As Australia is a huge country, deciding where to begin your adventure can be daunting at first. Whichever region of this vast nation you choose to visit, you'll need to change planes at least once when travelling from Europe. Common stopover points include Middle Eastern cities such as Dubai or Doha, with Singapore and Bangkok being popular Asian layover points. Melbourne and Sydney, Australia's two largest cities, have extensive international airports. After marvelling at the Sydney Opera House or soaking up Melbourne's alternative street culture, take to the open road in a rental car and explore destinations such as Bondi Beach, the mesmerising Great Barrier Reef, or the seemingly endless Great Ocean Road, which is peppered with landmarks and breathtaking views.
Given the size of the country, when you visit Australia, you'll probably want to frame your trip around either the eastern or western coastlines. Perth, the major hub of West Australia, boasts numerous attractions, including Kings Park and Botanic Garden and Freemantle Prison. Beaches aren't in short supply around Perth, and Garden and Rottnest islands are accessible by taking a short boat trip from the city's harbour. Meanwhile, Sydney, Australia's largest city, is many first-time visitors' top choice. Sydney is one of the world's great cultural capitals, and with its proximity to the beaches of the Gold Coast, you can combine a city escape with a beach getaway. Melbourne, the capital of the south coast, has a more laid-back vibe but an equally vibrant and cosmopolitan culture.
As well as boasting some of the world's top cities, Australia also has abundant natural beauty. Discovering destinations away from the cities is much easier when you rent a car in Australia. The rainforest reserves and Great Barrier Reef, both located close to Cairnes, are must-sees for wildlife lovers, while the Blue Mountains of Katoomba are a walker's paradise. The reef is one of the world's most magnificent natural wonders, and the opportunity to dive into its stunning waters mustn't be missed. Other localities that should be on the itinerary of any intrepid traveller to Australia include magnificent Ayres Rock and the wild landscapes of Alice Springs. Exotic wildlife is part of the fabric of life in Australia, and opportunities to spot everything from koalas to kangaroos are plentiful. You'll find plenty of national parks, both on and offshore – a few of the best are Kakadu, Uluru Kata Tjuta and Karijini.
|Time-Zones||Australian Western Time (UTC+08:00), Australian Central Time (GMT+9.30), Australian Eastern Time (UTC+10:00)|
Australia has well-maintained roads with clear signposts, and driving in the country is generally safe. Australians, like the British, drive on the left side of the road. When you rent a car in Australia, you'll need a valid international driving licence and an international permit, which you get easily from your home country before you set off. All reputable car hire companies will request to see your documentation before leasing you a car. It's important to adhere to the speed limits, even when there's no visible signage, as the regulations are strictly enforced. As the blood-alcohol limit for drivers Australia is 0.05%, not driving after drinking is strongly advised. While there's likely no need for a 4x4 vehicle, keep in mind that some of the distances you'll cover could be extensive and a large car can be more comfortable for long journeys - especially for those travelling as a family.