Yes, back again on Thursday with the conclusion to my Australia itinerary. Last week I detailed what I thought would be a good east coast jaunt from Cairns down to Melbourne. Take a bus or a plane – domestic air travel is as cheap as it’s ever been in Australia right now (look to Tiger or Jetstar for the cheapest flights – but do expect delays too). Personally I think trains are the way to go if they service the routes you want to take. You can certainly take a train down the east coast from Brisbane to Sydney to Melbourne. But it’s further west where Australia’s most epic rail journeys are to be had.
So if you didn’t catch the first part it’s HERE – Travel Itineraries – Australia Part One
And on we go. From Melbourne, I recommend heartily a couple of weeks in the southernmost state of Australia, the ‘Apple Isle’ – Tasmania. It’s beautiful and green, Hobart is a wonderful town with a great market (Salamanca Market) and a beautiful bay full of boats in the summer time. You have historic Port Arthur south of Hobart, you have Cradle Mountain somewhere near the centre, and the west coast is a bit wild and less travelled, but has a stunning train ride, some lovely little towns and natural beauty aplenty.
Now here’s where my itinerary suggestions get a bit far-fetched in some ways. You could, with a stop I presume, fly from Hobart to Darwin. The southernmost state and territory capital to the northernmost. It’s going to be a shock to the system because Darwin is hot all year round and very humid, whereas Hobart rarely sees much over thirty in the depths of summer. But this will allow you to take two iconic rail journeys.
From Darwin, take a bus and visit the amazing Kakadu. It’s incredibly beautiful and you’ll be able to say you’ve visited the outback. You will have a chance to learn about Indigenous culture too and when I was there I took a pretty cool boat tour and saw a few crocodiles amongst other indigenous wildlife.
Back to Darwin and south on the Ghan. It’s an amazing journey – read more about it HERE. Visit the Katherine Gorge on your trip and then get off at Alice Springs. From Alice you can find your way via tour or otherwise to Uluru, visiting other places on the way. Back on the train and if you’re there between August and October some trains do a stop in Coober Pedy, a town that thanks to summer heat is basically below ground. An old mining town, I’ve never been there but I hear it’s FASCINATING.
Down to Adelaide, check out Glenelg, catch cricket at the Adelaide Oval and marvel at the city of churches. And then there’s Kangaroo Island, not all that far away. Then you have the Indian Pacific, the train that crosses the Nullarbor Plain to Perth. Yes! You’ll be on the west coast and then my experience completely dries up. But it’s stunning – or it is in the photos I’ve seen. Perth is a place I really wanted to visit when I was young but alas I am 40 and still haven’t visited.
The trains are expensive, but as a backpacker with an ISIC, YHA, HI or a couple of other cards you can get heavily discounted fares. And if you’re lucky you might be offered a cheap upgrade once on the actual train. This page has more details!
So there you go! 3-4 months you’d need at a minimum I’m thinking for this itinerary, and probably with prices in Australia as they are, a decent stash of money! J But the Aussie dollar is down to just over 70 cents US these days, as compared with around three years ago when it was above the US dollar, so it is cheaper for the overseas traveller than it actually was!
Tell me what you think – and if anyone has some ideas for the west coast, please comment about them. One day… one day! May the Journey Never End!