There’s nowhere like Australia

Sally Cope, Regional General Manager, UK/Northern Europe, Tourism Australia spoke to Jennie Carr about the incredible natural beauty in Australia and what Silver Travellers might enjoy best.

First time visitors

Given that this is such a vast country, almost the size of Europe, visitors would be challenged to visit the whole country in one visit. Interestingly, about 50% of all British travellers who do visit return to Australia at least once more.

Sally suggests a three weeks’ trip, starting in Sydney to explore the city, the harbour area the bridge and of course, the Opera House. Next fly to Uluru in the red centre of the country, to experience the remarkable outback landscape and learn about the Australia’s indigenous culture. It’s a very flat region and the skies seem enormous, perfect at night for stargazing with so little light pollution. Finally fly up to Cairns in tropical North Queensland, which is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest, both UNESCO World Heritage sites. Visiting these three places will give mature travellers a real appreciation of the diversity of Australia’s landscapes and a good flavour of the country.

Sydney’s attractions

An absolute must do in Sydney is a harbour cruise, either on a small boat or with dinner on a larger vessel. Even for non-surfers, Bondi Beach can’t be missed, just enjoy a drink, people watch and get a sense of the Australian lifestyle. For great dining, head to Circular Quay and The Rocks area, with the old sandstone buildings whose building blocks were hand-carved by convicts. You can also take a tour with an Aborigine guide and hear the traditional creation stories of the harbour area along with tales of the first European arrivals.

The Opera House is an extraordinary building just to visit, although Sally thoroughly recommends watching a show there if you can. Sydney is also the starting point for trips to the Hunter Valley Wine region and the Blue Mountains’ spectacular landscapes where very accessible bush walks are on offer.

Tasmania, nicknamed Tassie

This large island, off the coast of Victoria in the south east, has no international airport so you have to fly into Hobart, the capital, via another Australian city. Tasmania has over 40% of its land protected in some form of reserve, so eco-tourism and the environment are hugely important here. It’s incredibly easy to get out of the city into wilderness areas. Coach tours can take you on full island tours or else self-driving gives the freedom to explore as you wish.

Hugely popular for Silver Travellers are multi-day walking tours such as the coastal Bay of Fires trip or Cradle Mountain Hikes, where you could see the famous Tasmanian Devil in the alpine scenery. You carry what you need for the day, then stay at lodges or cabins offering hot showers and a decent meal. So that’s wild walking but not wild camping! Perfect for slowing right down and immersing yourself in the pristine natural environment. Sally reckons it can be really transformational to get out into Tasmania’s wilderness.

Luxury Experiences across Australia

For a collection of superb, small, independent boutique hotels (lodges in Australia), take a look at luxurylodgesofaustralia.com.au. Sally really recommends them for their ‘sense of place’ and for really belonging to where they are located, along with the outstanding guided experiences they provide. Take Lake House, on Lake Daylesford in Victoria’s spa country which offers a school cooking school focussing on local produce: it’s true foodie’s delight. Or Bamurru Plains in the wetlands near Darwin which is akin to a safari lodge, with boat tours of the Sampan river for wildlife and bird spotting. All with high environmental and sustainability standards. As Sally put it, ‘muddy or dusty boots by day with a hot shower and a very good glass of wine in the evening.’ Ideal for travellers over 50 who enjoy creature comforts.

Extraordinary Australia

Lizard Island at the northern end of the Great Barrier Reef, opposite Cooktown, has exceptional accommodation where you can swim out over the reef, possibly sharing the waves with a large green sea turtle. Off the coast of Adelaide in the south, Kangaroo Island is a haven for wildlife, kangaroos and koalas included, which is recovering fast from the fires in late 2019/early 2020: the bush vegetation regenerates swiftly. Just two and half hours from Perth, Margaret River and its surrounds are home to Australia’s premium wines, with self-guided wine tours, outstanding eateries and good places to stay. A must for gourmands.

When to visit Australia

Being such a vast land mass, Australia generally does not suffer from over tourism or crowds so you can be confident of having space to enjoy your visits. Down in the Southern hemisphere the seasons are the opposite of those in the UK. In the middle of the year, head north to Darwin, Northern Queensland, Western Australia and the Kimberley for cooler drier weather. Go south in the summer (November to March) for the most comfortable time to travel.

Listen now

You might enjoy the longer version of this article on our Silver Travel podcast. Sally and Jennie go ‘down under’.

Next steps

For all things Australian, visit australia.com. Call our Silver Travel Advisors to discuss and book your trip 0800 412 5678, they’ll help you create the perfect, personal itinerary.

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