Long-haul holidaymakers are feasting their eyes on Australia this year as the vast and varied country prepares to host the 2017-18 Ashes Series, allowing visitors to combine a sporting experience of a lifetime with a holiday to remember. While the major event offers the perfect opportunity for an incredible trip, there are many more reasons to visit Australia in 2017. Here are the destinations on our radar...
From foodies to sun-lovers, everyone's talking about Perth this year and it's no wonder as Western Australia's capital city is undergoing a significant period of change, with the attention turning from its glorious natural environment to its urban offering. Stage one of the Perth's new waterfront development, Elizabeth Quay, opened to the public in 2016, bringing a number of wining and dining options, a pedestrian and cyclists' bridge, promenades and public art to the space. Although Perth's disused heritage buildings are already home to bustling bars and street art, a food truck revolution is taking place, signalling another new trend for the city. And the city's new heart, Yagan Square, is under construction in Perth's CBD and will offer a range of experiences including green spaces for relaxation, permanent markets offering local produce, cafes and a spectacular lighting installation at night.
This year, the Gold Coast is investing more than £8.3 billion in major infrastructure projects which are set to change the face of the city. One of the most exciting developments is the Gold Coast Cultural Precinct, which will support the city's thriving cultural evolution and become a hub for arts and culture, bringing festivals, cinema, concerts and events to a new outdoor space. Travellers will also find a whole host of exciting new experiences on the Gold Coast in 2017, including the revamped Islander Resort to become The Island. It now boasts an extended tropical rooftop bar and chic hotel rooms. Meanwhile, Paradise Country is offering the Gold Coast's newest accommodation - a fantastic farm stay. The attraction is inviting visitors to turn their day out at the Aussie farm into an overnight stay in a camp, caravan, motor home or eco tent.
With South Australia being named one of 2017's best regions in the world by Lonely Planet, all eyes are on this beautiful state which offers everything from fine wine and dining to world-class wildlife opportunities. Its cosmopolitan coastal capital Adelaide will host England at the Adelaide Oval in the first-ever day-night Ashes Test during this 2017-18 Ashes series this year, allowing travellers to see the Ashes in action as they experience the amazing city. While here, there's the chance to spend some time in the nearby renowned wine regions, relax in the many fantastic restaurants or bars, and blend into the Adelaide lane-way culture. Adelaide also has superb beaches for relaxing in the Australian sun, or going swimming with dolphins. Elsewhere, the national parks offer spectacular wildlife and Cleland Wildlife Park is the place for cuddles with a koala.
Wine lovers won't want to miss a visit to South Australia, home to 18 wine regions including the birthplace of its celebrated wine industry, McLaren Vale. Boasting 65 wineries, some of the world's oldest grape vines and top-notch weekend farmers' markets, McLaren Vale is a picturesque location to take in Australia's vineyards, enjoy a scenic drive and discover its gourmet offerings. This summer will see the opening of the striking d'Arenberg Cube (pictured), an awe-inspiring five-storey building set among Mourvèdre vines, which will feature a tasting room, a unique wine smelling room and a 360-degree video room to make visitors feel they are floating above the rolling hills of Willunga. There will also be restaurants, bars and private tasting rooms.
Ten incredible trips to take in Australia
Ten incredible trips to take in Australia
Walkers heading Down Under can experience one of the world's greatest trails in the Red Centre on a classic Larapinta Trail trekking holiday. Along the trail, you'll witness the dramatic colour changes in the rock formations at Simpsons Gap and Standley Chasm, walk the high ridgelines of the West MacDonnell Ranges for a rare perspective of vast flood plains and razorback rocky outcrops, while sleeping at exclusive design-led wilderness campsites. The entire route is 139 miles and takes two weeks, though you can walk shorter parts of it. World Expeditions has a six-day Classic Larapinta Trek in Comfort holiday which costs £1,560 per person (excluding flights).
Travellers can journey from Sydney to Cairns via Uluru and the Outback with an array of activities thrown in for an Australian adventure trip to remember. Responsible Travel's tailor-made Australian Adventure Holiday includes surf lessons on Bondi Beach, camping under the stars in the Outback, diving or snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef and fishing lessons in the Daintree Rainforest. You'll also experience hiking, a sunset camel ride, boomerang throwing and a tall ship cruise. The 13-day holidays costs from £2,834 per person (excluding flights).
If you're after a whistle-stop tour of Australia’s best bits, then you'll want to explore the likes of the Great Barrier Reef, Aboriginal culture, Sydney and Uluru. Trafalgar’s Australian Highlights tour is the ideal way to fit everything in to 13 days. You'll visit Australia’s most diverse cities of Sydney and Melbourne, get a taste for life at sea with a trip to the Great Barrier Reef and head inland to Alice Springs to be amazed and delighted by the awe-inspiring scenery and Aboriginal heritage to boot. There are also unforgettable insider moments, such as a private tour of the Sydney Opera House and discovering the meaning of Aboriginal dot painting before creating your own. The holiday costs from £2,795 per person (excluding flights).
With species that can be found nowhere else in the world – the Tasmanian devil for one – Australia's wild island state is a truly unique place for wildlife lovers. On Responsible Travel's tailor-made Tasmania Wildlife Tour, you'll discover far-flung corners of this extraordinarily diverse island. The trip includes stays at little-known properties on land that has been protected by its owners, guardians of nature and accidental eco-warriors for decades. There are also many opportunities to spot Tasmanian devils, quolls, wombats, possums, pademelons, sugar gliders, platypus and the rare white wallabies of Bruny Island. The holiday costs from £799 for five days to £2,775 for 15 days (excluding flights).
Far beyond the cliché of 'shrimps on the barbie', Aussies are an epicurean bunch. Southern Australia is laden with wineries providing first-class vino, as well as fantastic seafood, steak and national favourites. On Trafalgar’s Tastes of Southern Australia holiday, you'll spend 11 days touring the delicious delights of Victoria and southern Australia, taking in the spectacular sights of the Great Ocean Road before chatting with your local Aboriginal guide and learning about bush food. You'll also experience the tastes of an Aussie barbecue, bush tucker, premium wines and sumptuous seafood. The trip costs from £2,495 per person (excluding flights).
For couples looking to experience the ultimate trip to Australia, combining iconic Sydney with the picture-postcard Whitsundays is the best way to experience romance, luxury and unforgettable views. Austravel offers a luxurious trip which takes in a stay at the five-star Shangri-La Hotel Sydney, a hotel that's perfectly placed between the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, and offers uninterrupted views of the city’s spectacular waterfront. You'll then head to the adults-only resort of qualia, nestled neatly into the northern most tip of Hamilton Island and surrounded by the Great Barrier Reef. Each of the resort's luxurious hillside pavilions boast views of the Whitsundays. The ten-night holiday costs from £3,139 per person (including flights), based on June 2017 departures.
While central and northern Australia’s remote wilderness often comes to mind for those looking for nature, Tasmania provides bountiful opportunities for expeditions into the wild. The untouched beauty of Tasmania’s many national parks and stunning wonders can be admired at Wineglass Bay and the ancient forests of Cradle Mountain National Park, Russell Falls, Tasman’s Arch and Devil’s Kitchen. Trafalgar's Perfect Tasmania holiday is punctuated with opportunities to witness the purple-hued fields of Bridestowe Lavender Estate and sample the 'finest malt whiskey in the world' at Hellyer’s Distillery. The 12-day trip costs from £2,731 per person (excluding flights).
One of the world's great train journeys, the Indian Pacific is a must for rail enthusiasts visiting Australia. It is one of the country’s two trans-continental railways, which traverse the country north to south and east to west, linking one ocean to another. The east to west journey from Sydney to Perth covers 4,352 km and takes three nights to complete, passing through the Blue Mountains, mining towns and the Nullarbor Desert, with stops at Broken Hill, Adelaide and the gold mining town of Kalgoorlie. Freedom Australia offers the Gold Sleeper Service from £1,138 per person.
Families can make the most of the east coast of Australia with a multi-centre trip combining Sydney, the Gold Coast and Brisbane. The kids can be entertained with a day trip to Taronga to meet the local Aussie wildlife at the world-renowned zoo, as well as an abundance of beach activities, including whale watching and surfing. Austravel offers a family holiday that combines a five-night stay at the Cambridge Hotel Sydney with a week at the Mantra Circle on the Gold Coast. The trip ends with two nights at Brisbane Oak Towers, which includes a day at Tangalooma Island Resort for the kids to spot wild bottlenose dolphins while mum and dad relax on the white sands. The two-week holiday costs from £1,695 per adult and £1,499 per child (including flights), based on August 2017 departures.
The world’s most ancient living culture, Australia’s Aboriginal people, has a history spanning at least 50,000 years. Theirs is the oldest story on Earth and by sharing their stories with visitors, they can keep their culture alive. Western Australia offers travellers coastal, urban and outback environments, with a choice of authentic cultural experiences, such as going on guided bushwalks, learning about fascinating legends, visiting cattle stations and playing the didgeridoo in music sessions. Cape Cultural Tours offers guided trips around the tip of Cape Naturaliste, where you can hear local stories and go on a guided bushwalk from AUD$72 (£44). Meanwhile, an APT West Coast Adventure with Austravel takes you from Perth to Darwin over 18 days, combining Kimberley, Aboriginal culture and fascinating wildlife, from £5,295 per person (excluding flights).