The Commonwealth of Australia was formed in 1901 when the six states that make up Australia – New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia – formed a unified nation. Travelers booking flights to Australia head “down under” to encounter the best natural scenery, bizarre wildlife, beautiful beaches, amazing snorkeling and scuba diving, and the oldest rainforest (110 million years).
Australia grows “lilli-pillies” and “wattle seeds,” is home to dingos and wombats, and takes pride in its hometown heroes including Olympic athletes Cathy Freeman and swimmer Ian Thorpe. It’s no wonder thousands of travelers book flights to Australia every year to experience a bit of the outback.
Before purchasing airline tickets and heading to the land down under, there are a few things all travelers should know:
Aussies drink a “tinnie” (a can of beer) and eat lilli-pillies (sweet pink berry), wattle seeds (roasted ground acacia seeds) and Quandongs (the native peach). Australian wines are some of the best in the world. Sommeliers booking flights to Australia will love its bold shiraz varietals and grassy sauvignon blancs. The best recent vintages are 1998 and 2002.
It’s ok to refuse a “witchetty grub” – a one-of-a-kind Australian nibble. Most travelers booking flights to Australia aren’t daring enough to eat the fat, slimy white critter alive. Don’t worry – most locals don’t have the courage, either.
Australia is an enormous country and its climate varies as such. The north can be hot and tropical and the south cool with the occasional snow. When you’re planning your trip, remember that the seasons are opposite those in the northern hemisphere. Summer lasts from December through February in most of the country. It’s also the wet season for the north. The winters, between June and August, are fairly mild. The north has dry, sunny days and the south is dry with some snow in the mountains. It’s very important to protect yourself from the sun in Australia. Cover up with a hat and use plenty of high-SPF sunscreen.
Best Time to Fly to Australia
Australia enjoys its summer while Europe shivers, so December to February can be a good time to visit. It can get very hot, but it's great weather for the beach. Many airlines offer good Australia flight deals around this time, so cheap flights to Australia can be found. In spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May) the weather is mild and temperatures are comfortable.
June to August is winter in Australia, but skiers and snowboarders might like to go to New South Wales and Victoria for the winter sports. In the north of the country, the summer wet season is very humid and uncomfortable.
Getting around Australia
Australia with its huge, unpopulated areas and harsh terrain, cries out for the low-cost airlines. Travelers can book local Australia flights one of the following carriers:
Virgin blue flies mostly on the eastern side of Australia connecting Sydney with Melbourne, Cairns, the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and the gold coast. It also flies to Adelaide, Perth, Broome and Darwin.
Jetstar - Operating out of Melbourne Avalon Airport, the airline flies to 14 destinations within Australia including Adelaide, Cairns, the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Perth and the Sunshine Coast.
Skywest flies in Western Australia (Broome, Perth), the Northern Territory (Darwin), and to Bali.
If a trip to neighboring New Zealand is on the itinerary, Freedom Air connects Melbourne and Sydney, the Gold Coast and Brisbane with Dunedin and Palmerston North in New Zealand.
There are also Australia cheap flights from Qantas - regular red e-deals - that the airline is quick to put in a newsletter and send out.
The following chart gives approximate travel times fromSydney
(in hours and minutes) to other major cities in Australia.
Australia Travel Information
- Public transportation is poor, so if you can afford it hire a car to make sure you can see the unspoilt environment in all its glory. In some major cities, you can find rent-a-wreck style hire companies that allow you to hire a secondhand car very cheaply, though mileage limits might mean you may not be able to get as far away from the city as you need.
- Be very, very careful when disposing of cigarette butts in the country, most of which is national park or Crown land. The vegetation is so dry that the smallest spark can start an inferno and land you in jail.
- Queensland is home to the Great Barrier Reef and averages 300 sunny days a year. Brisbane, political and art capital of Queensland, has a world-class cultural calendar, thriving nightlife, and perfect climate. When you’re not visiting the islands, take in the town’s sights: Queenslander cottages converted to cafes, restaurants, and shops; excellent cuisine; fine arts; and sporting events.
- Also in Queensland, Cairns is the only place in the world with side-by-side World Heritage sites: the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics Rainforest. In the north, the rainforest touches the reef, and you can go from the beach to snorkeling in the reef. An international tourist destination, Cairns has a nightlife, shopping, and accommodations for all budgets.
- Australia’s oldest city, Sydney has international style, superb dining, budget to luxury Sydney hotels and plenty of exuberance. The nightlife offers the renown Sydney Opera House and theaters as well as trendy clubs, bars, and rowdy pubs. The Harbor Bridge is a must-see and must-climb, and beaches are around the harbor and along the oceanfront. A true cosmopolitan city, the shopping is excellent, especially for opals.
- Perth is a city of skyscrapers, yet great beaches are just a bus ride away from your Perth hotel. Rottnest Island has snorkeling, fishing, golfing, and hiking. Nearby Fremantle has heritage-listed buildings, restored warehouses, museums, and selections of crafts and Aboriginal souvenirs. Or head over to the Darling Range and bushwalk to the oldest rocks on Earth, waterfalls, and forests.
- Melbourne is known for the good things in life: fashion, food, entertainment, nightlife, sports, and shopping. International festivals are held year-round, and sports venues include the Australian Open, Melbourne Cup, car racing, and Australian-rules football. A shoppers delight, there’s everything from high fashion to unique souvenirs and handcrafts. A cultural melting pot, Melbourne has old-world charm with its Victorian architecture ethnic restaurants, and various Melbourne hotels.