Australia in a Month Guide + What to Pack for Australia

one month in australia

Australia, always close to our hearts as it's the first place we properly travelled together (not counting the UK and Germany). It's one of the coolest countries in the world - it's got the lush weather, it's got the breath-taking beaches, it's got the crazy animals and it's got some of the most laid-back people on the planet. But it's also GIGANTIC. And with limited holiday, how can you make sure you see the best of what it's got to offer? Don't worry, we've got you covered with this quick guide to tackling Australia in four weeks. We were in Australia for nine months, and we know what you must-see (and what you can skip) so here's how we would do a month long trip to Australia if we wanted to do it all over again (but shorter) [Note: this post was updated on the 29th of January, 2024.]

Where To Go In Australia: Melbourne, Sydney (Or Any Of The Other Cities...)?

Australia has eight capital cities (Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth, Sydney, Canberra, Darwin and Hobart). We managed to go to the first six and so are giving you three things you must do in each of them, which will hopefully help you answer the question: which Australian cities should I visit?

1 month trip to australia

First things first, you'll undoubtedly be landing in either Sydney, Melbourne or Perth (the three busiest international airports in Australia). Although we absolutely loved Perth (and loved discovering extremely un-touristy Western Australia), we don't necessarily recommend going to Western Australia if you only have four weeks. Why? Western Australia is so.far.away. from the rest of Australia, and if you only have four weeks, it's best to stick to the East coast (and maybe the south) and save Perth for next time. Trust me, you'll be coming back to Australia. Btw please remember that if you're a US citizen, you will need a visa to Australia! (we used and recommend iVisa). Don't forget this plz.

month long trip to australia

We absolutely loved both Melbourne and Sydney, they're both awesome cities with plenty of things to see and do. And the nightlife, in particular, is fantastic. The restaurants are expensive, of course, but so so worth it. In terms of culinary experiences, we've got to give the upper-hand to Melbourne, their Japanese cuisine is the best we've had outside of Japan. They also rock at graffiti too!

Six Bonzer Things To Do In Sydney

Sydney: not the capital of Australia but with it's iconic sights, important history and quirky character it definitely should be. In Australia you have to pick a favourite between Sydney and Melbourne. Victorians are mostly very pro Melbourne and will talk sh*t about Sydney. As we visited Melbourne first and loved it we were surprised to find that we didn't hate Sydney. In fact we liked Sydney a lot, it actually feels slightly old (unlike anything else in Australia), which gives it character. If I had to choose I'd probably still go for Melbourne, but Sydney is excellent too - try and do both!

i want to go to australia for a month

With its Opera House and Harbour Bridge skyline, few cities worldwide are as instantly recognisable as Sydney. Throw in its bustling nightlife, rugged Pacific coastline, beautiful beaches and lush surrounding national parks, and you’ve got a pretty magnificent metropolis. If you’re only spending a few days in this awesome Aussie destination, your only problem will be deciding which activities to pack into your itinerary. And that’s exactly why we’ve trawled the depths of the internet, spoken to friends, called relatives on faraway shores and accosted random passers-by to gather together these three bonzer things to do in Sydney.

Most importantly, take a walking tour: a privately guided walking tour is a terrific way to really get a feel for Sydney and there are a few where you can cheat a bit and hop on local buses, trains or ferries with your guide to cover a little more terrain. A decent city centre walking tour will take you past attractions like the Royal Botanical Gardens, Art Gallery of New South Wales, St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney Tower and historic Macquarie Street but routes can vary. Tip: take a tour that includes The Rocks, a brilliant boho area with busy bars, chic cafes and cool buildings. Here are some great things to do in Sydney (especially if you're on a budget which, let's face it, everyone who visits Australia is). While exploring Sydney's iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge, consider enriching your experience with organized Sydney tours. These tours can offer deeper insights into the city's history and hidden gems, ensuring you don't miss out on any of the must-see attractions.

#1. Visiting Bondi Beach

Located 7km east of Sydney central business district, the iconic Bondi Beach is a must-see when you’re in this neck of the woods. Don’t miss taking a dip at the Bondi Icebergs, a spectacular outdoor pool right next to a rocky portion of the shore with a surrounding leisure complex that has saunas, steam rooms and some excellent eateries. The beach itself is brilliant and there are all manner of watersports and seaside activities, but please be cautious as although it’s monitored there can occasionally be dangerous rip currents which make things tricky even for strong swimmers. Tip: stay at QT Bondi so that you’re in the heart of the action.

Touristy or not, this was our favourite thing about Sydney. It's a iconic beach about 40 minutes (on train and bus) from Sydney. If you want to save time and beat the traffic rush, think about renting a cheap car when you land at the Sydney airport. We found Bargain to be the best-priced car hire in Sydney. It's definitely worth the trip or you could just stay there - it's very backpacky. We surfed here which you can read about here, the weather was beautiful and we could have spent days there. Although the grocery stores here were ridiculously expensive (they know they can get away with it), the restaurants here were pretty good - quirky and fun. This was also the first place in Australia where we found charity shops.

#2. Museum of Contemporary Modern Art

We really enjoyed this museum, the art in there was really up our street. If you're not into this type of art, or find it irksome to have to wear your backpack on your front, then this museum may not be for you.

However, saying that it's free entry you might as well have a look.

#3. Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House is Australia's most iconic building. The thing that struck us when we first saw it was that it's a lot smaller than we thought, but maybe that's just us. You can see an Opera here (obviously) which we didn't, but my Grandma did - she saw Madam Butterfly and said it was excellent. If Opera isn't your thing you could opt for having a tour of the building, which we didn't. So what did we do? We had lunch there. We also took a billion photos of us outside of it, here are the best two:

I don't need to convince you to go and see the Opera House, I know you're going to even if it is raining - which is does a lot there.

#4. Harbour Bridge

You can opt to climb up the Bridge, which we didn't as it costs loads, you can't take your camera up and if you're scared of heights is a big no no. Instead we just walked along the bridge in the pedestrian area parallel to the road and rail, which is still high enough and gives you great views of the Opera House.

There are a few things we regret not doing in Australia, but climbing the bridge is definitely not one of them. Just because Katy Perry wants to do it doesn't mean you have to.

#5. Australia Day / Darling Harbour

We celebrated Australia Day in Sydney, which was probably a silly idea as it was extremely crowded and everyone was a tourist. But in Sydney on Australia Day there are lots of bands to see and things to do/ look at, here are some of them:

We went over to Darling Harbour which was just as crowded and touristy. If you're there on a non Australian Day you may want to check out the Aquarium and Madam Tussauds (which we didn't). We did see a great band in Darling Harbour though, sorry we don't know their name. But they were great.

#6. Roll out on a Blue Mountains road trip!

If you have the time, driving into the Blue Mountains is perpetually popular with Sydney day trip pleasure seekers and it’s easy to understand why. Head straight up the highway to Katoomba and you’ll see the unusual Three Sisters rock formation which is steeped in Aboriginal legend, while at Mount Tomah Botanical Gardens you can peruse one of the world’s most impressive plant collections. Top your day off at Mount Wilson, a wonderful heritage garden village which boasts bushlands, canyons, historic houses and naturally, gorgeous gardens. Tip: hire a car in Sydney from Enjoy and take as many NSW road trips as you please.

australia in a month guide

These six bonzer things to do in Sydney merely offer a tantalising taste of what’s on offer in this stunning city, but hopefully they’ve whetted your appetite for an adventure Down Under. Once you’ve spent time in this sublime spot you’ll definitely leave a little piece of your heart behind when you have to move on. There's loads to see and do in Sydney which we didn't. If we'd had more time we'd have gone to Newtown which is apparently fresh and cool. If we hadn't done the Eureka Tower (in Melbourne) we'd have done the Sydney Tower, where you can see the whole of Sydney. We love Sydney and hope you do too!

The Capital City of Victoria: Melbourne

Despite the disappointment with the weather we really enjoyed Melbourne; it's by far our favourite Australian city (sorry Sydney). Also, if you're looking into staying longer  than we did or even starting a new life, you should consider reaching out to migration agents in Melbourne for temporary, provisional and permanent visas and citizenship assistance.

melbourne australia

Melbourne is fantastic, fun, arty, tasty city. It's quite grungy, but in a good way, our favourite parts being the Japanese cuisine and the graffitied Hosier Lane. Here are six things you must do in Melbourne:

#1. Go to Hosier Lane

By far our favourite part of Melbourne was Hosier Lane. It's a lane with ever changing, extremely sophisticated graffiti. If you are lucky, you may even see some of the artists in action.

things to do in melbourne australia

#2. Eat Lots of Food

Melbourne has an amazing mix of different cultures, and it really shines in their food. It has the second largest population of Greek people (after Greece) and they also have loads of great Asian food, our  favourite place to eat was Don Don Japanese:

don don japanese melbourne austraslia

The food is ultra fast and really cheap for the quality and quantity that you get. We highly recommend it.

#3. Take the Tram Over to St Kilda

St Kilda is a short tram drive away from Melbourne (the 96), it's really cool there. There are lots of great cute, chic shops, quirky restaurants and funky bars. And more graffiti!

st kilda melbourne graffiti

We can recommend the Vineyard Bar, they do fantastic cocktails and the bartender looks like Iwan Rheon. We also recommend all the cakes:

st kilda melbourne cake shop

#4. The Eureka Tower

The Eureka Tower is the second tallest building in Australia (after Q1). It's easily recognisable all over Melbourne:

eurika tower melbourne australia

You can go out on a clear glass platform, the highest in the southern hemisphere, but it was quite an expensive extra, and I get terrible vertigo. You should do it though! There is also the option to go at sunrise and sunset, which isn't that much more expensive.

melbourne australia city view

I love a good view.

#5. Federation Square / Flinders Street Station

There's lots of art and coffee going on on Federation Square, it's definitely worth a look. Some of the exhibitions there you have to pay for, but we only went to the free ones, which were great.

federation square melbourne australia

This is Flinder's Street Station, which I think is pretty:

flinders street station melbourne

#6. Botanic Gardens

We really enjoyed the Botanic Gardens even though it's a bit of a trek from Melbourne, well we think it is, we actually walked past it and walked too far.. Anyway it's about half an hour's walk, but totally worth it:

botanic gardens melbourne australia

Or at least it is if you like big beautiful exotic looking trees, or eels:

botanic gardens melbourne eel

Even if you're really anti tree, pro global warming, you can't deny that this is a beautiful photo:

botanic gardens melbourne australia

if I say so myself.... all in all, Melbourne is fantastic - it's so cultured and hipstery!

Travelling Weasels Recommend:

Fly into Melbourne or Sydney, spend between 3 days and 7 days there and then head up (or down) to the other city (aka fly into Melbourne and head up to Sydney, or fly into Sydney and head up to Melbourne). You can make this journey a number of ways. The quickest (and can actually be the cheapest) is to fly.

For those who want more of an adventure / don't want to make their carbon footprint any bigger, you can take the bus/ train/car. Hitchhiking is legal in Australia, I did it once it was great, it's also one of the easiest and maybe* one of the safest places to do it in the world. (*everything's relative.) [New to hitchhiking? These are our tips for first-time hitch hikers] If you're pressed for time or money just go to Melbourne, but no matter how little time or money you have make sure that you go to Melbourne.

where to go st kilda

Bang on route between Melbourne and Sydney is Australia's capital: Canberra. If you're driving through you might as well stop off and check it out, but we don't recommend going out of your way to see it. Canberra is great, but it's not an absolute must if your time/budget is limited.

#2. Gold Coast and Brisbane

After Melbourne and Sydney, we recommend heading up to the Gold Coast and Brisbane. We actually took the train from Sydney to the Gold Coast.

brisbane guide

It was breathtakingly beautiful, but it was a long, long journey - definitely, fly, or hire a car and take a few days getting up there. Never forget, Australia is gigantic.

gold coast australia

The Gold Coast is a beautiful stretch of beach with skyscrapers almost kissing the water's edge. Learn to surf on the aptly named 'Surfer's paradise'.

surfers paradise australia guide

Brisbane is a fun city, not quite as cool as Melbourne or Sydney, but definitely on its way there. The perfect day trip from Brisbane is to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary - Australia's oldest koala sanctuary. They also have a platypus, dingos and of course kangaroos:

where to see kangaroos australia

#3. Great Barrier Reef

On pretty much everyone's bucket-list ever is the Great Barrier Reef, one of the most gorgeous spots on the planet. You've got to make your way up there to see that, be warned, it's going to be expensive, but it's going to be worth it.

what to do in australia

Please make sure you opt for an environmentally sound tour, as tourism is directly responsible for the desecration of the reefs, and some tours are super naughty.

#4. Uluru

Right up there with the Great Barrier Reef is Uluru, Australia's massive sandstone monolith and a sacred spot for indigenous Australians.

where to go in Australia

Be warned, it gets super hot over there, and other than seeing the beautiful rock and riding a camel, there's not thatttt much to do there. Nevertheless, you've got to go.

#5. Kangaroo Island

Last but not least on your four week trip to Australia - Kangaroo Island. Often overlooked by visitors to Australia, and even Australians themselves, this is the number one place to go if you want to see wild kangaroos.

what to see in australia

And not just kangaroos, it's rife with koalas, seals, sea lions and of course, penguins.

Where to Stay in Australia + Some Other Stuff We Wish We'd Known

Australia is a paradise of unique wildlife, hip modern cities and bone white beaches. We had an epic time when we went to Australia. But there are lots of things we wished we'd known beforehand: where you must go, where you can avoid going... So hopefully this post will help you plan your own awesome Australian trip! But first things first, before you even get to Australia, you might want to think about these three things:

#1. Your flight to Australia

Book your flight as far in advance as possible, to keep it cheap. Also, use Skyscanner, they always find the cheapest flights for you. Granted, you may have to spend 19 hours in Beijing (like we did), but we saved over £100 each doing so.

#2. Your travel/health insurance for Australia

You will need insurance in Australia. We highly recommend SafetyWing. If you are from the UK/ New Zealand you will get reciprocal health care with Australia, but not everywhere and you still need travel insurance. The reciprocal health care agreement between the UK and Australia entitleS British citizens travelling on a British passport to limited subsidised health services in Australia. This does not mean you do not need travel insurance! There are lots of exclusions for this including pharmaceutical use, medical evacuations and (depending on the state) ambulance use - these are all insanely expensive. It also doesn't cover existing conditions, non-emergency situations and if you're studying in Australia is doesn't cover you at all.

#3. Accommodation in Australia

Like everything else in Australia, accommodation is expensive. Unless you are super rich/ want to start picking pumpkins in the sun all day for accommodation, we also highly recommend that you House Sit. We spent nine months in Australia without paying for accommodation, thanks to House Sitting, and you could do the same. It was an excellent way to see the country and how real Australians live.

luxury house sits australia

And unlike staying in budget hostels (which are expensive in Australia), it was super-duper luxurious: we stayed in places with private beaches, private pools, great city views, you name it, we stayed there. If house sitting isn't your thing, we recommend for the best hotel and hostel deals.

10 Things to Pack For Your Aussie Adventure

We’ve already shown some of the best Australian beaches to visit, but what do you take with you to ensure the best experience?

Here are ten items that can help you endure the flight and avoid sunstroke, among other things:

  • neck pillow: Australia’s remote location means that most of us will have to endure a long-haul flight to get there. So make sure to pack a Hooded Neck Pillow for the ultimate in comfortable sensory deprivation!
  • sunblock: being a beach bum is no fun if you’re constantly chasing shade to avoid the UV glare of the sun. This is why getting a maximum strength sunblock can help you have fun in the sun without ending up looking like a lobster;
  • stylish swimwear: those antiquated Speedos aren’t going to cut it when you’re hanging out on Bondi Beach. Be like an Aussie and get some stylish Billabong surf clothes to make sure you fit in with the body beautiful;
  • decent boots: chances are that you’ll be heading towards the country’s interior to explore the wondrous Outback. In which case, beach sandals aren’t going to cut it, so get some decent boots to save yourself a twisted ankle;
  • vitamins: Australia has got a well-deserved reputation of being a country that knows how to handle its drink. So to avoid a crippling hangover, stock up on plenty of Berocca that has many health benefits and should help you keep partying night after night!

  • multi-region power adaptor: and what’s a battery pack unless you charge it? Australia has a pretty weird plug configuration, so make sure you take a multi-region power adaptor with you that’ll also be handy on the inevitable flight stopover in Hong Kong or Singapore.
  • travel documents: OK, so it’s pretty boring, but make sure you have a decent physical back-up of all of your important travel documents. Having your passport details, travel insurance information, and flight itineraries on you at all times will help give you piece of mind.
  • smartphone: our mobile friends are essential items for any trip abroad. Whether it’s checking your flight status, liaising with your Airbnb host, you’re going to need some digital assistance.
  • battery pack: what’s a smartphone without power? Avoid the agony of carrying a dead phone by taking a handy battery pack that can not only keep you charged an extra day, but can act as an extra level of protection on your adventures in the Outback. 
  • a good guide book: and even if you can’t find a decent power supply, then always have a back-up of a decent travel guide. The Lonely Planet Australia travel guide provides an exhaustive resource of information from hotels and casinos to beaches and burger bars, and they’ll snugly fit in your back-pack too.

Wrap Up: Australia in a Month Guide

We're so excited for your Australia holiday, you're going to have the best time!! It remains to this day one of our favourite countries in the world, we made some of our best ever memories there and we hope you do too! Let us know in the comments below: have you been to Australia? Would you like to go? Do you have any questions about travelling this awesome country? Also, here is a vlog we recorded with some of our Aussie friends, enjoy :)

P.S.: Another way of travelling and getting accommodation cheaply is housesitting. was kind enough to provide us and our readers with a 10% discount, feel free to click on the link to use it :)

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We overland. We eat plants and fungi. We live outside as much as possible. We are all connected. A female travel blogger overlanding and writing about ecotourism, ethical and sustainable travel, socially conscious travel and housesitting. An online travel magazine since 2015.


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