Home to bustling cities, deserted beaches, dusty outback and lush rainforest, Australia is a massive country with endless opportunities for adventure. Whether you’re looking for cultural and historical experiences, or seeking out ecotourism and adventure sports there is something here to please everyone. If you don’t have one already, this post will inspire you to create your own Australia bucket list.
Here we go with our top 10 Australian Bucket List items.
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Top 10 Travel Experiences For Your Australia Bucket List
Australia is huge. So huge it is its own continent! When there are so many incredible experiences available it can be hard to know where to start. We’ve taken the pressure off by narrowing it down to 10 bucket list worthy items to kick off your Australian adventure.
1. Drive The Great Ocean Road
If you’re looking for scenic Australian beaches, quintessential seaside towns and breathtaking rainforests look no further than the Great Ocean Road. Spanning 243 kilometers from Torquay to Allansford this iconic road trip takes visitors through several must-see attractions including the Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road waterfalls, and the world famous surf break at Bells Beach.
Wildlife enthusiasts can take a kangaroo tour at Anglesea Golf Club, visit koalas at the Kennett River Koala Walk and go whale spotting at Logan’s Beach. Meanwhile, adrenaline junkies will love the zip line tour at Live Wire Park in Lorne and surf lessons across some of Victoria’s best beaches.
Those that prefer to explore via their stomachs will find plenty of mouthwatering experiences including pints at Great Ocean Road Brewhouse, sweet treats at Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery and no shortage of fish & chips shops dotted all along the Southern Ocean coastline. This classic Aussie pilgrimage can be completed in a whirlwind two days or stretched out into a more relaxing week long adventure.
You’ll find accommodation to fit any budget from family friendly caravan parks to luxurious boutique accommodation. For the return trip, either retrace your steps for a second pass at any sights you missed the first time around, or for a change of scenery take the Inland Route (288km) via Colac which takes you past mountains before delivering you back at your starting point.
2. Snorkel or Dive The Great Barrier Reef
The beautiful but fragile Great Barrier Reef is a must-see natural wonder that extends 2000km along the Queensland coastline. Visiting this natural wonder is a perfect opportunity to learn more about ocean conservation and the delicate ecosystems that depend on it. Cairns serves as a popular jumping off point for those looking to experience the reef up close. Book a snorkeling day trip or take a scuba diving course with one of the local dive schools.
Alternatively, the fishing-village-turned-resort-town of Port Douglas offers a more “off the beaten path” experience, providing access to the pristine outer reefs. If underwater exploration isn’t your thing, discover this World Heritage area via glass bottomed boat tour or a scenic flight. The crystal clear waters are something you will never forget!
3. Visit Sydney
You can find several of Sydney’s must-see attractions around Circular Quay and The Rocks, so consider dedicating a day to exploring this area on foot. Start your day at the Royal Botanic Garden (free entry, open from 7am), where Mrs Macquaries Point offers postcard-worthy views of the bay and city skyline. This includes, of course, the famous Sydney Opera House, a UNESCO World Heritage listed attraction. Meander towards Circular Quay where you can visit the Sydney Harbour Bridge or enjoy views of Sydney Cove from a number of bars and restaurants.
Alternatively, escape the hustle and bustle of the CBD in health-conscious Bondi, home of the renowned Bondi Beach. Relax on the beach itself or join local dog walkers and fitness fanatics on the Bondi to Coogee Clifftop Walk (6km) for panoramic views of the neighborhood. For a true Sydney experience, attend a cricket match or AFL game and support the local team amongst sports-loving Sydneysiders.
If you extend your time in the Sydney region, consider a day trip to Blue Mountains National Park. It’s just two hours from Sydney and part of the Great Dividing Range. It’s an incredible destination for hiking and you can visit natural wonders like the Three Sisters, a sandstone rock formation and sacred Aboriginal site.
4. Explore One of Australia's Brilliant National Parks
No Aussie bucket list would be complete without a visit to one of the gorgeous national parks. Australia is a country of diverse ecosystems, wildlife. National parks are the best places to experience that and they should all be on your Australia bucket list.
Daintree National Park: The Daintree, in far north Queensland, represents some of the oldest rainforest areas in the world. Home to an ancient ecosystem, the Daintree’s biodiversity, which was formerly under threat from the logging industry, is now protected as a national park. Be sure to check out Daintree Village, originally settled as a logging camp this community has shifted towards sustainable tourism and tropical fruit farming. Crocodile cruises, which are popular here, are a great way for the whole family to learn about the fascinating prehistoric creatures.
Litchfield National Park: Litchfield National Park is a stunning stretch of protected lands about two hours from Darwin in Northern Territory. One of the most popular things to do in Litchfield is hike to the waterfalls like Wangi Falls and Tolmer Falls. It’s easy to find camping in and around the park which has countless popular bushwalks.
Kalbarri National Park: Located on the Midwest region of Western Australia, Kalbarri National Park is full of wondrous landscapes and geological features. The park is dominated by the Murchison River gorge, an 80 kilometer run of the river. You’ll also find stunning coastal cliffs near the mouth of the river and the city of Kalbarri.
Kakadu National Park: You can explore over 2000 species of plant and wildlife in Kakadu National Park. It’s located in Australia’s Northern Territory and boats wetlands, rivers and landscapes of sandstone. In the area you can also view prehistoric Aboriginal cave paintings in Nourlangie and Ubirr.
5. Visit An Australian Winery
With wine regions in every state, Australia has become a major player in the world of modern wine. Visit one nearest to you, or make it your mission to explore them all! South Australia is home to the National Wine Centre of Australia and to some of the country’s best wines coming out of Clare Valley, Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale.
Meanwhile New South Wales’ Hunter Valley boasts the oldest vines, dating back to the 1820’s. Victoria offers over 500 unique wineries between the Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula, both of which are easy day trips from Melbourne. Lovers of Chardonnay will enjoy the Margaret River region in Western Australia while fans of Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc might prefer Tasmania, where winemakers capitalize on the island’s cool climate.
For a break between wine tastings be sure to seek out local apiaries, artisan cheese mongers and small batch candy makers for a true taste of Australia. Professional tours, which operate in every region, are an excellent opportunity to learn about local history and viticultural practices as well as offering safe transportation.
Add the wine bucket to your Australia bucket list, or just finish the whole glass. Either way, you have to include some wine travel during your time in Australia.
6. Visit Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a fascinating geological feature which is sacred to the Anagu Aboriginal People. Located right in the middle of the continent and surrounded by desert, this once in a lifetime experience is well worth the effort it takes to get there.
Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park, which is jointly run by the Anagu and Parks Australia, charges $25 per adult for an entry permit which remains valid for three days. Circumnavigate the monolith on foot, or rent bicycles to complete the 9.4km loop in half the time. Be sure to time your visit with sunrise or sunset in order to watch as this giant sandstone rock appears to change colour in the shifting sunlight.
Tour operators in the area offer a plethora of unique experiences including stargazing, camel tours and private helicopter flights. Be sure to take the time to learn about the Anagu people, and the significance this area holds for them both historically and into the present day.
7. Visit The Whitsunday Islands
Whether you’re after the luxury of a five-star resort or the privacy of camping on a deserted beach, the Whitsunday Islands are ready to deliver your personal version of white sand paradise. For resort luxury Hamilton Island boasts its own golf course, tennis courts, spa and high end restaurants. If you prefer to rough it camping is permitted on a number of islands. Be sure to pack fresh drinking water and a fuel stove for cooking as campfires are not permitted.
Regardless of the style of accommodation you choose you will find that there are a number of activities available to you including sailing, diving, kayaking and bushwalking. For an extra dose of adventure consider booking a multi-day sail cruise.
8. Visit Broome and Discover The Glory of Cable Beach
A trip to Broome would not be complete without a visit to the iconic Cable Beach, where white sand stretches out for 22 kilometers. Camel rides at sunset are a highlight for many tourists, or travel like the locals in a 4×4. Swimming at Cable Beach is generally safe in the dry season but be aware of jellyfish in the wet season.
Discover Broome’s pearling history at Broome Museum or download the free Jetty to Jetty smartphone app for access to a self guided walking tour (2.8km) which highlights points of special significance to the area.
9. Check Our Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island lies off the southern coast of Mainland Australia and it’s the third-largest island. It’s 155 kilometers across and has a long coastline. The island is bucket list worthy for the natural landscape and unique rock formations like Admiral’s Arch and Remarkable Rocks.
While Kangaroos live on the island, the wildlife is rich and diverse with colonies of penguins, sea lions and koalas. Over a third of the island consists of protected nature reserves so a trip to Kangaroo Island will be full of nature and wildlife tourism.
10. Spend Some Time On The Gold Coast
The Gold Coast is a gorgeous coastal city south of Brisbane on the eastern shoreline and it firmly belongs on your Australia bucket list. There are all kinds of things to do on the Gold Coast like surfers paradise, the long stretches of beach, whale watching and boating through the elaborate system of inland canals.
The Gold Coast is also known for its theme parks like Sea World, Dreamworld and Wet’n’Wild. It’s also fringed with rain forest and when you visit you’re not far from hiking in Lamington National Park. It’s a perfect destination for world class hiking trails through mountain ridges, valleys and rainforest.
From the Gold Coast you’re only about an hour from Byron Bay. The destination is another popular holiday spot for surfing, diving and whale watching. The beaches are simply incredible and you can knock two lovely destinations from your bucket list.
11. Go On A Crocodile Cruise On The Adelaide River
Scoping out salt water crocodiles on the Adelaide River is an unbelievable experience for your Australia Bucket list. Zoos and animal sanctuaries around the country provide an up-close experience with the infamous saltwater crocodile, but nothing quite compares to seeing these incredible creatures in the wild. Crocodile cruises, which can be booked in advance online, are easily accessible as a day trip out of Darwin and one of the best things to see in Australia.
12. Check Out Offbeat Rottnest Island
Get off the beaten path and discover why locals love to spend time on Rottnest Island. Known as Wadjemup (place across the water) to the Wadjuk Indigenous people, this fully off-the-grid and car-free island is a popular escape for Perth locals. If you’re feeling active; rent a bike, kayak, paddle board or surfboard and embrace all that this little island has to offer. Be sure to look out for quokkas, Rottnest’s tiny marsupial residents who are unafraid of humans and will even pose for selfies.
Now You're Ready to Check Off Your Australia Bucket List
Spanning six states and three territories, Australia is truly diverse both in landscape and in the people that call it home. Checking off any of these bucket list items will create memories to last a lifetime! There are so many must see places in Australia, but this list is the best way to start off your explorations.
What destinations did we miss and what’s on your personal Australia bucket list? Comment below and let us know your thoughts!
Jaz is of the Great Ocean Road Collective. A website dedicated to sharing the beauty of the Great Ocean Road in Australia will travelers far and wide. If you are planning your trip, need some inspiration or looking for authentic advice on Aussie travel visit our website The Great Ocean Road Australia or check us out on Instagram.