Australia Region Rundown
Australian Capital Territory (A.C.T)
Popular Places: Canberra, Snowy Mountains, Tumbarumba, Braidwood, Jervis Bay, Montague Island.
- Australia’s capital Canberra is just over three hours’ drive from Sydney, or less than seven from Melbourne, and is the seat of Australian Government.
- Canberra is a young and modern city with a population of 329,000. Today people of the world meet in Canberra - through the national Parliament, universities and a vibrant diplomatic community.
- Canberra's special contrast of nature and urban living was planned to perfection in 1911 by Canberra's master designer, Walter Burley Griffin. He certainly had the tourist in mind when he designed Canberra, with most of the city's attractions within easy walking distance of one another, and a few no more than a 10 minute drive from the city centre.
- Canberra is located 150 kilometres inland, and 571 metres above the Pacific Ocean. Situated in the 2349.4 square kilometre Australian Capital Territory (not including Jervis Bay), the city is surrounded by national parks, bush and mountain ranges.
- Outside of Canberra, the surrounding region includes historic townships, natural wonders, beautiful coastlines and the famous Snowy Mountains.
- Head to the Snowy Mountains and experience alpine wildflowers, ski resorts, fishing, mountain bike riding, glacial lakes, wild brumbies, trekking, horseriding and more, including Australia’s highest point, Mt Kosciuszko.
- The Capital Country region surrounding the A.C.T offers world-class arts and crafts, historic villages, manicured gardens, stunning nature, gourmet delights and no less than three wine regions to travel through in your motorhome.
- Just two hours’ drive south of Canberra are the unspoilt coastlines of the South Coast.
Western Australia (W.A.)
Popular Places: Perth, Rottnest Island, The Pinnacles, The Kimberley, Broome, Ningaloo Reef, Purnululu National Park, Shark Bay, Margaret River.
- This is Australia’s largest state in terms of area, covering the western third of the mainland (five times the size of Texas).
- Its capital city, Perth, is one of the most isolated metropolitan areas on the planet – the nearest city is Adelaide (over 2000 kms away) – in fact it’s closer to East Timor and Jakarta in Indonesia than it is to Sydney or Melbourne.
- Perth is Australia’s sunniest city (which is saying a lot!). The temperatures reach above 40 degrees Celsius in summer, although its winters are mild. The heat is generally dry rather than humid.
- Perth is a handsome, modern city with fantastic parks, great swimming and superb surf. The Swan River runs through the city and most residents define themselves as either living North or South of the river. The river flows into the Indian Ocean at the Port of Fremantle, another beautiful town with great historic buildings.
- Driving south out of Perth takes you to towns such as Albany and Esperance, with this region claiming some of the best beaches in the world. South West Australia is also home to parts of the Karri forest where some of the world’s tallest trees grow.
- Head north from Perth in your campervan and you’ll hit the Outback. The top third of W.A. is tropical and you’ll see rainforest along the coast, and endless grassy savannah dotted with kangaroos and all sorts of other wildlife. South and inland are the huge deserts – the biggest in the world apart from the famous Sahara. The main deserts are the Simpson Desert, the Great Victoria Desert, The Great Sandy Desert, and the Nullabor Plain. This region is famous for its spectacular springtime display of wildflowers.
- There’s more coastline in W.A than in any other state, much of it beautiful white sand and sparkling turquoise water. However, many of the northern beaches are home to sharks and other treacherous wildlife, so brush up on your local knowledge before deciding if and when to swim.
- The most westerly point of Australia is North West Cape, the location of the Ningaloo Reef. It’s not as large as the Great Barrier Reef but is just as spectacular, more accessible and less populated.
- There are many huge mines in W.A, so road trains are frequently seen. The open cast mines make for an interesting visit, as they house some of the world’s biggest earth-moving machinery, trucks with houses in them, and trains kilometres long.
- Following the main highway north in your motorhome will take you to the Northern Territory, whereas the south of the state is bordered by South Australia. Off the west coast is the Indian Ocean and beyond the southern border is the Great Southern Ocean. The nearest landmass to the south is Antarctica.
Northern Territory (N.T.)
Popular Places: Darwin, Alice Springs, Kakadu National Park, Uluru, Kings Canyon, Katherine Gorge, Arnhem Land.
- This territory is huge and sparsely populated, spans desert and tropics and lies just underneath Asia.
- The majority of this region is classed as Outback and stations, which are huge farms or ranches (some of these stations are bigger than countries!)
- The northern part is known as the “Top End” to Australians, and only has two tropical seasons – wet and dry. Darwin is located in the top end and is the capital of N.T.
- Darwin is a very relaxed city, although hasn’t always been so laid back. In fact, it’s been destroyed and rebuilt twice! It was bombed by the Japanese during WWII and then succumbed to a powerful cyclone on Christmas Day, 1974. Because of this, it’s now the most modern city in Australia.
- West of Darwin is the world-renowned 3.2 million-acre Kakadu National Park, famous for its stunning scenery full of waterfalls, crocodiles and mangroves, as well as its sacred Aboriginal sites – there are more paintings on rocks and cave walls here than anywhere else in Australia.
- Head south and you’ll get to Alice Springs, N.T’s second-largest city. It’s a modern Outback city with an old-world charm, surrounded by desert and the McDonnell Ranges. People call this area of Australia the Red Centre because of the colour of the sand, which is occasionally broken up by white salt from dried-up salt lakes. There’s a huge amount of wildlife around here – you’re likely to see kangaroos, emus, snakes and maybe a goanna (a huge lizard).
- In the south of the region, almost perfectly in the centre of Australia is Uluru (formerly Ayers Rock), arguably the country’s most famous landmark. The huge sandstone monolith is about half a day’s drive from Alice Springs.
- Continue south and you’ll end up in South Australia, west and you’ll be back in W.A., and to the east is Queensland. North of N.T is the Arafura Sea and the nearest land from there is Indonesia.
South Australia (S.A.)
Popular Places: Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, the central deserts, Flinders Ranges, Nullabor Plain, Barossa Valley, Coober Pedy.
- South Australia borders every mainland state in Australia. It’s the driest in the country but its climate is perfect for a thriving wine industry.
- The capital city of S.A. is Adelaide, which is situated on the Torrens River. It’s notable for its beautiful parks which separate the city from the suburbs.
- Near Adelaide is the Barossa Valley which is probably Australia’s most famed wine-producing region. North are the stunningly rugged Flinders Ranges. Even further north is the Simpson Desert, and west from there is the vast, flat Nullabor Plain.
- South Australia is home to some interesting towns, such as Coober Pedy in the north. The residents of this small mining town actually live underground – the best way to escape the stifling heat of above ground. Houses, church buildings, pubs and other buildings are all dug out to look like grand caves. It’s also known as the “Opal Capital of the World.” It’s remote but well worth a visit.
- Travelling east, you’ll reach Queensland, Victoria or New South Wales. N.T. is to the North and W.A. to the west.
- The coastline of the Great Southern Ocean is called the Great Australian Bight.
Popular Places: Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Noosa, Airlie Beach, Great Barrier Reef, Whitsunday Islands, Fraser Island, Cairns and Port Douglas, Daintree Rainforest, Kuranda.
- Queensland is Australia’s second-largest state, and its capital is Brisbane, Australia’s third-largest city. To the south is another large city, the Gold Coast, and northern Queensland’s largest city is Townsville.
- Queensland’s climate ranges from sub-tropical up to tropical in the north, and this combined with some of the most stunning, often uncrowded beaches in the world make it a popular holiday destination for both Australians and overseas visitors.
- The most famous geographical feature of Queensland is the Great Barrier Reef, which is known as one of the natural winders of the world. Around 2000kms long, it has some of the best diving and snorkelling in the world due to its rich marine life and some 900 beautiful tropical islands. Particularly spectacular are the Whitsunday Islands which are a must-see on your motorhome roadtrip itinerary.
- In the upper part of Queensland (known as far North Queensland, or F.N.T) lies Daintree National park, home to the world’s oldest rainforest and amazing spots such as Cape Tribulation, where the rainforest runs uninterrupted to the reef. Up here is the only place in the world where two World Heritage areas exist side by side.
- Inland Queensland is mostly desert, or Outback, starting from the west of the Great Dividing Range up to the Northern Territory. Queensland borders South Australia to the south west but it’s not a route for campervans, as there are no roads – you can cross into New South Wales in the south, however.
- North of Queensland is the Torres Strait which separates Australia from Papua New Guinea, and is the end point of the Great Barrier Reef. People who live on the islands in the Torres Strait are officially citizens of Australia.
New South Wales (N.S.W.)
Popular Places: Sydney, Byron Bay, Blue Mountains, Hunter Valley, New England region, Port Stephens, Pebbly Beach, Jervis Bay, Kosciuszco, Broken Hill.
- New South Wales is Australia’s most populous state and offers a huge variety of things to see and do – beautiful coastline, World Heritage parks, mountain ranges, Outback, snow and skiing, and the bright lights of the city.
- The state’s capital Sydney is a gorgeous city and Australia’s most recognised. It’s much bigger than the second and third largest cities, Newcastle and Woollongong, which are much bigger again than the remaining country towns.
- While much of the sophisticated nightlife and cultural attractions are concentrated in Sydney, there are plenty of natural and historical sites making the rest of the state extremely worth spending time in. Byron Bay, Australia’s most easterly point, has excellent surf breaks and is renowned for its artsy, hippie-like atmosphere. Inland is the lush New England region (home to Newcastle) so named because of its cool climate and British-looking landscape. Around the Great Diving Range you’ll find lots of protected areas of gorges, rainforest and valleys that are excellent for hiking and extreme sports such as white water rafting.
- N.S.W’s temperate climate with its warm summers and mild winters mean it’s appealing year-round. The Outback can get uncomfortably hot in summer though, and even Sydney might get the odd 40 degree day. NSW is a state of many contrasts, however, and you can ski in the Australian Alps to the south.
- In the state’s west you’ll come to the Blue Mountains with their breathtaking cliffs, limestone cave formations and lush rainforest; even further west and you’ll hit the Outback. To the south lies the Royal National Park, north is the Kurangi Chase National Park. Tweed Heads lies northernmost, on the border of NSW and QLD; and Coolangatta sits on the Queensland side.
Popular Places: Melbourne, Great Ocean Road, The Grampians, Mornington Peninsula, Bells Beach, Ballarat, Phillip Island.
- Victoria is Australia’s smallest mainland state, with the highest density out of any of the states. Its capital city, Melbourne, is Australia’s second-largest city, and is best known for its style, sophistication, culture, fabulous eateries, great shopping and thriving arts scene. Over a quarter of its residents were born overseas, making it Australia’s most multi-cultural city.
- Melbourne is known as the cultural capital of Australia, and there is an endless timetable of food and film festivals, art exhibitions and musical offerings. The city also hosts many large events such as the Australian Grand Prix and the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.
- Outside Melbourne, regional attractions include Phillip Island with its famous penguin parade, the vast sandstone ridges of The Grampians, and the spectacular Great Ocean Road from which you can view dramatic rock formations such as the famous Twelve Apostles as you drive your campervan through.
- Inland Victoria is largely farmland; northern Victoria borders the Australian Alps.
Popular Places: Hobart, Lake St Clair, Cradle Mountain, Port Arthur, Freycinet Peninsula, Maria island.
- Tasmania is Australia’s island state, separated from the mainland by Bass Strait which is 240kms across. You can either hire a motorhome there, or take one across the strait in a ferry.
- Tasmania is famous for its unpolluted air, uninterrupted wilderness, spectacular views and gourmet produce. Over one quarter of the state is protected with National Park status.
- The landscape to the west is rugged with rocky coastlines, steep mountains and dense rainforest. Lake St Clair is said to be one of the most scenic areas – the location of Cradle Mountain, and treks to rival even New Zealand’s most picturesque.
- Eastern Tasmania is less rugged, warmer, and more beachy – Wineglass bay in Freycenet National Park was once voted in the top ten beaches in the world according to an international travel magazine.
- Tasmania’s capital is Hobart, and is Australia’s second oldest city (after Sydney). It sits next to a river, a busy harbour and impressive mountains and has its own unique atmosphere.
- Tasmania was originally named Van Diemen’s Land by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, but its named was changed in 1856. Tasmania has a fascinating history due to its past as a British penal colony.
- Tasmania is teeming with wildlife (the most famous being the Tasmanian Devil) much of it specific to the state due to its isolation. There are varieties of kangaroos and possums, for example, that are only found in Tasmania due to its cooler and more mountainous climate.