For anyone deciding to travel to Australia, I think it must be compulsory to be given one of those maps that shows Europe fitting inside the country with room to spare. I think the size of Australia is one of the most shocking aspects to tourists that come here with only a few weeks to explore as they quickly realize that it’s not all fun and games when trying to see as many of those iconic sights scattered about. It takes planning to make the most of your time down under, which is why size matters immensely in Australia.
The Dilemma: Flying versus Driving
I met a traveler the other day that had literally 5.5 days to spare, and he for some reason thought he was about to do the driving trip from Sydney to Cairns in that amount of time. After being smacked back into reality, he then decided to take a cheap flight to Brisbane and start from there. It was a much more reasonable plan that would allow him to actually see some sights along the way.
In some cases, such as this, catching a flight within Australia is necessary, but the problem is that – in my mind – the journey is one of the best parts. There’s nothing like driving to the Outback and seeing the towns get smaller and more spread out, and what about the curvy and jungle-encased roads of tropical north Queensland? It’s the scenery that you really get to see when driving in Australia.
It’s not only the scenery you miss when flying over driving; it’s the little fun bits in between. Take, for instance, Granite Gorge. Granite Gorge is a nature park near Mareeba (about an hour’s drive from Cairns) that tempts tourists to visit with the promise of seeing and feeding rock wallabies. Adorable? Yes, and definitely worth it in my opinion. However, chances are you will not make it to fun little places like this from the main cities unless you are self-driving.
It’s About Being Realistic
As in the driving example above, it’s about being realistic about your options. If you are dead-set on driving through Australia and are on limited time, you will definitely be better off trying to narrow your focus by choosing one region or one state. By doing so, you’ll get to really know that area as opposed to grazing over the surface.
On the other hand, flying from major city to major city and hitting all the big named places can be just as amazing. I guess it all comes down to your personal travel preferences. Here are some ideas to keep in mind:
Your trip length.
Your willingness to drive in a foreign country.
The likelihood you’ll return to Australia.
Your love, or hate, of flying.
All of these points should be considered when planning a trip down under, but I often feel that distance from one location to the next isn’t stressed enough. Let’s face it, Australia is pretty gigantic. And, I think it’s safe to say that this is one place where size really does matter.