Where in Australia should I go next?
September 17, 2009 2:23 AM   Subscribe

Where in Australia should I go next?

I've been in Australia since the beginning of July on a one year working holiday visa.

The year before, I did a working holiday in NZ, staying in Wellington for most of the year and I absolutely loved it. Can't wait to go back. I made great friends, had a great job, saw a lot of the country.

I've been living in Melbourne for most of the time I've been here. I'm working on a 3 month contract ending 30 October (part of a team building a new intranet for a large company).

Melbourne's fine but I think I'll be ready to move on and see more of this awesome country. I am travelling alone and have the possibility to go anywhere - I'm looking for adventure.

Where would be a good next stop to settle for at least a few months (more if I really like it?)

I'll have some savings from my job, but I'll need to start working again at some point, so I'd like to be somewhere I can get a job. Maybe another contract, or any type of work I can get really - I'm open to anything - I've done bartending, landscaping in the past as well.

Some additional info:

- I have been to Brisbane and Byron Bay, which I liked, but for some reason something's telling me to go West.

- I'm thinking about Perth and Darwin. I am leaning away from Sydney and Brisbane.

- I'd like to make some friends and potential travel companions.

- I love swimming, so a place with easy beach access or a swimming hole would be great.

- I recently got my open water certificate and I'm hoping to do some scuba diving (will make sure to visit the great barrier reef before I leave!)

- I can stand the heat.

- I especially love Australia's wildlife. I love walking in the woods, I love seeing kangaroos, koalas, birds, everything.

I would love to hear any recommendations you have about any part of Australia. I'm only here for 9 more months, and I want to make the most of it.

Thank you!

p.s. - has anyone been to Christmas Island and seen the crab migration??

If I do go up to Darwin, would it be better to fly or take the Ghan?
posted by Flying Squirrel to Travel & Transportation around Australia (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Try to get a job in Broome from the start of the next tourist season, which roughly corresponds with the winter down South. The weather is wonderful, the beaches are astonishing, and you'll probably have a lot of fun.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:36 AM on September 17, 2009

My vote: Western Australia.

Perth wasn't all it was cracked up to be in the few times I've been there. It's OK, but seemed like a better place to live than visit. Margaret River and some of the towns south are definitely worth a visit - wine, great surf beaches and huge karri trees.

But the west coast is lovely - if you can take a leisurely trip up to Exmouth (where the diving is great) and ensure you go to the Pinnacles, Kalbarri, Coral Bay and Shark Bay on the way, you'll be doing well. Beyond that, it's not so great until you get to Broome, which is a little oasis of civilisation. I liked it, but it wasn't a patch on the best bit of Western Australia - the Gibb River Road.

You'll find beautiful little swimming holes few people or nobody goes to. Stunning gorges. Great wildlife. And Mitchell Falls - which is a world class site for sheer "wow" factor. Honestly, if it were an hour's drive from Melbourne you'd not be able to move for tourists. The catch is that you need either to be in a 4x4. If you can possibly find the cash to buy a 4x4, do so. A group trip is fine enough, but there's nothing like 10 drunk backpackers to make the outback silence seem like a bar in Bondi.

Oh, not that it's remotely close to the Gibb River Road, but I'll mention it anyway. Boodjamulla National Park is one of, if not the finest spots in Oz (pics here) - and I write that as someone who spent 9 solid months on the road camping round the country.

Depending on which way you go - and let the weather be your guide as to how you do it - you either start or end the Gibb River Road in Kununurra. Which is a nice enough place, and a pretty (but long) drive to Darwin, where Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks are a must.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:07 AM on September 17, 2009

Darwin will limit your for neighbourhood swims unless you love crocs. Perth won't at all. It's also one thing to say you're cool with the heat, but in the build up to the wet it's So Damn Intense in Darwin.

WA has a lot of options outside Perth also - there's Broome, the Margaret River area at the other end of the state. In the south the weather is more mixed, also.

Outside of Darwin, your options will be more limited, though not totally.

Brisbane isn't the only city in QLD. Cairns, Port Douglas, Gladstone, one of the islands (e.g club med @ lindeman etc). Nothing will equal scuba on the reef for you.

This all said - don't buy into our [Australian] sensibility to tell you it's like a different country over (up, round) there. It's really not, culturally at any rate. It's just a few decades in the past is all. ;)

Have you considered Adelaide? It's also a nice city, though like Darwin reasonably quiet.

My recommendations for nature:

My recommendations for jobs:
Adelaide (in that order).

My recommendations for swimming
The Great Barrier Reef
posted by smoke at 3:09 AM on September 17, 2009

Don't take the Ghan. Unless you like sharing a train with grey-nomads.

Check out Freemantle, south of Perth. And Margaret River
posted by robotot at 3:17 AM on September 17, 2009

Darwin and Broome are indeed great but the wet season is not the best time. Perth has a lot going for it. The south coast of NSW has good beaches and nature stuff.

Christmas Island is a great place to spend a few days but it's horrifyingly expensive to get there.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 3:23 AM on September 17, 2009

I grew up in Perth, it has many similarities with Brisbane actually. I actually find Brisbane a bit hipper these days and it's comforting knowing you can get somewhere else relatively fast. In Perth you are constantly reminded of the isolation.

Don't move there without a job, unemployment is quite high thanks to the huge mining crash.
posted by wingless_angel at 3:54 AM on September 17, 2009

Perth is getting slightly hipper in the last few years - more small bars, more art events and music gigs. The beaches here are also great, if you like swimming. You probably won't want to be here during February, cos even people who like the heat find it a bit much, but the rest of the year is lovely. A month or two contract in a bar would do you fine, you could take trips out to Margaret River, the Pinnacles and so on on weekends, then head up north to Exmouth, Broome etc.
posted by harriet vane at 5:53 AM on September 17, 2009

You should consider at least dropping by Sydney for a week or so, perhaps on the way to another place. It's a great city - great views, great beaches, and plenty to see and do. That said, I am a city kid so I automatically like concrete jungles.

As you're in Melbourne, you could try driving down the Great Ocean Road to Adelaide - well technically, it doesn't go all the way from Melbourne to Adelaide, but it's a big chunk of the drive. Great scenery, might be possible to go swimming as the weather warms (last time I was there it was winter, so - no), and plenty of little fascinating things to see and do on the way through. There's also a forest walk about midway through, where they've constructed this walkway suspended between trees. It's great if you like greenery and aren't afraid of heights.

I don't know anything about the job market in Adelaide, however, so you might end up using it as a stopover to go to Perth or Darwin or wherever else.
posted by Xany at 6:01 AM on September 17, 2009

My brother took a year to travel round Australia (we're Australian, from Melbourne). He drove to Adelaide, worked in a bar for a few months, then got a job on a farm a couple hours drive out, moved up to Alice Springs and worked as a tour guide, drove to Darwin, then went west and found a job in the kitchen of an oyster farm on the northern coast of WA before driving down to Perth for a short time and then back to Melbourne. He said if he was doing it again he would spend less time in Adelaide and more time in Western Australia - not Perth so much as the northern areas. He's terrible at email but if you memail me I might be able to get some more info out of him.
posted by jacalata at 8:01 AM on September 17, 2009

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