Introduction Map of Australia Australian Geography 101 Australian History 101 Essential Aussie Basics Driving on Australian Roads Handling Your Campervan Campervanning Basics Crossing Bass Strait Driving Distances Invaluable Campervanning Tips A Rundown of the Regions What You Can Expect from the Weather Wildlife Aboriginal Australia Getting to Know the Aussies Aussie Tucker Cheers! 50 Fantastic Places to Visit! Off the Beaten Track Ten Best Beaches in Australia Speaking “Strine” Itinerary Ideas Final Things to Think About More Handy Sites to Check Out 3 4 4 6 7 10 13 14 17 17 19 21 34 37 43 45 47 50 54 67 70 74 77 81 82


For generations of Australians, or “Aussies”, setting off in the family campervan (motorhome, travel trailer or RV) to explore their magical country at their own pace is the kind of relaxed, freespirited holiday they take for granted, or an enviable yet quite common way to spend a hard-earned retirement. If you’re reading this book, congratulations on making the decision to follow in their footsteps! Simultaneously an island, a country and a continent, Australia, nicknamed “The Land Down Under” is a perfect destination for a campervanning holiday. It’s friendly, uncrowded, huge, and is riddled with unique but equally wonderful tourist spots everywhere you go. Australia’s noteworthy for its unique flora and fauna, every imaginable type of scenery, its friendly people, delectable food and wine, its superb climate and relaxed, “no worries” lifestyle. In Australia you can absorb the fascinating Aboriginal culture, experience sophisticated cosmopolitan society with a laid-back twist, and travel to remote spots it’s possible no other human has ever even set foot on. Campervanning is an ideal way to experience this generous slice of heaven – you can travel at your own pace and stop wherever you like, for as long as you like! There’s a vast number of campsites and holiday parks dotted all over the country to accommodate you and campervans to suit any budget – and best of all, there’s a favourable exchange rate to take your money a lot further.

Many people say that a campervan holiday is the best, if not the only real way to meet Australian locals and see the essential Australia.
There’s a new caravan built in Australia every 14 minutes! And according to current affairs show 60 Minutes, there are more than 325,000 caravans and motorhomes currently registered. At any one time, more than 80,000 of them are on what’s known as the “Big Lap” – driving all the way around Australia. Read on to get the BEST advice, tips, tricks and secrets on where to go, what to do, how to plan and mistakes to avoid, to truly get the most out of your Australian campervanning holiday.


Map of Australia

Australian Geography 101
Australia is not just a country, but an entire continent. It’s the world’s smallest continent and the sixth-largest country. • Australia’s huge but only has a population of about 20 million people. About 90% of those people live on 2.6% of the continent. • Australia is located in the Southern Hemisphere, between the Indian Ocean and the southern Pacific Ocean. • The capital of Australia is Canberra. • Australia is divided into seven separate states: Queensland; New South Wales; South Australia; Victoria; Northern • It has an area of 2,966,368 square miles, or 7,682,300 square kilometers.


Territory, Western Australia; and Tasmania (the separate island off the south-east coast). • It also has two major mainland territories, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. • Australia also has several minor territories; the federal government administers a separate area within New South Wales, the Jervis Bay Territory, as a naval base and sea port for the national capital.

million years ago. Bore holes bring water to the surface and it’s supplied to livestock and humans. • Off the Queensland coast, the famous Great Barrier Reef stretches around 200km (1240 miles) from off Gladstone to the Gulf of Papua near New Guinea. It’s the largest coral reef on earth and is home to many different types of animals such as starfish, sea anemones, fish (including sharks), turtles, sea slugs and giant clams. • Sydney is the largest city with about 4

• Australia has the following, inhabited, external territories: Norfolk Island, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and several mostly uninhabited external territories: Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Coral Sea Islands, Heard Island and McDonald Islands and the Australian Antarctic Territory.

million people. Other large cities include Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Newcastle. • Lake Eyre is Australia’s largest body of water – a dry saltwater lake in South Australia that covers 3,430 square miles. • The east coast of Australia is covered by

• The majority of rainfall falls in a thin strip along the coast, leaving the majority of the country arid and dry, vulnerable to droughts and bushfires. Most of Australia is comprised of the “Outback” which generally refers to the harsh, desolate inland.

tropical rainforest. The Great Dividing Range (a mountain range that runs north-south down the east coast) is what causes rain to fall on the east and blocks it from the dry inland, or Outback. • Australia claims the world’s largest

• The only thing saving this huge dry land from complete dessication is the Great Artesian Basin. This enormous round geological formation stretches over inland N.S.W, S.A, Qld and N.T. Beneath it are underground water supplies thought to be stored between 66-208

monolith, Uluru (formerly Ayer’s Rock). It’s located almost smack-bang in the middle of Australia, in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. This huge 348-metre red piece of sandstone is a sacred Aboriginal site and arguably Australia’s most famous landmark.


Australian History 101
• Australian Aborigines refer to the beginning of time as the Dreamtime (which is often the context for a lot of traditional Aboriginal art) • Australia was originally part of a supercontinent called Pangea, which eventually split and drifted apart into two pieces called Gondwanaland and Laurasia. Gondwanaland then eventually broke apart too, creating South America, Africa, India, Australia, New Guinea, New Zealand and Antarctica. • Australia once had large pre-historic animals (like everywhere else) but they were in the form of giant marsupials such as a wombat the size of a hippo, and 10-foot-tall kangaroos! • The first people to reach Australia and chart its coastline were the Portuguese, in about 1536. Throughout the 1600s, many Dutch ships the followed (it was referred to as “New Holland”). • Abel Tasman was then sent over to chart the country. He also discovered Tasmania. The sea between New Zealand and Australia is called the Tasman Sea. • It was only in 1992 that a law was passed allowing Aborigines to reclaim their government-owned land. • Australia proclaimed itself the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, but fought with New Zealand alongside Britain in the first and second World Wars and alongside America in Korea and Vietnam. • Gold was discovered in 1852, causing an influx of immigrants from Europe, America and China. • The last of the convicts were brought over in 1868, bringing the total to 168,000. • Captain James Cook arrived in his ship Endeavour in1770 and charted the East Coast. He claimed the land for Britain and named New South Wales. • Meanwhile, King George III began to see the potential in Australia as a colony for England’s increasing convict population, and the first 800 were sent over in 1787.

a wwI anzac soldier statue in sydney.

Essential Aussie Basics
Visas, Customs and Quarantine
• All travellers to Australia must carry a valid passport or similar travel document and all travellers except holders of Australian and New Zealand passports need a visa to enter Australia (a visa can be obtained from your nearest Australian high commission, embassy or consulate). • The Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) which can be issued on the spot by a travel agent replaces the traditional visa and is becoming increasingly available through travel agents. • Everyone can bring some goods duty/ tax-free into Australia, and adults over 18 can also bring alcohol and cigarettes or tobacco products duty/tax free. The articles must accompany you through Customs and have to be for personal use. • There’s no limit on the amount of Australian and/or foreign cash that you can bring into or take out of Australia. However, amounts of more than A$10,000 (or equivalent in foreign currency) must be declared on arrival and departure. • On departure, you can claim a refund of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) that you paid on goods bought in Australia. The refund on goods (not services) costing $A300 or more (on the same receipt), only applies to items carried as hand luggage. Tourist Refund Scheme booths are located in the departure areas of international terminals after passport control, where you must show your passport, international boarding pass, tax invoice from the retailer, and the goods. You’ll get a cash refund, or the amount can be put onto your credit card.

Government and Economy
• The Commonwealth of Australia is a democracy, but it also recognizes the monarch of Great Britain as sovereign (The Queen of England has the title “Chief of State” and has some ceremonial duties) • The Prime Minister of Australia is currently Kevin Rudd. • Australia has a strong, modern economy. • Currency is the Australian dollar.

• Most people in Australia have a mobile phone and so communication when you’re travelling is a lot easier. Cheap phones with Pre-Pay accounts can be purchased in many places such as post offices and even some supermarkets. • Coverage is extensive, however there are plenty of places without cellphone coverage. • Most caravan parks have WiFi and you can link to the internet wirelessly with the right software in your laptop. These “hot spots” are also to be found at McDonald’s and other places. It’s best to do any emailing or photo uploading in the main centres as you won’t know where the next place with wireless internet will be! • The telephone country code for Australia is 61, and outgoing international access is 00 11. • Payphones are red, green, gold or blue. Only local calls can be made from the red ones, but the others have International Direct Dialling. You can buy Telstra phonecards at newsagents, supermarkets and chemists, and there are also credit card phones at airports, city centre locations and many hotels.

• Your ATM card must carry either the CIRRUS, PLUS or STAR international ATM mark or the Interlink or Maestro POS mark. You should contact your bank at home for information on availability and service charges. ATM cards can be used in Australia at both ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) and at participating retail locations, so long as they‘ve been enabled for international access. • The most commonly accepted credit cards are American Express, Bankcard, Carte Blanche, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa and their affiliates. Use might be restricted in smaller towns and country areas and small retail shops. Changing foreign currency or traveler’s checks can be done quickly and efficiently at most banks. You should cash traveler’s checks at banks or larger hotels as it may be difficult elsewhere. Some banks may charge a small fee for cashing traveler’s checks. Banks will cash most traveler’s checks in every currency. Most widely accepted are American Express, Thomas Cook, Barclays, Bank of America, Visa and MasterCard. • It’s not essential to tip in Australia – it’s up to you whether you feel the service was exceptional. Tipping would typically be about 10% of the bill.

• Australians use the metric system and measure things in kilometres, litres and kilograms (unless you’re over 50!) • When writing the date, the month comes second, eg 23/11/2009. • The decimal point is a dot, not a comma. • Temperature is measured in degrees Celsius, not Fahrenheit.

• Electricity: 220/240 volts AC, but most campervans are wired for 12 or 24 volts so you’ll need an adaptor. There’s plenty of sunshine year-round so there’s an increasing use of solar power to charge deep-cycle batteries. 3 pin plugs are used, but sockets are different from those found in many countries and an adaptor will probably be needed for this reason too. • There are very few fifth-wheelers in Australia and most caravans are 20 feet or less. There are few slide-outs although some of the larger campervans do have them.

• The official language is English, but Australia has a large percentage of minorities such as Greek, Italian, Chinese, German and so on. Then there are the indigenous Aboriginal dialects. • The main international airports are Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, followed by Perth, Adelaide, Hobart, Darwin and Cairns. Each state has at least one international airport. • Australia spans three time zones: Standard East - Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania: GMT +10, and GMT +11 October to March (except Queensland which doesn’t observe Daylight Savings); Central – South Australia and Northern Territory: GMT +9.5 and GMT +10.5 October to March (except Northern Territory which doesn’t observe Daylight Savings); West – Western Australia: GMT +8.

Furnaces aren’t used in campervans in Australia, rather the units are warmed with electric heaters, or travelers sit outside by a campfire. The exceptions are the very large class A motorhomes imported from the States.

Driving on Australian Roads
So, you’ve got your campervan and you’re ready to go! But driving on Australian roads, not to mention driving a CAMPERVAN on Australian roads, may be an entirely different experience than you’re used to. • Australians drive on the left side of the road. If you aren’t used to driving on the left side of the road, it might pay to rent an automatic campervan and be extra careful at turns. Remember you – the driver – should always be in the centre of the road. • All drivers, including visitors, must carry their license with them at all times, although you don’t need a special license to drive a campervan. • For experienced drivers, the blood alcohol level is 0.05. Provisional drivers and young drivers may not have any alcohol before driving. • Seat belts and child restraints must be worn by all vehicle occupants. It’s an instant fine if you’re caught without it. The police do spot checks for seatbelts and drunk drivers regularly. • All traffic must proceed in a clockwise direction in a roundabout. A vehicle already on a roundabout has right of way over any vehicles entering. • Always overtake to the right. Be sure you can see enough of the road to complete overtaking and move back to your side of the road. Never overtake on corners, blind rises or on double white lines. When overtaking heavy vehicles in wet weather, beware of wind turbulence and wheel spray causing a reduction in visibility. Allow plenty of space behind you when pulling back in after passing a truck. Trucks can’t stop as quickly as cars, especially when carrying heavy loads.

When driving on a multi-lane road, keep to the left-hand lane wherever possible. Move to the right to overtake and then move back to the left once it’s safe.
• At traffic lights, a green arrow means you can go in the direction indicated – even if the main light is red. Look out for the green man crossing sign when turning at traffic lights. Often your light could be green but you have to give way to pedestrians before you can turn. • Using a hand-held mobile phone while driving is an offence. If you do need to make or take a call, pull over to the side of the road.


• If you have an accident where someone is killed or injured, it should be reported to the police at once or within 24 hours. In Western Australia, any accident must be reported to the police. • In most states, the maximum speed limit on freeways and major highways is 100kph and local urban limits range from 50 to 80 kph. In the Northern Territory there are highways that are free of any limits. All speed limits are clearly marked and all states use speed detection equipment including mobile and static speed cameras, along with red light cameras. Any fine incurred in Australia is your responsibility and if you’re a foreign national, the fine will be mailed to your home country address.

(when they’re looking for food). You could encounter all sorts of animals on Australian roads including kangaroos, echidnas, camels, wallabies, cattle, emus, pigs, large snakes, wombats, or eagles! They won’t only come out at night either – be on the lookout all the time. • Should you decide you want to go off road it’s essential you discuss this with someone local, both to get their advice (on weather conditions, the best route, fuel availability and so forth) and to make sure someone local knows your intended route. It’s also a good idea to discuss your intended route with your rental company regarding their policy of driving the campervan on unsealed roads. • If you do break down in a remote area,

• It’s best not to drive your campervan at night outside of town centres or major cities. Wildlife, especially kangaroos, can be very dangerous on the roads particularly at sunrise and sunset

don’t try and get out and walk. People who stay with their vehicles are usually located quickly and easily. Stay in the shade, conserve water, and prepare effective signals.

Watch out for wildlife on australian roads.


• When travelling in remote areas, always take a sufficient supply of water – 5 litres per person per day.

• If the road you’re driving on is dusty, be cautious as it may be concealing potholes and/or washouts. • It’s common in the Outback (especially in the Northern Territory) to encounter “road trains” – multi-trailer trucks up to 50 metres long. If you’re coming from the opposite direction to pass a road train, give yourself plenty of room as the displaced air can cause significant buffering. If you’re overtaking one, allow at least 1.5kms of clear road. • Roads in Australia are generally good but expect the quality to change from time to time and also remember that there can be very long stretches of road between service stations so plan ahead when you’re in rural areas and Outback regions.

Any travel across designated Aboriginal land needs special permission from the owners in advance. This permit process varies from state to state and can take up to six weeks to come through so contact the national parks’ controlling bodies in each state prior to your journey.

multi-trailer trucks known as road trains are common in the outback.


Handling Your Campervan
• Check with your individual campervan company, but generally your insurance will be deemed invalid if you drive on restricted roads. It will vary from company to company, but usually 2WD campervans can only be driven on sealed/bitumen roads, with the exception of well-maintained roads leading into holiday parks and well-maintained roads on Kangaroo Island in South Australia. 4WD vehicles can usually be driven on recognised unsealed roads but may need written permission for the following remote areas: Simpson Desert, Gunbarrel Highway, Strzelecki Track, Cape York, the Bungle Bungles, Oodnadatta Track, Birdsville Track, Warburton Road, Cape Leveque, Tanami Track, The Plenty Highway, Kalumburu Road and Gibb River Road. • No rental vehicles are generally allowed on: the Canning Stock Route, the last two kilometres of the Lennard River Gorge Road, the Lost City in Litchfield Park, Cape York between December and May, and the Telegraph section of the road to Cape York. • Before each leg of your trip, make sure you thoroughly check the following on your campervan: electrical and plumbing systems; integrity of the LPG tank; fluids, brakes and tyres; angle of mirrors; and hitch and coupling system if there is one. • If you are going to tow something behind you, consider whether your campervan can carry the extra weight up steep mountains or slippery surfaces. Make sure the hitch attachment is secure, and also consider the total length of the campervan and attachment combined. • Always bear in mind that campervans are heavy and require longer braking distances than you’re probably used to. • Some highways either restrict or recommend non-use for vehicles over a certain length, so research which roads you can travel and how to access them. • Campervans are taller than most passenger vehicles, so know the clearance height required and consider things like service station canopies and low-hanging branches.

check your rental company’s policy regarding unsealed roads.

Campervanning Basics
• When you arrive in each new town, it’s best to head straight to the Visitor Information Centre, generally located in the centre of town. The staff will give you advice and brochures on anything that’s of interest. • Campgrounds or holiday parks in Australia are generally of a high standard. Booking isn’t usually necessary except in peak season (around Christmas/New Year and Easter). You can choose to stay every night at a campground, or certain nights to use the extra facilities. Most campgrounds will let you use the facilities without staying the night for a small charge. • There are a wide array of van parks to choose from. Many of the newer parks have almost become mini resorts complete with tennis courts, multiple swimming pools, mini golf courses, games rooms, cafes and restaurants and even kid’s clubs. Although the facilities in these parks may be top notch, the prices are generally high as well and they may not be in the budget of many long-term travellers. At the other end of the scale, the council-run caravan parks do not have all the extras but they are usually much cheaper and offer a basic place to stay with power and amenities. • The National Parks department of each state and Territory has its own system in terms of entry fees and camping fees. You can get more information about access, availability, facilities and attractions for the national parks in • Most national parks have areas set aside for camping. There are often shower and toilets, barbeques and picnic areas, however they generally won’t have facilities for you to plug your vehicle into electricity. Australia’s national parks contain some of its most spectacular sights and, some feel, some of its best camping spots as well. Although the facilities at campgrounds in most national parks include little more than a drop toilet and occasionally a tap or a picnic table, the scenery and sense of being close to nature more than make up for it. The fees are usually pretty low, too. • If you think you may be staying in a lot of van parks, it may be worth joining one of the caravan park membership schemes. The schemes provide members with discounts for stays at their parks while the parks themselves must meet a certain set of standards in terms of facilities and cleanliness. BIG4 Holiday Parks, Top Tourist Parks and Family Parks of Australia are three of the biggest van park groups.

tourist information centres, on the web or by phoning the relevant national park office. Links for checking out the National Park websites for each state are on the last page of this book. • For many, ‘going bush’ not only provides a welcome relief from accommodation fees, it also creates a real spirit of adventure. Some bush camping areas are well established and may have a drop toilet but many have no facilities at all. If you plan to go bush, ensure you have adequate supplies of food and water – and don’t forget your spade! • Local council laws don’t permit you to camp on the side of the road in the vicinity of towns, however outside the towns and in country areas it is generally allowed. As a general rule you’re OK to park up in most places such as off the road or by a beach or riverside unless there’s a sign prohibiting overnight camping. All that’s asked in return is respect for the environment and the locals. Be sensible and don’t park anywhere that restricts others, or anywhere that might interfere with nature. Also make sure you’re not on private property!

• Some councils are now making certain regions “no free camping” zones though, so just be aware of this. It’s usually best to pull off the road and park behind some trees. It’s generally legal to do this, but if you aren’t sure, or haven’t seen the sign, you could have yourself rudely awakened! Discretion usually helps. • In a country characterised by long stretches of road across a big Outback sky with few towns breaking the horizon, rest areas have become a necessity for many drivers. They are meant to provide a place to break your journey, have a rest and then resume once again refreshed. Each state has a different policy when it comes to overnight stays at rest areas – but all agree that if fatigue is setting in you must “stop, revive and survive”. Most state road authorities produce free maps detailing where rest areas are and whether overnight stays are permitted. • There are too many campgrounds in Australia to list them all here – a good place to start is campsites/index.html.

some bush toilets might make you wonder whether it’s worth holding on.

What to do with Rubbish and Waste
Most holiday parks will have a rubbish and waste collection facility. The website has a list of dump stations throughout the country for campervan users’ toilet and waste water. You’re doing the environment a favour when you use these.

Keep it Clean, Green and Safe
• Protect plants and animals – they’re unique and often rare • Remove rubbish – carry out what you carry in • Take care with fire – douse with water and check ashes before leaving (preferably use a portable fuel stove) • Keep streams and lakes clean – when washing, take the water and wash things away from the source, and let soapy water soak through soil to be filtered • Keep to the tracks – there’s less risk of damaging fragile plants and ecosystems • Respect the country’s heritage – many places in Australia have spiritual and/or historical significance

keeping to tracks prevents fragile ecosystems from damage.


Crossing the Bass Strait
The Bass Strait is the channel between the mainland and Tasmania. If you’re planning to include Tasmania in your campervan holiday (or hire your vehicle in Tasmania and travel to the mainland), you’ll need to cross this picturesque sea-road. The route is operated by two ships, Spirit of Tasmania I and II, which offer an overnight service in both directions between Station Pier in Port Melbourne and Port Devonport on Tasmania’s north coast. They go seven days a week, year-round, with extra daytime services at peak times of the year. For further details on fares and timetables, go to the website www.spiritoftasmania. Due to the variations in size, you won’t be able to book your campervan in online, however there are details on the website about how to do this. The ships each have more than 700 berths, or 220 cabins and the trip takes approximately 9-11 hours. Campervans can travel on the ships from around A$93 off peak and A$134 in peak season (subject to change). The fare increases as the size of your campervan increases.

Driving Distances
Australia is a huge country, so to enjoy your holiday, it’s recommended to research your intended travel route thoroughly, especially your travelling distances. It’s much better to travel at a leisurely pace and stop at whichever attractions you like rather than spending each day covering huge distances. Also remember, driver fatigue causes many When calculating travelling time it is important to take into consideration the crashes in Australia. When driving long distances, stop and rest every 2 hours. need to reduce speed through the many towns and cities. You will also need to consider adverse road and weather conditions, as well as roads that may be winding rather than straight. Aim to cover approximately 150-250km per day.

getting to tasmania means crossing the bass strait.

Distance Chart
Road distances between major cities, in kilometres. The distances are based on the most direct route, not necessarily the most practical.

  Adelaide Albury Alice Springs Ballarat Bendigo Birdsville Brisbane Broken Hill Broome Cairns Canberra Darwin Geelong Geraldton Kalgoorlie Katherine Mackay Melbourne Mildura Mt Gambier Newcastle Perth Port Augusta Port Hedland Rockhampton Sydney Tennant Creek Townsville Wagga Wagga




 Darwin  Melbourne



  913 1534 616 641 1202 2062 509 4271 3384 1204 3024 862 3131 2188 2710 2666 725 397 454 1599 2707 308 4831 2329 1424 2040 3038 959

2062 1545 2946 1765 1632 1619   1553 4646 1697 1268 3399 1760 4787 3634 3085 979 1686 1671 2071 807 4363 1754 5178 642 982 2440 1351 1285

1204 343 2680 762 642 2153 1268 1073 4975 2922   4170 727 4335 3392 3856 2204 653 807 1068 461 3911 1512 5536 1867 286 3186 2576 245

3024 3937 1490 3640 3665 2246 3399 3127 1875 2885 3917   3852 3739 4760 314 2913 3749 3421 3478 3819 4163 2716 2482 2954 3994 984 2541 3672

725 310 2259 109 149 2470 1686 820 4996 3008 653 3749 74 3856 2913 3435 2290   554 482 1048 3432 1037 5057 1953 873 2765 2662 438

2707 3620 3933 3323 3348 3293 4363 2810 2258 6050 3911 4163 3410 424 597 3718 5275 3432 3104 3161 4159   2399 1625 5199 4131 4622 5911 3666

1424 563 2958 982 862 2129 982 1174 5112 2679 286 3994 947 4555 3465 3588 1941 873 1027 1288 175 3984 1585 5609 1624   3010 2313 465

Invaluable Campervanning Tips
It’s all very well knowing where you’re going and how to get there – but it’s the little things that can make or break a campervanning holiday! • Take soft and collapsible luggage, not rigid suitcases, to fit in the often small storage compartments in campervans. • Baggage areas at the international airports are patrolled by sniffer dogs whose priority is actually finding fruit and vegetables, not just drugs! Forgetting an apple in your backpack can cost you an instant fine. • Two Aussie favourites that are highly accessible when travelling are mince pies (a flaky, high-calorie meat pie), and battered fish and chips wrapped in paper. Approach both with caution – unless you brought elastic pants! • Get off the well-trodden tourist routes and interact with the locals to discover parts of Australia that are generally reserved for local knowledge. You’ll also find many of your fellow campervanners are Australians getting out of the cities. Successful campervanning relies on matey-ness, at which Aussies excel! • Don’t try and tick off too may sights in too short a time, or you will spend your whole trip looking out the window of your campervan. • Don’t underestimate the power of the sun even when the temperatures aren’t extreme. In fact, a combination of very little air pollution and a thinning of the earth’s protective ozone layer (particularly in South Australia and Tasmania) means the burn times can be short. Apply waterproof SPF30+ frequently, and cover up with sunhats, clothing and sunglasses. • If you do get badly burnt, take an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen, moisturise frequently, drink loads of water and avoid more sun. Also avoid applying aloe vera unless you are certain it’s pure – many highly-coloured versions actually have a high alcohol content which further dry out the skin.

Battered fish and chips are all too tasty and easy to eat every day.

• When parking at a holiday park, unspoken etiquette is to position your van so your sliding door does not face your neighbour’s door. That way you can avoid enforced chit chat and retain some privacy. • Levelling blocks can be handy if you don’t like sleeping on an angle, but planks (or VERY thick cardboard) are also worthwhile to place under your wheels as you park if it looks like it will get very muddy.

clotheslines at holiday parks fill up very quickly. Wash your clothes and hang them out at night. • Glasses travel well in “stubby coolers” (foam cups that keep your beer bottle cool), or polystyrene sheets with different-sized holes cut in. • Take wire coathangers so you can bend the hooks around to stop them jumping off the rail even on really bumpy roads. • Check the alignment of other people’s

• Bring all the essentials, but don’t overpack. Do you really need more than one pair of the same type of shoe? You’ll be glad for any square inch of extra space to live in inside your campervan. • Spring-type clothes pegs come in handy for countless things – keeping open bags closed, replacing the fiddly closures on sliced bread… and hanging up your clothes of course! On this note,

TV antennas when you arrive at a holiday park – chances are they’ll be pointing in the right direction! • Cook double the amount of any food you make, especially stews, curries, stir-fries etc so you have an easy re-heatable meal at the end of the following day’s travel.

position your campervan so you and your neighbour both have privacy.


A Rundown of the Regions
Western Australia (W.A.)
Popular Places: Perth, Rottnest Island, The Pinnacles, The Kimberley, Broome, Ningaloo Reef, Purnululu National Park, Shark Bay, Margaret River.


• This is Australia’s largest state in terms of area, covering the western third of the mainland (five times the size of Texas). • It’s capital city, Perth, is one of the most isolated metropolitan areas on the planet – the nearest city is Adelaide (over 2000 kms away) – in fact it’s closer to East Timor and Jakarta in Indonesia than it is to Sydney or Melbourne. • Perth is Australia’s sunniest city (which is saying a lot!). The temperatures reach above 40 degrees Celsius in summer, although its winters are mild. The heat is dry in the south and humid in the north. • Perth is a handsome, modern city with fantastic parks, great swimming and superb surf. The Swan River runs through the city and most residents define themselves as either living North or South of the river. The river flows into the Indian Ocean at the Port of Fremantle, another beautiful town with great historic buildings. • Driving south out of Perth takes you to towns such as Albany and Esperance, with this region claiming some of the best beaches in the world. South West Australia is also home to parts of the Karri forest where some of the world’s tallest trees grow. • Head north from Perth and you’ll hit the Outback. The top third of W.A. is tropical and you’ll see rainforest along the coast, and endless grassy savannah dotted with kangaroos and all sorts of other wildlife. South and inland are the huge deserts –

the biggest in the world apart from the famous Sahara. The main deserts are the Simpson Desert, the Great Victoria Desert, The Great Sandy Desert, and the Nullabor Plain. This region is famous for its spectacular springtime display of wildflowers. • There’s more coastline in W.A than in any other state, much of it beautiful white sand and sparkling turquoise water. However, many of the northern beaches are home to sharks and other treacherous wildlife, so brush up on your local knowledge before deciding if and when to swim. • The most westerly point of Australia is North West Cape, the location of the Ningaloo Reef. It’s not as large as the Great Barrier Reef but is just as spectacular, more accessible and less populated. • There are many huge mines in W.A, so road trains are frequently seen. The open cast mines make for an interesting visit, as they house some of the world’s biggest earth-moving machinery, trucks with houses in them, and trains kilometres long. • Following the main highway north will take you to the Northern Territory, whereas the south of the state is bordered by South Australia. Off the west coast is the Indian Ocean and beyond the southern border is the Great Southern Ocean. The nearest landmass to the south is Antarctica.


Northern Territory (N.T.)
Popular Places: Darwin, Alice Springs, Kakadu National Park, Uluru, Kings Canyon, Katherine Gorge, Arnhem Land.


• This territory is huge and sparsely populated. It spans desert and tropics and lies just underneath Asia. • The majority of this region is classed as Outback and stations, which are huge farms or ranches (some of these stations are bigger than countries!) • The northern part is known as the “Top End” to Australians, and only has two tropical seasons – wet and dry. Darwin is located in the Top End and is the capital of N.T. • Darwin is a very relaxed city, although hasn’t always been so laid back. In fact, it’s been destroyed and rebuilt twice! It was bombed by the Japanese during WWII and then succumbed to a powerful cyclone on Christmas Day, 1974. Because of this, it’s now the most modern city in Australia. • West of Darwin is the world-renowned 3.2 million-acre Kakadu National Park, famous for its stunning scenery full of waterfalls, crocodiles and mangroves, as well as its sacred Aboriginal sites –

there are more paintings on rocks and cave walls here than anywhere else in Australia. • Head south and you’ll get to Alice Springs, N.T’s second-largest city. It’s a modern Outback city with an oldworld charm, surrounded by desert and the McDonnell Ranges. People call this area of Australia the Red Centre because of the colour of the sand, which is occasionally broken up by white salt from dried-up salt lakes. There’s a huge amount of wildlife around here – you’re likely to see kangaroos, emus, snakes and maybe a goanna (a huge lizard). • In the south of the region, almost perfectly in the centre of Australia is Uluru (formerly Ayers Rock), arguably the country’s most famous landmark. The huge sandstone monolith is about half a day’s drive from Alice Springs. • Continue south and you’ll end up in South Australia, west and you’ll be back in W.A., and to the east is Queensland. North of N.T is the Arafura Sea and the nearest land from there is Indonesia.

the majority of the northern territory is classed as outback.


South Australia (S.A.)

Popular Places: Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, the central deserts, Flinders Ranges, Nullabor Plain, Barossa Valley, Coober Pedy.


• South Australia borders every mainland state in Australia. It’s the driest in the country but it’s climate is perfect for a thriving wine industry.

• South Australia is home to some interesting towns, such as Coober Pedy in the north. The residents of this small mining town actually live underground – the best way to escape the stifling heat of above ground. Houses, church buildings, pubs and other buildings are all dug out to look like grand caves. It’s also known as the “Opal Capital of the World.” It’s remote but well worth a visit. • Travelling east, you’ll reach Queensland, Victoria or New South Wales. N.T. is to the north and W.A. to the west. The coastline of the Great Southern Ocean is called the Great Australian Bight.

The capital city of S.A. is Adelaide, which is situated on the Torrens River. It’s notable for its beautiful parks which separate the city from the suburbs.
• Near Adelaide is the Barossa Valley which is probably Australia’s most famed wine-producing region. North are the stunningly rugged Flinders Ranges. Even further north is the Simpson Desert, and west from there is the vast, flat Nullabor Plain.

south australia’s climate lends itself perfectly to wine growing.


Queensland (Qld.)

Popular Places: Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Noosa, Airlie Beach, Great Barrier Reef, Whitsunday Islands, Fraser Island, Cairns and Port Douglas, Daintree Rainforest, Kuranda.


• Queensland is Australia’s secondlargest state, and its capital is Brisbane, Australia’s third-largest city. To the south is another large city, the Gold Coast, and northern Queensland’s largest city is Townsville.

are the Whitsunday Islands which are a must-see. • In the upper part of Queensland (known as Far North Queensland, or F.N.T) lies Daintree National Park, home to the world’s oldest rainforest and amazing spots such as Cape Tribulation, where the rainforest runs uninterrupted to the reef. Up here is the only place in the world where two World Heritage areas exist side by side. • Inland Queensland is mostly desert, or Outback, starting from the west of the Great Dividing Range up to the Northern Territory. Queensland borders South Australia to the south west but it’s not a route for campervans, as there are no roads – you can cross into New South Wales in the south, however. • North of Queensland is the Torres Strait which separates Australia from Papua New Guinea, and is the end point of the Great Barrier Reef. People who live on the islands in the Torres Strait are officially citizens of Australia.

Queensland’s climate ranges from sub-tropical up to tropical in the north, and this combined with some of the most stunning, often uncrowded beaches in the world make it a popular holiday destination for both Australians and overseas visitors.
• The most famous geographical feature of Queensland is the Great Barrier Reef, which is known as one of the natural wonders of the world. Around 2000kms long, it has some of the best diving and snorkelling in the world due to its rich marine life and some 900 beautiful tropical islands. Particularly spectacular

queensland has some of the best beaches in the world.


New South Wales (N.S.W.)

Popular Places: Sydney, Byron Bay, Blue Mountains, Hunter Valley, New England region, Port Stephens, Pebbly Beach, Jervis Bay, Kosciuszco, Broken Hill.

New South Wales is Australia’s most populous state and offers a huge variety of things to see and do – beautiful coastline, World Heritage parks, mountain ranges, Outback, snow and skiing, and the bright lights of the city.


• The state’s capital Sydney is a gorgeous city and Australia’s most recognised. It’s much bigger than N.S.W’s second and third largest cities, Newcastle and Woollongong, which are much bigger again than the remaining country towns. • While much of the sophisticated nightlife and cultural attractions are concentrated in Sydney, there are plenty of natural and historical sites making the rest of the state extremely worth spending time in. Byron Bay, Australia’s most easterly point, has excellent surf breaks and is renowned for its artsy, hippie-like atmosphere. Inland is the lush New England region (home to Newcastle) so named because of its cool climate and British-looking landscape. Around the Great Diving Range you’ll find lots of protected areas of gorges, rainforest and valleys that are excellent for hiking and extreme sports such as white water rafting.

• N.S.W’s temperate climate with its warm summers and mild winters mean it’s appealing year-round. The Outback can get uncomfortably hot in summer though, and even Sydney might get the odd 40 degree day. NSW is a state of many contrasts, however, and you can ski in the Australian Alps to the south. • In the state’s west you’ll come to the Blue Mountains with their breathtaking cliffs, limestone cave formations and lush rainforest; even further west and you’ll hit the Outback. To the south lies the Royal National Park, north is the Kurangi Chase National Park. Tweed Heads lies northernmost, on the border of NSW and QLD; and Coolangatta sits on the Queensland side.

sydney in new south wales is australia’s most recognisable city.


Victoria (Vic.)
Popular Places: Melbourne, Great Ocean Road, The Grampians, Mornington Peninsula, Bells Beach, Ballarat, Phillip Island.

• Victoria is Australia’s smallest mainland state, with the highest density out of any of the states. Its capital city, Melbourne, is Australia’s second-largest city, and is best known for its style, sophistication, culture, fabulous eateries, great shopping and thriving arts scene. Over a quarter of its residents were born overseas, making it Australia’s most multi-cultural city. • Melbourne is known as the cultural capital of Australia, and there is an endless timetable of food and film festivals, art exhibitions and musical offerings. The city also hosts many large

events such as the Australian Grand Prix and the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show. • Outside Melbourne, regional attractions include Phillip Island with its famous penguin parade, the vast sandstone ridges of The Grampians, and the spectacular Great Ocean Road from which you can view dramatic rock formations such as the famous Twelve Apostles. • Inland Victoria is largely farmland; northern Victoria borders the Australian Alps.


Tasmania (Tas.)

Popular Places: Hobart, Lake St Clair, Cradle Mountain, Port Arthur, Freycinet Peninsula, Maria island.

• Tasmania is Australia’s island state, separated from the mainland by Bass Strait which is 240kms across. • Tasmania is famous for its unpolluted air, uninterrupted wilderness, spectacular views and gourmet produce. Over one quarter of the state is protected with National Park status.

• The landscape to the west is rugged with rocky coastlines, steep mountains and dense rainforest. Lake St Clair is said to be one of the most scenic areas – the location of Cradle Mountain and treks to rival even New Zealand’s most picturesque.


• Eastern Tasmania is less rugged, warmer, and more beachy – Wineglass bay in Freycenet National Park was once voted in the top ten beaches in the world according to an international travel magazine. • Tasmania’s capital is Hobart, and is Australia’s second oldest city (after Sydney). It sits next to a river, a busy harbour and impressive mountains and has its own unique atmosphere. • Tasmania was originally named Van Diemen’s Land by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, but its named was changed in 1856. Tasmania has a fascinating history due to its past as a British penal colony.

Tasmania is teeming with wildlife (the most famous being the Tasmanian Devil) much of it specific to the state due to its isolation. There are varieties of kangaroos and possums, for example, that are only found in Tasmania due to its cooler and more mountainous climate.

many animals, like the tasmanian devil, are unique to the state.


What to Expect from the Weather

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• The Australian climate varies hugely, but by far the largest part of the country is desert, or semi-arid – 40% of the landmass is covered by sand dunes! • Only the south east and south west of the country has a temperate climate and fertile soil.

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• The northern part of the country has a tropical climate; part is tropical rainforest, part is grasslands; and part is desert.


raging waterways. If you are planning to The seasons are as follows: Spring: September, October, November Summer: December, January, February Autumn (Fall): March, April, May Winter: June, July, August visit the far north during this time, take local advice about road conditions and weather warnings. There can be road closures in some areas, more frequently the further north you go. The most comfortable time to visit these areas (such as Broome, Alice Springs, Darwin or Cairns) is in the dry The tropical areas of Australia don’t experience these seasons typically, however. There are really only two seasons: wet (October – April) and dry (May – September). The right weather can make or break your campervanning holiday, whether it your trip is for three weeks, three months or three years! Luckily, Australia’s climate makes it possible to enjoy fantastic weather year round if you go to the right places at the right time – although of course Mother Nature is far from predictable and it’s entirely possible to get a cloudy, rainy week in Port Douglas in August, or a heatwave in Melbourne in October. Generally speaking, though… The wet season in the north (above the tropic of Capricorn) is when heavy monsoon rain, cyclones, flash floods and occasionally even hurricanes occur. The high temperatures combined with sometimes 100% humidity (although an average of about 70%) can also make it uncomfortable to be outside (or anywhere inside that doesn’t have air-conditioning!) However, it can be quite the experience to brave the conditions and witness dramatic electrical storms, thundering waterfalls and The dry season in the north is when temperatures sit at around 25-30 degrees Celsius, humidity is low and there’s little chance of rain. Nearly every day is warm and sunny, and afternoon humidity sits around 30%. The lowest temperature you’ll experience will be around 12-14 degrees Celsius at night, but rarely lower, and no frosts have ever been recorded. Waterfalls and rivers drop and the land can dry out significantly. It’s a very pleasant time of year in these parts – “winter” in the north is much like “summer” in the south - but expect many other travellers to have the same idea, particularly during school holidays. The heat in the centre can reach 45 degrees Celsius or even higher in the summer months of November to May and conditions can be hugely uncomfortable. It’s a volatile time and there is also the risk of sudden downpours that turn dried up creeks into raging rivers. It’s always best not to embark on long walks or strenuous activities during the full heat of day and always take a hat, sunscreen and plenty of water with you. Remember the Outback is pretty far from civilisation if anyone needs medical attention. season between May and October – July/ August is your best bet.


The cool in the centre happens April to October and during the daytime the temperatures can be very pleasant, although it can get very cool at night, especially in July and August. There’s not much chance of rain but don’t count the occasional downpour out completely. The summer in the south (south of the Tropic of Capricorn) is a fantastic time of year, although it can get up to around 40 degrees Celsius in some places so be

prepared for heat! The lowest rainfall and highest temperatures generally occur between November and March, and the days are longer too. The winter in the south can get pretty wet and cold, especially in the areas furthest south, such as Tasmania and locations on the south coast. In the subtropical regions, winters are often dry and daytime temperatures mild, if a little crisp.

extreme weather conditions in the outback shouldn’t be underestimated.


Australia’s wildlife is very unique, thanks to its geographical isolation. Some of the world’s most unusual animals exist there. Case in point: the platypus, an egg-laying marsupial with webbed feet, a bill like a duck’s, and a beaver-like tail. When a specimen was first brought back to Europe, many scientists insisted it was fake – a mixture of several animals sewn together! Another fascinating monotreme (egg-laying marsupial) is the echidna, a spiny little thing with a beak and a long sticky tongue for catching insects. Kangaroos are another prolific native animal – there are 45 different species of kangaroos and wallabies, ranging in size from that of a hamster to that of a grown man. Potoroos and bettongs are the tiniest – in fact, potoroos are often known as “wallaby rats”. You might also want to see a koala, the gorgeous fuzzy marsupial (not a bear) with the black nose. Your best bet is to see one at a zoo or sanctuary You will have heard of Tasmanian Devils, a cat-like creature found only in – yes, Tasmania. It’s the largest member of a family of carnivorous marsupials that includes the quoll, the numbat, the antechinus, the Kowari and the mulgara. Wombats are sturdy marsupials weighing up to 36 kg, with big blunt heads, short necks and big claws for digging burrows and tunnels. Possums are everywhere in Australia – particularly the common brush-tailed possum, often found them in suburban gardens. There are also less common variations of possum, including gliders (flying possums). (the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane is the world’s largest –you can have your photo taken with one there) but be warned – they sleep 20 hours a day so he may not be awake for the experience. Koalas from southern areas are about 30% bigger than Queensland koalas.


Bandicoots are another famous Australian marsupial, a grayish-brown mousey-looking creature about the size of a rabbit with big ears, a pointy tail and a long snout. A bilby is a variation of a bandicoot.

species of deer in small parts of the south east of Australia, or a red fox (anywhere but Tasmania and the tropical north). The dingo is a native dog of Australia and Australia’s largest mammal carnivore. The size of a medium-sized dog and ranging on

Note: Wash your hands carefully if you’ve come into contact with any marsupials as they can carry a number of diseases and other nasties such as paralysis ticks. If you do find a tick on your body, dab it with methylated spirits or some other kind of noxious liquid and then carefully pull it out with tweezers, ensuring you get the entire thing.

color from cream to tan to black, you’ll find them all over Australia except in Tasmania. Never feed or approach a wild dingo – they can be very dangerous. It’s illegal to have them as pets in South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania, and owners in Victoria and the Northern Territory need a special permit. In NSW and WA you can have them unlicensed. It’s also important o keep all food sources away and secure when you aren’t eating, otherwise dingoes will see it as an invitation to ransack your belongings!

Bats abound in the eastern and northern edges of Australia in the warmest, moistest habitats. They’re mostly fruit bats, otherwise known as flying foxes; otherwise you may come across Little Bentwing bats in any caves or tunnels on the east coast of the country. Water buffalo aren’t native but are found in the Northern Territory. They were brought in during the nineteenth century as a supply of meat, however as part of a Brucellosis and Tuberculosis eradication campaign from 1997-2007 many were shot and the population was substantially reduced. You might also come across several different There is approximately 300,000 brumbies (wild horses) in Australia. They’re considered a problem as they cause erosion, spread weeds and compete for pasture with native animals. Culling to control numbers is a controversial practice in Australia.


They aren’t immediately what pops to mind when you think of Australian wildlife, however the continent is home to up to 200,000 wild dromedary camels. Thousands of them were imported into Australia between 1840 and 1907 to open up the arid areas of central and western Australia. They were used for riding, and as draught and pack animals, and to supply goods to remote mines and settlements.

Birds of almost every description fill Australian skies – and ground. Of particular note is the emu – a large flightless bird that’s one of the world’s largest birds (just slightly smaller than an ostrich). They are farmed in Australia and overseas for everything from leather to feathers to their eggs; and can be found all across the continent, from coastal regions to high in the snowy mountains to the dry inland plains. You should also be aware of running into a cassowary – another flightless

Australian and New Zealand fur seals are commonly seen around the south coast of Australia, and Australian sea lions to the south and west. Other sea mammals include many kinds of whales (killer whales, false killer whales (there is a difference!), pilot whales, blue whales; Southern Right whales, dwarf minke whales, fin whales, humpback whales, sei whales, and sperm whales); dolphins (common, pantropical, striped, and bottlenose); and dugongs, otherwise known as “sea cows”.

bird that’s found in north Queensland’s tropical rainforests. They’re quite stunninglooking with a large black body, a brilliant blue and black head with a bright red wattle, and a large horn helmet on its head. They’re important as they distribute seeds in the rainforest from fruit that’s too large for any other bird to carry. Don’t approach cassowaries however – they have the reputation as being one of the world’s most dangerous birds. They are by nature quite shy but when disturbed can inflict fatal injuries to dogs and children. If you hear a large bird that sounds like it’s laughing at you, that’s a kookaburra! There are two types of crocodile in Australia – “freshies” and “salties”. “Freshies” or freshwater crocodiles, are smaller and


relatively harmless, only growing up to around 3 meters and subsisting on a diet of mostly fish. The saltwater or estuarine versions aren’t such fussy eaters and can reach up to about 6 meters. Note: Although some Australian snakes can give fatal bites, few people die from them if they get the correct first aid and anti-venom if needed. Always wear shoes and long pants when walking in the Note: Don’t swim in, or even stand on the banks of, any river, swamp, estuary, pond or lake in Northern Australia unless you know it’s croc-free. If someone does get bitten, treat every There are many fascinating types of dragons and lizards in Australia, such as the Thorny Devil a harmless reptile covered in thorns including spikes above each eye that also has the ability to change color. Goannas are a large, distinctive type of lizard that there are multiple species of and you’ll also come across several different variations of skinks and geckos. Australia is famous for being home to many different varieties of snake, from harmless green and brown tree snakes, to the extremely venomous such as death adders, copperheads, tiger snakes and taipans. There are also many types of python (which are constrictors and not venomous but will still bite if provoked – which hurts) as well as sea snakes – most of which are venomous. Snakes are a protected species in Australia, and should be left alone. It’s not advisable to approach any snake. Unless you’re a snake expert, it can be very hard to tell exactly how dangerous each individual snake is. snake bite as serious even if you don’t think the snake was venomous. The most dangerous effects are sometimes not felt until later, and some bites may not even hurt. Symptoms of snake bite poisoning can include dizziness, loss of vision, nausea, sweating, headache, double vision, blurred vision, weakness and difficulty swallowing and breathing. The person should be made to lie down and calmed down so they remain still. Don’t tamper with the wound in any way, including washing it. Make sure you remove rings or any other jewellery as they can become tight if swelling develops. If the bite is on a limb, use a broad bandage or bush, and don’t put your hand into hollows, cracks in the ground or under rocks where they may be sheltering.


torn strips of clothing or pantyhose to apply at moderate pressure (not tight enough to stop circulation). Go over the top of clothing rather than moving the limb to remove it – and once the bandage is on, keep it on. Then, keep the limb as still as possible using a splint or sling. Don’t use a tourniquet or suck the wound! Also, don’t give the person anything to drink, or let them walk at all. Call emergency services on 000 or get them to the nearest place they can be seen by a medically trained person, as soon as possible. Although it might be useful to know what type of snake caused the bite, don’t attempt to catch or kill it. People have been bitten by snakes they thought were dead. Australia also has many sea turtles and freshwater turtles. They are quite shy but make great swimming and snorkelling companions!

fish. Don’t touch an octopus if it has blue rings on it. In Queensland, box jellyfish or “stingers” are common in the summer months (October – April). Stinger nets are placed at the most popular beaches during “stinger season” and it’s not recommended to swim at any other beaches – but if one touches you, pour vinegar on the affected area straight away. The local authorities usually have bottles of these placed along the beaches. Blue bottle jellyfish are also found in and around Sydney. The best treatment for this is to wash the sting with fresh water then have a hot bath or shower. There is usually signage for all types of dangerous wildlife.

Other water creatures include seahorses, seadragons, starfish, shrimp, prawns, crabs, yabbies, crayfish and lots more. As you can imagine, Australia is also home to many types of insects, from exquisite butterflies to huge beetles to various There’s also an abundance of amazing fish in Australia you can see while snorkeling or diving, including angelfish, clownfish, barracuda, cuttlefish, wrass and many more. Fish to avoid however, are stingrays, stonefish, porcupine fish, lionfish and puffer moths to exotic ants to irritating midges and more. Also noteworthy are the many species of spider – some venomous, some not. There are also several types of frogs and toads – from the spectacularly pretty green tree frog through to the warty and


venomous cane toad. Also watch out for scorpions, centipedes and millipedes which can and will bite. Particularly horrifying are giant centipedes which can reach lengths of up to and over 16cm. They deliver venom through modified claws that is toxic to both mammals and insects but isn’t strong enough to kill a large animal. They can cause intense pain for many hours to humans – this can be relieved somewhat with icepacks but in some cases hospitalgrade painkillers are required. Even though much of Australia’s wildlife is both fascinating and appealing and feeding them can be a means of having more contact with them, feeding wild animals is discouraged for several reasons: • It can lead to a greater than normal number of animals in the area, putting extra pressure on natural food sources; • Animals can become dependent on the artificial food source; • Increasing numbers of animals in one area can lead to aggression amongst the same and different species; Note: We’re ruining the fun here, but don’t believe an Australian who tells you to watch out for “Drop Bears”, a mythical type of vicious koala that supposedly drops out of trees on top of you. It’s a long-running Australian joke to trick hapless tourists. Watch out: they will either swear black and blue that it’s true; or they will attempt to use reverse psychology by telling you it’s myth in a way that makes you continue to doubt whether it is or not. You may also hear about Tasmanian Tigers, which actually did exist once upon a time but became extinct in the 1930s. • Unnatural concentrations of animals can become the focal point for outbreaks of disease which are then transmissible to humans. • Human food is often highly processed and may not be suitable for animals in the wild; • Predators like hawks and owls are attracted by the increase in animals, leading to increased predation;


Aboriginal Australia
• Around 300,000 Aboriginal people in around 250 tribes (each with their own territory, beliefs and language) already lived in Australia when Cook landed there to claim it as British land, and had been for at least 60,000 years. History books theorize they were descended from Indonesian migrants; the Aboriginal belief is that they have been there since the dawn of time. • While relations with early European • The people were nomadic huntergatherers, linked to their ancestral land by sacred sites. These sacred sites are home to the Dreamtime spirits – the ancestral totemic spirits that formed The Creation (of the stars, the moon, the ocean, land, animals and humans). • Australian Aboriginals believe in two parallel forms of time. One is daily activity, the other is an infinite spiritual cycle called the “Dreamtime”. Whatever happens in the dreamtime establishes the values, symbols, and laws of Aboriginal society. It is believed that settlers were initially peaceful, resentment and conflict between two polar opposite ways of life eventually led to battle in which many people from both sides died – although around ten times as many Aboriginal people as Europeans. There was even a campaign to rid the entire state of Tasmania of Aboriginal people – which worked – the last full-blooded Tasmanian Aborigine died in 1876. Many Aboriginals also succumbed to European diseases such as influenza, the common cold and smallpox, up to as late as the 1950s. They actually began to die out. people with special spiritual powers had contact with the dreamtime. The Dreamtime, or The Dreaming can also refer to the time when the universe was created as well. Much Aboriginal art depicts stories and settings from The Dreaming, and Australian Aboriginal myths are often traditionally performed across Australia.

The Australian Aboriginal people have been there for at least 60,000 years.


• Around the 1920s it became government policy to take Aboriginal children away from their families and put them in white foster homes or church refuges, and sterilize young Aborginal women. These children are referred to as the “Stolen Generation”. • Relations are still strained between the 280,000 Aborigines in Australia and the

rest of the population. Recently, several acts have been passed allowing them to reclaim some of the land that was lost to them, and it was only very recently that the government apologised for the “Stolen Generation”. They still however are the single most disadvantaged group of people in Australia.

The best places to learn more about the indigenous culture are: Alice Springs, the Red Centre, Uluru-Kata Tjuta and in the Northern Territory.
Some points to be aware of: • You need a permit to enter some Aboriginal-owned land. • In remote communities, many of the people speak English as a second language, if at all. • Their body language may also be different, for example they may not immediately make eye contact with you. • Access to Dreaming stories or some other cultural practices may be restricted, eg to outsiders, or by gender. • Pictures of people who have recently died aren’t displayed and their names not spoken for a while. • Always ask before photographing a group, person or residence. • Don’t touch rock art or engravings. • Some indigenous communities ban alcohol. • Certain parts of indigenous land are more sacred than others (ie “sacred sites”). When visiting these areas ask about appropriate behaviour.


Getting to Know the Aussies
So what’s a typical Australian like? Well, that’s a little hard to say given the nation’s unification of so many cultures. As well as the Aboriginal people, and the “Anglo-Celts” (still the dominant ethnicity there) there are people from all around the world – New Zealanders, British, Lebanese, Greek, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, and Dutch to name just a few. However, Australia still has an extremely strong identity and its very own culture that wouldn’t be what it is today if not for this melting pot of diverse people. • Most of the early Europeans to inhabit Australia were British convicts (which possibly contributes to the general “bloke-iness” of Aussie culture). This is the source of some good-natured teasing (mostly from New Zealanders, who in turn get laughed at for their accent; the small size of their country; and the amount of sheep compared to people there). Australians and New Zealanders enjoy a healthy rivalry, although NZers generally come off worst in the endless sporting competition. • Australia is sports-mad. Both genders watch a lot of sport, which is generally the cricket, and supporting their “footy” team (which refers to either Rugby League, AFL, or Rugby Union – definitely not soccer or gridiron). Tennis, swimming and motorsport are also popular. They don’t tend to know so much about basketball, netball, hockey, baseball, etc - even if the national team are the world champions. The country also basically stands still on Melbourne Cup Day. • The generalised greeting “G’day” (an abbreviation of “good day”) is acceptable to use in almost any situation regardless • Beer is pretty much the national drink – favourites vary from state to state. • Australians are very proud of their national exports such as Elle MacPherson, Mel Gibson, Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, AC/DC and so on. Most Australians have seen iconic Australian movies such as Mad Max, The Castle, Muriel’s Wedding, Crocodile Dundee, Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Strictly Ballroom. • Even more iconic is the “ute” (utility or pickup truck). It’s part of the national identity – to have a ute is to be a true Australian. • Australians are very into cars, and are generally divided over whether they are “Ford” or “Holden” men. Large powerful Falcons and Commodores are popular and many are modified.

of relationship, gender, sex, race, social standing, weather or mood. • Australians are very friendly and helpful people with good senses of humour and a natural ability to tell jokes and play with words. They can seem reserved to start with but once the ice is broken everything relaxes. They are easygoing, but personal matters take longer to come out in the open. • The “esky” (a plastic box that keeps things cool) plays a vital part in Aussie culture – one containing the right items can keep an Australian happy for days. It can be used as a seat at footy matches; an outdoor fridge; a fish holder on fishing trips; and lunchboxes for “tradies” and manual labourers. • Australia is basically classless and not centred around ancestors and the family unit - they don’t really care what family someone comes from. • Australians suffered the highest per-capita death toll of all the Allied countries in WWI. The ANZAC (Australia New Zealand Army Corps) spirit is still

strong – as long as sport matches aren’t involved. • Christmas is right in the middle of summer and is usually a very hot day of the year, however decorations and cards still include snowflakes, sleighs, tinsel, and pine trees. Christmas lunch or dinner is often had outdoors. • A very high percentage of Australians live by the sea and much of Australia is sunny all year round, so “beach culture” is huge – going to the beach on weekends is like going to the mall or doing sport. • Fishing is a big thing in Australian culture – there are of course many excellent places to fish and a huge number and variety and species available. There are rules though – all states except Qld require a fishing license (which can easily be obtained). There are also limits regarding type and size of fish captured and quantity, size and gender of shellfish and crustaceans which are all explained in booklets at any fishing shop. You also need a special license for a boats over 6 horsepower.

The typical Aussie is easygoing and friendly.

Aussie Tucker
Grub, a.k.a tucker, a.k.a food is a big part of Australian culture, although it has relatively few native foods. Its modern cuisine identity is made up of intertwining strands of Aboriginal culture, traditional British food, and other cultural influences that have arrived here since. Indigenous Australian Food Australian Aborigines were huntergatherers and selected food which was available and ate it for nutritional purposes. There were no refrigeration or storage containers. Local knowledge of which plants were edible, palatable, or delicious, as well as the best time for harvest and preparation methods were passed down by word of mouth to the next generation. It’s referred to as “bush tucker” or “bush food”. Native mammals and birds such as kangaroo, wallaby and emu were regularly hunted and killed. Although animals were sometimes thrown straight on the fire, several food preparation techniques were known. Other foods that seem less palatable to modern urban Australians - such as grubs, lizards, snakes and moths - were greatly valued. Bush foods such as berries, roots and nectars were a vital part of the Aboriginal diet in many areas. Often these required advanced preparation techniques to neutralise toxins and to make them palatable and nutritious. In certain coastal areas, shellfish were plentiful and easily harvested. Aboriginals also caught fish in the oceans and rivers using hooks, spears and fish traps.

Traditional Bush Tucker ingredients might include: • Lemon myrtle: fresh leaf, or ground dried leaf of the Lemon Myrtle tree • Mountain Pepper: ground leaf or berries of the mountain pepper tree • Native spinach: warrugul greens, a native spinach growing in coastal areas • Bush tomatoes: small tomato-like fruits, also called desert raising • Macadamia nut: native of Australia, now grown in other places • Wattle seed: A small, oval, black variety of the Acacia seed. Wattle seed is used in many foods including rice, soups, meat rubs and baked goods. • Damper: a traditional bread made with ground seeds and cooked in the coals of the fire • Yabbies: a little freshwater crustacean that lurks on the bottom of streams, lakes and in farm dams


Modern Bushfood Industry There is a novelty value in bush tucker for many people and it’s now part of Australia’s tourism industry. The modern industry makes use of plants in different ways from those of the Aborigines, for example for flavour, instead of nutrition. Bush tucker plants are used now for jams, chutney and jellies, flavourings (eg. Lemon Myrtle), spices (eg. Mountain Pepper), drinks, sauces, colours (eg. Davidson’s plum). Only one indigenous plant, the Macadamia nut, has been well established in horticulture, and even then most of the early work was done by Americans. Some Americans even refer to it as the Hawaiian Nut, since it has been grown extensively there. Early Settler Food Due to Australia’s youth, all “Aussie” foods have traceable links to other countries, mainly England. These people brought with them traditional English recipes such

as stewed chops, potato dumplings and jam pudding. They were all simple recipes, not requiring complicated ingredients, or costing much money, a style of cooking that reflected the modest means of the time. Many recipes, in hand written recipe books, brought to Australia by migrant women have been passed from one cook to another down the years and still form part of “traditional” Australian food. Modern Cuisine Australian food traditions have been shaped by people who have settled in Australia. In the 19th and especially 20th century, food began to reflect the influences of Mediterranean and Asian cultures. There are, however, a new series of uniquely Australian foods emerging. Things like kangaroo kebabs (yes, they eat their national animal!) and crocodile steak are gaining popularity, and Aussies are also inventing more and more of their own recipes. A large influence on Australian foods is the availability and low price of meats - Australia is the world’s largest beef producer. 

Traditional Aboriginal “bush tucker” uses ingredients such as grubs and ants.


Overall, Australians eat a large variety of food, consisting of Australian dishes and mainstream overseas dishes. Chinese and Italian varieties are particularly popular, although all sorts of meals, from Burmese to Ukrainian, are available. Restaurants whose cuisine includes contemporary adaptations, interpretations or fusions of these culinary influences are often labeled with the term “Modern Australian”. There are many, many superb restaurants full of innovative and skilled chefs. There are a small minority of wholly Australian products, such as Vegemite (very salty yeast spread), which the rest of the world detests; Pavlovas (meringue covered in whipped cream and fruit) - although Kiwis will hotly contest the origins of this; and Lamingtons, chocolate coated cubes of sponge cake, rolled in desiccated coconut. It is said that Lamingtons were invented in the Queensland Government House kitchen as a creative use for stale sponge cake and they are named after Lady Lamington, the wife of the Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901.

Anzac biscuits are shared with New Zealand and are hard, crispy cookies made with oats and molasses. To get an idea about the importance of the meat pie in Australia, the quantity of meat is regulated by law and cannot be inferior to 25% of the total weight of the pie. Competitions to find the best meat pie maker in Australia is carried out annually and can bring prestige and big bucks to the winners. In South Australia small pies are sometimes served inverted on a bed of pea soup, covered in tomato sauce, and called a “pie floater”. Sausages also make up a large part of many an Australian’s diet. The basic beef sausage costs around $3 a kilo, and hence is the ideal food for any occasion. Although their nutritional value is questionable, they are quick and easy to cook and can be part of countless meals, particularly barbecues of which Aussies are very fond. Other common Aussie dinners might be stir-fry, roast dinners, pizza, pasta, salads or fish and other seafood (make sure you try some wild barramundi, southern bluefin tuna, and Moreton Bay bugs).


Whether you prefer beer or wine, chances are you’ll end up sampling some of Australia’s characteristic liquid fare. Note: the legal drinking age in Australia is 18.

Australia is a nation of beer – it’s practically the national drink. It’s the most consumed alcoholic beverage in Australia, and there’s nothing better on a sweltering day than a cold “stubby” (small bottle of beer). Australians can drink it at an amazingly rapid pace, too. Popular Australian beers are VB (Victoria Bitter); XXXX (pronounced “Four X”) which is slightly weaker; Carlton; and Fosters. There’s also Cascade, which is made from water from a Tasmanian mountain. Most beer ranges from about 4.8 to 5.2% per cent, although you can also get “mid-strengths” which are about 3.6%. Some places use the traditional British measurements of “pints” and half-pints”. In NSW, it’s either a “schooner” or a “midi”. In

Victoria it’s a “pot” or a “glass”. However, an S.A schooner is the same size as an NSW midi, and a W.A midi is the same as an NSW midi but you can also get an even smaller glass called a “pony”. It may just be easier to order it by the bottle…

The first grape vines were brought to Australia in 1788, and there are now over 550 winemakers producing world-class wines throughout Australia. The demand is high and new vineyards are being constantly planted. Popular white wines in Australia include Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. When it comes to reds, it’s all about Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and the worldwide hit, Shiraz.

beer is the most consumed alcoholic beverage in australia.


Note: Although Syrah was originally called “Shiraz” in Australia and Syrah elsewhere, its dramatic commercial success has led many Syrah producers around the world to label their wine “Shiraz”. One of the greatest Australia inventions of packaging is the “cask”, a carton box with a tap to regulate the amount, with no corks to be taken out or put back in. Very easy, simple and cheap. Just to have an Idea, a 4 litre cask costs about AU$12, and the wine ranges from not-so-good to very good. If you want something a little more upmarket, you can visit one of the country’s hundreds of wineries. Australia has about 60 wine regions located across the country with 103 “defined geographic indications” for wine growing districts covering zones, regions and sub-regions. However, the following ten are among its most famous and diverse. From the rugged and isolated beauty of Margaret River in W.A. to the historical home of Australian wine, the Hunter Valley in N.S.W, a journey across Australia’s wine regions is filled with a diversity of climates, soils, elevation and, of course, varieties of wine! 1. Barossa Valley, S.A. Home to some of the country’s iconic wines, the Barossa valley is renowned for its Shiraz production. Beautiful rolling hills and a Mediterranean climate combine to produce rich reds and delicate whites including Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Mourvedre, Merlot, Riesling, Semillon and

Chardonnay. There are over 50 wineries in the region. Three great wineries: Hobbs of Barossa Ranges ( Sons of Eden ( Penfolds ( 2. Coonawarra, S.A. This region has a layer of limestone sitting beneath its rich soil, and when the two combine they produce Cabernet Sauvignon grapes that are second to none. Other varietals that have won awards in the region are Shiraz, Merlot and Chardonnay. Three great wineries: Wynns Coonawarra ( Balnaves of Coonawarra ( Katnook Estate ( 3. Clare Valley, S.A. This picturesque region is known as the home of Australian Riesling, and it also produces award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. You can take the popular “Rielsing Trail”, a 27km long sealed track that links the many small towns along the way. Three great wineries: Little Brampton Wines (


Annie’s Lane ( Wilson Vineyard ( 4. Heathcote, Vic. The Mt Camel range of mountains creates a cooler climate in the grape-growing period in this region, resulting in grapes with taste and longevity. The region is famous for Shiraz but recently winemakers have been mixing small amounts of Viognier grapes to give it an extra dimension. Other signature varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio, and Riesling, and Italian varieties Sangiovese and Nebbiolo also grow there. Three great wineries: Eppalock Ridge ( Whistling Eagle Vineyard ( Shelmerdine Vineyards (

5. Hunter Valley, N.S.W Australia’s oldest wine region now has over 80 wineries and is famous for Shiraz, Verdelho and Chardonnay, but particularly for its Semillon. Hunter Valley Semillons age particularly well and the grapes have a distinct citrus flavour. Three great wineries: Mistletoe Wines ( Brokenwood Wines ( Capercaillie ( 6. McLaren Vale, S.A. This region south of Adelaide is Barossa valley’s rival for the top Shiraz maker. It’s combination of a seaside location and rich soil results in intense reds such as Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and Merlot, and striking whites such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling from more than 50 wineries.

The Barossa Valley is one of Australia’s most famous wine regions.


Three great wineries: Brini Estate Wines ( Gemtree Vineyards ( Tapestry Wines ( 7. Margaret River, W.A. While all the classic varietals are wellrepresented in this region, Margaret River winemakers are most noted for their Cabernet Sauvignons. The breathtaking coastal scenery is the perfect accompaniment to the extensive range of wine styles including Shiraz, Verdelho and Sauvignon Blanc. Three great wineries: Windance Estate ( Cullen Wines ( Brookland Valley ( 8. Mudgee, N.S.W Located in the western slopes of the famous Blue Mountains, Mudgee is another of Australia’s oldest wine regions. Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are its most popular varietals, available from a range of large wine companies through to boutique wineries. Three great wineries: Logan Wines ( Farmer’s Daughter Wines (

Lowe Family Wines ( 9. Tasmania Tasmania’s cooler maritime climate produces stately wines with superb natural acid, coming from over 60 wineries, some just a few acres in size. Specialist varieties include Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Three great wineries: Bay of Fires Wines ( Tamar Ridge Wines ( Piper’s Brook Vineyard ( 10. Yarra Valley, Vic. Considered one of the world’s finest cold-climate wine producers, Yarra valley specialises in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The Chardonnay, in particular, is the most widely-planted grape variety due to its flexibility. Other white wines produced in the yarra Valley include Gewurtztraminer, Marsanne and Sauvignon Blanc, which is often blended with Semillon. Three great wineries: De Bortoli Wines ( Dominique Portet ( Labyrinth (


50 fantastic Places to Visit!
There are so many things to see and do in Australia that it’s impossible to list them all. Of course, there are the main ones that it would be odd to not have on the list, such as Sydney, the huge monolith Uluru, and the Great Barrier Reef, but don’t forget that Australia has so much more to offer – charming towns, breathtaking beaches, rainforest villages, imposing mountains and picturesque farmland. Following are 50 highly-recommended spots. 1. Busselton, W.A A comfortable three-hour drive from Perth, Busselton boasts some 30 kilometres of sheltered sandy beaches with calm, clear and safe waters. Many campervanners use the township as a base from which to explore the region’s numerous other attractions. The wonders of Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park, Ngilgi Cave and Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse are only a short drive away. 3. Arltunga Historical Reserve MacDonnell Ranges, east of Alice Springs, N.T. You’ll enjoy having a look through the ruins of this old mining community. There is an information centre that provides visitors with lots of history 2. Esperance, W.A. The blindingly white sandy beaches and brilliant turquoise waters of the Esperance area in Western Australia place the region at the top of many campervanners’ best destinations list. Esperance itself boasts a stunning 38kilometre scenic drive that follows the local coastline and then loops back into town. There are several idyllic beaches where you can take a break for a swim as well as some lovely walkways and viewing platforms for some incredible coastal scenery. And, if it’s stunning non-caravan park camping spots you’re after, you’re in luck. The region also has three national parks.

The Busselton Jetty is the longest wooden pier in the Southern Hemisphere.


- especially the hardships miners endured during the gold rush. 4. Darwin, N.T. It’s growing fast and is a completely different place to the one that was so famously devastated by Cyclone Tracy a few decades back. It’s tropical, multicultural, relaxed and unique.The big draw - besides the weather - for most visitors is the markets that sell all sorts of Asian foods, veges and arts and crafts. Plus, a Northern Territory sunset is like no other on earth and, all along the coast, mini parties kick off as people bring their campchairs and a bottle of wine to enjoy the nightly show. 5. Flinders Ranges, S.A. The fabulous Flinders is often portrayed as the gateway to the Outback and that’s exactly what it is. Situated only 160 kilometres or so north of Port Augusta in South Australia, its accessibility, as well as its incredible beauty, make the Flinders a very popular destination during peak season. The Flinders Ranges has it all – ghost towns and ghost stories, ancient Aboriginal art,

Outback activities, caves, canyons, gorges, walks, opals, steam trains and even volcanoes. Central to the northern part of the National Park is the amazing Wilpena Pound, a quite spectacular natural amphitheatre that is five kilometres wide and 10 kilometres long. 6. St Helens, East Coast of Tasmania Like a mini-Riviera right there in Oz! This truly is one of the most scenic spots on the east coast of Tasmania and is the gateway to the Bay of Fires to the north and Scamander in the south. You can have lunch in the charming marina beside the boats and there is a fish and chip shop right on the water open for lunches. 7. Yamba, NSW Liberally blessed with a perfect climate, quasi-bohemian lifestyle and unrivalled surf beaches, the jewel in Yamba’s surfing crown is the revered and treacherous Angourie point break – beginners need not apply. Picture postcard pretty, Yamba prides itself on providing a relaxed, unpretentious and peaceful getaway.

This ruined farmhouse is part of a ghost town in the Flinders Ranges.


8. Lake Eyre, S.A. In S.A.’s remote interior 700kms north of Adelaide lies a huge, flat, salty lake that hardly ever contains water. But whenever there’s rain, it attracts a wealth of birdlife and wildlife, including dingoes, and is a fascinating place to see. It’s the lowest point in Australia so trying to reach it on foot or in vehicles can be treacherous, so many choose to view it from the air. Various tours offer joyrides over the 9500km2 saltpan that fills or near-fills only around four times a century. 9. Shark Bay, W.A This is a World Heritage area, and for good reason – or several. The oldest living things on the planet (oxygenexcreting stromatolites whose ancestors go back 3.5 billion years and they themselves are a few thousand) live in the salty Hamelin Pool to the south. The area is also home to the world’s only major populations of Burrowing Bettong, Rufous Hare Wallabies, Banded Hare Wallabies, Western Barred Bandicoots and Shark Bay Mice. Around

one eighth of the world’s Dugongs are also found here, along with 11 species of endemic birds and eight species of endemic reptiles. 10. Jewel Cave, Margaret River, W.A. Deep inside dazzling Jewel Cave in Margaret River hangs the largest calcite straw stalactite of any show cave (open to the public) in the world. Longer straw stalactites exist, but they’re very difficult to gain access to. They’re very delicate, narrow and hollow, and the jewel of Jewel Cave is a staggering 5.4m long. As well as being one of the largest show caves in Australia, Jewel is also one of the world’s youngest. Its main chamber is 90m long and 30m high and guided tours take you through the exceptional forms and beautiful chambers of its uniquely formed soft Tamala limestone. 11. Dreamworld, Gold Coast, Qld. As well as the obvious attractions, Dreamworld is also home to Frankie, the world’s first blue-eyed koala. Born in April 2007 and named after the equally famous blue-eyed Sinatra, it’s unknown

Lake eyre is one of the largest salt lakes in the world.


whether his eyes are due to a remote genetic strand or a random event, but while koalas can be found in the wild throughout Australia (except Tasmania and W.A.), Frankie is the world’s only known blue-eyed koala. 12. Cape Tribulation, Qld. Around 110km north of Cairns, “Cape Trib” is the only place on Earth where two World Heritage-listed areas lie side by side: the Daintree Rainforest, the most ancient and primeval in the world at 135 million years of age, and the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem, the Great Barrier Reef. Described as the “land that time forgot”, the Daintree is home to 20 percent of Australia’s bird species and around 60 percent of its butterfly species. There are even ancient species of trees – like the Idiospermum australiense and King fern – which were believed to be extinct for millions of years until being rediscovered in the Daintree. 13. Sydney Harbour, N.S.W. There are so many ways to experience one of the most exciting harbours in the world – cruise on it, sail on it, swim in it, fish in it, eat on it, drive over or under it, view it from Taronga Zoo or an island in it… you can also walk around it: 28km of tracks, many through national parks and along beaches, form the Harbour Circle Walk. Make sure you visit The Rocks, the site of Old Sydney Town, to visit the historic buildings and The Rocks Market. Sydney Aquarium is

also fantastic and the harbour hosts the world’s largest annual fireworks display on New Year’s Eve. 14. The Pinnacles, Nambung National Park, W.A. These tall, jagged limestone pillars about three hours north of Perth were buried under sand dunes for hundreds of years before being exposed to the wind. There are about one thousand of them (still being simultaneously buried and exposed). They make an amazingly surreal photo opportunity, especially at sunset – particularly if you visit between August and October when a spectacular display of wildflowers blooms in the area. 15. The National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Vic. The international branch of the gallery in St Kilda, and its Ian Potter Centre, off Federation Square, combine to offer a collection of international art including works by Rembrandt, Delacroix, Van Eyck, Gainsborough, El Greco, Monet, Manet, Matisse and many more, not to mention over 20 rooms dedicated to Australian art. 16. Kakadu National Park, N.T. Even though visiting here is much more comfortable in the dry season (lower temperatures and much less rain), many travellers say that seeing it during the wet, or early dry season is the only time to do so. You’ll experience the splendour of bright tropical colours,


humidity and raging storms and waterways for much more dramatic effect. Located there are 75 different kinds of reptile, 26 types of bat, 10,000 species of insect and 2000 types of plants plus prolific Aboriginal rock art. 17. Marree Man, S.A. While there are many fascinating geoglyphs in Australia, the world’s biggest lies in the remote centre of the southern state, the origins of which are still a mystery. 60km west of the town of Marree, the huge drawing on the ground is of an Aboriginal man hunting with a stick and is over 4km long. Take a flying tour and see Lake Eyre (no.8) at the same time. 18. Whitsunday Islands, Qld. This dazzling setting north east of Mackay almost defies belief with its hundreds of insanely beautiful islands, sparkling turquoise water, lush rainforest, bright coral and pure white sand. Any time of the year is equally beautiful but you’re likely to spot whales if you go between July and September.

19. Cape Byron, N.S.W. The cape is the most easterly point on Australia’s mainland, so a good place to visit if you want to feel like you’ve done the country properly! It doesn’t come free though – you have to climb the World Heritage-listed Mt Warning first. It’s the first place in Australia to be touched by the sun each morning and is a popular place for wedding proposals. 20. Broome, W.A. While this pearling town itself is a little unspectacular, the same can’t be said for the surrounding area and beaches with their clear blue water, white sand and gentle swells. Town Beach at the eastern end of the town is the site of the famous Stairway to the Moon, where a receding tide and a rising moon combine to create a magnificent natural phenomenon. On these nights, a food a craft market operates on the beach. 21. MacDonnell Ranges, N.T. These mountains to the east and west of Alice Springs offer a stunning array of gorges and different-coloured rock

the stunning whitsunday islands are a must see.


formations. The most famous of the gorges and camping spots are found in the West MacDonnell National Park. Ormiston Gorge is the most wellestablished campsite and even boasts solar heated showers, as well as a visitor centre and live-in rangers. As with all of the gorges, there are some wonderful walks to be enjoyed and there are swimming opportunities along the way. 22. Stanley and the Nut, Tasmania In the rugged north western region of Tasmania is the little town of Stanley, nestled at the base of a huge volcanic plug known as “The Nut”. If you’re feeling energetic you can walk to the top of The Nut (or just take the chairlift) for stunning views of the Bass Strait, or take tours to spot seals, penguins, sea birds and other wildlife close to Stanley. The town itself is “toy-town” gorgeous with well-maintained historic buildings that look like dollhouses. 23. Bondi Beach, Sydney, N.S.W. With its lifesavers, surfers, sun worshippers and barefoot locals, Bondi is a definitive example of Sydney’s city beach culture. While the beach is popular, cross Campbell Parade and enjoy Bondi away from the sand. Take in the view of the Pacific from one of the laidback outdoor cafes or trendy restaurants that serve lively crowds with brunch, lunch and dinner. Watch for celebrities from behind your sunglasses. Don’t have any? Bondi is the place to

buy them, with an abundance of shops selling the whole range of fashionable surfwear and beach accessories, or visit the popular beachside markets on Sundays. 24. Port Douglas, Qld. An hour north of Cairns, this tropical seaside town boasts a relaxed atmosphere, balmy weather, superb restaurants and the closest proximity to the Great Barrier Reef than anywhere in Australia. It’s also close to the Daintree rainforest, Mossman Gorge and various other attractions, and its Rainforest Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary is the only place in the world where you can see eight species of kangaroo in one park (not to mention cassowaries, koalas, parrots, crocs and much more). 25. Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, W.A. Built according to an open range principle, Western Plains Zoo keeps its 1100-plus animals from all over the world apart using moats rather than fences. The effect is spellbinding: you drive down a road or walk along a track and can easily imagine you’re on an African plain, surrounded by wildlife in its natural habitat. The zoo is also a renowned centre for the care of wildlife, breeding programs, conservation programs and education facilities. It’s acknowledged as Australia’s great open plains zoo. It also offers accommodation so you could skip the campervan for the night and go to sleep in a tent to the sound of lions roaring.


26. Undara Lave Tubes, Qld. 275km west of Cairns are the Undara Lava Tubes, formed some 190,000 years ago when a major volcano erupted, its molten lava flowing down a dry river bed. As the eruption slowed and then stopped, the lava drained out of the tubes leaving a series of long, hollow tunnels. (One section of the tubes known as “The Wall” is the closest geological example on Earth of basaltic ridges on the Moon, which were also formed by lava flows). Ancient roof collapses created deep, dark and moist depressions where fertile pockets of rainforest can now be seen. Visit there in the third week of October when Undara Experiences put on “Opera in the Outback” at sunset. 27. Nitmiluk Katherine Gorge, N.T. This 12km-long series of 13 stunning gorges with highly reflective waters and stark, 70m-high walls is picture-perfect, and a magnificent experience from start to finish. There are more than 100km of walking trails around the gorge, allowing visitors to take their time and meet much of the wildlife abundant in

this lovely area, including the fish. The entire area around Katherine, located 340km south of Darwin, is characterised by limestone formations with bubbling thermal springs - and plenty of convoluted cave systems. 28. Twelve Apostles, Vic. These giant rock pillars that rise out of the Southern Ocean are the central feature of the rugged Port Campbell National Park. They were originally created by erosion of the limestone cliffs of the mainland which, as they softened, formed caves and then arches which eventually collapsed leaving stacks of rock. Viewed from lookouts along the Great Ocean road, there may not at first appear to be twelve “apostles”, but others are located behind rocky headlands and outcrops. 29. Broken Hill, N.S.W. As well as being a great base from which to explore New South Wales, Broken Hill is one of the world’s most prolific art posts – Sydney mayor Frank Sartor once called it “the only country town in Australia with more art galleries

The twelve apostles are the central feature of the great ocean road.


than pubs.” A must-see is the Sculpture Symposium, also known as the Living Desert Reserve, where you can see huge sandstone sculptures from 12 different artists. Broken Hill is a gateway to the Outback and even has its own ghost town. 30. Great Barrier Reef, Qld. The largest structure composed of living organisms in the world, it’s easy to see why this is a favourite site of divers across the globe. It’s 2,300kms-worth of mesmerising under-seascape of coral, fish, molluscs, turtles, dolphins and much more. Gateways stretch all the way along the north east coast of Australia, so you’re spoilt for choice. You haven’t experienced Australia unless you’ve seen this magnificent natural wonder. 31. Exmouth Region, W.A. Located on the very tip of the North West Cape, the location was originally a military base in WWII, and later supported a nearby United States naval communication station. Nowadays, it’s more of a tourist town, and can boast

the “range to reef” experience, with the spectacular Cape Range National Park bordering the spellbinding Ningaloo Reef. The climate is gorgeous, the swimming and fishing are incredible and box jellyfish don’t venture this far south. 32. Coff’s Harbour, N.S.W. This city on the north coast of N.S.W is just about halfway between Sydney and Brisbane. Its major claim to fame is the iconic “Big Banana” located just north of the city on the Pacific Highway, one of Australia’s most recognisable tourist attractions that it’s almost a crime not to have your photo taken in front of. Coff’s Harbour is also reputed to have the best climate in Australia which combined with its beautiful mountainous and coastal landscape, makes it a bit of a mini-paradise. 33. Kangaroo Island, S.A. This is Australia’s third-largest island after Tasmania and Melville Island and is home to fantastic swimming and surfing beaches, shipwrecks and National Parks. It’s also a sanctuary

the great barrier reef is like a neon underwater fairyland.


for many native animals that were otherwise under threat from animals such as dingoes and foxes. The main towns are Kingscote and Penneshaw, with American River in between that shelters the bird sanctuary Pelican Lagoon. Catch the Kangaroo Island Sealink Vehicular Ferry from Cape Jervis on the mainland. 34. Windjana Gorge, Kimberley, W.A. Even if you’re not taking the Gibb River road, it’s worth taking a detour to see this impressive gorge that offers stunning bushwalking through the Outback wilderness. Unlike many Kimberley gorges, it’s easily accessible (only in the dry season though) by following a 3.5km path through a monsoonal strip of vegetation and permanent pools that remain after the wet season. The walls of the gorge rise up from the floodplain of the Lennard River, reaching 100m high in some places. It’s one of the best places for seeing freshwater crocs in the wild – and the campsite is excellent, too.

35. Longreach, Qld. Roll up your swag and go bush at Longreach, a town steeped in Outback history and heritage in north west Queensland. Situated about 1200 kilometres northwest of Brisbane, you can visit the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame (a tribute to Australia’s Outback heroes including a variety of traditional artefacts, electronic displays, photographs, films and stories of bush life) or the Qantas Founders Outback Museum which includes a decommissioned Qantas Boeing 747. Alternatively, there’s unbelievable sunsets, breathtaking night skies, vast Mitchell Grass plains, an abundance of unique wildlife, and the tranquil coolibah-lined Thomson River. 36. Devil’s Marbles/Karlu Karlu, N.T. Located about 114kms south of Tennant Creek, the Devil’s Marbles (or Karlu Karlu to the traditional Aboriginal owners) are gigantic, rounded granite boulders, some spectacularly poised, making for a remarkable landscape. Scattered clusters of these “marbles”

The devil’s marbles, or karlu karlu, are a sacred aboriginal site.


are spread across a wide, shallow valley. Many diverse traditional “Dreaming” stories intersect at and around Karlu Karlu, giving it great importance as a sacred site. The precarious piles of huge granite boulders, wide open skies, and golden sunlight make Karlu Karlu an unforgettable place to visit. The Reserve is accessible all year round and has a network of pathways with information boards and a basic camping area. 37. Cape York, Qld. Australia’s northernmost point is still an untamed wilderness that has defied the onslaught of civilisation – although some say not for too much longer. The dusty tracks contrast dramatically with the abundant river systems, crystal clear creeks and spectacular waterfalls. If you love bushwalking, wildlife, fishing, bird watching and remote camping, Cape York is for you. The gateway to Cape York is Cooktown, a gold rush town with an interesting history. Cooktown is only accessible for campervans by the inland road, via the Mulligan Highway and the Peninsula Development Road, and once there you’d have to rent a 4WD to access the Cape. But it’s worth it.

38. St Kilda, Melbourne, Vic. St. Kilda is situated on the coast to the east of the city and is considered to be one of Melbourne’s most fashionable suburbs. Apart from the very popular beach, which during the summer months attracts thousands of visitors, there are a number of other attractions in St Kilda to keep you occupied. Visiting Luna Park, built in 1912, is a must! It is a charming historic seaside amusement park complete with a wooden roller coaster and other rides. For evening entertainment try the Esplanade Hotel, which has comedy nights and various bands playing. 39. Innes National Park, N.S.W. On the southern tip of the Yorke Peninsula, Innes National Park encompasses spectacular coastal landscapes rich in mining and maritime history and is a major wildlife habitat of the area. Starting at Stenhouse bay, there’s a $5 fee for vehicles – but from there there’s hours of scenery. There’s also a wide variety of recreation opportunities including bushwalking, bird watching, photography, discovering the Aboriginal and European history,

Catch a tram to Melbourne’s St Kilda.


fishing and surfing. South Australia’s most prestigious surfing event, the Cutloose Yorke’s Surfing Classic, is held in Innes National Park every October. You need a permit to camp in this area. 40. Fraser Island, Qld. The world’s largest sand island, Fraser Island contains half of the world’s freshwater perched dune lakes and is the only place in the world above elevations of 200m where tall rainforest grows directly on sand dunes. Its freshwater lakes are among the cleanest on the planet, the beach is both highway and runway, and some of the purest breeds of dingoes live there. Leave the campervan in Hervey Bay (3.5 hours out of Brisbane) and take a 35 minute boat ride to this World Heritagelisted site. 41. Moree, N.S.W. This region is known for its hot thermal mineral pools (discovered accidentally in 1895 when searching for irrigation water) created from bores sunk into the amazing Great Artesian Basin. The famous healing waters are said to contain at least eight different minerals

and maintain a temperature of 39 degrees. Two-thirds of Australia’s cotton is grown in the Moree region and if you time your visit for February, you‘ll see millions of bulbous white fibres bursting from cotton plants in vast fields – a spectacular sight. The Pecan Nut Farm is another main attraction which is located 35 kilometres east of Moree on the Gwydir Highway. 42. Cradle Mountain, Tasmania This is a distinctive mountain in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park and is said to be one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Composed of dolerite columns, it has four summits. Take one of 20 walking tracks to suit any fitness level (it’s a tough trek to the top and takes 8 hours), see flora and fauna found nowhere else on earth, mountain bike, fly fish, or take a trail on horseback. There are three lakes at the bottom: Crater Lake, Lake Wilks, and Dove Lake – the deepest in Australia. 43. North Stradbroke Island, Qld. Known as “Straddle” to the locals, this island is only 90 minutes away

cradle mountain in tasmania is famous for its picturesque beauty.


from downtown Brisbane (accessible by vehicular ferry) but feels like days. The island itself is a mixture of rugged coastlines, placid inland lakes, and unspoilt beaches. The eastern side of the island is lined with 35 kilometres of white sandy beaches, however it is only accessible by four wheel drive, bicycle or on foot. There are numerous popular camping sites dotted all the way down Main Beach. A fantastic, laid-back combination of pristine wilderness and modern facilities, restaurants and cafes. 44. Downtown Melbourne, Vic. Australia’s second-largest city is often compared to Sydney but they are completely different. Melbourne is less flashy, much more stately and old-world. Take a tram ride (the Circle City Tram is free and has running commentary on history, attractions and famous places of downtown Melbourne); stroll through the stunning Botanic Gardens; or visit one of two scenic lookouts in Melbourne - both the Eureka Tower Skydeck and the Rialto Towers & Observation Deck have awesome views of the downtown and suburbs.

45. Canberra, A.C.T. The political hub of Australia, Canberra is a planned city similar in architectural concept to Washington D.C. It’s surrounded by bushland and is home to come of the country’s best museums, national attractions and restaurants. 46. Blue Mountains, N.S.W. The foothills of the Blue Mountains start approximately 50kms west of Sydney’s metropolitan area. The sandstone plateau is dissected by deep gorges and the “Giant Staircase” walking track takes you down a cliff into the Jamison Valley for a view of the Three Sisters, the most famous rock formation in the region. Also worth experiencing is the Katoomba Scenic World, home of the Katoomba Scenic Railway (the steepest railway in the world), a revolving restaurant and an aerial cable car. 47. Noosa region, Sunshine Coast, Qld. This area is rich in Aboriginal and early settler history as well as being a lovely slice of Queensland heaven. The shire has a cluster of suburbs (none of which are actually called Noosa) and

the “three sisters” rock formation in the blue mountains is a famous australian landmark.

a hinterland region. Spend a day on the Noosa River watching the birdlife, or exploring the mountain range and inland plains with their rambling streams and waterfalls. Alternatively, visit one of the many fabulous beaches – anywhere called the “Sunshine Coast” sounds pretty good, right? 48. Kununurra, Kimberley, W.A. This town’s name translates to “the meeting of the big waters” and water is definitely a feature – gorges, waterfalls, rivers, streams and creeks are all there waiting to be fished in, swum on, gazed upon or cruised on. There’s also amazing corresponding flora, wildlife and landscape alongside a friendly, lively town. 49. The Olgas/Kata Tjuta, N.T. This site, whose name means “many heads” to the Aborigines, is a group of about 30 huge rounded red rocks rising out of the desert plains, the highest of which is called Mt Olga. Like their nearby neighbour, Uluru (26kms away) they form a site sacred to the Aborigines which is frequently featured in stories of

The Creation. The rocks are best viewed at sunset and many visitors say they can feel a strong spiritual energy there. 50. Port Arthur, Tasmania Port Arthur Historic Site on the Tasman Peninsula is Australia’s best-preserved and most evocative convict site. More than 30 buildings, ruins and period homes dating from 1830 to the prison’s closure in 1877 provide an insight into the lives of those who were part of the penal settlement including 12,500 convicts, soldiers, civilians and their families. Nearby is Point Puer Boys Prison where you can walk among the remains of structures built by the boys in a bush landscape little changed since the 19th century.

the kata tjuta rocks are neighbours of the monlith uluru.


Off the Beaten Track
With a country as big as Australia, it’s worthwhile veering off the beaten path to experience some more unusual or remote spots – and there is no shortage of them. 1. Old Dadswell Town, Vic. A wonderful spot full of Aussie humour. The township consists of a Village Square surrounded by “old” typical Australia buildings (which are actually all very tastefully furnished B & Bs). Campervanners are more than welcome to pop in and take a peek, and you can overnight provided you are self contained. You are welcome to use the “Shire Office” (the public restroom!). A must-see photographer’s paradise just a few kilometres past Horsham (travelling west). 2. Wineglass Bay, Tasmania So often the most beautiful places are crowded with people because they are so beautiful. Not so with Wineglass Bay in Tasmania, probably due to the fact that it’s only accessibly by foot – about an hour’s walk over the steep crest of a 4. Venom Zoo, Kuranda, Qld. If you’re in Cairns take a drive up into the mountains to the rainforest village of Kuranda and its fascinating Venom Zoo – home to beasties you won’t find in any other zoo in the world. Aside from hill. From the top of the hill though are stunning views of white sand, verdant bush and brilliant blue water, sometime populated with dolphins. 3. Wave Rock, Hyden, W.A. This unique rock formation (part of the northern face of Hyden rock) sculptured by time and the elements stands 15m high and 100m long, looking exactly like a huge frozen wave that is eternally about to crash. Mineral deposits have coloured it in artistic stripes that add to the sweeping effect, and it’s surrounded by smaller granite “breakers”. It’s an impressive site and a spectacular photo opportunity, as is the surrounding wildlife and bushland, and Hippo’s Yawn, another distinctively shaped formation nearby.

wave rock makes a great photo opportunity.


daily live venom extractions, they also house a variety of tarantulas (some up to 17cm), Australia’s top five venomous snakes, scorpions, centipedes, insects and reptiles. The various venoms are sent all over the world for medical research to find cures for some of the most fatal diseases – so if these guys aren’t your cup of tea, perhaps a visit here will improve your opinion of them! 5. Ormiston Gorge, N.T. After travelling from Alice Springs up the Mereenie Loop Road, stumbling upon the oasis of Ormiston Gorge after dusty trails and dry riverbeds feels miraculous. Its 300m red walls enclose a waterhole at the southern end that’s perfect for an undisturbed swim. Halfway along the Larapinta Trail in the West MacDonnell National Park, the gorge is just past Glen Helen at the end of the sealed road section of Namatjira Drive. 6. Lake Ballard, Menzies, W.A. North of Kalgoorlie, Ballard Lake is a barren salt lake – with a difference. Scattered over 10 square kilometres

of the lake (approximately 55km west from the townsite of Menzies) are 51 stainless steel sculptures by artist Antony Gormley created from laser scans of naked residents of the town. The strangely alien-like figures were then placed at intervals across the blank canvas of the million-year-old salt lake, making for an eerie and haunting installation, particularly at dawn and dusk. A book of the process has since been published, called Antony Gormley: Inside Australia. 7. Greens Pool, William Bay National Park, W.A. Just one shining example of the many secret spots dotted along this coast, Greens Pool has cool, clear, emeraldtinged waters, and a cove with rock pools, a sheltering shelf of granite, soft sand, tiny islands and perfect snorkelling. Just a little further to the east of Greens Pool lies another special cove, Elephant Rocks, so named because of the reddish elephantine boulders strewn everywhere that take on the appearance of herd of the beasts. Drive to Denmark, west of Albany, and

the venom zoo in Kuranda performs daily venom extractions.


a further a further 20mins west of that, Greens Pool is at end of a track running right through William Bay National Park to the beach. 8. Dalhousie Springs, Simpson Desert, S.A The largest complex of artesian springs in Australia, Dalhousie’s 70 or so active thermal springs are fed by water that comes all the way from the Great Dividing Range, hundreds of kilometres to the east. When the magical liquid eventually gushes in, it varies from scalding to tepid. Take a dip in the main spring, which is about bathwater temperature and also home to fish species found nowhere else in the world: the Dalhousie catfish, hardyhead, mogurnda, and gobi. You’ll find them in Witjira National Park on the western edge of the Simpson Desert in S.A.’s far north, 180km northeast of Oodnadatta. 9. Burning Mountain, Upper Hunter Region, N.S.W. Originally thought to be an active volcano, but actually considered the world’s oldest coal fire, Burning Mountain in the Upper Hunter Region is Australia’s only example of a naturally combusting coal seam (one of only

three in the world). Less than an hour from the carpark and you’ll be at the site where you can smell acrid sulphur, feel the heat from the 350-degree surface and watch the smoke waft into the air. Look for wedge-tailed eagles soaring on the thermal currents above. Interestingly, the site moves about 1m south each year, and since it’s already moved 6km it’s estimated that it’s been burning for about 6000. It’s just off the New England Highway near Wingen in the Upper Hunter Valley area. 10. Gnomesville, Ferguson Valley, W.A. What was once a couple of garden ornaments sitting on a roundabout ten years ago has grown into a virtual city of roadside garden gnomes. Garden variety gnomes, sports-playing gnomes, fishing gnomes, partying gnomes from all corners of the globe are all left here with accompanying names and messages in fact wishes are granted to those who add to the collection when they visit (and incredible bad luck will befall anyone foolish enough to steal from or damage Gnomesville). Go to the roundabout joining Ferguson Rd and Wellington Mill Rd in Ferguson Valley, about a 15min drive from Bunbury.

the ever-growing city of gnomesville makes an interesting detour.

Ten Best Australian Beaches
Australia is an island continent which is surrounded by water on all sides, so its border is not shared with any other country. To the east lies the South Pacific Ocean; west the Indian Ocean; to the north the Timor, Arafura and Coral Seas; and to the south the Southern Ocean and Tasman Sea. The Bass Strait separates Tasmania from the mainland. Australia boasts some of the best beaches on the planet and the huge coastline stretches for nearly 37,000 km, which includes 11,011 beaches, more than any other nation, so you are spoiled for choice! Most of Australia’s cities and towns are located on the coast, which amounts to 12 million people, or 85% of Australia’s lucky population living within one hour’s drive of the coastline. Australia’s coast extends through a wide range of climates from the tropical areas in the north to temperate/maritime areas in the south. Environments include rainforest, mangroves, estuaries, rocky and sandy 2. Kirra Beach, Gold Coast, Qld This beach has for many years has been a favourite surfing point for many bronzed surfers worldwide and many surfing legends learned on Kirra’s rolling barrels. Located just above the state line in Queensland’s 1. Bay of Fires, Tasmania The Bay of Fires is in fact a whole 29kilometre coastline that extends from extends from Binalong Bay in the south to Eddystone Point in the north. Clean white sand, lush forest, azure blue water and dramatic red rocks combine to make this tranquil place one of Tasmania’s top attractions – yet no one is there. There is also an amazing selection of scenic beach camping sites along a well-maintained dirt road. The facilities consist of a couple of long drop toilets, but it’s all free. shores, cliffs, islands, towns, cities and coastal communities. It’s hard to pick just ten, but we’ve done our best…

Tasmania’s Bay of Fires is beautiful - and isolated.


southernmost town, Kirra Point reigns as the east coast’s champion maker. There are challenging waves for the experienced surfer, as well as smaller waves closer to shore for beginners. Hard-core surfers will tell you that this beach is only a shadow of its former self, destroyed by a government sandpumping project in 2002, but this is still iconic Australia. When the swell is right, you’ll see perfect barrels (not to mention perfect bodies). 3. Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas, Far North Qld. Picturesque Port Douglas has become an international holiday mecca and Four Mile Beach is the jewel in the crown. Spanning – you guessed it – four miles down the side of the peninsula the town sits on, it shares the same tropical latitude as Tahiti, and you can tell. The sea is turquoise, the sun is warm, the palms sway, and the low-rise hotels artfully hidden in the trees don’t spoil anything. Port Douglas’ pretty, oldfashioned charm and proximity to the reef attracts thousands of visitors each year but even in the high season you’ll always be able to find a whole section of the beach to yourself.

4. Cable Beach, Broome, W.A. Renowned as one of the most stunning beaches in the world, whoever said so would be right. 22kms of blinding white silica sand hem the Bombay Sapphire-coloured waters of the Indian Ocean, providing dazzling surrounds for swimming and relaxing – just don’t relax so much between November and March that you forget about the stingers though. The sunsets are magnificent, there is a variety of watersports available, or you can take one of the sunset camel rides that operate daily along the beach. 5. Hyams Beach, Jervis Bay, N.S.W. Famed for having the whitest sand in the world (which squeaks as you walk) - wear sun block if you decide to stroll along it, because the reflection from the sun even on a cloudy day can give you a nasty sunburn! It’s family-friendly, the water is warm, blue and clear, and the beachside Jervis Blue Café is excellent. 6. Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island, Qld. On uninhabited Whitsunday Island near the Great Barrier Reef, Whitehaven Beach is a 6km expanse of pure

cable beach in broome is one of the most stunning in the world.


white silica sand gently blending into aquamarine water. The beach, so dazzling that it hurts to look at without sunglasses, can be reached on a daytrip from Airlie Beach on the mainland. There are hundreds of similar tropical islands in this area. 7. Twilight Cove, Esperance, W.A. Twilight Cove, as the name suggests comes to life at twilight and after dark when there’s a full moon. Esperance, small yet beautiful, is known as the ‘Bay of Isles’. Wide sandy beaches, scenic coastlines and the panorama of offshore islands of the Recherche Archipelago are all part of its charm. Twilight Cove is only a 10 minute drive from the Esperance townsite. It’s a pretty spot even in the day with stunningly blue water and unusual rock formations. Located in the Nuytsland Nature Reserve, Twilight Cove is famous along the Nullarbor for its 70 metre limestone cliffs which overlook the Great Australian Bight. Access to the Cove is by 4WD vehicles only through the Nuytsland Nature Reserve so you’ll have to hire one or find someone to drive you – but it’s worth mentioning this magical spot anyway. 8. Cape Leveque, Dampier Peninsula, W.A. We’ve mentioned Broome but even further north you’ll find equally stunning beaches which are, for now, largely remote although that’s beginning to change. One of the best things about

Cape Leveque is that there are no crocodiles, no stingers, nothing to spoil the fun. You can swim here all day, any day of the year, and that’s very unusual at northern West Australia beaches. The red rocks against the turquoise ocean are already stunning during the day, but in the evening sun they seem to really glow. 9. Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island, Qld. A very beautiful beach on a very beautiful island. Lying to the north of this World Heritage listed island, it feels very secluded and far away from everything. You’re on a small island with a small local community of around 200 people. A street runs alongside the beach with a number of holiday accommodation places, restaurants, cafes and bars so you can sit, relax, have a drink and watch the waves lapping against the shore. There’s also Horseshoe Bay Lagoon (a short walk from Horseshoe Bay Beach to the Lagoon Environmental Park) where you‘ll find a wide variety of birds including the Jabira, Brolga, and the Nankeen Night-heron. Horseshoe Bay, and in fact the whole island, is an utterly charming place. Magnetic Island is a short ferry ride from Townsville (which can only take vehicles up to 5m in length).


10. Shelly Beach, Sydney, N.S.W. Manly Beach is one of Sydney’s most famous but Shelley Beach (just further south) facing north (one of the few on the east coast) and sheltered inside a cove, is a stunning place. Catch a ferry across from Circular Quay in the morning – if it’s summer, take one of the older ferries, which although are slower and take twice as long, you can go on the deck and take longer to

appreciate the stunning views looking back at the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The beach itself is a protected marine reserve perfect for lunching, snorkeling, swimming, scuba diving and sunbathing, and it really is stunning coming around the corner of the bay as the Opera House and Harbour Bridge with the backdrop of Sydney skyline slowly unfolds before you.

The Ten Commandments of Surf Swimming:
1. Do Not swim at beaches not patrolled by lifeguards or lifesavers. 2. Do Not swim outside the red and yellow flags which mark the safe swimming area. 3. Do Not swim directly after a meal or under the influence of alcohol. 4. Do Not swim when beach is closed. Observe the visual sign “Danger Reserve closed to bathing” and the red flag. 5. Do Not swim where there are no safety flags in position. 6. Do Not get excited if caught in a current or undertow, but raise one arm up and float until help arrives. 7. Do Not struggle if seized with a cramp, but raise your arm for help, float and keep the affected parts of your body perfectly still. 8. Do Not go out far when a yellow flag is flying, it means the surf is dangerous. 9. Do Not swim if unsure of surf conditions, but seek the advice of the lifeguard or lifesaver. 10. Do Not struggle against a rip or current, but swim diagonally across it.


Speaking “Strine”
Australian language has a global reputation for is individuality, phonetics and humour value. It has been brought about by the need for expressions for things that have never needed expressing before, so improvisation was usually used. Add 200 years of abbreviating to that and you are speaking Australian. Here are a few examples of the Australian language... A bit strong: a hurtful remark or action Arse over tit: fall over Ankle biter: young child Ay? pardon? Aggro: aggravated or aggressive Apple eater: someone who lives in the state of Tasmania (apple growing state) Arvo: afternoon Barbie: barbecue cooking outdoors Banana bender: some who lives in the state of Queensland Bloke: Australian male, generally quite rugged True blue: genuinely Australian Having a blue: having a fight or argument Battler: works hard to earn a living Breakky: first meal of the day You little beauty, that’s beaut: excited approval Bloody oath: absolutely Bottle-o: alcohol store Boomer: kangaroo Billabong: a waterhole Bathers: swimming costume Berko: angry in a unreasonable way Bunyip: mythical spirit creature from outback Boogie board: half-sized surf board for bodysurfing Blower: telephone Bugger me dead! extreme shock at something Bugger off! go away Blotto: intoxicated Bog: the toilet Chook: chicken Chinwag: a good chat Croweater: someone who lives in South Australia where there are lots of crows Crikey: surprise at something Corroboree: Aboriginal festival dance Cossie: swimming costume (NSW) Crack onto to: make a pass at/chat up Crook: ill/bad/criminal Dunny: toilet Dinki-di: something originating from Downunder Dobber: tattletale Daggy: unfashionable Didjeridoo: Aboriginal wind musical instrument Docket: a bill, receipt Dodgy: a bit suspect/not quite right/badly made

Durry: cigarette Dacks: trousers or shorts Doona: like a quilt, used instead of blankets (containing feathers and down), duvet Esky: large insulated box to keep food and drink cold Fibber: liar Fairdinkum: someone really genuine/really/ the truth/good Fair enough: OK, you are right Fossicking: hunting for gemstones (usually opals or sapphires) Footy: “Aussie Rules” football Flake: shark meat, used in fish and chip shops Galah: loud, rudely behaved person Gas: Usually LPG, not petrol G’day: a friendly welcome (same as hello or hi) Goon: cheap cask or boxed wine Good on ya mate! you are happy with their words or actions Grey nomad: someone spending their retirement travelling round Australia Gumsucker: someone who lives in the state of Victoria Hoo-roo: goodbye Jackaroo or Jillaroo: trainee male or female Cattle Station hand Jaffle: toasted sandwich Joker: a male person who you are unsure about Kip: short rest or sleep or nap Kiwi: a New Zealander

Lolly: money OR candy Long neck: large bottle of beer LPG cylinders: propane tanks Mate: friend Matilda: sleeping bag or bedroll for camping out Milk bar: convenience store Min Min: mysterious lights at night in the outback Mexican: someone from the state of Victoria Nulla-nulla: wooden club used by Aborigines (made from very heavy and hard wood called Blackbut) Nong: idiot Ocker: uncultured Aussie that likes beer, sport and women Oz: Australia Prang: automotive crash Pull your head in: mind your own business/ behave Raw prawn: easy to deceive Pearler: excellent thing Paw-paw: Queensland tropical papaya fruit Push-bike: bicycle Righto: OK Rellie: relative or family A ripper: it’s really great Rack off: go away, get lost Rapt: overjoyed Ropable: angry Sanger: Sandwich Sandgroper: someone who lives in the state of Western Australia

Stone the crows! shock at something Smoko: a break, usually something to eat and drink, and/or have a cigarette She’ll be right! everything will be OK Strewth: shock at something Sheila: a woman (not really used any more other than by old timers) Snag: sausage (put a snag on the barbie)  Spud: a potato Stubby: small bottle of beer OR a pair of men’s shorts Scallops: fried potato cakes (Qld/N.S.W), shellfish (elsewhere) Strine: a lot of Aussie slang said at once/”Australian” said in an Aussie accent Swag: canvas bag or cover you keep your belongings and bedroll in when camping Strides: trousers Slab: pack of 24 cans of beer Servo: service/petrol station for cars Singlet: under shirt, vest or tank top Ta: thanks Tucker: food

Tinnie: can of cold beer or a aluminum boat Thongs: sandals made from rubber/flip flops True blue: really Australian Tea: evening meal Tee up: organise or arrange something Too easy: that went well or I can do that, it will be easy Too right! something is absolutely right Top-ender: someone who lives in the Northern Territory Tallie: 750ml large bottle of beer Uni: university/college Ute: utility/pickup truck Wag: skip school, truancy Woop woop: somewhere a long way from civilization Hard yakka: hard work A yarn: a story that may or may not be true Have a yarn: have a conversation Yobbo: a redneck, a slob Zed: Z, last letter of the alphabet

in australia, “thongs” go on your feet.

Itinerary Ideas
Planning an itinerary obviously depends on what style of traveler you are, and what types of things you want to see. You might be a relaxed traveler who prefers to drive at a relaxed pace, allowing yourself the time to stop at whatever river or park takes your fancy on the way, or you may want to travel at a fairly swift pace. You might be interested in scenery or hiking alone, or you may want a balance between nature, cultural attractions, and seeing the main centres. Think about what you’ll be doing day to day. Do you want to be in a holiday park each night, or just some nights? Do you want to stop at a destination each day, spend a few nights in each place, or spend a few days just driving, absorbing the sights from your van? If you’re travelling with kids, consider what family-friendly attractions exist in each place. Be conscious of whether you’ll want a day here and there to just rest and Here are six sample itineraries of various types and lengths that include just a small fraction of things to see and do in Australia. At the very least they’ll give you an idea of travel distances and times - mix and match and add them together to create your own perfect plan - or feel free to do them in reverse! Also make sure you consider interspersing rest or relaxation days after days that will be particularly strenuous, such as a daylong hike. This is particularly important if you are doing a long drive the next day. Also bear in mind whether you can do a one-way trip in your campervan and are able to drop it off in a different city or town. relax, without travelling or doing strenuous activities. How much flexibility do you want to give yourself? Do you want to plan a rigid schedule or play it by ear some of the time?

Plan ahead to include rest days after very long drives.


Sydney to Melbourne (N.S.W to Vic.) - 5 days
Day 1. Sydney to Jervis Bay. Approx 222 km (138 miles) 3 hours. Day 2. Jervis Bay to Tilba Tilba. Approx 205 km (127 miles) 2.5 hours. Day 3. Tilba Tilba to Gipsy Point. Approx 203 km (126 miles) 2.5 hours. Day 4. Gipsy Point to Metung. Approx 225 km (140 miles) 2.75 hours. Day 5. Metung to Melbourne. Approx 312 km (194 miles) 4 hours.

Tropical North (Qld) - 7 days
Day 1. Cairns to Atherton Tablelands. Approx 70 km (44 Miles) 1.5 hours. Day 2. Spend the day in the Atherton Tablelands. Day 3. Atherton Tablelands to Cape Tribulation. Approx 185 km (115 Miles) 3 hours. Day 4. Spend the day at Cape Tribulation. Day 5. Cape Tribulation to Port Douglas. Approx 83 km (52 Miles) 1.5 hours. Day 6. Spend the day in Port Douglas. Day 7. Port Douglas to Cairns. Approx 63 km (40 Miles) 1.5 hours.

Darwin to Uluru (N.T.) - 7 days
Day 1. Darwin to Kakadu. Approx 257 km (160 miles). Day 2. Kakadu to Katherine. Approx 300 km (186 miles) 4 hours. Day 3. Katherine to Tennant Creek. Approx 667 km (420 miles) 8 hours. Stop at the soothing Mataranka Thermal Pool for a rest on the way. Day 4. Tennant Creek to Alice Springs. Approx 506 km (314 miles) 6 hours. Day 5. Spend the day in Alice Springs. Day 6. Alice Springs to Ayers Rock. Approx 461 km (286 miles) 6.5 hours. Day 7. Depart Ayers Rock.

Sydney to Cairns (N.S.W to Qld) - 14 days
Day 1. Sydney to Hunter Valley. Approx 161km (100 miles) 2 hours. Day 2. Hunter Valley to Port Stephens. Approx 65km (40 miles) 1.5 hours. Day 3. Port Stephens to Coffs Harbour. Approx 168 km (105 miles) 2.5 hours. Day 4. Coffs Harbour to Coolangatta. Approx 322km (200 miles) 4 hours. Day 5. Spend the day in Coolangatta. Day 6. Coolangatta to Brisbane. Approx 79km (49 miles) 1.5 hours. Day 7. Brisbane to Fraser Island Approx 200km (125 miles) 3.5 hours drive then 35 minute ferry ride. Day 8. Spend the day at Fraser Island. Day 9. Fraser Island to Rockhampton. Approx 318km (196 miles) 4 hours. Day 10. Rockhampton to the Whitsundays. Approx 483km (300 miles) 6 hours. Day 11. Relax at the Whitsundays. Day 12. Relax at the Whitsundays. Day 13. Townsville to Mission Beach. Approx 225km (140 miles) 2.75 hours. Day 14. Mission Beach to Cairns. Approx 140km (87 miles) 1.75 hours.

Darwin to Broome (N.T to W.A) – 14 days
Day 1. Arrive Darwin. Overnight - Darwin. Day 2. Spend the day in Darwin. Day 3. Darwin to Kakadu. Approx 257 km (160 miles) 3.5 hours. Day 4. Spend the day at Kakadu National Park. Day 5. Kakadu to Katherine. Approx 300 km (186 miles) 4 hours. Day 6. Katherine to Kununurra. Approx 510 km (316 miles) 6 hours. Day 7. Spend the day in Kununurra.

Day 8. Kununurra to El Questro. Approx 100 km (162 miles) 3.5 hours. Day 9. Spend the day at El Questro. Day 10. El Questro to Imintji Wilderness Camp. Approx 405 km (251 miles) 5 hours. Day 11. Spend the day at Imintji Safari Camp and explore the Gibb River Road. Day 12. Imintji Camp to Broome. Approx 440km (273 miles) 5.5 hours. Day 13. Spend the day in Broome. Day 14. Depart Broome.

Adelaide to Darwin (S.A. to N.T.) - 16 days
Day 1. Adelaide to Wilpena Pound. Approx 430 km (267 miles) 5.25 hours. Day 2. Spend the day at Wilpena Pound and the Flinders Ranges. Day 3. Wilpena Pound to Parachilna. Approx 141 km (88 miles) 1.75 hours. Day 4. Parachilna to William Creek. Approx 387 km (240 miles) 4 hours. Day 5. William Creek to Coober Pedy. Approx 166 km (103 miles) 2 hours. Day 6. Coober Pedy. Enjoy a day at leisure exploring Coober Pedy. Day 7. Coober Pedy to Uluru. Approx 734 km (456 miles) 8 hours. Day 8. Spend the day at Uluru and the nearby Olgas (Kata Tjuta). Day 9. Ayers Rock to Alice Springs. Approx 445 km (277 miles) 5.5 hours. Day 10. Spend the day at Alice Springs. Day 11. Alice Springs to Tennant Creek. Approx 510 km (317 miles) 5.5 hours. Day 12. Tennant Creek to Katherine. Approx 672 km (417 miles) 7 hours. Day 13. Katherine. Today enjoy a day at leisure to explore in and around Katherine. Day 14. Katherine to Kakadu National Park. Approx 300 km (186 miles) 4 hours. Day 15. Kakadu National Park. Today is free for you to explore Kakadu National Park. Day 16. Kakadu National Park to Darwin. Approx 257 km (160 miles) 3.5 hours.

Final Things to Think About
Most campervan hire companies in Australia are reputable and thorough. However, there are some important things to double check: • That you have a copy of, and completely understand, your rental agreement, eg your responsibilities and those of the renter, as well as your liability • That you have gone over and understand ALL the costs involved • Whether they have a 24-hour number you can call if you have any problems • Whether there are manuals for all the electrical equipment and facilities • Whether you get a spare set of keys • Whether certain things included, such as wooden levelling blocks for uneven sites, and extension cables and hoses to accommodate electrical, sewer and water hook-ups • Whether everything is working properly, eg doors, windows, appliances, controls, fixtures, and smoke alarms • Whether the gas bottle has been filled by the rental company or if it needs filling first

Things You’ll Be Glad You Brought:
• Lots of Ziploc bags – for storing everything from bottles that might leak to damp clothing • Your address book for postcards • Travel size alarm clock • Small flashlight with new batteries • Pocket knife • Spare pair of cheap sunglasses • One set of clothing that dries fast • Disposable camera (just in case!) • Small, collapsible umbrella • Notepad and several pens • Books and games for night time • Car phone charger


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