A traveller's overview of Australia’s main cities

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With so many different places in Australia to choose from, it’s hard to figure out where to start. Which cities are popular choices? What are their main attractions – what’s their character?

Let’s examine some of the country’s largest to help you prepare for your next Aussie road trip holiday.

Sydney, NSW
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Sydney, the capital of New South Wales, is the country’s largest and most famous city. We all know and love it thanks to its renowned attractions, such as the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, Darling Harbour entertainment area and Bondi Beach – one of the best surf spots you’ll ever find.

Melbourne, VIC
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The Victorian capital, Melbourne, was founded on the backdrop of a massive gold rush. Now it’s a tremendously cultural place, with some of the best festivals in the nation, not to mention great examples of 19th century architecture, preserved and restored.

Brisbane, QLD
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Need a gateway to both the Gold and Sunshine Coast? Visit Queensland’s capital of Brisbane, which itself is a hub of commerce and tourism. South Bank in particular, just below the CBD, is well-known for its unique attractions, such as the country’s only inner-city beach.

Perth, WA
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You aren’t confined to the east coast when you visit Oz. Why not hire a rental car in Perth, the capital of Western Australia? This Outback oasis is the nation’s sunniest place, and is a veritable marine playground – from swimming to surfing to animal watching. Plus the famous Aussie desert is right next door!

Adelaide, SA
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With its Mediterranean climate and laid-back vibes, Adelaide (capital of South Australia) is a popular holiday spot. It’s also next to the most productive wine regions in Australia, such as the Barossa Valley, which is just one reason this city is a culinary dreamland.

Canberra, ACT
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To learn more about Australia as a nation – its culture, its history, its politics – visit the national capital, Canberra. The Australian War Memorial is here, as well as the National Gallery of Australia and Parliament House. Plus, there are plenty of other galleries and museums, so you’ll never be far from learning a new local story.

Gold Coast, QLD
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The Gold Coast is where modern skyscrapers stand right next to world-class beaches. This city is one of the top holiday destinations in Australia thanks to its many surfing spots, luxury resorts, theme parks and animal encounters.

Newcastle, NSW
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Just over two hours north of Sydney is a popular, relaxed city: Newcastle. It is one of Australia’s oldest settlements, meaning it’s home to many fascinating historical landmarks. Add this to the sparkling coastline and proximity to Hunter Valley wine and you’ve got a recipe for road trip magic.

Sunshine Coast, QLD
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North of Brisbane, you’ll find the other seaside city of your dreams: Sunshine Coast. This is where you can come to relax amidst local wildlife, exploring beaches, sprawling national parks and other excellent natural wilderness areas. World-famous Australia Zoo is also nearby!

Cairns, QLD
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Up in Tropical North Queensland, hire an unlimited-kilometre rental car in Cairns to gain unparalleled access to not just the UNESCO Wet Tropics area, but also the natural world wonder of the Great Barrier Reef. The rainforests around Cairns are as old as time, and the sheer diversity of coral and fish species in the Reef will leave you breathless (and not just because you’re underwater on a diving trip).

Ballarat, VIC
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Ballarat is VIC’s most populous in-land city, and is another settlement borne from the world’s biggest gold rush. Heritage buildings abound here, including Aussie’s oldest, largest art gallery and the 19th century Her Majesty’s Theatre. See history still standing as you drive along to a gold panning attraction or unique walking trail.