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19 best things to do in Australia

best things to do in australia

Every year, millions of people make the trek down under to explore our diverse landscape of vibrant coral reefs, lush rainforests and rugged outback. And who could forget our golden beaches that are considered among the best in the world? There’s no shortage of things to do in Australia, but how many tourist hot spots and ‘hidden treasures’ have you visited?

Let’s face it: while some young Aussies have had the very good sense to explore their own backyard before now, many of us haven’t. But this beautiful land is no second-rate destination. And now, more than ever, it deserves our attention.

Here, we’ve picked out some of the best things to do in Australia whether you’re an Aussie looking for some great staycation ideas or an international traveller planning to visit when borders open up.

1. Sail the Whitsundays

Wish you were in the Greek Islands right now? Why not check out the Whitsunday Islands instead. They’ve got pristine white sand beaches with dazzling blue waters, and all the same joyous activities like sailing, diving and snorkelling that you could find in the Aegean Sea. And if you think Santorini sunsets look incredible, just wait until you take in the magical sight of the sun setting over Airlie Beach.

2. Hike Cradle Mountain

Maybe you can’t take on the mountains of Patagonia right now, but we’ve got plenty of trails and tracks to keep avid hikers happy. The Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park in Tasmania is a sight to behold, with towering peaks and crystal clear waters that will leave you in awe.

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3. See an Uluru sunset

Haven’t ticked Uluru off your bucket list yet? Well, there’s no time like the present! In paying a visit to the Red Centre you’ll have the chance to see this famous, sacred sandstone rock formation along with other beautiful nearby sights like Kata Tjuṯa, the Walpa Gorge and Mutitjulu Waterhole. Not to mention, you can behold the technicolour visual art display – called the Field of Light – glittering at the base of Uluru.

4. Go scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef

The GBR is so iconic, there’s a Disney movie about it (even if basically all of the fish in Finding Nemo had American accents for some inexplicable reason). Tourists flock to the coast for their chance to scuba dive among the thousands of individual coral reefs and see the vibrant wildlife that live in this UNESCO World Heritage-listed site. So, why shouldn’t we?

If you decide to dive into the reef, we also recommend checking out local reef conservation groups. Contiki visits the Turtle Hospital at Reef HQ Aquarium in Townsville, where we’re lucky enough to learn all about conservation efforts and what we as individuals can do to help.


Image source:Contiki

5. Visit the quokkas on Rottnest Island

There’s a lot more to this picturesque island than the adorable quokkas, but we can’t help but dream of meeting these cuties. We’ve seen countless international visitors posting about these little legends, and we have to see them in the wild for ourselves! Once you’ve scoped out the Quokkas, you can check out the white sand beaches and stunning coves like The Basin, Little Salmon Bay and Thomas Bay that the island is famous for.

6. Kayak down the Noosa Everglades

Did you know we have our own everglades here in Australia? Nestled in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, the Noosa Everglades boasts a 60km stretch of crystal clear waters surrounded by lush greenery. The tranquil Everglades are perfect for thrill-seekers and chill nature lovers, with the option to kayak, swim, walk or even just relax in the landscape.

Noosa Everglades

Image source:Contiki

7. Go wine tasting in South Australia

Remember that ad for the Barossa Valley where people sampled lush wines, ate local produce, walked through farms and generally just looked really aesthetically moody while a Nick Cave song played? We can confirm this opulent wine region lives up to the hype – especially for a winter getaway. However, it’s not just the Barossa that deserves a spot on your itinerary. The South Australian wineries are world-famous, with McLaren Vale, Clare Valley, Coonawarra, Adelaide Hills and more joining the Barossa to make up a stellar region to rival those of France, Argentina and the like.

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8. Take a walk on the wild side in Kakadu

The wild, jaw-dropping landscapes across Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory are certainly worthy of their UNESCO World Heritage status. This enormous park boasts misty waterfalls, cascading waterholes, plunge pools and countless bushland trails for keen adventurers.

Our personal favourite swimming spots include Gunlom Plunge Pool, Maguk Water Hole or Jim Jim Falls and Plunge Pool. You can get your hike on with a stroll through the wetlands on the Mamukala walk, the Twin Falls Plateau Walk or one of the many other trails. You can also take some time to learn about Aboriginal culture in Nourlangie or Ubirr, two of the many stunning rock art sites in the park.

looking out over Kakadu national Park

Image source:Contiki

9. Dive into Florence Falls

A few hours drive away from Kakadu is the Litchfield National Park. Home to sandstone pillars, iconic magnetic termite mounds and vast waterholes, it’s a must-visit when you’re in the NT. The cascading Florence Falls and Plunge Pool is another inviting natural wonder calling our names right now!

Florence Falls

Image source:Contiki

10. Go white water rafting in Cairns

The rapids of the Canadian Rockies have nothing on the rapids in Cairns. We’re kidding, they’re all amazing, but if you have the chance to explore Australia why not add this thrilling adventure to your itinerary? Popular rivers for an unforgettable white water rafting experience include the Tully, Barron and Russel rivers.

max homer contiki

Image source:Contiki

11. Have an out-of-this-world experience at the Pinnacles

Looking for new things to do in Western Australia? Take a drive north of the capital city of Perth, to the Pinnacles Desert. Often compared to the planet Mars, the desert features thousands of limestone formations that resemble a moonscape. And at night, it’s one of the top spots in the entire world for stargazing.


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12. Shred the slopes in Perisher

Look, this might not be the year you take on the mountains in Whistler or Hopfgarten, but we’ve got plenty of slopes to shred in Australia. Head to regions including Perisher, Thredbo, Falls Creek, Hotham, Mount Buller or the Snowy Mountains for skiing, snowboarding and that vibrant village life all snow bunnies love.

ski resorts australia

Image source:Fezbot / Unsplash

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13. Drive the Great Ocean Road

If you’re looking for a killer road trip, you can’t go past the Great Ocean Road from Victoria to South Australia. See the famed 12 Apostles rock formation in the Southern Ocean, stroll through the greenery in Great Otway National Park, check out the waves at Bells Beach, visit the fishing village Port Fairy and take a pit-stop at the Loch Ard Gorge, which almost looks like it’s been plucked from the coastline of the Algarve. There’s a lot to see on this iconic drive.

14. Explore the Blue Mountains

Drive just a couple of hours from the city centre of Sydney and you’ll find yourself entering the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains National Park. The famous mountain ranges, formed over millions of years, attract visitors from all over the world. The most popular sights including the Three Sisters, Wentworth Falls, Echo Point Lookout and the Jenolan Caves. But there are so many more walking tracks, swimming holes and natural wonders to behold in the region, along with charming local towns including Katoomba, Leura, Bilpin and Mount Tomah.

blue mountains australia

Image source:Contiki

15. Treat yourself in Margaret River

Home to microbreweries, wineries and award-winning restaurants, the beachside town of Margaret River is ripe for a luxurious “treat yourself” weekend getaway. Visit the vineyards including Vasse Felix, Stormflower and Voyager Estate, or take a tour of breweries including The Beerfarm, Wild Hop Brewing Co and Brewhouse Margaret River. But it’s not all about the delicious drinks down in Margaret River, there are stunning natural sights to see including Redgate Beach, Castle Rock Bay, Jewel Cave and the Cape to Cape Walking Track.


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16. Go ziplining in the Daintree

Maybe you can’t zipline through the treetops in Costa Rica this year, but the rainforest canopy of the Daintree is waiting for you. The Daintree is filled with exciting activities including walking along the Daintree Aerial Walkway, swimming in the Mossman Gorge and ziplining through the emerald green trees of the rainforest.

17. Get your caffeine fix in Melbourne

Melbournians pride themselves on the foodie scene their beautiful city offers up, in particular laying claim to “the best coffee in the world.” Sample some of the local brews in popular joints like Seven Seeds, Dukes Coffee Roasters, Market Lane Coffee Prahran Market, Everyday Coffee, Aunty Peg’s and Plug Nickel.


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18. Learn to surf in Byron Bay

From Santa Cruz in Portugal to Raglan in New Zealand, there are a whole bunch of sunny towns around the globe for avid surfers to enjoy. But until you can get out there and take on the waves of the world, why not visit a local favourite like Byron Bay? Despite growing in popularity, the town retains it’s bohemian, laid-back charm and offers up a welcome escape from the cities along the East Coast. Plus, Byron scores bonus points for the occasional Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky sighting around town, which makes this one of the best things you can do in Australia.

Byron Bay

Image source:Contiki

19. Cruise the Katherine Gorge

Feel like seeing something jaw-droppingly beautiful? Why not hop on a cruise through the Katherine Gorge in Nitmiluk National Park! Another gem of the Northern Territory, Katherine Gorge is famous for its towering sandstone cliffs, which soar high above the water. It’s one of the most beautiful places to visit in Australia.


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