We've all heard it all before - you’re a frequent traveller who has explored more international destinations than Australia, your home. In a pre-COVID19 world young adults looking for a cheap holiday would head over to Bali, young families filled the all-inclusive resorts of Fiji and empty nesters booked their dream Alaskan cruise.
Now if there’s one positive to come out of this, it’s that Aussie travellers are now seeking their next adventure at home. Exploring our own beautiful, diverse country has been something many of us have taken for granted. Previous excuses like “I can visit Western Australia any day” or “It’s cheaper to stay in Bali” are replaced with eagerness and excitement. This article will list the top 10 Australian experiences every Aussie should do at least once in their life.
1. Visit Tropical North Queensland
Home to the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest, there’s no doubting why Tropical North Queensland topped our list of iconic Australian destinations. A great destination to visit for as little as five days, Cairns is your gateway to exploring north Queensland.
To experience all that Tropical North Queensland has to offer, we suggest hiring a car or campervan from Cairns and making your way north to the Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation. Home to the world’s largest coral reef system and Australia's largest rainforest - this region will have you in awe of its abundant flora and fauna. For those with extra time on their hands we suggest driving just south of Cairns to the Waterfall Circuit.
2. Drive the Great Ocean Road
Experience the picturesque Victorian countryside and coastline on the Great Ocean Road. Just a 90 minute drive from Melbourne’s city centre, the Great Ocean Road spans 400 kilometres to the South Australian border.
Sites to see along the way include the famous 12 Apostles, Bay of Islands and London Bridge. These impressive limestone pillars and structures rise from the ocean and can be admired from the coastline of the Great Ocean Road. When weather permitting another popular way to experience the 12 Apostles is to jump on a scenic helicopter flight.
Surfers can’t visit the Great Ocean Road without stopping at Bells Beach. Experience the world-famous waves ridden by the greats over decades. Bells Beach hosts the Rip Curl Pro, (formerly the Bells Beach Surf Classic), as part of the WSL World Tour. But great surf can be found right along the southern coastline including Torquay and Apollo Bay.
The Great Ocean Road boasts incredible local produce including seafood, berries, cheese and wines. If you’re planning on staying overnight, we highly recommend indulging in locally produced wines at one of the many cool-climate wineries in the region.
As if the stunning coastline and local produce isn’t tempting enough, you can also visit the Great Otway National Park. Filled with cascading waterfalls, an elevated treetop walk and a forest zipline, the Great Otway National Park is a fantastic addition to your Great Ocean Road adventure.
3. Learn About Our Culture in Uluru
As one of Australia's most recognisable landmarks, Uluru should need no introduction. In the heart of Australia’s ‘Red Centre’, Uluru is a 3.6 kilometre long and 350 metre high sandstone rock formation. Known to be one of the most picturesque places in Australia, Uluru offers its visitors incredible sunrises, sunsets and stargazing.
Visiting Uluru for the first time is much more than a relaxing holiday. It offers a secluded, spiritual and cultural experience that you can’t find anywhere else in Australia. Here you will learn about the Anangu people, who belong to the oldest living culture known to man. Uluru is a sacred site to the Anangu people as it is said to provide physical evidence of traditional ceremonies dating back over 10,000 years. During your visit to Uluru you are invited to share in the traditional beliefs of the Aboriginal people. Some examples of cultural experiences on offer include dot painting, didgeridoo and bush food tours.
4. Swim With Whale Sharks on Ningaloo Reef
If you love exploring the underwater world, Ningaloo Reef is a must-do destination. Named the best place in the world to swim with whale sharks, Ningaloo Reef is a haven for our ocean’s gentle giants. The Ningaloo Marine Park is a World Heritage-listed site located off the coast of Exmouth, Western Australia.
Depending on the time of year you visit you may even get the chance to swim with Humpback Whales, Manta Rays, Dugongs and Orcas!
5. Hike the Blue Mountains
Sydneysiders looking for a weekend away should jump on a train to the Blue Mountains. This rugged region is known to have dramatic scenery both above and below ground. The Blue Mountains has plenty of trail hikes to offer adventurers keen to get out and explore nature. One of the most popular is the iconic Three Sisters walk. According to Aboriginal legend, the rock formations that currently stand over 900 metres tall represent three sisters who were turned to stone.
6. Sip Australian Wine in the Barossa Valley
Heading to South Australia now - how can we not include a mention of one of our famous wine-making regions? The Barossa Valley has been producing wine since 1842 and is currently home to 550 grape growing families. Famous for it’s shiraz grapes, the Barossa Valley is a must-do for all red wine lovers of Australia.
7. Watch the Sunset Over the Ocean in WA
Although we’ve heard that ‘west is best’ many times before, a lot of us are yet to make the trip from east coast to west coast. One of its many charms is the opportunity to see the sun set over the Indian Ocean - a sight many Australians have only experienced while abroad. Watch in awe as the sky lights up in many shades of orange, red, pinks and purples.
Western Australia is also home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. From Cottesole to Busselton, you will be in awe of the white sandy beaches and crystal clear water.
8. See the Aurora Australis in Tasmania
Move over aurora borealis, we’ve got access to our very own light show here in Australia. The aurora australis or southern lights are visible in the southern hemisphere, just like the northern lights are visible in the northern hemisphere. One of the best spots to see the sky light up is in Tasmania.
Just as it is to see the northern lights, seeing the southern lights should be on everyone's bucket list. With only small changes in seasons, you have the chance of seeing the lights all year round in Tasmania, but visiting in winter will increase your chances. Most travellers hoping to see the lights head to Mount Wellington, a 30-minute drive west of Hobart.
9. Feed the Wild Dolphins at Tangalooma Island Resort
Located just a 90-minute ferry trip from Brisbane CBD you’ll find the island paradise of Tangalooma Island Resort. Here you can snorkel and scuba dive the fifteen sunken shipwrecks, parasail over crystal clear water and indulge in a massage and beauty treatment.
Although, what makes this tropical paradise extra special comes at sundown. As the sunsets over Brisbane city on the horizon, families of wild bottlenose dolphins come into shore where you can hand feed them fish!
10. Learn to Ski at Perisher Ski Resort
You don’t need to head to Canada or New Zealand to learn how to ski or snowboard, you can do it in your own backyard! Head down to Perisher Ski Resort for a couple of lessons before you hit the slopes on your own. Not exactly the Aussie getaway most people imagine, but a ski holiday to Perisher certainly is a fun new way to explore our country.
We are excited to see domestic travel return to Australia in the months to come. With less crowds and a new appreciation for travel, there is no better time to explore our own backyard!