The Traveling Locals
Australia...The Perfect Two Week Itinerary
Updated: Nov 9, 2020
Australia is a massive country, about the size of the continental United States. It is incredibly diverse and has lots to offer, but knowing where to spend your time can be difficult, especially if you only have two weeks. To begin, lets be honest, you can't realistically explore the whole country in two weeks, but we can hit the highlights! We came up with this itinerary after our vacation to Australia and realized what we did right and what we should have done instead. Hopefully this is of some help to you!
Lets start with the itinerary breakdown...
Day 1- Arrive Sydney
Day 2- Sydney / Bondi Beach/ Speedo Cafe
Day 3- Leave for Cairns / Botanical Garden / Prawn Star Restaurant
Day 4- Great Barrier Reef
Day 5- Kuranda Koala Gardens (hold Koalas!)/ Port Douglas/Hemmingway/Nautilus/Shopping
Day 6- Port Douglas / Daintree Rainforest / Mossman Gorge
Day 7- Alice Springs / Simpsons Gap / Telegraph Station
Day 8- Leave for Uluru (Ayers Rock) / Sounds of Silence
Day 9- Uluru (Ayers Rock) / The Olgas/Light show
Day 10- Darwin / Kakadu National Park
Day 11- Darwin / Kakadu National Park
Day 12- Sydney
Day 13 -Leave Sydney
*Note depending on where you are coming from, it can take quite a while getting to Australia. For example, we left Charleston, SC on the 29th of August and didn't land in Sydney until early on the morning of the 31st. Therefore, two days of our vacation was just flying to get there.
First things first, you will most likely fly into Sydney, although there are many international flights into Melbourne and Perth. We flew into Sydney as this was the easiest starting point for our time down under. Spend about two to three days here. There is plenty to do within the city, and the food culture is fantastic. Sydney is a beautiful city and reminded us of a cross between a European city with a Canadian vibe. The city was clean, safe and the people were very friendly and easy going.
We had a visit to the Taronga Zoo to get an up close view of some of Australia's fantastic wildlife before tying to find them out in the bush. To reach Taronga, you can take a water ferry from Sydney Harbor and it takes you right by the famous Opera House and Harbor Bridge.
We also spent some time wandering the streets of Sydney and found the light rail train system to be very easy to understand and navigate. We made our way out to Bondi beach after a train/bus combination and explored this famous white sand beach. Even tough it was early spring for Australia, there were still brave people swimming in both the open ocean and the unique ocean fed "Icebergs" pool.
For lunch, we stopped into Speedo's Cafe, which promotes itself as "The World's Most Instagramable Cafe" for some lunch. We opted to try out the Australian version of fish and chips, which is beer battered barramundi fillets with chips/fries and a softshell crab burger. The views looking back on Bondi beach while eating lunch outside were spectacular.
Darling Harbor in Sydney is famous for it's many shops, outdoor cafes and attractions like the Sydney Aquarium and Australian Maritime Museum. We spent an afternoon with our friends from Sydney at the aquarium and had lunch and an Australian beer at one of the many harbor side cafes overlooking the water.
After spending a couple days in Sydney, we flew up to Cairns international airport in Queensland. This part of Australia is tropical and humid year round, and it's home to some of Aussie's most famous wildlife. Our main focus of this segment was to scuba dive the great barrier reef off the coast, but we also wanted to see some the world's oldest rain forests north of Cairns. We started off by visiting the Cairns Botanic Gardens and walked among pristine tropical and native plants.
Cairns is built around tourism for the natural attractions surrounding the area, and while it is a wild place with lot's of native animals you also have a lot of the typical tourist bars, street performers and T-shirt shops. We wanted to try and restaurant that was unique to the area, so we settled on Prawn Stars, a local seafood joint that's actually on a fishing boat in the marina! We had the Jumbo Platter with prawns, salmon, oysters, tiger prawns and slipper lobster (affectionately named "bugs").
The Great Barrier Reef was going to be the highlight of the trip, and the day was finally here to go see this Wonder of the Natural World. It's about an hour and half boat ride from Cairns to reach the numerous reefs and islands. As soon as we anchored, the reef was visible in crystal clear water and thousands of fish swam around the boat and coral islands. We started out by snorkeling the shallow areas around the reef and the abundance of life and color was incredible. We then suited up for some scuba dives! We didn't go much further than about 60 feet in depth, but it was a once in a lifetime experience to sit on the sandy bottom of the great barrier reef and have a 360' view of the reef, like you were sitting in the most spectacular reef aquarium ever built.
After diving the Great Barrier Reef, we headed farther north into Queensland's tropical rain forests and beaches. Our first stop was the Kuranda Koala Gardens where you can interact and see many of Queensland's rare animals and birds. We we able to hold a koala, feed kangaroos, wallaby's and wombats! The bird aviary here is full of colorful parrots, cockatoos and even rare giant cassowary, and you can feed most!
We continued driving north through the Kuranda State Forrest and stopped at Ellis beach for some tacos and a beer. The beach is gorgeous, but you have to be very careful for saltwater crocodiles and jellyfish. Needless to say, we stayed out of the water that day.
After a short drive we m