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 ever since. 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 traveler. 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 woman-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 traveled alone to different
countries and visiting Australia, I never felt safer.
The locals are welcoming towards solo travelers 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, this 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 traveling around Australia on your own.
A well-planned itinerary and good organization is key and this ebook will show you the way to travel Australia solo.
Travel within Australia is probably the biggest challenge all travelers 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 have only limited public transportation, so there are two main options for solo travel in Australia: 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 best destinations in Australia, from both ease and safety standpoints, and the ones I would recommend for the first-time solo traveler 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 must be on your list, even though climbing it is now banned. This is one of the seven wonders of the world and thinking of 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. Australia's 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 are among the best places to visit in South Australia: they have 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 travelers 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 and chips I have ever had are
One thing I would recommend is aboriginal art. Alice Springs is the top place to buy all types of indigenous art forms: from paintings, wooden and glass art, clothes, gadgets 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 head straight for 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 of Rocky Travel Guide, a website and a blog for the smart, independent and solo traveler in Australia. She is also the author of Your Australia Itinerary, the most comprehensive guide to help you create your solo trip to Australia. Join one of Michela's guided walking tours for small groups of women.
—Updated 2 January 2020