Home Airport Spotting Guide 10 Plane Spotting Highlights in Australia

10 Plane Spotting Highlights in Australia

by Matt Falcus
Mitchul Hope

Australia is an incredible destination for a holiday or for pursuing your plane spotting hobby.

Here, the vast distances between parts of the country, as well as the industrial activities which go on in the interior, mean air travel is common and many airlines operate some interesting routes and aircraft.

Australia is also a country which considers aircraft preservation important, and so you will find many museums and collections to visit.

Here are 10 highlights for plane spotters in Australia.


Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport

The busiest airport in Australia, and the main gateway to the country for international travellers. While Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth are also important, it’s Sydney which welcomes the most visitors.

As a result, you’ll find the greatest number of aircraft movements and a greater mix of airlines flying in from across Australia, as well as Asia, Africa, Europe (via stops for the time being) and the Americas.

Thankfully spotting is easy and encouraged at Sydney. The airport provides an official viewing location in the centre of the airfield, known as Shep’s Mound. The location has parking and raised areas to give you unobstructed photography opportunities above the fenceline. Its all-round views make it good throughout the day. To reach the spot follow Ross Smith Ave from the domestic terminal area (behind the DHL buildings) all the way to the end.

You can also view from the nearby beach, accessed off General Holmes Drive after passing underneath the runway, signposted Airport View/Cooks River. Here sunbathing and aircraft photography are the order of the day!

Finally, the Rydges Hotel near the International Terminal is a great place to stay, with spotter packages allowing access to the panoramic terrace during the day, and rooms with views.

Plane Spotting in Sydney



Perth Airport

Photo (c) Luke McConville

Perth is the busiest airport in Western Australia and a major hub for domestic travel as well as links throughout Asia and to Africa and the Middle East.

A nice mix of airlines serve the airport, though naturally Australian carriers dominate. Also, due to the amount of mining operations in this part of Australia, Perth Airport handles large numbers of charter flights to remote airfields supporting these activities. Principal operators are Alliance Airlines, Qantas, Skippers Aviation and Virgin Australia.

Atop the International Terminal, on the eastern side of the airport, is the official viewing deck. The views are perfect for any aircraft using that terminal, and you can see all movements on the runways. However, you are some distance from aircraft using the western terminals.

Meanwhile, off Dunreath Drive the airport has constructed a viewing platform alongside the runway 03 threshold which is free to enter and gets you close to the action. The area is open 6.30am to 7pm (October to March) and 7.30am to 5.30pm (April to September). The location is too far to see aircraft parked at the terminals, or using the smaller runway 06/24.




Sydney Bankstown

Photo (c) BeauGiles

Sydney’s second airport, at Bankstown, is largely a general aviation hub 14 miles east of downtown and Kingsford Smith Airport.

Despite only having a couple of airline routes from Toll Aviation, Bankstown is presently the fourth busiest airport in the country, so worth a visit if you’re not just into airliners. There are often smaller airliners and bizjets present.

Spotting is best if you have a car and can drive around the perimeter logging what you see through the fence as there are lots of parking areas and hangars.


Qantas Founders Museum

Located in Longreach, Queensland, the Qantas Outback Founders Museum opened in 1996 as a museum to the history of Qantas and Australian aviation.

Hamilton. The Reg Ansett Museum. He founded Ansett Airlines one of the two major Australian airlines until the 1990s. The other was Qantas.

Situated in the original 1920s Qantas hangar at this remote airfield, today it houses many historic aircraft and artefacts and is a great place to visit.

Among the aircraft on display are a Boeing 707-138B, 747-200B, PBY Catalina, Douglas DC-3 and Lockheed Super Constellation.

Find out more here: https://www.qfom.com.au/



Fokker Regional Jets

Australia today is home to the largest active fleets of Fokker 70 and 100 regional jets. While these have now departed from the skies of Europe and North America, where they were once very prevalent, these types live on here in Australia with carriers like Alliance Airlines, QantasLink (Network Aviation),  Skippers Aviation and Virgin Australia and

They can be seen at hubs like Perth and Adelaide, and sadly many of their services are on behalf of mining companies. However, it’s not impossible to get a flight on one, particularly with Virgin.



Melbourne Tullamarine Airport

Photo (c) Mitchul Hope

Melbourne’s main Tullamarine Airport is Australia’s second-busiest and a major hub for Qantas, Jetstar Airways, Regional Express, and Virgin Australia. Many airlines from Asia, North America and the Middle East also fly in daily.

There are four passenger terminals on the eastern side of the airport, plus a cargo terminal, with two runways. Qantas have maintenance facilities to the south.

Where Oaklands Road joins route C743 there is a small parking area for spotters off the roundabout. At this spot you are just underneath the final approach path to runway 16 and good for photos if you wander along the road in either direction depending on the sun. It is a bit distant to see much of the rest of the airport.

Another designated viewing area is on Operations Road along the airport’s western perimeter.



HARS Museum

The Historical Aircraft Restoration Society operates another great Australian aviation museum, this time split over two locations at Shellharbour Airport and Parkes, both in New South Wales.

One of the interesting aspects of this society is that it keeps many of its aircraft in airworthy and ‘active’ condition, often performing flights and even pleasure flying trips throughout the year.

HARS (Connie) Lockheed C-121 Super Constellation VH-EAG

Among the collection you’ll find a Boeing 747-400, Lockheed Super Constellation, Douglas C-47 and C-54, Convair 440, DHC-4 Caribou and DH.114 Heron, as well as many military types.

HARS is also expected to take delivery of John Travolta’s Qantas livery Boeing 707-100 once it can be transported from the USA.

Find out more https://hars.org.au/


Regional Express Milk Runs

Bidgee, CC BY-SA 3.0 AU <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/au/deed.en>, via Wikimedia Commons

Regional Express, commonly known as REX, is a major airline which provides air connectivity to many outlying communities across Australia.

While it has recently moved into jet operations between the main hubs of Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, its bread and butter comes from flying the world’s largest fleet of Saab 340 turboprops out of these hubs to small towns and airfields across the country on so-called milk-runs. It’s possible to take a trip where you’ll land at various points over the course of a day, enjoying the scenery from the window and a chance to fly on these now rare turboprops.


Brisbane Airport

Photo (c) G B_NZ

Brisbane Airport is the largest and busiest in Queensland, on Australia’s eastern coast. It is the third busiest in Australia and served by the main operators in the country, along with plenty of overseas airlines. Qantas sends their Airbus A330 fleet here for maintenance. Jetstar Airways, Qantas/Qantas Link and Virgin Australia all have bases here. The original airport site to the south west is now the cargo and general aviation area, whilst maintenance is done on the opposite side of the main runway to the two terminals. The new runway 01L/19R opened in 2020.

Just outside the International Terminal is a hangar housing the preserved Southern Cross aircraft, which was the first to fly across the Pacific (with Charles Kingsford Smith at the helm).

A small parking area and raised concrete slab makes a nice official spot for watching aircraft on the southern runway, as well as taxying to and from the terminals.

On the opposite side of the airfield, near the fire station, is a good spot to see what’s in the maintenance hangars and also to photograph aircraft on the main runway with the Brisbane skyline as a backdrop.



Melbourne Avalon

Photo (c) joolsgriff

Situated around 30 miles south-west of Melbourne city centre, Avalon is the city’s second-busiest airport. It has a single runway and flights operated by Bonza and Jetstar Airways. Qantas also send their aircraft here for heavy maintenance. The Australian International Airshow is held at Avalon every two years.

It is also the location of the biennial Australian International Airshow, which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors and many interesting aircraft.

Aircraft parked at the terminal and approaching the runway can easily be seen from the car park and Airport Drive. Alternatively, to see aircraft at the Qantas hangars head east on Beach Road, then turn right onto Pousties Road.


Have you been spotting in Australia? What were your highlights or tips? Leave a comment below!


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Mark Taylor March 20, 2024 - 11:39 pm

Hi Matt
Just a quick update re your piece on Sydney Airport.

1) Rydges’ panoramic terrace is rarely, if ever available to the public. The runway facing rooms, howver, do offer great views
2) There are no flights from Africa that visit Sydney


Matt Falcus March 21, 2024 - 5:01 pm

Thanks for the update Mark!

MERV CROWE March 21, 2024 - 4:29 am

Hi Matt, great coverage, however the section on Longreach and QANTAS FOUNDERS museum, the photo below is not there, but actually at Hamilton city in Western Victoria, where ANSETT AIRLINES was formed in 1936.
Also Melbourne AVALON, QANTAS hasn’t used it for maintenance for 20 years or more, maybe 30 years.
I have been to the bi annual AVALON airshow twice, once we flew in on the ANSETT DC-3….certainly beats the traffic !

MERV CROWE March 21, 2024 - 6:13 am

oops..my apology, QANTAS only stopped servicing 747s at AVV-Avalon in 2014….not 20 years ago as I mistakenly said in the previous report….sincere apologies.

Matt Falcus March 21, 2024 - 5:01 pm

Thanks Merv!


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