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13 BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN AUSTRALIA

Australia is a HUGE country with so many things to see! Use this travel guide to help plan your ideal trip down under.

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How do we know where to visit? Our year long adventure in Australia has just come to an end:

We drove over 9,000 miles
Covered the full circumference of Australia
Swam with whale sharks
Hiked in dozens of National Parks
Lived in a tent for 3 months
Spent time in every major city
Experienced 8 work exchanges (read How to do a HelpX Work Exchange and Stay Safe)
Made friends for life
…And so much more!

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Abbreviation Guide:

NSW – New South Wales
VIC – Victoria
WA – Western Australia
TAS – Tasmania

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13. PARADISE BEACH, NSW

Paradise Beach
If you love to camp then you will LOVE Paradise Beach. We found this amazing and free beachfront campground using our trusty Camps Guidebook. Before Paradise Beach we’d never slept so close to the beach before. If you are looking for a jaw-dropping campground in New South Wales, definitely consider Paradise Beach. I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed.

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12. BALOOK, VIC

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It’s true that much of Australia is desert, but you would never know it here. Take a stroll through the Tarra-Bulga National Park and you’ll find yourself in the middle of a lush rainforest. Mike and I did a work exchange with a lovely lady who owned the Tarra Bulga Guest House (a really cute bed and breakfast/cafe located 2 minutes walk away from the park). If you’re looking for romantic weekend retreat or just some peach and quiet, I would definitely choose Balook.

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11. RAINBOW BEACH, QLD

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Rainbow Beach is another of our favorite camping spots in Australia, and is located directly across from Fraser Island. This campsite costs $10 per night but is worth every penny. Our campsite was located very close to the beach (reserve your spot early during peak season). The beach is so peaceful and serene, and we were lucky enough to see dolphins swim by. At sunset there were beautiful, colorful parrots that would come hangout for a few hours… very surreal for those of us who are not used to seeing parrots in the wild.

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10. DAINTREE RAINFOREST, QLD

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The drive from Cairns to Daintree Rainforest is gorgeous, filled with lush green mountains. Daintree was absolutely stunning and very peaceful. Just be aware of the Crocodile Warnings… although we didn’t see any crocs.

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9. BRISBANE, QLD

Brisbane
Brisbane is a modern city with a great waterfront (next to the Brisbane River), great neighborhoods, and lots of free events. If you are looking for a fun city to visit on a budget, we would recommend “Brizzy.”

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8. BYRON BAY, NSW

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If you visit Australia you will most likely hear people talk about Byron Bay. For months and months we were told we had to see Byron and after staying in the cute town for a few nights we understand why. Byron Bay is a beach town with lots of cool stores, fun bars (perfect for a pub crawl) and has a very relaxed mentality. The walk/jog up to the lighthouse is well worth the views, but you can drive right up there if you prefer the easy route. Just keep in mind if you visit during summer (November – February) it will most likely be very crowded.

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7. NULLARBOR, VIC/WA

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Crossing the Nullarbor Plain was AMAZING. So many people told us that we wouldn’t see anything or anyone for hours so we should “prepare ourselves.” To our surprise it was not nearly as desolate as we were expecting. There were actually a good amount of cars on the road and we never felt any danger (and there were plenty of trees despite being the “treeless plain”). We took 3 days/2 nights to cross the Nullarbor and the scenery we saw was extraordinary. Just remember to fill up on fuel every chance you get…small towns and gas stations are few and far between.

The highlight for us was the most amazing night sky we have ever seen…it truly felt like we were in a planetarium! Find a quiet pull-off to spend the night (again, you can refer to your trusty Camps Book). Wait until it gets very dark and then enjoy the show. To get a sense of what we’re talking about, close your eyes. Now try to imagine a crystal clear night sky where the horizon is visible in every direction and the milky way is as bright as a rainbow spanning across the entire sky. Un. Real. (For more details about our Nullabor crossing, check out Driving From Melbourne To Perth).

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6. MELBOURNE, VIC

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Melbourne aka “Melbun” (not “Mel-born” or “Mel-burn”) was my favorite city.  The city is very modern, hip and cool, filled with great bars and restaurants tucked away down “laneways” (what we would call “alleyways”). I loved the graffiti all over the buildings, they were works of art. If I had to choose a city to live in I would 100% choose Melbourne.

If you’re lucky enough (or if you plan accordingly), check out the Moomba Festival. Taking place on Victoria’s Labor Day Weekend (second weekend in March) and located on the banks of the Yarra River, this festival showcases incredible water sports, food, entertainment, and the famous Birdman Rally (where people strap on wacky contraptions and unsuccessfully attempt to “fly” over the river).

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5. MACMASTERS BEACH, NSW

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MacMasters beach is a quiet little paradise. The beach is gorgeous and the neighborhood is quaint. It also didn’t hurt that one of our favorite HelpX families lived here (shout out to the Macklins). These pictures are of their backyard… our sanctuary.

Macklins Home in MacMasters Beach

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4. WILSONS PROMONTORY NATIONAL PARK, VIC

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Wilsons Promontory (aka “The Prom“) is another one of our favorite National Parks… I think this picture explains why.

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3. BRUNY ISLAND, TAS

Bruny Island

Bruny Island is a tiny island that is located south of Tasmania. The island will always hold a special place in our hearts, as we had quite a few firsts on this island. First time we drove on a beach (yes that’s Mike in the photo above), first time we saw penguins, first time we drove home in pitch black with 100’s of wallabies on the road. Also, one of our favorite campsites was located on Bruny…Cloudy Bay Campground was so remote and serene that you needed a 4×4 to drive across the beach and gain access to it. (For more “Tassie” tips, included details about Bruny Island, check out our Tasmania Destination Guide).

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2. BROOME, WA

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Broome is comprised of two sections, Cable Beach and Chinatown. Mike and I lived in Cable Beach for 3 months and it was the perfect place for us to settle down (a snapshot of life in Broome can be seen in the post The Definition of Insanity). Cable Beach is very small, remote, tropical, and there is not much to do besides eat, drink, sunbathe and surf, but it sure is heaven. When Mike and I weren’t working (at two of the three local restaurants), we were on the drive-on beach, soaking up the sun (and some drinks) and learning how to surf (thanks Sean & Lil).

If you’re driving to Broome from the south, be sure to plan a stop in Exmouth and swim with Whale Sharks (the largest fish in the ocean). It’s about $300-400 but worth it for this incredible excursion!

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1. CRADLE MOUNTAIN, TASMANIA

Cradle Mountain

Tasmania is ultimately our favorite destination in Australia. We spent a full month in Tasmania and were floored by its beauty. Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park is one of the most wonderful parks I have ever hiked in. The photo above was taken at the summit. We visited Tasmania in February and the weather was gorgeous. For half of the month we stayed with another one of our favorite HelpX hosts in Launceston (shout out to Jean & Graham) and for the other two weeks we explored this wonderful island.

(Again, for more details about Tasmania, including Cradle Mountain, check out our full Tasmania Destination Guide.)

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What do you think of our list of the best places to visit in Australia?  Did we miss any amazing Aussie spots? Please share your tips or travel plans below!