When you come to Melbourne come and visit us at one of our meet ups:
Personally I'm not into cities - but I suppose there are the city sights to catch up on such as the opera house and bridge in Sydney.
Have you ever done WWOOFing? That can be an interesting way to see a country - willing workers on organic farms. Only $20 or so to buy the guide.
LOL - so what's your budget like? Is it sleeping in the car, tent, caravan park trailers, motels, hostels or hotels?
There are lots of nice national parks to stay at pretty much where ever you go.
I've been to Perth, across on the train to Adelaide, went to Ceduna (SA) a few years ago for an eclipse, Flinders Ranges, Borrossa Valliey, Kangaroo Island, Victor Harbour, The Coorong, Robe is really nice holiday destination in the Summer, Nelson also good - just over boarder into Victoria - they've got the Glenelg river there and lots of boating and water sports. Been to port fairy, and Warrnambool. Great Otway National park is nice, then there is the great ocean road in southern Victoria just south west of Melbourne. Geelong is nice. Then there is the gold rush area around Ballarat just west of Melbourne. More national parks east of Melbourne. Had a holiday on Raymond Island on the coast just east of Melbourne which was really nice.
Then there is skiing around Thredbo just into NSW. I've not been there, but hear that it's nice. There are lots of national parks on the east cost which I imagine are nice. Canberra is a bit of a nothing IMO - it's the capital, so there are probably some interesting museums there and the Parliament.
Sydney has some great national parks close by and the blue mountains are lovely. It's also a very happening city, but more expensive than melbourne - melbourne has lots of night life too. Although avoid Swanson street on the week end after 11 at night.
Northern NSW has a reputation for hippies. Byron Bay is nice, but it's gone up market now and is more of a surfy place, chilled out though. The hippies are more inland around that area. Gold cost reminds me of what I've seen of Miami on the TV, lots of tall buildings, hotels, tourists, surfers, bit of gambling - when I went there were lots of tanned young people and novelty shops selling colourful wristbands fashion etc, nightclubs etc.
I've not been to Brisbane or north of that - I've heard that it's costly but beautiful and touristy.
I think that northern territory would be good too - although not been there either - but similar tropical perhaps not so many tourists.
Also northern western Australia - is very isolated, but could be very beautiful - I'd like to go and see the bungle bungle ranges, they look quite amazing.
Oh and of course Tasmania - which has some beautiful places of natural beauty and really big trees. Hobart and surrounding area up towards the middle is really nice.
My budgets not bad, but I'm half Jewish, so I will have to search for deals on principle. I'm thinking cheap hotels and renting scooters. is there a train system between large cities? Back in Canada, we ride moose and wild bears around, but I suspect your "koalas" wont be able to handle my weight, and I was told kangaroo pouches are rather unkempt.
Thanks for the list, ill start looking up some of those spots and doing some research. :)
LOL - I didn't know a person could be half Jewish.... which half?
yes there is a train between cities - although I'm not taken with them - they are expensive but you do get to see more of the country
the one from Adelaide to Perth is about 72 hours I think - so it's 2 nights on the train - the sleepers are expensive and the cheap seats are cramped - but you do get to see the country - although it is just a lot of the same - desert with bushes and scrub :)
You could get a similar experience from camping at the Flinders Ranges - or anywhere out back in that area.
the cheapest form of travel is really to take a plane - depending on how far you want to go. Say you were in adelaide, had a camping trip at the flinders ranges and then wanted to go to another major capital - perth, sydney, darwin, brisbane, hobart or melbourne - then I would fly rather than take the bus or train.
if you have a car - it depends on how good it is as to whether you take it out back or try to drive between cities.
it will take you about 3 days to drive from adelaide to perth, it's about 10 hours adelaide to melbourne, about 23 hours adelaide to sydney, probably around 15 from melbourne to sydney and so on.... so you're talking lots of miles and wear and tear on a car.
Hi Jeremy, sorry to be so late getting back to you.
First, air travel is relatively cheap here and, in most instances, I think it will be cheaper than driving long distances when you factor in car hire costs plus overnight accommodation anywhere decent. Try Jetstar or Virgin Blue. Tiger is super-budget but you have to comply slavishly with their check-in requirements or it will cost you heaps.
There are plenty of good 3-4 star hotels. Expect to pay between $120-$200 per night on average.
What you schedule in depends a lot on what you like. Melbourne is a great, multi-cultural city with great restaurants and a beach (St Kilda).
Sydney is a cosmopolitan city with a stunning harbour, quirky markets (the Rocks) and, of course, the Opera House. The nightlife in both Sydney and Melbourne is excellent as are the theatre and music scenes.
Brisbane is more laid back but still large. A key attraction is the Brisbane River (you can catch a CityCat (catamaran) at various points along the river as a form of public transport. At the Southbank stop (just across from the CBD) there is a large public park with restaurants, barbecue areas and a public (man-made) beach and swimming area.
South of Brisbane is the Gold Coast - great beaches and surfing. Think glitzy, crass, over the top. Good fun though.
North of Brisbane is the Sunshine Coast (where I live). It also has brilliant beaches and surf but is far more 'laid back' with very few high rise buildings (unlike the Gold Coast which always reminds me of Emerald City!) Noosa is the 'millionaire's playground' and well worth a visit and although it's a magnet for the rich and famous, it's not prohibitively expensive to stay there.
If you're into nature and hiking, you might like to look into some of the hinterland places. For example, the Blue Mountains west of Sydney has stunning views and bush walks and quaint little English-style towns. The hinterland of the Gold Coast has rainforests, incredible long graded walks through ancient forests and some good (and reasonable) places to stay. Have a look at Binna Burra. The guest house is expensive, but there is also permanent 'tent style'/safari accommodation.
Australia has great wine growing regions which you can tour. North of Sydney is the Hunter Valley. South Australia has the Barossa Valley and, in Victoria, there are several wine growing areas, including the Yarra Valley. All will have wine-tasting tours available.
If you're adventurous, you might like to venture into the 'Outback' with a trip to Alice Springs and Uluru (Ayers Rock). Or, you might want to visit Cairns or Port Douglas, the stepping off point for cruises out to the Great Barrier Reef. You can take a day cruise and go diving or snorkelling on the reef.
Also check out Airlie Beach as a stepping off point to the Whitsunday Islands. You can take day trips from Shute Harbour or book a short cruise on a sailing boat - or, if you can sail or are willing to take a crash course - hire your own.
While in Cairns/Port Douglas, you can also visit Kuranda, where you can take a cable car ride through the canopy of the rainforest and travel on the famous Kuranda railway.
I'm at firstname.lastname@example.org and know most of the atheist groups in Australia. Once you have an itinerary, let me know and I'll see if I can put you in touch with some local contacts.