15 Unmissable Things To Do In Australia

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Australia has way more to offer than lazing on beaches, surfing great waves, and sipping on world-class wine. As the sixth largest country on the planet, you can be sure there are plenty of things to do in Australia for anyone who visits here.

In fact, Australia has such a huge collection of bucket list experiences and notable attractions, that it can be difficult narrowing down the list and selecting only the most unmissable things to do.

woman sitting on a tree over water
Karijini National Park

We spent 18 months road tripping around Australia and visited every corner of the country, but still only scratched the surface of the plethora of outdoor activities and adventures you can have.

In this guide, we’ve shared what to do in Australia for those first time visitors who are not sure what to add to their itinerary. These are the adventures and attractions we loved the most, and feel are bucket list moments not to be missed.

Unmissable Things To Do In Australia

1. The Great Beach Drive from Noosa to Fraser Island

4WD cars on beach at Double Island Point,

Some of the most spectacular coastline and adventurous fun is the Great Sandy Beach Drive from Noosa to Fraser Island in Queensland.

As if driving on the beach wasn’t fun enough, you can stop at Double Island Point along the way for a hike up to the lighthouse and extraordinary views. We didn’t see any whales or dolphins, but they’re known to visit here often.

Then you drive over the sand dunes inland a bit to reach Rainbow Beach. You can stop for a surf at Double Island Point while here and then cruise along the beach with giant rainbow coloured cliffs looming beside you on one side, and waves rolling in on the other.

To top it off, you could see a few rainbows if the timing is right. We saw so many of them which made me question whether it was called Rainbow Beach because of the rainbows or the coloured sand.

We camped at Inskip Point for a night and enjoyed a horse ride along the beach. From Inskip Point, you can catch the barge over to Fraser Island and let the adventure continue.

There’s plenty to do on Fraser Island, it has it all.

Awesome beach driving, whales breaching from shore, dingos coming up to say hi (be very careful of them) beachfront campsites, and the awesome champagne pools – perfect and safe for a refreshing dip, as the ocean is a little sharky.

But, it doesn’t end there.

You can runway down the beach in a small plane to rise above Fraser and glimpse at it’s towering rainforests and inland lakes. Then jump in your car and drive inland for a more adventurous 4WD experience and to get to know the only place in the world where tall rainforests grow on sand dunes at elevations of over 200 metres.

There are plenty of trails to get bogged on and beautiful lakes to swim in. We love to finish the day off with a sunset champagne on the western side of the ocean at Kingfisher Bay Resort.

2. See The Horizontal Falls, Western Australia

people on boat looking at Horizontal Falls

The Horizontal Falls are a natural phenomenon located in one of the remotest and most untouched parts of Australia, The Kimberley region of Western Australia.

A narrow opening between two escarpments creates the Horizontal Falls – and there are two of them! The tides in this region are some of the biggest in the world and can reach a difference of up to 12 metres.

As the tides change from low to high (and vice versa) they are sending an immense amount of water from one bay to another. The build up of that water forms a drop of up to four metres, hence creating a horizontal waterfall.

The tides in this region are some of the biggest in the world and can reach a difference of up to 12 metres.

As the tides change from low to high (and vice versa) they are sending an immense amount of water from one bay to another. The build up of that water forms a drop of up to four metres, hence creating a horizontal waterfall.

There’s only one way to the Horizontal Falls – by seaplane.

Flying low over the red cliffs of Cape Leveque, the Buccaneer Archipelago, winding rivers and stunning Kimberley coastline is an adventure in itself. Our girls were glued to the window scanning for crocs swimming the waters below – this area is teeming with them (as well as sharks and whales!).

Our girls were glued to the window scanning for crocs swimming the waters below – this area is teeming with them (as well as sharks and whales!).

Once you arrive, a jet boat takes you for a thrilling ride through the Horizontal Falls. Hopefully, the water level is up to it’s safe jet-boating level of 1 metre. Adrenaline pumps as you squeeze through the narrow gap with the surging waters of the huge tidal movement pushing you through.

Kalyra was brave enough to throw her hands in the air and squeal on the last run through.

3. Hike In Hancock Gorge, Western Australia

man and child spider walking on the Hancock Gorge,

The walk down into Hancock Gorge in the Karijini National Park, in Western Australia, has been described as a ‘journey into the centre of the earth’.

Karijini is one of Australia’s best national parks and is full of incredible hikes through spectacular chasms and marbled rock tunnels to reach cool rock pools and-and waterfalls.

Hancock Gorge is one of the most adventurous walks in the park. Many people told us it was too difficult for our children, which surprised us as we hiked with friends and their daughter, who agreed it wasn’t that challenging at all. The kids found it to be enormous fun.

The walk takes you down a steep ladder into the gorge where you then wade through water, inch yourself across narrow rock ledges (with a very short drop off so don’t fear for the kids) and the fun spider walk. It’s where the gorge narrows so the only way through is to walk like a spider, one foot on either side of the polished rock walls.

It’s only short and, when we visited, the water below was not much more than a trickle. You could walk through it instead of spider walking, but where’s the fun in that?

At the end, you reach Kermit’s Pool, named because of the bright green hue. It’s refreshing and you can swim down a narrow part of the pool to get a glimpse down into Reagan’s pool.

You cannot go any further without ropes, harnesses and an experienced guide.

This walk is 1.5km, 3 hours return.

4. Hiking Mt Kosciusko, NSW

man with baby on back and holding girls hand walking up trail on Mt Kosciusko
Hiking Mt Kosciusko

At 2,228m high, Mt Kosciusko is the highest peak in Australia and one of the top things to do on the Snowy Mountain Drive.

For foreigners, this might seem small, but don’t be fooled, it can be incredibly difficult as hikers don’t come prepared. Snowy conditions can happen at any time of the year!

It’s a 13 km walk to the peak. If you have kids, making the 4km walk to The Lookout might be your best option.

We were those hikers unprepared for the biting wind and freezing temperatures. We made it to the Lookout and delighted in seeing the snowy roof of Australia, but after having to hide behind the rock so the biting wind did not blow us away, we decided it was safer to turn back around.

We enjoyed the gourmet hot chocolates we had at Australia’s highest restaurant,  Eagles’ Nest restaurant at the chairlift base instead. The kids loved riding the chair lift up and down the mountain!

If you’re there in the summer, this area of the Snowies also has great mountain biking and hiking trails, bob sledding and horse riding.

5. Rottnest Island Bike Ride, Western Australia

bikes lined up next to Little Salmon Bay, Rottnest Island, Western Australia

Rottnest Island is a short ferry ride from the city of Perth in Western Australia.

Prepare to slip back into a chilled way of living, where cars don’t exist, only bicycles to take you to some of the most extraordinary beaches in Australia.

Hire bikes on the island and head off for an adventure everyone will enjoy, especially the kids. If you’re full of stamina and strength, you can do the entire 22km ride around the island and see some of the wilder beaches on the Western part of the island.

For those wanting a shorter route, take the 10km like we did with our girls. They had a ball and Savannah loved sitting behind us in the caboose shouting at me to go faster into gale force head winds!

The track takes you to some of the island’s most stunning beaches and cuts through the middle of the island beside the Wadjemup Lighthouse and extraordinary pink lakes.

There are plenty of reefs you can snorkel at many of the island’s beaches. Parakeet and Salmon Bay have some of the best snorkelling spots.

6. Exploring Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

family posing in front of uluru
Hiking around Uluru in Outback Australia

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in Australia’s Red Centre offers a chance to explore the famous Outback and its many iconic landmarks, such as Ayres Rock and Kings Canyon.

Uluru is deeply connected to the Aboriginal culture. You can learn about the rich heritage, traditions, and ancient stories of the Anangu people, the traditional owners of the land.

Uluru holds immense spiritual significance for the indigenous communities and is one of the most iconic landscapes in Australia.

Many visitors report feeling a profound sense of serenity and spirituality while exploring here, making it an ideal place for introspection and connecting with nature – not to mention a fantastic place for stargazing.

7. Look For Saltwater Crocodiles in Kakadu National Park

a crocodile
A Saltie in Kakadu

Kakadu National Park, located in the Northern Territory of Australia, offers the perfect blend of breathtaking natural beauty with rich Indigenous culture.

Spanning over 20,000 square kilometers, this biodiverse nature reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and those interested in exploring Australia’s ancient roots.

The park is famous for its ancient Aboriginal rock art sites, as well as abundance of salt water crocodile population.

Take a cruise along the Yellow Water Billabong, where you can spot crocodiles, bird species, and other fascinating creatures in the park.

8. Hike Cradle Mountain in Tasmania

The Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park

Nestled in the picturesque wilderness of Tasmania, Cradle Mountain is a captivating destination that nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts will fall in love with.

For hikers, Cradle Mountain has many stunning trails that wind through ancient rainforests and lead to breathtaking mountain peaks.

If you prefer something more gentle, walk the trail around Dove Lake, where the mirrored reflection of Cradle Mountain creates a mesmerizing vista.

9. Drive The Great Ocean Road Trip, Victoria

aerial view of winding great ocean road beside coast
Great Ocean Road, Victoria

The Great Ocean Road is one of the most iconic road trips in South Australia and takes you along the coastal road from Torquay, outside Melbourne, to Adelaide.

The road trip can be completed in eight hours, but people take anywhere from 5-day to two weeks doing the trip as it has so many attractions to visit on the way, from marveling at the Twelve Apostles rock formations to stopping off to whale watch from the shoreline – if you visit between June and November, you might see humpback whales on their annual migration.

Take the adventure a little further by driving to South Australia. From there you can take a ferry over to Kangaroo Island to see native kangaroos and koalas in their natural habitat.

10. See the Penguins on Phillip Island, Melbourne

people looking at penguins on beach
Run little fellas Credit: Tourism Australia Copyright

If you’re visiting Melbourne and have a keen interest in seeing penguins, a trip to Phillip Island is a must.

Located just 90 minutes from Melbourne, this beautiful island is home to one of the largest Little Penguin colonies in the world.

Witness the incredible sight of hundreds of these charming creatures as they emerge from the sea and waddle along the beach at dusk.

The Penguin Parade at Phillip Island Nature Parks provides an unforgettable experience, whether you explore on your own or join a guided ranger tour.

Be prepared to be captivated by the magical world of penguins against the stunning backdrop of Phillip Island’s natural beauty.

Check out these other great getaways from Melbourne.

11. Marvel At Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Islands

woman and girl walking through the water at Whitehaven Beach, Queensland, Australia
That water!

Nestled in the heart of Queensland, Whitehaven Beach is a pristine paradise that beckons with its breathtaking white sand.

With its crystal-clear turquoise waters and powdery beach, this seven-kilometer stretch of coastline is a true natural gem.

Be sure to bring your sunglasses, the natural wonders of the Whitsunday Islands National Park will dazzle you – literally!

12. Snorkel The Great Barrier Reef, Cairns

Aerial view of a Master Reef Guide leading guests on an Adventure Drift Snorkel Tour at Opolu Reef
Credit: Tourism & Events Qld

One of the best places to access the world famous Great Barrier Reef is Cairns, where you can find scuba diving and snorkeling tours to the reef.

Seeing The Great Barrier Reef is an iconic thing to do in Australia but the truth is, it’s not the vibrant reef it once was. If you want to see whale sharks, turtles, and other vibrant marine life around the coral reefs, head to Ningaloo Reef in Coral Bay, Western Australia.

13. Climb The Sydney Harbour Bridge

people standing on Sydney Harbour Bridge with arms in the air  at Twilight
Sydney Harbour Bridge climb at Twilight

The most iconic picture of Australia is of Sydney Harbour Bridge, looming over the Sydney Opera House.

A unique adventure to have in Australia is to climb the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, which for many people is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

With BridgeClimb, you can ascend to the summit of this architectural marvel and admire breathtaking panoramic views of the city, the sparkling harbor, and the surrounding landscapes.

This thrilling thing to do in Australia will create memories that will stay with you forever. Read more things to do in Sydney.

14. Visit The Barossa Valley Wineries

woman sitting on picnic blanket drinking wine in barossa valley vineyards

Just outside Adelaide is the wine region known as The Barossa Valley. Australia is a world-famous wine producer, so for wine enthusiasts, no trip to Aus would be complete without visiting one of the wine growing regions.

The Barossa Valley is famous for being one of the oldest continuously producing wine regions, particularly for red wines such as shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and grenache.

The region has more than 150 wineries and 80 cellar doors, where tastings and wine tours are plentiful.

15. Go Surfing at Bondi Beach

woman surfing at bondi
Bondi Beach, Sydney’s most famous beach

Australia is world famous for its surfing culture, so why not check out Australia’s iconic Bondi Beach.

With its renowned surf breaks, Bondi offers an ideal playground for beginner and experienced surfers alike.

If you’re new to surfing, learn from professional instructors at Let’s Go Surfing, a trusted surf school with over 25 years of experience. While here don’t miss the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk, it’s one of my favorite things to do in Australia.

Final Thoughts

man and woman drinking wine at barrel with views of water behind them at Dudley Wines
Dudley Wines, Kangaroo Island

So there you have it, those are 15 unmissable things to do in Australia and attractions you should not skip on your visit.

Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a beach lover, hiker, or simply want to relax with a glass of wine, there is something for everyone on this list.

Some other Australian travel tips

What are some of the best things to do in Australia that you love? Let us know in the comments.

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