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Australia, Sydney, Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Darwin, Cairns, Great Barrier Reef

Itinerary for must visit places for my first time dream trip to Australia!

Hi everybody, after 15 years dreaming about it, 3 weeks ago I bought my ticket to Australia: I will land in Sydney December 20th, 2014 and spend a whole month around :-).

My idea would be departing (still I don't know when) from Sydney to visit Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, Uluru, Darwin and Cairns in order to see the Reef... Do you think I'm missing something unmissable? Remember that "unfortunately" I have only 1 month.

Thank you!

11 Answers

top answer by
Angeline from Jakarta

Wow a month to explore Aussie, what a luxury of time! And you'll be there on summer! 

The sun can be harsh, yet sometimes misty rain. 

I agree with the Catharina (the first answer) but I would add: 

Great Ocean Road

Seven Mile Beach 

Hunter Valley or Victoria (Australia) vineyard trip 

Blue Mountains 


Don't miss Sidney's nye fireworks! Get the best spot early! 

I had 2 weeks in last December-Jan, just to explore Sydney and the states. 

Have fun!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Great Ocean Road (attraction)
  2. Seven Mile Beach (attraction)
  3. Hunter Valley (attraction)
  4. Victoria (Australia) (attraction)
  5. Blue Mountains (attraction)
  6. Melbourne (city)
7 thankscomments (2)

answered first by
Adam from Los Angeles

Hi Caterina, my wife and I lived in Australia for a few years and traveled a ton, so here's my perspective. 

Rather than re-invent the wheel, here are a few blog posts we wrote.

Rather than stay in Cairns, you should fly there but then drive up to Port Douglas. From there you can visit the Great Barrier Reef and also the Daintree Rainforest, which is the oldest remaining forest in the world.

Here's how I'd break down your time:

Sydney - 5 days (Day 1: Circular Quay/The Rocks; Day 2: Ferry to Manly; Day 3: Taronga Zoo, Cockatoo Island; Day 4: Bondi Beach-to-Bronte Beach ocean walk; Day 5: Oxford Street, Paddington)
Kangaroo Island - 3-4 days
Barossa Valley (if you add it) - 2 days
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park - 1.5-2 days (get in a sunrise and a sunset and you're good)
Port Douglas - 4-5 days (for both GBR and Daintree)
Darwin - ? (we never went)

Let me know of other questions,


Three more suggestions for the Sydney area:

Featherdale Wildlife Park

Sydney Fish Market


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Port Douglas (attraction)
  2. Great Barrier Reef (region)
  3. Daintree Rainforest (attraction)
  4. Circular Quay (attraction)
  5. Manly (city)
  6. Taronga Zoo (attraction)
  7. Cockatoo Island (attraction)
  8. Bondi Beach (metro area)
  9. Bronte Beach (attraction)
  10. Oxford Street (attraction)
  11. Paddington (attraction)
  12. Kangaroo Island (attraction)
  13. Barossa Valley (attraction)
  14. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (amusement park)
  15. Port Douglas (attraction)
  16. Darwin (city)
  17. Featherdale Wildlife Park (attraction)
  18. Sydney Fish Market (attraction)
  19. Woolloomooloo (attraction)
7 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Michael from San Diego

Great itinerary, Caterina.  I've been to Oz many times and offer some notes about each of your locations.

Adelaide - lovely city and countryside.  If you enjoy red wine, this is definitely the place to go.   Some world class vineyards and a far superior Bordeaux or Napa experience, IMHO. 

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park-  If this isn't an absolutely essential part of your trip, I'd pass on it.   It is a very unusual place, but very touristy and, unfortunately, a sacred place that is being trampled by those tourists.  The Aboriginal community is not unified in its embrace of Uluru tourists.  For a far superior "original Australia" experience, see the discussion of Darwin below.   But Uluru is a long way to go for what was an underwhelming experience for me and those with whom I've traveled.  

Darwin - One of my favorite locations in Oz, but largely because of Kakadu, Margaret River Gorge, and Arnhem Land.  All three are wonderful destinations and you'll really get the Outback experience along with a strong dose of the Aboriginal culture.  Kakadu National Park is a strong "don't miss".   You'll be there at the beginning of the monsoon season, so it is a bit tricky, but worth it.   Go there as early in December as possible, if possible. I could spend a week there, alone, and just scratch the surface of the beauty there.   Darwin......consider it a waystation and nothing more. 

Cairns -  Nice enough, but you must really head to Daintree and take the 1/2 day reef trip out of Cape Tribulation.   Then, if you like it a lot, you can try some of the boats that depart Port Douglas.   I prefer both Daintree and Port Douglas over Cairns, by a large margin.   I was there just a few months ago -- spent a week up north of Cairns and no time at all in Cairns itself other than its very posh airport. 

Sydney -  One of the worlds most livable cities, but it is a city.   The don't miss parts lay outside of the City.   Manly Beach, for one.  The Blue Mountains and the Hunter Valley wine country are also lovely.  

Have a great trip and I urge you to reconsider Uluru, given that you only have a month and can easily spend a week at each of the other locations.   Bon Voyage.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Adelaide (attraction)
  2. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (amusement park)
  3. Darwin (city)
  4. Kakadu (attraction)
  5. Margaret River (attraction)
  6. Arnhem Land (hotel)
  7. Kakadu National Park (amusement park)
  8. Cairns (city)
  9. Daintree (city)
  10. Cape Tribulation (attraction)
  11. Port Douglas (attraction)
  12. Daintree (city)
  13. Sydney (city)
  14. Manly Beach (attraction)
  15. Blue Mountains (attraction)
  16. Hunter Valley (attraction)
4 thankscomments (1)

answered by

Depends on what type of traveler you are. Based on how you wrote your question, I guess you are one of those to see it all. Then you'd need to add Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road as well.

From my experience thought, it's already too much you try to see. If you like to get the Australian live style then try to take your time and slow down a bit. I'd only do Sydney - Melbourne - Adelaide (maybe up to Flinders Ranges or Coober Pedy), or Sydney - Brisbane - Cairns. That alone are 2 very impressive trips. From Cairns you can fly to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and then back to Sydney.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Melbourne (city)
  2. Great Ocean Road (attraction)
  3. Sydney (city)
  4. Melbourne (city)
  5. Adelaide (attraction)
  6. Flinders Ranges (attraction)
  7. Coober Pedy (attraction)
  8. Brisbane (city)
  9. Cairns (city)
  10. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (amusement park)
3 thankscomments (1)

answered by

Hi Caterina

It's great that you want to see so many places in Australia, but since you said its a dream trip for you I really need to tell you that Australia is HUGE!

I guess if you have an unlimited budget you could fly between all those places in a month - you would be very busy though!

Most travelers hit Sydney and travel up the coast from Sydneyto Cairns, stopping at Byron Bay, the Sunshine Coast and/or Gold Coast and if they have time Airlie Beach.

This is the general backpacker route that most travelers take, and you can travel by bus and train, and by catching a lift with other travelers - lots of backpackers buy a cheap car and drive between Cairns and Sydney. You could leave out Airlie Beach and the Gold Coast if you arent into partying that much.

You wont make it to Darwin (its a 3-4 hour domestic flight from most Australian cities) and there's no real need to go there on a one-month trip.

Unless you have lots of money and a very strong desire I hate to say that you probably wont make it to Uluru (unless you make it a big priority, then of course anything is possible!).

Most people will tell you there's no real attraction to go to Adelaide, it's just a quiet little city.

Even doing what I have recommended (Sydney to Cairns) will be a very busy month for you. I recommend spending lots of time in the Cairns area (I lived there for 12 years). The Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest are remarkable places to see, and there's a lot to do around Cairns. Also, it is very well set up for travelers. 

Good luck on your trip Caterina, you will LOVE Australia!

PS I love your city of Florence, it's very beautiful!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Sydney (city)
  2. Cairns (city)
  3. Byron Bay (city)
  4. Sunshine Coast (attraction)
  5. Gold Coast (city)
  6. Airlie Beach (city)
  7. Great Barrier Reef (region)
  8. Daintree Rainforest (attraction)
2 thankscomments (1)

answered by

Hi Caterina,

A month is a nice amount of time! Try to do at least an overnight in Kangaroo Island to make the most out of the visit. Also for Cairns consider Palm Cove or Port Douglas that is further north but gives you a great reef/retreat style visit. If you wanted to get in some of the countryside the Ghan Railway is a great way to get from the Red Center to Darwin. You could do a couple of nights Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park & then travel to Alice Springs to catch the train. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Kangaroo Island (attraction)
  2. Cairns (city)
  3. Palm Cove (city)
  4. Port Douglas (city)
  5. Darwin (city)
  6. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (amusement park)
  7. Alice Springs (attraction)
2 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Kim from San Diego

I would skip Adelaide and opt for Melbourne! Wine country, the great ocean road, wildlife reserves, and a city full of art and culture (my favorite city in Australia) - lived there for 3 months.  Melbourne reminds me of SF and Sydney is like LA.  Stay in The Rocks district of Sydney.  Enjoy!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Melbourne (city)
  2. The Rocks (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by
Dobariya from Ahmedabad

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Kangaroo Island (attraction)
  2. Darwin (city)
  3. Adelaide (city)
  4. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (amusement park)
  5. Cairns (city)
1 thanks

answered by
Isha from Aruba

Dear aussie dreamer, 


Your plans sound great. You may want to look up Noosa on the east coast. Whitsunday catamaran with on ice catamaran company(amazing) as well

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Noosa (city)
1 thanks

answered by
Darrell from New City, New York

I am totally speaking from bias here but when you're in Adelaide you should go check out High coffee in the InterContinental Adelaide.

I went to experience an onslaught of non-stop treats. The Aussies know how to get down you will have a lot of fun! 


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. InterContinental Adelaide (hotel)

answered by
Louise from Willunga

There is lots to see in Adelaide, you could spend your whole two weeks exploring just here!

McLaren Vale is 40 minutes south of Adelaide and a beautiful wine region with beaches (Port Willunga) Markets of a Saturday morning (Willunga Farmers Market) wineries (Coriole Vineyards S.C. Pannell Samuel's Gorge) restaurants (Star of GreeceFino Restaurant S.C. PannellVictory Hotel) With 70 cellar doors and 30+ amazing restaurants, it's well worth a visit. :-)

30 mins further south is Cape Jervis where the ferry departs for Kangaroo Island.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Port Willunga (city)
  2. Willunga Farmers Market (restaurant)
  3. Coriole Vineyards (restaurant)
  4. S.C. Pannell (restaurant)
  5. Samuel's Gorge (attraction)
  6. Star of Greece (restaurant)
  7. Fino Restaurant (restaurant)

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