SOUTH AUSTRALIA. FOR THOSE WHO WANT A LITTLE MORE.
South Australia. It’s a beautiful place. A place for the restless, for those who want to dive a little deeper, explore a little longer and go a little further. Why do we always travel to the same places and do the same things? It is time to be curious and reward your wonder. That's the thing about South Australia, it's a place for those who want a little more.
Discover the city of Adelaide, recently named as the world’s second National Park City alongside London! Where laneways are woven together by hidden bars, flavour-filled restaurants and hole-in-the-wall artisan coffee houses. Home to the largest Fringe Festival outside of Edinburgh, Adelaide is perfectly nestled between the coastline and world-renowned wine regions.
The scene: Having spent the last century living up to its moniker as a dull politician’s playground filled with boring bureaucrats, Canberra is suddenly experiencing a Capital of Cool moment. Of course, history fanatics will still get their fix of stately government institutions, heritage buildings and eminent museums and galleries that are undeniably the best in the country. But there’s also an exciting new wave of game-changing hotels, high-profile restaurants, unique boutiques and pop-up stores, and amazing crafts markets - all of which have reshaped the city in recent years.
The sights: The remarkable Parliament House, Opera House, and Australian War Memorial all fit the bill for visual thrills. Must-dos include walking the ‘bridge to bridge’ path around Lake Burley Griffin (named after the Chicago-born architect who designed the capital in 1913), visiting the National Gallery of Australia for some 166,000-plus works of art, and checking out Captain Cook’s 1770 logbook at the National Library. Further highlights include shopping for curios at the Old Bus Depot Markets, watching an art-house movie at the NewActon cultural precinct, and working your way through the pleasing array of brunch cafés and bars on Lonsdale Street.
The scene: While not as showy as its flashy northern sister, Sydney, the progressive state capital of Victoria is one of Australia’s coolest metropolitan marvels. There’s gourmet foodie offerings, hipster bars, a thriving arts scene, and a vibe that’s more European than any of its cosmopolitan rivals. As for sport, the Australian Football League Grand Final, Australian Open Tennis Championships, and Formula 1 Grand Prix are all held here. And then, of course, there’s the spiritual home of Aussie cricket - the Melbourne Cricket Ground (known locally as "The G").
The sights: While the celebrated laneways and arcades packed with cafés, bars and boutiques add soul to the city, it’s the awe-inspiring street art in Hosier Lane, Block Arcade and Union Lane that adds real character. Further highlights include taking a sporting pilgrimage to the National Sports Museum, riding the free-of-charge City Circle Tram to see landmarks such as Parliament House, Federation Square, City Museum and Docklands, and shopping for gourmet goodies at Queen Victoria Market. Also make time to visit Phillip Island (a 90-minute drive from the city) to see thousands of adorable little penguins make their epic journey along the sands at sunset.
The scene: It’s all dreamy surf beaches, top-tier entertainment venues, and a dazzling harbour in the superstar of New South Wales. And while it’s a city happy to charge forward with edgy trends and creative developments, there’s enough cultural depth to keep history buffs happy; from the 100-year-old Bondi Icebergs to the Royal Botanic Gardens (thought to be the oldest public gardens in the Southern Hemisphere). And then, of course, there’s the long list of icons; most famously the Sydney Opera House - one the most recognisable buildings in the world that was designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon in a 1956 competition (his prize was £5,000).
The sights: To get to grips with this city of superlatives, tour the Opera House, climb Sydney Harbour Bridge, and take to the water to explore Darling Harbour or Sydney Harbour by boat. There’s also the sun-blazed Coogie, Bondi and Manly for beach glamour, Oxford and William Streets for drain-your-wallet-shopping, and the State Theatre, Art Gallery of New South Wales and Museum of Contemporary Art Australia for arty kicks. Also unmissable is The Rocks - the historic harbourside quarter where you can wander down cobbled laneways, sample craft beer in some of the city’s oldest pubs, and delve into Sydney’s colonial past.
The scene: For all the sun, sea and surf you can muster, Queensland’s iconic coastal city that sits immediately north of the border with New South Wales is all glitz and glamour; think flashy high-rises, seaside markets, and Orlando-style theme parks (Wet ’n’ Wild Water World, Warner Brothers Movie World). This is also where you’ll find gourmet dining, 57 kilometres of pristine sands, and a $42 million aquatic centre in the Broadwater Parklands that accommodated 10,000 fans when the city hosted the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
The sights: This is Australia’s most upbeat holiday playground for good reason, but there’s more to this place than the booming bars and megaclubs in the spirited Surfers Paradise suburb. Must-dos include venturing to the 77th-floor viewing platform at the 322-metre-high Q1 Building, hand-feeding a kangaroo or cuddling a koala at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, and enjoying a ghoulish night at Dracula’s Comedy Cabaret Restaurant - a Gold Coast staple that’s famously been paying tribute to the B-grade horror genre since the mid-Sixties. To top it off, there’s scores of beaches, including Main Beach, Surfers Paradise, Kurrawa Beach, and Miami Beach.
The scene: It may be one of the most isolated cities on earth, but that hasn’t stopped Western Australia’s youthful capital from stepping ahead of its competitors. This frontier-town-made-chic tempts with slick wine bars and restaurants, sweeping parkland, achingly cool festivals, excellent markets, glittering beaches, and a skyline to rival Manhattan. Equally thrilling are the rejuvenation projects that are changing the face of the city; most significantly the $2.6-billion Elizabeth Quay development (a plan by the State Government to return the city's focus to the Swan River).
The sights: This up-and-coming part of WA offers endless things to do; from taking a morning power run at the inner-city Kings Park to lazing on the glistening white sands at Cottesloe Beach. Further must-dos include admiring one of the best collections of Aboriginal art on the planet at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, visiting the historic seaside Port of Fremantle for its famous markets housed in a grand Victorian-era heritage building, and working out your weight in gold (really) at the Perth Mint. Another highlight is Rottnest Island, the idyllic island playground just a 30-minute ferry ride from the city that’s filled with dazzling marine life, secluded beaches and bays, great cycle paths, and up to 12,000 curious quokkas.