More than most other countries, Australia seizes the imagination. For many visitors, its name is synonymous with endless summers where the living is easy. This is where the adventures are as vast as the horizons, and the jokes flow as freely as the beer. A country of can-do spirit and laidback friendliness. Read our run-down of the best things to do in Australia.
When the dry season sets in around April, tourism in the Kimberley gradually comes back to life, with tours running mainly between thriving Broome and Kununurra along the iconic Gibb River Road, or down to the mysterious Bungle Bungles, south on Highway 1 near Halls Creek.
Fraser Island’s colossal scale is best appreciated as you travel the 90km length of its razor-edge east coast. With the sea as a constant, the dunes along the shoreline seem to evolve before your eyes. In places low and soft, elsewhere hard and worn into intriguing canyons. On the beach itself, 4WD vehicles race along the open sands.
One of the great rivers of Australia, it was saved from destruction by protests in the early 1980s. It is the only major wild river in Tasmania. The river races through canyons in grade 3 to 4 rapids – even grade 6 in places – and through thick inaccessible rainforest. No wonder this is known by rafters as one of the greatest paddle adventures in the world.
Wilpena Pound’s two main walks are the Hills Homestead Walk (6.6km, 2hr) and the Wangara Lookout Walk (7.8km, 3hr). Both start at the visitor centre. Consult the visitor centre before attempting the less publicized full-day hikes. For example St Mary’s Peak on the rim, Edowie Gorge inside the pound, or any overnight trips.
Experience Australia's unique wildlife, wilderness and Aboriginal culture on a 3-day eco safari from Adelaide. Visit the Flinders Ranges National Park, Wilpena Pound, Brachina Gorge and more.
This route was built between 1919 and 1932 as a scenic road to equal California’s Pacific Coast Highway. The road was to be both a memorial to the soldiers who died in World War I and an employment scheme for those who returned.
Experience the Great Ocean Road and its incredible landscapes on this Great Ocean Road and Wildlife Tour. See koalas and birds, take a rain forest walk, discover the 12 apostles and Loch Ard Gorge, and have morning tea on Torquay surf beach.
Western Australia offers wonderfully remote outback experiences: from spectacular national parks to sandy deserts, pristine beaches to working cattle stations. This tailor-made trip to Western Australia allows you to explore the way from Perth to Darwin in depth and at your own pace, in your own rental car.
Located less than thirty minutes’ drive from the city, the Adelaide Hills’ wineries may not be as famous as those in the neighbouring Barossa Valley. However, they are gaining popularity and are definitely worth a trip. The cool weather (this is the coolest wine-growing region on mainland Australia) contributes to wonderful Sauvignon Blancs and fresh Chardonnays and you can even expect a superb cool-climate Shiraz.
Explore South Australia and the Northern Territory on this self-drive tailor-made South Australia and the Northern Territory adventure. Start in Adelaide and make your way over the Ayers Rock, Kings Canyon, and Alice Springs to the Kakadu National Park and ultimately Darwin.
While the pockets of forest that remain are magnificent, it’s the area’s understated beauty that draws most visitors today. Though Kuranda pulls in tour parties from the coast, there are several quieter national parks brimming with rare species. You could spend days here, driving or hiking through rainforest to crater lakes and endless small waterfalls. Or simply camp out for a night and search for wildlife with a torch.
Explore Atherton Tableland's majestic waterfalls and rainforest and visit some of the most beautiful locations across tropical North Queensland on this Atherton Tableland Wilderness Tour with Lunch.
Although still residential, visiting the beach become among the most popular things to do in Australia for backpackers from around the world. Beachfront Campbell Parade is both cosmopolitan and highly commercialized, lined with cafés and shops.
While here, explore some of the side streets, such as Hall Street. Here kosher bakeries and delis serve the area’s Jewish community, and some of Bondi’s best cafés are hidden.
Try to choose First Nations-owned tour providers, for example, Northern Territory Indigenous Tours. Keep in mind that most tours will only scrape the surface of a complex way of life.
But if you’re keen to learn about the meaning of Country for First Nations, about languages, bushtucker, bush medicine and Dreaming, these tours can be enriching.
Cruise the remote waters of the Great Sandy Straits and immerse yourself in Aboriginal culture on this award-winning guided eco-tour. Swim and discover the local marine life with a glass-bottom boat.
In the colony’s early days, the Blue Mountains were believed to be an insurmountable barrier to the west. The first expeditions followed the streams in the valleys until they were defeated by cliff faces rising vertically above them.
Discover the natural beauty of the Blue Mountains on a full-day tour that takes you to Featherdale Wildlife Park. See a variety of native Australian animals, stop at Echo Point for panoramic views and enjoy 3 different rides at Scenic World.
Most of the islands remain undeveloped national parks, some with wild campsites. A few are private, and predominantly the preserve of local yachties. Many visitors, therefore, base themselves on Airlie Beach, and explore the islands on boat excursions and cruises.
Don't miss the chance to go whale watching if you're here between June and September. This is when humpbacks arrive from their Antarctic wintering grounds to give birth and raise their calves before heading south again. Whale watching is one of the best things to do in Australia.
Choose a morning or afternoon departure for a 6-hour Whitsunday Islands cruise. Glide through some of the Whitsundays’ remote areas, bays, and islands.
Make sure all rescue equipment – shovel, winch, rope, etc – is easy to reach, outside the vehicle. If you're going to explore Australia by car, explore our guide to everything you need to know about driving in Australia.
Experience the thrill of surfing down some of the largest sand dunes on Stockton Beach with this sand dune adventure tour. Pair an exciting 4WD adventure up massive sand dunes with unlimited sand boarding fun.
Mardi Gras starts the second week of February. It starts off with a free Fair Day in Victoria Park, Camperdown, and culminates with a massive parade and party, usually on the first weekend of March. The all-night dance party that follows the parade attracts up to 25,000 people and is held in several differently themed dance spaces at The Entertainment Quarter in Moore Park.
Sydney is not just one of the most beautiful cities in Australia, it's one of the most beautiful in the world. In our guide to the most beautiful cities in the world you'll find even more cities around the world that are breathtakingly beautiful.
Forget any impressions of surfing as the counterculture activity of beach bums. In Australia, it is a mainstream sport where the standard is high and the mentality is territorial; cliquey at best, aggressive at worst. Learners, therefore, should familiarize themselves with a lesson or two at resorts such as Byron Bay first, and keep clear of the pack.
Although promoted as South Australia’s premier tourism destination, it’s still unspoilt. Only in the peak holiday period (Christmas to the end of Jan, when most of the accommodation is booked up) does it feel busy. Once out of the island’s few small towns, there’s little sign of human presence to break the long, straight roads that run through undulating fields, dense gum forests and mallee scrub.
The Rock, its textures, colours and not least its elemental presence, is without question one of the world’s natural wonders. Alice Springs is the closest major city to Uluru and is a hub for tourism in the region. The city is known for its rugged desert landscape and is home to a number of cultural and historical attractions, including the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the School of the Air.
Journey into the heart of Australia's Red Centre on a full-day tour from Alice Springs. Hike in the wilderness of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and learn about the Aboriginal culture. Watch the sunset at the sacred rock of Uluru.
The present-day MCG has a capacity of 100,000, boosted by the development of the Northern Stand, which was created for the 2006 Commonwealth Games, and houses the Australian Sports Museum, which contains various sports exhibitions.
Most of the track is well-maintained boardwalk but you may still end up ankle-deep in mud. Along the route are six basic coal-stove- or gas-heated huts (not for cooking – bring your own stove), with composting toilets outside. But there’s no guarantee there’ll be space, so you need a good tent and a warm sleeping bag, even in summer.
Try also to factor in a river cruise to get to more remote areas. The dry season months are the most popular times to visit, with little or no rain, acceptable humidity and temperatures, and conspicuous wildlife. Towards the end of the Dry, birdlife congregates around the shrinking waterholes, while November’s rising temperatures and epic electrical storms herald the onset of the Wet.
Visit Kakadu National Park and see wildlife, rivers, and Aboriginal sites on this Kakadu & Nourlangie Day Trip Plus Billabong Cruise. Go to the Warradjan Cultural Centre to learn about the indigenous people.
Quay itself is always bustling with commuters during the week, and at the weekend it fills up with people out to enjoy themselves. Restaurants, cafés and fast-food outlets line the Quay, buskers entertain the crowds, and vendors of newspapers and trinkets add to the general hubbub.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is a short walk from Circular Quay and is one of the city's most popular tourist attractions. Visitors can walk or cycle across the bridge or take a guided tour to learn more about its history and construction.
Join Fantasea Cruising on a 60-minute or 90-minute sightseeing cruise around Sydney Harbour with commentary developed in partnership with Tribal Warrior Aboriginal Corporation and the Australian Maritime Museum.
“Opera House” is actually a misnomer. It’s really a performing-arts centre, one of the busiest in the world, with five performance venues inside its shells, plus restaurants, cafés and bars, and a stash of upmarket souvenir shops on the lower concourse. The building’s initial impetus, in fact, was as a home for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and it was designed with the huge Concert Hall.
The majestic forest descends thick and dark right to the sea around Cape Tribulation. You can explore paths through the jungle leading to pristine waterholes, climb velveteen peaks, watch for wildlife, or just rest on the beach. Discovering this area is among the top things to do in Australia.
Step into the cool, crystal clear water of the Daintree: an ancient rainforest on this River Drift Snorkelling Tour in the Daintree. Drift with the current as you explore life under the water’s surface. Snorkel along the river and find many species of fish and turtles.
Western Australia is the country's largest state, covering more than a third of Australia. This self-drive tailor-made trip to Western Australia from Perth to Broome allows you to explore sunny Perth, stunning national parks and waterfalls, the remote wild west outback, empty beaches and much more.
There’s so little relationship to life above the surface that the distinctions one usually takes for granted – for example between animal, vegetable and mineral – seem blurred. While the respective roles of observer and observed are constantly inverted as shoals of curious fish follow the human interlopers about.
Perhaps it’s too obvious to mention, but seeing the Great Barrier Reef requires two things: first, a boat trip from the mainland. Secondly, you have to stick your head under the water. For more information read our guide on visiting Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
Cruise to vibrant coral gardens and diverse marine life at the Great Barrier Reef on board the Silversonic catamaran. Sail to the Agincourt Reef and snorkel and dive among colourful coral reefs and reef fish at 3 separate locations.
Today, following an ignominious period as a brutal First Nations penal colony in the nineteenth century, Rottnest’s sweeping sandy beaches and brilliant turquoise waters make it a popular holiday destination. It is easily accessible from Perth or Fremantle by ferry and – at the very least – a great place for a fun day out.
Cycle around Rottnest Island and discover the settlement by pedal power. Benefit from round-trip transfers by ferry from Hillarys Boat Harbour and bike around the car-free island at your own pace.
Ready for a trip to Australia? Check out the snapshot of The Rough Guide to Australia. If you travel further in Australia, read more about the best time to go and the best places to visit in Australia. For inspiration use the itineraries from The Rough Guide to Australia and our local travel experts. A bit more hands-on, learn about getting there, getting around the country and where to stay once you are there.
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