Why visit Australia now? Here are 10 reasons, mate.

If you’re an international travel buff, it’s likely that Australia is on your list of places to see. But here’s the thing: it’s not usually near the top.

It should be. For Americans especially, Australia may seem too far away to prioritize with the lures of Europe so close at hand. Along with the attractions you already know about, like the Great Barrier Reef and Sydney Harbour, here are ten reasons Down Under should move up the list.

10. Australia is easy to get to

No, really. Granted, it’s a long flight, but for most Americans, your likely point of egress from the contiguous U.S. will be Los Angeles International Airport or Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, both of which feature nonstop flights over the Pacific.

If you plan ahead, like we did, you could wind up with a two-leg trip on your way there or back, which is ideal when traveling such a long distance. The fewer flights you’re on, the less your total travel time and the sooner you make it to your amazing international destination.

9. Australian visas are the simplest on Earth

Travel fans everywhere have likely heard about the potential for new regulations for visas in Europe. It’s worth noting that the process to apply for a visitor visa to Australia is ridiculously easy.

Visit the Australian Government’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection website, fill out a form that takes 10 minutes, pay A$20 (about $15), wait a day, and you’re done. Wait times could vary depending on the time of year, but information on the website states that at most, you would be waiting 28 days, which is great for a visa.

8. Virgin Australia is amazing

As someone who has literally been on the longest Delta Air Lines flight in the world, I could not have been happier with our flights on Virgin Australia.

Related story:   I didn't get the specific seats I reserved, so what is my recourse?

The flight crew were top-notch, the seats recline quite a ways, the in-flight movie selection was excellent, the food was not the typical subpar airline fare, the list goes on. I would not hesitate to fly on this airline again.

7. The U.S. dollar is strong against the Australian dollar

Of course, one of the biggest concerns when you travel internationally is the exchange rate. Because the U.S. dollar has been doing so well against its Australian counterpart since 2013, the trinkets and cosmetics we purchased Down Under were a good price.

We also found great prices for lodging. This was our view in Brisbane from an amazing 37th floor apartment we booked through Airbnb.com:

For lodging that’s simple but clean, try caravan parks. Similar to RV parks, there are hundreds of them across Australia. Along with spaces for travel trailers, they also have cabins for rent. Most offer basic amenities like shampoo, plates and silverware, pool access and limited Wi-Fi.

If you’re going to be in Sydney but still want to be close to nature, try Lane Cove River Tourist Park. Situated next to a national park with hiking trails and wildlife, you will be a mere 10 kilometers (a little more than six miles) from Sydney Harbour.

Since the U.S. dollar is projected to continue to outpace the Australian one, this summer could be an affordable time to visit.

6. Australia is green and gorgeous

It seems everyone I’ve spoken with is surprised to learn that Australia is really green. I imagine our collective consciousness focuses on the Outback and paints the country as mostly desert.

But Australia also features a lush subtropical region and beautiful tree-covered mountains. There are over 500 national parks and 14 World Heritage sites. One of my favorite parks was the fog-shrouded Budawang National Park just a few hours south of Sydney.

Related story:   Doggone Sun Valley

And for a lush city park, you can’t beat Fitzroy Gardens in downtown Melbourne.

5. Australia has wildlife you won’t see anywhere else

Kangaroos and koalas may seem exotic to us, but they’re commonplace to those living Down Under. There are kangaroo crossing signs everywhere.

Even so, if you’re an animal lover like I am, you’ll want to visit an animal reserve or zoo so you have a chance to see all the unique animals Australia has to offer. I recommend Maru Koala and Animal Park, where you’ll see wombats, dingoes, Tasmanian devils, and you can even pet a koala or kangaroo.

If you like penguins, then the Phillip Island Penguin Parade is a must. Hundreds of the smallest species of penguins on Earth congregate here. Each night, they make their way from the sea to their nests, waddling out of the ocean and trundling to their beds.

4. Australian beaches are to die for

If you love the beach, book your flight today. Australia features thousands of miles of coastline, and it is heavenly. We stayed one night in Jervis Bay, which is purported to be the whitest sand beach in the world. The sand is soft too, making a sunburn likely because you’ll never want to leave.

Most of the population lives near the water, and it’s not hard to understand why. If you enjoy people-watching, visit Batemans Bay south of Sydney. For a more secluded beach, try the golden sands of Spoon Bay, which is a couple of hours north of Sydney.

3. The food, especially the coffee, is delicious

When I travel, I’m never sure what caliber of coffee I’m going to get. I was not disappointed by the coffee Down Under though. Two of our favorite cafés were Madcowes on Phillip Island and The Coffee Club in Sandgate, north of Brisbane.

If you’re looking for specifically Australian fare, then you’ll have to try an Aussie pizza while you’re there. Part breakfast, part dinner but fully divine, this style of pizza typically features an egg, bacon and barbecue sauce.

Related story:   The Elliott Show: Not following the crowds, in praise of crewmembers, and let's keep talkin'

More than one person told us that major cities like Melbourne are swiftly becoming hubs for foodies, as more world-renowned chefs move to Australia. And there are multiple wineries Down Under as well.

This does make the cost of eating out higher than we expected, but eating great food on vacation is good for the soul, if not the pocketbook.

2. The people are so friendly

Everywhere we went, the Australian people were so kind. At restaurants, gas stations, at tourist attractions. They’re polite drivers too. We never got cut off in traffic, and we drove a total of about 1,800 miles!

Australians love to talk about their home country. And yes, the accent is just what you want it to be, but thankfully, it’s not hard to understand what they’re saying. The people we met didn’t mind sharing advice about places to eat or historic things to see. If you enjoy lighthouses, be sure to check out the Cape Byron Lighthouse, the easternmost point on the continent.

1. Australia is a wild and wonderful place

If you’re looking to visit somewhere exotic, but relatively safe and endlessly interesting, then Australia is the place to go. Since it boasts large cities, sandy beaches and a sprawling countryside, it has a little something for everybody. Its diverse flora, fauna and food mean you will never forget it and are likely to go back.

There’s really only one thing wrong with traveling to Australia: They no longer stamp your passport. But the beauty of the country, and all the photos you’re likely to take, will more than make up for it.

Robyn Hazen

Photographer and small business marketer for 15 years with a background in journalism. World traveler who advocates for veterans' causes and doing crosswords in pen.

  • Alan Gore

    It’s a big country, too. If you plan a visit, never try to see another country on the same trip, unless you really have time to burn.

  • Bill___A

    I agree that Australia is a good place to visit. The “simplest visa in the world”? How is it simpler than the Turkish one, for example? I can agree that the visa is simple and easy to get for most people, but there are many contenders for “as simple or simpler” than the Australian one.

  • disqus_00YDCZxqDV

    I have to share this beer commercial from wonderful Aussie export Paul Hogan

  • Maria K. Telegdy

    Friendly people in Australia? There must be 2 Australia’s then and I visited the wrong one.

  • Maria K. Telegdy

    I got my Australian visa in 1 hr. applied in person at their embassy while in Auckland NZ.

  • John McDonald

    lighten up Maria. They were just pulling your leg.

  • John McDonald

    you could fly via fabulous Fiji, the friendliest people in the world BY far. Story above implies you can fly nonstop from Seattle to OZ. Not correct.

    You can fly nonstop to OZ, from LAX(Qantas, Virgin Australia, American, Delta, United) & direct with Fiji Airways & Air NZ

    + from SFO & DFW.

    As all flights are overnight, you depart late evening, have a sleep & arrive early am. Due to dateline, you lose a day heading west, so a Sunday night departure from DFW, LAX or SFO means you arrive in OZ Tuesday am.

    You gain time on way back.

    Fiji Airways have just introduced a new flight over busy Dec-Jan period, that departs Fiji early Tuesday morning & arrives SFO Monday night local time.

  • John McDonald

    I would have thought that Americans, would have had a visa waiver programme like we do to get into the USA. We simply apply online & it takes a few minutes & USD$14.

  • John McDonald

    Today AUD$1 = USD$0.74, so you get better than AUD$4 for USD$3 plus, all the taxes are included in the price of everything (the only time, taxes are not included are business to business) & if you buy something to take back to USA & you have an invoice for AUD$300 or more, you get the 10% GST(goods & service tax) back at airport(in form of a credit card refund)

  • Carchar

    I have found the Australian people extremely friendly and helpful.

  • Carchar

    I was so thrilled to actually see the duck-billed platypus and the cassowary in the wild, as well as the more common sightings of koalas, kangaroos, wombats and possums, without going too far off the beaten path. Didn’t see the Tasmanian devil, however. Had to go to Trowunna for that.

  • greg watson

    Another travelogue ( about 4 in the last month ) !! As this is a consumer advocacy site, & I live & travel on a small pension,, if you are going to print these type of stories, at least include the price that you paid for things…………………..like flights, airbnb, meals (& what they were, breakfast, lunch, dinner ) beverages ( soda, water, beer, well drinks) attractions, car rental, gas etc. This would indeed provide some useful information, that I, as a consumer could benefit by.

  • James

    Curious you list Seattle and Los Angeles, and not the closest airport, San Francisco — both Qantas and United (I know) offer non-stop flights

  • John McDonald

    more on flights to OZ ….
    if you have time, you could even fly via Fiji & via New Zealand(although they speak a funny version of English there).
    Fiji is incredibly relaxed. Fiji time – order a coffee & you’ll get it with a smile, might just take a while. No local in Fiji ever dies from stress.
    Virgin are a great airline, much better than old Qantas, but Fiji Airways is best & they have a brand new long haul fleet of A330-200’s & A330-300.
    Make sure you visit Sydney, but don’t spend too long there. At the end of the day, it’s another big city, with lots of figjammers & driving in Sydney is a nightmare. Use ferries around the harbour.

  • John McDonald

    the late Steve Irwin(crocodile guy) family still runs Australia Zoo, just under an hours drive on good roads north of Brisbane (just don’t do it in peak hour).
    It’s not Disneyland, but worth a day & then you have Australias best beaches at the Sunshine Coast, only 20 mins drive from OZ zoo. The Gold Coast, 1 hour south of Brisbane, is just another Waikiki & could probably be avoided, unless you like high rises right on the beach.
    The Sunshine Coast has largely avoided the “mistakes” of the Gold Coast.

  • John McDonald

    Australia must be so cheap for Americans right now + frequent flyer seats must abound, as airline have trouble filling flights. Just find out when school holidays are on. They differ in every state & state & private schools vary as well. Like everywhere, prices for peak season accommodation (school holidays) can be up to 4 times, low season, on either side of school holidays.

  • John McDonald

    Fiji Airways started a new route Nadi Fiji to SFO last year, only on peak season. They have just announced they be going year round, twice a week & 3 times a week in peak season. As these flights are new, they are generally cheaper, as many people only think they fly Fiji/LA nonstop daily.
    From Fiji, 3 airlines fly to OZ, Fiji Airways(1/2 owned by Qantas), Virgin Australia & Jetstar(Qantas low cost only to Sydney – Qantas thinks the sun shines out of Sydney.
    You can probably a ticket from any U.S. city that includes Fiji, OZ & maybe even NZ, although you might have to do an open jaw, such as USA/Fiji/NZ – OZ/Fiji/USA. There are hundreds of flights everyday from NZ to many places in OZ & many airlines fly that part, not just OZ/NZ airlines. Asian airlines & Emirates as well.

  • greg watson


  • John McDonald

    if you want prices have a look online, but then go to an Australian specialist agent.
    Times to avoid travel to OZ.
    Basically school holidays are around end of March for 2 weeks. Mid to late June for 3 weeks. Mid to late Sep for 2 weeks & all of December-January. Flights to OZ will start getting cheaper for departures from USA from around 1 February. By this time, any families with school kids will want to be back in OZ. The school year in OZ starts anwhere from 22 January to start of February 2018. Some schools have 2 months summer vacation from end of Nov.

  • John McDonald

    look at home swaps. They are popular. For those who don’t know, you don’t have to do simultaneous swaps, esp if you have a holiday home somewhere in USA.

  • greg watson

    If this information was included with the travelogue. then I wouldn’t need to research so much …………………….would I ? That was my point !!!

  • John McDonald

    not a travel agent, but Australian economy is heading down the toilet, so we need all the tourists we can get. Good for Americans, as our dollar will probably get weaker.
    There’s this new thing called google. Good for doing searches apparently, but don’t book online. A real live travel agent is the way to go.

  • Carchar

    I have visited the Taronga Zoo a few times and the smaller Perth Zoo once. Would love to get to the Australia Zoo some day.

  • John McDonald

    closest international airport is MCY(Maroochydore Sunshine Coast). Only few international services a week from NZ only, but lots of domestic flights from SYD & MEL. About 30 mins drive from OZ Zoo. Closest major int airport BNE(Brisbane)-OZ Zoo is 1 hour drive north, as long as not peak hour. 3rd busiest airport in OZ.
    Also OOL(Gold Coast) about 90 mins drive south of BNE.

  • greg watson

    you know what …….we are on different trains…………you missed mine when you didn’t get my point the first time. My comment was about the article by Robyn Hazen. I missed your train altogether, because you didn’t understand.
    End Chat ! because your information was completely unnecessary & totally meaningless to me. Smile !

  • Lindabator

    If you book with a travel agent who has a real GDS, we can do them for free in under a minute (do it a LOT for my clients!)

  • Lindabator

    it is an Electronic Visa – easy peasy (and as a travel agent with a GDS, I can do in the system for free in under a minute – and print out your confirmation to boot!)

  • Lindabator

    expecting prices to remain the same across the board, or that what one person pays is what another is willing to is unrealistic – hence google for what YOU would be interested in/willing to pay

  • Maria K. Telegdy

    OH that’s w hat it was….I go t it……:-)

  • Maria K. Telegdy

    You probably never been to Argentina, or Uruguay or any other country where people are frinedly and helpful. Don’t forget we are all different, we perceive things/people differently and we are of different age and situations. So I’m speaking from my own perspective……if I may.

  • Maria K. Telegdy

    We do, but I got the idea to go to OZ while I was already in NZ…….and it was easier to get it in person than, online.

  • greg watson

    Wow ! You missed my train too. It was Robyn Hazen’s trip & I just wanted to know what things cost her, in addition, with the rest of her story. Smile !

  • Carchar

    I’m sorry that you didn’t have the friendly experiences that I have had on my trips to Australia. I sure hope you will give the country another chance. And I have had great experiences in Argentina and Uruguay as well. Travel has been good to me almost everywhere.

  • Bill___A

    I don’t have an issue with it being easy, my point was, there are other easy ones too…”easiest in the world” means there are not any that are easier….

  • Tired_Guy

    Just pointing out that flying Dallas Ft Worth to Sydney is a nonstop on a nice airbus and to me much nicer than the mess that is LAX.

Get smart. Sign up for the newsletter.