Fourth in the series, after The Most Colorful Cities In The World, The Most Colorful Cities In North America, and The Most Colorful Cities In Europe we are now heading down under to Australia and New Zealand. And the format for this installment changes a little because there are some really colorful places here, but they are not necessarily cities.
Unlike in Europe, in Australia, we are looking at amazing landscapes, quirky sights, wonders of nature, and yes, some cities and towns, but all definitely qualify as colorful.
I was lucky enough to call Australia home for a few years and have traveled extensively throughout this country-continent. It’s a long way from everywhere, so once you find yourself in the so-called Land Down Under, you have to make the most of it.
Here are my favorite colorful spots to stick on your to-do list for your trip to Australia.
1. Uluru, Red Centre, Northern Territory
The monolith Uluru, formerly known as Ayers Rock, lies in a region called the Red Centre in Australia’s Northern Territory. Just as the rock itself is a deep earthen red, displaying various shades of red to glowing orange depending on the angle of the sun, the entire region is covered in red sand -- with a few green shrubs dotted throughout, but not enough to distract from the red color. The best way to appreciate the red expanse is by scenic helicopter flights, but you also get a great view from your window seat if you are flying into the small local airport. The entire Red Centre is a landscape unlike any other, with many more natural attractions besides Uluru, so be prepared to spend a few days exploring.
Pro Tips: One of my most magical experiences in the Red Centre was the Sounds of Silence, an alfresco dinner of top-notch food accompanied by champagne and wine pairings, at sunset with Uluru on the horizon. You listen to local lore, music, and experience quite a magical evening.
Hooked on monoliths? Here are nine monoliths around the world.
2. Hosier Lane, Melbourne, Victoria
One of the first things I did when I moved to Melbourne was to go on a walking tour taking in the famous street art displayed in the city’s ever-changing laneways. The city center’s walls are a colorful art gallery exhibiting some of the world’s best-known street artists. Not only are the laneways the best place to learn about Melbourne, find great little restaurants and individual shops, but they also make for a special atmosphere, and there are constantly artists at work updating the city’s canvas. The most special is Hosier Lane, in which not a single brick has been left unsprayed or pasted. Whether you are a street art fan or not, this urban way of expression is very much part of Melbourne and should not be missed.
Pro Tip: While in Hosier Lane, make sure you pop into MoVida, probably my favorite restaurant in Melbourne, and that is saying something. Great location, fun setting, and superb Spanish food.
3. Brighton Beach, Victoria
Just down the road from where I lived were the gorgeous Brighton Bathing Boxes lining the beach of the Melbourne suburb of Brighton. Eighty-two wooden huts stand in a row, each one painted differently. Probably the most often photographed one is the one painted in the Australian flag, but each one is just lovely. Dating back to 1862, the huts are thought to have started as storage and shelter for fishermen, but when the Victorians took to swimming in the sea, they soon became huts in which to get changed and rest with a cup of tea. A huge outcry was heard around the globe when one of the huts sold in 2015 for a staggering $337,000 -- and it is not even legal to live in them.
Pro Tip: Down along the beach by the pier and yacht club is the Middle Brighton Baths, a great restaurant with views right across the bay and of the Melbourne skyline.
4. Kuranda, Far North Queensland
Snuggled into the mountains near Cairns in northern Queensland, just south of the Daintree Rainforest, lies the small town of Kuranda. Originally settled by the indigenous Djabugay people, who called the place Ngunbay, or “Place of the Platypus,” in 1888, Kuranda became a vacation and honeymoon hotspot after it was connected to the railway. Even Alexander Graham Bell spent a holiday here back in 1910. Today, Kuranda is an artistic community leftover from the 1960s. It’s a thriving art hub that attracts visitors from around the globe.
The town is colorful in so many ways: from the artists who live and work there to the art itself, from the bustling arts and craft markets to the small houses lining the high street. It makes for a great and vibrant day out from the coast of the Great Barrier Reef, and you’ll come back with lovely souvenirs.
Pro Tip: By far the best way to reach Kuranda is by Skyrail Cableway, setting off from the Caravonica terminal some 15 minutes by road from Cairns and then returning on the lovely Kuranda Scenic Railway. Treat yourself to the Gold Class on the train and enjoy the views over some snacks and a glass of wine.
5. Paddington, Sydney
Paddington is a dream neighborhood in Sydney, full of old Victorian lace buildings painted in an array of pastel colors. It also has great little restaurants, cafes, boutiques, and, if you are in the right spot, fabulous views across Sydney Harbour. Alas, the painted houses come at a steep price, but there is nothing stopping you from meandering the streets and dreaming about how you would decorate your house, right? Walking around, you get the distinct feeling of being in a village far away from the big city, yet, Paddington (or Paddo, as the locals call it) sits neatly between the city center and Bondi Beach, with easy access to both via the 380 or 333 busses, which run along the main drag of Oxford Street.
Pro Tip: Pop into Paddington Alimentari, a deli/cafe where you get not only good coffee but some superb Italian snacks, perfect for a picnic on Bondi Beach.
6. Mount Martha, Victoria
Just along from Melbourne, down the Mornington Peninsula famous for its beaches and vineyards, lies Mount Martha. And Mount Martha, a beach community with stunning views across the entire Port Phillip Bay to Melbourne, has more bathing boxes.
Not to bore you, but there are two different types of bathing boxes -- both colorful and picturesque, especially set against the turquoise water. There are those similar to the Brighton Bathing Huts, but also more square bathing boxes that are slightly raised off the ground and reached by stairs. If you are a keen photographer, you can get some great pictures here, with the pops of colors on the white beaches. And don’t just look around Mount Martha, roughly the midpoint on the coastline, because there are boxes to be found all along the Port Phillip shore between Mount Eliza all the way down to Portsea, but not on the opposite side of the peninsula.
Pro Tip: Make it a road trip, setting off from Melbourne, driving past Brighton, all the way down the Mornington Peninsula, across the small opening of the nearly circular bay by ferry from Sorrento to Queenscliff, and up along the Bellarine Peninsula back to Melbourne. You can easily do it in a day, but if you can stay the night along the way, even better.
7. Hobart, Tasmania
The island of Tasmania is one of the hidden spots of Australia that few tourists make it to. Those who don’t are missing out. You can either take a short flight between Melbourne and Tasmania’s capital, Hobart, or take the overnight ferry from Melbourne (but be warned, the crossing can be rough at times). Once you reach Hobart, you will find a city reminiscent of Reykjavik, full of colorful residences, a small but perfect fishing harbor, a great weekend market, and a gateway to the rest of this still very wild island.
Pro Tip: While the colorful buildings of Hobart are evident throughout, if you climb Mount Kunanyi (Mount Wellington), you will have the entire city -- and, in fact, the entire island -- at your feet. There is also a hop-on, hop-off bus tour, if you are pushed for time.
8. Adelaide, South Australia
The first time I flew into Adelaide was during jacaranda season in November, i.e., spring in Australia. Looking down on the city, I spotted countless streets highlighted in purple. I later found out that these were streets lined with jacaranda trees, all in magnificent bloom, turning the entire city purple. An amazing natural spectacle with a little help from town planners. You will spot them everywhere as you explore this lovely city, the capital of South Australia, but especially around the southern suburbs of Millswood, Goodwood, and Unley, and along Grote Street.
9. Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, Rotorua, New Zealand
While you are in Australia, you really should hop across to New Zealand to spend some time. For some unusual colorful sights, head straight to the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. This is a truly otherworldly place, a site of volcanic activity with bubbling mud, sulphuric springs, strange pools, and the ever-lingering foul-egg smell in the air. Lovely. But seriously, it is amazing. And colorful. The Devil’s Bath, for example, is a neon yellow, while Lake Ngakoro is more a really shrill green. The more-subtly colored champagne pool is, well, champagne colored, complete with bubble action, but with a deep orange hem. Colors and smells galore.
Pro Tips: Obviously, you are not only popping over to New Zealand to see this. Don’t miss the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, which stun you with their glowing subtle blue light in the dark caves. And if you’re staying a while, here’s a great 14-day itinerary through New Zealand.