Over the course of three trips, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit every state on the mainland of Australia including the Northern Territory. All that is left is Tasmania, and I hope to get there soon. While there is so much more of this massive country for me to see, I thought I’d take a moment to share what my favorite travel experiences in Australia have been so far. One of my favorite destinations, Australia has so very much to offer from laid back beach time to some of the most hair raising adventures you could imagine. From my own personal point of view and my own travel style though, here are the travel experiences in Australia that I loved and think should be added to everyone’s Aussie bucket list.
In NO particular order (and I mean that)
1. Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb, New South Wales
It’s no exaggeration to say that Circular Quay and the landmarks that surround it are amongst the most recognizable on the planet and from my own experience there’s no better way to see them than by taking on the legendary Harbour Bridge climb. Even considered a bucket list activity by Australians, the climb is one of those over the top (literally) activities that everyone really should experience at least once. Visitors ascend the mighty bridge in small groups, carefully harnessed to the steel rails at all times and from the top you’ll enjoy amazing views of Sydney’s famous landmarks. I’m not a fan of heights but not even I was bothered, that’s how well done the safety and overall experience really is. Treat yourself on your next trip to Sydney, you won’t regret it.
2. Luxury getaway in Tropical Queensland
There is a lot to do in Queensland, from the tropical jungles of the north down to the urban oasis of Brisbane and the Gold Coast. If I could pick just one experience to do again though, it would be a luxury getaway in the state’s most famous tropical retreat, the Whitsundays. These small islands and inlets look like a scene plucked from French Polynesia and the luxury accommodations available are just as amazing. Choose from any of the high end options, spend some time on private beaches (called the best beaches in the world
) with sugary white sand but also be sure to add in some active pursuits, like diving the Great Barrier Reef. No matter what you end up doing there, I find it hard to believe that anyone could walk away without a smile on their face and a secret personal promise to return.
3. Monkey Mia and Shark Bay, Western Australia
From one coast to the other, what Western Australia lacks in those Tahitian-like scenes, it more than makes up for in privacy and natural offerings. Base yourself at Monkey Mia
, a coastal resort that at times may seem a little hokey, but is actually a lot of fun. From there you can visit the Shark Bay UNESCO World Heritage region, a massive and fairly isolated natural retreat with scenes so striking they look as if they’re from another planet. The bright red ochre sand meets the deep blue sea in a contrast of colors the likes of which I’ve never seen before. For something a little different, also be sure to drive down to Hamelin Pool, home of the stromatolites – the oldest life form on the planet and the only place on the earth accessible enough for people to visit these prehistoric creatures. If that doesn’t convince you about the uniqueness of Australia, nothing will.
4. Kangaroo Island, South Australia
Taking the Indian Pacific train from Perth to Adelaide (which would be #7 on this list) I got off the train and boarded a plane with one goal in sight – Kangaroo Island
. Known as a living zoo, this island is home to scores of native Australian species from kangaroos to koalas and a few other animals with names hard to pronounce, but still undeniably cute. Be sure to enlist the help of the foremost tour operator on the island, Exceptional Kangaroo Island
, who will give you high end, personal service around the island fine tuning the schedule to your interests. If you love wildlife, this is one of the best places to experience the special animals of Australia in their natural habitats.
5. Getting to know Melbourne, Victoria
I fell in love with Melbourne almost right away, something that rarely happens to me. I’m not sure why, but there’s just something special about this metropolitan hub that speaks to me in a way that not only other cities in Australia don’t, but few others around the world can even manage. There’s a lot to do here, from fascinating museums to food tours and of course the nightlife. To really feel like a local though, seek out the nearest laneway, order a flat white and just people watch for a few hours. I think you’ll soon fall under the city’s spell just as I did.
6. Drive to Uluru, Northern Territory
No list of Australian experiences would be complete without adding one of its most famous sights, Uluru or as most Americans still call it, Ayers Rock. I’m not sure why this massive rock in the middle of the country’s Red Centre speaks to so many of us, but it does. It’s a siren call that demands answering. Sure, you can fly there but why not get to know the Red Centre properly by driving around it? Start in Alice Springs and rent the appropriate off-road or 4×4 vehicle and then start your epic journey along the shifting red sands of the Red Centre Way. There are sights along the way, and even places to spend the night, like at Kings Canyon known for its luxury hotel and epic hikes. It’s a fun way to reach Uluru and is one of those fantastic instances where getting there really is part of the fun.
These are just a few of the many travel experiences in Australia that I’ve loved and I know I’ll be adding many more to the list as my own understanding and appreciation of the country continues to grow.