Solo Travel in Australia
Australia is known for its travelling culture so wherever you choose to start your Australian adventure you’re guaranteed to meet others en route. Backpacking Australia is so easy especially along the East Coast which is famous for its party atmosphere. Because of its ease, many gap-year and younger travellers choose to visit here to experience life down under before entering the job market.
Travelling solo in Australia as a woman is fine as most people are friendly but be prepared for some strange souls in the outback, especially in Katherine and Tenant Creek. Oz is great for a first timer. There are endless supplies of hostels and hotels and everyone speaks English. It’s a traveller’s dream.
You can’t get much further from home than Australia and a trip down is ideal for women travelling alone. It has sun, sand and plenty of surfer dudes to keep you entertained but with so many territories to see, where do you start?
If you like to party and meet other travellers then the East coast is the place to begin; fly into Cairns and travel down the Queensland coast. Cairns is also the gateway to Northern Australia where the rainforest meets the sea and from here you can explore Cape Tribulation which is home to thousands of plants, mammals and reptiles and eco lodges.
Take the scenic railway through the Daintree National Park, see the waterfalls at Atherton Tablelands or take a stroll at the Mossman Gorge then relax at Cow Bay or the Four Mile Beach at Port Douglas.
The Great Barrier Reef runs along the Queensland coast and is a metropolis of coral and underwater life. Introductory dives are available for those who want to experience the reef for the first time from Fitzroy or Green Island (the instructor will even hold your hand). Once you’ve experienced this wonder of the world head South for the real Australia where you can sample some Bundaberg rum in the fruit picking region of Oz.
Magnetic Island is a boat away from Townsville and they say that once you come here, you won’t want to leave. It’s a great place to hire a moke and bomb around the island but apart from the secluded beach of Radical Bay and the dairy-free ice-cream parlour, this island is no different to any other (unless you want to horse ride in the sea).
Fraser Island is a definite must-see. It's a huge sand island with stunning lakes, where you can drive a 4WD along the beach. This is more of a camping experience but beware of the dingos and the tiger sharks. Experience the great nightlife at Airlie Beach then take a sailing trip around the islands of the Whitsundays.
Whitehaven Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and you can see manta rays swimming along the shoreline. It’s also an ideal spot to clean any dull-looking jewellery in the crystal clear waters.
There’s not much in Brisbane except for the late Steve Irwin’s Brisbane Zoo and a riverside park. If you need more nightlife and some surf then Surfers Paradise is the place to be with its ‘Miami feel’ and has plenty of fun for a solo traveller.
This is the place to hang out, catch some rays and take a ride in the many theme parks: choose from Dreamworld, Movie World, Sea World or Wet ‘n’ Wild and there will always be others willing to go.
Just north of Brisbane is a region called Noosa with secluded beaches and cute arty shops with plenty of restaurants around Hastings Street. The main beach is great for swimming and there are no stingers here. If you prefer the hippy scene, visit Byron Bay for its incredibly laid back vibe or take a trip to Nimbin the ‘alternative capital of Australia’ for its arty, colouful community and lost souls.
Sydney lies in New South Wales and although it is not the country’s capital it has everything you would expect to find in one. Australia’s capital, Canberra, is 250km inland and is worth a look with the Parliament Building overlooking the lake as the main focal point of the city.
Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House are a must see. Take a boat ride around the harbour or travel across to Taronga Zoo for spectacular pictures of giraffes against a Sydney back drop. Darling Harbour at dusk is the perfect place to people watch and has some great bars. If you prefer somewhere more upmarket, Wallamaloo has swanky restaurants and plenty of yachts to admire.
If you like markets, you’ll love Paddington market which is reminiscent of Covent Garden with arty stalls. Known for its surfing, Bondi is the most popular of the beaches but the waves of Coogee, Manly and Bronte are just as good. Dee Why beach is lesser known and is a great escape from the crowds.
Victoria is the next territory and known for its variety of sporting events. Melbourne hosts the Australian Open, the Grand Prix, Melbourne Cup and Aussie Rules football at the MGM. It’s also the fashion capital of Australia and is great for shopping and back-street cafe culture but you’ll need a local to find its exclusive hidden nightlife.
You’ll feel more at home in Melbourne with its four seasons in one day but if you’re looking for a more holiday-feel then take the tram to St Kilda where you can sit Al fresco and watch people roller blading along the promenade.
From Melbourne you can cruise along the Great Ocean Road, one of Australia’s epic drives. Bells Beach is en route and has great point breaks and was actually the setting of the film with the same name. Off the coast of Melbourne is Tasmania, which has so much to see that we’ve given it its own page!
Adelaide is the capital of South Australia and there is a lot to do in and around this city which has a country-town feel. Get out into the Adelaide Hills to see waterfalls, fairytale villages and the world’s largest rocking horse.
Sample wines at the Barossa Valley and see how chocolate is made in the chocolate factory, camp overnight at Wilpena Pound, a natural amphitheatre within the Flinders Rangers – it’s a unique experience and you need an entry permit to enter the park.
Kangaroo Island is worth a visit and is only 90 minutes from the mainland. You can get up close and personal to seals on Seal Bay and join a wildlife safari to learn about the Australian animals. The beach-side suburb of Glenelg is worth a stroll and there are great restaurants here. If you don’t fancy getting any tan lines as you sunbathe, Maslin Beach is the place for nudists.
From Adelaide you can travel by train on the Ghan across the outback to the Red Centre, home to many aborigines or to the modern city of Perth via the Indian Pacific railway. Perth is popular with expats and is only worth seeing if you have the time as it’s a long way from the rest of the country. There are some great beaches such as Cottesloe and Scarborough and Kings Park is a tranquil place to relax and see black swans.
Fremantle is a vibrant little city with buzzing markets but the main attraction has got to be the old prison, which gives you an eye-opening tour of prison life. Rottnest Island is unique and you can cycle around this wildlife nature reserve.
When you stray away from the cities into the more male-dominated outback, you may find you get more attention as a woman travelling solo and being whistled at is not uncommon. If you don’t mind the attention, it’s worth a trip to see the real Australia and you shouldn’t miss Coober Pedy, the world’s only underground town where you can sleep in an abandoned mine shaft.
The Red Centre is steeped in Aboriginal culture and resembles something out of the Flintstones. Learn how to throw a boomerang, ride in a hot air balloon or play a didgeridoo at Alice Springs.
Visit the Flying Doctors Museum or the reptile centre to learn more about Australia’s snakes and lizards. Then it’s on to the wonder that is Ayres Rock or Uluru, as known by the Aborigines, which can be reached by a six hour drive or quicker flight.
There’s much controversy about climbing the rock but a walk around the burial caves and ancient art paintings at the base is a good substitute. Don’t forget to include Kings Canyon (the setting for the movie, Priscilla Queen of the Desert) and the Olgas when you go.
Head north to Darwin via Lichfield or Kakadu National Park where you can see crocodiles and wetlands or hire a bike at Katherine Gorge and cycle to the springs. If you’re going to the Northern Territory it’s worth investing in a fly net for this tropical climate.
Tennant Creek is an odd little place and half of its population are aborigines. If you can handle the strangeness it’s worth a stop to see the Devils Marbles, an important site from the Dreamtime or visit Kalgoorlie for a real gold rush town.
Cruise past the rugged red cliffs of the Kimberley region then west to Broome, known for its pearling industry to drive a 4×4 along the northern stretch of Cable Beach. Many people leave out this region but if you have the time it is worth travelling to.
Australia is the place to sleep under the stars in a swag and experience a hot sunny Christmas. If you decide to spend the Christmas holidays in Australia you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Santa jet skiing along Sydney Harbour. There really is no other place like it.
Combine your trip to Australia with a stopover in Asia.
Beware of box jellyfish in the sea during wet season (Dec-Feb). Stinger suits are provided if you intend to snorkel.
Accommodation in Australia
Australia is brimming with accommodation and you'll never be short of places to stay whether you prefer hostels or swanky city apartment. Find motels, farmstays and even boat houses to spend a night or two. Booking.com offers BnBs and hotels from 3 star to the luxurious 5 star and even includes dorm rooms if you're travelling on a budget. You can also use HotelsCombined to find and compare accommodation rates in Australia.
Guest houses are a sociable way of staying in family homes. Plus there’s Airbnb which connects you to unique travel experiences and isn’t just limited to staying in a local’s spare room. Save $20 off your first stay with this Airbnb link.
Solo Female Favourite – Bounce, Sydney
Situated opposite the Central Railway Station and next to a bus stop, this hostel is in a great location to explore the city whether you want to go to Bondi Beach or the CBD. The staff are really friendly and accommodating, and will help with whatever you need. Plus, only guests are allowed in so it’s really safe. Plus there’s a restaurant and a terrace too. Choose from a female-only dorm, mixed dorm or private room
Solo Female Favourite – United Backpackers, Melbourne
Located in the Central Business District (CBD), United Backpackers is in the perfect spot to explore the city of Melbourne. You’ll find lockers for your belongings, a manned reception which is open 24 hours and an onsite bar making it easy to find others to explore with. They even have female only dorm rooms too. Prices start from £26 for a 12 bed dorm.
Solo Favourite – Calypso Inn Backpackers Resort, Cairns
If you are looking to socialise in Cairns, Calypso Inn is a great place to stay. They have a bar to meet others and a swimming pool to cool off from the Aussie heat. It is also close to the esplanade so you don’t have far to walk after a night out. You can arrange a shuttle from the airport too. Choose from a female only dorm, mixed dorm or a single room if you need your space. Prices from £15 for a dorm bed.
Tours in Australia
With Australia being such a sociable country, you’ll never be short of company travelling Australia alone. If you feel more comfortable in a group for either part of your trip or the whole duration, both G Adventures and Intrepid Travel are responsible tour companies and have group tours from 3 days to 29 days with prices starting at £269.
I have personally used G Adventures and recommend them as a solo female friendly company. Explore the east coast from Sydney to Cairns on a 16 day trip from £1849, travel the Red Centre to Adelaide from £639 for 8 days, or join others for a 3 Day Uluru Safari from £400.
- World Expeditions – Offers trekking holidays to Australia and have a female only adventure to Tasmania for 6 days.
- Lets Go Surfing – Fancy a surfing lesson on Bondi beach? Check out this company.
- Urban Adventures – Experience a day tour with a local, whether you prefer biking around Melbourne, visiting Sydney's Harbour or delving into the history of Brisbane.
- Big Bus Tours – See the landmarks of Sydney and the famous Bondi beach on this hop-on, hop-off bus.
Travelling Around Australia
Distances between places are vast and long as you travel around Australia. There’s a great bus network with Greyhound and epic train journeys and a rail pass is a good way of saving money. If you’re limited on time use internal flights between the cities: Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia operate domestically.
Renting a car is only recommended for those long distances when you have company to travel with. With so many backpackers to choose from there are plenty of people to keep you company.
Coach tours are also a great way to see areas of the country and share the experience with your fellow passengers; choose Oz Experience for a party atmosphere or AAT Kings for more civilised companionship.
Uber – When getting around the cities you may feel more comfortable with Uber instead of taking a taxi. Uber is a driver app where each driver is vetted beforehand, and you can see the driver’s picture and registration number before they arrive. Save up to $20 off your first ride with Uber using promo code RIDINGUBER20.
To hire a car we recommend pre-booking car hire with Avis so you can collect your car when you arrive at the airport.
How long do I need?
If you’re looking to see all of Australia’s sites in a single trip it can be difficult to achieve unless you have plenty of time. Most people venture to the Northern territory on their second or third trip. Within two weeks you can travel from Adelaide to Darwin or Sydney to Cairns.
From the Airport
Sydney – Airport Link departs the International and Domestic Terminals every 10 minutes and only takes 15 minutes to get into the city.
Cairns – Airport shuttle buses run from the airport to the city centre, Northern Beaches, Palm Cove, Cape Tribulation and Mission Beach. Some accommodation provide their own courtesy coach so check when booking. The time to the city is only 10 minutes.
Melbourne – SkyBus offer an express service to the city every 10 minutes or there are public buses and taxis for the 30 minute journey.
Brisbane – Coachtrans coaches offer direct transfers to Brisbane City departing every 30 minutes. Trains take 22 minutes to Brisbane City or 90 minutes to the Gold Coast (Nerang). For transfers to the Sunshine Coast, Sun-Air operate an hourly bus service until 8.50pm.
Perth – Public transport operates into the city. Check here for buses.
Adelaide – JetBus services travel from the airport to the city, Glenelg and the North-Eastern suburbs. Skylink Airport Shuttle offer a regular bus service for the 15 minute journey to the city.
Feel more confident with someone waiting for you at the airport when you pre-book a transfer with Hoppa, a reliable and safe service for solo females.
Travelling onwards (check visas before you travel)
With Australia neighbouring countries such as New Zealand, Fiji, Bali or Papua New Guinea, your trip doesn’t have to end here. There’s so much more to see! Fly to New Zealand, Bali, or the Pacific Islands.
If you prefer a leisurely pace, cruise from port to port in Australia and then onward to New Zealand or Tasmania. Asia and North America are also accessible by boat or sail back to the UK on a 40 day cruise.
November to March is the best season for cruises to Australia.
Where can I go from here?
Papua New Guinea – 4 hours
New Zealand – 5.5 hours
Bali – 4 hours
- Can I drink the water? Yes.
- Is tipping expected? No.
- Fixed price or barter? Fixed Price.
- Any ATMs? Yes.
- Which side of the road do they drive? Left.
- Good for vegetarians? Yes.
- Any seven wonders of the world? The Great Barrier Reef.
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Capital City – Canberra Population – 22.4 million Language spoken – English Best Time to Go – Oct to Dec. The seasons are opposite to the Northern Hemisphere.
Capital City – Canberra
Population – 22.4 million
Language spoken – English
Best Time to Go – Oct to Dec. The seasons are opposite to the Northern Hemisphere.