In summer 2017 we decided to book flights to Australia. This was (slightly) on a whim but knowing we wanted to travel somewhere completely new and preferably far away from home. A year later we were buying our camper van and setting off to see it all. 365 days of Aussie greatness, here are our must-see highlights if you’re visiting this koala-cuddling country.
The 15 Best Things to do in Australia
15. Quokka selfies
These cute little critters can only be seen in the wild on Rottnest Island. We had an awesome day of walking, wildlife spotting and quokka selfie-taking on Rottnest and would recommend it to anyone exploring the west coast.
Rottnest Island is off the coast of Perth with regular ferry services. We journeyed over with Rottnest Express and when we arrived, hopped on the island explorer bus. You can also rent a bike to see the whole island in all its glory.
Full blog post here: How to take the perfect quokka selfie
14. The Boxing Day Test
What could be more Aussie than sipping on a beer while watching the cricket in glorious sunshine? The boxing day test in Melbourne is an iconic match renowned for its atmosphere and action. Now test matches aren’t for everyone (heck cricket alone isn’t for everyone) but if you’re going to watch a match, this is the one. Don your garish flower print shirt with pride, grab a brew and try and find someone who can explain the rules!
Read our full guide to Melbourne for more info.
13. Dolphin Feeding
Want to get up close and personal with dolphins? In Monkey Mia you can spend the morning learning about their conservation and, if you’re lucky, hand feed a dolphin in the shallows.
Monkey Mia is found in Shark Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s complete with a resort, restaurant and jazzy coffee shop. After breakfast (for you and the dolphins) head out onto the water in a kayak and wait for your finned friends to come and swim beside you!
Check out our full post here: Dolphin feeding in Monkey Mia
12. Sand Boarding
Looking for an active day out? Head to Lancelin in Western Australia, grab a board and start bombing those dunes! From kids to adults, this is fun for everyone. If you’re not confident in your balance it’s no drama, bum-board your way to the bottom and stick to the baby hills. It’s a great day out.
Lancelin is an hour and half drive out from Perth making it the perfect day trip. Board hire is available from the dunes for only $10 per board.
Full blog post and video of our falls here: Sand Boarding photo and video diary
11. Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains are a must-do day trip from Sydney. Accessible via public transport or only a couple of hours in the car, there’s heaps to see and do. They’re named due to the blue haze caused by the eucalyptus forests and have numerous waterfalls and hikes to explore.
If you want to dangle over Jurassic rainforest canopy or hike up to a stunning waterfall lookout point, the Blue Mountains are for you. There’s also the attraction Scenic World which is home to three rides with amazing views of the Three Sisters.
Read our full post here: 48 hours in the Blue Mountains
10. Jumping Crocs
The jumping croc tours of the Northern Territory are the safest ways to see saltwater crocodiles in person without becoming lunch. Head to the Adelaide River a few hours outside Darwin and watch six-metre long crocs jump out of the water from the safety of your boat. Learn all about their feeding habits, their conservation and even try and spot Brutus, the resident 90-year old salty!
Find out which company we recommend on our full blog post: Best way to see Saltwater Crocs in the NT
9. Whale Watching
Humpback whale spotting makes for a slightly calmer day than watching the crocs leap out of the water. These majestic animals are incredible to watch during their migrations. The best part is that you can spot the whale migration on both the east and west coast depending on the time of year.
We went out on a humpback watching cruise on the west coast of Oz down in Augusta. It’s a three and a half drive from Perth so would be best to do when staying in the Margaret River area.
Check out our full post: Whale watching in Augusta, WA
8. Drive along the Great Ocean Road
The 12 apostles, camping under koalas and rainforest walking. We had the best time on our two-day trip from Adelaide to Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road. Take a couple or even a few days to enjoy these amazing natural formations and everything to see along the way.
It’s a tourist highlight of Australia so take your time, expect some crowds and traffic and take it all in, who knows how long these formations will be there for.
Our full two-day itinerary can be found here: Two days on the Great Ocean Road
Another Aussie icon! The big rock in the middle of the country. Grab your walking boots and enjoy your three-day pass around the park. Head to the heritage centre to learn all about the aboriginal history and tradition around these magical sites.
To see the rock at the best times and witness the changing colours, wake up early to watch the sunrise and stay late to watch the sunset. Got a camper? They make the best sunset viewing platforms!
You can read about Uluru and other highlights on the road down the centre here: A road trip down Australia’s Red Centre
6. Hang Gliding in Byron Bay
Push yourself out of your comfort zone and go hang gliding over Byron Bay’s beaches. With a gorgeous view of the lighthouse on one side and the ocean on the other, you couldn’t ask for a better vantage point.
Glide slowly down, then land on golden shores. Awesome. Watch the surf as you glide, you might just spot some dolphins playing in the waves.
Take a read of all of highlights of Byron Bay here: The best of Byron Bay
5. Snorkelling with Whale Sharks
The lesser-known Ningaloo Reef on the west coast of Australia is home to dugongs, manta rays and of course whale sharks. Snorkelling along the reef is an amazing experience in itself; it’s teaming with life and colour.
The real show stoppers are the gentle giants. Hop in the water and try and keep up as they glide along next to you before diving down to the depths.
You can take tours from Exmouth or the smaller, Coral Bay. Coral Bay is also a great place for a family holiday with nice caravan parks, restaurants and beaches.
Take a look at some amazing pictures and read about our experience here: Swimming with Whale Sharks on the Ningaloo Reef
4. Sail around the Whitsunday Islands
Pure white silica sand, amazing views and marine life are all on the list for a day out to the Whitsunday islands. The sand of Whitehaven beach is unique and a bit of a mystery. The silica makeup of the sand is different from the rest of the beaches on the Whitsunday Islands (which are more course). The properties make it resistant to the heat of the sun so you can comfortably walk on it barefoot, it’s excellent for cleaning jewellery and of course, it’s stunningly white.
Sailing around the crystal clear blue waters is relaxing and quite surreal. There’s plenty of reef to snorkel around and plenty of companies to take you out to it! It’s an absolute must-do of Australia.
Read more on our trip to the Whitsundays here: Whitsunday Islands
3. New Year’s Eve Fireworks in Sydney
Name better NYE plans, we can wait…
Watching the fireworks go off over Harbour Bridge and the Opera House at midnight is one of the best experiences in Australia. Find yourself a free or ticketed spot (everywhere has a great atmosphere) then see in the new year in style. We took it all in from Barangaroo Reserve, a ticketed event, but walking the day before and after, the botanic gardens looked like an incredible free area to watch (just make sure you get there early on NYE). One thing’s for sure, it will be a display you’ll never forget.
Check out our full Sydney guide for more info here: a complete guide to Sydney
2. The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is this high on our list for a very good reason, it’s incredible and unfortunately, the opportunity to see it in all its glory is diminishing. One of the seven wonders of the natural world and we were lucky enough to get out and see it in three different locations.
Fitzroy Island is a must do, there’s so much to see and do from beach walks to SUP, turtle rehabilitation tours to self-snorkelling! Go and spot green turtles, reef sharks and fishes galore – or grab a kayak and enjoy the reef from above. If you’re more of a land person, trek up to the lighthouse and check out the panoramic views. It literally has something for everyone!
Take a look at our full post on the Great Barrier Reef here: Our Experience on the Great Barrier Reef.
1. Road Tripping
None of our top things to do in Australia would have been possible without our trusty camper and road tripping our way around this huge country. Starting off all the way down in the most remote city in the world and finishing over 25,500km later, we spent a long time road tripping in Australia.
You see so much more of the country than you could any other way. You have the freedom to go in any direction at any time and stay where ever you feel like. It’s the ultimate experience in Australia.
We would always recommend buying a campervan as the best way to see the whole country. If you wanted to read up more about it, check out our post ‘Buying a camper in Australia – all you need to know‘. If you were looking into Greyhound Coaches and can’t decide which is best, well don’t worry, we did both and wrote a post on that too! Greyhound vs Camper will help you choose which is for you. (Greyhound is great but only goes to Broome in WA so if you wanted to complete a lap, a camper is the way to go).
In between house sitting and working, we had four definitive road trips. Each trip massively different to the last yet all of them with must-see attractions on the way.
So there we have it, our 15 best things to do in Australia. Let us know in the comments if you’re favourite experience in Australia isn’t on our list! If you get a chance to experience any of our highlights, enjoy it and let us know if you agree with us!