Australia is an enormous country and its climate varies as such. The north can be hot and tropical and the south cool with the occasional snow. When you’re planning your trip, remember that the seasons are opposite those in the northern hemisphere. Summer lasts from December through February in most of the country. It’s also the wet season for the north. The winters, between June and August, are fairly mild. The north has dry, sunny days and the south is dry with some snow in the mountains. It’s very important to protect yourself from the sun in Australia. Cover up with a hat and use plenty of high-SPF sunscreen.
Getting around Australia
There are several low-cost airlines that offer domestic Australia flights. These include Virgin blue, Jetstar and Skywest. Qantas, the flag carrier, offers regular deals too. If a cheap trip to New Zealand are part of your plans, Freedom Air links Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and the Gold Coast with the North and South Island.
Bus services are operated by Greyhound Australia, the national bus company. It offers daily services to 1,100 destinations in Australia.
Renting a car or a camper van is a great way to see the country. There are rent-a-wreck-style car hire companies in some major cities that allow you to hire a second-hand car very cheaply. Check the mileage limits in advance to ensure you can get as far from the city as you'd like.
Australia insider information
- Sydney's historic sewers have become one of the country's most popular tourist destinations. They were built by British settlers and convicts around 1788 and are some of the oldest surviving remnants of Australia's early European settlement. Try to get a place on a tour about the same time as you book cheap flights to Australia. More than 4,000 people apply for tickets but authorities can take just 180 people at a time.
- To get a bird's eye view of Sydney, climb the Harbour Bridge. Guided tours take about three-and-a-half hours. From the top there are views of the mountains, Bondi Beach and the famous Sydney landmarks such as the Opera House, port and downtown.
- Much of Australia's Gold and Sunshine coasts are given over to apartment blocks and theme parks, but 1770 (named to commemorate the year Captain James Cook landed) remains a tropical paradise. The town is in central Queensland, along the Capricorn Coast. Fly from Brisbane to Bundaberg and drive from there. It's a 90-minute drive or so from Bundaberg.
- Start your morning in Melbourne at the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere, the Queen Victoria Market .
- To get the pulse of Australia's Aboriginal people, vacation for a few days with a traditional community in the Northern Territory. Gunya Titjikala is a venture between the Titjikala aboriginal community and Gunya Tourism, and provides accommodations in "five-star tents" beside the community, located 120km south of Alice Springs. Guests will learn about aboriginal culture and survival knowledge during the day and feast on "bush tucker" meals at night.