Mission Completed: Visiting Every Australian State and Territory
I think most people who enjoy travel inevitably end up setting some sort of goal. Sometimes multiple.
Some people want to travel to every UN recognised country, have a country count which runs into the triple digits. Others might fancy visiting every country in Europe, or setting foot in every American state.
I’ve had two travel goals ever since entering adulthood – to visit every Nordic country and territory (three to go!) and travel to every state and territory in Australia. This is a goal which I completed in March, 2018 when I finally touched down in Perth.
There are only eight states (as I’m going to refer to them from now on, as typing both STATES AND TERRITORIES is exhausting), so it seems like it should be a pretty simple goal to achieve. Yet, Australia is a massive country and travel here is expensive. It’s often cheaper and definitely quicker to fly to NEW ZEALAND from the East Coast of Oz, than it is to jet across to the other side of the country.
Although Australians are generally well-travelled, we often fall short when it comes to our own country. I’ll travel home to NSW and talk to people who’ve never been to Melbourne, despite it being a one hour flight away from Sydney. Many of my friends from Victoria and NSW haven’t been to Western Australia and/or the Northern Territory and my Perth buddies won’t have visited Queensland or Tasmania.
It doesn’t help that a lot of cities in Australia have a reputation of being “boring”, which is often not deserved. Each capital city and state offer something different – each have their own landscapes, culture and history.
I think it’s important to explore your own backyard and the more I see of Australia, the more it delights me. No country is perfect, but I think mine is a bit of an all right and after almost thirty years of life, I finally feel comfortable not only in my own skin, but in my surroundings.
I wanted to take a little trip down memory lane and explore first and often subsequent impressions of each state (I’ve been to most twice or more, apart from WA). I hope you’ll join me and maybe it’ll inspire you for future travels of your own.
New South Wales
I was born. Tick.
Of this list, this was not a hard one to complete. I’ve lived in New South Wales for most of my life, in three different places (Sydney, Newcastle and the Hunter Valley). I’ve also seen a lot of it, mostly thanks to my folks and friends and family who have moved afar, as well as my own curiosity.
Favourite places: Sydney, Newcastle and the Upper Hunter Valley.
Next on the list: a return visit to Mudgee, Broken Hill and Byron Bay… because I’m not sure if I’ve ever been there!
Oh, Queensland. I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with this state. It is beautiful, but has a fierce rivalry with NSW. And I’m weary of it, due to these sort of exchanges over the years:
Parents: “How would you kids like to go to Disneyland?!”
Parents: “We didn’t book flights in time. We’re going to Queensland instead.”
Kids: “Oh. Okay.”
Parents: “How do you feel about travelling to Tuscany?”
Adult Me: “YES.”
Parents: “Actually, we might drive up to Queensland. Italy can wait.”
Adult Me: “Please, go without me.”
I’ve been to quite a few places in QLD, but tend to inevitably end up in Brisbane or the Gold Coast. Truth be told, I’ve heard Brisbane has changed quite a bit in recent years – I was never that enamoured with it, but I’d like to visit it again and compare it with how it was twelve years ago, the last time I was there.
I can take or leave the Gold Coast. I’ve been as a kid, a teenager (made the mistake of attending Schoolies there, despite being 17 and unable to par-tay) and an adult. The last time was for NYE 2010 and it’s wasn’t too bad, but it generally isn’t my scene.
Favourite places: Fraser Island, Hamilton Island. Not the Gold Coast.
Next on the list: Townsville, Magnetic Island. Not the Gold Coast. I’m done with the Gold Coast. It is dead to me.
Straight after my ill-fated Schoolies trip (so much stuff went wrong in a one week span, but that is not a topic for this blog post!) to the Gold Coast, I flew to Adelaide with my mother for a family wedding.
It was the first time either of us had been there and we both liked it a lot! I enjoy smaller cities and Adelaide (or rAdelaide as it’s colloquially known) seems like the perfect size, with a lot of beautiful heritage houses. It’s close to nature and has a tram line that runs down to Glenelg Beach.
Plus the entire state of South Australia looks stunning. It doesn’t really get the attention it deserves.
I’d later visit Melbourne and be strongly reminded of Adelaide. I adore Melbs, which is probably why I feel so fondly toward the SA capital.
Favourite places: rAdelaide. Mostly because it’s the only one I’ve been to.
Next on the list: Barossa Valley and I’d LOVE to go to Kangaroo Island. I think the WOMADelaide Festival would be pretty amazing to attend as well.
Australian Capital Territory
Ah! Our nation’s fair capital! If you’re unfamiliar with modern Australian history, here it is in a nutshell: Melbourne and Sydney continually fought over which city should be capital, the result being that one was created, to stop the two from squabbling.
Canberra is another place that cops a lot of slack and I don’t really understand why. My first impression of the city was as a young adult – a dear high school friend moved there for university and I travelled six hours from Newcastle (by train and then bus… I’ve never actually driven to C-bra!) to go visit her.
I remember getting off the bus and hugging her, as she exclaimed “Welcome to Canberra!”
I, greatly confused asked “are we, ah, in the city?!” I had no idea our capital had no skyscrapers. (This is because no buildings in the city are allowed to be higher than the flagpole on Australia’s parliament building).
Our capital is small, but it’s neat, pretty and well-ordered. It’s close to nature. It has a pumping food and drink scene. It throws some really fantastic festivals, such as Floriade, the flower festival in the spring and the Canberra Balloon Spectacular. There’s heaps of cool museums to explore (Questacon! Which I’ve never been to!!) and a giant, man-made lake. What more could you ask for, out of life?
Favourite places: Canberra
Next on the list: Um, Canberra? Namadgi National Park? Beats me.
My first trip to Melbourne was rather unsettling.
I’d wanted to go for one sole reason – to see Wicked! The Musical for my 20th birthday. This was around ten years ago, when Sydney was still a cultural abyss and all the cool stuff came to and stopped in Melbourne.
I was in a strange mood. I’d wanted to go with my then boyfriend, who’d refused to come, claiming he ‘didn’t like to travel’ (red flag much – unsurprisingly, we broke up like a day after I returned home).
It was also horrifically hot in the city and Victoria was alight. Bushfires would ravage the state, killing 173 people and the day would come to be known as Black Saturday. Tragic.
Despite all this, I fell head over heels for Melbourne and decided then and there that I’d live in the city one day. I returned as often as possible (four times in the next year alone) and with each visit, it became harder and harder to leave.
Spoiler alert – I live here now and I love it as much as I thought I would. I enjoy exploring the city and spend way too much money here, as there’s always something going on.
I also love travelling around the state of Victoria – it’s small, but it packs a lot in. I’ve seen a tiny bit, but hope to expand on this when I have a set of wheels in the next few months.
Favourite places: Melbourne (duh), Ballarat, King Valley.
Next on the list: Bendigo, Lorne, The Grampians, Mildura. Everywhere, really.
If Melbourne is my favourite city however, Tasmania as a whole, is my favourite state.
I first visited in 2011 – a boyfriend was from Tassie and I flew down with him to meet his family and see his home. That relationship didn’t last, but my love for Tasmania has only intensified over the years.
It was wonderful to return in 2017 and see a little more of this special, special place. I hope there are many return trips in the future.
Favourite places: Hobart, Sheffield.
Next on the list: Bay of Fires, Cradle Mountain, Eggs and Bacon Bay.
I first journeyed to the NT in 2013, when work flew me to Darwin for training. The city remains one of the strangest places I’ve been to in my own country.
I think travelling to Darwin was a reminder of how big Australia actually is. It was the longest plane trip I’d taken to reach a destination in the country at that stage and it was nothing like where I grew up – a small city, where everyone knows each other, with the outback at its doorstep. Stepping in the ocean can kill you and the heat and humidity suck you dry.
My second trip was to Yulara in 2015, for my Mum’s 60th birthday. It had taken me 26 years to step into the outback (pretty typical of an east coaster, really) and I count my visit to the Red Centre of Oz in my top three wordly experiences. It’s a special, special place, which deserves reverence and protection.
Favourite places: Uluru. Nothing prepares you for seeing the Rock in the flesh. You’re aware that it’s big, but then you get out there and all you can say is “holy crap”, as you take it in. It’s beautiful from every angle and during sunrise or sunset, just… wow. Words don’t do it justice.
Next on the list: I’d love to visit Alice Springs, return to Darwin in the Dry and check out “nearby” (it’s relative) Katherine one day, too.
Favourite posts about the NT:
12,300 Steps Around Uluru
Everything You Need to Know For a Trip to Australia’s Red Centre
And finally, in 2018 I flew to Perth to visit one of my best friends, who was back home from London.
I spent three days in the city, visiting its beautiful beaches, exploring some of the trendier suburbs, learning all about the Claremont murders (eek!) and ferrying it out to Rottnest Island to meet the quokkas.
Western Australia takes up a third of the country, so three days there was hardly enough. My WA bucket list alone is a mile long, but I see a lot of return trips in the future (particular as a lot of my friends now are from there), so long as I can capitulate upon those airline sale fairs.
Favourite places: Perth! Rottnest Island was fun too.
Next on the list: Broome and Margaret River.
So, that’s it! One travel goal done and dusted. Now, I think those Nordics are calling my name (I hear you, Greenland! I’m coming! ONE DAY).
Have you visited every state and territory in Australia? What are your travel goals?