80% of Malaysians think Australia is best to see on a guided tour.
A guided tour can be a great way to make the most of your trip to Australia, but when the freedom of the open road calls you’ll find some really exciting options for venturing out on your own. From coastal drives to off-road adventures, these beautiful destinations offer the opportunity to explore stunning spots without the crowd.
Starting in Sydney’s Royal National Park and extending to the charming holiday town of Jervis Bay, taking your time along the Grand Pacific Drive will allow you to soak in some of the South Coast’s coolest experiences. Wildlife lovers should make a stop at Symbio Wildlife Park to meet native Australian animals and hand-feed kangaroos, while the brave of heart can skydive in Wollongong. Cross the iconic Sea Cliff Bridge and head for the Scarborough Hotel to take in the sweeping views from the cliff’s edge while enjoying a delicious lunch. Don’t forget to stop for the Kiama Blowhole, which sprays seawater into the air, and Glenbernie Fruit Orchard, where you can pick your own fruit from November to April and taste crisp, refreshing apple cider year-round.
Located a 2.5-hour drive north of Sydney, Port Stephens has the largest moving coastal sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere. The dunes reach heights of over 40 metres, creating an otherworldly landscape that is an adventure lover’s playground. Go on a quad biking adventure with Aboriginal guides who will share their history and show you a few of the extraordinary number of significant Aboriginal sites in the area. You can also try sliding down the dunes on a sandboard, as well as horseback and camel riding across the awe-inspiring landscape. Beyond the dunes, you can spot dolphins from a dolphin watching cruise or get up close with sharks and rays at Irukandji Shark and Ray Encounters. Those visiting between late May and November can see migrating whales from the coast or a whale watching tour.
Home to more than 120 wineries as well as gourmet restaurants, superior golf courses and spa retreats, the Hunter Valley wine region is the ideal romantic or relaxing escape. To see one of the most incredible views of the charming Hunter Valley, set your alarm clock early for a sunrise hot air balloon ride with Balloon Aloft. On this one hour flight, you'll ascend above the Hunter Valley vineyards to heights of more than 600 metres (2000 feet). Afterwards, a decadent champagne breakfast is served on the deck of Restaurant Cuvee at Peterson House Winery. Choose from a mouth-watering menu teamed with chocolates and Peterson House sparkling wines.
Made up of one million hectares (3861 square miles) of tall forests, sandstone cliffs, canyons and waterfalls, the magnificent Blue Mountains National Park is a nature lover’s dream. There are many well-known hikes available for all fitness levels, but if you’re looking for something far from the tourist spots, head to the lesser known Pulpit Rock lookout near Blackheath. You’ll get a thrill on the multi-tiered lookouts that offer almost 360˚ panorama across the dramatic mountain range. In Autumn, you’ll witness a majestic mix of orange, red and gold as the leaves change their colour. For a truly magical experience, spend a night in a mountain resort or romantic cottage and wak up early to see the Three Sisters rock formation engulfed in the beautiful morning mist.
If you thought you had to take a tour to reach the world’s best beaches, then it’s time to think again. Located in the far-north coast of New South Wales, Byron Bay is home to stunning beaches, lush hinterland rainforests and delicious regional dining as well as unique artisan drinks and new-age retreats. Plus, it’s easy to explore Byron Bay on your own. Embark on a five-day road trip from Sydney to Byron Bay on the Legendary Pacific Coast to see sand dunes and waterfalls before arriving in beautiful Byron. Hike the two-hour Cape Byron Walking Track and see the first rays of light turn the Byron Bay Lighthouse pink. Watch out for migrating whales between late May and November, and join the locals to swim or surf the trademark waves along Byron’s coastline.