With Western Australia's borders set to reopen to Victoria and New South Wales on Tuesday, the country is almost completely connected again. This means after many months of coronavirus restrictions, we can truly start to explore all of Australia - so where to start? You probably have a few places on your wishlist, but here are some other ideas for special Aussie experiences in each state and territory.
New South Wales
For a memorable group holiday, hire a houseboat at Moama and cruise along the mighty Murray River, lined with gum trees and small heritage towns. Throw a line in the water, jump in for a dip, and pop into town for a country-style meal when you can't be bothered to cook onboard.
Or you could feel like a Hollywood star and fly over to Lord Howe Island to stay at Island House, the luxurious lodge that recently hosted Chris Hemsworth and his family. If you prefer simpler accommodation, there are other options on the island you can use as a base for hikes through the cloud forest and swims in the calm lagoon.
You'll find wonders all along Western Australia's extensive coast, but one of the most spectacular spots is Ningaloo Reef, where you can snorkel amongst vibrant coral off the beach, or go deeper to swim with whale sharks, humpbacks, and orcas. For luxury in the sand dunes, stay at the exclusive Sal Salis beach safari camp where you'll wake to sounds of the local wildlife.
Or grab a car for a 2000-kilometre road trip known as the 'South West Edge' from Perth, through wineries at Margaret River, to the moving National Anzac Centre in Albany, across the white sands at Esperance, and past the incredible granite formation of Wave Rock.
In the Northern Territory, challenge yourself with the Larapinta Trail, a walking route through the ancient landscape of the West MacDonnell Ranges near Alice Springs, full of fascinating Indigenous heritage and striking natural formations. You can trek as much of the 230 kilometres as you want independently - or join Australian Walking Holidays for a comfortable six-day experience.
To see another of the territory's captivating regions, join a tour of Arnhem Land to explore billabong wetlands, rainforests, and ancient escarpments. There are plenty of opportunities to learn more about the Indigenous culture and Lirrwi Tourism is offering exclusive five-day experiences for female visitors to connect with the Yolngu sisterhood.
There are countless ways to experience the beautiful Queensland water but for something different, book a combo package with Fraser Island Boat Charters to sleep on a private luxury yacht and then be picked up to go for a full day of fishing where you might even snag a Black Marlin.
For something more relaxing, head to the Gold Coast hinterland and allow yourself to be pampered at Gwinganna retreat, where you can revitalise your mind and body with sunrise yoga, a massage at the spa, and the healthy menu - all amongst the peaceful rainforest with views to the ocean.
In Canberra, see some of the country's top institutions like never before. At the National Gallery of Australia, take an exclusive after-hours tour of the most important works then have dinner in a private dining room overlooking Lake Burley Griffin. At the National Museum of Australia, a museum curator can give you a private tour with lunch, or you can splurge for the behind-the-scenes tour that also takes you off-site to the special storage facilities. Even Parliament House has a special tour offering access to off-limits areas with a peek at the Parliamentary Art and Furniture Collections, and a dining experience normally reserved for dignitaries.
The news may have flown under the radar a bit, but Bendigo was announced as Australia's first UNESCO City of Gastronomy a year ago because of the rich concentration of food and wine culture, particularly Indigenous food. You can explore the region's cuisine on a road trip, stopping at wineries, chocolatiers, farms, and hatted restaurants.
Speaking of road trips, without the international crowds, there's never been a better time to drive the Great Ocean Road. There's more than just the main route and you can even do a multi-day walk. Treat yourself to a stay in the luxury off-grid Sky Pods with panoramic views of the Otways.
Speaking of luxury, this could be the moment to stay at Saffire Freycinet, an incredible resort of distinctive designs blending in with the environment. With a spa and world-class restaurant, you may not want to leave the property, but it's worth exploring the pink granite peaks and secluded bays of Freycinet National Park.
For a cultural experience, head to Mona in Hobart - but don't do it like most visitors. Instead, book the Rockstar Afternoon with cocktails, a three-course feast, and exclusive access to artworks. If you've got a spare $50,000, choose the ultimate experience with private jet transfers and dinner with the museum's owner, David Walsh.
If you're like me and have trouble choosing your favourite South Australian winery, join one of Inspiring Journey's five-day tours taking you through the Barossa, Adelaide Hills, and McLaren Vale to taste the best drops around Adelaide. You could do it yourself but driving takes some of the fun out of the experience.
Or, if you'd prefer to be more active, put on your boots for the four-day Arkaba Walk in the Flinders Ranges through outback landscapes with kangaroos and emus. You can choose to sleep in a swag under the stars or back at the Heritage Homestead.
Michael Turtle will be bringing you new ideas each week for travel within Australia. You can see more details on his Travel Australia Today website.