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Trip List by wildmttrail18

An Australian Adventure

Jan 6, 2007  A recent college graduate and traveler around Australia and New Zealand.
3.5 of 5 stars based on 8 votes

A route around Queensland and into the Outback, exploring wildlife, National Parks, the Great Barrier Reef, culture, and more.

  • 1. Brisbane
    Brisbane, Brisbane Region

    Start your trip here (or in Sydney below)--it's the largest city you're likely to see on this route! There is plenty to do and see: the natural history museum, the botanic gardens, shops galore, the parklands, and more. It's also an easy base to explore surrounding areas from.

    A word about this list: I spent two months on this route, though it could be shortened or extended easily. My goals were to see some of Australia's best places, with a focus on wildlife, National Parks, the reef, and culture. I've outlined the best places I saw, from Brisbane north to Cairns, west to Darwin, and south to Alice Springs. From there you can easily continue onwards to Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, or anywhere else in Australia. This was an incredible trip, and I wish you the same great fun and wonderful memories wherever you decide to go!

  • 2. Australia Zoo
    Australia Zoo, Beerwah, Sunshine Coast

    Stop by Steve's zoo to check out the incredible wildlife and pay tribute to a wonderful champion for wildlife.

  • 3. Fraser Island
    Fraser Island, Queensland

    Spend a few days exploring this incredible natural area. Sit on a bluff and watch humpback whales breaching offshore, a tiger shark hunting below the bluff, huge schools of fish swimming nearby, and a sea turtle paddling along---all at the same time.

  • 4. Noosa Heads
    Noosa, Sunshine Coast

    Nice beaches, good walks around the nearby park, and a cute traveler's town. A great base for visiting surrounding attractions, from the Australia Zoo to Fraser Island and more.

  • 5. Mackay
    Mackay, Queensland

    Stop here on your way north if you want to take a look for platypus in the wild. There are a couple of tour options in this not-so-touristy town, all going to the mountains inland. Your tour will likely include stops at Eungalla National Park and Finch Hatton Gorge, where you stand a great chance of seeing this most Australian of creatures, the platypus, in the wild. Or if you don't want to take a guided tour, rent a car and drive yourself with a guidebook in hand.

  • 6. Whitsunday Islands
    Whitsunday Islands, Queensland

    Hop on a boat and spend some time exploring the Whitsundays. Beautiful beaches, fun marine life, and sailing await. A word of advise, however: if you are looking for a sailing trip, make sure the boat you select fits your interests. Do you want a party, or a more lowkey trip? And you definitely get what you pay for. It's a lovely area to explore!

  • 7. Magnetic Island
    Magnetic Island, Queensland

    Spend a few days on this great island. There is tons to do, including lazing on the beach, hiking around the island, and snorkeling, plus plenty more. We spent a day hiking around the top northeast portion of the island, beach-hopping and snorkeling--it was great, and we could easily have spent more than two days here. Take the ferry out of Townsville to get here.

  • 8. Mission Beach
    Mission Beach, Queensland

    Go hunting for cassowaries (giant Australian relatives of the emu) or laze
    on the beach. This is one of the best spots for spotting the birds, and
    there are some nice short-ish hikes around. This area is where you
    really begin seeing the rainforest too. And seriously consider a trip to the Great Barrier Reef from here: we found it much cheaper than in Cairns, and as it's less visited it's in great shape. Gorgeous!

  • 9. Dunk Island
    Dunk Island, Queensland

    If you're staying in Mission Beach this is an easy day trip or an overnight should you desire. Swim off the beaches or choose from several hikes. The "long hike" around the island is a great four or five hour trip, and we had it all to ourselves.

  • 10. Cairns
    Cairns, Cairns Region

    This is a great place to base your trips out of. Most travelers come here to see the Great Barrier Reef, and you can easily visit the Atherton Tablelands, Daintree, and more. Plan on spending some time here to see it all!

  • 11. Kuranda
    Kuranda, Queensland

    An easy day trip from Cairns: take one of several passenger vans up the mountains for very cheap and spend the day exploring the town or continue farther into the tablelands. And be sure to check out BatReach Flying Fox Rehabilitation Center--ask locally for directions.

  • 12. Cape Tribulation
    Cape Tribulation, Daintree Region

    The tours from Cairns to Cape Tribulation are an excellent deal. You'll see most of the attractions found along the route, and you can usually extend your stay for as many nights as you wish. We loved it up here, as it had such an unique feel and great beaches. Stay in Cape Tribulation itself, and also consider Cow Bay below (our tour dropped us off here on the way back from Cape Tribulation). Crocodylus YHA was an excellent and unique place to stay in Cow Bay, with travelers of all ages and a very relaxing atmosphere. We rented bikes and explored the surrounding roads, enjoying the rainforest and nearby beaches. And keep your eyes open for cassowaries!

  • 13. Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park
    Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, Caravonica, Cairns Region

    This was the best (and pretty much one of the only) aboriginal centers and museums we found in Queensland. (Museums in Brisbane and Townsville were working on exhibits in late 2005 and are probably done now, but this Cultural Park was excellent.) You can talk to local aboriginal people, try your hand at the art of spear-throwing and using the boomerang, hear creation stories, see dances, and much more.

  • 14. Darwin
    Darwin, Top End

    After spending time in Cairns, head on to Darwin. You can fly or bus here, or for a much more interesting adventure, book a tour with Way To Go Tours or another similar company and spend four or more days driving across the outback. You'll most likely find yourself on unpaved roads with few other people or vehicles, bush-camping Australian-style with your fellow tour passengers and guide. This trip is much more exciting and you see a lot more of the bush this way than if you fly or bus along the main highway. It is mainly a form of transportation, but you will stop at the attractions along the way and see a lot of the bush. And camping in swags is certainly a must-do in Australia.
    When you arrive in Darwin, spend some time exploring the museum nearby, as well as the night markets. It's also a great base to see Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks from.

  • 15. Kakadu National Park
    Kakadu National Park, Top End

    A World Heritage Site and one of Australia's most famous national parks, Kakadu is a must-see if you're in Darwin. There are many tours to choose from, so shop around. The longer the tour, the much more you'll see.

  • 16. Litchfield National Park
    Litchfield National Park, Batchelor, Top End

    It's an easy day trip from Darwin and there is plenty to do in Litchfield, from seeing the gigantic termite mounds to hiking and swimming in the many waterfalls and streams found everywhere.

  • 17. The Ghan

    Take the legendary Ghan train from Darwin to Alice Springs. It's an excellent value (and you can continue onwards to Adelaide, Melbourne, or Sydney for very little more, though it'll take at least a day to get there). We loved watching the outback roll by, and you also have the option of stopping at Katherine Gorge on your way south where you can take a boat tour through the beautiful area.

  • 18. Alice Springs
    Alice Springs, Red Centre

    There isn't a whole lot to do in Alice, but it makes a great base for seeing the famous Uluru (Ayers Rock) and other parks nearby. In town, check out the Alice Springs Cultural Precinct's many attractions, and definitely don't miss the Alice Springs Desert Park. We spent a good six hours here and could have spent much more time.

  • 19. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
    Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Red Centre

    You'll have seen plenty of pictures of Uluru (Ayers Rock) when reading brochures for Australia, but nothing beats seeing this monolith up close. There are many tours to choose from out of Alice Springs, or drive yourself. The base walk is great, or climb the monolith itself (but consider the aboriginals' statements about this). But the best part is watching the sunlight fade the already bright rock from red to deep red--keep your camera ready as it changes color continuosly. Sunrise is also great.
    Be sure to explore Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) nearby as well. The Valley of the Winds hike is beautiful, and it's easy to understand why the aboriginals hold this place even more sacred than Uluru itself.

  • 20. Kings Canyon
    Kings Canyon, Red Centre

    Kings Canyon (Watarrka National Park) is often included on tours to Uluru and shouldn't be missed. It's a beautiful canyon of red rock with hidden swimming holes and a great hike up and around its rim.