Australians call their country Oz, and Americans actually find that it is a bit like the old Hollywood movie: You travel by air for a long time to get there, it’s full of welcoming locals and there are adventures around every corner. Take a trip for about 14 days and you’ll allow time to either visit the “Big Three” (Sydney, Great Barrier Reef and Ayers Rock/Uluru) or to choose a region of the country and really delve into it.
Before You Go: Need-to-know info
Flight time (to Sydney): About 24 hours from New York City; 15 hours from LA; 21 hours from Chicago
Getting around: Car (keep left!), train, plane (Australia is about the same size as the continental US, so it’s likely you’ll fly between major cities)
When to Go: Australia at its best
Best weather: Since most cities are on the coast, temperatures don’t often head into extremes. January and February are the warmest months, with average temperatures in the high 70s. June and July are the coldest months, with an average July temperature of about 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Best prices: June to August
What to Do
Bushwalking: Australians are no couch potatoes. You’ll find them hiking (or “bushwalking”), sailing, swimming, rock climbing and surfing — and vacationers are welcome to join along. Play around on the shore, take a ferry to the wildlife-filled Kangaroo Island, or go for a camel ride into the vast desert of the Australian outback. You can also sign up for a guided nature walk with a native; he’ll be able to point out the ins and outs of the terrain along the way.
Cellar doors: Just two hours outside of Sydney, Hunter Valley is home to well over 100 vineyards and tasting rooms. Take in the serene ambience between sips of shiraz, and make a pit stop at the Hunter Valley Cheese Company for an afternoon cheese-flight tasting. If you two are true romantics, try a private helicopter tour followed by a gourmet picnic lunch.
Good eats: Americans from both coasts are often surprised at the level of dining sophistication in Australia. You’ll find some very upscale eateries here, mixing Eurocentric cuisines with spectacular seafood, Asian influences and homegrown spicing. Don’t be afraid to order kangaroo or emu — they’re both good! The first is like beef, the second more like chicken.