It might be halfway round the world, yet it’s anything but out of reach. Thanks to the variety and availability of cheap flights to Australia, you could be exploring the submarine wonders of the Great Barrier Reef, laughing your socks off at the Adelaide Fringe Festival, thrilling to cutting-edge artworks in the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, or hitting the beaches and theme parks of the Gold Coast – all in around 24 hours from UK airports.
With so many Brits having friends and relations Down Under, there’s always a steady demand for flights – but with a little forward planning you can still bag some great deals, thanks to healthy competition among the major airlines. If cheap tickets are your first priority, it makes sense to avoid the Christmas/New Year holiday period, when family get-togethers combined with the lure of winter sunshine bring peak prices. Sydney’s hugely popular Mardi Gras Pride festival held over 2 weeks in February/March means flights to the New South Wales capital are at a premium. Remember that the seasons in Australia run counter to Europe, so book your trip during the UK summer months for the best low-season bargains, or enjoy the warmth of an Australian spring in October/November. Consider flying a less popular route or choose a mid-week slot if your travel plans are flexible. Alternatively, schedule in an overnight stop to take advantage of cheaper, off-peak flight times.
There are currently no direct flights to Australia from the UK, but the choice of convenient and time-saving one-stop routes is as wide as the outback itself, with many carriers competing for this lucrative market. You don’t need to travel from London for the best options, either – for example Emirates offers economically priced flights via Dubai to the popular hub of Sydney from UK regional airports including Birmingham, while Etihad flies from Manchester to Perth via Abu Dhabi. Or go with one of the more unusual itineraries on the departure board, such as China Southern’s service from London Heathrow to Brisbane via Guangzhou. Take the fastest route from London Heathrow to Melbourne in under 23 hours courtesy of Air India via New Delhi, or hop over to Adelaide via Kuala Lumpur with Malaysia Airlines.
Australia is a country that’s used to welcoming independent travellers from all corners of the globe, so you’ll find a comprehensive network of public transport options at all its international airports. Sydney Airport, for example – the country’s busiest – provides a direct train service into the city centre, and will even rent you a bike for the 5-mile journey. Cairns, the principal hub for visitors to the Great Barrier Reef, one of Australia’s biggest tourist draws, runs shuttle bus transfers to the city centre and the beaches. Perth is the gateway to the huge expanse of Western Australia, so if you land at this airport you may find it tempting to hire a self-drive car to explore where the spirit takes you.
According to its national anthem, Australia “abounds in nature’s gifts of beauty rich and rare”, and alongside its natural wonders you’ll find sophisticated cities with world-class cultural attractions, fabulous sporting facilities and friendly communities. From the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne, the first landmark in Australia to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to the iconic Sydney Opera House, the teeming marine conservation zone of the Great Barrier Reef to the sun-bleached outback of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park with its mythical red rock, this is a country of wild extremes that’s impossible to take in on a single visit. Like the boomerang, you’ll need to return!
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