Top End & Apple Isle

The Top End is the coastline that borders our Asian neighbours of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

For the most part the inhabitants are the first Australians as well as Asian immigrants. It is tropical and subject to wet and dry seasons.

Darwin is the largest town across the Top End and the vast area is home to infamous regions – The Kimberley, Kakadu National Park. Litchfield National Park, the Gulf of Carpentaria, and Broome.

Distances are great, terrain remarkable. It’s a must see.

At the south western end of Australia is Tasmania, the Apple Isle. It’s the largest island and was one of the first penal settlements so has a colonial history.

Hobart is the main city. The western half of the island is wilderness and quite wild.


Indian Coast

Western Australia takes up one third of the continent, some 2,529,000 square kilometres and 12,500 kilometres of coastline from the Timor Sea to the Southern Ocean.

It was first sighted by the Dutch in 1616 but it was not until May 2 1829 that the British claimed it. It was not until the arrival of 9,718 convicts that the settlement finally found its feet and in 1856 Perth was proclaimed a city.

The discovery of gold at Kalgoorlie and diamonds in the Kimberley set the state on its way to housing some of the wealthiest Australians.

The capital of Western Australia, Perth, enjoys lots of sunshine, natural parklands and beach lifestyle. With fantastic weather, clean uncrowded beaches, the city is situated on the banks of the Swan River which winds through the metropolis. Free buses get you around the CBD where you can visit the Perth Mint, Swan Bells Tower, Art Gallery of WA and many more Perth tourist attractions. The train and bus station is right in the centre of town, and accommodation options are plentiful catering to all budgets.

King Street is a haven for boutiques, art galleries, eateries and beautiful people. Be sure to be seen here. Murray and Hay street malls is the place for quality department and fashion chain stores.

Lunch time locations can be found from the riverside to the beachfront.

If you’re a nightlife fanatic then get to Northbridge, Mount Lawley, Leederville and Subiaco. And if you love the beach and surfing lifestyle then look no further than Cottesloe or Scarborough.

Over 80 kilometres of white sandy beaches perfect for surfing and swimming are all that separate Perth from the Indian Ocean. Kings Park botanical gardens offer a respite and relaxation together with some stunning views of this vibrant capital. There are free barbecue facilities and plenty of picnic spots to dine among the gum trees.

If sport is more your thing, catch a game of cricket, Aussie Rules or rugby at one of the sporting stadiums. The WACA is on the “free bus” circuit.

You can take a ferry to South Perth, Fremantle or Rottnest Island to take that world-famous snap of Perth’s skyline. Or hop on the train to Mandurah for a long lazy lunch.

Ferry Trip at Fremantle, Kings Park, Lake Monger, Northbridge, Ocean Beaches, Perth Mint, Zoo, and sunset at the beach.

Hopman Cup (Jan)
International Arts Festival (Jan-Feb)
Kings Park Wildflower Festival (Sept)
Rally Australia (Nov)

Wildlife Watching
Perth – Swan Estuary Marine Park is a haven migratory birds each spring from as far away as Siberia.

Golfers at Joondalup Public Golf Course need to look out for western grey kangaroos when teeing off.

Rottnest Island off the coast is home to the Quokka which can be seen at dawn and dusk.

During winter humpback whales can be spotted. The island is great for snorkellers.

To the south off Rockingham there’s a colony of fairy penguins on Penguin Island. Avon Valley National Park has a good population of echidnas and you can also see western grey kangaroos and euros.

John Forrest National Park has many noisy residents in parrots and whistlers as well as the racehorse goanna.

Head north to Monkey Mia to hand feed dolphins and also see sea turtles, school sharks, manta rays and dugongs. March to late May whale sharks visit Ningaloo Marine Park, August to November for humpback whales as well as manta rays. 125 bird species all the way to Mangrove Bay. With binoculars you’ll see ospreys, herons and black footed wallabies.

The former whaling town of Albany on the southern coast now conducts whale watching tours so you can observe the Southern-right whales

A Tour to Remember:
Cape to Cape: Busselton to Cape Leeuwin via Cape Naturaliste (188 km) 2-3 days will allow enough time to view the unexpected…. . that something special that makes your trip unique.

Busselton – Begin here, 228 kilometres south of Perth, where the longest jetty in Australia juts in to Indian Ocean for 2 kilometres.
Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse – Fabulous vantage point for whale viewing just an 800 metre stroll.
Canal Rocks – a canal-like rock formation which extends into the surf. The ancient fault line can be viewed from Rotary Lookout or you an follow the boardwalk (as long as you’re very careful). It’s a favourite fishing spot for anglers from May to June.
Ellensbrook – first home of the Bussell family, set by a bubbling brook. There is a circuit walk for 1.3 kilometres which winds past Meekadarribee Waterfall and Grotto.
Eagles Heritage – a rehab centre for injured birds of prey.
Mammoth Cave and Lake Cave – the interpretive Caveworks centre is at the entrance to Lake Cave.
Boranup Lookout – panoramic views of the coast and the Leeuwin-Naturaliste ridge.
Augusta – one of the oldest settlements in the state. Stand in the Southern Ocean and Indian Ocean at the same time.
Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse – You can climb to the top for even more spectacular views of the two oceans.


Southern Coast

The southern coastline encompasses Victoria, South Australia and part of Western Australia

The granite bulk of Wilsons Promontory juts out into Bass Strait to define the southernmost tip of the mainland. Once an island, during the summer, it attracts so many visitors that campers have to book ahead.

Ninety Mile Beach protects a series of lakes and lagoons. The top of it is around the town of Lakes Entrance and runs down the eastern side of Australia to Nooramunga Marine and Coastal Park.

A vast limestone plain, once part of the ocean bed stretches from Geelong (west of Melbourne) to the mouth of the Murray River in South Australia’s Coorong (famous for the location of the film Storm Boy.) Where the plain meets the sea in western Victoria, it has been worn into ragged cliffs by the Southern Ocean. The Port Campbell coast has been sculpted by the wind and the sea into a gallery of fantastic limestone formations.
Highlights along this coastline are the 12 Apostles (no longer 12), The Great Ocean Road, the remains of London Bridge (collapsed into the sea in 1990).

The Coorong is an Aboriginal word meaning narrow neck and is one of 27 Australian wetland reserves. Shallow lagoons stretch 135 kilometres from the mouth of the mighty Murray River.

The Southern Ocean has bitten two greedy jagged chunks from the gently curving coastline of South Australia. The city of Adelaide is situated halfway down Fleurieu Peninsula renowed for its superb wine from the vineyards of McLaren Vale, olive products, and cheeses. Adelaide has more restaurants per head than any other state and with the range and quality of produce can easily claim the title of the Australian table. The state is heavily influenced by its diverse population – Germans, Italians, Greeks, Lebanese, Poles and now Sudanese bring variety and colour.

Yorke Peninsula, the boot, is a popular place for holidaying. At the base of the boot you’ll find one of the largest wind farms. Vee shaped Eyre Peninsula is famous for wheat and tuna.

Kangaroo Island, Australia’s second largest island, is a native haven containing a variety of marsupials which thrive free of competition from rabbits or foxes. K.I. is a magical place and definitely worth a visit.

Despite it’s reputation, the land that links the east to the west, is very busy with many travellers making sure they don’t miss out on the desolate, almost treeless, mostly waterless and definitely featureless Nullarbor Plain. All along the coastline fringing the Great Australian Bight are steep limestone cliffs ranging from 90 to 130 metres high and almost 200 kilometres long.

Regular winter rains help maintain the greenness of Western Australia’s south-west, an isolated patch of incredible botanical diversity sandwiched between the ocean and the arid interior. Famous for its wildflower display in the Spring, you can also stand in the Indian and Southern Oceans at the same time at a place called Augusta which is not far from the Jewel Caves.


Pacific Coast

The Pacific Coast starts at the sharp tip of the broad arrowhead that is Cape York Peninsula, just 1200 kilometres from the Equator.  The area is pretty damp from November to April which is why it’s a really popular trip for 4WD during the dry season.

The 1000 kilometres shoreline between Cooktown and Cape York is one of Australia’s greatest wilderness coasts. The contrasts in coastline are particularly dramatic near the tip.

In the northern part of Cape York the rivers end in a maze of coastal lagoons, mangrove swamps and a series of beach ridges covered in vineforest. Saltwater crocodiles are common in most estuaries. During the height of the wet season floods, stingrays, sawfish and sharks venture up the rivers and have been seen many kilometres inland. When the rivers dry up the bull shark is often stranded.

The Great Barrier Reef extends from Cape York down to just north of Bundaberg. Washed by the warm waters of the south west Pacific is the world’s largest system of coral reefs. The Great Barrier Reef has more than 3400 individual reefs and stretches 2300 kilometres. The coastline has many islands that are very popular with holidaymakers.

Cloud capped mountains, carpeted in steamy jungle and towering over narrow, coastal lowlands, bring scenic grandeur to the Atherton Tableland. The famous Daintree National Park is here but the area is also home to Bellenden Ker and Palmerston to name just two. Cairns and Port Douglas are the most well known towns.

Central Queensland, sometimes called the Sugar Coast, straddles the Tropic of Capricorn. The most northerly surf beaches in eastern Australia are situated at the base of the Great Barrier Reef.

South Eastern Queensland from Fraser Island to the New South Wales border is highly developed with many facilities for holidaymakers and those seeking a lifestyle in the sun.

The Sunshine Coast’s lush verdant terrain is home to Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo. The beaches along this entire stretch are simply fabulous.  The scenery in the hinterland is simply glorious and has many towns with vibrant shopping and night life.

Next is the sprawling and vibrant city of Brisbane which basically links the Sunshine and Gold Coasts.

The Gold Coast is a tourist mecca and has many attractions guaranteed to empty your wallet or put a dent in your credit card.  Movie World, Wet n Wild, Sea World, Dream World, Fleays Wildlife sanctuary, iconic beaches and high rises.

Across the border to north coast New South Wales also has some fantastic beaches and fortunately less crowded. Byron Bay is a hot spot since the influx of its more famous residents. The sleepy little town with dirt roads and alternative lifestylers have been replaced. Lots of shops, paved roads, expensive housing and upmarket citizens. Very busy on weekends.

Moving on down the coast, there’s Lennox Heads, Ballina, Grafton and the hugely expanding Coffs Harbour  laying claim to famous faces such as Russell Crowe, Wendy Matthews, Jack Thompson, David Helfgott. The shopping facilites in this town have blossomed.

Port Macquarie has also boomed and is now home for many retirees. The waterfront has been developed to cater to the tourist influx.

The Port Stephens area down to the Central Coast is very popular for weekends away from Sydney.  The mass exodus occurs every Friday afternoon on the freeway north of Sydney and bottlenecks again on Sunday afternoon.

Nelson Bay is a town of many apartments all boasting great views.  The city of Newcastle is a very busy port with as many as 100 vessels anchored offshore at any time waiting to unload.

The Hunter Valley is well known for wine, perhaps more so than grapes. Just 2 hours from Sydney and you will find yourself amongst the tranquility of vines. Pokolbin shopping centre is a good place to stop for the icecream and the chocolates and the cheese before heading out to any of the vineyards. For a fantastic 360 degree view go to Audrey Wilkinson. The oldest vineyard, Tyrrells, conducts a memorable tour.

Lake Macquarie is a body of water 4 times the size of Sydney Harbour and is tucked away about 30 minutes south of Newcastle.  It is a boaties paradise.

The South Pacific ocean rolls right up to Sydney’s doorway and presents itself on the sandy beaches of Bondi, Whale, Palm, Coogee.  Sydney is quite simply a stunning city to fly into and if you can find the time to ride a ferry or take the water taxi and get out on the harbour you will really be rewarded.

Beyond the outskirts of Sydney’s urban sprawl and its green buffer of national parks, the south coast is sandwiched between the hills and the sea, 380 kilometres to the Victorian border. The area is hugely popular with land locked Canberrans. It was the first area to be examined in detail by Europeans.

Travel Grand Pacific Drive for a ride out over the ocean north of Wollongong. Then it’s on to the lush green hills around Kiama before heading down to historic Berry .

In contrast to North Coast NSW the southern beaches are generally small with more individual character.
The village of Batemans Bay has grown enormously and is now the hub of beachside entertainment for the ACT.

South of Batemans Bay there are villages at regular intervals all the way to the Victorian border.