Australia is my preferred destination for my solo travel escapades. It all started with a two-month backpacking trip on a gap year in 2004 and it was love at first sight!
That experience has hooked me for
over a decade by now. With a total of 23 months spread over 12 years of trips to Australia, I haven’t yet seen it all.
Down Under is a remote country that I highly recommend to
the adventurous solo traveller. It is twice the size of Europe and has a population
of only 24 million people, but more than 50 million kangaroos, 75 million sheep, cattle stations the size of Belgium and national parks that are as big as half of Switzerland. You'll soon get the picture of how big the country is.
The major draw for the solo traveler is
its amazing nature, along with the abundance of outdoor and off-the-beaten
path adventures. It’s a country that offers endless possibilities for road
trippers across a vast, fascinating
Australia is a safe and women-friendly country. As a woman you can safely travel at night on buses, trains and public transportation with no fear.
First, travel at night is quite common in Australia, and second, people are easygoing and respectful. I have travelled alone to different
countries and Australia to me is the safest place that I have experienced so
The locals are welcoming towards solo travellers and generously offer help (even when you don’t to ask for it) by giving advice, tips and also offering to host you at their homes. At the same time Australia is a country of extremes with huge contrasts and challenges too. So you definitely need to know what you can and can’t do while travelling around the country on your own.
A well planned itinerary and good organization is key.
Getting around Australia is probably the biggest challenge all travellers face when touring the country.
To cover long distances, flying is the most cost-effective. However, domestic flights are not cheap and you must book ahead of time. If you have enough time, train travel can also be a great way to see the country.
While you can travel safely anywhere and with a wide range of transportation, the best way to explore the country is by going on a road trip, either with a car or a campervan.
Most remote areas are only accessible by limited public transportation, so there are two main options for the solo traveller: either joining a tour or self-driving.
For a solo woman, driving around the country on her own may
sound daunting. Yes, it can be quite challenging. It took me a while to get familiar
with self-driving and I can tell you that it’s easier than I thought. You
will not need to hire a 4WD car. The majority of road trips are on sealed
roads. Certainly any road trip requires good preparation and the awareness that
you will be alone on the road for a long time. I always recommend you combine as
many ways of transportation as possible.
If you are embarking on a trip, these are the safest and easiest to explore destinations I would recommend for the first-time solo traveller to Australia.
Melbourne and its surroundings offer an insight into the great Aussie food and coffee culture plus the opportunity to discover Melbourne’s surroundings with easy day-trips. You can see striking coastal landmarks, ancient fern tree gully and eucalyptus forest, go hiking and enjoy the great outdoors in Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula. Take stroll or bike along the beach from Melbourne to Brighton. You can taste the local specialties and great variety of wines, see native animals at Wilson Promontory, one of the top locations for nature and wildlife in the region.
North Tropical Queensland is known for its fabulous beaches and heaven for aquatic sports from snorkeling to surfing and scuba-diving. Although it's a bit touristy you will love the variety of things to do and see, which go beyond the Great Barrier Reef. The rich vegetation of the Daintree Forest (the most ancient rainforest in the world) north of Cairns is a striking landscape with unique native animals. The inland wetlands with heritage sites offers great food tours (organic tropical fruits and veggie, dairy products and more), picturesque landscape with lakes, hills, vast coffee and tea plantations. You can easily tour the region by car and everything is within 250 km of Cairns.
Uluru and The Red Centre may be a tourist destination but it must be on your list. I have toured the Red Centre a couple of times and could go back tomorrow. This is one of the seven wonders of the world and thinking of the Uluru gives me shivers. The huge red rock can be experienced at sunrise and sunset and by walking around the 9 km base walk. Moreover aboriginal guides offer free guided tours and an insight into the significance of the Uluru to the local Aboriginal population.
Sydney is a must-see destination, what so many call "London in the Sun". Sydney Harbour is one of the city's highlights but the city, next to the famous city beaches of Bondi and Manly, is also a gateway to many more destinations like Royal National Parks and the Blue Mountains. You can also start a once-in-a-lifetime train journey across the country aboard the Indian Pacific, and go west.
Tasmania a paradise for hiking adventures. The heart-shaped largest island boasts a wealth of beautiful spots and varied landscapes. From deep forests, waterfalls and mountains of the South and Western regions, to coastal national parks and smaller pristine islands. An easy itinerary route is to start from Hobart, explore the surroundings with Mount Wellington and then go on a road trip along the East Coast through the Freycinet National Park, Bicheno, Darby, Scottsdale, to Launceston.
Beyond Tasmania's outdoor attractions, you'll discover excellent premium wines and an array of local produce. If you are interested in history, then plan in a visit to Port Arthur to learn about convicts and Australia's colonial past.
If you are looking for more adventurous experiences, the country offers plenty - but there are more challenges too.
Driving on your own in remote areas can a be challenge if you are not used to it. You may find yourself driving for hours and rarely meet any cars or humans. There are many Outback destinations worth visiting if you are prepared to embark on a solo trip adventure, such as the Kimberley in Western Australia, with the Purnululu National Parks.
Island and Flinders Ranges in South Australia are great destinations with some
of the most striking outback landscapes and top places to see native Australian
wildlife in the wild.
Australia is a sunny country and sun is one the main harzards for your travel health. Unfortunately too many travellers don’t know or simply forget about this and I cannot emphasize enough the importance of choosing your clothing wisely in Australia.
My best tips: pack +50°C sun protection, a wide-brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirts and hiking trousers to avoid sunburn in Oz. Prefer
good quality functional travel wear and only pack casual clothes, Australia is
not really a country for formal or fancy dresses. Good walking shoes or lightweight
hiking boots are a must if you plan outdoor adventures.
Not many people know that Australia has some of the finest local produce you can imagine. The best food areas are from South Australia and Western Australia to the Yarra Valley in Victoria to North Tropical Queensland. The best local produce can be found at the farmers’ market in any city, town and village and tested in food tours or local restaurants.
I don’t have a typical dish, but love fish and Australia boasts
some excellent fish. You can try the Tasmanian salmon, the huge blue crabs from
South Australia and the famous oysters, Barramundi in Northern Australia, prawns
from Queensland. And of course the best fish & chips I have ever had are
One thing I would recommend is aboriginal art. Alice Springs is top place where to buy indigenous art that comes in any form: from paintings, wooden and glass art, clothes, gadget and accessories. The UGG boots made of sheep wool are another Australian shopping icon. Australian essential oils like Tea Tree Oil, Eucalyptus, as well as merino wool products are worth buying.
If money is no object then go straight to the Broome
South-Sea pearls and the pink and brown diamonds of the Kimberley, for which Western Australia is a top world producer of the finest quality.
Michela Fantinel is the founder and writer behind Rocky Travel Guide, a website and a blog for the smart, independent and solo traveller in Australia. She is also the author of Your Australia Itinerary, the most comprehensive guide that helps you create your solo trip around Australia. Or join one of Michela's guided walking tours for small groups of women!