While Australia’s international borders remain closed, these guidelines will help us rebuild a more resilient and sustainable travel industry.
Australians live in the world’s sixth-largest country, so take a leaf from the grey nomads and start exploring our 5 per cent of the planet’s total landmass in a more leisurely way.
Classic continent-spanning railway journeys include The Ghan, Great Southern and Indian Pacific, while road trips range from the classic Nullarbor crossing to the coastal highlights of Victoria’s Great Ocean Road.
The Big Lap circuit of the continent is about 15,000 kilometres, so the ideal distance for the collected works of Paul Kelly, Tame Impala and Weddings Parties Anything, and a few audiobooks from Tim Winton, Thomas Keneally and Peter FitzSimons.
Recommended experience: Travelling the four-wheel-drive-required Gibb River Road takes in the remote Kimberley, sacred Indigenous rock art, and outback cattle stations.
Explore in more depth
Even on shorter trips, slow down, adopt a specific focus, and dig a little deeper to explore a personal interest.
Try lesser-known Italian-style wines in Victoria’s King Valley – Sicilian varietals including grecanico and nero d’avola are produced by Politini Wines near the sleepy hamlet of Cheshunt – while a themed journey exploring Australia’s expanding outdoor gallery of silo art could take in Goorambat near Benalla or the Silo Art Trail north of Victoria’s Grampians National Park.
A trip to Canberra will probably involve negotiating the capital’s inordinate number of roundabouts, but a few days devoted to world-class institutions like the National Portrait Gallery and the National Film & Sound Archive will make it worthwhile.
Recommended experience: Exploring the Ned Kelly Touring Route around north-east Victoria and southern NSW.
Discover second cities
Everyone loves exploring our state capitals, but escape big city traffic, and venture to smaller, more manageable urban centres.
North from Sydney, Newcastle’s Art Gallery showcases one of the nation’s best regional collections, while Wollongong to the south combines great beaches and a surprising food scene.
Craft beer, distilling and a revamped waterfront precinct are all reasons to linger in Victoria’s Geelong, while across in Western Australia, Bunbury’s port-city vibe is enlivened by its proximity to the Margaret River wine region and the 60-odd bottlenose dolphins resident in Geographe Bay year-round. Check them out early most mornings from the beach near the Dolphin Discovery Centre.
Recommended experience: Queensland’s historic Toowoomba, birthplace of actor Judy Davis and the lamington. Don’t mention that last one to the Kiwis.
Focus on sustainable and ethical
Welcome to the best time for a reset for the global tourism industry, ideally with an increased spotlight on local operators focusing on sustainable and ethical outcomes.
Wildlife Tourism Australia showcases diverse and sustainable options that directly support wildlife conservation. Highlights include the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary in Tasmania.
For cafes and restaurants with an emphasis on ethical and humane menu options, explore the Choose Wisely website developed by the RSPCA. Restaurants strongly focused on sustainability and minimising their environmental impact include Brae in Birregurra, Victoria – rated as one of the planet’s most sustainable eateries – and the Yarra Valley’s Oakridge Wines, headed by long-term sustainability advocate, chef Matt Stone.
Recommended experience: Visiting the marsupial patients at the Koala Hospital in NSW’s Port Macquarie.
Support Indigenous experiences
Australia’s growing range of Indigenous tourism experiences include discovering the ancient rock art of Mutawintji National Park in Outback NSW with Mutawintji Heritage Tours, or exploring Indigenous food, culture and local cave systems with Koomal Dreaming‘s Josh Whiteland around Wadandi and Bibbulman country in Margaret River.
Welcome to Country: A Travel Guide to Indigenous Australia by Marcia Langton is an excellent book for planning, while the Western Australian Indigenous Tourism Operators Council and the NSW Aboriginal Tourism Operators Council are good online resources.
Recommended experience: Chatting with the youthful team members from NT’s Wadeye community gaining work experience at the Dumu Balcony Cafe in the Victorian high country town of Bright.
Explore your backyard
Staying closer to home, it’s easy to explore the cultures and flavours of the world. Plan a series of micro-breaks focused on a specific neighbourhood by diving into Ethiopian cuisine in Melbourne’s Footscray, or devour pho and bánh mì amid the Vietnamese restaurants of Sydney’s Marrickville.
Everyday Adventures: 50 new ways to experience your hometown by Lonely Planet is also packed with ideas to make the most of your own backyard.
Recommended experience Follow food writer Sofia Levin on Instagram (@seasonedtravellerhq) for her authoritative and entertaining posts and email newsletters exploring Melbourne’s multi-cultural food areas.