4CLIMATEIn the southern half of Australia the seasons areusually the opposite of those in the northernhemisphere: spring comes in September,summer is from December to February, autumnruns from March to May, and winter begins inJune. In contrast, the tropical climate of thenorth coast is more clearly divided into a wetseason from November to April and a dryseason - possibly the best time to travel - fromMay to September. The Northern Territory's TopEnd has a distinct wet season between Januaryand March, and although this can bespectacular the build up to the rains can beuncomfortably humid. Central Australia, whichhas little heavy rain at any time of year, ishottest from November to February and at itsbest between March and May, when days arewarm and evenings cool.TOURINGOften it is more relaxing for someone else to dothe driving to cover Australia's vast distances,and we can arrange coach travel between themajor cities for those who prefer not to fly. Wealso explore a number of different areas onsmall-group, guided itineraries using luxuryminivans fitted out for your comfort. With askilled guide on hand trained in local history andflora and fauna, these are often the best way toget Australia to reveal its finest secrets. Whethertouring the Outback on foot, the DaintreeRainforest by 4WD vehicle or canoe, or the BlueMountains by light aircraft you can be assuredthat the best touring companies in Australia willenhance your understanding and enjoyment.GUIDESAustralia is home to so many natural wondersand historical curiosities that a knowledgeableand enthusiastic guide can add immeasurably tothe experience. We pride ourselves on usingonly the best guides, all highly trained andaware of ecological, environmental and culturalsensitivities. In many cases they have ecologicalaccreditations from the Australian governmentand operate only on a private or small groupbasis, minimising the impact on the sites visitedand avoiding the crowds.Prairie Hotel, Flinders RangesGuided safarisACCOMMODATIONThe range of accommodation in Australia is asdiverse as the landscape itself. In the big citiesyou can stay in boutique properties, often inrestored historic buildings, luxury hotels withiconic views, bed & breakfast guesthousestucked away in unlikely city centre locations orcharming small establishments well away fromthe hustle and bustle. Farmstays are perfect forthose keen to taste rural Australian lifestyles,while Outback Stations in the country's mostremote and beautiful locations let you spot theunique native wildlife, muster cattle or explorerock art with an Aboriginal guide. There arepermanent tented camps for those in search ofpristine locations, while the Great Barrier Reef isa paradise for snorkelling, diving, cruising or justspoiling yourself. Throughout the brochure youwill find some of our favourite places to stay,these are just a taste of the many available.
INTRODUCTIONREGION |5GETTING AROUNDThere are many options for getting aroundAustralia, but the sheer distances involved oftenmake it best to combine air and ground travel.Whilst these sections may help you make yourdecisions, the best thing to do is call one of ourspecialists as they will use their on-the-ground-knowledge to tailor-make an itinerary that bestfits your wishes and requirements. RAILAustralia has some spectacular rail journeys,including the epic Indian Pacific (Perth toSydney) and The Ghan (Adelaide to Darwin) -page 56. Both trains offer sleeper carriages for acomfortable, stylish journey. A good network ofrailway lines extends up along the entire eastcoast, with the spectacular thousand mile routebetween Brisbane and Cairns being covered bythe advanced Tilt Train, offering business classseating with airline-style entertainment systemsand restaurant car dining. Australia's trains arean excellent way to cover great distanceswithout taking to the air and it is well worthmaking a rail journey part of your visit.SELF-DRIVEDriving is a pleasure on Australia's scenic, safeand uncrowded roads. We usually arrange foryou to be met at the airport and taken to yourhotel, where a hire car will be delivered. Self-drive combines well with internal flights: weensure a car is waiting so you can be on theroad as soon as you land. We will book all ofyour accommodation in advance and provideyou with clear driving instructions and a goodroad atlas, leaving you to enjoy the drive. Someroads may be worse than they look on the mapand car insurance is invalid in certain areas sowe recommend discussing routes and drivetimes with our Australia specialists.MOTORHOMESThe freedom to explore at your own pace andstop wherever you want make motorhomes aperfect way to see Australia. We have details ofthe many options, including size of van,insurance cover options and suggesteditineraries. It is worth remembering that you donot need to commit yourself to motorhome hirethroughout your trip: it can be a good optionfor a week touring the Margaret River area orthe Great Ocean Road, while in other parts ofthe country you may wish to drive aconventional car or consider other transportoptions. Our specialists can talk you through thechoices and practicalities but the one essential,especially in high season, is to book in advance.RESPONSIBLE TOURISMWe are passionate about the countries wespecialise in and naturally take a responsibleapproach to the way we operate in theseregions, and try to maximise the benefits thattourism can bring to the local community. Weare working with AITO's Responsible Tourismteam and other organisations to ensure that ourown policies and commitments are effective. Wehave been awarded three stars, the maximumachievable, by AITO in recognition of ourresponsible tourism policies. We have drawn upa comprehensive 'Responsible Tourism' policywhich summarises our commitments andactions, with more details available on ourwebsite or on request. If you are interested invisiting a community tourism project or a localcharity, please contact your specialist, who willbe happy to try to fit it into your itinerary. Manypeople find that a trip to a small communitytourism project is a good way of getting off thebeaten track and really learning somethingabout the country and its people.FINANCIALSECURITYYou can book with us in confidence, knowingthat we are fully bonded with the Civil AviationAuthority and hold an Air Tour OperatorsLicense (ATOL 4817). This fully covers allholidays that involve air travel. If you are usingAudley to arrange the 'land only' part of yourtrip then you will be protected by our TravelOrganisers Failure Cover insurance policy.TERMS AND CONDITIONS,AND TRAVEL INSURANCEYour booking is subject to the Terms andConditions of Audley Travel, which are detailedin a separate leaflet. It is vital that you haveadequate travel insurance and we are able tooffer a number of policies either for theduration of your trip or on an annual basis.Driving through the Goldfields