If you plan to travel through Australia, there is a lot to consider. Whether for a few weeks, months or a year, preparation is necessary! Which ways of transport are right for you? What are typical mistakes to avoid? Australia is a huge country and it is important to know where you are going and how to get there, whether you are on a road trip, without a car, in hostels or hotels. In this article, we give you a lot of practical information and tips for traveling in Australia.
Travelling to Australia in 2022
International borders are opened to international travellers. To enter Australia, you must:
- have a valid passport
- have a valid visa
- You do not need to prove your vaccinal status (since July 2022)
Entry into Australia is therefore the same as before the pandemic. Before going through customs on arrival, you will need to complete an Incoming Passenger Card. It is a document providing information about your identity, the goods you are bringing to Australia (you must declare certain foods, if you are bringing more than $10,000 into the country, etc.).
Covid situation in Australia
Since February 2021, Australia has massively vaccinated its population. In July 2022, more than 95% of the eligible population is vaccinated.
The situation is therefore under control and the health restrictions are very minimal. For example, wearing a mask is compulsory only in medical establishments. People who test positive must isolate themselves at home for 7 days, contact cases are no longer subject to any isolation.
All states and territories of Australia are open to each other, without restriction.
Here is some data on the current Covid-19 situation in Australia (28/09/2022):
How much time do you need for an Australian trip?
Given the size of the country and the great distances that separate the cities, it is not recommended to travel to Australia unless you have at least two full weeks to travel.
Here is an overview of what is possible with a few examples:
Three week trip
Three weeks travel is good if you want to see a little of the country. You can, for example, travel the east or west coast. Take a 3-week road trip on the east coast from Sydney to Cairns, North Queensland. You can also choose between 3 different locations. You can also get around by plane. Flying is the best way to cover Australia’s large distances if you are there for a short time. For example, a week to explore Sydney and its region, 1 week for Cairns and its surroundings and 5 days to explore Uluru and the Red Center of the country. Did you know that it takes about 2 days to visit the main cities (sightseeing and city tour) and about 5 days to discover a region?
If you’re planning a trip of 3 weeks, it’s best to apply for a tourist visa.
Three months trip
If you have the opportunity to stay 3 months in Australia, you will be able to discover a good part of the country. Indeed, if you drive around the country, in 3 months you can visit half of Australia. For example, you can do the East Coast and the Center of the country or the West Coast, cut through the center to reach the south of the country. If you plan to take the plane to reach the major cities, you will be able to see the whole of the country. However, this will certainly require a big budget.
One year trip (or longer)
If you want to travel to Australia for 12 months or more, you will probably need to work to finance your trip. So the Working Holiday Visa seems to be the best option. For a one-year trip, you will have the opportunity to tour Australia while working for a few weeks or months. You can go around along the coast or explore a coast, cut inland to reach the south of the country and then reach the other coast.
Seasons & Climate in Australia
The weather in Australia
The Australian climate is that of the southern hemisphere, so the seasons are reversed compared to the northern hemisphere!
Australia is a huge country with different climates depending on the region. Northern Australia (Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland) has a tropical climate. This part of the country has two seasons (dry and wet). The south of the country (Tasmania, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Southwest Australia) has a more temperate climate. In the middle of the country, there is a dry climate.
Travel with the seasons
If you want to visit the south of the country, spring and summer is the best time. The north and the center are recommended in autumn and winter.
If you travel with a vehicle through Australia, inform yourself about some points. Although this journey is an adventure for most, the wrong direction can have consequences right from the start. For example, you are in a region where the harvest season is over, rainy or winter.
Here are some points to consider:
- Seasons and climate in Australia
- Bad weather
- Specific fauna: for example, the passage of whales
- Harvest times
- Special events: for example festivals
- Visit of relatives/friends
- Return airport
Read also : The best time to visit Australia
Best places to visit in Australia
If you go to Australia for several months, you will probably have the chance to tour this huge country! But very often we have to make difficult choices of destinations. Here is our list of the best spots in Australia:
- Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef
- Whitsunday Islands
- Big cities (Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne & Perth)
- Fraser Island
- Jervis bay
- Kakadu National Park
- Uluru (Ayers Rock)
- Great Ocean Road
- Kangaroo Island
- Kalbarri National Park
- Shark Bay
- Ningaloo Reef
- Karijini National Park
Read also : Best Spots East Coast Australia
Road Trip in Australia
Australia is the land of road trips! With its large areas, it’s (often free) camping areas and its favorable climate, Australia is ideal for traveling in a van or pitching a tent during your stay. Taking a road trip around the country will be a unique opportunity to discover the island while living a unique experience!
Some itinerary suggestions can be found here: Itineraries Australia
The road trip budget in Australia depends on different factors. In fact, it depends in particular on the number of kilometers driven. If you travel long, you will spend days driving 400 km, others without moving. If you are on your road trip for a few days or weeks, you will probably cover more kilometers in a short time.
According to the number of people traveling and to the allocation of expenses as well as the carried out tourist activities (diving, parachuting …) the budget has to be adapted.
Generally, you can expect around 1000 to 1500 AUD per month (food, gas, camping, excursion).
Read also : Road Trip Budget
The Van Life
You will not have any trouble finding sleeping places (except in big cities). Camping is indeed part of the Australian culture, which offers countless campsites, rest areas, etc.. There are specialised guides listing all camp spots for free or that are cheap in the country (Camps Australia Wide) or mobile apps (Wikicamps).
If you are not traveling in a vehicle equipped with shower and toilet, you can stop in caravan parks or campsites for showering, doing your laundry, etc. You also have the option of baby wipes or showers on the beach if you really want to cut your budget.
Life on a road trip will bring you huge freedom but you will have less comfort 🙂
Read also : Road Trip in Australia: Tips for Everyday Life
Renting a campervan in Australia
Renting a vehicle can be a good way to discover different parts of Australia. Those who live in cities often use this medium to travel a few days / weeks. Leasing can be a fairly large budget, especially in high season. If you’re renting a car beyond 4-5 months, we recommend the purchase of a vehicle. That said if you book well in advance and for a long period of time, it is also possible to get great rates! And even if that costs just as much as buying a car, renting will give you more comfort:
- You won’t have to spend time finding the right vehicle
- You’ll avoid all the paperwork / fees, and you will undoubtedly need insurance & support!
There are many camper van rental companies across Australia. At a minimum, it takes an average of $50 p/day for the rental of a conventional van. But the rates vary between companies, model type, season, length of stay, and availability of vehicles.
Find more information in this article about Campervan rentals.
Buying a vehicle in Australia
Buying a car is an important choice because it will completely change your travel experience in Australia. Whether it’s to discover the landscapes or to just seek future employment, having your own vehicle gives you more freedom and possibilities.
In terms of budget, its usually recommended to buy your own vehicle if you are planning to travel more than 3 months. But depending on your plans and expected comfort, you might also compare with renting a vehicle (see below).
But before buying a vehicle, you will need to consider which option is most suitable for your plans and budget. You’ll also have to spend a bit of time researching the different registration systems in Australia. Indeed, each Australian states have different policies, so it’s really important to understand how they work. In most states for example, you will need to get an inspection in the registered state in order to sell your vehicle. This could become an issue if you are planning to sell your vehicle in a different state. Western Australia is probably the most popular state to register a vehicle as it’s more flexible and cheaper. They don’t require an inspection every year or before selling your vehicle. However it also means that these vehicles are not regularly checked and as a result, means more risks of potential breakdowns, repairs…
The most common way to find a vehicle is to go online, using Gumtree.
Download the Australia Backpackers Guide to get more tips about:
- A presentation of different types of vehicles
- Their advantages and disadvantages
- Where to find ads
- All our advice to check a vehicle
- The Registration explained for each state
- Various insurance offers and assistance
- How to sell your vehicle
- What to do in case of an accident?
How to travel around Australia without your own vehicle
For those who do not want to buy their own car or do not have the means to rent, do not panic! Public transport is widespread in Australia and generally affordable.
It is quite possible to travel by bus in Australia. Buses that travel long distances are called “coaches” and are well organised and comfortable. The journeys are often very long from one city to another (eg. Sydney – Melbourne: 12h) but fairly affordable (from $ 65). The two major travel companies are Greyhound and Firefly. Coaches are often air-conditioned, have a toilet, sometimes wifi, reclining seats and show films during the journey.
Both Greyhound and Firefly companies also offer ‘hop on hop off ‘ tickets. For example, if you buy this type of Pass that links Sydney to Cairns, you can make as many stops as you like between these two cities for several days, or even visit for several weeks.
Rates for this kind of pass, for example (Greyhound):
Sydney – Cairns: $417
Melbourne – Cairns: $526
Adelaide – Alice Springs: $244
Darwin – Adelaide: $488
Several long distance railway lines criss-cross Australia and connect the main points of interest of the coast and the center of the country with a connection between Adelaide and Darwin. The trains have economic class and first class. In the trains economics classes, you will have reclining seats, and on longer trips, cabins are also available. Travelling by train is generally more expensive than by bus. Some lines carry specific names, such as The Indian Pacific (Sydney to Perth), The Ghan (Adelaide to Darwin via Alice Springs), The Queenslander (Brisbane to Cairns) or The Overlander (Adelaide to Melbourne).
There are mainly five railway companies in Australia: CountryLink, Great Southern Railway, Queensland Rail, Transwa and V / Line.
You can enjoy discounted rates if you are holding a card such as YHA ($32 for those under 26 years, valid up to one year) or a “backpackers” card. For example:
Sydney – Perth: from $559
Melbourne – Adelaide: $79
Adelaide – Alice Springs: from $279
Alice Springs – Darwin: from $279
Adelaide – Darwin: from $549
More information: Rail Consult Australia
Major cities like Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide, Darwin and Cairns are very well supported in terms of flights. Given the great distances that separates the major cities – it is the most suitable way to get from one point to another. Flights are generally quite affordable, but yet often remain outside the budget for a backpacker. The major airlines are Jetstar, Qantas, Virgin Blue, Tigerair. It is recommended to book a flight during week rather than the weekend to take advantage of cheaper rates.
Sydney – Alice Springs: 200 to $450
Sydney – Cairns: from $150
Sydney – Perth: 150 to $330
Sydney – Melbourne: from $75
More information: www.airlineandairportlinks.com
Widespread in Australia, carpooling is a very economical way to travel while sharing your experience with other travellers.
You can also check out many Facebook Groups for carpooling such as “Australians Backpackers” where many travellers are often offering seats in their car. Gumtree is also another great way to find a lift online.
More Info: Ridesharing Australia
Hitchhiking works pretty well in Australia but is illegal in some states. It is also not recommended if you travel alone.
Tours and excursions in Australia
Excursions and activities
Most of the attractions in Australia are accessible via road. For example, you can visit the vast majority of national parks on paved roads or reach the Red Center of the country via the Stuart Highway with a vehicle. Nevertheless, some spots need a travel agency to get there. Here is a shortlist of the most important places for a trip to Australia:
Whitsunday Islands: This archipelago of 74 islands is an ideal place for snorkeling, diving, flying, cruising etc.
Fraser Island: The largest sand island in the world is in the state of Queensland. Fraser Island is rich in varied landscapes with lakes, sand dunes and tropical forests.
Great Barrier Reef: Known throughout the world, it is the ideal place to discover the beautiful seabed. Cairns is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.
Exmouth & Ningaloo Reef: “small” coral reef “on the west coast, Ningaloo offers many water sports. This site is also famous for the passage of whale sharks that you can swim with!
Uluru & Kata Tjuta: The mythical interior of the country, you can admire the sunset on Uluru or the Olgas or you wander around the rock or in the Valley of the Winds.
Kakadu & Litchfield: Unavoidable National Parks of the Northern Territory. Kakadu is a natural gem with a variety of wildlife, breathtaking landscapes and particularly beautiful Aboriginal rock art. Litchfield offers beautiful waterfalls and natural pools and is ideal for cooling off.
There are many tour operators who offer tours or activities in the main tourist areas of the country. However, these offers are generally expensive, as they include fares, hotels, excursions and agency services, etc. You should know that it is quite possible to organise your stay yourself. In fact, you can use a search engine to find a plane ticket to Australia. If you want to rent a car, it is best to compare different offers to get the best rates based on availability. Once there, you can reach most of the country’s attractions via paved roads. For excursions and tours by boat or plane you will find travel agencies on site.