Australia is a country of contradictions, with bustling metropolises, vast swathes of dusty outback and beaches that twinkle with turquoise waters. As a result there is an awful, awful lot to see. Here at dealchecker we’ve searched low and high, and whittled down extensively to bring you the very finest Australian wonders.
Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House
Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House are both images that instantly pop to mind when you think of Australia and a visit to the land down under wouldn’t be complete without a sighting of the two of them.
For those who want their hearts to be pumping whilst enjoying this architechture, and for arguably the best view of the Opera House there are bridge climbs which see participants harnessed on to the bridge whilst they climb the arches of this iconic structure.
If you prefer to keep your feet firmly on the floor the Opera House acts as a performance space for a number of acts, with Swan Lake, music by Beach House and talks on women’s issues amongst many all being billed for this year. So, keep your eyes peeled and book early to enjoy a show.
Films such as Walkabout and Picnic at Hanging Rock have created a sense of intrigue around Uluru or Ayers Rock since the 1970s. This dusty red bulge in the landscape is believed to be over 700 million years old, and is sacred to the local Pitjantjatjara tribe who live there. Some of the shapes, fissures and carvings around the sandstone represent the ancestors of the indigenous people.
Climbing the rock is a contentious issue and it’s worth reading up on in advance of travelling here. Alternatively, you can visit the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Aboriginal Cultural Centre to learn more about the history of this fascinating place.
Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Islands
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s great natural wonders providing all manner of sealife a home along 2,300 kilometres of living coral. What better place to journey to this incredible seascape from than the gorgeous Whitsunday Islands. There are 74 islands in total – all of which are resplendent in their white sand beaches, clear waters and dense green rainforest.
The best way to travel around is by yacht and whilst this might sound incredibly extravagant (and it can be if you want) there are companies such as Sailing Whitsundays who offer tours which are pretty affordable.
Grampians National Park
This hiker’s paradise is a little less than a three-hour-drive from Melbourne but it could not be more different than the city’s hip cultural scene. The grampians is a place where people are sparse and wildlife abounds – on a trip here you can expect to see emus strutting around, kangaroos and large lackadaisacal lizards.
Active-types will enjoy climbing Mount Sturgeon and Picaninny but there are also trails for the less adventurously inclined. There are waterfalls across the park, but the MacKenzie Falls are perhaps the most famous and with a height of around 32 metres it’s not hard to see why these cascading waters are so well loved. During the peak of the dry season, the water still runs here and that’s something incredible in itself. Other highlights include the man-made Bellfield Lake which sits upon an old abandoned village.
Cable Beach, in Broome, on the western coast of Australia has 22 kilometres of uninterrupted white sand upon which to throw down a towel and catch an enviable tan. The crystalline waters here often play host to dolphins and whales who migrate past this point.
One of the most exciting features of this beach is that during low tide at the southern-most point of the beach you can see dinosaur footsteps that were made 130 million years ago. A popular way to traverse these sands is to join one of the many camel treks on offer and the sunrise and sunset tours are definitely the most popular due to the dramatic scenes on offer.
Phillip Island is famous for two entirely distinct reasons, for its motorsports and for the wildlife which inhabits this picturesque isle. 2016 sees the FIM Superbike World Championship come to town from the 26th – 28th February. You can expect blood-curdling speeds, and a tight competition with regulations dictating that all bikes must be almost exactly the same.
Non-petrol heads will probably be more interested in the fairy penguin parade, which sees a number of the world’s smallest species of penguin waddle up out of the sea each evening. There is also a koala conservation sanctuary, sunbathing seals and hopping kangraoos to keep your eyes peeled for on this tiny island.
South Australia is characterised by rugged outback, a jagged cliffline along its edge and cities which are small and far and few between. The renowned wine-producing region of the Barossa Valley is one of the region’s finest gems with warm days all year round and gentle sloping hills.
The region is best known for its Shiraz but a number of other wines are grown here. In fact, the area is home to the world’s oldest commercially producing vine in the Turkey Flat vineyard in Tanunda. You can take day trips to the region from Adelaide – most tours include a trip to several vineyards with a wine tasting experience.
The Twelve Apostles
The Great Ocean Road in Victoria is an absolute must on any Australian road trip. With 243 kilometers of cliff-hugging road with incredible sea views to gaze at, it’s not hard to understand why. What makes this road even more appealing is the fact that it has become entwined with the Twelve Apostles which run along its course – these sea dwelling rock formations are no longer twelve in number. There are in fact eight to look for.
When you’re not hunting for the Apostles, make a stop for a spot of surfing, lunch in one of towns along the way or see if you can spot any cute koalas.
Kakadu National Park
Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory has played host to humans for over 40,000 years and proof our existence abounds here in the form of paintings and artwork. This alone makes it a fascinating place, but the park remains a home to Aboriginal people to this day.
Not only is this a place of historical significance but the wetlands here are home to abundant wildlife. The Mamukala wetlands are best visited from September to October at the peak of the dry season – during this period of the year birds and animals flock here and it becomes something of an open-air zoo. You can expect to see saltwater crocodiles, large flocks of magpie geese and white-bellied sea-eagles amongst many species.
Bondi Beach, just outside of Sydney is one of Australia’s most famous beaches and attracts tourists and locals alike. If vast swathes of golden sands, and cool waters aren’t enough to tempt you there are a number of festivals and celebrations here. In 2016 this includes the Life’s a Beach photo exhibition and the Flying of the Winds kite festival to name but a few. What could be better than having sand between your toes whilst surrounded by lots and lots of happy people?
We also have it on strong authority that the sunset from the Northside Grassy Knoll is pretty sweet too – you can’t really go wrong with a trip to Bondi Beach.