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Australia: more than just Sydney

“Did you know that everything in Australia will try to kill you?”

That’s what my buddy told me when I told him I’m moving to Australia a couple of years back. In case you have been living under a rock for most of your life, the world (or at least in The Interweebz) has this perception about Australia being filled with the nastiest, scariest, and deadliest creatures. Well, yeah for the most part, it actually is. But other than that, when someone says “Australia”, all they could think about are two things: Sydney and The Opera House.

Fun fact: Did you know that 7 out of 10* people thinks that Sydney is the capital of Australia? It’s actually Canberra.

Well, I’m sorry to burst your bubble but Australia is waaaaaaaaaay more than just Sydney and The Opera House. This beautiful country has so much more to offer and if I list down all the beautiful places to see and things to do in Australia, those two would probably be at the bottom of the list.

So let’s cut to the chase and let me show you what the heck I am talking about.

Cairns, Port Douglas, and Daintree (The North)

I had a wonderful opportunity visiting these three places by myself this year. It was the middle of February and it was summer. Although it wasn’t really the best time to go there (it was soaring hot, like really hot; if you have been to hell, you might wanna go back there for some refreshment, seriously), I had booked my tickets months prior so I didn’t have much of a choice.

Morning post-dive on The GBR

Cairns is home to the largest living structure on the planet. That’s right, The Great Barrier Reef. It is located on the north-eastern side of Australia and stretches for more than 2,300kms (1,400mi). Although there has been great concern about the condition of The Reef after two massive back-to-back mass bleaching events in 2016 and 2017, there are still lot of places where underwater life is thriving (though we should still be doing our best to save The Reef). I had a wonderful time scuba diving and even though the places we went to wasn’t really the best spots, it was still worth it and I was still able to pull off some decent underwater photos.

Enjoying the view of Bat Reef in The Great Barrier from above

If you’re looking for more adventures in Cairns, you can also try canyoning at Behana Gorge.

Behana Gorge, Cairns

Conquer your fear of heights by doing bungy jumping.

Bungy jumping with AJ Hackett Cairns

Just a few hours drive from Cairns is Port Douglas and between the two, Port Douglas, I would say, is the more livelier one

Aerial shot of a sugar cane field I passed by on the way back to Port Douglas from Daintree
Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas

All the way north are just some of the most pristine beaches you will ever see.

(c) https://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au

Fun fact: Did you know that there are at least 10,000 beaches in Australia? That’s a whole lot of beaching!

If you’re not much of a beach person, then indulge yourself with the lushest rainforest you will ever encounter other than the Amazon itself.

Obligatory photo at Walu Wugirriga lookout, on the way to Cape Tribulation

About two and a half hours drive from Port Douglas is Daintree, home to the widely accepted oldest rainforest in the entire planet: the Daintree Rainforest. The flora and fauna in this place is incredible and scientists say that some even predate to the time of the dinosaurs (yes, dinosaurs did exist).

Walu Wugirriga, Daintree

Daintree is named after Richard Daintree who was a pioneering Australian geologist and photographer back in the mid-1800’s. He basically made the region rich after declaring, and soon proving, that the entire region is rich in mineral deposits.

Direct flights to Cairns from Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne depart daily. Check with your favourite airline for schedules and fares.

Coral Bay and Perth (The West)

Although I haven’t been to either of the two and can’t really say anything based from my own experience, these two are the two places you should not miss when travelling to Australia.

Aerial view of Ningaloo Reef (c) http://justanotherday.westernaustralia.com

Coral Bay is home to one of the most beautiful yet overly underrated reefs in the world: Ningaloo Reef. The way I see it, the reason it is so underrated is because (1) not a lot of people have been there; (2) it is so expensive to actually fly there, and; (3) it is not as commercialised as Cairns with big hotels and stuff, but that’s what makes it beautiful, right?

To get to Coral Bay from Sydney, book a flight to Exmouth and then drive two hours south-west.

Head’s up: flying to Exmouth from Sydney is much more expensive than flying to Bali, Indonesia.

Imagine swimming with turtles, rays, and whale sharks just a few meters from the shore!

Swimming with Whale Sharks at Ningaloo Reef (c) http://kingsningalooreeftours.com.au

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a laid-back, quiet, and pretty much chill city, then Perth is what you’re looking for.

Perth is at the southern end of Western Australia, opposite of Coral Bay. My brother went there with his wife last year and their photos were amazing! The landscape is both amazing and weird and the places to see are sometimes so remote, you can actually ride a bike on the freeway for some time and there wouldn’t be any danger of a car speeding by.

While you’re there, make sure to visit Rottnest Island. It is Perth’s favourite holiday spot and is home to “the world’s happiest animal”, the quokka (kwo-kah).

Selfie with the happiest animal in the world

Trivia: Quokka’s were in danger of extinction after climate change, habitat fragmentation, and over-development on the mainland drastically reduced their population. However, in around 2012-2013, they made the headlines after an Australian took a selfie with it and it went viral.

Direct Sydney to Perth flights take 4 hours and time difference between the two cities is at two hours during winter and three hours during summer.

Tasmania

In case you haven’t realised yet, when you look at the map of Australia, it actually looks like Scooby Doo.

(c) http://www.cannotunsee.net

At the south-eastern tip of the country is the island-state of Tasmania (colloquially known/called as “Tassie”). While it is probably the coldest place in Australia, it also has the most wonderful landscapes and most beautiful night skies.

(c) Tom Putt https://tomputt.com
(c) Loic Le Guilly http://www.lophoto.com/

Fun fact: Did you know that according to the famous Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, the best place on Earth to watch the night sky is Australia?

Bonus: Regional New South Wales

If in case you don’t have a lot of time going around the whole of Australia and is stuck in Sydney, then you should at least check out the places just a few hours outside of the city. There’s a lot of places to see in the south, the north, and the west of Sydney (other than Blue Mountains). There’s just too much to see that it deserves its own post next time. But for now, enjoy these.

Hyams Beach, Jervis Bay, NSW
Night scape at Bermagui Horse Head Rock, Bermagui, NSW
Sunrise above Sea Cliff Bridge

Well, that’s it! This is just a teenie-weenie list of places to go and see other than Sydney. Heck, it’s not even the tip of the iceberg. Australia is such a massive country and it would probably take me more than a year’s worth of blog posts to list them one by one.

What about you? Have you been to Australia? Where have you been so far and which places do you want to see next? Write down in the comments below.

EDIT: A lot of people have been telling me personally about the great photos in this post and asking me about my camera setup. Thanks! However, you don’t need an expensive camera. You can use your phone at all times. Check out my post about taking photos with your phone HERE to give you a good start.

Cheerio Mate!

Published in Adventures Travel tips