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How to do Australia

Getting to and travelling in Australia is easier than you think. In fact, this time tomorrow, you could be here.

By Georgia Rickard

You may have heard Australia is a big country – which can make a vacation here seem out of reach. Yet visiting Americans often comment at how surprised they are to discover just how easy it is to get around.

You might find it useful to know that Australia is about the same size as the continental USA. This can help you calculate travel times, which are often similar.

For example, a cross-continental flight between Sydney and Perth takes about the same amount of time as a cross-continental flight between New York and Los Angeles. Or, flight times between Sydney and Melbourne are similar to those between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Just like America, it’s possible to see many incredible sights around Australia in a relatively short amount of time. Australia is also safe, affordable and has an excellent transport system.

With its breathtaking landscapes, a world-class restaurant scene, beautiful beaches, and plenty of unique wildlife to meet, it truly is one of the world’s most incredible destinations.

You won’t regret your visit.

Here are answers to a few commonly asked questions to help you plan your trip to Australia.


How long does it take to fly to Australia?

Flights to Australia are shorter than you think. Set off today and you could wake up Down Under tomorrow morning.

Fly direct to Australia from Los Angeles, Dallas, San Francisco, Honolulu and Vancouver, on airlines including Delta, United, American, Virgin, Qantas and Air Canada; watch an in-flight movie, have a meal and a glass of wine, take a nap and you’re here.

I only have two weeks of vacation. Is that enough time to visit Australia?

Two weeks will give you plenty of time to see Australia, on a holiday that can be as active or relaxing as you like. This easy itinerary, for example, takes you from Sydney’s beaches and harbour, to the magical Blue Mountains, a luxury wilderness camp next to Uluru, diving or snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree Rainforest, and the Queensland capital, Brisbane… all in 10 enjoyable days.

Thanks to increasingly affordable plane fares and a wide range of flights from USA cities, Australia is no longer a “once-in-a-lifetime” trip. Many Americans come to visit for two weeks at a time, returning again and again to explore further.

How do I get around Australia?

Just like America, Australia has an advanced network of domestic airlines, highways and public transport systems. The domestic airline market is competitive, offering great value fares that make city-to-city flights very affordable. Many regional cities and towns also have airports, making the bush and the Outback easy to access.

If you have a current American driver’s license, you’re already eligible to drive in most states and territories of Australia (laws differ between states however; read more here). Roads are safe, well-maintained and easy to navigate, and rental cars can be hired at most airports and all major cities.

All road signs are in English and in many instances, Australian road rules are very similar to American road rules. Your biggest problem will be choosing where you’d like to drive to!

Taxis and/or Ubers are also available in most areas, while a vast network of public transport (including trains, buses and ferries) mean the options for exploring are just about limitless.

Will I like Australian food?

Visitors often say that Australia’s food scene is a highlight of their trip. While you’re likely to recognise many American favourites Down Under, as well as familiar cuisines such as Italian, Chinese and Japanese, you may also discover that you fall in love with Australia’s beguiling mix of unique flavours, world-class produce and sophisticated dining scene – not to mention our excellent coffee.

From gourmet bush tucker and exquisitely fresh seafood to Asian-style markets and world-class wine, Australian food is fresh, exciting, cosmopolitan and innovative. Don’t miss these six foods during your visit!

Will I encounter any dangerous animals?

It is highly, highly unlikely that you will encounter any dangerous creatures on your travels in Australia. Most native wildlife is very shy and tends to be found in remote bushland, well removed from everyday life in urban areas. If you’d like to see Australia’s unique native animals however, it’s possible to do so in a safe and respectful way. Many wild creatures can be seen up close in their natural environments in carefully controlled wildlife encounters, whether you want to cuddle a koala, swim with a whale shark, cage dive with a great white, cruise with crocodiles or see newly hatched sea turtles waddle to the ocean.

What time of year should I visit?

Just like America, Australia has different regions with different climates. This means there are amazing things to see and do at every time of year – and you can plan your holiday around your preferred weather and activities.

In the tropical north (where you’ll find the cities of Cairns, Broome and Darwin, and attractions such as Kakadu and the Kimberley), the year is divided into the wet season (November to March) when it’s hot and wet, though often still sunny, and the dry season (April to October), when it’s cooler and drier. Both seasons have their attractions: locations tend be more accessible and conditions more comfortable in the dry, but the thundering waterfalls and bursting billabongs of the wet are something to behold. 

The rest of the country, which includes popular destinations such as Sydney, Melbourne, the Gold Coast, Perth, Adelaide, Byron Bay, Canberra and Tasmania, tends to think more in terms of four seasons: Spring (September to November), Summer (December to February), Fall (known as autumn, March to May) and Winter (June to August).

But bear in mind that a winter’s day in Byron Bay (70 degrees and blue skies) and in Tasmania (where it may be snowing) can be very different experiences.  Read more about the seasons.

What’s it going to cost?

You don’t have to spend a fortune to visit Australia. When it comes to accommodation, Australia is home to everything from backpacker hostels to luxury lodges. When it comes to food, there’s everything from cheap eats to the world’s best. And when it comes to experiences, there’s the same variety: from free to budget to luxe. Whatever you choose to invest in, one thing is certain: you’ll make unforgettable memories while here.

Plan your trip today.