Summer is in sight and that means Christmas, New Year and, most importantly, holidays are just around the corner! It’s been a long 18 months of closed borders and cancelled plans, but with roadmaps released and vaccination targets on track, perhaps we in Australia can dare to dream of travel again?
It’s probably too soon to say, but given the federal government’s national roadmap and the potential easing of restrictions by Christmas in NSW and Victoria, it’s possible we will actually be able to leave our houses this summer.
This of course relies on borders opening, travel in Australia resuming and restrictions loosening. If you’re keen to scratch that travel itch, here are some of the places Australians can plan to travel to this summer.
Summer international travel destinations
I know this is incredibly optimistic, but the government has said we may be able to reopen international borders by Christmas time and airlines have jumped at the chance to allow those of us in Australia to travel again.
The prime minister recently announced Australia’s international borders would reopen as soon as November to states that have hit the 80% fully vaccinated target. Vaccinated Australians will be able to leave and return to the country and only have to quarantine at home for seven days on arrival.
Following the recent border announcement, Qantas has brought forward some of its international flight routes to November 14, 2021.
International routes that are currently on sale for fully vaccinated Australian citizens allow travel between Sydney and Los Angeles and Sydney and London. More routes and flights will be added as border reopening dates firm up.
Qantas has already outlined a number of international countries it’s planning to fly to once borders are open. The countries that have been marked as “COVID-safe destinations” so far include Singapore, the U.S., Japan, the U.K., Canada and Fiji.
With WA’s borders remaining closed, the airline plans to reroute its Perth to London flight to be via Darwin or Singapore.
Our neighbour New Zealand is also on the cards for Australians to travel to once the trans-Tasman bubble is up and running again.
Qantas said the rest of its international network would reopen in April 2022.
Interstate summer travel guide
Domestically, things are a little dicey, with a lot of states and territories still enforcing strict border restrictions. Under the government’s roadmap, these should start to relax once the country reaches its vaccine targets, but we’ll see.
Assuming we can travel around our own country, airlines like Qantas have already ramped up their flight availability for certain routes.
The main ones to note are that flights between Victoria and New South Wales are expected to reopen from November 5, 2021, and there will be an increase in regional NSW flights from October 25, 2021.
Unfortunately, border closure estimates have forced Qantas to delay reopening flights between Sydney and Melbourne to WA until February 2022.
Virgin Australia is still operating and taking bookings for flights all around Australia. You can find a schedule here.
Assuming we can travel domestically or at least travel around our own states, here are some summer destinations and activities to add to your list.
New South Wales
NSW’s reopening roadmap has regional travel on the cards from 80% vaccination, but there will be a booking cap on hospitality venues, so plan ahead.
If you’re Sydney-bound, one suggestion from Tourism Australia is to book an Aboriginal walking tour with Dreamtime Southern X, which will give you an insightful walk around The Rocks from a First Nations perspective.
Heading into regional NSW, you can also find the new Koala Sanctuary in Port Stephens. Visitors are able to take guided walking tours on an elevated skywalk to see koalas hanging out in their natural habitat.
The sanctuary is also home to a hospital for sick and injured koalas, and entry fees help support their care.
And don’t forget you’ve still got those Dine & Discover vouchers to use up!
Victoria has also outlined its roadmap for reopening and it looks like plenty of experiences will be on offer again for summer.
For a nature-based experience, you can’t go past Phillip Island. The island is famous for its population of little penguins, who can be viewed returning home each night after sunset from a special seating area. Koalas and fur seals are also on display, and the Phillip Island Nature Park funnels its funds into wildlife conservation projects.
We all know Victorians love their sport, and there’s hardly a more iconic sporting venue than the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Did you know you can go behind the scenes on a tour that will take you into the famous Long Room? It’s a must for locals and sports fans.
South Australia is absolutely full of Instagram-worthy locations to visit. Take Lake MacDonnell, for instance.
Lake MacDonnell is a unique place that allows both a pink salt lake and a green lake to sit side by side, creating the most incredible contrast.
South Australia is also synonymous with wine country, and one of the most unique wine tasting adventures is the d’Arenberg Cube. Set amongst the hills of McLaren Vale, the giant Rubik’s cube-type building contains a tasting room with 360° views as well as bars, restaurants, a museum and an art gallery.
Busselton Jetty is famous for being the longest timber-piled jetty in the southern hemisphere at 1.841 km long. Apart from walking the jetty, there’s also an underwater observatory, scuba and jet adventures, and a train ride to entertain you.
Tasmania is full of some of the most beautiful and pristine landscapes in Australia, plus the temperatures are always far more manageable in summer.
For those who love hiking and are looking to see some of this natural beauty, the Three Capes Track is the place to be. The four-day journey will take you from Port Arthur around the southern capes of the state, including Cape Hauy and Cape Pillar, all the while experiencing some of nature’s best.
Due to COVID-19, numbers have been reduced, so make sure to book ahead before arriving.
Naturally, one of Queensland’s greatest treasures is access to the Great Barrier Reef, and people from all around Australia and the world travel far to see it.
Summer can be a dicey period with cyclone season, but areas of the Southern reef are less prone to bad weather.
If you’re more of a thrillseeker or after an adventure with the family, the Gold Coast has it all. The Gold Coast is home to gorgeous beaches and delicious food as well as some of Australia’s best theme parks.
There’s nothing quite like the wind pushing back the skin on your face on a speedy roller coaster, and Movie World is full of them. December also marks the return of the park’s White Christmas celebrations, which include special opening hours, new parades, and themed food and experiences.
The Northern Territory is home to more than just Uluru, and if you head further north to Darwin, you can take part in some incredible animal experiences.
Echidna Walkabout runs wildlife-focused conservation tours all around the country, but the Wild Top End tour is incredibly special. The seven-day tour takes you through both Kakadu and Mary River National Parks, where you’ll see crocodiles and wild birds, and spend time learning about First Nations culture.
Australian Capital Territory
You’ll find plenty of epic experiences in the nation’s capital, which makes Canberra one of the most interesting places to travel in Australia.
In the northeast, you’ll find Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary, which is home to some of Australia’s rarest and most vital native animals.
The reserve is predator-free and conducts evening walks, where you have a chance to see these amazing animals in their natural habitat.
Damn, reading about all these great experiences really make you want to take a holiday, doesn’t it? Here’s hoping we can travel in Australia again soon, friends.