10 insider travel tips for Australia

Australia has a special place in my heart because, among other things, it’s the first country I travelled independently both to, and around. Sydney was the destination I spent most of my time, but I also managed to explore the rest of the country. Due to the amount of time I spent in this country (I returned twice after living there), I picked up lots of insider tips for Australia. Here are 10 of them…

1 Sydney – Spend an evening in Newtown

Brewtown Newtown

Oxford St, Darling Harbour, Circular Quay, The Rocks and Bondi are all great for bars and restaurants, but they’re not really off the beaten track. While there are quite a few locals in these areas, there are heaps of tourists too. If you want to spend an evening where you know you’ll be among Sydneysiders, spend an evening in Newtown. I recommend having a cappuccino in Brewtown Newtown (6-8 O’Connell St) that specialises in coffee, grabbing a bite to eat in Doytao Thai (543 King St) where you’ll get a delicious Pad Thai, then ending the evening with a cocktail in Kuleto’s Cocktail Bar (157 King St) where there’s a great rooftop bar.

2 Melbourne – Get around using tram No. 35

Tram no. 35 Photo courtesy of Derek Midgley.

If you’re planning on spending a day exploring Melbourne, it’s good to note that tram No. 35 is the free tourist tram. Looping the CBD (Central Business District), you can hop on and off at destinations all around the city such as Flinders Street Station, the Queen Victoria Market and the Melbourne Museum.

3 Nationwide – Eat in ‘BYO’ restaurants

Sydney Photo courtesy of Jocelyn Kinghorn.

All over Australia’s main towns and cities are restaurants that are ‘BYO’ which stands for ‘bring your own’. In these restaurants you don’t need to worry about what wine (or beer) they have as you can literally bring your own, making them a really affordable option for eating out. Some BYO restaurants have a corkage charge though, so check before dining.

4 Adelaide – Visit the South Australia Museum

South Australia Museum Photo courtesy of Cimexus.

Located on North Terrace in the heart of Adelaide’s cultural precinct, the South Australia Museum is committed to making Australia’s natural and cultural heritage accessible, engaging and fun. The fact that it’s free to enter certainly helps them with their cause. Galleries include those focusing on Ancient Egypt, Minerals and Meteorites, Whales and Dolphins and Australian Aboriginal Cultures. Even if there were an entry fee it would be worth visiting.

5 Brisbane – see the city from the ‘CityHopper’

CityHopper Photo courtesy of Rae Allen.

Brisbane’s answer to Melbourne’s free tourist tram is the ‘CityHopper’ – a ferry that began its service in July 2012 and has carried thousands of passengers since. Operating between 6am and midnight, 7 days a week, a trip on the ferry is a great way to take in the sights of the Brisbane River as well as the looming skyline.

6 Darwin – Enjoy a sunset you won’t forget

Darwin sunset Photo courtesy of Stephen Michael Barnett.

While the national parks that Darwin is the gateway to are extremely memorable, you won’t forget one of Darwin’s sunsets either if you’re lucky enough to catch one – the sun goes a fiery red that is unforgettable. Mindel Beach just north of Darwin’s CBD is the place to catch one.

7 Nationwide – Go to the cinema on a Tuesday

cinema Photo courtesy of Amanda Slater.

If you fancy going to the cinema during your time in one of Australia’s cities, try to go on a Tuesday when tickets are cheaper. For instance, a ticket to a movie in Melbourne’s Cinema Nova is AUD$13 on a Tuesday as opposed to AUD$19 the rest of the week. In Sydney’s Dendy Cinemas (Circular Quay and Newtown) it will cost you AUD$11 to see a movie on a Tuesday instead of the AUD$13.50 it would cost any other day of the week, while in Perth’s Luna Palace Cinemas a ticket that normally costs AUD$17.50 in their Windsor Cinema or Cinema Paradiso is discounted to AUD$11.50.

8 Perth – Get around using the CAT bus services

Perth CAT bus Photo courtesy of Darren Foreman.

Perth is another Australian city that has a free transport service, their one being a bus that is known as the CAT (Central Area Transit). There are three services in operation – the red CAT, the blue CAT and the yellow CAT. Between the three lines, many of the city’s suburbs and attractions are passed.

9 Cairns – Take advantage of ‘Early Bird’ specials in restaurants

Cairns Photo courtesy of Neil Williamson.

When dining out in Cairns, try to plan your day so you’ll be sitting down to order before 6pm. This way you can take advantage of one of the city’s ‘Early Bird’ specials. In Dundee’s On The Waterfront (1 Marlin Parade), you get 10% off your bill when you order before 6pm between Monday to Thursday, while Bushfire Flame Grill does a unique Brazilian ‘churrascaria’ experience for AUD$39.95 when you dine between 5.30pm and 7pm.

10 Alice Springs – Enjoy sunset (or sunrise) from Anzac Hill

Alice Springs Photo courtesy of Michael Theis.

If you’re feeling energetic and fancy going on a hike, or if you’re not but still want to go to a lookout, you can either walk or drive to Anzac Hill – a landmark in Alice Springs that boasts breathtaking views. Any time is good to visit, but the vistas are particularly stunning as the day breaks or as it comes to an end.

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