I couldn’t see a thread but if I have missed it then happy to merge it in.

We have booked to go to Australia/NZ at the end of Jan and we were looking for some advice on ‘must sees’ and other cool stuff to do. I’ll just focus on the Australia element of it in this thread and might do a NZ one to keep them separate.

So basically we have some friends out on the Gold Coast and thought it was the perfect opportunity to do this trip - we only have 3 and half weeks (for both Oz and NZ) and recognise this is really not a lot of time to do both.

Our plan is to fly into Melbourne, then go to Sydney and then on to Gold Coast/Brisbane, then fly to NZ. So realistically looking at 3 to 4 nights in each place as we will probably spend more time in NZ

Mainly looking for some advice on good places to eat/drink, cool areas to stay and some surrounding places to visit for each area.

All ideas welcome!

My advice if you’re European and visiting Australia as a tourist - Don’t bother with the cities too much, it’s the more remote parts of the country that are so spectacularly different to what we’re used to. People love Melbourne so much because it has some old pretty buildings. People romanticise what they don’t have, and while we take that sort of thing for granted in Europe, it’s a big deal to Australian domestic tourism where that sort of thing is more scarce.

Gold Coast is shit (in my opinion) and Brisbane’s a nice place to live in, but a boring place to visit. If you want some nice coast line with fewer dropkicks and you’re in that part of the country, the Sunshine Coast is better for you. Travel up to Noosa and stop off at a few places along the way.

Exploring the hinterland, going deeper into the outback, swimming around the Great Barrier Reef… All things that are more unique to the place and looking back I wish I’d spent less time in the cities and more time doing this.

Don’t get me wrong, if you only stay in the cities, you’ll still have a good time, it’ll just be a lot more familiar to what you’re used to (with different weather when it comes to Sydney and Brisbane).


Former Sydney resident here :+1:

Best day trip from Sydney is the Blue Mountains. Get a guided tour - amazing scenery. If you’re a wine fan, Hunter Valley is another good trip. In Sydney itself, Manly is worth a visit on the ferry.

Around Melbourne, Phillip Island is a good trip. Other direction along the coast, Great Ocean Road is a stunning drive. Again, if you like wine then Yarra Valley can be done in a day.

Not a huge fan of the Gold Coast personally. Brisbane is a nice enough city, but the surrounding area has been very unsympathetically developed. Byron Bay is worth a stop if you’re passing between Sydney and Brisbane. You’re probably too far south to do much of the real adventure stuff in Queensland (Great Barrier Reef, Whitsundays) in that timescale, but Fraser Island via Rainbow Beach is definitely worth it if you have the time…


Thanks, and yeah fully agree about the unique aspects of the trip. I hear Melbourne is a pretty ‘cool’ city so looking forward to the food/bar scene but yeah we aren’t going to be so fussed about the cities themselves and will most likely use them as a base and hopefully have the time to do others stuff.

Nothing is planned in at the moment other than the flights and Aus Open tickets so all these comments will be valuable!

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Best things I did while living in Australia by far:

  1. Travelled the Gibb River Road, Broome → Darwin. Absolutely spectacular scenery and wildlife and unlike anything I’d experienced before. Breathtaking landscapes, and very cool being so remote and sleeping on the roof of your 4x4.
  2. Scuba diving on Lady Elliot Island. Incredible wildlife on a tiny little island which you get to on a plane so small that you can sit next to the pilot if you want. Incredible amount of wildlife in such a small space.
  3. Driving Brisbane to Cairns. Not the most exciting stretch, but was cool to see the more remote parts of Queensland than the cities. Things which are boring and normal to locals were otherworldly and fascinating to me.
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Tiny penguins :heart_eyes:


Agree with every word here

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yes, yes, yes!!

I was quite disappointed with Byron Bay, huge numbers of tourists in a small area of coast line where you only need to go a bit further away from it and you can have an entire beach to yourself

Blue Mountains and Hunter Valley are both things that we have talked about already so they will probably take up most of the time we are there - or perhaps do Yarra instead. Will have a look into them as I do like my Wine.

Will check out Phillip Island

Yeah I think we will be pretty limited on the more adventurous side - but hopefully do some of that in NZ.

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They’re actually called Little Penguins :face_with_monocle:

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Apologies to any little penguins reading this :disappointed:


If you do find yourself in Brisbane…

Get a Go Card and catch the City Cat from one end of the city to the other to see the best bits from the river.
For bars / restaurants, go to either Fortitude Valley (where all the music venues, grottier bars etc. are), The West End (hippyish) / South Bank (corporate) or the CBD (corporate). I spent most time in The West End and Fortitude Valley personally.
Bulimba (dahling) and Eat Street Northshore (remote food village near the cruise terminal) are decent places for something a bit more low key.
Never went to the XXXX brewery because XXXX is horrible, so no idea if it’s any good.
There’s Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary if you want to see some animals.
New Farm has some nice cafés and hanging around the park and the Powerhouse is pleasant. You can even walk from there along the river path to the CBD.

That’s about it I think.


I echo what other people have said that a lot of the exciting things to do in Australia happen outside of the cities. That said, all the major cities have plenty of good places for eating and drinking but really where you go will depend on where you stay and what’s convenient from there. I reckon if I were heading to Melbourne from overseas and wanted to see the ‘cool’ city I would stay somewhere north east of the CBD, Collingwood, Carlton, Fitzroy etc (Acrual Melbourne DISers might have other ideas but those areas are relatively central and part of the cool bit) and if I were staying in Brisbane and wanted somewhere more laid back with cafes I’d stay in West End, (or possibly South Bank if you are gonna use hotels/ serviced apartments) or if more drinking focused may as well stay in Fortitude Valley. The Valley is also the home of some of the car rental places if you want to use one for day trips.

Australia fucking loves breakfast so honestly if you only ate out for one meal a day make it breakfast. There are so many small cafes doing good coffee and breakfast food in all those areas but I could provide a list of ones I think are good if that helps once you’ve got some shit booked.

I would not go to Byron these days. If I were wanting to see a small town beach vibe near there I would prefer to go to Brunswick Heads which is very close and a little bit less like the mega rich have forced the locals out of town.

You will be here in the summer so if you do go to the Gold Coast you will want to go to the beach I should think . Don’t imagine Surfers Paradise will be good unless you are 20 tbh. I imagine your friends there will have places they prefer to go but I would say the beaches at the bottom of the GC are much more pleasant and a bit quieter. The GC hinterland is really very nice, could do some rainforest/bush walks in Lamington or Springbrook National parks easily.

If you had a little more time I would say you should check out some of the islands from Brisbane as they are really beautiful and very quickly feel like you have escaped the cities- Moreton and North Stradbroke are both very good and only take a couple of hours to get to from the CBD but you need at least one night in my opinion.
I would definitely say go on the city at and view Brisbane from the river, or walk from the Powerhouse to the CBD. The river is probably the most pleasant walk in central Brisbane. The two art galleries in SouthBank are generally pretty good if you want to do that sort of thing but I would say in Queensland I would be getting out of the city even if only for some bushwalks. Lone Pine definitely entertains my 2 year old about every 6 weeks and if you wanna feed Kangaroos and koalas , see platypus, dingos and other native Australian animals it’s a good visit for a couple of hours. A nice low key way to see the wildlife up close without going to a proper zoo.

The XXXX brewery tour is literally just a brewery tour for a shit beer company. Don’t go. There is a pleasant enough bar at the end but also there are pleasant enough bars that you don’t have to walk around an awful concrete brewery in the oppressive heat for an hour to enjoy.

Blue Mountains, Phillip Island and Great Ocean Road are all definitely good shouts on things to do outside of Melbourne/Sydney . Great Ocean Road probably deserves more than a single day, but you can definitely get to the twelve apostles and back in one (try not to get 4 speeding tickets doing so like one of my mates :grimacing:)

I would say you should get the ferry to Manly in Sydney and see the Northern Beaches, they are quite quintessentially Australian even if they are fucking busy that time of year. There are also some really good walks along the coastline in Sydney if you can stomach that in the summer heat here so you could get the ferry up and then walk some of the coastline if you liked. Can definitely look up the Sydney walks I’ve done and enjoyed if you are interested in that.

This has turned into quiet a meandering brain dump, sorry! If you have any other questions about certain things I’m quite happy to try and help. I moved from Manchester to Brisbane 12 years ago, and I’ve been about a fair bit in that time.



Sydney resident here.

If you are in Sydney for 3/4 days then I suggest big ticket stuff - the recently connected up Manly to Bondi walk will tick off most stuff and you can break it up as to what interests you. From Manly you can stop at Balmoral Beach (my favourite in Sydney) and get the best Fish and Chips I’ve ever had at Bottom of the Harbour (get the fisherman’s basket). I’m not normally one for zoos but Taronga is as good a zoo as you’ll get in a city.

Blue Mountains are spectacular and have good fun cable cars/funicular railways options that you can get a pass for.

If you get a ferry out of Circular Quay you can see the Bridge and the Opera House. Don’t bother walking across the bridge as it’s no great shakes, just feels caged in.

The Manly ferry is good, turn around and get the next one back imo.

The Coogee to Bondi coastal cliff walk is well worth doing and takes about 90 minutes or so. Start in Coogee for the full effect. Seeing Bondi Beach is pretty spectacular when it opens up but Bondi itself is pretty hellish.

Think the Hunter is pretty boring but also I don’t drink so not aimed at me.

If you get the chance, although the weather will be challenging - I think a visit to Uluru is a must and would be worth the entire trip alone.

Australian Open is a great event to attend, enjoy. Fuck Melbourne though tbh (only joking before Theo sees this)

Really like Brisbane as a city, have a real soft spot for it.

EDIT: If you can get to a game at the MCG it’s worth seeing, the SCG definitely not worth going out of your way for. Adelaide Oval is the best stadium in the country (and I will fight anyone) but sadly you seem to be missing God’s Own Country out of this trip.

SECOND EDIT: Due to the quality of the produce here you should eat like a king/queen/other royalty on your trip.


Was on a shoestring budget on my Australia trip, not helped by a terrible exchange rate, so was either cooking in hostels or have conveniently forgotten where I went. BUT stayed with a friend in Melbourne and did some good eating/drinking. Melbourne is supposedly excellent for coffee and there are so many outlets that it’s pretty competitive. I’m not a coffee drinker, but yeah.

Food/drink wise, can recommend the following

AC/DC Lane - Cool grafitti and murals, various bars. Notably Cherry Bar which had a funk and soul night when I went. Was great fun. Apparently Noel Gallagher tried to buy it once lol.

Claypots, St Kilda - Seafood. Had the best crab that I still think about six years later.

The Epicurean Red Hill, Red Hill South - Had an excellent pizza here and they are served by the other local vineyards.

Montalto, Red Hill South - Did a really nice white wine tasting and has stunning views of rolling hills over the vineyards.

This area is pretty great for wine generally, don’t think you can go too far wrong with a little research


Cherry Bar had to move from its original location on AC/DC Lane to another venue about 500m away in 2019 cos the owner of the site tried to push the rent up loads but I assume it’s still good, and there is definitely still lots of street art in those little laneways around there.

Plenty of ways to argue the point between Sydney and Melbourne - but Melbourne is without question the place for live music

If you are coming to Melbourne these are the music venues to check out

Any recommendations for gigs in Melbourne the next month or so?

Gonna catch UMO at the forum and Party Dozen at the corner hotel so far

Any local knowledge of up n comers worth seeing would be much appreciated

Songkick is always useful for this.

Faye Webster on January 31st should be good

Cosmic Psychos on Jan 20th will be great too.

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