Home DestinationsOceania 6 Must-See Places for a First Visit to Australia

6 Must-See Places for a First Visit to Australia

Are you about to visit Australia for the very first time? I recommend you to experience the incredible nature and enchanting sites. I will share with you our tip to travel efficiently and economically in this gigantic country!

Australia had always fascinated us because of its position at the opposite end of the planet. Before we planned to go around the world, this country was a faraway dream, if not unreachable in the near future. When the time came to plan our great journey, we absolutely needed to go there! And so we did!

The must-see places for a first timer in Australia

Melbourne

As soon as we arrived in Melbourne, we had the pleasure of meeting our friends Shailja, Bikram and their two happy children who warmly welcomed us, honored us with their accommodation and guided us on a visit to the surroundings.

After a brief visit to the country’s sporting and cultural capital, we drove down the Great Ocean Road, which runs along the coast, up to the limestone rock formations of the Twelve Apostles. On the road, we were treated to spectacular panoramas and amazing wildlife. We saw many koalas perched in eucalyptus trees that scattered along the roadsides in Kennett River and Cape Otway. Also, we saw parrots of all colors, and even a colony of several thousand white parrots known as corellas!

Shrine of Remembrance - Melbourne

Shrine of Remembrance – Melbourne

Yarra River - Melbourne

Yarra River – Melbourne

Parrots at Kennett River

Parrots at Kennett River

Koala at Cap Otway

Koala at Cap Otway

The Twelve Apostles

The Twelve Apostles

The Twelve Apostles

The Twelve Apostles

Loch Ard Gorge

Loch Ard Gorge

Gibson Steps

Gibson Steps

Alice Springs

We had a wonderful time on our crazy road trip in the center of the Australian Outback. When we arrived in Alice Springs, we jumped on board our rental campervan to Uluru (Ayers Rock), the largest monolith in the world and one of Australia’s icons. Uluru, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is also a sacred site for the Anangu, the region’s indigenous group. A few kilometers away, Kata Tjuta is another rock formation no less impressive than its cousin Uluru.

Before we ventured there, we were afraid of the extreme heat of the Australian desert. But as it is a dry heat, we have not been as affected as by… flies! As soon as we got out of our vehicle, they would swirl around our heads by the hundreds, following us wherever we went. One of our best investments to date has been the mosquito nets we wore on our heads that prevented flies from clinging to our nostrils, mouths and ears in search of a little moisture in this excessive drought.

Back to Alice Springs, we also had the opportunity to visit Alice Springs Desert Park, to see kangaroos and other marsupials, emus and other birds and reptiles of the country including the surprising Moloch, or “Thorny Devil”.

Mount Conner Lookout

Mount Conner Lookout

Kata Tjuta

Kata Tjuta

Uluru

Uluru

Ayers Rock - Uluru

Ayers Rock – Uluru

Use fly nets to keep flies away!

Use fly nets to keep flies away!

Thorny Devil at Alice Springs Desert Park

Thorny Devil at Alice Springs Desert Park

Sydney

The main reason we had to visit Sydney was to join the Christian community of Hillsong Church! This church was founded right here in Sydney and is internationally recognized for its songs of worship, which are now being sung by all the Christian churches across the world. The organization of this church is phenomenal. The Senior Pastor, Bryan Houston and the entire Hillsong team were able to breathe life into a true house of worship and celebration, with members who are passionate for God. The Hillsong community now has more than 100 churches planted around the world, including the one in London, which we joined last June when we were in England.

Sydney is a city with an incredible appeal! Bondi Beach, with its stretch of white sand, skate park, joggers and bodybuilders, looks like the Californian Venice Beach, with fewer palm trees. The city center is beautiful and walking around is pleasant. We had the opportunity to visit the superb botanical garden, with a special interest in the exhibition of carnivorous plants that made the boys very curious! The Sydney Opera House, part of UNESCO’s heritage, is majestic. We took a ferry ride through Sydney Harbour to look at it from all angles, along with the city’s other landmark, the Harbour Bridge.

Hillsong Church, Sydney

Hillsong Church, Sydney

Bondi Beach Pool

Bondi Beach Pool

Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach

Sydney Tower Eye

Sydney Tower Eye

Ibis at the Royal Botanical Garden

Ibis at the Royal Botanical Garden

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

Port of Sydney

Port of Sydney

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

Harbour Bridge

Harbour Bridge

St Mary's Cathedral

St Mary’s Cathedral

Gold Coast

We loved exploring Gold Coast and looking at its sublime skyline located by the beach. This city, which is focused on entertainment, is known for its amusement parks and its 53km of coastline, with its pristine beaches and surfers.

Snapper Rocks, Gold Coast

Snapper Rocks, Gold Coast

Gold Coast Skyline from Burleigh Head

Gold Coast Skyline from Burleigh Head

Mermaid Beach, Gold Coast

Mermaid Beach, Gold Coast

Byron Bay

Located 1 hour from Gold Coast, Byron Bay is a coastal village, also world famous for being a surfing destination. We enjoyed Cape Byron with its lighthouse, which happens to be the most easterly point of Australia.

Cape Byron Lighthouse

Cape Byron Lighthouse

Cape Byron

Cape Byron

Cape Byron Beach

Cape Byron Beach

Brisbane

Brisbane is the capital of Queensland and the 3rd largest city in Australia. We enjoyed discovering the city centre, as well as the South Bank where the city’s cultural centre is located, with a beautiful large park and free museums!

Nepalese Temple, Brisbane

Nepalese Temple, Brisbane

Brisbane

Brisbane

Galley of Modern Art, Brisbane

Galley of Modern Art, Brisbane

Galley of Modern Art, Brisbane

Galley of Modern Art, Brisbane

For a better preparation

Itinerary

We made a short and rather intense 11-day visit to Australia, and here is the program:

  • Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road: 2 days;
  • Alice Springs and Uluru (Ayers Rock): 3 days;
  • Sydney : 3 days;
  • Gold Coast, Byron Bay and Brisbane: 3 days.

Transportation

Given the long distances between cities and our short time, we preferred to fly. And we had to use tricks to do it economically. Fortunately, since we were able to get a maximum value out of credit card points by flying to Alice Springs! As of today, a one-way flight from Sydney or Melbourne to Alice Springs is not sold for less than USD 177 with Virgin Australia. The good news is that for 10000 Avios points and about 21 USD, this can be done with the best airline in the world, which is no other than Qantas! And these one-way flights with Qantas are priced at a minimum of 231 USD! For our family of 4, our flights Melbourne-Alice Springs and Alice Springs-Sydney have cost us 80,000 Avios points + 172 USD instead of 1850 USD with Qantas, a saving of 1678 USD. The most amazing part is that we have earned these points simply with the bonus that is granted by one American Express Platinum credit card.

Flying Qantas with points

Flying Qantas with points

Another Travel Hacker trick to get a little luxury for free: Sydney, Melbourne and Gold Coast airports are among those airports where we were able to eat for free “on departure” and “on arrival” with our Priority Pass memberships. The rule is that each person is entitled to 36 AUD (or 25 USD) of food, which is 144 AUD for the 4 of us! And we didn’t deprive ourselves of it by eating and do our groceries before leaving the airports.

At all locations, we rented a car, except in Alice Springs where we had a campervan. It was essential to cover the 2500 km we covered in 11 days.

Hyundai Accent in Melbourne

Hyundai Accent in Melbourne

VW Tiguan in Sydney

VW Tiguan in Sydney

Campervan in Alice Springs

Campervan in Alice Springs

Toyota Corolla in Gold Coast

Toyota Corolla in Gold Coast

 

Accommodation

In Sydney, we stayed 3 nights at Mercure Sydney Parramatta, where we only spent USD 18 per night, since we got certificates from Hotels.com, which we obtained from prior nights.

In Gold Coast, we stayed 3 nights at Mercure Gold Coast Resort, another 4-star hotel with a golf course, at an exceptional price-quality ratio.

Our room at Mercure Gold Coast Resort

Our room at Mercure Gold Coast Resort

Expenses

Thanks to our Travel Hacking techniques, we have been able to reduce the costs of our flights, hotels, car rental and even food! Therefore, our stay in the land of the kangaroos did not cost us as much as we might have expected, given all we have done there.

The cost of our stay for our family of 4 is:

  • 3,758.00 AUD (2,918.98 USD);
  • 342.00 AUD (265.64 USD) per day;
  • 85.50 AUD (66.41 USD) per person and per day.

In detail:

Expense Category Amount Spent
Flight 1,288.00 AUD / 1,000.44 USD
Accomodation 404.00 AUD / 313.80 USD
Transport (including gas) 1,556.00 AUD / 1,208.60 USD
Eating out 88.00 AUD / 68.35 USD
Groceries 270.00 AUD / 209.72 USD
Activities 152.00 AUD / 118.06 USD
Total3,758.00 AUD / 2,918.98 USD

In a nutshell

Dates2019-02-18 to 2019-03-01
Number of days 11
Cities we visited Melbourne, Alice Springs, Sydney, Gold Coast, Brisbane
Inbound From the Philippines by plane
Outbound To New Zealand by plane
Mode of transport Rental car, campervan
Distance travelled (car, foot) 2500 km
Number of photos taken 5900 (536 per day)
Currency The Australian Dollar (1.00 USD = 1.29 AUD)

Conclusion

We were pleasantly surprised by the high quality of life in Australia. Very often, we even had the impression that they were in our own country, Canada. This country definitely is a favorite for our family, and we will certainly return in the future to visit it extensively!Post

And now, let’s make way for New Zealand!

==> Download all our photos of Australia for free!

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