What Order to
Visit Places in Australia
Avoid criss-crossing Australia and
create a logical sequence of places to visit
Click to open a larger map of all Australia
We generally suggest you
fly into Sydney, out of Cairns, and travel around the
country in a clockwise direction.
of a series on travel to and in Australia -
click the links on the right hand side for more articles.
When visiting a country the
size of Australia (comparable to the size of the US) you clearly
need to plan the sequence of where you'll visit so as to
minimize traveling time (and cost).
There are other issues to
consider as well, such as a logical 'flow' of experiences that
don't clash with each other, and possibly other issues such as
Fortunately, in general the
'best' way to visit Australia is truly the best way, giving you
the least amount of travel and the best flow of experiences.
Where to Start Your Travels in
You'll almost certainly
arrive into one of Australia's major international airports,
with Sydney being the most prominent of such airports, followed
by Melbourne and Brisbane.
Your first choice then becomes
whether to make your point of entry into Australia also your first
place to visit, or whether you simply change planes at the airport
and continue traveling on to somewhere else as your first actual
There are several factors to
consider when making this decision.
The need to recover from the long
Some people will think 'Oh,
I'll be so exhausted after all the traveling to get to Australia
that I'll want to immediately go to a hotel and collapse into
It is definitely true that one
of the strange things about travel - something which in theory
could be very relaxing, ie, just sitting on the plane, reading,
watching movies, sleeping, eating and drinking - is that it often
But perhaps it is best to
continue traveling, even though tired from the preceding travels -
if you're already at the airport, why not conveniently simply walk
over to the next departure gate and take another flight; indeed,
if you're tired, maybe that means you'll get some sleep on the
And, if you're tired, it isn't
as though you're sacrificing quality time that you'd otherwise be
spending doing fun things and enjoying yourself. All you're
doing is using time that you'd probably be spending in your hotel
room sleeping or trying to sleep, and doing the exact same thing
on another flight or two.
So don't feel pressured to
include an overnight or longer at your point of entry into
Australia. By all means do stop there if it is a place you
want to visit, but otherwise, keep on traveling a bit further.
Arrival time and connecting
There's another consideration
too. If your flight in to Australia arrives late at night
and there are no flights on to where you ultimately wish to get
to, then of course you're stuck with spending a night at your
arrival city, whether you want to do this or not.
On the other hand, maybe you
can change the flight to Australia so as to get you there earlier
in the day.
Airfare rules and costs
Another consideration is how
your airfare is constructed.
As a quick rule of thumb, any
time you have a stopover on your travels, this will cost you more
than if you simply change planes and keep traveling. Sure,
it doesn't cost the airline any more for you to stop rather than
just change planes, but they feel you are getting more value from
your ticket and so they charge more to match.
Depending on how much of your
flying within Australia is included 'for free' or at discounted
rates as part of your international ticket, and how much is being
purchased as standalone domestic travel, and possibly some being
part of an air 'pass' as well, there may be cost implications
depending on where and when you include stops.
Where to End Your Travels Within
Of course, you'll probably
leave Australia from one of its major gateway international
airports, just as you arrived at the beginning of your vacation.
Note that you may not
necessarily need to fly out of Australia from the same airport you
flew into the country, however, and you might save some money and
some traveling time by flying out of a different international
airport to the one you arrived at.
Just as you did not need to
actually stop in your arrival airport's city, neither do you need
to have been staying at your departure city prior to taking the
flight out of Australia.
Similar considerations apply
as they did for deciding if you wanted to stay in your arrival
There is one other thought to
keep in mind. Some people feel anxious about things possibly
going wrong on any important journey, and so they want to be as
close to the airport as possible at the start of their travel day.
Other people are happy to have a lengthy day of travel prior to
arriving at the airport - perhaps driving hundreds of miles first
to somewhere, then flying from there and on to the international
departure airport, and connecting on to their international flight
out of Australia.
You know your own comfort
level about such things, so you know how best to structure your
Cities First or Last or
We suggest that one of the
most important factors in planning your stops in Australia is to
arrange for a smooth continuum of experiences, and we further
suggest that you should start in the more 'high energy' places and
end in the most relaxing places.
An Australian vacation is
different to one in, for example, Europe. In Europe you're
almost always in medium/large cities, or if you're not, you're
still very close to a big city, and the entire experience is made
up in large part of visiting lots of old places - cities,
cathedrals, castles, etc.
But in Australia you have very
different types of experiences as between the cities and the rural
areas, and so there is a new thing to consider - how to coordinate
your city and your rural experiences.
We suggest you start off in
the big cities, and end up in smaller more relaxing parts of the
country, making a transition from high energy to lower energy
experiences in a manner which sort of parallels your own unwinding
and relaxing. This allows you to be at the point of maximum
relaxation at the end of your vacation, returning home feeling
If you planned your travels
the other way, you'd start off still being keyed up with energy,
but in low energy places, and then you'd be just starting to relax
when being thrust into the hustle and bustle of Sydney and
Melbourne, and you'd return home in a high energy state, feeling
less like you'd had a vacation.
Some people prefer to have a
mix of big cities and small towns, sort of alternating between the
one and the other. That isn't our personal preference, but
really the parts in the middle of your vacation aren't quite as
important as the first and last parts. Start off in a big
city, and end in a more relaxing environment.
Good Places to Start
We suggest you start your
Australian travels either in Sydney or Melbourne.
If you plan to go to both
places, then generally it would make sense to go first to one of
these two cities, and then travel next to the second of them.
Good Places to End
We suggest you end your
Australian travels in the Cairns area. This is about as
relaxing and peaceful a place as you can hope to find anywhere.
Other possible final places in
Australia could be Darwin/Kakadu or the Sunshine Coast/Fraser
Island, or an island resort off the Queensland coast.
Most people will find the
Cairns area the best place to conclude their Australian vacation.
Cairns has good air service to most places where your flight out
of Australia is likely to depart from, making it probable you can
start your return journey in Cairns and simply connect at the
international gateway airport and continue on to your next
destination outside of Australia.
Sequencing Your Stops Within
Normally we plan Australian
itineraries that start in Sydney and then go in a steady clockwise
direction - down to Melbourne, Tasmania, Adelaide/Kangaroo Island,
Coober Pedy, Ayers Rock/Kings Canyon/Alice Springs, Darwin/Kakadu,
Cairns, then on out of Australia.
Of course, simply remove any
of the places mentioned in the preceding paragraph if you've not
going to them.
And if you're adding extra
places, add them in a manner that is more or less geographically
consistent with the clockwise circle.
If you will go all the way to
Darwin, that could be done between Adelaide and the Red Center
portion of your travels, or perhaps between Alice Springs and
Darwin (if you wanted to include Coober Pedy too).
If for some reason you choose
to add Brisbane, we'd put that at the beginning rather than at the
end of your journey.
Flights Within Australia Aren't
Always Daily or Bi-Directional
Many people have an assumption
that any two cities are connected by multiple flights every day,
and that there is a symmetry to the flights, so that for any
flight from city A to city B, there is a matching flight back from
city B to city A.
This is not necessarily the
case in Australia. Some of the smaller destinations such as
Coober Pedy and even Ayers Rock have infrequent service - not even
flights on each day of the week, and may also have 'unbalanced'
service - ie, there might be flights into Coober Pedy from
somewhere, but not flights back from Coober Pedy to the same place
(for example, maybe a plane does a circular journey Adelaide to
Coober Pedy to Ayers Rock and back to Adelaide).
You need to beware of such
challenges. If you're looking for flights and don't find
what you're looking for, try looking on another day, or check
directly with airline timetables to see in that format if they
have flights that operate on some days but not others.
For more information
Click the links in the top
right of this page for additional helpful information about
travel to and in Australia.
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9 Sep 2011, last update
21 Jul 2020