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Now that you've covered the essential A & B list attractions, you can start to enrichen your Australian stay with some less well known additions.

There's still a lot more to choose from, though!  So please read on through the continued listing of places to visit and see.

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Where to Visit in Australia part 3

Australia's 'C' and 'D' list tourist attractions

Stuart Highway in Australia

The Stuart Highway stretches from Port Augusta near Adelaide, through Alice Springs, and 1700 miles up to Darwin.

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

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



You're probably now starting to fill in the time you have (and the money you have) to spend in Australia, and having selected most or all of the A & B list places, you'll now probably choose to become more selective about the additional places on our C and D lists.

Don't forget we have still more places on our E list, too!  And maybe there are other places that you want to visit that didn't make any of our lists.


The 'C' and 'D' Lists

We've only selected one item for the 'C' list, and have uncomfortably included another three items on the 'D' list.

Uncomfortabley?  Whereas probably no-one would or could argue that Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef region in Far North Queensland deserve to be at the top of the 'A' list, now that we're starting to go down the lists further, the places to consider are less distinctive and the respective rankings become much less certain.

So consider our following rankings with even more grains of salt, and adapt them to suit your own preferences.

C List Attraction - The Top End - Darwin and Kakadu

Bob Hawke, a former Prime Minister of Australia is reputed to have said 'The best way to see Darwin is from 35,000 ft, in a plane heading towards London'.  We don't entirely disagree with this statement.  To be as polite as we can, Darwin is best considered as a functional rather than attractive town.  It is more a stopping point on the way to some amazing destinations, rather than a destination in itself.

The best of these amazing destinations is the Kakadu area east of Darwin.  You can do day tours to Kakadu, but we recommend you spend at least one night there, and consider also either flying one way or taking a scenic flight while in the area.

Also in the nearby area is the Katherine Gorge and, less compellingly, the Litchfield National Park.

How Long to Stay in the Darwin Area

You should plan on at least two days in the Kakadu area, and if it appeals, another day to visit Katherine.  Depending on how your arrival and departure times work out, you may need to spend an overnight or two in Darwin itself as well.

If you wish to spend additional time, you can add another day to your Kakadu tour (going on into Arnhemland), possibly a day tour to Litchfield National Park, and even some time in and around Darwin itself.

So you're looking at a three day minimum in and around Darwin, and possibly as many as six or more days.  Yes - we know it is strange that we're recommending more time in the C list destination than at some of the A and B list destinations, and of course you can allocate your time any way you wish.

D List Attraction - Coober Pedy

Australia has a huge wealth of various mineral deposits, including opals which can be found in various parts of the country, most prominently in and around Lightning Ridge in NSW and Coober Pedy in South Australia.

We suggest Coober Pedy as a 'D' list attraction due to the its distinctive underground housing.  To shelter from the extreme heat, some of Coober Pedy was built underground, including a local hotel.

Coober Pedy is a small town in the middle of nowhere, and is accessible either by road, rail or air - if taking a train (the Ghan) you actually stop a bit away from the town itself (about 25 miles west), and need to have pre-arranged for someone to come and collect you.

The locals claim that opal prices are better in Coober Pedy than in the big city stores, and they are probably correct about that.  (If you're not going to Coober Pedy, our favorite place to buy opals is the Outback Opal Mine, just a bit north of Cairns - a shop with a video and other features on how opals are mined, but not an actual mine.)

You even have a chance to 'fossick' for your own opals while in the area, and other tours take you around the desert regions in the vicinity, including even a tour with the local mail carrier.

It is a very different experience, although not an easy place to get to or from.

How Long to Stay in the Coober Pedy Area

Depending on the times you arrive into and depart from Coober Pedy, you'll probably want to spend one or two days in the area.

D List Attraction - Tasmania

Much of Australia is dry and arid, with a harsh unforgiving climate in desert surroundings, although for sure, there are notable exceptions, mainly dotted around the coastal regions.

For a very different type of geography and climate, there is Tasmania; a smaller island south of Melbourne that is in many ways more reminiscent of New Zealand - perhaps if you're not including NZ on your Australian vacation, you should include Tasmania instead (and, vice versa - if you are visiting NZ, maybe there is less reason to visit Tassie too).

The state of Tasmania includes the eponymous island and several smaller islands too.  The island of Tasmania is actually the 26th largest island in the world, but is small by Australia's standards - it measures about 225 miles from its northern to southern extremities, and a maximum of about 190 miles from east to west.

Its relatively compact size makes it suitable for a self-drive tour, with the major towns where you might choose to stop over probably being Hobart and Launceston.

Over one third of Tasmania is in national parks and World Heritage sites.  The island also has some interesting convict history, particularly at Port Arthur (nice panorama picture here).

One of the highlights of a Tasmanian visit is (arguably) taking the overnight ferry between Melbourne and Devonport.  Good air service is also available to Launceston and Hobart.

How Long to Stay in Tasmania

We'd suggest three days as a minimum for a Tasmanian stay.  A day in/around Launceston, and two in/around Hobart, or possibly doing a loop, with overnights somewhere around Launceston, perhaps at Cradle Mountain Resort, and Hobart.

You could add another day or two to this if time allowed and interest motivated you.

D List Attraction - A Queensland Island

We're definitely conflicted on how to categorize staying on one of the many island resorts off the Queensland coast.

Our feeling is that if you're seeking a 'sea, sun, sand and surf' type experience, there's no need to fly as far as Australia to do so.  Many places in the Caribbean, or Mexico, or Hawaii can give you such experiences much closer to home, and probably for much less money.

On the other hand, none of these closer places offer uniquely Australian experiences, and we feel it would be disappointing to miss out on something uniquely Australian while substituting a generic island type experience instead.

But, on the other hand, by the time you've reached this point on our list, you've already covered most of the ultimately Australian experiences, and if you happen to like island stays and water related activities, and particularly if you're escaping from a northern hemisphere winter, then why not indeed treat yourself to some time on an island.

There are lots of islands to choose from if you want to stay on an island for a while, ranging from budget priced islands designed to appeal to a younger, party-oriented crowd (Great Keppel and Magnetic Islands spring to mind) to the huge resort complex type (Hamilton Island - so large it has its own airport that will accept regular jets) to the ultra luxurious (Lizard and Hayman Islands for example).

Some islands include all food and drink in their daily rates, others do not, or have optional plans including some but not all food/drink.  Activities are also included to varying degrees, although motorized activities generally cost extra.

Most islands are not immediately adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef (Dunk is an island that is right on the reef) and some are quite a distance from the reef.

The islands are clustered more or less around the Cairns and slightly south area, and the Whitsunday Islands north of Brisbane, between about Gladstone in the south up as far north as Townsville.

How Long to Stay on an Island

In most cases, you go to an island not so much to see and do the essential things in the vicinity, but rather to relax and unwind.  So it is harder to specify a minimum - or a maximum - time for an island stay, but it does seem to us that anything less than three days is not really going to be truly relaxing, because you've no sooner arrived than you're starting to get ready to leave again.

As for a maximum length of time, how long is s piece of string?  Only you can answer that question!

For more information

This is part three of a four part article on places to visit in Australia - please click on to part four which describes the 'E' List and lesser destinations in Australia or back to part two for the 'B' 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 21 Jul 2020

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