It’s no secret that Australia is a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor adventurers: the country’s coast is legendary for its surfing and snorkeling (not to mention general beach-going), while its interior boasts terrain ranging from harshly beautiful deserts to lush eucalyptus forests. The variety of ways Australia can be experienced is truly astounding—especially if you’re up for a thrill or two. Visit AMA Travel to add these unique outdoor adventures to your Down Under itinerary.
DIVE INTO A WONDER OF THE WORLD
What is arguably the world’s most beautiful oceanic attraction deserves more than a few hours of your attention. So book a coach tour from Brisbane (or the Gold or Sunshine coasts) to a seaside resort town, where you’ll spend three days basking in the sun and taking in the marvels of the Great Barrier Reef, with optional activities like snorkeling in a coral lagoon, surfing or visiting a turtle research centre. At night, the stargazing is known to be spectacular.
SEE SHIPWRECKS, THEN SLIDE DOWN A SAND DUNE
Almost the entirety of Moreton Island, a sandy spot off the Queensland coast, is a protected national park; its pristine land- and waterscape affords visitors many opportunities to get active and enjoy nature. A day-trip could include a myriad of activities, ranging from low-impact (a guided snorkel or transparent-hull kayak tour of a coral reef and shipwrecks) to high-adrenaline (sandboarding down the inland dunes at speeds of up to 50 kilometres per hour).
SCALE A BIG BRIDGE
The best view of Australia’s largest city? From atop the world’s tallest steel-arch bridge. The Sydney Harbour Bridge reaches 143 metres above the water it spans; climbing to its peak, via a network of ladders and catwalks, affords a panoramic view of Sydney’s iconic skyline, including its famed opera house. On a clear day you can see as far as the Blue Mountains, 100 kilometres in the distance.
CAREEN DOWN SOME CLIFFS
The Blue Mountains are a popular escape for Australians and visitors alike. After all, the rugged, UNESCO-recognized region is right in Sydney’s backyard. One of the most thrilling ways to play here is by spending the day abseiling (otherwise known as rappelling) down some of the Mountains’ rocky cliffs and waterfalls—not to mention exploring its canyons and pristine rock pools—on a full-day private tour with an expert guide.
GET A BIRD’S-EYE VIEW
Big thrills and incredible sights can be had on tandem skydives throughout Australia. To see beaches, parks and cityscapes from on high, strap on a ‘chute with experienced divers near Sydney or Melbourne, or if you’re in the outback visiting Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, there aren’t many better ways to see its namesake monument (a.k.a. Ayers Rock) than from 12,000 feet—and falling—in the sky. Professional instruction and safety equipment is provided by each outfitter.
BASK IN THE GOLDEN HOUR WHILE AIRBORNE
Though not quite the adrenaline rush of jumping out of an airplane, watching the sunrise while floating above the Yarra Valley in a hot-air balloon is still an adventure in its own right. The valley, outside Melbourne, is one of Australia’s finest wine-producing regions, so it’s only fitting to add a champagne breakfast following your hour-long flight.
STRAP IN FOR A BUNGY JUMP
The northeastern Australian city of Cairns is known for its tropical climate, proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, and the world’s first purpose-built tower for bungy jumping. Jumpers here can choose more than a dozen different ways to leap from the 50-metre high platform—from a standard swan dive to a blindfolded fall or even a tandem jump. For those not in the mood for a full free-fall, the nearby Minjin Swing hoists up to three people 45 metres in the air, then releases and, well, swings you back and forth through the rainforest.
RIDE THE RAPIDS
Also near Cairns lies the UNESCO World Heritage-designated Wet Tropics of Queensland, a rugged region of rainforests, small mountains, gorges and waterfalls. One of the area’s many rivers, the Tully River, is lauded for its whitewater rafting. Its Class 3 and 4 rapids mean the ride is challenging enough to ensure adventure for experienced paddlers, though each boat is helmed by an expert guide, so novices are equally welcomed. A full-day whitewater excursion includes morning and afternoon trips along the river, plus a barbecue lunch and time to relax in a calm, waterfall-fed natural pool.
SWIM WITH SHARKS
A pair of Australia’s largest aquariums allow swimmers to face their fears as part of unique shark-dive experiences. At the Sea Life aquariums in both Sydney and Melbourne, you can come face to face with row upon row of jagged teeth during a SCUBA dive in the venues’ multi-million-litre oceanariums, which are filled with nurse sharks, sting rays, sea turtles and more. No previous SCUBA experience is necessary; appropriate training comes with the dive package.
A slightly tamer—but no less memorable—aquatic experience is available to visitors to Western Australia, where snorkeling the Ningaloo Reef (near the town of Exmouth) affords some up-close-and-personal time with massive, majestic whale sharks.
CRUISE THE SOUTHERN COAST
Many travellers to Australia—especially those visiting Melbourne—take the opportunity to spend a few days in Tasmania, the island state known for its unique flora and fauna. A boat tour around Tasmania’s southern Bruny Island offers the chance to marvel at the rugged, grand-scale beauty of the coastal cliffs and sea caves while spotting the likes of eagles, dolphins, penguins and fur seal colonies.