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.

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MT Staff
Greg lives in Brisbane and loves the Brisbane lifestyle. He likes to write about Brisbane, lifestyle, Business and more.

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