest living relatives.
This is also the best time to venture from the mainland to the Great Barrier Reef, clearer waters, calmer seas and the obvious lack of life-threatening companions making for spectacular sailing, snorkeling and diving.
Australia has an unfounded reputation for less-than-welcome locals, in addition to the jellyfish I have already mentioned. Snakes, spiders, crocodiles, even the lovable platypus do offer more venom, teeth and shortened lifespan than any discerning paranoiac would wish to tempt, but the likelihood of you meeting any of these creatures, much less being harmed by one, is infinitessimally small and of no concern to travelers. Australia’s reputation for having dangerous creatures isn’t unfounded, but they are truly unique and equally as fascinating when observed from a safe distance, and the danger that alarming fact poses to Australia’s human population is all but nonexistent.
There are many unique and far more positive aspects to an Australia vacation adventure that more than outweigh any small concern you may have.
Australians, for the most part, are a warm, welcoming nation, quick to offer you directions, assistance or the colloquial g’day. Genial staff will quickly become your friend, guides are jovial and relaxed longside their unwavering professionalism and you can turn to almost any stranger for advice or directions.
Indigenous Australian culture is some of the oldest on the planet. Wild foods, or ‘bush tucker’ offer remarkable health properties and dreamtime tales are as enchanting as they are informative, conveying underlying wisdom of seasonal food sources, beneficial plants and finding fresh water.
Though you won’t be stumbling over aboriginal artefacts in central Sydney, Indigenous culture is becoming increasingly pervasive, with artwork frequently exhibited and tours sharing the history and nuances of this 40,000-year-old people. Many natural landmarks will have an indigenous ‘dreaming’ or story behind them, while cave paintings and archeological sites can be found in the northern outback and the Red Center, where you’ll also find Uluru, formerly Ayer’s Rock.
Beach life is prevalent in Australia, with over 80 percent of the population living within an hour at least one of the 10,000 beaches. This creates vibrant beachside communities and a thriving outdoor lifestyle year-round. However, you may need to venture inland to discover some of the truly unique places. The Olgas, Bungle-Bungles, and the magnificent Kimberly range all lie in the interior, offering spectacular landscapes, vast panoramas and towering waterfalls unlike anywhere else on the planet.
Asutralia is defined by where the land meets the sea. Though the official capital of Canberra lies inland, the major cities of Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth are all either on the water or only a short drive from it. But this is only the beginning. Myriad towns scatter the coast, from the alternative hippy surfer town – now playground of the Hollywood elite – Byron Bay, to the naturally stunning, cosmopolitan Noosa Heads, the sleepy fishing town of Lorne, the gateway to the Great Ocean Road, and the gastronomic haven of Hobart.
Once you step from the mainland, a new realm of opportunity emerges, with numerous islands scattering Australia’s periphery. Fraser, the world’s largest sand island, is an adventurous destination for campers and offroad enthusaists; Rottnest is known for its adorable, fearless quokkas – think cute groundhogs with redeeming smiles; Tasmania, the largest of the islands, is recognized for its homegrown culinary delights and wild temperate forests; and Lord Howe is a millionaire’s hideaway.
My favorite though is also one of the most diminutive. Lizard Island, off Queensland’s central coast, is an exclusive private haven, with palm-fringed beaches, tranquil azure waters and a diversity of activities and experiences available.
AUSTRALIA: WHEN TO GO
As mentioned, your Australia vacation can take place at any time of the year with equal amount of opportunities.
From June to September, you can take to the snowy slopes for a wintery alpine experience or head to the far north for warmer, drier adventures. The early months – January through March – are tropically hot through Australia’s midriff, though not unbearably so, and this is a godo time to enjoy the southern regions of Tasmania, Victoria and even Sydney, where you can step from the bustling urban retail districts onto white, sandy beaches almost within a matter of minutes.
Spring and Autumn, shortlived though they are in many areas of Australia, offer the best of both worlds; mid-range temperatures without too much rain. For watersports enthusiasts, it’s worth noting that the water is warmest between November and April.
Quite simply, and however you may interpret it, Australia is paradise. If the beach life is your dream come true or if you search for verdant forests; whether you want absolute luxury or dramatic adventure; should you wish for the hustle and bustle of cosmopolitan cities or the absolute tranquility of your very own island, Australia has it all.
With borders opening, exceptionally low COVID numbers and the summer months fast approaching, if there is one good time to take your Australia vacation, it is now.
Australia’s gamut of climates, destinations, opportunities and landscapes presents an unparalleled experience to any visitor. Australia is becoming recognized as a destination for luxury safaris, as well as vacations of more convention. So too is it gaining respect for intimate luxury, with a plethora of charter yachts, private islands and exclusive camps and villas to choose from.
Kangaroos, koalas and kookaburras might not have the same dramatic impression as lions, giraffe and elephant, but they are no less unique, charming and wondrous to witness in person. And of course, the English-speaking, first-world, contemporary convenience makes everything just that little bit easier and more comfortable.
When thinking of your next vacation, consider Australia, and talk to our Travel Designers today.