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Travel reviews:
- Jessica's work trip of Australia.
- Robyn's dream holiday in Australia

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Flights from South Africa to Australia

The only direct flights to Australia are from Johannesburg to Perth (SAA) and from Johanesburg to Sydney (Qantas); however 1-stop fligths via the middle-east are usually cheaper. The way to make sure that you get on a cheap flight from South Africa to Australia is by:

To get from other parts of South Africa to Australia, first fly to Johannesburg (or fly to Cape Town), and then connect onto a flight to Australia.

SAA Flights to Australia

Following a 14 year partnership, Qantas Airline ended their relationship with South African Airways on the 21st February 2014 (they were nice enough not to do the dirty on Valentines day). It seems SAA's flirting with Virgin Australia may have precipitated the move. SAA was selling Qantas flights on codeshare from Johannesburg to Sydney, but this is now closed for sale. This follows SAA's decision to codeshare with Virgin Australia (they haven't officially linked it to that, and took pains to avoid mentioning Virgin Australia in their press release). Qantas is the big loser from this, as it's likely that those flying between Perth and Johannesburg on the codeshare will simply switch to booking via SAA (not many are going to do what Qantas suggest, and fly via Dubai). SAA can no longer book the Sydney to Johannesburg flight direct, but a 1-stop from Sydney to Johannesburg via Perth with Virgin Australia/SAA is a lot more appetising than flying from Perth to Johannesburg via Dubai (with Emirates). In addition, Qantas clients will no longer be able to book SAA's onward flights from Johannesburg to other destinations in South Africa. Qantas could possible partner with British Airways Comair in South Africa to make up for the loss of onward flights with SAA.

  • 6 Feb 2014. Virgin Australia and SAA enter into a codeshare agreement, whereby you can fly from Johannesburg to Adelaide, Melbourne or Brisbane via Perth.

News

  • 21 Sep 2010. Qantas introduces a 7th weekly flight between Johannesburg and Sydney.

Holiday in Australia

Robyn Horwitz tells us about her holiday in Australia:

I had always dreamt of visiting Australia one day, so when my best friend took an exchange program to study in Sydney for a year, I was beyond thrilled! I planned for a year in advance. I emailed friends that had immigrated to Melbourne and Gold Coast and excitedly included visits to them in my travel plans. I had the most delightful travel agent, Chantel, help me plan my trip exactly the way I wanted. I got my money together that I had saved through waitressing, hostessing, and promoting, as well as taking up a bartending job to save more. I didn't spend a cent of what I made- it all went straight into an investment account until the time came to pay for my flights and accommodation. I was very diligent- I needed to be; it was the first time I would be traveling internationally alone. On the 16th June 2011 I began my holiday on Singapore Airlines. The Johannesburg to Singapore leg was easy; I had the row of seats all to myself to lounge in and watch movies. I had planned on stopovers in Singapore; it was another country on my list that I intended to visit. The stopover before my flight to Melbourne was 4 hours of window shopping bliss! Changi airport is but a dream- three terminals each separated by a quick train trip. The largest of the Terminals, Terminal 2 overwhelmed me, big shiny tiles that mirrored the multitude of scintillating lights above the assortment of shops- La Senza, Burberry, Starbucks, Electronic shops, Perfume shops, Jewellery! All so tempting in their display. And in between the long stretch of shops- a Koi pond oasis!

The flight to Melbourne was less than pleasing. I had the middle seat between two sizeable men- needless to say; I lost the armrest battle. It was also an older plane than the previous, so the seats weren't as new and comfortable. No, they had been well worn. The television screens were also smaller, and since I battled to sleep on this flight, this was a big let down. However, nothing could dampen my spirits as we flew thousands of kilometres over the Indian Ocean. As we began our decent, I saw the glistening multicolored lights of Melbourne amongst the black night sky, out of the tiny plane window. My heart suddenly leapt in excitement and began to beat what felt like erratically. I could not wait to step out of the plane and into a different country- a different continent! Keith was waiting for me as I came out the terminal, sans the bouquet of flowers I had joked about. His friend George that I had met a few years before had the car running and we promptly left for a night on the town.

Melbourne

Melbourne is a great party venue; there are strips of pubs, restaurants and bars, buzzing on any weeknight. The
partygoers are a mixture of foreigners and locals, mingling and making new friends, if only for the night. A wild introduction to Keith's new home. Melbourne is also alive with art! The buildings are arty; the festivals held at
Federation Square are culturally adept, there is graffiti everywhere, there is a Museum, a Theatre- all within a few roads of each other. What intrigues me about this beautiful city are the alley ways, almost European with their cobblestone roads, there are hidden gems found down each one- a quaint bistro, a rad Rastafarian bar, a posh restaurant with a waiting list. Melbourne is exciting at every turn of the road.

Melbourne

The outskirts of the city centre are quieter and scenic; the bays are calm and lined with boats along long piers where we walked to gaze upon the beautiful blue horizon. Keith was a great host, he took me to shop in the biggest mall in the southern hemisphere, he treated me to hot chocolate at the Lindt café, he took me on a tram around town to find ice-cream and spoilt me with dinner where he cooked salmon. These moments were our down time, before we would go home, get changed and go out again.

Melbourne Skyline

After a whirlwind week of partying, drinking and dinners that culminated with a kiss, Keith dropped me off at the bus stop to begin the second leg of my holiday, in Cairns where I was meeting up with Chloe. The bus made it just on time for my check-in at the airport, I tired to squeeze in a few z's as we had got home from partying with just enough time for me to pack. I do not suggest partying before a flight- my hangover was horrific.

Cairns

Cairns was hot and humid compared to wintery, rainy Melbourne- and I had to wait for the bus to fetch and take me to the hostel. So far, I was not enthusiastic about landing in Cairns, but I would be seeing Chloe in a few hours and it would all be worth it again. As the bus drove from the airport to the hostel, I noted how vastly different Cairns is
to Melbourne. It is tropical, there are no big buildings, no highways, no suburbs, it is very spaced out with areas of open land between a couple of houses- and then suddenly a little town, and on the one end of town, our hostel.
The hostel looked good, there were pool tables and a swimming pool, a nice bar and braai area, the staff were all very welcoming and talkative, excitedly telling me of all the activities they are hosting at the hostel that week. I tried to settle into our room, there were three bunk beds, the bottom bunks all taken. The mattresses were cheap and thin; with cheap and thin blankets on them- they reminded me somewhat of old hospital beds. I had never stayed in a hostel before.

Chloe came in suddenly and we giggled and hugged each other tight. She introduced me to her Irish friend, Sharon, who had decided to join us. We left the hostel to explore the town. It was only a 20 minute walk around the whole town, it is tiny. However, there were many activities to keep us busy. The bars were very festive at night, buzzing with travellers from all over the world. We were excited to meet a group of South African boys at Gilligan's, where we also took part in a jelly wrestling competition (when in Rome). The Lady's night was a particularly rambunctious one. During the day we did tourist activities, we went on a tour of a rainforest and fed some kangaroos and wallabies. We went on a boat along the river and spotted some crocodiles. Our tour guide, John, was particularly entertaining, licking an ant as a practical show of a survival technique.

Great Barrier Reef

My favorite tour was going snorkeling and scuba diving along part of the Great Barrier Reef. The sea was a bit rough that day and I was concentrating on the horizon on the way out, feeling a bit sea sick. Once I got into my wetsuit, however, I was cured, armed with an underwater camera; I could have stayed underwater for hours. It was truly beautiful.

We said our goodbye's as I left for the third part of my holiday- The Gold Coast, to visit my friend Kyla. Chloe flew to Sydney where I would meet her in a few days time, and Sharon began her journey back home to Ireland, stopping over in parts of Europe.

Gold Coast

I flew into Brisbane and took the train to the Gold Coast, where I was met by Kyla's smiling face! It was definitely not winter in the Gold Coast, the weather was beautiful, sunny and warm, I found myself wishing I had brought sandals. The beaches were full of surfer boys, and sun-kissed girls. Kyla and I walked around Surfer's Paradise during the day;
we had lunch at restaurants and pubs along the beach, and met up with friends of hers for drinks. We had a rowdy party at Melba's the one night, and nursed our hangovers the following. The Gold Coast is a beach holiday vibe; compared to arty Melbourne and the tourist/ back packer vibe of Cairns. So far I had been to three very different parts of Australia, but I was itching to visit Sydney!

Don't underestimate the length of train trips!

After a short but well-rounded visit to the Gold Coast, I was finally on the train to Brisbane Airport to catch the plane to Sydney- the fourth and final stop in my Australian holiday. Unfortunately, Kyla and I underestimated the length of the train trip and I arrived at the airport, as my plane left. Damn. There was nothing I could do but laugh as I phoned Chloe to explain the situation, paid for another flight, and heard the announcement that (Murphy's Law) the plane is delayed!

Sydney

Flying over Sydney put the smile back on my face, the sea winding into the bays and beaches is glistening, deep blue and beautiful from a bird's eye view. I could not wait to go sight seeing and walk around the city I had always dreamt of.

flight over Sydney, Australia

Chloe lived in a little house, in a quaint little area outside the city. We were in walking distance of the train station and a few of the bus routes. I loved every minute of exploring Sydney; Chloe took me everywhere she could think of. We
walked around the University of Sydney where she was studying on exchange for the year. One of the main buildings is a beautiful Gothic Castle, complete with gargoyle gutters and statues in the garden. The almost secret graffiti tunnel is what got me really excited though.

graffiti tunnel in Sydney

We walked around Darling Harbour, enjoying Gelato, the warm sun and the beautiful view. I think we had Gelato almost everyday! We shopped at Paddy's Market, buying cheap clothes and nuts and presents for my friends and family. We
shopped at another market nearby the University, watched some strange eclectic bands in the park and bought fresh fruit at the market stalls.

eating gelato in Sydney

(Ed: without telling anybody much, we ran a challenge on Google+ to guess where the above photo was taken. In an incredible piece of detective work, Mike Smuts explains how he figured out it was at the Sydney Imax).

The Aquarium is the best I have ever seen. I was very pleased to see a Platypus, but it was unfortunately, quite challenging trying to photograph the little guy- they are very fast swimmers! The Manatee was also something to see, quite a strange looking mammal but very beautiful. Overall I found the animals in Australia very strange, though I had learnt about them it was a different story seeing them!

We went on a tour to The Blue Mountains, where we stopped off at Featherbrook Estate to see the weird and wonderful animals of Australia. The only animal we did not see was the apparently elusive Cassawary that we had missed in Cairns too. The Blue Mountains are named so, because they appear blue from a distance, just like Sandy beach is named because the beach is sandy and brain coral is named such because it resembles a brain, the same can be said for plate coral. At least this is the lesson we learnt on our very informative tour.

Sydney is just beautiful, everything about it, but I hadn't seen beauty like the Sydney Opera House. When we finally went to Sydney Harbour, past the fancy five star restaurants, I was in absolute awe. I could not believe I was standing in front of this magnificent piece of architecture that I had seen so many photographs of. It is a pity Macbeth was only showing in September or Chloe and I would have been to watch a show inside the Opera House too.

Sydney Opera House

Chloe did manage to surprise me with a theatre show. We went to watch Mary Poppins in the city centre. She took me out to her favourite sushi restaurant "Sushi Train" beforehand and we indulged in cheap sushi and wine before catching a bus to the theatre. It was a fun night out in the city and the show was great! It was slowly sinking in that my time left in Sydney was decreasing.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Sydney with my best friend, and was very heavy hearted when I had to leave. A taxi picked me up at 4am and I said goodbye to an incredible, unforgettable holiday in Australia! I had a stopover in Singapore before my flight home, so at least there was something to look forward to. On the flight over to Singapore I had read about a van Gogh and Salvadore Dali exhibition at the Marina Bay Sands Art and Science Museaum. So that was my plan of action when I got off the plane- find my way to the exhibition. The air was thick and warm in Singapore, humidity as I had never felt. The train trip to Marina Bay allowed me to see the landscape, lush green areas followed by tall dilapidated flats, with washing hanging over the balconies. An area of what looked like banana trees; and then the city, beautiful and clean buildings, glossy windows and winding, clean roads.

It would have been easy to find my way to the museum once I got off at the train station, had the people been friendly and helpful or my sense of direction not completely off. Instead of wasting time I called a taxi. The museum unfortunately does not allow photographs to be taken but seeing the work of Salvadore Dali, one of my favourite artists, was indescribable. I did not have time (or money for a taxi) to get to the other side of Singapore to see Orchard street, but what I did see of Singapore was beautiful. I walked along the double helix bridge over the sea, watched the boats go past and took in the beautiful lights of the buildings across the glossy black water. I walked down the streets, past the Singapore eye and back to the train station to get the train back to the airport. It was nice taking in the sights
and sounds and smells of a new place, I was proud to have planned such a wonderful holiday all by myself. These memories will be etched in my mind forever, and I would definitely love to visit Australia and Singapore again. It was the best holiday to date and I loved every minute, every moment, every sight I saw and everything I did.

Travel info

Time difference between Perth, Sydney & SA.

Perth

Sydney

South Africa

Map of Australia:

Australia - travel info for tourists

Australia is a distant land that beckons with its promise of a unique combination of wide open spaces, unearthly natural beauty and all the conveniences expected by the seasoned traveller. There are quite a few airlines that make regular journeys to Australia from destinations all over the globe.

Australia has its own airline, namely Qantas Airlines, but there are many different airlines that travel to and from Australia on a regular basis. The Star Alliance Group provides regular flights to Australia via Singapore Airlines and SAA from many different countries around the world.

Sydney airport is the international gateway to this far-flung land, but each territory has a host of airports to make reaching your destination easier. There are airports as far a-field as Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Broome, Canberra, Hobart, Newcastle, Brisbane, Townsville, Hoxton, Coolangatta, Camden, Cairns, Bankstown, Avalon and Alice Springs.

Australia is a diverse and beautiful country with many interesting species of native fauna and flora and a unique climate that lends itself to the intriguing biodiversity of this country. Of the man-made wonders, the Sydney Opera House is probably the most famous Australian landmark and a visit is most definitely in order. This amazing structure with its unique architecture was first opened to the public in October 1973 by Queen Elizabeth II. It is the busiest venue on the planet, hosting over three thousand shows each year to cater to an audience in excess of two million people. The guided tours alone bring over two hundred thousand people to its doors every year.

The Sydney harbour bridge is another major attraction. It can boast that it is the largest steel arch bridge anywhere in the world, reaching to 134 meters above sea level. It has been operational since 1934 and visitors can partake in a daily bridge climb which embarks either at dawn, twilight or after dark to allow visitors spectacular views of the harbour and surrounding city.

Uluru, or Ayer’s Rock, beckons from the far reaches of the northern territory and is the world’s largest sandstone monolith, or single piece of rock. It reaches to 348 metres above the surrounding desert scrub and has an elliptical circumference of 9.4 kilometres. The local people attach spiritual importance to this location and it has a mystical quality as it changes colour depending on the quality of the light.

The Great Barrier Reef, found off the coast of Queensland, is without a doubt the largest coral reef on the planet. It covers an area of over 300,000 square kilometres and is so vast that it is visible from outer space! It is home to untold species of marine life and is visited annually by more than two million people.

If you are visiting Australia a place that definitely deserves a visit is the Royal Botanic Gardens which are located in Sydney. They were first established by Governor Bligh in 1816 and cover an astonishing 30 hectares they are home to 7500 species of plant life. Not only a place of extreme natural beauty, they offer wonderful views of Sydney Harbour and the Opera House and present art instruction and various guided tours during the year.

Another must see destination is Port Arthur in Tasmania. In 1830 it was founded as a penal settlement and was used as a lumber station which was eventually abandoned during the 1870’s. The original buildings still stand and are a popular tourist attraction.

Coober Pedy is easily the opal capital of the world. The opal mine was established way back in 1915 and is unique in the fact that many of its residents live underground all year around due to the oppressive heat experienced in the region. Before the days of air-conditioning the only way to escape the heat was to build residences underground, where it was cooler. Tourists are able to visit the mines and take a tour through a variety of underground buildings, including a church, before spending the night in an underground motel.

The nature reserve of Kangaroo Island in South Australia is home to the oldest European settlement called Reeves Point and offers the visitor a unique and beautiful natural setting. Many different species of animal reside in the region and there are interesting caves and curious rock formations that are worth a visit. The Bungle Bungles located in the Purnululu National Park in Western Australia are a natural part of the landscape.

Made from naturally occurring sandstone, they are oddly beehive shaped structures that were only discovered by the outside world in the 1980’s due to their remote location. They are situated 250 kilometres from Kununurra along roads that are only passable by 4x4 vehicle, so this is a fun adventure for those with a bit of an adventurous spirit. The surrounding landscape offers the Echidna Chasm, the Cathedral and the Piccaninny Gorge for the hiking enthusiast.

Castle Hill in Townsville, Queensland is another destination in Australia that is well worth a visit. Similar to Uluru, Castle Hill is a huge boulder of pink granite rock that presents a wonderful vantage point for those who want to enjoy spectacular views of the coastline and the town below. Easily accessible via paved road, it was used as a military base in World War II. There is a bunker built into the hill and battlements were placed here during the years of the war.

The country is really a larger than life experience, with every natural element to it being larger and more impressive than anywhere else in the world. The native people of Australia have many legends woven into the fabric of the land and the Australian people are warm and welcoming. The climate is one of interesting extremes, divided into what is known as the dry and the wet.

Australia is home to some of the most unique species of plant and animal life in the world and is a vast landmass covering 7686849 square kilometres of some of the most untamed country in the world.

Work trip to Australia

17 May 2013. Qantas rating: 5/5. What excitement it was to receive a call from a Soweto Gospel Choir producer, delegated a task to travel Australia's states for a week to do publicity before the choir took a tour. The visas, tickets and accommodation were paid for. I just had to present myself, my African image and my performing talent skills.  My bags and African hairstyle was in order 2 hours before the time of the shuttle pick up. My boss was impressed....I did not want to miss the experience. She kept on looking at my luggage....but not raising any issue around it. We arrived at the international departures....come the time to weigh the luggage it was 33kgs....so everyone was embarrassed but I did not know what it meant. Money was demanded from my boss to pay for the extra kilo....but the airport cashier could read through my smile that airport luggage rules had not been highlighted to me. She noticed that we were travelling in a group of 7 and suggested that we should combine the luggage as others were traveling light. Ow, being teased by my colleagues all the way to boarding, telling me that I have brought umleqwa "home slaughtered cornish hen" and idombolo "homemade dumplings". I was so annoyed and embarrassed. I slept immediately in the flight because the previous night I had been filled with anxiety and could not sleep well. The flight took off. In my deep sleep 45 minutes felt like 2 hours, and my colleagues woke me up in the face of a white Australian hostess who was rolling her tongue like some British professor....I noticed that she was giving me food options....and at that point I was still drowning with sleepiness and in a second I became shy to speak English...."rise the rural girl in me with low self esteem towards english communication." I noticed that I had a second to answer....instead of choosing between chicken and beef I just said "No pork".....the hostess just smiled while my colleagues were chuckling.....ow what a journey to Down Under.....

Jessica

Languages

English is widely spoken in Australia.

You may want to time your visit to avoid public holidays, so as to reduce travel costs (or to coincide with them, to join in the fun!). This is a list of national public holidays, but the individual states also declare their own public holidays!

  • 1 January (New Years Day)

  • 26 January (Australia Day)

  • 26 April (Anzac Day)

Floating Dates:

  • 25 December

  • 26 December

Here's where you can check the public holidays on a state by state basis:

Here's a link to find the dates of the school holidays in Australia.

At least as far as the risk of terrorism & political violence goes. Australia is one of the safest countries according to this study by Aon:

check country risk before travelling

Visa Requirements

Check latest visa requirements with the Australian High Commission in Pretoria - their phone number is 012-423-6000 and they are situated at 292 Orient Street, Arcardia, Pretoria. Note that the Australian High Commission is closed on Australian Public Holidays.

South Africans don't require a visa in their passports to visit Australia since November 2012, as all visa information is stored electronically and made available when passports are swiped at check-in.

South African High Commission in Australia
  • Physical address: Rhodes Place, State Circle, Yarralumla, Canberra

  • Email :

  • Phone number : +61-2-6272-7300




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