Australia is a big place. How much you see and where you go will depend on three things:
- the time you have,
- the time of the year and
- the things you enjoy seeing and doing.
The time you have
As Jane Austin says in Pride and Prejudice, near and far are relative terms. If you see my blog on the Northern Territory, you can cover a lot of ground in a short time. Fast travel isn’t for everyone, though. And if you start in a big city like Sydney, you will possibly not get so far, but have seen a great deal.
Western Australia is the largest State and has almost every climate type (see below), producing every kind of environment. Before I went, people warned that it was a long way to anywhere, but it really is about a day’s travel to many of the locations (8-10 hours drive at 100km/hr). We did it in 39 days, but that included a long stop in Perth and other extended stops, as well as inland treks.
Every State has a lot to see and do. You would have to look at the time you have and marry it with the things you want or love to do.
The time of the year
As a big island, we have an enormous range in climate. Our climate is temperamental. Check before you leave.
In everyday language, above the Tropic of Capricorn (see map in A good State to be in) you will be guaranteed warm to hot weather all year. Clothing – strictly shorts and light tops.
The vast desert region occupying most of the centre is cold at night in the dry season, loosely corresponding to Winter (June – August) and mild at other times. Do not underestimate how hot it gets in the desert – we have met travellers from Europe about to embark on the Tanami Desert , carrying no water. THAT IS CRAZY! You’ll need a hat, too.
It is hot to extremely hot in the Wet (October – April) and can be tremendously humid.
October to April (roughly) is the cyclone season, so floods and very high winds would deter most travellers from the ‘top end’.
There is no Spring or Autumn in this region, although wildflowers (famous in Western Australia) bloom in what would be called Spring south of the Tropic.
As you would expect, from the Tropic it gets cooler as you head south and warmer as you go north. Winter in the south is from June to August and you’ll get lots of rain and cold winds but our snow regions are sparse. Our minimum temperatures don’t commonly go below zero but in the open it’ll be cold.
Summer in the south is from December to February, but we can have 40C in March (not unexpected in South Australia).
Western Australia is windy.
In geographical terms, the following map could help:
The things you enjoy seeing and doing.
We are a population that hugs the coast and once won most of the Olympic swimming competitions. We are a beach culture. However, in the north there are ‘stingers’ in Summer. These are jelly fish that sting and some can be fatal. While some beaches have vinegar or warm water for removing the tentacles or sting, not all do and it is common in these regions for people to do most of their swimming in chlorinated public or private pools.
Climbing – we have plenty of hills and ranges to climb.
Walking – with so much space and distance there is a walk to suit all abilities and ages. Many have bike access or are wheelchair friendly.
Train rides – I’m not sure if we can compete with the speeds of Europe, but we have some delightful and some dramatic steam train journeys, including the 52 degree incline of the Blue Mountain rail journey. Then there are the epic journeys between states and across the dessert.
Underwater adventure – whether it’s the fast disappearing Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays or the Ningaloo Reef, we have underwater scenery to amaze you. Swim with sharks if that takes your fancy, but make sure you are in the cage!
Cycling – It is mandatory in many States, now, for all new roads to have bike lanes. We have the Tour Downunder for a reason, so there are tracks and roadways for everyone.
Scenery – what can I say? We have it all – the good, the great and the unusual.
Birdlife – a very large variety of birdlife can be found and you are better off checking the location you are thinking of or going to http://www.birdlife.org.au/ before deciding where you’ll bird watch.
Wildlife – Our unique marsupials are world renowned. We have most of the deadliest snakes in the world, so research that and tread heavily where you go.
Fishing – yep! I’d recommend joining one of the Barra (Barramundi) safaris for adventure, but look out for the eyes floating on top of the water.
Food – we are a multicultural country so I defy you not to find your culture’s culinary delight. We offer food trails in most States and several in some. Free samples, too!
Wine – ah! Bacchus couldn’t ask for more. Light wines in rainy areas, heavier in the dry. Don’t look for anything in Queensland or Northern Territory , as the humid climate and the grapes are not friends. Although they do import from the rest of us, so you’ll find something. Beer is the poison of those regions.
Botany – plants and flowers to satisfy Joseph Banks. We have such a wide range you’d need to check local areas.
Camping – of course. But we are a big place with lots of isolated areas. Be careful and sensible.
History – we don’t have the buildings of the rest of the world, that are centuries old. But we have a billion year old history that is evident in rock formations and landforms.
Rocks – see the last item and be ready for red.
Culture – we have the oldest surviving culture, in the Aboriginal people.
SO much more. Research, research or just ask.
WATER WATER WATER and a hat. And your camera!