Cheap flights to Australia take about a day and will deliver passengers to a truly different country. The land Down Under is red hot and surrounded by golden beaches and clear waters. Lush rainforests, lagoons, snow-topped mountains, desert and lush vineyards share the landscape with easygoing, friendly Australians and Aboriginal Australians, custodians of the world’s oldest living culture.
Sharing the country too is a stunning collection of wildlife – goannas, galas, quolls, drongos, pademelon, echidnas as well as the more familiar kangaroos and koala bears.
Travelers stepping off their plane will be able to do things here they’re unable to do anywhere else in the world. These include standing where the Daintree Rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef, watching the Southern and Indian Oceans collide, camping by a billabong, learning the ropes at a jackaroo school, or visiting the world’s only numerical town – 1770, named for the year Cook landed on Australian shores.
Norfolk Island is closer to New Zealand and New Caledonia than it is to Sydney, but it’s one of Australia’s external territories, with a large degree of self-governance and its own language. Travelers taking cheap flights to Norfolk Island will receive a warm welcome from the islanders. Tourism is of great importance to this island.
It wasn’t always so. The island has a history that stretches back to penal settlement days – a fact that has been recognized by the World Heritage Committee of the United Nations. Eleven Australian Convict Sites including Kingston and Arthurs Vale were inscribed by the UN as World Heritage sites in 2010. Norfolk Island is also home to descendants of the rebellious Bounty crew and their Tahitian partners.
Norfolk Island’s lush landscape and deep blue waters are made for adventurers. Norfolk Island National Park covers about 10 per cent of the island and includes two smaller islands south of NI – Nepean Island and Phillip Island. There are several hiking trails through the park, some through Norfolk pine and rainforest, and a Botanic Gardens.
Surfing, scuba diving, golf (there’s a nine-hole golf course in Kingston), horse-riding and fishing are other activities. To provide fuel for these activities, there is a wonderful selection of restaurants that serve the bounty of the island.
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.
Peak season:As the Australian continent spans such a huge area, the peak tourist season on one side of the country is different from that on the other. The hot, summer months of December through to February are ideal along the southern and eastern coastlines, with clear, blue skies and lots of festivals in full swing. Many locals are on their annual vacation during this period and both accommodation and flights get booked out well in advance.
The tropical north experiences its peak tourist season from June through to August, when many North Americans and Europeans are on their annual summer holidays. This coincides with the region’s “dry” season when rain is scarce and there are no
jellyfish in the water. This is also an ideal time for scuba diving and snorkeling along
the Great Barrier Reef, with visibility at its clearest.
The cool winter months are also a popular time throughout Central Australia and Uluru, and while daytime temperatures are mild, they can plummet at night.
Off season: In the south of the country, the off season is throughout the cold winter, when drizzly skies prevail and temperatures drop considerably. While you will get the best hotel and flight deals during this time, the milder spring or autumn months are a good alternative.
In the north of the country the “wet” season from November through to May sees heavy daily downpours and occasional cyclones, as well as jellyfish that make swimming at some beaches impossible.
The best deals on flights to Australia are always found by booking early, but if you are travelling outside of school holiday months you can also secure some cheap flight tickets at the last minute. If you are travelling over the summer holidays, cheap flights to Australia can be difficult to come by, particularly if you are heading to the southern regions, but there are a few good deals over the quieter Spring and Autumn periods.
If you’re heading to Australia from the United States, get ready to settle back for a long ride, because the flight time from Los Angeles ranges from 14 to about 19 hours, assuming you’re flying nonstop. If you’re flying from elsewhere in North America, you’ll probably have to fly through L.A. or San Francisco. Don’t forget that when you fly to Australia, you cross the International Date Line, which affects all your calculations for arrival and departure on both the flight out and your return home.
You have a wide range of airlines to choose from when flying to Australia, especially if your immediate destination is Sydney. Hop a flight from Los Angeles, San Francisco or Honolulu on popular carriers Virgin Australia, Qantas or Hawaiian Airlines, or check out availability on flights with Delta, American or United. Other airlines flying from Los Angeles include China Eastern and Philippine Airlines. From L.A., you can also catch nonstop flights to Brisbane and Melbourne on airlines including Virgin Australia and Qantas.
Australia has extreme weather, so your packing needs to focus on the season in which you’re visiting — Just remember than when it’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s summer in Australia! Layer up for winter, with warm jackets and pants to protect you from the cold. In summertime — and really, year-round — remember the classic Australian advice to “Slip! Slop! Slap!” You probably already have the long-sleeved shirt to slip on, but don’t forget the sunscreen to slop on and the wide-brimmed hat to slap on. Australia calls people out into nature, so pack whatever you need for your favorite outdoor activities, whether sandals and scuba gear for the ocean or hiking boots, and if you’re headed to the Outback, make sure you have bug spray and mosquito netting.
Most of Australia’s major airports have shuttle bus services that operate into the city center, either dropping guests directly at hotels or designated meeting points. Their schedule normally coincides with all incoming flights and are a cheap and reliable option.
Both Sydney and Brisbane airports also have trains that service multiple stations within the city and its outskirts. This is a great option to avoid traffic delays, particularly if you arriving or departing during peak “rush” hours.
The most expensive, but convenient, way to get from Australia’s airports into the city centers is with a metered taxi. This is a fast and reliable option that will deliver you straight to your door.
From the cosmopolitan culture of Sydney to the wildness of the Outback with its animals that aren’t found anywhere else in the world, Australia is a mind-opening continent to visit. The continent offers natural vistas unlike anything anywhere, and if you have a chance to voyage into the Outback, you’ll find it unforgettable. At Ayers Rock, meditate on the largest rock formation in the world (and refrain from saying anything about dingos eating babies!). At Kakadu National Park, Aboriginals can give you a tour that helps you understand Australia’s past. When you visit Brisbane, stop at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary to get in a cuddle
The beauty of Australia extends to the waters that surround it, so head to Lagoon Beach on Lord Howe Island, to Watson’s Bay on Lizard Island, or to the island of Tasmania to enjoy astonishing beaches and amazing snorkeling. The Whitsunday Islands off the coast of Queensland welcome you with coral reefs and perfect sailing, and while you’re in Queensland, take a ride on the Kuranda Scenic Railway, which takes you on a breathtaking journey up mountainsides and through rain forests.
Everyone knows the silhouette of the famous Sydney Opera House, but the city and harbor of Sydney offer so much more, with plenty of waterside parks and marinas to draw you to the water. Head to the Opera House itself for uplifting performances, or stop at the National Gallery of Australia to get a deeper understanding of this unique country through its art.
Norfolk Island doesn’t levy Australian Government taxes and duties and is a great shopping destination. Burnt Pine is the place to find the leading shops. It’s much cheaper than the mainland.
The Norfolk Island Museum complex in Kingston is worth a visit. The exhibits tell the story of the convict settlements and the Bounty.
Fletcher’s Mutiny Cyclorama on Queen Elizabeth Avenue is fascinating. It’s a 360-degree panoramic painting, a series of scenes telling the story of the descendants of the Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian partners. Walking around this massive painting is a unique experience. It’s open seven days (Monday to Saturday 9am–5pm, Sunday 10am–3pm, and entry is via the Gallery Guava).
There is a great selection of tours to take around Norfolk Island such as a Convict Settlement Tour, which takes in the historic Georgian settlement of Kingston Walk, the cemetery and Quality Row, ruins of the New Gaol, Pier Store, Boat Shed and Crank Mill. There’s also a Night as a Convict Dinner, which is highly rated by lots of visitors. Guests dress as a convict (supplied by the tour operator) and join the Commandant for an evening of feasting, singing and dancing.
Sydney’s historic sewers have become one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. They were built by British settlers and convicts around 1788 and are some of the oldest surviving remnants of Australia’s early European settlement. Try to get a place on a tour about the same time as you book cheap flights to Australia. More than 4,000 people apply for tickets but authorities can take just 180 people at a time.
To get a bird’s eye view of Sydney, climb the Harbour Bridge. Guided tours take about three-and-a-half hours. From the top there are views of the mountains, Bondi Beach and the famous Sydney landmarks such as the Opera House, port and downtown.
Much of Australia’s Gold and Sunshine coasts are given over to apartment blocks and theme parks, but 1770 (named to commemorate the year Captain James Cook landed) remains a tropical paradise. The town is in central Queensland, along the Capricorn Coast. Fly from Brisbane to Bundaberg and drive from there. It’s a 90-minute drive or so from Bundaberg.
Start your morning in Melbourne at the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere, the Queen Victoria Market.
To get the pulse of Australia’s Aboriginal people, vacation for a few days with a traditional community in the Northern Territory. Gunya Titjikala is a venture between the Titjikala aboriginal community and Gunya Tourism, and provides accommodations in “five-star tents” beside the community, located aprox.75 miles south of Alice Springs. Guests will learn about aboriginal culture and survival knowledge during the day and feast on “bush tucker” meals at night.
The major airlines within Australia are Virgin Australia, Qantas and Jetstar, and if Australia’s your starting point, or if you’re looking for flights to get from one part of this huge continent to another, these are the airlines to start with.
(prices quoted are from London)