Australia: Luxury & Private Safaris
Australia is so much more than just Sydney, Uluru, and the Great Barrier Reef. A veritable natural playground, Australia’s real treasures lie in its wild open places, its outback, its rainforests and billabongs. With a land mass almost equal to the USA with less than 8% of the population, the wilderness experiences are endless. Between its six states and two territories, each region offers varying landscapes and unique ways to enjoy them.
Known for their fabulous walks, we highly recommend a multi-day walk with a naturalist guide. Other unique options include a nature cruise along the wild and uninhabited Kimberly coast in the northwest or a chance to explore the Great Barrier Reef from your own private island. Travel over flood plains and into mysterious swamps on an airboat in the Top End or kayak among platypus in one of Tasmania’s oldest national parks. The Red Center showcases the mystifying Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) which you can explore with superb indigenous guides who reveal its spiritual significance. Australia is also incredibly fertile and every fantastic lodge that you stay at will highlight the region’s food and wine with creative, fresh and tasty offerings. Australia’s natural wonders will never cease to amaze you!
Culturally, Australia’s indigenous and contemporary cultures are intriguing. It is a very old land, with one of the oldest surviving cultures going back over 40,000 years. At the same time, it’s a very new country with a settler history similar to ours. Wherever you go, you’ll be warmly welcomed and treated as a friend. Australia just may be the perfect place to combine exciting cities, great nature and a heavy dose of pampering.
Secrets and Tips from our Experts
- Australia is big! Don’t try to cover too much ground or you’ll spend the whole time in transit.
- The cities may draw you to Australia, but make a point to experience the wilderness beyond.
- Include Aboriginal experiences for extra layers of meaning.
- Don’t be afraid to rent a car.
Is Australia the right destination for you?
It is hard to think of anyone who would not love a safari in Australia, if their trip is planned correctly. The trick is to find the authentic experiences and avoid doing what everyone else is doing. The Australia we love and want to share is quirky and fun and off the beaten path. Take the plunge and go for a long walk, kayak, snorkel, cycle, horseback ride, and more, all alongside personable and charming locals. The wildlife you see will be in the wild, not in a zoo. You will be surprised at the great wine, whiskey (a Tasmanian distillery won the 2014 World Whiskies award for best single malt whiskey), and food, often straight from the sea or field. There are lodges that rival the best anywhere in terms of service, beauty and sophistication. Everyone speaks English, the infrastructure is better than ours, and they really like Americans, so it is a very relaxing place to be!
When to visit Australia
Australia covers a wide range of climate zones where the seasonality of different regions can be opposite. So while winter (our summer) is the perfect time to visit the arid Red Center and tropical northern half of the country, it can be cold, wet, and grey in the southern half, particularly Tasmania. But even in the south, winters can see sunny days and it’s still never as cold as parts of the US. You just need to bring layers! In the Red Center and tropical north, winter is the driest time of year. It may be a bit chilly for swimming along the Eastern Coast, but the ocean water along the Barrier Reef actually stays pretty warm.
The temperate Southern coastal areas get most of their meager rainfall in the winter but are really pleasant to visit the rest of the year. Another consideration is that wildlife is much more active and visible during the day in the cooler winter months in all areas of Australia. If you plan on exploring multiple regions, spring and fall are your most predictable seasons.
How much should I budget for a trip to Australia?
Australia: Luxury & Private Safaris
Australia has a wide range of accommodation at different price points throughout the various seasons. Australians are well paid, so the more personal your itinerary, the more it will cost. For a truly magical experience that includes luxury lodges and wilderness camps, plan to spend an average of $1500 per person per night, including meals and flights. For a more standard adventure utilizing seat in bus options for day tours and bigger properties, the budget could be well below about half that amount.
Our favorite areas
- There are few Australian metropolises and they’re all coastal, which leaves most of the country feeling incredibly remote. For those who love city life, Sydney and Melbourne are standouts.
- Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) is the physical and spiritual center of the country, rising more than 1000 ft high out of the arid desert around it. The nearby Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), formed from the same red sandstone, complement the experience. It’s both spectacular and humbling to watch the colors of the monolith change throughout the day.
- Flying north is Kakadu National Park, with fabulous floodplains and the best collection of rock paintings in all of Australia.
- Similar safari-like experiences are in the Flinders Ranges north of Adelaide.
- For wine country lovers there are the gorgeous Barossa and Hunter Valleys to name only two of many.
- The Great Ocean Road from Melbourne is stunning and passes the iconic Twelve Apostles.
- Tasmania with its forests, pure water and pristine beaches is so unique and varied that a week is not long enough.
- The Kimberly area in northwest Australia is probably the ultimate scenic wilderness destination and is best explored by boat.
- Being a nation girted by water, beaches and seas are everywhere and most are quite empty and simply stunning. And no visit would be complete without a visit to The Great Barrier Reef. Our favorite way to experience its wonder is from the exclusive paradise Lizard Island, right on the reef. The possibilities are almost endless and we can’t wait to help you explore them!
What else should I know before planning a trip to Australia?
- Australia: Luxury & Private Safaris: People who really hate to fly may find the distance from the US a bit of a drawback. Australia is also so vast that you really do need to fly within the country. Because the standard of living is very high, Australia is not an inexpensive country. People who prefer very exotic destinations may find Australia a bit tame. Its charm lies in the very fact that it a very comfortable and easy country to be in; and just different enough to be interesting.
Ways to experience Australia
There are so many wonderful things to do in Australia. Walking may be number one, whether in the cities or out in nature. We have great Australia safari guides who specialize in really fun food and wine tours, including boat trips in Tasmania to harvest sea food that you eat on the spot! Aboriginal tourism is expanding to every corner of the country. One of our favorites is a day spent with a savvy and fun Aboriginal guide who takes you along the beach to harvest a meal on foot. Explore the rainforests, beaches, mountains and deserts by 4×4, mountain bike, horseback, camelback, boat, kayak, surfboard, or paddleboard. Try your hand at snorkeling, diving, abseiling, windsurfing, or hang gliding. There are stunning canopy walks, sky rails and train journeys ranging from a few hours to a few days. Australia now has the exclusive lodges and camps that add the magic to all of these experiences.
Wildlife you will see
Australia is filled with incredible creatures that you won’t see anywhere else in the world. The list of marsupials is endless, ranging from the quarter-inch tall Long-Tailed Planigale to the 6-foot tall Red Kangaroo. You may come to see koalas and kangaroos, but you will leave Australia with a love for the quirky and strange Tasmanian devils, platypus, wombats, echidnas, sugar gliders, wallabies, pademelons, quolls, bandicoots, and quokkas. The birdlife is impressive as well, ranging from the iconic penguins and kookaburras to the flightless emus and cassowaries. There are snakes, spiders, frogs, crocodiles, and a whole host of spectacular oceanic marine life (Great White Sharks, dugongs, stingrays, seals, and so much more!). Australian wildlife is weird and wonderful and best seen in the wild. But like on safari, a great guide is often the key to seeing these incredible animals in their natural habitats and worth every penny for a wildlife enthusiast.