Skip to navigation Skip to content
Search
  • *
  • *
  • *
  • *

Pack your summer clothes and prepare to shift gears…

Australia's famously laid-back pace of life is infectious, and allows plenty of time for exploring the great outdoors. Cosmopolitan waterside cities shimmer under the eternal sun, while tales of the Aboriginal Dreamtime inspire a whole different way of looking at the world.

In Australia the sky seems bigger, the days longer, and the opportunities for adventure endless. Natural wonders abound, from kangaroos, koalas and kookaburras, to wide open deserts, multi-coloured coral reefs and rain-drenched forests. They serve up some top tucker these days too, with fresh ingredients in plentiful supply and some rather good Aussie wines to wash it all down.

 

Culture and history

At the risk of stereotyping an entire nation, Australians are known for having a particularly laid-back nature, perhaps because of the heat! Yet few things will irk an Australian more than saying that their country was founded by criminals. Australians are proud of their forefathers' ingenuity in the face of adversity: Aboriginals for having the wherewithal to live off the uninviting land for thousands of years, and the descendants of more recent settlers who sought a better life down under but were greeted with unexpected hardship. Regardless of race or creed, an Australian will be proud of how many generations ago it was that their ancestors arrived!

In fact the Aboriginal people have lived in Australia for so long that nobody really knows when they first arrived. However, the estimate stands at around 50,000 years ago. These original settlers were believed to have travelled from Southeast Asia and their strong spiritual traditions are amongst the oldest in the world. The Dutch were the first recorded Europeans to arrive in Australia in 1606. The British followed some time after in 1770, returning in 1788 to establish a penal colony in what is now known as Sydney.

Other colonies followed and after several gold rushes and increasing prosperity these colonies began to solidify into autonomous regions. In 1901 the regions voted for unification and the Australian Commonwealth came into being. Following World War II Australia welcomed over six million immigrants from around 200 different countries to her shores, and today has one of the strongest economies in the world.

Things to do

There's so much to see on a holiday to Australia, that you'll need to allow plenty of time to explore. Book one of our tours, or a tour exclusively for solo travellers, and make the most of three full weeks of guided tours and adventure.

Roam the Outback and see the bizarre limestone formations of the Pinnacles Desert in Nambung National Park, or watch Ayers Rock shift shades as the sun slowly sets over the Never Never. Tick the Great Barrier Reef off your bucket list, marvel at the misty Blue Mountains' Three Sisters, and cruise past the Great Ocean Road's Twelve Apostles.

Among all of this natural splendour, don't forget about Australia's cities. Clustered around the country's plentiful coastline, they exuberantly make the most of their sunny beachside locations. Cruise Sydney Harbour taking in its dramatic views, or head to arty Melbourne to explore colonial architecture and a thriving coffee culture. Throughout your trip you'll stay in our carefully selected hotels and experience the famously warm Australian hospitality.

Western Australia

Taking up nearly a third of the continent, Western Australia's vast interior is a land of dusty outback tracks, while around the edge white sandy beaches are lapped by the Indian Ocean. It’s capital city, Perth, is one of the most isolated in the world, and sits in the greener climes of the Southwest. This is where you'll find the Margaret River wine region and several top surfing beaches.

Northern Territory

The Northern Territory occupies a central section of Australia, with it's coastal capital, Darwin, just across the water from Indonesia. Alice Springs lies in the interior, with Uluru, or Ayres Rock, rising up dramatically in its southernmost corner. This region is one of the richest in indigenous history and culture.

South Australia

The steep cliffs of South Australia's Great Australian Bight provide shelter for marine wildlife, as well as some spectacular sea views. In this region you'll find the sedate capital city of Adelaide, and the nearby Barossa Valley vineyards. Kangaroo Island sits just off of the coast and the whole region has a wealth of national parkland and conservation areas.

Queensland

Home to many of Australia's big-hitter sights, Queensland is quite simply dazzling. The Great Barrier Reef stretches out beneath its turquoise waters, while the tropical Daintree Rainforest claims the northeastern coastline near Cairns. To top it all off, Queensland's stylish capital city, Brisbane, is flanked by the perfect beaches of both the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast.

New South Wales

This is where the majority of Australia's population lives, and with good reason. Sydney is a true gem of a capital, with breathtaking views (Sydney Opera House anyone?) and both the beach and the Snowy Mountains on its doorstep. The surfer town of Byron Bay lies to the north while the vineyards of Hunter Valley are a road trip away from the capital, just beyond Wollemi National Park.

Victoria

It is testament to the vast size of Australia that great swathes of this (relatively) small and populous region of the country are dedicated national parkland. Here you can cruise the jaw-dropping Great Ocean Road, dine in cosmopolitan Melbourne or go wildlife watching on Phillip island. For wine tasting, head to the Yarra Valley, and for gourmet food, well anywhere will do - Victoria is a true foodie paradise.

Tasmania

Across the Bass Strait from Victoria, Tasmania is a large island occupied mainly by untouched wilderness and protected reserves. Its dark past as an isolated penal colony can still be seen in Hobart and Port Arthur, but today it's a place to come and enjoy the natural world, as well as a unique arts and dining scene.

Flight time

There’s no getting away from it, it’s a long haul to Oz. From London to Perth it takes from 18 hours 50 minutes and if you’re heading to Melbourne via Singapore or Dubai it typically takes around 23 hours 35 minutes. Pack a library and an eye mask.

Currency

Dollar - The Australian dollar is the local ‘moolah’. A dollar coin is larger than a two-dollar coin while bank notes are made of plastic and have a habit of sticking together, so take extra care not to hand over too much when paying for something!

Passports and visas

Australian visas are issued as an ‘electronic travel authority’ so no visible visa is applied to your passport. They are valid for a stay of up to three months.

Visit GOV.UK for more advice on passports and visas.

Phrases

Arvo - This afternoon

Captain Cook - Look (as in let’s have a look)

Chook - chicken

Coat hanger - Sydney Harbour Bridge

Snag - Sausage

Sooky - a tame animal

Togs - Swim wear

Timezone

Sydney and Melbourne are 10 hours ahead of GMT, Alice Springs is 9½ hours ahead while Perth is just 8 hours ahead.

Electricity

Mains voltage in Australia is 230 volts 50Hz. UK and European appliances work on the same mains voltage so you won't need a voltage converter. However, since mains sockets take two or three flat-pin plugs, you will need an adaptor.

Language

English -

More than 76% of the population speak English yet not necessarily as you know it thanks to Australia’s distinctive accent and colourful colloquialisms – take a look at the Phrases section for a few handy examples.

Tipping

In general, tipping is less widespread in Australia than in the USA and Europe, and service charges aren’t usually added to the bill, but you may like to leave a small tip for service when eating out independently.

It’s not customary to tip taxi drivers either.

Climate

Down Under the seasons are topsy-turvy, with summer falling between December and February. As the only country that is also a continent, the temperature varies from one place to another.

The southerly coastal cities are cooler and less humid than the north but still boast temperatures of around 30°C on average in the summer, while in winter the thermometer rarely dips below 10°C.

The best advise is to ‘slip-slap-slop’ as the saying goes – that means slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat (the temperature can soar quickly during the day so don’t be fooled by mild mornings and cool nights).

Lightweight clothes, including a waterproof jacket in case of the odd down pour, should see you right most of the time.

Health

Australia is a country of many wonders, not least some of the world’s least friendly yet most venomous creatures. If you go swimming, be aware of jellyfish, sharp corals and freshwater crocs. Although you’re highly unlikely to see them, there are also venomous snakes and spiders. If you think you’ve been bitten you must seek medical assistance immediately.

As health information can change at any time, we’d advise you to consult your GP at least 12 weeks before departure.

Country-specific information and advice on possible health risks is also published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre, and The British Foreign and Commonwealth Travel Advice Unit provides important health and safety information for British nationals travelling abroad.

Population and size

Nearly 23 million people call Australia home – a relatively low number given that it’s the planet’s sixth largest country (and its largest island nation). The vast majority of people live near the coast; hardly surprising when you consider just how dry the interior is.

Australia is nearly 32 times the size of the UK at 7,692,024 square kilometres.

Smoking

Restrictions vary from state to state but as a general rule, all restaurants and bars have a no smoking policy.



)