The Ultimate Australia Bucket List
Australia. It’s brilliant. It’s beautiful. And bloody massive. Finding 101 things to do in any other country would require some barrel scraping, but when it comes to Australia the challenge is getting everything down to a shortlist. From the uber cool Melbourne and stunningly scenic Sydney to the mesmerising landscapes of the Outback, this gigantic island continent is fizzing with more incredible sights and experiences than you can shake a didgeridoo at.
Happy browsing, and even happier travelling, mate!
Things to Do in Melbourne and Victoria
Drive the Great Ocean Road
This 151 mile stretch of outrageously picturesque tarmac is generally agreed to be one of the best road trips in the world, and certainly the best in Australia.
Explore the graffiti alleys of Melbourne
The street art of Melbourne is world-class, an explosion of colour and talent that offers a genuinely jaw-dropping experience when encountered for the first time.
Have a BBQ on Ninety Mile Beach
A BBQ on the beach is a classic Australian experience, so you might as well combine that with a trip to the longest uninterrupted beach in the country and the third longest in the world.
Shop at the Queen Victoria Market
The Queen Victoria Market provides the best and most atmospheric shopping experience in Melbourne, and has been a staple of the city’s culture for more than a century.
Check out the Shrine of Remembrance
This strikingly handsome war memorial is well worth a visit and from the top of its steps you can catch a spectacular view of Melbourne.
Wee on the 35th floor of the Sofitel
You could pay 20 bucks to get a view of Melbourne from the Eureka Tower, the city’s highest skyscraper, or you could just use the 35th floor public toilet in the Sofitel hotel…
Get some nature in the Dandenong Ranges
Located a few miles east of Melbourne, these gentle mountain ranges cloaked in rainforest make for a perfect day trip from the city. Bring a picnic.
Visit the set of Neighbours
If you’ve grown up entranced with the myriad plotlines of the most famous street in Australia, you’re going to really love this. You’ll get to meet some of the main cast, too
Soak up Melbourne’s coffee culture
Melbourne is to coffee is what Bordeaux is to wine. The city is world famous for its café culture and the Australians take their coffee as seriously as they do their sport.
See the penguins at St Kilda Pier
Head to St Kilda Pier at sunset for one of the most rewarding wildlife experiences the country has to offer – hundreds of tiny penguins coming home to roost.
See more penguins on Phillip Island
If the penguins at the pier have whetted your appetite, Phillip Island beckons, where you’ll find even more, along with kangaroos, wallabies, seals and – if you’re lucky – dolphins and whales.
Get retro at Luna Park
This charming Melbourne amusement park has been in continuous operation for over a century and has all the classics, including a hall of mirrors, a rickety roller coaster and a ghost train.
Watch a cricket match at the MCG
The Melbourne Cricket Ground has over 100,000 seats and is the largest cricket ground in the world. The atmosphere is at its most electric during Test Matches.
Take a hike in Wilsons Promontory N.P.
For deserted sandy beaches and generally gorgeous coastal scenery, go walking on the Wilsons Promontory peninsula, which covers the southernmost portion of mainland Australia.
Visit Australia’s smallest town
Admittedly, Suggan Buggan (population: 1) is more disconcerting than interesting, but to reach it you have to drive through Snowy River National Park, which is absolutely beautiful.
Things to Do in Sydney & New South Wales
Admire Sydney Opera House
Sydney’s most famous building is spectacular from most angles, but the best view is from the lovely Botanical Gardens, where you can admire it framed in the massive arch of Harbour Bridge.
Watch free fireworks at Darling Harbour
Darling Harbour is one of the nicest areas of central Sydney and a good place to stroll at any time, and from May to October it gets even better thanks to the free firework shows every week.
See iconic views in the Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains make for one of the best and most popular day trips from Sydney. The classic vista is the Three Sisters rock formation from Echo Point lookout.
Walk the coast from Coogee to Bondi
Winding through stunning coastal scenery for almost 4 miles, the walk from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach is a classic Sydney experience and a perfect introduction to the city’s seaside surrounds.
Go on a night out in Kings Cross
Kings Cross is Sydney’s red light district, and more than a bit seedy, but it’s home to some of the best bars in the city. It can get a bit rough, so keep your wits about you.
Learn to surf at Bondi Beach
Surfing is as much a part of Aussie culture as beers and BBQs, and there are few better places to learn than on the country’s most famous beach.
Climb Australia’s highest mountain
Mount Kosciuszko demands more of a stroll than a climb, but it’s not often you can summit a country’s highest peak without breaking a sweat, so make the most of it!
Go on a pub crawl in The Rocks
This area forms the historic centre of Sydney and is full of cool bars and shops. The whole place is easily walkable – or crawlable – so a perfect spot for an all-day session.
Take the Manly Ferry
This green and yellow ferry, which is as iconic as the harbour it traverses every day, connects central Sydney with the popular beach suburb of Manly, and is an experience in its own right.
Walk across Sydney Harbour Bridge
Note the words ‘walk across’ and not ‘climb over’; the former is free and the views are almost as impressive. If you have the budget, however, doing the climb is an incredible experience.
Take a tour round Parliament House
The Australian Capital Territory might be the most boring place in the world, but if you have a special interest in the country’s governance, a tour around Canberra’s Parliament House is for you.
Things to Do in Brisbane and Queensland
Stay at the Arts Factory in Byron Bay
Towns don’t come much cooler than Byron Bay, and hostels don’t come much cooler than the Arts Factory, just a few minutes off the main drag. Look out for the resident goannas.
Day trip from Byron Bay to Nimbin
Nimbin is known for being the drug capital of Australia and provides an interesting chance to see a counterculture, even if you don’t feel like joining the hippies and getting stoned.
Go clubbing in Surfers Paradise
Surfers Paradise on Australia’s Gold Coast has some of the biggest clubs in the country, and a variety of theme parks where you can shake off the hangover. Surf’s pretty good, too.
Visit Burleigh Head N.P.
One of Australia’s nicest national parks, Burleigh Head has a decent beach with a great view of the Surfers Paradise skyline, and some excellent inland walking paths.
Visit Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
One of the best wildlife parks in Australia, Lone Pine allows you to meet some of the country’s best known fauna, including the chance to hold koalas and hand-feed kangaroos.
See Brisbane using CityCat Ferry
Similar to Sydney’s Manly Ferry, Brisbane’s CityCat Ferry, which stops at various points along the Brisbane River, which flows through the city, is a bit of an institution in its own right.
See live music in Brisbane
Brisbane is famous for its live music scene and has some of the best venues in the country. Seeing a gig here and partying with the locals is a classic Brisbane experience.
Canoe down the Noosa River
The Noosa River is perfect for canoeing adventures and a popular excursion for backpackers travelling up the east coast who want to experience the fabled Australian Bush.
Explore Fraser Island in a 4x4
The best way to explore the natural wonders of Fraser Island, which include Lake McKenzie, Eli Creek and endless miles of golden beaches, is by driving a 4x4. So. Much. Fun.
Do a Scooteroo tour of 1770
On this hugely popular tour you’ll spend three hours riding mini Harley Davidsons through the towns of 1770 and Agnes Water, stopping along the way to see local wildlife and amazing scenery.
Sleep on Great Keppel Island
For a genuinely off the beaten track experience, Great Keppel Island beckons. Once the day trippers have gone home, you’ll experience absolute solitude. Bliss.
Spot a platypus at Eungella N.P.
Eungella National Park is one of the best places in Australia to see one of its most intriguing creatures, the platypus, which looks like a combination of a duck, an otter and a beaver.
Sail around the Whitsundays
The Whitsunday islands are about as close to paradise as you’re likely to find on this planet, and Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island itself is perfection defined.
Go white water rafting on the Tully River
Widely agreed to be the best place to white water raft in Australia, the Tully River hurls you through more than 40 rapids and waterfalls amidst lush rainforest scenery.
Scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef
One of the most extraordinary natural wonders on the planet, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef stretches for almost 1,500 miles of tropical bliss, and supports a staggering biodiversity.
Visit Cape Trib in Daintree Rainforest
Cape Tribulation is a picture-perfect beach on the edge of the mysterious Daintree Rainforest, which at 165 million years old looks much the same as it did when dinosaurs were roaming the planet.
Explore lava tubes at Undara
These huge, eerie tunnels were created by lava draining through the landscape following a massive volcanic eruption thousands of years ago, and you can wander through them.
Make a splash at Mount Hypipamee
This volcanic crater lake is covered with duck weed, making it look like a putting green from the viewpoint far above. Until you throw a rock in and hear the immensely satisfying boom.
Camp at Porcupine Gorge
Porcupine Gorge is far enough off the beaten track to ensure it receives hardly any visitors but accessible enough to provide a massive reward for those who make the effort.
Go on the Kuranda Scenic Railway
Winding through 23 miles of lush tropical rainforest between Cairns and Kuranda, this scenic rail journey is a great chance to see some of the more inaccessible landscapes of Queensland.
Things to Do in the Northern Territory
Spot amazing wildlife in Kakadu N.P.
Kakadu National Park in the far north of Australia is the largest in the country – it’s about the same size as Wales – and home to an incredible array of wildlife and amazing scenery.
Swim under waterfalls in Litchfield N.P.
Home to some of the best swimming holes and waterfalls in the country, Litchfield National Park, just south of Darwin, is as popular with locals as it is with tourists.
Meet Aboriginals in Arnhem Land
Arnhem Land covers the far northeast portion of Australia and is home to around 16,000 of the indigenous population. Visitation is limited, so you’ll need a permit.
Get a beer in Daly Waters
If Mick ‘Crocodile’ Dundee was real, Daly Waters – a traditional and ridiculously quirky Outback pub – is exactly the kind of place he’d drink.
Watch a sunrise at Devils Marbles
It’s easy to see why this boulder field was given its name: the giant granite rocks are arranged and balanced upon one another in the most peculiar and apparently impossible way.
Walk around Kings Canyon
One of the highlights of Australia’s Red Centre, Kings Canyon provides one of the most dramatic hikes in the country. The path skirts the canyon’s rim, offering spectacular views throughout.
Visit Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre
This brilliant cultural centre will help you gain an understanding of why the landscape of Australia’s Red Centre is so incredibly sacred to the native Aboriginal population.
Uluru is one of the most amazing natural wonders in the world: a colossal monolith of red sandstone bulging from a pancake-flat desert. The walk around the base is 6 miles and worth every step.
Wander among Kata Tjuta domes
A few miles from Uluru you’ll find Kata Tjuta (‘many heads’) a series of giant rock domes which are equally impressive but for some reason nowhere near as famous as their sister rock to the west.
Spot a UFO at Wycliffe Well
The self-proclaimed U.F.O. Capital of Australia, just off the Stuart Highway which runs straight through the middle of Australia north to south, is hilariously naff but well worth a stop.
Brave Wolfe Creek Crater Reserve
If you haven’t yet seen the film Wolf Creek, perhaps just don’t. But if you have and want to face your fears, check out the Wolfe Creek Crater Reserve, where it was filmed. You’ll probably be fine.
Explore Keep River N.P.
If you’re lucky enough to be driving the Victoria Highway, you should definitely stop to admire the spectacular scenery of this tiny and very little known national park.
Canoe down Katherine Gorge
Australia isn’t a country short on gorges but this is easily one of the best, and filled with a beautiful green river which makes for perfect canoeing trips.
Take a dip at Mataranka Hot Springs
These opal-coloured thermal pools make for a pleasant day out, splashing around under the palms. There are a few walks in the area, too.
See saltwater crocs in the Top End
Australia’s most lethal predators (they’re basically dinosaurs) thrive in the northern coastal regions of the country and there are plenty of excursions where you can see them in the Top End.
Things to Do in Western Australia
Helicopter tour over Bungle Bungles
Okay, so this might be a little outside your budget, but if you can afford it, take a helicopter ride over the Bungle Bungle Range, a landform comprised of thousands of beehive-shaped domes.
Ride a camel down Cable Beach
Broome’s Cable Beach is one of the best in the world, just about as perfect as a beach can be. A popular experience is to join one of the daily camel rides at sunset.
Walk through Tunnel Creek
One of the many highlights of the vast Kimberly region in northwest Australia, the aptly named Tunnel Creek winds for 750m underground along a shallow creek bed.
Clamber through gorges in Karijini N.P.
Karijini National Park is famous for its series of majestic gorges, which you can venture into on walking trails that range in difficulty. It might just be the most fun national park in the country.
Swim with whale sharks
Every year, from April to July, whale sharks – at 50 ft long the largest fish in the ocean – arrive at Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia to feed, and you can join them.
Do the ‘drift snorkel’ at Ningaloo Reef
Ningaloo Reef begins just metres from the beachfront, meaning you can easily swim to it. And if you go snorkelling at Turquoise Bay, you won’t even have to swim; the current will do all the work.
Meet wild dolphins at Monkey Mia
Since the 1960s wild bottlenose dolphins have been swimming up to the beachfront every morning at Monkey Mia to greet drooling tourists. They’re always on time, so make sure you are, too.
Pay your respects to the stromatolites
These living rocks, discovered a few decades in Shark Bay Marine Park, are Earth’s earliest life form (3.5 billion years) and are responsible for our atmosphere being filled with lovely oxygen.
Camp on the beach in Cape Range N.P.
Australia certainly isn’t short on places to camp but for one of the most memorable spots head to Cape Range National Park, where you can pitch up pretty much on the beach.
See the wildflowers at Kalbarri N.P.
From late winter through to early summer (in Australia that’s July to October) Kalbarri National Park becomes ablaze with wild flowers, of which there are over 800 species.
Drive around the Pinnacles
Located in Nambung National Park, this otherworldly landscape looks like a fossilised forest. You can drive among the limestone shards on designated tracks.
Go wine tasting in Margaret River
The vineyards of Margaret River, a sleepy town about 150 miles south of Perth, produce some of the best wine in the world. You should probably go and sample some, just to make sure.
Have a picnic in Kings Park
This lovely park on the western fringe of downtown Perth is a great place to admire the city skyline, and to spend a day lazing about.
Explore the Golden Quest Discovery Trail
The Golden Quest Discovery Trail is a 600-mile self-drive route that links some of the towns of the Western Australia Gold Rush, most of which are now abandoned, along with other interesting sites.
Visit Wave Rock
This aptly named rock formation soars to a height of 14 metres and is over 100 metres in length. The granite that makes up the formation is 2.6 billion years old – about half the age of our planet.
Things to Do in South Australia
Drive through the Nullarbor Plain
The Nullarbor Plain is 77,000 square miles of flat, treeless landscape. The Eyre Highway, which passes through, has the longest stretch of straight road in the country, 90 miles without a turn.
Cycle around Adelaide
In terms of things to do, Adelaide doesn’t come close to places like Melbourne and Sydney, but it’s a pleasant enough place, and easy to explore on two wheels.
Join the mail run from Coober Pedy
Tours don’t come much more authentic than this one, where you can join the postman for a 370 mile Outback delivery journey, which passes by some seriously isolated addresses.
Go to Kangaroo Island
Just a few miles off the South Australian mainland, Kangaroo Island is home to plenty of – you guessed it! – kangaroos, along with koalas, sea lions and many species of birds.
Things to Do on Tasmania
Hike up Cradle Mountain
Tasmania is home to some spectacular scenery, and nowhere is this more evident than Cradle Mountain, which at 1,545 metres is the fifth highest in the state.
Get a view of Wineglass Bay
Wineglass Bay forms Tasmania’s most iconic view and can be seen in Freycinet National Park. It frequently appears on ‘best beaches in the world’ lists.
Meet Tassie Devils
These meat-eating marsupials, made famous by Loony Tunes, are sadly endangered, but you can still see them in the flesh at one of the many wildlife sanctuaries on the island.
Go snorkelling at the Bay of Fires
Located on the northeast coast of Tasmania, this area of pristine beaches and crystal clear waters makes for a perfect place to snorkel.
Shop at Salamanca Market
This outdoor market in the heart of the Tasmanian capital, Hobart, opens up every Saturday and has over 300 stalls, selling everything from jewellery to clothing to food.
Events, Culture and Other Stuff
New Year’s Eve in Sydney
The New Year’s Eve celebrations in Sydney are absolutely epic every single year, helped by phenomenal firework displays.
Learn the didgeridoo
Australia’s most famous instrument is synonymous with the Aboriginal culture that invented it, and while not exactly melodious, it does emit an incredibly evocative sound.
Eat barramundi fish
Barramundi is possibly the tastiest fish in the world, and revered by Australians as an iconic national dish. Its subtle flavour means it goes with pretty much anything.
Stay at a cattle ranch
A classic Australian experience is to spend a night on an Outback cattle ranch, where you can sample Bush life, like cracking a whip, learning how to lasso, and riding horses.
Learn how to talk like an Aussie
Easy, right? Just say something about throwing a shrimp on the barbie, mate. That’s pretty much all the Aussies say anyway. Or is it? Best check out our advice on Aussie lingo to be sure…
Have a campervan adventure
Australia is the best country in the world to hireor buy a campervan. With over half a million miles of road, endless incredible scenery and thousands of campsites, you can’t really go wrong.
Take the Indian Pacific train
This legendary train journey traverses the entire width of Australia, from Perth (Indian Ocean) to Sydney (Pacific Ocean). The 2,700-mile journey takes 65 hours.
Sip some Bundaberg Rum
Bundaberg Rum is up there with barramundi fish as a culinary institution. It’s brewed in Bundaberg, Queensland, and you won’t find a bar or pub anywhere that doesn’t stock it.
Place a bet
There is a big gambling culture in Australia, so do like the locals do and get involved by sticking a few dollars on something – there is no shortage of sporting events to bet on.
See Vivid Sydney
Vivid Sydney is a light festival that takes place every year from May to June, and sees some of the city’s best known landmarks lit up with beautiful illuminations.
Watch the Darwin Beer Can Regatta
One of the country’s quirkiest events, the Beer Can Regatta, held in Darwin each July, sees participants trying out the seaworthiness of boats built from beer cans and other junk.
Learn how to throw a boomerang
It’s really not as easy as it looks, but once you’ve got throwing (and more importantly retrieving) a boomerang figured out, it makes for a pretty cool party trick when you’re back home.
Watch an Aussie rules football game
The Aussies love their sport and there is no better way to experience this aspect of the culture than watching a live game of Aussie rules football, the national sport.
See Mardi Gras in Sydney
Sydney annual gay pride festival is one of the best and biggest of its kind in the world, attended by hundreds of thousands of people, from both Australia and overseas.
Watch the Melbourne Cup
One of the premier events on the Australian sporting calendar, The Melbourne Cup is an annual horse race held at Flemington Racecourse. Don’t forget to place a bet!
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