how to do it
Stay in some of the country’s most exclusive lodges and locations with a 19-day tailor-made tour from Hayes & Jarvis (020 8106 2403; hayesandjarvis.co.uk), including luxury stays from Sydney to Lord Howe Island, Uluru, Cairns and Lizard Island. The trip includes a private tour of the Blue Mountains through the Valley of Waterfalls, discovering hidden grottos and exploring swimming holes. From £18,800pp; including flights.
If you fancy swimming with cetaceans in the ultimate luxury, Pelorus (020 3848 5424; pelorusx.com) offers a six-day charter onboard explorer yacht Beluga, whose owner, captain and crew have connections with the Queensland-based Minke Whale Project. From £52,158 for up to eight people; excluding flights.
Best time to go
Uluru and the red center is best in winter when temperatures are cooler (May-Sep). To see minke whales, travel in June and July.
10. To explore Western Australia
The country’s western state is proving to be somewhat stubborn when it comes to allowing in visitors – foreign or domestic. If the rules remain as they are, it will be easier for Sydneysiders to pop over to Britain and back by the end of February than it would to enter Western Australia (WA), which still has quarantine rules in place. Yet while you might have to wait to explore the Wildflower State, it’s certainly worth it.
Centered on the state capital Perth – easily the most underrated of Australia’s cities – WA accounts for almost a third of the entire continent. Anyone with an adventurous streak will love the far west coast, which stretches 1,000 miles along the Indian Ocean from the Margaret River wine-growing region in the south to Ningaloo Reef and its world-famous whale sharks near Exmouth in the north. Along the way are world-class landscapes (the Pinnacles Desert with its bizarre limestone formations); wildlife hotspots (Monkey Mia and its bottle-nose dolphins); as well as numerous National Parks, wildlife reserves, bays and beaches.
how to do it
Responsible Travel (01273 823 700; responsibletravel.com) offers a 16-day self-drive holiday that takes you from Perth to Rottnest Island (with its famous quokkas), the Nambung National Park, Kalbarri National Park, Monkey Mia and Ningaloo Reef before flying back to Perth; from £3,830pp including UK flights.
Best time to go
Hopefully quarantine will have been lifted by the time the west coast is at its best during Spring (Sep-Nov). At this time of year you can expect an average temperature of around 23C, not much rain and the world-famous wildflowers in bloom.
With contributions by Adrian Bridge, Annabel Fenwick Elliott, Richard Madden, Sarah Marshall and Sarah Rodrigues
need to know
Australia will reopen to fully vaccinated tourists with a relevant visa (including a tourist visa) from February 21 without quarantine.
All travelers will require
- Proof of full vaccination (this currently means two jabs; Australia accepts the NHS Covid Pass as proof). At least seven days must have passed since a second dose.
- A negative Covid-19 PCR result taken within 72 hours of departure
- An Australian Travel Declaration completed 72 hours before departure
Travelers who have a legitimate medical reason for not being vaccinated can apply for a travel exemption. All children aged under 12 years count as fully vaccinated for travel to Australia. Arrangements are also in effect in some states and territories to allow unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children aged 12-17 to travel with a fully vaccinated adult.
Quarantine rules will still apply for all travelers in Western Australia. Other state-by-state restrictions are in force.
Find more of the latest holiday guidance as the country reopens to vaccinated tourists here.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.