35 experiences you have to do in Australia before you’re 35
Australia is a young traveller’s paradise. From bush to bay, ranch to reef, it’s packed with enough environmental, cultural and culinary diversity to fill a thousand itineraries. Whether you’re a beach bum, foodie or adrenaline junkie, there’s so much going on, it can be pretty tough to prioritise your trip.
With this in mind, in no particular order, we’ve compiled a list of Australia’s crème de la crème . – the unmissable experiences you simply have to check out before you’re 35. Take your pick from this lot:
Skydiving in Cairns
15,000 feet above sea-level in a tropical paradise, surrounded by the majesty of the Great Barrier Reef and the dense beauty of the World Heritage Rainforest – if you dare open your eyes, you’ll get a view unlike any other. Enjoy up to 90 seconds free-fall for the ultimate beauty spot adrenaline rush.
Rafting down the Barron river
Feeling brave? Raft past steep ravines and through rugged rainforest mountains on this awe-inspiring adrenaline adventure, boasting excellent water levels and spectacular views all year round.
See in the new year at Darling Harbour, Sydney
See in the New Year in style with a glass of bubbly and the best view of one of the greatest shows on earth. Watch a spectacular array of fireworks light up the sweeping bays of Sydney, a show watched by a billion people worldwide (believe us, it’s much better in person).
Catch a wave in Byron Bay (and stick around for sunset)
Sun-soaked Byron Bay has beauty to burn, but really it’s all about the vibe, man. This idyllic hippy town is perfect for surf enthusiasts, but if you just want to pour a frothy in front of a godly sunset, it’s pretty easy to fall in love with the place.
If you love the waves and sunsets of Byron, just wait until you find out what else this little surfing gem has in store you for in our Byron Bay travel guide.
Visit Florence Falls (and gawp at the termite mountains)
Visit the spectacular double waterfalls of Florence Falls before splashing around in the crystal clear waters of its plunge pool. Then check out the nearby termite ‘tombstones’, incredible insect architectural feats that stretch as far as the eye can see.
Spot crocs in the Top End
Experience the top of the food-chain in the Top End. From Darwin’s Crocosaurus cove to the Territory Wildlife Park you can get spooked by some iconic saltwater crocs. Or why not take a jumping crocodile tour to see these primordial predators in full flight?
Take the ferry for a beach jaunt at Manly
Take the short ferry from the opera house to Sydney’s sunkissed suburb, Manly, and watch some world class surfers in the distance as you sip something sparkling along its stunning tree-lined promenade.
Take a bushwalk and have a picnic at the Glass House Mountains
These rugged volcanic peaks dominate the landscape of Queensland’s sunshine coast, surrounded by a stunning natural playground of horse trails, walking tracks and abseiling spots. Take a stroll on one of the many twisting tracks, before having a picnic and visiting the awesome Australia zoo.
Explore the Great Barrier Reef
This one’s iconic for a reason. The largest coral reef system in the world, this natural masterpiece can be seen from space, and provides a jaw-dropping playground for swimming, snorkelling, sailing and diving. Home to a teeming array of marine wildlife, and packed with vivid colours, this is an experience you’ll never forget.
Cruise around 74 islands, sailing in the Whitsundays
These idyllic Queensland islands provide the perfect opportunity to unwind. Sail through this azure paradise, surrounded by world class beaches everywhere you look. Bliss.
Take a guided tour through the mangroves of Cairns
These mangroves are some of the oldest in Australia, and provide a great opportunity to spot some local wildlife. A guided tour can take you through The Boardwalk, as you learn how plants and animals have adapted to this extreme environment.
Breathe in an Uluru sunset with a glass of bubbly
Stretching majestically out of seemingly nothing, Uluru is an utterly singular experience. The best way to see this iconic sight? We reckon: against the setting sun, surrounded by the harsh beauty of the Australian outback, sipping on a glass of champagne.
Enjoy a bushtucker brunch in Alice Springs
Take a tour through Alice Springs for an authentic Aboriginal hunter-gatherer experience. Locate numerous food and water sources before trying some foods you’ve definitely never sampled before: from magpie geese to snake and turtle (or freshen up with some wild watermelon and billy goat plums). This one’s not for the faint hearted.
Camp out beneath the stars in Kings Creek Canyon
Snuggle up in your swag for a night of authentic camping at Kings Creek Canyon, with the infinite beauty of the milky way stretching out before you.
Spot thirsty wildlife at Simpson’s Gap
Spot rock wallabies and more as they journey to the permanent waterholes of Simpson’s gap. The gap is sacred to the local Aboriginal people, and when you see this majestic formation for yourself you’ll understand why.
Drive down the Great Ocean Road
Driving routes don’t get much more scenic than this. Put on your favourite tune, crank the roof down and feel the wind in your hair as imbibe this jaw-dropping coastal drive. Take surf breaks, visit some waterfalls or do a spot of bushwalking along the way. When the views are this good, what’s the rush?
Meet some penguins on Phillip island
Meet a parade of cheeky penguins on Phillip Island, not far from Melbourne. These are the world’s smallest penguins, and you can watch them from a dedicated viewing area on Summerland Beach, surrounded by interactive and educational displays.
Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Fearless adventurers won’t want to miss out on this one. This unique climbing experience sees you reach the summit of the famous Sydney Harbour bridge, with spectacular panoramic views of this stunning city (don’t worry, you’ll have a harness).
Go for a Green Island day trip
This tropical paradise is in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, packed with adventure and relaxation (depending on your mood). Swim, snorkel or just kick back with a cocktail – no judgements here.
Check out Melbourne’s street art alleyways
Melbourne’s heaving with cool countercultural art, and its magnificent street murals are not to be missed. From Hosier Lane to Flinders Court, you’ll find internationally acclaimed street art around every corner, with dazzling colours and ingenious designs.
Admire the Sydney Opera House
Yes, it’s almost iconic to a fault. Yes, you may assume it would only disappoint compared to all of the pictures. But the Sydney Opera House is genuinely a beautiful, unique and accomplished piece of architecture. We’ve heard the opera isn’t bad, too.
Go clubbing in Surfer’s paradise
The jewel of the gold coast, Surfer’s Paradise ain’t all about the surf. A national entertainment playground, its packed with vibrant night life for young people to enjoy. Expect a pumping atmosphere and good vibes.
Climb Australia’s highest mountain
The ascent of Mount Kosciuszko – Australia’s largest mountain- is one of the best walks in the world. Breathe in the epic views and frolic in the gorgeous alpine wildflowers, if frolicking is your thing.
Explore the lava tubes of Undara
Undara national park is home to vast savannahs and fascinating volcanic structures. Here you’ll find hidden lava tubes, that you can explore on a guided tour. Inside these hollow tubes, you’ll find vine thickets, wallabies and owls.
Spot a UFO at Wycliffe Well
The ‘UFO capital of Australia,’ (was it every challenged for that title?), Wycliffe Well earned its name when troops were stationed there during WW2, taking notes of all the strange unidentified objects they spotted. Now its home to the Wycliff Alien Holiday Park, who boast ‘UFO sightings are so common, you’re more likely to spot one than not spot one.’ And, of course, they have no stake in the matter.
Ride a camel down cable beach
Take a famous ride down cable beach on your very own camel. These gentle giants are the perfect calming vehicle to take you down towards a truly spectacular sunset.
Go wine tasting at Margaret River
Margaret River offers stunning views, world class wine and immersive wine tasting experiences. Take a drive through the wineries and have a tipple, or two (just make sure you have a designated driver).
Meet dolphins at Monkey Mia
Head to Monkey Mia at feeding time and you’ll find, not monkeys, but mischievous marine mammals. The pods of dolphins here are remarkably comfortable with humans, but rangers are on hand regardless, to ensure the interactions are safe for both parties. You’ll remember this encounter for the rest of your days.
Eat a kangaroo burger
This isn’t as exotic as you’d think. Kangaroo is a popular form of meat in Australia, and is lean, tasty and versatile. Try a ‘roo burger with cheese and you might wish you could get it back home.
Watch an AFL game
Understand the rules of Aussie rules? With a beer in hand and the crowd roaring behind you, does it even matter? The AFL is most popular in Victoria, so head to Melbourne’s MCG and soak in this frantic, physical, quintessentially Australian sport.
Hot air balloon ride in Alice Springs
This is the perfect way to imbibe the spectacular, singular colours of the Australian outback. Spot huge red kangaroos as you float idly over cattle stations and scrubs, and admire the rugged majesty of the MacDonnell ranges.
Bear witness to the ’12 apostles’
Along the Great Ocean Road you’ll find the ’12 apostles,’ biblically beautiful rock formations extended out of the Southern Ocean. They change hue magically during sunset, so that’s the best time to check them out.
Dance at Sydney’s Gay Pride Festival
This spectacular Mardi Gras is one of the best LGBT celebrations in the world, attended by hundreds of thousands of people each and every year.
Stay at a working cattle ranch (the Creed family farm)
Ready for an authentic bush adventure? Stay at the Creed family farm, where you’ll always feel welcome. See how outback farming works, sample nan’s homemade cake, try whip cracking and karaoke the night away. You may just start to feel the pull of an outback existence.
Visit Fraser Island
Enveloped by ancient rainforests and teeming with sparkling fresh water lakes, Fraser Island has to be seen to be believed. Swim, climb or drive around this bejewelled island, or cast your line for one of the best fishing experiences in the world.