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Things to Do in Australia - page 5

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Finke Gorge National Park
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Covering around 114,000 acres (46,000 hectares) of central Australia, Finke Gorge National Park is one of the Red Centre’s most startling wilderness areas. The Finke River formed around 300 million years ago, and some sights, such as Palm Valley with its rare red cabbage palms, seem to re-create the landscapes of that lost world.

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Australian Parliament House
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Canberra has two parliament houses: the Art Deco 1920s Old Parliament House and Canberra’s focal point, the new 1980s Parliament House.

Dug into the surrounding green flank of Capital Hill, the grassed roof and triangular metal flagpole of Parliament House are a national symbol.

The building’s central foyer is flanked by the House of Representatives on the east and the Senate on the west. Inside, native timbers, marble, mosaics, tapestries and embroidery feature in the spacious and lofty interior.

Take a guided tour, and if Parliament is sitting you can watch the proceedings from the public gallery.

If you have time, visit the imaginatively curated Old Parliament House adjacent. Clattering typewriters, ringing phones and overflowing in-trays re-create the drama and atmosphere of Canberra’s political life in decades gone by.

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Kryal Castle
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Expect the royal treatment on a visit to Kryal Castle—Australia’s top medieval adventure park and resort. Journey to the dark side on a haunting exploration of the Dragon’s Labyrinth and learn about the ancient history of torture and doom while wandering the Torture Dungeon and Museum. Tap into the thrill and excitement of a live dual during the Royal Joust, where travelers can pick their favorite knight and cheer him on in competition for the heart of a princess.

Whether it’s navigating the twists and turns of an epic royal maze, learning the essential of knighthood from an official knight, launching the Castle catapult or sleeping like royalty in one of the official castle rooms, Kryal Castle is sure to be a memorable adventure for travelers, families and history buffs alike!

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Lake Mountain Alpine Resort
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When winter snows begin falling in June in Victoria’s inland mountains, Melbourne residents grab their jackets and make the drive to Lake Mountain. As the closest alpine ski resort to the streets of downtown Melbourne, Lake Mountain Alpine Ski Resort is a convenient, scenic winter escape from the hustle of urban life. With its 23 miles of cross-country trails, the resort exclusively features cross-country skiing as opposed to downhill or snowboarding. Tobogganing is fun for younger visitors, and especially those who live near the beach and rarely encounter snow.

From the nearby town of Marysville, wind your way upwards into the mountains to over 4,000 feet, and immerse yourself in towering timbers where snow hangs off of the boughs. In summer, skiing is replaced by mountain biking, hiking, and riding the flying fox, and the resort is a great place to escape the heat of summer down near the coast. Sip a coffee in the bistro on site while gazing out over the mountains, and take a deep breath of mountain air overlooking the Yarra Valley. While Australia’s mountains might not be tall, they still offer alpine escapes, and Lake Mountain Alpine Resort is just the place to find it.

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Adelaide Zoo
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Adelaide Zoo is home to almost 2,500 animals, with around 250 different species from all around the world. Along with Aussie favorites like kangaroos, koalas, and Tasmanian devils, the zoo is famous for its pair of Giant Pandas, Wang Wang and Funi, the only animals of their kind in Australia.

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Stockton Beach Sand Dunes
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Stockton Beach has sand like any other beach, but this New South Wales spot has dunes of sand that reach up to 90 feet high. Historically the beach has been the site of several shipwrecks; the wreckage of some continues to wash ashore. The most well known wreck was the Sygna, an enormous Norwegian freight ship that crashed during a storm in 1974. What remains of the ship can be seen from the beach and has become a local landmark.

Today the area is a popular camping, sand boarding and 4WD vehicle area due to its firm sands and massive sand dunes. Camel and horseback rides, quad biking, and surfing make the Stockton Bight sand dunes an adventure and activity hub. There is also fishing and scuba diving in the waters off the coast. Clear rock pools nearby are a fun way to see various marine wildlife as well. The coastal desert wilderness stretches nearly 20 meters.

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Australian War Memorial
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The Australian War Memorial is one of Canberra’s most prominent landmarks and home to the National Military Museum. Standing at the head of Anzac Parade and surrounded by Remembrance Nature Park, it’s a moving tribute to the many Australian soldiers that fought and died in wars throughout the years.

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Edith Falls (Leliyn)
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Located in Nitmiluk National Park in the Top End of the Northern Territory, Edith Falls (Leliyn) offer gorgeous views over the river, tiers of rock pools and waterfalls that cascade through the gully. All that, along with the area's wildlife, makes Edith Falls one of Australia's most picturesque -- not to mention underrated -- natural attractions.

The falls are full of water year-round, but the clear, dry season between May and September is the best time to visit. Even so, the area surrounding the falls is especially lush and green during the intense rains earlier in the year, so visitors are in for a treat no matter when they go.

A visit to the falls typically involves swimming, and Sweetwater Pool, as well as both the upper and lower pools, are all particularly suited for the activity. Visitors to the falls during the wet season, however, may find that swimming is off-limits due to potentially dangerous conditions.

Those looking to earn their refreshing swim can first head to one of the two walking trails at Edith Falls. The Leliyn Trail winds around and above the falls in a 1.6-mile circuit, with multiple lookout spots, a river crossing and a few choice swimming pools along the way. The Sweetwater Pool track is longer at 5.3 miles, but the quiet swimming spot it leads to is worth it. Visitors can undertake the walk as a day or nighttime hike, but it should be noted that overnight stays require a permit.

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Whitsunday Passage
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The Whitsunday Passage is the waterway that carves through the middle of the Whitsunday Islands in the heart of northwestern Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. These famous islands, perhaps some of Australia's most popular tourist attractions, are named after the passage, which was given its title by the famed explorer Captain James Cook in 1770. The area was discovered on Whitsun, a Sunday feast day held seven weeks after Easter, thus resulting in the name. However, since the international dateline has now been established, it is now said that the day Cook discovered this passage would have actually been a Monday.

Within Whitsunday Passage, there are 74 islands in total, with the largest simply known as Whitsunday Island. Most of these islands have remained uninhabited or are, at the very least, protected by a vast system of national parks. The oldest settlement in the Whitsundays is the town of Bowen, settled in 1861. Later, in 1936, the city of Airlie Beach was established and it remains, in many ways, the heart of Whitsunday Passage. Today, the Whitsunday Passage is sailed constantly by tourists on chartered boats and cruises, while including some of the world's most photographed beaches.

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Werribee Open Range Zoo
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Australia might be famous for its kangaroos and koalas, but the Werribee Open Range Zoo offers all the excitement of an African safari on Aussie shores. Lions, rhinoceros, giraffes, and gorillas all roam freely in the park’s 494-acre (200-hectare) grasslands, affording visitors some incredible wildlife-watching opportunities.

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More Things to Do in Australia

Phillip Island Circuit

Phillip Island Circuit

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For many travelers, Phillip Island is known for the penguins that stumble ashore at sunset, but for anyone into high speed racing on motorcycles, go karts, or stock cars, it’s known for the Phillip Island Circuit and the legendary, ocean view course. With a total lap length of 2.7 miles, the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit is not only technically challenging with all of its twist and turns, but considering the sweeping ocean views, is generally regarded as one of the sport’s most scenic and popular tracks. If there happens to be a race while in town, head to one of the spectator spots to watch the fast-paced action, where professional riders accelerate to speeds that can often top 200 mph. On days when races are not actively in session, go kart rides are offered for visitors to get the feel for the course, or you can also whip through the track at high speeds while accompanied by a professional driver. To learn even more about the history of the Grand Prix circuit, and relive its memorable moments, join in a guided tour of the track that takes place at 2pm, where you’ll finish the tour on the winner’s podium like the greatest racers in the world.

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Cape Leveque

Cape Leveque

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One of Australia's most stunning stretches of coastline, Cape Leveque, located on the tip of the Dampier Peninsula, has been home to Aboriginal communities for some 7,000 years. Visit to see the area’s brick-red cliffs, pearl-white sand, and clear blue water, explore the remote landscape, and learn about the local Aboriginal communities.

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Cascade Brewery

Cascade Brewery

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With a legacy dating back to 1824, Cascade Brewery is Australia’s oldest continually operating brewery, founded by English settler Peter Degraves. The historic brewery, set in Hobart at the foot of Mount Wellington, welcomes guests to its brewhouse and restaurant, and offers tours and tastings.

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Cable Beach

Cable Beach

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Cable Beach encompasses 14 miles (22 kilometers) of unspoiled white sand and turquoise waters. The beach is almost perfectly flat and therefore its calm waters are ideal for swimming. From the shore, you can see the occasional pearling boat—an industry that supported Broome before it was discovered by travelers.

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Leura

Leura

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Leura, sometimes called the “Jewel in the Mountains Crown,” is a small Blue Mountains village located about 60 miles (100 kilometers) west of Sydney. Smaller than neighboring Katoomba, with a quaint, cherry tree lined town center called the Leura Mall, the village exudes mill-town charm. There are cafes, bakeries, antiques shops, and high-end boutiques, with brightly colored flowers decorating the streets.

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Hill Inlet

Hill Inlet

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On the northern end of the Whitsundays’ Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet is one of the most photographed spots in Australia. When the tide is low, visitors are treated to fantastic views of the inlet’s swirling white sand and turquoise tropical waters.

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McLaren Vale

McLaren Vale

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McLaren Vale is second only to Barossa Valley as South Australia’s top wine region. The region's wineries are spread out around the town of McLaren Vale, about 25 miles (41 kilometers) south of Adelaide. Soft, luscious Shiraz is the signature style, and more than 70 wineries offer tastings. Don't miss the vibrant local food scene.

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Echo Point Lookout

Echo Point Lookout

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Anyone who’s seen a picture of the Blue Mountains should recognize Echo Point. Famous for its view of the Three Sisters, this sweeping viewpoint on the outskirts of Katoomba defines the Blue Mountains’ beauty. From this cliff top ledge, the jagged escarpment vertically drops towards the distant valley floor—a void where clouds can linger in the treetops nearly a thousand feet below.

Take a deep breath and drink in the beauty of the Blue Mountains’ southern flank, and then consider walking the “Giant Stairway” that drops down into the valley. Over 800 stairs that are carved from the mountain descend 1,000 vertical feet, where numerous hiking trails weave their way along the forested valley floor. Climbing the walls of the “Ruined Castle” is a popular valley hike, and is a good way to escape the crowds that tend to gather at the viewpoint. Rather than hiking back up the stairs, take a ride on the “Scenic Railway” that leads back to the top of the cliff. At inclines of up to 60° it’s considered the world’s steepest railway, and drops passengers at Scenic World—a short walk from Echo Point Lookout.

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Alice Springs School of the Air Visitor Centre

Alice Springs School of the Air Visitor Centre

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These days it’s commonplace for many schools to offer programs online, where you can receive a degree without ever seeing a teacher. Well, before the age of the internet, there was radio-- the means of how School of the Air in Alice Springs, Australia, nobly pioneered the idea to reach out to kids in obscure destinations without proper schools. One visit to the school premises, which is now complete with its own visitor center (Alice Springs School of the Air Visitor Centre), and you can share a moving experience that shows how the utilization of technology we take for granted has not only brought people together, but shaped lives.

Teaching primary and secondary level students since the 50’s, today students are outstretched as far as 502,000 square miles from the school. You can watch a film about the history of this truly unique school, and even listen in on live classes, which have since switched from the radio era to a highly more modernized and efficient broadband internet model. If you happen to arrive when sessions are closed, you may listen in on pre-recorded lessons, with interpreters on site to help you with translations and to field any questions.

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Gordon River

Gordon River

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The Gordon River is as beautifully remote as one could hope a river would be. Beginning in the highlands of the central plateau that dominates inland Tasmania, the riverbank is devoid of any residents along its 117-mile path. Instead, the entire length of this tea-colored river is part of the Tasmanian World Heritage Wilderness Area, a forested expanse of raw wilderness found on the western side of the island. Many of the trees set along this riverbank are nearly 2,000 years old, and as if the beauty couldn’t get any more stunning, the rolling profile of the surrounding hills is often reflected in the river waters.

When visiting Strahan on Tasmania’s west coast, one of the most popular activities is to spend a day on a Gordon River cruise. Plying the waters of the lower reaches of the river, it’s easy to imagine what it must have been like in the early 1800s, when the nearby prison at Sarah Island housed some of Australia’s most fearsome convicts. Today, however, the Gordon River is as placid and peaceful as the leaves that drift on its waters, and it’s a natural resource that fortifies the beauty of the western Tasmanian coastline.

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Mt. Lofty

Mt. Lofty

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Despite its name, Mt. Lofty is far from lofty, standing just 2,385 feet (727 meters) high in the Mt. Lofty Ranges, part of the Adelaide Hills. The summit offers views across Adelaide and the ocean, with a café, an information center and shop, and hiking trail access. Mt. Lofty Botanic Garden and Cleland Wildlife Park are on its slopes.

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Rochford Wines

Rochford Wines

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Lush greenery and rolling hills dotted with twisting vines create a picturesque backdrop for sipping some of Yarra Valley’s finest wines. Rochford Wines, located just an hour’s drive from Melbourne, offers first­-class vino, a top­-notch culinary experience and panoramic views of the iconic Great Dividing Ranges. Meander through the winery’s sprawling vistas to visit the on-­site art gallery and retail shop. Try a tasting from Rochford’s cellar door or dine at the winery’s award­-winning restaurant Isabella’s at Rochford.

An oasis of natural beauty located in the heart of Victoria’s wine country, Rochford is known for hosting a range of events, concerts and functions. The winery boasts activities to suit all tastes— from hot air ballooning and segway tours to wine and cheese pairings.

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Agincourt Reefs

Agincourt Reefs

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The Great Barrier Reef is the Earth’s largest structure built entirely by living organisms. It runs for over 1,200 miles from its northern to southern tip, and is almost the size of the state of Montana when its various reefs are combined. One of the reefs—the Agincourt Reef—is a distant section along the reef’s northern tip where stunning biodiversity creates one of the most pristine ecosystems found anywhere along the reef.

Known as a type of “Ribbon Reef,” the Agincourt Reef runs parallel to the line with the Continental Shelf. Exotic species such as the Maori wrasse are commonly found along the reef, and sharks, rays—and even whales—can be seen when scuba diving the reef. Even for travelers who are just snorkeling, however, there are sections of the reef only a few feet below the clear, turquoise waters. Here, in the shallow lagoons, thousands of fish inhabit a reef that bursts with vibrancy and color—and there is even the chance of encountering species like the giant purple clam. Like a galactic portal to an entirely new world, the sights, colors, and marine diversity create an aquatic wonderland off of Port Douglas unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

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Darwin Waterfront Precint

Darwin Waterfront Precint

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The Darwin Waterfront Precint, a scenic waterfront area full of options for dining and play, exists thanks to an initiative by the city of Darwin that turned 61 acres of industrial wasteland into a thriving center for the city.

The area includes the Stokes Hill Wharf, a historical site that was constructed in the early 1800s by Darwin’s first European settlers and bore much damage from the 1942 air raid upon the city during World War II. These days, the wharf is home to a much livelier atmosphere. Award-winning dining, entertainment, shopping and outdoor attractions have helped transform the wharf precinct into one of the most celebrated parts of Darwin.

The wharf is connected to Darwin’s Central Business District by a dedicated walkway lined with parks, tropical landscaping and, of course, the waterfront itself. The lifeguard-patrolled swimming lagoons make for a great daytime spot to splash around, and the Indo Pacific Marine lets visitors get up close and personal to the coral ecosystems of the area.

There is a wealth of shopping and pampering opportunities at the wharf – a surf shop, a boutique gift store, a luxury hair salon and a day spa are just some of the offerings. Visitors shouldn’t pass up a stop at the StormBird Gallery, where stunning nature photography by local Jacci Ingham is on display. Restaurants along the promenade range from a traditional Irish pub and a tapas lounge to a Greek restaurant and an open-til-late gelato shop. Come nightfall, the deckchair cinema serves guests from its kiosk as viewers settle in to watch the nightly film at 7:30 p.m.

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