Whether you’re into bucket lists or not, Australia is one of those countries that has everyone eagerly ticking off the main sights and activities, and still wanting to come back for more. Yes the country is vast, but it’s the variety of experiences on offer that makes Australia a truly stand-out holiday destination. From tropical seas and infinite sandy beaches to the barren outback and even ancient rainforests, Australia is an adventurers paradise. The challenge is narrowing down the list rather than filling it!
Top 10 bucket list adventures in Australia
Snorkel or Dive the Great Barrier Reef
One of natures marvels, the Great Barrier Reef needs no introduction. Found just off the coast of Queensland, the turquoise seas hide a labyrinth of coral gardens, islets, caves and lagoons which are home to an incredible array of marine life. Snorkellers can glide easily over the worlds largest coral reef to watch the clown fish, turtles and even seahorses darting amongst the gently swaying sea anemones, whilst divers can venture further out with good chances of spotting manta rays, reef sharks and even whales. Sailing around the islands is another unique and relaxing way to explore the area, and for the intrepid there’s even the opportunity to spend the night on a reef pontoon, over at the Great Barrier Reef Sleep.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay, the beautiful coastal town of Airlie Beach makes a great base for exploring both the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsunday Islands. You’ll have the sparkling sea and colourful coral at your fingertips!
Drive the Great Ocean Road
One of the best ways to independently explore Australia is by self-driving – it’s the ultimate road trip. Many tourists hire campervans for their adventures so they can remain self-sufficient on their journeys and go where the wind takes them. It’s a great way to travel and ideal for experiencing somewhere like Australia. Some visitors who plan on staying longer in the country (because there’s just so much to see!) actually purchase their own campervans from sites like Gumtree before selling them on again after their trip. This can actually work out a lot cheaper than a rental depending on the length of your stay.
The Great Ocean Road near Melbourne is considered one of the world’s best road trips, taking in some of Australia’s finest coastline and natural landforms. The 150 mile stretch is all about rugged open countryside, deserted beaches and picture postcard vistas. Perhaps the most famous and iconic sight of the ocean road is the 12 Apostles, giant pillars of limestone standing proud as superb examples of coastal erosion.
Watch the sun set over Uluru
Uluru is the famous, and enormous, red sandstone rock right in the centre of Australia. It’s very isolated (the nearest settlement is Alice Springs which is 450 km away) and as a result quite an effort to get there, but well worth it. Most people either fly or take several days to self drive and enjoy the incredible Outback scenery along the way. Also known as Ayers Rock, Uluru is the iconic symbol of Australia and is of great cultural importance to the Aboriginal people. It is embedded in their history and seen as sacred in their society. As a result, climbing the rock is no longer permitted (to do so would be a huge mark of disrespect) but visitors can instead tackle the 6 mile walk around the base. Uluru is particularly instagram-worthy at sunrise or sunset when the red ochre colours are brought to life.
Climb the harbour bridge in Sydney
Alongside the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge is one of the best known landmarks in Sydney, but did you know you can actually climb it? Adventurous travellers can ascend the arch of the bridge for jaw-dropping views of Sydney harbour, and some of the best bragging rights ever. The Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb is one of the most popular things to do in the city, and is perfectly safe as everyone wears harnesses and special suits. Constructed in 1932, the bridge stands tall at 440 feet and remains the largest steel arch bridge in the world, bringing together the two harbour shores. There are 3 tours of differing lengths depending on how intrepid or energetic you feel, as well as options for dawn and twilight climbs to see the sunrise, sunset and the city all beautifully lit up at night.
Catch the waves at Bondi Beach
Beer, barbecues and surfing, three staples of Australia, and all can be found right here on Bondi Beach. This is one of the most famous places in Australia to learn to surf, with plenty of accredited surf schools along the sea front suitable for all levels. It’s also a popular spot for early morning strolls across the sand, breakfasting at one of the numerous beachfront cafes, and indulging in cocktails as the sun goes down. The surrounding headlands are a walker’s paradise, and there’s a good chance of whale sightings from the clifftops.
Go back in time in the Daintree Rainforest
If you want to know what the world looked like when dinosaurs roamed the earth then head to the ancient and mysterious Daintree Rainforest on the North Eastern coast of Queensland. Formed 165 million years ago it’s the oldest rainforest in the world and hasn’t really changed much in appearance during this time. Daintree is on the World Heritage List and visitors can hike through the forest to marvel at the biological diversity and enjoy a true wilderness experience. There are sometimes animal sightings, but this place is really all about stepping back in time and appreciating one of the world’s greatest natural wonders far removed from modern day life.
Explore Fraser Island in a 4×4
Another Queensland site on the World Heritage List is Fraser Island, which is known for its never-ending stretches of white beaches, and the resident dingoes who sometimes make an appearance on the sand. Despite being the largest sand island on earth, Fraser Island is also home to over 100 freshwater lakes, babbling creeks and ancient rainforests. In the summer the island is carpeted with wild flowers, and the wetlands are home to rare ferns and endangered species such as dugongs and turtles. A fun way to explore this 123 km long island is by 4×4, and the famous Seventy-Five Mile Beach is in reality a highway used to get from one end of the island to the other. This beach also acts as a runway for light aircraft taking tourists on pleasure flights!
Cuddle Koalas at the Lone Pine Sanctuary
Everyone loves a koala, and here at Australia’s Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary near Brisbane, visitors get to meet the cuddly little creatures up close and personal. It’s one of the most popular wildlife parks in the country, and the first and largest such sanctuary in Australia with around 130 koalas living there. Lone Pine also offers the chance for guests to hold koalas and feed kangaroos by hand whilst teaching them about conservation and habitat preservation. There are over 100 other native Australian wildlife species here, including the platypus, dingo and Tasmanian Devil. So if you haven’t managed to see them in the wild, then this is a great substitute.
Hike the Blue Mountains
One of the most popular day trips out of Sydney, the Blue Mountains are an adventure playground for outdoor enthusiasts and even urbanites who just want to fill their lungs with some good fresh countryside air. The rugged mountains include the much-photographed Three Sisters sandstone rock formation which can be seen from the easily accessible lookout at Echo Point. There are numerous hiking trails all over the national park, taking in dense eucalyptus forests, majestic waterfalls and towering rocky cliffs, as well as pretty little villages full of galleries and tea shops. It’s the perfect combination to enjoy along with the bright lights of Sydney.
Visit Kangaroo Island in South Australia
Kangaroo Island sits just off the South Australia mainland not far from Adelaide. The island is famous for its dramatic coastlines and rock formations, as well as its wilderness feel and the stunning beaches that line the shores. Known as one of the best beaches in Australia, Stokes Bay on Kangaroo Island is the place to go if you’re looking for a pristine and remote slice of paradise away from the crowds. It’s one of the top spots to visit in South Australia – you can get to the island by ferry or plane.
The island is a haven for wildlife with protected reserves that are home to everything from koalas to sea lions. Kangaroos and wallabies are of course the stars of the show, and you’ll see them all over the national parks and conservation areas. As well as nature hikes and wildlife adventures, you can enjoy adventure activities like quad biking and kayaking to see Kangaroo Island from a different perspective.
Go wine tasting in Margaret River
After all that adventuring you’ll be in need of a glass of wine or two, which luckily isn’t a problem in Australia since it boasts some of the greatest wines in the world. One of the most popular vineyard areas to visit is the sophisticated Margaret River which is about 150 miles from Perth in Western Australia. The wines produced here are top quality, and there are several different wine tasting tours where visitors can explore the vineyards and boutique wineries, and even have a go at blending their own bottles of wine! The perfect way to relax after any Australian road trip.
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