Covering a total area of 7.69 million square kilometres, mainland Australia is the world's largest island - but smallest continent. That said, Australia is big - in distance, the continent stretches about 3700 kilometres from north to south and 4000 kilometres from east to west, making it the sixth-largest nation after Russia, Canada, China, the United States and Brazil.
Because it stretches through numerous climate zones - from tropical to temperate - Australia offers a diversity of environments, scenery and climatic conditions rarely found elsewhere in a single destination. Whatever your areas of interest - sightseeing, natural attractions, historical places, outdoor activities - chances are you can see it or do it somewhere in Australia.
Where Do You Start?
Sydney and Melbourne are Australia's two largest cities and they are also the most popular arrival and departure points for overseas visitors. If you have limited time, visiting one or both of them will give you a real taste of what Australia is about. But don't think that by seeing them you have seen it all - they are simply the gateways to a continent full of interesting destinations - from snowfields to hot deserts; coral reefs to inland mountain ranges; tropical jungles to temperate rainforests.
Australia is comprised of six states and two territories. Each has a capital city which functions as a stepping off point from which to explore that state's attractions.
New South Wales
Australian Capital Territory
Lord Howe Island
Best Time To Go
Because Australia is so large, it has many different climate zones, some of which are best avoided by visitors at certain times of the year. We identify those zones, and nominate the best time of the year to travel to and through them. These equate to each region's peak tourist season.
As a very broad rule of thumb, the northern parts of Australia are best visited between April and October. Treat the southern parts of Australia as all-year-round destinations.