Never wonder where to go on holidays again with this long overview of Australian holiday destinations and ideas. It’s most helpful if you don’t know much about your holiday options in Australia or for regular travellers searching for new ideas.
If you haven’t travelled much in Australia use the table of contents to check out iconic destinations or ideas in your state while regular travellers in Australia can head to the special interest summaries to find a lesser known destinations.
If you want to plan an Australian holiday and are trying to find destinations, places to visit or ideas of where to go on holidays in regional or remote Australia this artilce will help you find ideas to create a short list. Hopefully it will help answer your question ‘where should I go on a holiday in Australia’ or at the very least it will help you create a short list!
If you need more in depth information, I have included links to my longer articles where they exist.
Iconic Australian Holiday Destinations to visit
The Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is one of the most world renowned Australian holiday destinations. It officially starts at the round about in Torquay, just 1 hour 20 min drive from Melbourne, so it’s an easy long weekend away from anywhere in Australia that has direct flights to Melbourne.
You can also visit it as an awesome but long day trip from Geelong or Melbourne but whether you are flying to Victoria or it is your home state, you can explore so much deeper when you have the time to stay overnight.
The iconic sites to visit on a Great Ocean Road trip are of course the 12 Apostles (spoiler alert, there’s not 12), Gibsons Steps, Erksine Falls (out the back of Lorne) and stopping at Kennett River to see Koalas. However, I also love the short version of the Moggs Creek Ocean View Lookout bush walk for 180 degree coastal views, stopping at the roadside lookouts like the one heading west out of Anglesea (they’re easier to stop at if you drive it east to west) and a drink with a view in Lorne or at the Wye River pub..
When you have more than a day then extra adventures begin. I personally love detouring to do the rainforest and waterfalls drive which takes you through forests of towering ancient gums in the Otway National Park. Make time to venture into Triplet Falls for a gorgeous rainforest walk finishing with a multi level waterfall and fit in some extra food stops such as fish and chips on the harbour at Apollo Bay Fishermen’s Co-Op or for artesian chocolate or cheese near Port Campbell.
The Great Barrier Reef
One of Australias most famous tourism attractions The Great Barrier Reef can be visited from multiple destinations serviced by airports or ferry transfers along the Queensland Coast.
Most commonly people visit the reef on a boat day trip from either Cairns or the Whitsundays. From both destinations the reef is a several hours trip and their are lots of tour companies operating both pontoon and non pontoon trips.
However these are not the only places to access the reef.
Heron Island, accessed by ferry from Gladstone, and Lady Elliot Island access by plane transfer from several QLD airports both allow you to stay on the Southern Great Barrier Reed. This makes snorkelling more accessible with the reef easily access around the Islands.
Fitzroy Island and Green Island off the coast of Cairns can be accessed as an overnight guest or via day trip. Both offer the chance to snorkel straight of the beach of the resort however like many areas of the Northern reef there has been climate change related bleaching damage in recent years as well as being busy tourism areas. Turtles are regularly spotted by snorkellers from the Fitzroy Island beach.
World renowed as it is, the Great Barrier Reef is also under threat. It is really important that you follow reef safe and no standing rules while visiting and support preventing projects on the mainland that further damage the reef.
Uluru & Kata Tjuta
Two of the most well known geological landmarks in Australia are Uluṟu and Kata Tjuta in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Both are incredibly sacred to the Aṉangu People, who welcome you to visit the Park (Parks Australia link) and learn about their culture.
When you visit the park you have the chance to wander beneath the towering form of Uluru and amongst the 36 domes of Kata Tjuta. There is also many opportunities to learn about Aṉangu culture and what a special place the area is.
There is also lots of interesting Flora and Fauna in the park. While on the surface arid areas of Australia may look barren, they are actually rich with plant and animal species when you take the time to explore and learn from guides on a tour.
Popular Australian Holiday Destinations by State
Popular Holiday Destinations in Queensland
In Queensland popular holiday destinations include the Whitsunday Islands and mainland resort holidays on the Gold Coast and in the Tropical North (Cairns, Palm Cove & Port Douglas area).
A gallery of photos from Hamilton Island
Self-drive road trips and guided tours of the east coast with visits to the daintree and great barrier reef are some of the most popular holidays in Queensland and Australia.
The east coast of Queensland has long been a backpacker bucket list trip but there are tours for everyone from budget camping through to luxury hotels and everything in between.
Fraser Island is a popular adventure holiday destination and can be visited with your own 4WD, a hire 4WD or on 4WD bus tours around the Island. Its a pretty famous camping holiday destination but the island also has several resorts. It’s also got lots of wildlife with dingoes, high bird diversity and plenty of marine life.
Outback Queensland is growing in popularity, especially amongst those who have the time to travel for longer periods in a van or caravan with plenty of outback parks, stations with hot springs and country towns to explore.
Popular Holiday Destinations in the Northern Territory
The Northern Territory is one of my favourite places in Australia for its vast and beautiful landscapes. Popular Australian holiday destinations in the Northern Territory include Alice Springs and Uluṟu in central Australia and Darwin, Kakadu, Litchfield and Nitmiluk in the Top End of the state.
Of course the Northern Territory is a huge remote outback state with plenty more areas to see and many iconic 4wd trips including those in the Finke Gorge National Park, Binns Track and plenty of other options.
Remote Arnhem Land areas can be visited on organised tours which will have guides who help intexpert the landscapes for you and often offer the chance to learn more about the First Nations Culture of the area you visit with local tours and stops.
Alternatively 4wd can also get a permit from the Northern Land Council to independently travel through the region.
Popular Holiday Destinations in Western Australia
Popular Australian holiday destinations in Western Australia include the South West Corner of WA including the famous Margaret River wine region which is now more easily visited from Melbourne with direct flights to Busselton which is about 40 minutes away. This corner of the state is also famous for the incredible white sandy beaches of Cape Le Grand National Park as well as several areas you can visit giant trees.
The Kimberley Region and the Gibb River Road is famous for its iconic landscapes and while its a bit of a bucket list 4wd trip, non 4wd owners dont have to miss out as you can jump on a 4wd tour of the Gibb River Road with local companies – like this 11 day overland tour with Intrepid/Kimberley Wild.
Broome is the one of Western Australias most famous towns for its epic sunsets over the ocean. A great spot for weary campers to spend some time with access to services it also boasts some pretty amazing resorts like Cable Beach Club Resort which is one of my favourite resorts in Australia (I love its tropical vibes, adults only pool and its cable beach sunset views from the bar).
Popular Holiday Destinations in New South Wales
Popular Australian holiday destinations in New South Wales include Sydney, one of Australia’s most famous cities, the Blue Mountains and coastal destinations like Byron Bay.
Like Queensland, the Outback areas of NSW are increasingly growing in popularity particular for those with the time to explore in a van but there are plenty of inland towns with accommodation for a roadtrip.
South Coast New South Wales is not only popular with people from NSW but also Victorians who jump over the boarder to visit favourite towns like Merimbula or indulge in fishing in this less populated section of coast.
Resorts in the the High Country of New South Wales around places like Perisher are very busy for snow holidays in Winter, and like its Victorian cousins, require deep pockets to visit. Staying in towns nearby like Jindabyne rather that at the mountain resorts can make a snow trip more affordable (but still not cheap)!
Popular Holiday Destinations in Victoria
Popular Australian holiday destinations in Victoria include the famous Great Ocean Road, which I have heaps of guides for visiting, Melbourne and more outdoor destinations like The Grampians and Wilsons Promontory National Park.
Victoria is also full of hundreds of regional towns to visit, many a short road trip from Melbourne like areas in the Yarra ranges as well as visiting regional centres like Geelong, Bendigo and Ballarat and towns nearby to them.
Popular Holidays in South Australia
Popular Australian holiday destinations in South Australia include Kangaroo Island, coastal areas and the stunning Flinders Ranges.
South Australia is especially famous for its wine region, with plenty of opportunities to tour through the Barossa, Clare Valley and other areas.
The city of Adelaide is a particulary pretty and leafy city to explore, as well as plenty to do nearby like the Adelaide hills and the popular and cute German influenced town of Hahndorf.
The Riverland is another popular region, referring to the towns around the Murray River in the north east of the state. There are plenty of places to camp and stay with gorgeous river views and people visit to explore and spend time on the river, taste wine and visit local parks and reserves.
Popular Holidays in Tasmania
Popular Australian holiday destinations in Tasmania include famous Cradle Mountain National Park, Strahan and surrounding wilderness areas and Bay of Fires on the East Coast. But there is so much more to visit.
Tasmania is a really versatility holiday destination; Visiting Hobart or Launceston for the weekend is easy but there is so much to do that you can fill in weeks exploring, especially if you enjoy visiting National Parks, finding food and wine, watching wildlife and bushwalking.
Tasmania has become a huge Mountain Biking destination in recent years, attracting events like the 2023 Enduro World Cup at Maydena and Derby (where people are trying to fight tooth and nail to protect incredibly huge native trees from being logged) and other destinations like new trails added to the West Coast MTB trails with stunning views over wilderness areas.
Popular Holidays in Australian Capital Territory
The Australia Capital Territory has long been a popular Australian holiday destinations for students learning about parliament and science but it also has plenty to offer in the way of bushwalking adventurers.
Head out to Namadji National Park for bushwalking for days, with plenty of walks to choose from including more challenging options and walks to lookouts with views.
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is a great choice to spot wildlife and offers lots of short walks, making connecting with nature easy. It also has plenty of open space to run around, a huge nature discover playground and has bbqs and picnic tables, making it a good place to stop for lunch and especially great for families. It does have an entry fee so make sure you budget to visit.
Holiday Ideas by Interest or Type
Australias huge size means there are holiday destinations and ideas for most special interests. I can’t cover anything but here are some holiday destination ideas for some more popluar interests.
Australia is famous for its unique wildlife much of which is endemic which means only found in Australia!
Relaxing Tropical Australian Holiday Destinations for a Resort Holiday
Northern Australia is full of incredible and relaxing tropical holiday destinations. Here some resort guides I have written to help you find some ideas.
Also these are few of my favourites that I have stayed at:
A destination all by its self, Hamilton Island is a huge Island in the Whitsundays. It has a variety of accommodation options including hotels, apartments, holiday homes and the super exclusive Qualia Resort.
You can do as little as you like on Hammo, lounging by the pool and beach or explore the many bushwalks, snorkels off the beach or head out on a reef tour. There’s also plenty of restaurants and bars, so you can try somewhere new each night or return to a favourite.
Cable Beach Club Resort
Cable Beach club is further away and more expensive to get to unless your in Perth, however its a great alternative choice for those who are looking for a change from Queensland but still looking for a larger style resort.
Adventure holidays australia
There are plenty of Adventure holidays in Australia from 1000km bushwalks to canoe trails, multi day hikes and
Extreme adventures australia
It stands to reason that one of the most vast and extreme countries has some pretty extreme adventures to be had. Here are some Australian holiday ideas if you are looking for more extreme fitness based adventures.
Marathon Runners will enjoy the Australia Outback Marathon which takes your through desert landscapes including views of Uluṟu and Kata Tjuta
Always wanted to run on one of Australias most beautiful beaches? Then you will love the the Great Whitehaven Beach Run which offers 5km, 10km and half marathon distances as well as kids fun run options.
Australia has some epic length multi day hikes if you are looking for an adventure holiday in or a complete life overhaul. The Heysen Trail is a 1200km walking track running from the north of South Australia in the Flinders ranges all the way through to the southern coast. Be sure to do it out fire season (summer) when parts of the track are closed.
The Billbulmun Track is another ultra long multi day walk, running over 1000km from the Perth hills to the southern coast of Western Australia.
Australian Island Holidays
The most famous Australian Island Holidays are destinations are the Whitsunday, with the huge Hamilton Island still a much loved tropical island getaway and gateway to the great barrier reed that has stood the test of time.
Adventure lovers (4wd, camping and bushwalking enthusiasts) love the beautiful Fraser Island for its fun sandy and beach tracks and stunning freshwater lake and creek swimming and unique bushwalks.
Wildlife lovers should book a trip to Heron Island or Lady Elliott Island which are both surrounded by reef and offer nature focused tours and experiences. Lord Howe Island is only open to a limited number of tourists at a time and offers plenty of options to get out into nature.
Those looking for the ultimate in luxury Island experiences can look at Qualia on Hamilton Island, Lizard Island, Bedarra Island,
All Inclusive Holidays Australia
Australia has some all inclusive resorts however they are less common than in other countries and in addition they tend to be very high end. However once you have booked your all inclusive package and transfers it means you don’t have to worry about expenses when you get there so they are good way to treat yourself.
All inclusive resort options in Australia include Pump House Point a beautiful wilderness experience in Tasmania which is inclusive of all meals (drinks at help yourself honesty bars around the lodge), Lizard Isand, Bedarra Island, Orpheus Island Lodge & Haggerstone Isalnd Resort, which are all inclusive resorts in Queensland, Wolgan Valley in the NSW Mountains and Bamurru Plains for a wild luxury experience in the Northern Territory Wilderness. Many of the Luxury Lodges of Australia are also all inclusive.
Another all inclusive holiday option in Australia is journey on the Ghan, Indian Pacific or Great Southern, which are inclusive of meals and some or all beverages when you book a Gold or Platinum pacakage.
One of the best ways to get a more affordable all inclusive holiday in Australia is to book a cruise or bus tour that includes most or all of your meals. You can get something close to all inclusive for most budgets, for instance for a budget option you may like to book a participatory camping tour that includes most meals such as those offered by Intrepid, something in the middle like an AAT Kings Tour or luxury safaris like those offered by Outback Spirit or APT Luxury Travel.
In addition, if you don’t want to worry about money on holidays, some resorts like Hamilton Island allow you to prepay room credit using vouchers. So you can rest assured you holiday spending is paid in advance but you can choose to eat and drink at many resorts. I pre loaded $500 on my last trip to Hamilton Island, which I pretty much used to guilt free drink copious amounts of cocktails for 5 days 😉
Adults only Holidays
Australia has plenty of options for adults only holidays in Australia, I’m currently writing a complete guide which I will link to here when done. If you are specifically looking for adults only accommodation somewhere warm this guide to adults only accommodation in Tropical North Queensland will help.