I have crossed back and forth from USA to AUS many times, and can attest that the hardest part of getting downunder is the flight. It’s neither cheap nor quick. You’ll likely spend $1200 or more and about 15 hours from the WQest Coast in an uncomfortable airline seat. (I always request a seat in the rear of the plane, where I’m more likely to get three seats to stretch out in for the duration. Otherwise, I look like a pretzel if pressed in to a single economy seat.)
Once you arrive, you’ll need a day to recover from jet lag. If you only have two weeks, that’s really only 12 days, what with crossing the international date line, loosing a day and taking a jet lag day into account.
Fortunately, the hard parts melt away once you get to Sydney, your most likely starting point. (There are flights that arrive in Melbourne and Cairns and Perth if you want to avoid the congestion of Sydney – but if it’s your first visit, don’t miss Sydney Harbor, the opera House and taking the Manly Ferry (yes, that’s for real) to reach the beach. If you’re returning to Australia and have done the Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Outback the first time, you can forgo those tourist destinations in Cairns/Queensland and head for the other gay capital cities – Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Hobart, Canberra, and let’s throw in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory!
Here’s my compiled list of at least 7 things to see and do. There is no such thing as a dull destination downunder!
1. From Melbourne in Victoria, you should meander along the Great Ocean Road and take a helicopter ride over the 12 Apostles (massive rock pillars that stand like sentries along the southern coast. There are only 7 left standing, so hurry here – and linger longer at some great gay owned and gay friendly accommodation along the coast.
2. See a performance at the Sydney Opera House – or at least take a tour of the awesome structure, one of the modern wonders of the world.
3. Hike from Bondi to Bronte beaches – about 30 minutes – the most popular beaches in Sydney for surging, sunning and snorkeling (not to mention gay cruising on the north end of Bondi). If you’re visiting in September, this walk is turned into an outdoor gallery with some of the best sculpture art in the world. Don’t miss it, unless it’s too windy on the bluff and you’re afraid of heights.
4. Check out the architecture in Melbourne, and raise a pint with the friendly locals at any one of the gay pubs in Carlton; you can even grab a room upstairs and spend the night at The Opium Den and Laird Hotels. The Jasper is best if you want to do the touristy must-do of visiting and shopping at Victoria Market. Forget the souvenir boomerrangs; they’re all made in China and I’ve never seen a real one anywhere during my four years living there!
5. Starting with your flight into Alice Springs – you set your watch back half an hour even though you’ve just flown over an endless red desert – you’re in for an adventure. Visit the Desert Park, take an Outback Safari to Ayers Rock, or go flightseeing over the Olgas. You’ll enjoy the rest afterwards at The Rainbow Connection where Phil will clue you into what’s happening in The Alice.
6. Get within 15 feet of a croc? Dive the Great Barrier Reef? Visit the famous Surfer’s Paradise? Go for a sail in the Whitsundays? Visit the rainforest? There are mucho choices in the tropical far north. See queensland.com/gay.
7. For the pristine wilderness experience and one of the world’s 10 most remote and stunning beaches, you have to travel to the island state of Tasmania, about an hour’s flight from Melbourne. The Freycinet Peninsula side (East Coast) is for sun lovers. The Cradle Mountain side (West Coast) is for the mountain lovers and those who want to look all the way to Antartica and to South America and know there’s not another living soul in between. The Southwest Wilderness area of Tasmania is a World Hertiage Park, where few have trodden. Same thing with my favorite eastern beaches. Enough room for everyone to have their own beach or rainforest. You’llk love the Cloud Juice (purest bottled water on earth).