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FAQs: Everything You Need to Know
Australia is a huge and diverse country with extraordinary landscapes that include everything from The Outback with its endless red rock scenery to lush mountains and postcard-perfect beaches. There are exciting cities with a wealth of cultural attractions and thriving food scenes, along with abundant and unique wildlife, providing the ultimate adventure for any traveller.
The problem with such a vast destination is knowing how to plan that incredible holiday, which is why we’re here to help.
Getting There: Journey time from the UK to Australia
Australia is a long distance from anywhere else in the world, so the only practical way of getting there is to fly. Many travellers arrive into the largest city, Sydney, although a significant number also fly into Brisbane, Perth or Melbourne. There are few non-stop flights from the UK to Australia, however, the national carrier Qantas recently began offering the flights from London Heathrow to Perth on the Qantas Dreamliner. While most flight times between the countries are 24 hours or more, this 9,000-mile journey takes 17 and requires no connection.
Airlines and Stopover Options
Generally, you’ll have the widest range of airline choices by flying into Sydney, with the least expensive airlines offering more offbeat routes like China Eastern which includes a stopover in Shanghai, as well as Korean Air and Asiana Airlines which both travel through Seoul and Thai Air, with a stop in Bangkok. To minimise travel time without paying the high price of the direct Qantas Dreamliner flight, consider other Qantas flights, British Airways, Emirates, Qatar and Ethihad.
The most important thing to do is to analyse your route for stops and possible stopovers. A stopover is a 'stop' in a city en route to the final destination. They’re a perfect way to break up the long journey, while providing the chance to adjust to time zones and take advantage of the opportunity to visit another exciting destination without a separate trip. It’s kind of like a ‘mini-trip’ on top of your holiday. The United Arab Emirates countries are particularly good options for those flying into Western Australia, while Singapore is a great stop for eastern Australia. You also have the option to travel via Hong Kong, which is only marginally longer.
If you want to experience incredible hotels that make you feel like there should be a whole new 10-star category, consider Dubai, which can be reached in seven hours from London via Emirates Airlines. From there, Sydney is a 13-hour flight. Singapore, a melting pot of cultures with a vibrant nightlife, outstanding shopping, impressive architecture and luxury hotels, is also a popular stopover. It can be reached with a 13-hour flight from London Heathrow, and then you’ll have another 8-hour flight to Sydney.
Bangkok is a very convenient stopover via Thai Air, with the flight from London taking 11 hours and 20 minutes, reaching Sydney in another 9 hours and 10 minutes. It’s also one of the most affordable, with cheap yet luxurious hotels perfect for relaxing and refreshing before completing the journey. While total flight time is 26 hours, if you want to visit Disneyland, Hollywood and other Los Angeles area attractions, look at United Airlines. The flight to L.A. from London is 11 hours and 20 minutes followed by a 14-hour and 40-minute flight from L.A. to Sydney.
Australian Weather/Climate: What to Expect
As such a large country, the climate and weather can vary significantly depending on where you travel. It can snow in parts of New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria, and occasionally even in Queensland. It gets quite hot and humid at The Top End in northern Australia throughout much of the year, while Melbourne experiences all four seasons, sometimes in 24 hours. Summers in general throughout the country and hot and can be extreme with the mercury soaring above 40° C several times each year in many areas of Australia. Dehydration, sunburn and heat stroke are all possibilities if you aren’t adequately prepared, and as the UV rays are particularly powerful here, it’s a must to wear sunscreen and reapply it regularly no matter when and where you visit. You’ll want to drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated too.
Of course, it’s important to do some research into the specific weather forecasts for the regions you plan to visit. For example, Sydney experiences cool conditions during winter, which in the Southern Hemisphere is from June through September. The average temperature is typically around 16° C in the middle of the season, which is fairly mild compared to many other places. The warming trend starts in September, with November the warmest month of spring, arguably the best time for a beach holiday here. January is the hottest and busiest month with high temperatures averaging around 26° C, though it’s likely to get quite a bit hotter.
Brisbane and the Queensland region enjoy a subtropical climate, meaning it will be warm or hot throughout most of the year. During summer, December through February, the average temperature hovers around 26 to 30° C, and rainfall can be significant, including occasional floods. Winter is generally dry and mild, with temperatures between 12° C and 21° C. Overnights and early morning can be crisp, but lows rarely dip below 9° C. In the Red Centre, which is a semi-arid desert, you might think it would always be hot and dry, but temperatures surprisingly vary quite a bit, ranging on average from 5° C in July to 37° C in January. There is very little rain here throughout the year, but when it does fall it is often quite unpredictable and short lasting.
Getting From A to B
The world’s sixth largest country, Australia covers nearly three million square miles. From Sydney to Perth it’s over 2,000 miles, while Queensland is about half that distance and Melbourne, while it may look close on the map, is more than 440 miles away. As soon as you start thinking about driving anywhere, you’ll realise that the easier way to get between larger cities is to fly. Fortunately, domestic flights are not all that expensive – check budget Australian airlines like Tiger Air and Jetstar as well as Virgin Australia, which sometimes offers bargains too.
If you want to explore more remote areas and have the time, driving may be your better choice as you can travel at your own pace. In some cases, the drive is part of the fun, like the Great Ocean Road, one of the most scenic drives in the world.
Holiday Options: Escorted, Fly-Drive, Multi-Centre Point to Point
One of the first considerations when planning your Australian holiday is to determine how you want to tour. There is really no one right answer as it depends on the type of travel experience that you’re looking for and how independent you’d like to be.
Escorted tour. An escorted tour takes a lot of the hard work out of the equation as an all-inclusive group travel experience led by an expert guide. You won’t have to worry about laborious planning, trying to figure out what to squeeze into your itinerary or even which hotels to stay at. It’s all taken care of, including hand-selected accommodation to ensure the most comfortable experience. You can relax and let someone else do the driving and take advantage of the wealth of information a professional tour guide can offer. You’ll have the peace of mind knowing most of the cost upfront, and it can even be cheaper than if you paid for everything separately on your own, as tour companies typically book in bulk and are better able to negotiate rates. It may be an ideal option for solo travellers who want to meet like-minded travellers and perhaps enjoy some companionship too.
Fly-drive tour. This type of tour brings more flexibility – you’ll have various route options to choose from and you can be more spontaneous too. You’ll be in control, flying into a region, picking up your car and heading out on the road. Explore at your own pace, taking in the attractions you most want to experience while enjoying the benefits of expert travel advice too.
Multi-centre point to point. A multi-centre holiday in Australia brings the chance to experience some of the very best of this diverse country. You can combine exciting city attractions with spectacular nature and the Outback, perhaps a trip to the Red Centre, Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef. These excursions mean that you’ll be able to see more in less time, a jam-packed journey that provides a good glimpse of several different areas. Special activities and excursions, along with accommodation and some meals, will be included, for the smoothest, most worry-free adventure.
Popular Destinations by Interest
Australia is a land of striking contrasts as well as stunning natural beauty. You can explore vibrant multicultural cities, ancient rainforests, beautiful beaches, the fascinating red rock landscapes of the Outback, picturesque vineyards, the Great Barrier Reef and more. As this country is so diverse, choosing the right destinations to visit is best considered based on the particular interests you have.
Exotic wildlife. Perhaps best known for its extraordinary, exotic wildlife, many visitors come to Australia for the opportunity to get up close to animals from koalas and kangaroos to crocs and Tasmanian devils. There are many areas that are fantastic to visit for this experience, like Kangaroo Island, the country’s own Galapagos as some refer to it. Here you can marvel at kangaroos as well as koalas, wallabies and wombats along with exotic birds like parrots, penguins, fur seals, dolphins and whales.
Queensland is also ideal, home to the Great Barrier Reef where you can swim with dolphins, get up close to a rainbow array of colourful fish and explore coral cays. The Daintree Rainforest north of Cairns is one of the world’s oldest surviving rainforests and home to a variety of animals, but it’s especially well-known for its saltwater crocodiles.
Whale watching. Southern Queensland is one of the best places to go for whale watching, particularly off the shores of the coastal city of Hervey Bay. From August through November, this is a haven for humpback whales. They inhabit the waters of Great Sandy Marine Park, resting and feeding their young. Some 7,000 humpbacks and their new calves are here during this time.
Snorkelling and diving. The Whitsundays, made up of 74 island wonders along Queensland’s tropical coast in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, serve as one of the top spots for diving and snorkelling. Discover an astonishing array of marine life that includes over 1,600 species of tropical fish, dolphins, rays, sea turtles, giant clams and sharks. Ningaloo Reef is the place to experience the thrill of swimming with whale sharks, along with endangered sea turtles, dolphins, manta rays and even humpbacks.
Modern culture. For modern culture, you might want to put both Melbourne and Sydney on your itinerary. Visit the Sydney Opera House in Australia’s largest city, its famous symbol with white-tiled sails on the harbour at Bennelong Point, walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge and head to the top of the Sydney Tower, its tallest structure and the second tallest in the Southern Hemisphere, soaring more than 1,000 feet over the city. Melbourne is a cultural melting pot with a wealth of museums, galleries and theatres along with some impressive architecture.
Aboriginal culture. Exploring the country’s Aboriginal culture is a must for many travellers. Aboriginal Australians are the world’s oldest living civilization, going back some 40,000 to 70,000 years. One of the best places to go is Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the heart of the Outback.
The vast monolith known as Uluru Rock has traditionally been owned by the Anangu who still have a strong connection to this land. Visitors here can witness fascinating traditions that have been passed and maintained through ceremonies, songs, rituals, art and dance.
Wine tasting and tours. There are several popular wine regions in Australia, with the Barossa Valley frequently named among the world’s best wine destinations. Located in South Australia northeast of Adelaide, it’s renowned for its award-winning local wines with some 70 wineries and over 80 cellar doors.
Food focused. Foodies who want to taste some of the very best won’t want to miss Melbourne. One of the world’s top food cities, it boasts an impressive culinary mash-up of Eurasian street foods and fancy food trucks along with casual cafes and fine dining eateries. But what’s most impressive is the diversity, you’ll feel as if you’ve travelled to over 60 countries by dining your way through this city, from Little Italy and Chinatown, one of the oldest outside of Asia, to Nigeria, Bangladesh, Argentina, Iraq, Austria and just about every place in between.