See the world without leaving Australia | Experience Oz

Wait, You Don’t Need A Passport To See The World?

Forget passports, international terminals, layovers & conversion rates, Australia has world-class attractions to embarrass its international rivals.

Why spend thousands of dollars on an overseas holiday when you can explore similar, if not better, attractions right in your own Aussie backyard?

Australia is brimming with world class facilities and tourist attractions that many promises to see later in life or just simply disregard altogether. Where is the love, Australia? Let’s give back to the land down under and explore some of the country’s hottest and best destinations without the need for a passport, visa or one billion dollars (that may be a slight exaggeration).

If travelling abroad is at the top of your list but your bank balance is at the bottom end of the spectrum, then you might need to rethink your life choices. So that’s where we come in! Forget about the expensive international flights and uncomfortable accommodation and start thinking about affordable domestic flights, discounted accommodation you know and a true blue Aussie holiday.

Pick the international destination you’re thinking/dreaming of visiting and we’ll show you the (cheaper) Aussie substitute.

Miami, FL London, UK Washington, DC Las Vegas, NV Italy Grand Canyon, AZ Fiji San Francisco, CA

Why Miami, FL…

Miami Florida hero image

…when there’s Miami, Gold Coast?

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With the exact same name and similar weather, Queensland’s iconic Gold Coast is home to yes, you guessed it, our own take on Miami. Home to a sizzling food scene including a buzzing cafe culture and flowing beer and wine houses, Miami perfectly transitions from day to night.

Now moving to the main attraction – the beach. Miami beach is a golden wonderland just begging you to dive into the crashing waves or pull up a patch of sand. With similar temperatures; Miami, FL has an average of 25 degrees Celsius while Miami, GC’s average sits between 21 and 28 degrees Celsius in summer, so you can expect the same sunny days where the only relief is a dip in the vibrant blue water.

In terms of crowds, you could walk for hundreds of metres on Miami Beach on the Gold Coast without coming into contact with another person (or dog). Just looking at a photo of Florida’s Miami Beach, it’s fair to say you won’t be able to do that. In fact, you’d probably struggle to find a good space close to the water to set yourself up for the day.

There are no problems like that on the Gold Coast as the seemingly never-ending beach is populated by scattered beachgoers and maybe a few more bodies in the peak periods. In my opinion, I’d take uncrowded beaches and a domestic vacay (or staycay for the locals) anytime!

Why London…

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…when there’s Tasmania?

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Yes we know we’re comparing the capital of England to a small Australian state, but stay with us. If you’re into cold, dreary, and at times sunless weather then don’t book a ticket to the unofficial ninth Aussie capital (London), instead visit our across the water state, Tasmania. With similar weather patterns – think rain, snow and wind – you’ll feel as though you’re in the UK capital. Though Tasmania doesn’t have the same level of history or landmarks as London it still holds its own in the tourism sector.

There’s a number of natural attractions such as Cradle Mountain and Freycinet National Park and man-made attractions including Port Arthur Historic Site and MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) spread around the state that make it an ideal travel destination. So give it a week and you’ll have your fair share of dreary weather and beautiful sites just like you would if you were in London (sort of).

If you’re after a Royal fix, Tassie doesn’t have Buckingham Palace or the Queen herself but Queen Victoria is there (in spirit) at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery and the Theatre Royal in Hobart is a royally good location for entertainment. Though Tasmania doesn’t have the same city feel, the natural beauty is breathtaking and is a better adventure than a visit to another concrete jungle that’s always packed to the brim with people.

As an added bonus, Tasmania is easily accessible and can be reached in a short amount of time. With flights departing major airports on a regular basis en route to Hobart it will take around 2 hours from Sydney, around 3 hours from Brisbane, just over an hour from Melbourne and about 5.5 hours from Perth. Compare that to the 23-hour journey to London and I’m already sold! I’d take more time and money to spend on the actual holiday than almost a whole day travelling in an uncomfortable coach class seat any day of the week.

Tasmania is also a great location for food and wine lovers as the region has a thriving oyster, cheese and wine scene. Travel along the Cradle to Coast trail in northern Tasmania to taste your way around a number of local producers, bakers and creators.

Why Washington, DC…

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…when there’s Canberra?

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American history and politics are entertaining, educational and closely followed by Australians around the country but it’s interesting to think that many Australians aren’t aware of our own history and politics. So why not save a few dollars and learn and explore Australia’s capital as opposed to America’s?

Yes, Washington has The White House, Congress, the Abraham Lincoln Memorial and some of the best museums in the country (which are all amazing and worth seeing) but Canberra is equally as impressive, with Parliament House lighting up like a rainbow some evenings, the Australian War Memorial paying tribute to the fallen soldiers that gave their lives for our country and both the National Gallery and National Museum of Australia – Canberra shouldn’t be overlooked.

Canberra is, in fact, larger than Washington DC (Canberra = 814.2 squared km; Washington DC = 177 square km), which means there’s more to explore. Washington might have President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama but Canberra has characters like Malcolm Turnbull (when he’s not at his Sydney mansion), Pauline Hansen (she’s back) and radio personality turned Senator Darryn Hinch – what more could you want?!

Oh, and we can’t forget the up and coming food, wine and coffee scene that will have you drooling at the sight and smell of some of the local creations!

Why Las Vegas…

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…when there’s Brisvegas?

Source: Lauren Bath
Source: Lauren Bath

For years, Australia’s third largest city, Brisbane, has been dubbed ‘Brisvegas’ a term used to demoralise the city but has since been taken back as an empowering and endearing nickname. The tongue-in-cheek name was given to the city for its ironic resemblance to Las Vegas in Nevada. However, Brisbane-ites (the good folk they are) took the name in their stride and since then have used it to their advantage, with the US President calling it so on his most recent visit in 2014.

Let’s compare the two; Las Vegas has the Bellagio, Brisbane has the Treasury Casino (and come the year 2022, Queens Wharf Casino) additionally Australia as a whole lost a whopping $1,279 per person gambling than United State’s measly $705 per person in 2014, so take that Vegas, we’re bigger spenders and bigger losers!

Las Vegas has a lineup of shows and performances, Brisbane has similar shows and performances, Las Vegas has JLo and Britney Spears, Brisbane has had Beyonce and Taylor Swift. Though not as glamorous and outrageous as Las Vegas, Brisbane can still hold its own when it comes to being a holiday destination. It has a thriving cultural scene with the South Bank acting as a cultural hub with QPAC and GOMA both calling the area home.

In terms of food and drink, it has it all! Choose from Asian; Chop Chop Chang’s, Longtime, Happy Boy and Fat Noodle (located in the casino), Italian; Popolo, 1889 Enoteca and Tartufo, Greek; Little Greek, The Greek Cav, Kafe Meze and Greek on Cav, or Mexican; Sin Vida, Fiesta Ole, El Torito and Villa Maria. You can choose a different cuisine every night and you won’t be bored of Brisbane’s tasty food scene.

If you’re in search of flowing drinking holes (which Vegas is also known for), Brisbane isn’t to be overlooked. There’s the nightclub hotspot called Fortitude Valley where you’ll often find free pouring spirits, girls with sore feet and cover charges, but you can also diverge away from the typical spots and explore what the rest of Brisbane has to offer.

There are a number of small, hidden away and local spots that the average tourist might not know of. There’s Alfred and Constance on the outskirts of the Valley, The Regatta in Toowong and its hidden underground bar The Walrus Club, Friday’s Riverside in the CBD, James Squires in South Bank, and Eagle’s Nest rooftop bar in Kangaroo Point, to name a few.

Bundle all of the above-mentioned attributes with the fact that there’s always something happening or opening and Brisbane is a go-to destination. Brisbane also has a number of great sights such as the Story Bridge (which you can climb), Mount Coot-tha and Redcliffe on the outer Brisbane area that are worth checking out. If you’re not a local (or even if you are), Brisbane isn’t to be ignored as it is a great holiday and staycation destination that will cost probably less than half of your Vegas trip.

Why Italy…

Italy hero image

…when there’s Little Italy, Melbourne?

Source: F1Destinations.com
Source: F1Destinations.com

When I think of Italy I think pasta, pizza, gelato, pasta and more pizza and maybe a few more bowls of pasta, but it’s so far away! Why travel all that way and spend all that money when you can enjoy the taste of Italy in Melbourne’s aptly named Little Italy? Just like the saying goes, good things come in small packages, so a smaller more compact (and more accessible) version of Italy is going to be a great thing for pizza and pasta lovers (but not for our waistband).

Just as if you were wandering the streets of Florence, a walk down the popular Lygon Street will open your eyes and your taste buds to a whole new world of flavours and food. With friendly and sweet-talking waiters drawing hungry pedestrians in for a bite, the atmosphere on the street is as impressive as the food to be served.

As a matter of fact, Lygon Street is home to the 2014 world’s best Margherita pizza. Restaurant owner Johnny Di Francesco from 400 Gradi in Brunswick took out the title a couple of years ago for his delicious creation. Beating out around 600 other chefs including Italy’s best and more from around the world, the Aussie business owner gladly took the delicious title and has been wowing diners with his delicious take on the simple pizza ever since.

Lygon Street isn’t the only go-to destination for traditional Italian food, the suburb of Carlton as a whole is dotted with gingham tablecloths and boiling pasta, so do your research or spend some time exploring the areas to find the best place.

You can get everything Italian in Carlton, from cold meats and cheeses to fresh pasta, bread and of course, wine! You’ll eat like a King or Queen in Little Italy with their alfresco dining scene and you won’t have to fork out the big bucks to taste award-winning, traditional Italian food. Oh, and don’t forget about the gelati! You’ll be mesmerised by the mounds of freshly made gelato, you might just have to have a scoop, or two or five.

Now, we’re not saying Melbourne substitutes the need to travel to Italy, but if making the journey over isn’t possible exploring Melbourne’s Little Italy is a good compromise. Despite Melbourne’s status as the ‘Friendliest City in the World’, it can’t compete with sights such as the Amalfi Coast, St Mark’s Square in Venice, the Venice canals, the Colosseum in Rome and St. Peter’s Basilica in Florence, to name a few. But for those of us that can’t afford to venture over just yet, St Paul’s Cathedral, Federation Square, the Shrine of Remembrance and Old Melbourne Gaol will definitely suffice.

Why The Amazon…

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…when there’s The Daintree?

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Yes, the Amazon is the biggest rainforest in the world, but Far North Queensland’s Daintree Rainforest is millions of year’s it’s senior and is the oldest in the world. The Amazon is known for its tropical animals and for good reason, with hundreds of different mammals, birds and reptiles calling it home, you’ll also find some crowd favourites including anacondas, jaguars, sloths, river dolphins and macaws.

However, the Daintree Rainforest has its fair share of unique and intriguing animals such as the Southern Cassowary, Ulysses Butterfly, Buff Breasted Paradise Kingfisher and Bennett’s and Lumhotz Tree Kangaroos.

I’m sure we’ve all seen or heard of movies set in the Amazon which might act as a deterrent for visiting, and if you fall into this category then a visit to the Daintree is the perfect (safer) substitution. You can explore the Daintree by foot, boat, 4WD or by swinging through the trees on a high wire – the choice is yours.

There is one major similarity between the two rainforests; mosquitos. These little suckers (pun intended) are everywhere in these tropical climates and unfortunately can’t be avoided. You can stock up on repellent, buy deterring, clip-on contraptions or go full anti-mozzie mode and buy a netted suit (yes, these are real and available to buy). So the main message here is to be prepared and eat a lot of bananas (if you believe in old wives tales).

Another pro for the Daintree is its accessibility. Located just over 2 hours north of Cairns and 1.5 hours north of Port Douglas, you can easily drive yourself there and explore it on your own if you’re not on an organised tour. In comparison, there are flights and boat rides to reach the Amazon but they can take at least three to five days depending on where you’re coming from.

There are multiple similarities between the two World Heritage Listed sites, including the fact that both of the rivers running through the rainforest; the Amazon River and the Daintree River, are considered a life source for the wetlands. Swap out the anacondas for crocodiles and sloths for tree kangaroos and the Daintree is the perfect choice for those dreaming of exploring the Amazon.

Why the Grand Canyon…

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…when there’s Kings Canyon?

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One of the most recognisable and famous canyons in the world, the Grand Canyon within Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona is an incredible natural attraction topping many bucket lists. However, here in Australia, we have a lesser-known, smaller but equally as impressive canyon in the Top End; Kings Canyon. Within Watarrka National Park, Kings Canyon is located between Alice Springs and Uluru and is swamped by tourists year round. The walls of the canyon rise up 100 metres and tower over Kings Creek while also providing a home for various flora and fauna species.

Much like the Grand Canyon, Kings Canyon can be explored on foot. There are a number of trails available in the Grand Canyon such as the North and South Rims, the Bright Angel Trail and the South Kaibab Trail to name a few, but Kings Canyon has its fair share of trails too.

The Kings Canyon Rim Walk is one of the most popular and challenging trails and is open for visitors to explore the area and revel in the sheer size and beauty of this natural attraction. The walking trail covers a distance of only 6 kilometres however with its many challenges can take as long as 4 hours to complete and will provide you with incredible views of the gorge and the surrounding region.

Other trails include the 4.8 kilometre South Wall return, which takes around 2 hours to complete, Kings Creek; a 2.6-kilometre return journey taking around 1 hour to finish, and Kathleen Springs, which stretches 2.4 kilometres return and takes around 1.5 hours to complete. In the end, a rock is a rock and why travel thousands of kilometres overseas when you can see similar (and in my opinion, equally as impressive) canyons and formations on home soil?

Why Fiji…

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…when there’s the Great Barrier Reef?

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For all things aquatic, these are your two popular destinations in the Southern Hemisphere, but one is more accessible than the other in terms of travel costs (hint: we’re being very bias). Of course, we’re talking about the Great Barrier Reef. Yes, Fiji is filled with natural beauty and some great diving and snorkelling spots, but why travel across the ocean when the ocean you’d be flying over is just as, if not more, impressive.

First of all, the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland was the first coral reef ecosystem to be listed as a World Heritage Site all the way back in 1985, so you know it’s worth a visit. It is also inhabited by a large population of aquatic animals, in fact, it is home to 10% of the world’s fish species!

When exploring the waters of the Great Barrier Reef, whether it be off the south-east coast at Lady Elliot Island, the cluster of islands known as the Whitsundays, the far north patch off Cairns or the Outer Reef and Ribbon Reefs, you’re sure to get a big dose of wildlife. Think large Green Sea Turtles, Tiger Sharks, manta rays, Nemo’s, Dory’s, and octopi.

Though a lot of the wildlife is vibrant and pretty, be warned you don’t want to touch or even get close to some of the deadliest animals that live in this paradise including Blue Ringed Octopus, Stingrays, Stone Fish (these guys aren’t pretty) and Irukandji (these ones are almost impossible to spot).

Snorkelling and diving are two of the most popular activities on the Great Barrier Reef and you can do this all the way up the coast. You can go straight off the mainland from popular hubs Townsville, Airlie Beach, Cairns and Port Douglas, you can travel out to various islands such as Whitsunday Island, Green Island, Fitzroy Island and Hamilton Island or you can climb on board a boat tour to the outer reef for the day or overnight – the opportunities are plenty.

Like Fiji, Far North Queensland has a strong cultural presence with local Indigenous tribes still living on the mainland. One of the most popular cultural attractions is Tjapukai Cultural Park in Cairns, showing visitors ‘where Australia begins’. Here you can learn to throw a spear or boomerang and even learn how to play the didgeridoo.

It’s a truly incredible experience and a great way to learn about traditional Australian culture. I highly recommend a visit to Tjapukai for both tourists and Aussies, because there’s so much we miss out on even if we’ve grown up in the country.

To sum up this experience, yes you could travel to Fiji and pay through the nose on flights, accommodations and activities or you could keep it in the Aussie family and explore one the biggest natural attractions in the world that people flock to from all across the globe.

Why San Francisco…

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…when there’s Sydney?

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San Francisco in northern California is famous for the Golden Gate Bridge that stretches 2,737 metres over the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean channel and rises 227 metres high. The ‘International Orange’ coloured bridge is a pillar of tourism in the area, however, Australia is home to a world-famous bridge as well, the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

This is one of the most recognisable landmarks in the country, however, in comparison, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is significantly smaller only reaching 1,149 metres in length and 134 metres in height. However, unlike the Golden Gate, you can actually climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge as well as being able to walk across it.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb is one of the most popular activities in the region with multiple climbs a day with express, half climbs, full day, sunset and evening climbs. Climbing can be quite expensive and timely, so if this isn’t an option during your stay in Sydney than a simple walk or bike ride along the bridge will suffice, or you can enjoy a cruise on the harbour to travel under the bridge. There are a number of Sydney Harbour cruises available in the area including lunch and dinner cruises, sightseeing journeys, jet boat rides or a cruise on board an authentic tall ship.

In addition to being one of the few bridges in the world that you can actually climb, the bridge is also one of the tallest steel arch bridges in the world. Sydney is also home to a number of other popular and famous attractions including the neighbouring Sydney Opera House. A must-see attraction for almost every visitor to Sydney, the Opera House is considered one of the most famous and distinctive buildings of the 20th century.

So a visit to Sydney, as opposed to San Francisco, will give you bang for your buck with a number of world-class facilities and attractions in the one spot – what more could you want?

Australia is a gem of a country and is considered one of the must-see destinations for international visitors. It’s time for Australian’s to realise the beauty that is on their doorstep and to start exploring our own backyard and investing in our own country.

Save your time and money on your next vacation and plan a trip to one of the country’s destinations that you haven’t been to or have been planning to for many years. As a local you know the language, have the currency, have a working phone (say goodbye to excessive roaming bills) and know exactly what you’re doing and where you’re going. To use your local status to your advantage and explore Australia.

If you’re looking for things to see and do around Australia, visit our catalogue pages online to begin your next adventure.

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Brittney Deguara

Experience Oz + NZ Travel Writer

Brittney loves travelling, so it's only fitting she's one of our travel writers! A go-to contact for all things travel in Australia and New Zealand, Brittney is always planning her next adventure away from the desk. If you have any story ideas or questions contact her at brittney@experienceoz.com.au

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