Short on time? You CAN experience Australia n just 2 weeks, here are our suggestions...
David Wickers brings us some suggestions for Australia...
Being on the ‘other’ side of the world, Australia enjoys wonderful summers just when it’s seriously bone chilling at home. Even if you’ve only got two weeks to spare, Oz is definitely worth it, although since it’s such a huge country - even Singapore is closer to Perth than Sydney - I’d recommend picking one small region and exploring it at a leisurely pace rather than leapfrogging from place to place. You can see the rest another time – remember that most first timers to Australia go again. And again!
But where should you go? If you are travelling during our winter I would suggest sticking to the southern half of Australia as the tropical north can be both very wet and too hot for comfort.
One of my favourite approaches, one which I did with my family two Christmases' ago (the children then being 19, 16 and 10), is to combine Sydney – which is, in my book, the most engaging city on the planet - with the enormous, undeveloped beaches at Jervis Bay, the dramatic scenery of the Blue Mountains and the vineyards of the Hunter Valley. City, coast, country and wineries, in other words, all within easy driving distance of one another. Two weeks from £1,640pp including transfers, 14 nights’ accommodation and 8 days’ car hire; (international flights extra).
Extra week? Why not continue further north along the Pacific Coast Highway, stopping at beachy-boaty Port Stephens and the low rise, laid back resort of Byron Bay whose gorgeous and enormous beach is backed by rainforest, then flying home from Brisbane. This would add around £550pp for 7 nights’ accommodation and car hire.
While it may sound sacrilegious to even think about Australia without Sydney, or even its arch rival Melbourne, another destination that works well for this neatly pruned approach is South Australia. Within the state’s boundaries you’ll find something of everything that first enticed you to fly half way round the world in the first place!
Adelaide, for starters, is the most elegant of all Australian towns. Its settlers came not as convicts but to create a Utopia, a place where they could recreate the “Best of British,” yet with religious freedom. The planning was meticulous, its core square mile of gridded streets protected from the suburbs by a thick duvet of green. Shops, excellent museums, an amazing food market and civic buildings are right in the middle, frilly lace bandstands, a botanic garden, a racecourse, parrots and possums in the acres of parkland beyond.
Two of South Australia’s prime wine lands lie on the city’s doorstep, the pretty Clare Valley, home to the country’s top Rieslings as well as highly respected Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignons, and the vineyards of the more famous Barossa Valley, first settled by German Lutherans and still feeling more like a Teutonic castaway than part of the New World.
A plane hop away is Kangaroo Island, one of the best places on the continent to see a menagerie of native animals in their natural habitat, including species that are rare, even extinct, on the mainland. You could also incorporate two or three nights in South Australia’s very own Outback in the shape of the rugged Flinders ranges which encompass some of the oldest terrain on earth.
Extra week? I would recommend taking the legendary Ghan train from Adelaide to Alice Springs, experiencing nights at Kings Canyon and Uluru (Ayers Rock) then going to Sydney for 3 nights before flying home.
The average length of stay for British visitors to Tasmania, Australia’s largest island, is 10 days. My third idea for a two week trip would be to combine Melbourne, with its distinctive urban villages, with a fly drive tour of the island, a temperate wilderness marinated in convict heritage, rich in food and wine, well stocked with hiking trails and other outdoor activities and as compelling as many European countries. Two weeks from £2,269pp including transfers, 14 nights’ accommodation, return flights from Melbourne to Hobart and 10 days’ car hire. International flights extra.
Extra week? You could consider driving the Great Ocean Road to Adelaide, enjoying a terrific feast of coastal scenery including the famous Twelve Apostles.
The last of my recommended quartet of perfect fortnights Down Under would be a trip to the west end. You could fly into Perth (just 19 hours from London), spend a few days in the city, enjoying its doorstep beaches and its ‘little sister’ Fremantle where the river Swan meets the sea, and then driving south to the Margaret River, a world where eye-squinting white sand beaches meet award-winning wineries. From there you could continue south, following the ‘Rainbow Coast’ to the small, attractive townships of Denmark and Albany.
Extra week? Explore the Coral Coast to the north of Perth whose highlights include the Ningaloo Reef, Australia’s ‘other’ Barrier Reef (the better known version being seasonally off limits).
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