How to Plan a Trip to Australia: What to See and Where to Start

Travelling for the first time to Australia can be an overwhelming experience. Not only because you are going to the other side of the world, but because creating a cost-effective trip plan requires time and effort that can be out of your control. Australia is (in) famous for being an expensive destination, but while this is true, there is often a lot of exaggeration about it.

Travelling around Australia can become the most significant expense if you are not timely budgeting for it and exactly know what has an impact on the overall travel expenses.

But once you know about what things not to do in Australia, then you will soon realise that travelling on a budget in Australia is possible and without having to break the bank!

Here below, I tell you how.

Where to travel in Australia

All essential things to know about Australia

The most important thing to make budget travel in Australia possible is proper planning. Some things work differently in the land down under, and without a thought-out trip plan, you are bound to overspend and exceed your budget very quickly.

These are the main reasons why accurate trip planning for Australia is necessary:

1. You can’t afford to make changes to your trip plan in the last-minute

Making changes to your trip plan will increase the cost of your trip by 100% and even more. In Australia, distances are enormous; it takes a long time to move from A to B. Cheap flights, and internal transportation must be booked well in advance, that will save you at least 30-50% on regular rates.

2. Don’t waste time doing extra research when in Australia

You’re there to discover places and experience a new country, not to plan and revise the itinerary all the time. The vast majority of your planning must be completed before leaving for Australia.

3. You need a clear focus on what you want to do in Australia

Like any good blueprint, your trip requires a goal, a purpose. With a clear focus, it’s easier to identify areas and destinations to include in your itinerary, and it makes planning accurate.

4. Narrowing down your itinerary plan is key

Make a list of the places you want to see, along with the time frame you have set, and then go through and whittle it down to a maximum of four to five destinations on a 20-30 day trip.

Learn the basics of any Australia Trip Plan

How much time do I need to see a place in Australia? It’s the challenge no. 1 first-time traveller to Australia face. What looks like a short distance often turns out to be a several-day trip. Australia is a great country for road trips, but you must know what you’re getting into 

How much time do you need to travel to Australia?

Whether your trip is two weeks or three months, timing is vital. It is the most critical element in crafting your ideal Australia Itinerary. You need to know the minimum time you’re going to allocate to each place. On the one hand, you don’t want to miss out on essential things, but on the other hand, you don’t want to stay too long in one place as you want to make the most of your time.

Most people do underestimate this critical issue and think two weeks will be enough to visit Australia. But in reality, it is not so. Australia is a vast country with largely deserted areas. If you are travelling to Australia for the first time, ideally plan four weeks for the first trip to Australia.

If you only have one week to spend in Australia, you should first consider whether the long journey is worth such a short stay. Anyways, keeping the focus on one specific region of Australia is the way to go.

What, Where and When to plan a trip to Australia

Australia is a vast country with different climate and time zones ranging from tropical to temperate. Depending on which time of the year you are visiting Australia, you can choose the areas accordingly. If you wish to spend most of your time in the Outback and tropical regions from May to October will be the best time. If your trip includes the southern areas of the country: Victoria and Tasmania, then the ideal time is to visit between November and March.

Australia’s tropical wet season in the northern tropical regions of Australia are between November and February and best to avoid travel to north Australia during these months which on their turn are best between May and September.

Top places you shouldn’t miss in Australia

  1. Sydney is a unique city that offers you places that stand out, like the Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, and Bondi Beach.
  2. Cairns in Tropical North Queensland is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the 7 Wonders of the World, and you wouldn’t want to miss out on this when visiting Australia. And snorkelling is one of the fun activities you can try here.
  3. Whitsundays, Gold Coast, and Fraser Island are unique places where you can experience dunes adventures, sailing and snorkelling, as well as hiking in the forests, which are some of the other attractions in Queensland.
  4. You should also try to see Uluru (Ayers Rock), as it is not only an icon of the Australian Outback, but even this is a unique site, very different from the rest.
  5. South Australia offers excellent vineyards and beautiful coastline. You can plan a trip to Barossa Valley for the same, if you are a food and wine lover, Adelaide and its surrounds will spoil you.
  6. A place very different from the rest of the country is Tasmania islands.
  7. For those who want to see some of the best Australian national parks, the Top End in the Northern Territory is for you.

Where to go in Australia: from choosing places to getting around the country

Choosing your destinations in Australia is the hardest part of any trip itinerary. To make it a little bit easier, think back to the questions you asked yourself at the beginning.  What is the reason for your trip to Australia?

Tip: Make a list of 10 or more destinations you’d like to visit. Then pull out a map and think about the time frame and transportation options.

Driving in Australia for tourists isn’t the problem. Choose your self-drive destinations based on 
your level of driving experience. Keep in
 mind that four-wheel drive can be
 challenging, especially if you have no experience. Anyone, can Outback road trip on sealed roads with no problems – even if you’re travelling alone, you can enjoy self-driving in Australia.

Here are my best tips on how to plan a road trip in Australia.

Before creating a road trip plan for Australia, answer these questions:

1. What distances can you drive to on your own?

2. What alternative ways of transportation can you consider?

3. How much time do you need to visit a place or an area?

Once you’ve done that, it should be easier to cross some destinations off your list and make a realistic Australia trip plan. If you have three or four weeks for your trip, reduce the list to four or five places. Once you have the rough itinerary set, you’re halfway there. The next important step is to make a travel plan for Australia that perfectly fits your budget and time frame.

Why Travel Distances matter for any Australian trip plan

Australia it’s twice as big as Europe.  Travel distances are vast and often underestimated and challenging first-time travellers. By looking at this map, you’ll realise that you cannot put whole of Australia on an itinerary of a few weeks. That’s why it’s essential first to get a feel for the vastness of the country, then choose a region that most suits your travel style and allows enough time to visit the desired destinations at a slow pace.

Australia Travel Distances
Australia Travel distances do have an impact on your trip plan

A few examples of travel distances in Australia

The distance from Perth to Adelaide is over 2,500km. The best way to get there is to fly. With the GHAN train, it takes two days/two nights. If you plan to drive, you need at least 8-12 days. It means that driving is doable on long-term trips only. From Darwin to Cairns, the fastest way is to fly. The same goes for Sydney to Cairns. If you’re on a long journey, driving can be fun; the best approach is to hire a camper van and plan for three weeks on the road. With nearly 3,000km from Adelaide to Darwin, you need between 12-16 days on a road trip or a four-hour flight.

Tips for creating a trip plan to Australia efficiently

As a first time traveller to Australia, you want to see as much as you can. You can’t afford to make mistakes or miss out on things you would’ve loved to see.

The hardest part about creating a good itinerary in Australia is balancing your time frame with the places you want to see and the distances you have to travel.

Get Help with Your Australia Itinerary Guide Book

That’s the reason I have created a handy Australia guide book to take you through all the above steps in details. It shows how much time you need for each place, what you can and can’t do, how to maximise your time and make cost-effective choices with destinations, transportation and finally set up the right itinerary.

The first part focuses on the how-to, thus saving you hours of wading through the abundance of information on the internet. The second part outlines five detailed routes around Australia that you can extend or shorten with suggested places and activities.

Now you won’t need six months, or even six weeks to create your itinerary. With this book in hand, you’ll need one hour to read it, plus a week to make your choices and put together a detailed trip plan.

On this page, you can learn more about our Australia Guide Book.

All crucial things that you should know to make a cost-effective plan for your Australia Trip. From the basics to in-depth advice, here are my best best tips to help you create your own itinerary around the country.
How to create the perfect Australia Trip Plan

And on this page, you learn how all first-time visitors to Australia and especially female solo travellers over 50 can benefit from this Australian Guide Book.

How the book will help with your trip plan to Australia

A well thought out itinerary allows you to see Australia without having to make changes last-minute. It means you’ll maximise your time and potentially save up hundreds if not thousands of Australian dollars on your trip. The guide book stretches from iconic landmarks to less-visited small towns and regions of Australia, and it is the reflection of +15 years of my explorations of the country.

I wrote this book from my solo female travel experience to help women over 40 travel to Australia safely and with a perfect travel plan.

Over the past 5 years, the guide book has helped hundreds of travellers planning their Australian Adventures, and here you can also click to see what readers say of the book.

All crucial things that you should know to make a cost-effective plan for your Australia Trip. From the basics to in-depth advice, here are my best best tips to help you create your own itinerary around the country.
Your Complete Australia Trip Planning Guide



More Resources for any Australia Travel Plan

Here is a list of popular posts that will further help you plan a trip to Australia.

Trip Planning Services for Australia

Trip Planning Guide for Australia

All Travel Destinations in Australia

The Complete Travel Guide for Australia

Travel Insurance for Australia

A Travel Checklist for Australia

Backpacking Australia Solo

Solo Travel Tips for Australia

Back to Rocky Travel


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