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Things to See & Do in Australia – Complete Guide

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Australia has something for everyone- the art-lover, the history-geek, the sport enthusiast and everyone in between. There are many things to see and things to do in Australia. Here are five activities you can enjoy at your own leisure.

1. ADVENTURE

Explore the Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef

You will be amazed at how many vibrant colours lie just beneath the surface of Queensland’s Coral Sea.
The Great Barrier Reef is home to more than 400 kinds of coral and over 1500 species of tropical fish.
Snorkelling is an easy, relaxing way to up and close to this natural wonder. Sole travellers, groups, couples and families will all enjoy this experience.

If you have already snorkelled the reef and you want more of an adrenaline rush, why not try Scuba Diving? There are many introductory diving trips perfect for absolute beginners.

Horseback Riding

horse ridingIf you are on the lookout for that authentic outback experience, a horse-riding treck through the Snowy Mountains is the perfect adventure.
Along your journey, you will pass crystal clear streams, magnificent wildlife, valleys, and other iconic landmarks.
Horseback riding allows you to surround yourself with this picture-esque scenery and discover the rich history of the area.
Tours range from 1-hour horse rides to five-day treks complete with accommodation and camp-fire dinners. You are bound to find something that suits your schedule.

Learn to Surf

Currumbin_Beach,_Queensland,_AustraliaVisitors from around the world have had fantastic experience on the waves of Byron, Bondi and at the Sunshine Coast.
Surfing is an exciting activity that suits just about anyone. Learning the right techniques will maximise your enjoyment, ensure your safety and give you the skills to do neat, impressive things.
If you are staying close to a good surging spot for a while, surfing lessons are often great value for money. If you are travelling on your own, surfing is a fantastic way to meet new people. It is also a great bonding activity for families, particularly parents and their teenage kids. Whoever you are, learning to surf is an exciting endeavour that will leave you with brand-new new skills to show off at any beach you visit.

Canoeing and Kayaking

kayaking in australiaThere are countless rivers, dams and beaches in Australia suitable for paddling along the surface. Kayaks are great for sole travellers and couples. Larger groups, families, and those who are seeking to challenge their team-work skills will enjoy getting into a canoe, which will generally fit 2-4 people.
Freycinet National Park in Tasmania is a top spot for kayaking. It is perfectly common for visitors to spot dolphins as they glide through these crystal clear waters. Tasmania is also home to the Gordan River, which offers a memorable encounter with Tasmania’s wilderness.

Sydney is also a popular place for canoeing and kayaking, most notably for visitors who wish to paddle their way under the harbor bridge.

For a change of scenery, canoe or kayak the Katerine river in the Northern Territory. Travel through gorges and sandstone walls with an Aboriginal guide, learning about the history of the area and the traditional Yawoyn owners. Paddle around for a few hours, the entire day, or spend several days along the river, camping on the white sand along the edge of the Katherine River.

To extend your journey even further, make your way south-west to soak in the dense, green wonder of Flora River Nature Park.

White Water Rafting

white water rafting

For those who enjoy canoeing but want something with a little more action, white water rafting might be the ideal water adventure.

Steer your way through rapids and speed your way through waterfalls.

Both activities are offered in venues such as Penerith Whitewater in Sydney and Cape Range National Park in Western Australia.

Raging Thunder Adventures in Cairns offers a variety of options, including the Extreme Tully Raft which gives rafters the option to jump off cliffs and move at a faster pace.

Sky-Diving

sky divingAnyone who has jumped out of a plane is likely to describe it as one of the most challenging and exhilarating experiences of their life.
Whether you want to parachute over the Great Barrier Reef, the beaches of Sydney, the City of Perth or the banks of Lake Alexandria in South Australia there are skydives available to suit every taste and skill-level.
While it is normal for new sky-divers to feel at least a little bit anxious, diving is carried out by a team of experts with up-to-date safety equipment.
One distinctive thing about first-time skydivers is the massive grin on their faces when they come to land.
A video is also available to divers who want to re-live the experiences back home. Others miss the experience so much that they just have to go sky-diving again.

ARTS AND CULTURE

Aboriginal_Art_Australia

The Dreamtime Experience: This is an opportunity to engage with the culture of the traditional owners of the land. You can also sample some of the most unique food the outback has to offer.

The Dreamtime and Bushtucker Tour invites guests to meet with members of the Central Desert Warlpiri Aborigines as they share their stories and beautiful art-work. You will also watch demonstrations of boomerang and spear-throwing, leaning about Aboriginal traditions and cultural beliefs.

 

 Attend a Music Festival

Whatever style or genre takes your liking, Australia is renowned as a destination for anyone who enjoys a good live gig.
The country’s warm climate and the array of outdoor venues lend to huge annual all-day concerts such as Adelaide’s World Music and Dance Festival and the nation-wide Big Day Out. Do not forget to check out some of the weekend-long camping festivals such as Byron Bay’s Splendour in the Grass and Woodford Folk Festival. If you are keen to really soak up the sun and the friendly atmosphere while you watch your favourite live performances back-to-back, Australia is the place.
With a mix of big-name headlining acts and independent local musicians, music festivals are a place to see your favourite artists and also a place to discover new music and make new friends.

Visit a Gallery

art gallery australiaAustralia’s diverse culture lends to a wide variety of art styles, including aboriginal paintings, still-life sketches, decorative arts, sculptures and contemporary audio-visual installations.
While Melbourne is renowned as the ‘arts capital’ of Australia, there is plenty to see wherever you go. While the large, famous venues that cater to travelling exhibitions and style-specific galleries throughout the capital cities are definitely impressive, it is also worth visiting the unique galleries that exist in smaller, regional towns.

The National Gallery of Victoria a great place to start as it is Australia’s oldest art gallery. This building exhibits works from all over the world, including Italian masterpiece paintings, indigenous art, Australian photography, Spanish textiles and Chinese sculptures.
If you are a fan of fine art, check out the exhibitions at Linton & Kay Galleries in Perth or Sydney’s Sullivan and Stumpf.

See the latest cutting-edge video art at Melbourne’s Australian Centre of Moving Image. Or, to see a mixture of high-profile exhibitions and independent works from local, community artists, take a trip to the Woolloowong Art Gallery in New South Wales.
Whatever city you visit, you will be sure to find a gallery or an exhibition that appeals to you.

Take to The Stage

live showsNothing compares to seeing a show live on stage. You can see dance, opera, drama and comedy from any given time-period in Australian theatres.
Theatre Royal in Hobart is the perfect place to go for an experience that is both entertaining and historical. This building opened in 1837 and remains the oldest theatre in Australia.
In addition to being an iconic must-see, the Sydney Opera house hosts high quality comedy, music and ballet all-year round. The concert hall, which seats 2,679 is home of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and is a full of eye-catching features such as the Sydney Opera House Grand Organ.

Or, if you want to watch something completely innovative and be among the first to see it, check out some of the independent theatre companies around your destination.
La Mama Theatre in Melbourne, Le Boit Theatre in Brisbane and Adelaide Repertory Theatre are all dedicated to showcasing new and independent playwrights. There is always the chance that the new, unearthed talent you see on your travels one day becomes and international success.

City Festivals

australia festivalsThe best time to visit one of Australia’s capital cities is during their major annual arts festivals.

The three-week Sydney Festival is jam-packed with theatre, music, dance and visual arts. Hundreds of artists from around the world have played at the city’s iconic venues as part of the festival. Each year, the program also features a range of free events, including outdoor jazz, storytelling, forums, plays and workshops.
Festival Commences: January.

Melbourne International Arts Festival – runs for 17 days across Botanic Gardens and the South Bank Arts Centre and Federation Square. This celebration of the Melbourne Arts scene started in 1986 and has since built an outstanding reputation for showcasing unique premiere performances in dance, art, multimedia and music.
Festival commences: October

Brisbane Festival – Fireworks, exhibitions and performances from all around Queensland. With a range of indoor and outdoor events as well as sideshows from fantastic performers, this event will give you the highlights of the city. This celebration goes out with a bang as the Brisbane River is illuminated by fireworks at the famous Brisbane Riverfire.
Festival commences: September

Darwin Festival – In the tropical gardens and theatres of Darwin come fill with talent from across the globe over the 18-days The Darwin Festival. The opening concert at the George Browns Botanic Gardens is followed by an array of events, including international comedy acts and an Torres Strait Island and Aboriginal Art Fair. Surrounded by tasty foods and powerful pieces of art, you will find that the Darwin Festival is a truly exclusive experience.
Festival commences: August

Adelaide Festival – Since the launch in 1960, the Adelaide Festival has provided a compelling of critically acclaimed works in all areas of the arts. This celebration has earned South Australia the title of the nation’s ‘premiere festival state’, and is particularly renowned for its new literary and visual art-works. Each year, the festival program continues to draw locals and tourists to share their love of the arts and community spirit.

Perth International Arts Festival – If you enjoy watching films beneath the stars or seeing innovative dance pieces, the Perth International Arts Festival is the ideal way to absorb the of the city’s artistic scene. Every year, this festival attracts over 700, 000 attendees from around the world.
Festival commences: February

The Taste of Tasmania is the best way to engage all of your sense, explore the delicious local produce, wine and art exhibitions this state has to offer. This seven-day festival ends on a big note with the New Years Eve with a waterfront party. Tourists and locals bring in the New Year with beautiful food, great music, dancing and a breath-taking view of fireworks at Sullivan’s Cove.
Festival commences: December

There are world-class restaurants for anyone seeking a fine-dining experience. Peta Negra in Perth has been commended for its mouth-watering food and warm, welcoming ambience. Here you can enjoy dishes like squid paella, barbecued quail and Portuguese Custard Tarts.

SHOPPING

shopping australiaWhether you are looking for a central shopping centre with all of your favourite brands, or you are hunting for a rare gift in a sea of locally-run market stalls, Australia is a great place to shop.
Chadstone Shopping Centre in Melbourne is the biggest shopping centre in Australia, containing 510 stores, including luxury brands, designer boutiques, major stores and discount outlets. Known colloquially as “the shaddy”, this building attracts over 600, 000 tourists every year. Its popularity owes to the mere choice of places to shop, eat and drink and its lively atmosphere.

See the flagship stores of Australia’s biggest retailers and Rundle Mall in Adelaide. Since opening as Australia’s first pedestrian mall in 1974, Rundle Mall is a great place for shopping and sigh-seeing. Several items of modern sculpture can be found in the mall, the best-knosn being Bert Fluglemen’s The Spheres. The mall is also a popular place for visitors to watch buskers performing on a regular basis.
There are all types of specialty crafts, goods and produce to be found among the many regular markets throughout Australia.

The Mindil Beach Sunset Markets in Darwin are a celebration of local art and Asia-Pacific foods. Held every Thursday between May and October, these markets are a place to absorb the warmth of the climate and ambience as the sun sets over the beach, while tourists browse through a plethora of home-made crafts, clothes, art-work and pottery. Darwin’s proximity to Indonesia makes it the perfect place for sampling authentic flavours, such as satay or gado-gado.

While in Brisbane, checkout Garden city plaza which is the biggest mall in Queensland. southbank has the weekends markets in parklands where you can also find hand made stuff.

The Saturday Markets at The Rocks in Sydney are the perfect place to find one-off handcrafted jewellery, Indigenous artefacts and local fashion designs.
Experience glass-blowing, painting and pottery close-up at the Salamanca Markets in Hobart. Get in among the cheery bustle, or relax at a nearby local cafe along the cobblestone streets. Dating back to the 1970s, these markets have transformed into a top-spot for tourists and locals.
Fore collectables, vintage and hand-crafted goods, The Rose St Markets in Melbourne is the place to be. Close to cafes, shops, galleries and public transport, these markets are the spot to hire a bicycle, meet local craft-enthusiasts and find souvenirs with character.

SIGHT-SEING

Iconic Landmarks
All around the country you can find famous buildings, structures, landmarks and natural phenomenon that make the Australia special.

uluru One of the most internationally recognisable attractions in Australia is Uluru. A visit to this red sandstone formation is an opportunity to be swept away by the beauty of this natural wonder while also appreciating the cultural and historical significance.
Around the area lies many examples of Aboriginal rock art featuring symbols that have been passed down through generations for thousands of years.
Due to the dessert climate, Uluru appears to change colour under the breathtaking sunsets of Central Australia.

Opera House SydneyThe Sydney Opera House is amazing inside and out. Tours are provided in a variety of different languages, revealing the building’s intricate history and allowing visitors to explore this beautiful architecture. As you wander through stairways and beneath the wonderful sails you will get a true sense of this masterpiece.
Another magnificent landmark is the Sydney Harbour Bridge. In addition to the climbing and canoeing adventures available, it also a highly impressive structure and a great place for photo opportunities. The Pylon Lookout provides a great spot for gazing out at the city. The display at this lookout provides excellent insight into the construction of the Bridge.
A visit to The Twelve Apostles in is a high priority for many tourists. These gorgeous limestone cliffs have been shaped by gradual erosion over millions of years. Although these natural wonders stand tall along the shore of Port Campbell National Park, many of them are on the verge of collapsing. For a particularly brilliant view, visit The Twelve Apostles at Sunrise.
Nature

kimberley_70Australia is home to the world’s only Horizontal Waterfalls. Described by David Attenborough as ‘one of the greatest wonders of the natural world,” these falls are truly compelling site.
Located in Western Australia’s Kimberly Coast, this effect is created by the tidal currents passing sideways through two coastal gorges. This effect is made even more spectacular by the beautiful turquoise colour of Talbot Bay.
Tourists who visit any of Australia’s World Heritage Listed Rainforests will be astonished by the beauty, the density and the scope of biodiversity concentrated within these rich, green wonderlands. The Daintree Rainforest in Northern Queensland is the largest continuous area of tropical rainforest in Australia and grows right down to the edge of the sea. Gander at the mountain ranges, fast-flowing streams and ancient plants.

Scattered across Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory are patches of monsoon rainforests. These areas, South-East of Darwin, are famous for their brilliant scenery, exciting wildlife and display of Aboriginal rock art.

To immerse yourself in the magic of Tasmania’s cool, dark, wilderness, head to Cradle Mountain- Lake St Claire National Park. The famous Overland Track through these ancient rainforests is a dream-like experience. The many Aboriginal historical sites surrounding Cradle contain remnants of stone caves, rock shelters and stone sources. The Lake St Clare section of the park is adorned with a different species of wildflowers, creating an unforgettable fusion of colours and textures.

Animal lovers will enjoy the distinctive characteristics of our native creatures.

Kangaroo

Kangaroos can be found just about anywhere spacious and grassy- hopping along near bush areas or napping in the grass at parks or gold-courses. But if you want to get close to a kangaroo, your best option is to visit a zoo or wild-life park. This is a safe way for people of all ages to see, pat and feed these adorable creatures.

Koala

While Koalas are highly endangered, they can on occasion be spotted clinging to a high tree-top. Wildlife parks are a great way to see Koalas close-up, hold them and have your photo taken.

Tasmanian Devils, Echidnas, Bilbies and Platypi are much harder to spot unless your in the right climate at the right time. Sydney’s Featherdale Wildlife Park, Perth Zoo, and Queensland’s Australia Zoo are a great place to see a range of creatures in the one spot.
If you have a particular interest in deadly reptiles, Armadale Reptile Centre or Broome Crocodile Park in Western Australia is the ideal place to see these beautiful creatures in their natural surroundings.

9 Must-See Australian Icons

From beaches and forests to lively towns, coastal cities and famous structures, Australia has a variety of attractions.

The following destinations offer a diverse range ways to experience Australia’s deep history, rich culture natural beauty.

1. Uluru

Not only is this sandstone rock formation highly regarded for its beauty – it also holds great cultural historical significance in Australia.

Sometimes known as ‘Ayers Rock’, Uluru is located in Central Australia, the closest town being Alice Springs, which is 335km away.   Uluru stands 348m high and 863m above sea level

Many stories about the origin of  Uluru exist in Aboriginal legends and the formation remains sacred to the Anangu people who live in the surrounding area.

In this dessert climate, interaction between the Earth’s atmosphere and the Sun’s incoming rays creates some spectacular sun-sets and sun-rises, during which the surface of the rock appears to change colour.

Despite being the most visited site in Australia, there is, some controversy surrounding tourism in the area.

When the area was officially handed back to the traditional custodians of the land in 1985, it was done so under the condition that climbing the rock would remain an option for tourists. Although the local Anangu residents settled for this agreement, they have made it clear that they do not wish for the rock to be climbed due to its spiritual significance. There are signs surrounding the area which urge visitors not to climb.

But every year, over 250, 000 visitors respectfully experience the beauty of this landmark and the surrounding area.

Nearby Uluru is Kata Tjuta, made up of 36 domed rock formations. Kata Tjuta is sometimes known colloquially as The Olgas, s name that derives from its highest point, Mount Olga.

The area has been leased to Parks Australia, and Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Park is open all-year round. Opening times vary throughout the year between 5am and 6:30pm, while the park closes somewhere between 7:30pm and 9pm, depending on the time of year.

The area is also home to many examples of historical Aboriginal rock art, some of which feature Aboriginal symbols that have been passed down for thousands of years.

If you visit Uluru, you are also likely to see people painting or performing traditional Aboriginal dances. The park is also home to some unique wilde-life, including the Superb Fairywren.

The natural beauty and historical significance of Uluru make it a must-do for anyone planning a trip to Australia.

2. Whitehaven Beach

It goes without saying that the Great Barrier Reef is highly regarded as one of the great natural wonders of the world.

But a visit to Queensland would not be complete without stepping foot on a little piece of paradise called Whitehaven Beach.

This 7km stretch of clear waters and soft ivory sand has been named “Australia’s Most Beautiful Beach.”  Located on Whitsunday Island, Whitehaven is a real tropical escape.

The bright colour of the sand is due to its make-up of 98% silica, which is believed to be a result of the sea currents that have continued over millions of years.

Another unique thing about this sand is that it doesn’t retain heat. No matter how hot it is, you walk comfortably along the beach barefoot before cooling off in the sparkling ocean.

There are a few ways to soak in the experience of Whitehaven. Limited campsites are available on Whitsunday Island. If you want a Holiday with a truly serene atmosphere, it’s definitely worth booking in advance.

Transport to Whitehaven Beach is also available from other parts of the Whitsundays, as well as snorkelling tours that allow you to experience the Reef on your way to Whitehaven.

Hotels, apartments and Bungalows can be found on surrounding destinations such as Hamilton Island and Haymen Island. These places are more commercially developed to cater for tourists. So if you enjoy the best of both worlds, a day-trip to Whitehaven is the perfect option.

Wherever you stay, there is every reason to make Whitehaven Beach one of your top priorities.

3. Port Arthor

An essential part of experiencing Australia is connecting with its history. Formerly a convict settlement, Port Arthur is now an open-air museum. While the town itself has a current population of less than 500 people, the historical site is Tasmania’s top tourist attraction. You will have the opportunity to see magnificent sandstone statues built by convicts and the preserved Dockyards where whaleboats, buoys and barques were crafted.

Named after Lieutenant Governor George Arthur, this are dates back to the 1800s, during which it was an infamous destination reserved for the criminal offences that were considered to be the most severe. In 1966, Port Arthur was the scene or the worst mass murder event in Post-Colonial Australian History.

But a visit to Port Author is definitely not all doom-and-gloom. Surrounding the remains of this institution are lush green parklands, and scenic walking trails.

There are also a number of organised activities available, including guided walking tours, cruises and ghost tours.

Many visitors are attracted by the contrast between the dark history and the beauty of the surrounding gardens and coastline.

Port Arthur is a key Australian icon that will complete your visit to Tasmania.

4. Cradle Mountain- Lake St Clare National Park

Encompassing 168, 00 hectares of World Heritage, this is the place to truly absorb the beauty of Tasmania’s wilderness. There an enormous range of things to see in this region, including silent, damp rainforests, jagged mountains, icy streams and pristine lakes.

At the heart of this national park is Mt Ossa, Tasmania’s highest mountain, a popular attraction which many visitors enjoy climbing.

If you are in the mood for a serious challenge, why not embark on the Overland Track, a six-day walk that takes you through the core of Tasmania’s Wilderness. Along this path, you can encounter lakes, gorges, forests and moors.

If you travel during April, you will also get the a chance to see the Deciduous Beech tree as it changes colour.

This park features outlandish vegetation that is unique to the climate and can’t be found on Australia’s mainland.

So during your visit, take the opportunity to experience the tranquil atmosphere and exclusive scenery of Tasmania’s Wilderness.

5. Sydney Harbour Bridge

As one of Australia’s most photographed land-marks, Sydney Harbour Bridge opened in 1932 and has continued to attract tourists from all over the world.

Aside from being a place for magnificent views and photo opportunities, the bridge has a touch of interesting history. Upon the opening of the Bridge, Jack T. Lang, who was serving as the NSW premier was beaten to the cutting of the ribbon, which was intended to signify the opening of the Bridge. Before he got the chance, a man Captain Francis De Groot slashed the ribbon with his sword.

As a member of a political group called The New Guard, Captain De Goot believed that the Sydney Harbour Bridge should be opened by a member of the royal family.  Once he was detained, the ribbon was tied back together and the Premier proceeded in the official opening.

There is more to learn, see and do when visiting this iconic Bridge. The Pylon Lookout provides a great view of the city and features a great display on how the Bridge was made.

For adventurous types, the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb is an absolute must-do.  Climbs are available day, night, dawn and twilight and are conducted safely with specialised climbing gear.

Whether you’re after an adrenaline rush, a historical experience, or the chance to take in the beautiful city around you, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is has something special to offer.

6. Horizontal Waterfalls

David Attenborough has named this phenomenon was named ‘one of the greatest wonders of the natural world.’

Located on Western Australia’s Kimberly Coast, these tidal currents pass sideways through two narrow coastal gorges, creating a turquoise waterfall effect. This sceptical, technically called ‘pinch rapids’ reverses along with the changing of the tides.

These falls are breaks in the McLarty range, which is over one billion years old. Every year, tens of thousands of people travel via sea plane from Broome and Derby to get a glimpse of these waterfalls in action.

In certain tidal conditions, it is possible to drive boats through the gaps to the bay behind, with the assistance of highly experienced skippers.

This is the only place in the world where you will have the chance to see a horizontal waterfall.

7. Naracoorte Caves

This world heritage listed site is home to an extensive collection of fossils, providing a snapshot of some of the now extinct species that existed in the area.

Located in the Limestone Coast Tourism Region of South Australia, the Naracoorte Caves National Park is a great place to get up and close with some of the spectacular formations,  soaking up the mysterious atmosphere as you navigate your way through stalagmites and stalactites.

The Park is recognised as one of the world’s most important fossil sites.

This site is recognised worldwide for its fossil collection. The park is open 9am-5pm, with a range of different options for exploring the caves.

There is also the option of adventure caving, a more challenging experience that involves crawling through unlit caves, passing through wide chambers and squeezing through tight spaces.

If you are planning a visit to South Australia, exploring these caves is a perfect way to experience something new, while getting in touch with nature.

 8. Melbourne Arts Precinct

Melbourne is well known as the cultural capital of Australia and home to many established and aspiring artists.

With its distinctive spire construction at the centre, the Melbourne Arts Precinct is the perfect place to discover the city’s wide variety of song, dance and theatre.

Aside from being a place to see upcoming plays and exhibitions, the buildings each have their own stunning architecture. There are a number of events, exhibitions and back-stage tours throughout the year. Visit the Precinct in the evening to see the vibrant blue lights of the spire watch this little arts hub come to life.

9. The Twelve Apostles

Rising up from Victoria’s Southern Ocean, stand a glorious collection of limestone stacks. Over time, these formations have been sculptured by erosion and wind into the intricate formations we see today.

Despite the name, only eight Apostles remain and others seem to be on the verge of collapsing. These majestic cliffs, arches and pillars are particularly beautiful at sun-rise and sun-set and can be seen from a range of lookouts.

There are also scenic helicopter flights available, allowing visitors to take in a birds-eye view of these exceptional formations. The surrounding area is also inhabited by a diverse range of marine life.

Visitors occasionally spot penguins in the early hours of the morning as they nest in caves below the Apostles.

As the erosion is continuing, it is uncertain as to how long these iconic stacks of limestone will last. So if you are travelling to Australia, see the nine remaining Apostles before they disappear