One thing I quickly learned when I booked my trip to Australia, I couldn't possibly expect to get a true understanding of what this country really is in 10 days. Knowing this, I limited myself to one region and hoped to maximize my time. Ideally, I wanted to experience a dichotomy of nature and city, and see icons of both wild animal and mankind ingenuity.
If you want a more in-depth understanding of what make the cities of Sydney, Melbourne, and the area of Victoria so unique and special, this ten day journey should help get you on the right track. For a shorter, three day trip in Sydney, feel free to check out this amazing guide.
Start in Sydney
No Australian landmark is more recognizable than the Sydney Opera House, and there's no better way to ease into Australian culture than by flying into Sydney. Wherever you're staying, you can easily access the city via their very efficient train system. If you're traveling on a budget, YHA hotel in Sydney is a fantastic place to find a bargain booking. Located near Central Station, you can walk or ride to iconic places like Bennelong Point, which hosts the Opera House, as well as a variety of restaurants and the Sydney Harbour bridge.
Pro tip: Plan your days in Sydney so that one falls on a Sunday. All public transportation is $2.50 on Sundays, including ferry rides to some fantastic beaches such as Bondi beach.
Overall, Sydney is a great place to walk and get lost in. Head up north and expect to find pubs and street performers, while if you head south toward the harbour, you'll pass through a mixture of impressive architectural marvels and sprawling botanical gardens.
Rent a Car for 2 Days Out of Melbourne
If you're an ambitious driver, you can tackle most of this adventure in a day, but if you like to take your time, renting a car for 2 days in Melbourne and heading south is a wonderful way to get acquainted with the more isolated side of Australia, especially if you're after glimpses of local wildlife in their natural habitat.
Koalas in Kennett River
The Kennett River area is about 3 hours south of Melbourne, and it hosts a variety of wild birds, but its more iconic residents are the koalas that live amongst the trees. The drive will take you along a beautiful coastline, so expect to make many stops along the way. If you're lucky enough to see some koalas and your fair share of cockatoos, head west for 30 minutes to Apollo Bay. It is a beautiful spot to get lunch, and from there you can decide if you'd like to extend your day or head back along the coast toward Melbourne.
Kangaroos in Halls Gap
If kangaroos are on your list, there's no better place to head than Halls Gap. Another 3 hour drive from Melbourne, Halls Gap is located up near the Grampians National Park, a beautiful, lush area home to a number of domestic and wild animals. The drive is beautiful, and the best time to see kangaroos are at dusk, but be careful, as wildlife is well known to cross the road at any given time!
Spend 3 Days in Melbourne
If you're a fan of thrift shopping (known locally as Op Shops), street art, and coffee, then do yourself a favor and spend three days in the actual city of Melbourne. With a multitude music venues, restaurants, and free public transportation in certain areas, the opportunities to get happily lost in the city are endless.
A great central hub to stay at on the cheap side is HabitatHQ in St. Kilda. If you ditch the rental car, you can easily access the airport via the SkyBus, and you can get to many interesting points in the city via the tram with a Myki card (available at most 7-11 and general convenience stores).
There truly is something for everybody in Melbourne. If you want to see incredible street art, head to Hosier Lane, which features a rotating gallery of some of the best street art in the world.
If you want to see music venues and feel like gambling, the Crown Casino is accessible just to the north. Also, don't forget to check out the mystifying Luna Park and nearby Philip's Island to see penguins come ashore with the setting sun.
No matter how long your journey is, you can't go wrong if you plan these two iconic cities and their surrounding areas into your trip. Of course, you can spend much more time in Australia to get a real feel of what the entire culture has to offer, but if you only have time for a quick holiday, this brief roadmap should help you collect a healthy variety of incredible experiences to take home with you!