Simply put, holidays to Australia are phenomenal.
So, if you’re a first-time visitor, it’s worth brushing up on your local Aussie knowledge.
For example, what is the time zone in Australia? When is the best time to visit Australia? And where are the best places to see koalas in Australia?
Our Australia Travel Specialist, Ellie Dovey has made this handy guide to visiting Australia for the first time.
“A lot of people think Australia is too far away to visit. But, it’s much easier than you might think, with so much to discover once you’re there.”
Where are the Best Places to Visit in Australia for the First Time?
My first-ever trip to the Land Down Under was absolutely unforgettable. After completing my degree and working for several years, I decided to embark on a round-the-world trip with two close friends. This took us to several incredible destinations, but Australia was one of those areas which stood out the most.
As it’s one of the largest countries in the world, there are many dazzling locations for your first-time visit. I’d recommend Discover Sydney, Rock and Reef as you can explore the Sydney Harbour, Uluru and Great Barrier Reef all in one spectacular trip. Featuring some of the best places to visit in Australia for the first time, including an awe-inspiring tour of Kata Tjuta, it has everything you need for a wonderful adventure.
However, touring Uluru can take three or four days out of your itinerary. So, if you’re tight on time, I’d suggest exploring the cosmopolitan city of Cairns and charming town of Port Douglas. With the ability to experience the reef and ancient rainforest from one base, it makes for an exceptional holiday.
For the best cities to visit in Australia, not many come better than the iconic city of Sydney. Its famous Opera House provides a classic photo opportunity as well as dramatic cabaret performances. You can even venture to the rehearsal rooms and orchestra pit on a unique backstage tour. Additionally, the suburb of Coogee is part of a stunning coastal walk where you’ll pass by the Heritage-listed Waverly Cemetery.
Not only that, but Sydney is perhaps the best beach destination in Australia as well. The major city boasts perfect sandy beaches such as Bondi Beach and Manly Beach along with a variety of thrilling watersports. In addition, the scenic Blue Mountains and serene Hunter Valley wine region are explorable via one base.
“Make the most of stopovers on your way to Australia. I love exploring Malaysia, Singapore and Bangkok.”
When is the Best Time to Visit Australia from the UK?
Divided into three separate climate zones — arid, tropical and temperate — Australia provides a number of pleasant holiday experiences no matter where you end up staying.
So, when is the best time to visit Australia from the UK?
Although the weather is generally warmer and sunnier down under, the perfect time for you ultimately depends on which destinations you dream of experiencing and when you travel.
During my recent Aussie trip in June, I found Ayers Rock’s pleasant 20-24 degrees a welcome feeling throughout my exploration of the area. Not only that, but the cooler temperatures meant less flies buzzing around too! From the spinifex to the large desert oaks scattered about the bright orange terrain, the landscapes took my breath away. On top of this, learning about the aboriginal Australian culture was a true highlight of my adventure.
Between April and November, the Great Barrier Reef is neither too hot nor too cold and there’s less rain. Kangaroo Island, on the other hand, features fabulous conditions from April to June during autumn and September to November during spring. However, it’s best to visit in winter for wildlife viewing as the animals don’t shelter from the intense heat.
In the south, with Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and Tasmania, the summer is very hot whereas the winter is rainy and chilly. So, if you aim to take in multiple destinations, you must time it just right.
Over in Western Australia, there are two distinct seasons. The summer is between November and April, so it’s best to keep south in areas like Perth, Margaret River and Esperance. Then, from April to October, visit the northern region of the Kimberley. As a result, you’ll experience the very best of these beautiful regions.
“Australia’s climate differs across the territories. It’s best to consider what you’d most like to see or do when weighing up the best time to go.”
What are the Best Things to Eat in Australia?
My adventures have taken me to some of the most sumptuous restaurants you could ever imagine, from extraordinary Chef Hat-awarded establishments to authentic al fresco eateries. But the best thing to eat in Australia for me would definitely be the seafood. In particular, I found the calamari to be utterly divine. Whether you’re on the Gold Coast or in Perth, there’s an array of flavours and dishes for you to discover.
Italy and Greece also have big influences, with there being some incredible Italian and Greek restaurants. Other places offer more local cuisine like kangaroo and crocodile if you’re feeling adventurous. Although this wasn’t for me, it is an option nonetheless.
A trip to Sydney is surely incomplete without sampling the fresh Sydney Rock Oysters while Harry’s Café de Wheels in Woolloomooloo have been serving their famous meat pies since 1945. Not only that, but pavlova is said to have been invented by chef Herbert “Bert” Sachse at Perth’s Esplanade Hotel in 1935. But the long-standing debate over whether its origin is in Australia or New Zealand will always be heated.
Lastly, I’d also like to give a mention to Adelaide’s Penfold Winery. Some of the bottles there are around $1000, so I very much enjoyed my glass of shiraz when I got the opportunity! As it’s the only winery in the CBD of a city, and 20 minutes from the city centre, it’s 100% worth exploring if you’re in the area.
Also worthy of a visit is the Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Margaret River, Yarra Valley and Hunter’s Valley.
“Australia is known for its excellent wines, but the food scene is incredible too, from the cities to the rural farms.”
How Long Should I Spend in Australia?
In terms of any luxury holiday, we would normally advise you visit fewer places and spend longer periods of time in each. This allows you to fully enjoy the destination and not feel rushed or constantly travelling.
Remember that distances are vast in Australia. Flying from Sydney to Cairns is three hours and Sydney to Perth five hours. So, make sure any key attractions are booked in advance, rather than wait until you arrive to find them fully booked — especially day trips at Uluru and excursions such as the Sydney Bridge Climb.
Whether you’re a sports fan and want to tour the Melbourne Cricket Ground or are interested in discovering Tasmania’s Cultural Treasures, we can tailor-make all of this in your itinerary.
“Australia isn’t just for bucket lists. I’ve been multiple times and still have more I’d like to do!”
Do I Need a Visa to Travel to Australia from the UK?
A visa is essential for your luxury holiday to Australia.
Simply apply for a free eVisitor visa in advance. If you’re successful, you’ll be allowed to stay in the country for up to three months. In that time, you’re allowed to visit family or friends; cruise or go on a holiday; undertake business visitor activities; and in some cases, study or train.
Driving in Australia vs. the UK: What do I Need to Know?
Both the UK and Australia drive on the left-hand side of the road. So, if you ever want to embark on a thrilling road trip down under, you can carry on driving like normal.
There are so many remote locations and must-see places though that a journey can take several hours between every stop. Melbourne to Adelaide along the Great Ocean Road is a wonderful experience. You can see the 12 Apostles at sunset and little penguins waddling on the beach!
Similarly, I’d also recommend Discover Western Australia’s Coastal Drive as you can explore the lunar-like landscapes of the Pinnacles Desert and beautiful Shell Beach, made up of tiny white shells. Or why not head from Byron Bay to Brisbane? Another popular route due to its detour inland to the fabulous national park’s mountain ranges, you’ll even visit a hilltop coffee shop for breathtaking views over the Gold Coast.
“Distances are vast in Australia, but I can recommend road trips that show off some of the best scenery.”
Plan your tailor-made Australian adventure
Australia can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many. So, why not make it the best adventure ever? Speak with our Travel Specialists to tailor-make your first luxury Australian holiday.