There are few travellers who don’t have Australia on their bucket list. Whether you want to get out into the great beyond of the outback, take a road trip along the coast, or get to know one of the vibrant cities, there’s something in Australia for every type of traveller.
As the country is so big, it’s hard to decide how to spend a weekend there. In this post, I’ll take a look at how to experience Australia from five of its biggest and most exciting cities. Hopefully, it’ll make it easier to plan your trip and make the most of your time Down Under!
How To Spend a Weekend in…
Enjoy a bushwalk without leaving the city
Once you’ve got to know the CBD and the harbour, get a little more off the beaten track in Australia’s most popular city. Take the Manly Ferry from the harbour, passing the opera house on the way out. When you get to Manly Beach, follow signs for the Spit Bridge Coastal Walk. On this beautiful route, you’ll pass secluded beaches where you can stop off for a dip, and you may be lucky enough to see some wildlife too. When you make your way back to the harbour, be sure to do so at night. That way you’ll see Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, and the Luna Park lit up in all their glory.
Marvel at the scenery of the Blue Mountains
While you can visit the Blue Mountains on a day trip from Sydney, it’s much better to spend the weekend there. Two hours west of Sydney by car, that’s the best way to see this beautiful part of the world. Be sure to take in the views from Echo Point and Three Sisters lookout points, enjoy delicious food and wine in the town of Katoomba, and maybe even check out the outdoor activities on offer.
Take a flight to Byron Bay
If you’ve got a healthy budget, why not book onto a cheap flight from Sydney to Byron Bay? The most easterly point in Australia, it’s a great place to surf, stand up paddle board, and enjoy coastal walks. The small and charming town has a wide range of places to eat and drink too.
Revel in the views from Mount Coot Tha
After you’ve spent some time getting acquainted with Brisbane, why not see it from above? Mount Coot Tha is 8 kilometres from the CBD, and you can choose either to hike up (challenging on a hot day), or if you’d rather not exert yourself too much, check out a bus or an Uber.
Take a picnic up and watch the sunset. A great option if you’re travelling as a couple!
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Australia’s wildlife has two effects on travellers. It either melts their heart or terrifies them beyond belief. Luckily, the furry critters at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary fall into the former category. Lone Pine is the largest and oldest koala sanctuary in the world, and here you’ll be able to get up close and personal with these beautiful animals. It’s around 14 kilometres from Brisbane’s CBD.
One of the most beautiful areas near Brisbane is the Sunshine Coast. Drop in to Noosa Heads for a relaxing beach getaway. You’ll be refreshed and rejuvenated after a few days of bush walks, swimming in the turquoise waters, and spotting wildlife in the national park. While you’re in Noosa, you could also check out the Eumundi Markets – the largest arts market in Australia. It’s just 15 minutes away!
Embrace coffee culture
If you like coffee, you have to have Melbourne on your Australia itinerary. Its cafe scene is one of the best known in the world! In the 19th century, coffee palaces started to spring up in the city as part of a social movement against the consumption of alcohol. Though you now won’t have any problem getting a beer in Melbourne, you can’t leave without trying one of the cold brews or pour-overs.
A Great Ocean Road Trip!
You might only have time for a morning coffee close to your accommodation, but it’ll be worth it to get onto the Great Ocean Road. If you don’t have your own transport, rent a car (or campervan) and head out to one of the most spectacular routes in Oceania. The road is an epic ribbon along cliff tops and down to turquoise waters. Be sure to stop off at the Twelve Apostles rock pinnacles for one of the most iconic views in Australia.
Sample some of Australia’s best food in the Yarra Valley
One of the most popular weekend trips for Melbourne locals, the Yarra Valley is what you’ll see when the residential buildings start to melt away. Famous for incredible food and drink and picturesque villages, this is another place that’s best visited with your own transport. The restaurants in the valley use fresh produce from all over the valley, including artisan cheese from the Yarra Valley Dairy and wine from the many surrounding vineyards. Don’t miss a trip on the Puffing Billy steam train too!
Head to the beach!
Perth is known for its crystal-clear waters, white sands, and awesome waves. So, whether you want to lie back and sunbathe or take a dip, embrace the world’s fastest growing board sport of stand-up paddle boarding, or of course, surfing, there’s a beach in Perth for you. Cottesloe is a place where you can pitch up with your board and also enjoy great places to eat and drink, while Scarborough Beach is one of the most popular places to visit in Perth. You won’t see any surfers at Mullaloo Beach, but the calm waves perfect it great for swimming and family visits.
Meet the quokkas of Rottnest Island
Rottnest Island is another opportunity to hit the beach, but this is a seaside day out with a difference. And that’s all thanks to the friendly residents who live here. Mistaken by the Dutch who originally colonised it for large rats, these cute little marsupials (which are about the size of a cat) are famous for their goofy smiles. One of the rites of passage for any backpacker near Perth is getting a selfie with a quokka.
As well as meeting a quokka, you can also see the island by bike, or snorkelling in one of the surrounding bays.
Author: Daniel Hall is a writer from Gili Sports. A traveller and an English teacher. When not working, he enjoys adventure sports, football, cooking, and reading.