Australia is a big, vast country. If you’re not from Australia or haven’t visited the country before, many people don’t realise just how big it is.
To get from Perth on the west coast to Sydney on the east coast will take you over 40 hours to drive and just over 4 hours to fly. To travel between Melbourne in the south to Darwin in the north will take you around 38 hours to drive and approximately 4.5 hours to fly.
So yes Australia is BIG. A big country means there is plenty to see so how do you work out what to do when you head downunder?
We’ve put together an overview of 5 Australia holiday options for the female solo traveler:
1. Take a hike
Australia is blessed with being a big country with a small population giving visitors many natural landscapes to explore. One of the best ways to do this is by taking a hike. Great Walks of Australia has compiled some of the best walks in Australia covering 5 of the 7 states & territories of Australia. From a 3 night Margaret River Cape to Cape walk in Western Australia to a 5 night Cradle Mountain walk in Tasmania to 5 night Scenic Rim trail in Queensland, there is plenty to choose from. We’ve also covered 7 Australian walks for the solo traveler here.
2. Retreat to refresh and revitalise
From 5 star luxury retreats to more economic friendly health & wellbeing options, Australia has embraced the wellness tourism experience.
You also won’t have to travel too far to find one that will have you chilled out in no time. With many great options peppered around the country, you can choose one or pick a few to try. Australia.com has put together a list of options here.
You can also look to BYO, that is build your own! For example, why not seek out a location that appeals to you, find accommodation to suit your budget and then sign up to a local yoga & meditation studio for the duration of your stay. If you prefer a beachside retreat, why not add in some surf lessons, a paddle with the dolphins (yes a popular option in Byron Bay on the east coast of Australia) or a local cooking class (the Spirit House on the Sunshine Coast continues to be as popular as ever). If you prefer to retreat to the mountains, you can do the same – find suitable accommodation, a local yoga studio and add in some extra local activities – perhaps visit an Alpaca farm, find out about the history & culture of the town or lace up and get out on foot to explore.
3. Island Life
Australia is home to some stunning islands and to one of the seven natural wonders of the world – the Great Barrier Reef. Situated off the coast of Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef runs over 14 latitudes and stretches for 2,300km from Bundaberg in the south to the tip of Cape York in the north.
You can visit some of the Queensland islands on day trips and others offer resort or camping sites for longer stays. Most islands can only be accessed by boat however you will find a commercial airport on Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays which offers water transfers to other islands within the Whitsunday region.
There are more beautiful island options around Australia, including Phillip Island approximately a 2 hour drive from Melbourne where you can watch in wonder at the local penguins and seals who inhabit the island. Head over to Kangaroo Island off the coast of South Australia to experience an abundance of Australian wildlife. In late 2019, Kangaroo Island suffered heavily from devastating bushfires and the island is now rebuilding needing visitors more than ever. You can read more about it here.
Head over to Western Australia for World Heritage listed wonders! With pristine coral atolls, world class snorkelling and an incredible diversity of marine life. You can say hi to a Quokka on Rottnest Island, an easy day trip from Perth and swim with a whale shark on Ningaloo reef (officially not an island but wow, what an experience!) located approximately 36km south of Exmouth or just over 1200 km from Perth.
4. Head to the Outback
The Outback is a must see on a visit to or around Australia. Contrasting vast open and often barren landscapes with lush green water holes, the Australian Outback is spectacular.
With so many amazing experiences it’s hard to list just a few, so we’ve focused on the iconic Red Centre. The name says it all – the Red Centre is the centre of Australia where you will see for miles the desert outback of central Australia. It is also home to ancient rock formations that soar hundreds of metres into the sky – Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas). Situated on Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park the area is surrounded by the Red Centre’s unique wildlife and spirit of the Anangu people’s Tjukurpa.
With over 100 uniquely Australian experiences on offer in the Red Centre you could spend days soaking up this incredible place but if we had to give you a top 3 things do while in the Red Centre, this is them:
1. Start your day watching the sunrise over Uluru then enjoy a walk (there’s a number to choose from) around the area and make sure you visit Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre to learn more about the Aboriginal cultural and history of the area.
2. Spend an evening under the sparkling outback sky at the Sound of Silence dinner. The resident star talker will decode the southern night sky locating the Southern Cross, the signs of the zodiac, the Milky Way, as well as planets and galaxies that are visible due to the exceptional clarity of the atmosphere. Get ready to be star struck!
3. Take an afternoon hike through Walpa Gorge before watching the sunset over Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) from the purpose built viewing platform. The Walpa Gorge hike is a grade 3, 2.6km and depending upon your fitness level and pace, you will need to allow at least 1 hour to complete.
Access to the Red Centre is made easy with domestic flights available to Uluru (just over 3 hours from Sydney) or you can fly into Alice Springs where you can choose to hire a car or book a coach transfer to Uluru with the drive taking you around 5 hours.
5. Bright lights, big city
With only 5 capital cities across Australia, it’s not too difficult to see them all. Sydney and Melbourne are what you would expect of a ‘big city’ whereas Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth and especially Darwin are not much more than big country towns… in a good way!
As to be expected, Sydney and Melbourne both offer 5 star hotels, Michelin star restaurants and designer shopping. But they also have their own unique offerings – Sydney definitely has more of a beach lifestyle feel to it whereas Melbourne is more European and less flamboyant. Australia in general is quite multi-cultural and Sydney and Melbourne is where this really shines with a great choice of cuisines available throughout each of the cities.
A first time trip to Sydney is likely to see you want to tick off iconic Bondi beach, Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, take the Ferry to Manly and spend a day at Taronga Zoo. If you’ve visited before or have more time, it’s a great city to do some research around things that interest you and ensure you get out and experience it – from local farmers markets to galleries, you’ll enjoy experiencing ‘life as a local’ in the big city.
Melbourne CBD, St Kilda and Port Melbourne are super easy to get around with the local tram system and while you’re there, you must take a walk along the waterfront at Port Melbourne – you can even stop for a thirst quencher at a number of great pubs in the area. Step onto Acland Street, St Kilda for mouth-watering cakes where your toughest decision will be which one of these delightful stores will you stop at. This city is truly a foodies delight and can compete with any other great cities around the world for quality & variety. Melbourne Now has put together a great Foodies Weekender itinerary you may be tempted to try – see it for yourself here.
Brisbane is creeping up on its southern counterparts as it continues its urban sprawl and inner city developments. Now embracing the river that runs its way through the city, you can easily get around on the city cat ferries, walk or ride on the walkways that take you from Hamilton in the east to Westend of the inner city or make your way to one of the many local precincts for a great coffee or beer at a good old Aussie pub (also good for a schnity – a chicken schnitzel).
Adelaide, the city of Churches, has blossomed in recent years and is becoming well known for its arts and culture scene, culinary choices, easy access to picture-perfect metropolitan beaches and is the gateway to some of Australia’s leading wine regions including the Barossa.
Perth sits on the West Coast of Australia and attracts many visitors both domestically and internationally, with its sun-sational sunsets over the Indian Ocean at Cottesloe beach, sweeping views of the Swan River from Kings Park and just 30 minutes south of Perth is historical Fremantle where you’ll learn of their colonial and Gold Rush past while indulging in a local brew.
Darwin, the capital city of the Northern Territory is home to the Mindil Beach markets, stunning sunsets, crocs (not the shoes!) and is the gateway to Litchfield and Kakadu National Parks. If you’ve ever wanted to meet Crocodile Dundee, this is the place you’ll most likely find him 😉
Top Tip: Voted one of the top 10 things to do in Darwin is the Heli Pub Crawl. Speaking from first hand experience, this day trip is worth every cent! Seeing crocs from the sky, dropping in on The Lodge of Dundee, and landing on Goat Island to meet “King” Kai Hansen is one of the most ‘Australian’ experiences you can have.