El Questro Wilderness Park, Kimberley, Western Australia © Tourism Western Australia
7 enriching solo holidays in Australia
Solo travel continues to grow in popularity, and it’s easy to see why. What better way to take a step back, focus on your own needs and wellness, or challenge yourself to try something new? Australia is just the place to take time to travel alone.
By Sarah Reid
There are many different reasons travellers choose to adventure on their own, and there’s no country better to do it in than Australia thanks to our world-class tourism infrastructure, experiences tailored to solo travellers, welcoming locals and operators, and easy-to-navigate transport networks.
So, whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in local culture, spend some quality time alone to turn your attention inward, press the reset button, or challenge yourself, here are 7 solo holiday options to inspire your next adventure.
Travel slow on the Ghan
The Ghan, which travels between Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, through the Red Centre to Darwin in the Northern Territory over three days, is as classic as Australian rail journeys go, and is an ideal trip to embark on solo; travel in stylish comfort while enjoying the wide open spaces of the outback, allowing you plenty of time to contemplate, reflect and relax.
All-inclusive and equipped with Gold Service Single, solo travellers are well catered for with the luxury the Ghan is famous for. You can choose to meet other passengers in the communal spaces, enjoy conversation with fellow travellers over a delicious gourmet meal or drink, and take part in the off-train experiences in the Northern Territory towns of Alice Springs and Katherine, or you can simply sit back and enjoy the peace and quiet, and stunning scenery.
If, after your trip, you get the taste for solo train travel, single berths are available on other iconic Australian rail journeys, too, including the Great Southern, The Overland and the Indian Pacific, offering additional opportunities to marvel at Australia’s mesmerising landscapes on your own.
Immerse yourself in the spirituality of Uluru
Visiting Uluru, Australia’s most sacred rock, is a profound experience for many travellers, and heading there on your own couldn’t be easier. All accommodation, restaurants and tour booking offices are based in and around the town of Yulara, just nine kilometres (six miles) from Ayers Rock Airport in the Northern Territory. So all you need to do is fly in, check into your hotel or campsite, and choose your own Uluṟu adventure from the many options available.
If the aim of your solo adventure is to go at your own pace and take the time to connect with the country around you, then a good option is to hire a car at the airport. From there, you can explore the trails and lookout points in nearby Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, enjoying the opportunity to absorb this deeply spiritual landscape. If you prefer to meet other travellers, you can take the Hop On Hop Off shuttle that stops at all resorts and points of interest in the park.
Come evening, the Sounds of Silence dinner experience – where guests sit at communal tables under the stars – was made for mingling and is a great experience for solo adventurers.
Take time for yourself in Byron Bay
If you’re seeking a holiday away from life’s distractions, this northern New South Wales coastal town might be just the place for you. Australia’s unofficial wellness capital, Byron Bay is jam-packed with yoga studios, delicious farm-to-table and organic restaurants and cafés, alternative gyms, healers, massage centres and more, offering the perfect opportunity to take time out to nourish your mind and body on your own schedule.
It goes without saying that nature is good for the soul, and opportunities to spend time in nature abound in Byron and surrounds. From verdant green hinterland, to wide open beaches and lush ancient rainforests, you’re certain to feel everyday worries wash away in Byron, allowing you to find your balance and serenity.
Check into a Gold Coast wellness retreat
Wellness retreats provide the perfect opportunity to revive and refresh, and are tailored perfectly for solo travellers. Whether you’re setting a personal health challenge, focusing on getting fit, taking time to find your balance and restore your mental health, or simply want some alone time to recharge your batteries, Australia is home to some of the world’s best wellness retreats.
Retreats don’t mean you have to go without though. Two of the most luxe, Gwinganna and Eden, are set in the lush subtropical Gold Coast hinterland in south-east Queensland. Both combine gourmet dining with wellness therapies – everything from yoga to spa treatments, nature walks to mindfulness sessions. Group activities and communal meals offer great opportunities to socialise.
Tackle Tasmania’s Three Capes Track
Nothing beats the fresh air, beautiful landscapes and sense of achievement you get from tackling serious hiking trails, plus it’s a wonderful opportunity to focus on you and your surrounds, and not life’s distractions. Tasmania offers some world-famous multi-day hikes that are great options for solo travellers.
The Three Capes Track, which traces the soaring cliffs of the Tasman Peninsula just south of Hobart, is a fantastic option for solos. With only 48 hikers allowed on this well-maintained trail each day, you can immerse yourself in nature, knowing that some of the nicest hiking huts in the state await (with on-site rangers to chat to, if you want some company). Like your walking experiences a little more luxe? Consider booking one of the guided treks across the state with the Tasmanian Walking Company, which maintains private eco-lodges along its hiking routes.
Cruise the Kimberley
If you like the idea of solo adventuring with the benefit of seeing a variety of places and an easy way to meet other travellers, a small-ship cruise along Western Australia’s breathtaking Kimberley Coast, between Darwin and Broome, could be the perfect fit for you.
With most expeditions lasting 10 to 14 days, it’s enough time to really get to know your fellow cruise mates (if you want), and with itineraries packed with scenic walks, waterfall swims, visiting Aboriginal art sites and more, you’ll get the chance to experience Western Australia’s vast and stunning landscape with ease. Small ships including the Eco Abrolhos and the Reef Price offer particularly good deals for solos, charging single supplements of just 10 per cent and 20 per cent respectively if you’d prefer to have your own room.
Take a self-guided cultural tour of Canberra
Some people happily breeze through galleries and museums, while others take hours to soak up all that art and history. That’s why cultural city breaks are among the most rewarding trips to make alone; you can go at your own pace.
Canberra, home to the National Gallery of Australia – which houses the world’s largest collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art – is a great place to start. The national capital is easy to get around on foot or by public transport, and the city has no lack of culinary options after a long days’ sightseeing. Consider bedding down at the hip Ovolo Nishi, where you can mingle with other guests over a free sundowner during the daily “social hour” if you want company, or help yourself to the complimentary in-room mini-bar if you prefer to reflect on your day alone.