Summer is coming, and holidays are on our mind. But where will you go?
Thanks to high vaccination rates, the country is on track to open international borders by Christmas. However, it’s still unclear how many flights will be available, and what quarantine requirements will be in place on the return home.
What is more likely, however, is that domestic borders will no longer be enforced. Not all states have set a date for reopening yet, but all Premiers have indicated that they want to see families reunited for Christmas.
With that in mind, this might be the year you finally plan that domestic bucket list holiday. To help, we’ve put together a few can’t-miss destinations.
The Kimberley Coast, Western Australia
The Kimberley is one of the oldest landscapes in Australia. With over 2500 islands dotted along its 12,000km coastline, this is more than a casual day trip! The best way to experience the full glory of the Kimberley is via a cruise ship, and there are both small and larger options to choose from.
Allow up to 18 days to travel the entire length, with stops along the way to explore waterholes, beaches and national parks. Some also offer helicopter flights as part of the package so you can get an elevated view over the unspoiled landscape.
For shorter holidays, pick a ‘snapshot’ cruise that hits the highlights: Montgomery Reef, Horizontal Falls and the buccaneer Archipelago.
Whatever you choose, you’ll most likely start from Broome, once the pearling capital of the world, where you can learn some of Australia’s frontier history. Longer cruises may start in Darwin.
Kakadu, Northern Territory
Kakadu National Park is the largest national park in Australia and one of four Australian sites listed on the World Heritage List for outstanding cultural and natural value. A dramatic, sweeping landscape is enriched with Aboriginal rock art that dates back a staggering 20,000 years – a completely unique historical record of the connection between humans and their environment.
Come in the wet season, between November and April, to experience the full majesty of its vivid green colour ways, spectacular flooding and electrifying storms – literally!
Or choose the dry season, between May and October, when you can safely camp outside, swim in the waterholes and visit majestic waterfalls including Jim Jim and Twin Falls.
East Coast, Tasmania
Oysters, champagne, dolphins and more await you on this magical road trip.
Fly into Hobart, rent a car and work your way up the east coast, where you can either fly back to the mainland from Launceston or catch the ferry from Devonport. Tasmania is a relatively small island, so you can do the whole trip in under a week – but why not take longer and really savour the experience?
Start in Hobart, where the Salamanca Markets, Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), and thriving local eateries make for a vibrant start to the holiday. Next, head to Orford, where you’ll find quiet swimming beaches and fishing spots. Catch a ferry across to car-free Maria Island to discover spectacular cliffs, old convict sites and even visiting whales.
Work your way up to Swansea and Wineglass Bay to gorge yourself on oysters, swim with the dolphins and laze on unspoiled beaches. From there, your drive takes you through pretty Bicheno and up to St Helens. Explore underwater caves and kelp forests before surfacing to enjoy local tuna and oyster catches.
Great Ocean Road, Victoria
Another iconic road trip awaits, from surf capital Torquay to the charming town of Port Fairy. On the way, visit the magnificent 12 Apostles – and don’t forget to stop for fish and chips!
Start at Torquay, an hour’s drive from Melbourne, and visit Bells Beach, beloved by all Australian surfers. Next on the agenda is popular holiday destination Lorne for a great lunch, followed by a breathtaking clifftop drive to Apollo Bay.
The road takes you into the Otway National Park, where you’ll drive through lush rainforest and find the oldest surviving lighthouse in mainland Australia at Cape Otway. From the top, you can see where the Bass Strait meets the Southern Ocean. You can book an ecotour of the park or walk the treetop canopy walkway: the longest and tallest of its type in the world.
Next, stop at the 12 Apostles for some spectacular photo opportunities. This stretch of coastline has plenty of lookouts where you can stop and take in the view. Don’t miss the cliffs of Loch Ard Gorge.
From maritime capital Warnambool, end the day in historic Port Fairy. This charming town is rich in historic buildings, great food and cosy accommodation options. From here, you can head inland for an easy drive back to Melbourne, or extend your holiday and take the Great Southern Touring Route through the Grampians.
There are so many magnificent parts of Australia to explore that narrowing it down is an almost impossible task. These, and many more options, are all part of appreciating our great southern land. Happy holidays!