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Where to Visit in Australia part 2

Australia's 'B' list tourist attractions

Colonial Tramcar Restaurant, Melbourne

The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant provides a most unlikely venue for a surprisingly good and memorable meal in Melbourne.

Part two of a four part article on places to visit in Australia - click on to part three or back to part one.

Also part of a general series on travel to and in Australia - click the links on the right hand side for more articles.



Once you've considered Sydney and Far North Queensland, there's a lot more to add to an Australian itinerary if time and funds allow.

On our 'B' list we offer another city and country destination, and then there's even more to consider on our C and D lists.

Still seeking more suggestions?  Then you need to look on to our 'E' list, and we've even included some places we don't recommend so strongly too.


The 'B' List

So you've already got your A list destinations planned into your itinerary and find yourself with a bit of extra time.  Bravo.  You'll be delighted at being able to see and do more while in Australia.

We have another two destinations on our 'B' list for your consideration, and just as with the A list, we offer both a city experience and a non-city experience for balance.

But whereas we had no hesitation in giving Sydney the status of being top of the A list, due to the totally different experiences in the two B list attractions, we offer them without setting either above the other in terms of desirability.

B List Attraction - Melbourne

We semi-reluctantly offer you Melbourne as a B list attraction.  Ourselves, we've never really understood Melbourne's appeal.  Indeed, to us, an Australian experience is less about visiting its semi-generic modern western-style cities, and is more about visiting Australia's natural beauty and more distinctive experiences.

On the other hand, the cities often have plenty of non-city type tourist attractions clustered around them, so there are reasons to visit cities too, even if primarily as convenient bases for out of city touring.

And we can't deny that Melbourne does have appeal to many if not most visitors.  It has just recently won the accolade of being the world's most livable city (according to the Economic Intelligence Unit's annual survey, published in August 2011).  Sydney came in at sixth, and Adelaide and Perth tied for the eighth position.

So maybe you should include Melbourne.  It is only slightly smaller than Sydney (4.1 million people) and somewhat more recent, being founded in 1835, 47 years after the European settlement of Australia commenced.

Among Melbourne's other claims to fame, it is alleged to have the world's largest tram network.  You might enjoy riding around in a tram during the day, and the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant is a 'must do' activity one evening.

How Long to Stay in Melbourne

If you were to visit Melbourne, you'd probably want to spend a day in the city, perhaps a day going to Philip Island, and maybe a day up into the Dandenongs and/or Yarra Valley.

Say a three day stay, expandable by a couple of days if time and interest allowed.

B List Attraction - The Red Center (Ayers Rock, Alice Springs, Kings Canyon)

When someone says 'Australia' to you, what image flashes into your mind?

For some, it might be a kangaroo or koala.  For others, it might be a fish, island, or the Great Barrier Reef.  Of course, Sydney's Opera House and Harbour Bridge also are prominent images one associates with Australia.

But there's one more image that is an ultra-iconic Australian image - Ayers Rock, or as the native aborigines refer to it, Uluru.  This extraordinary sandstone rock formation, which rises 1142 ft (348 m) above the surrounding desert, which is generally otherwise flat and semi-featureless pretty much as far as the eye can see, is distinctive by any measure, and when you add to it a dark rusty red coloring, it is even more unusual.

Here's an interesting picture of Ayers Rock, taken from the International Space Station, which gives an ultra-aerial perspective and clearly shows how it sticks out of its surroundings so prominently.

For many people, their Australian experience is not complete without visiting Ayers Rock.  If you feel that way, then you should definitely visit Ayers Rock.

If you are going to Ayers Rock, you might want to consider one or two additional experiences in what is sometimes termed the Red Center of Australia.  The first and more popular of these is also visiting Alice Springs, and the second is to include a stop in less well known Kings Canyon on the way between Ayers Rock and Alice Springs.

We greatly prefer Kings Canyon to Alice Springs and consider it to be one of Australia's most under-appreciated tourist treasures.

How Long to Stay in the Red Center

If you're only going to Ayers Rock, you probably require a single overnight stay there.  Most flights will get you into Ayers Rock about mid-day, giving you time to then do a 'Sunset at the Rock' experience that late afternoon/early evening.  The next morning you can tour around or climb up the rock, and then fly out again in the early afternoon and on to your next destination.

If you are adding Alice Springs, you should add a second overnight, and if you are adding Kings Canyon, you will need to add a third overnight.

If you have additional time, you could arguably add another day to your stay at Ayers Rock (to allow for a visit to the Olgas) or perhaps more appropriately, another day at Alice Springs (or even both).

Note that you'll probably fly into around around the Red Center, due to the boring monotony of the distances involved if driving.  But driving is an option, either on a short mini-tour, or even by yourself.  It is 275 miles (440 km) between Ayers Rock and Alice Springs on a reasonably good sealed road.

For more information

This is part two of a four part article on places to visit in Australia - please click on to part three which describes the 'C' and 'D' list Australian destinations we recommend, or back to part one for the 'A' list Australian destinations.

Click the links in the top right of this page for additional helpful information about travel to and in Australia.

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Originally published 2 Sep 2011, last update 30 May 2021

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