What’s Australia without its white sandy beaches and sparkling blue ocean? Well, there’s more to the country than just a surfers’ paradise. Australia is an awesome destination when you want something out of the ordinary.
So why not take a break from the mainstream holiday hordes bussing it to the beach? Sometimes, you just need to use your feet, bounce a bit and explore the hip neighbourhoods of Australia’s coolest cities and take in the views from rooftop cafes.
If you really need the heights and a double shot of adrenaline, then a hot air balloon ride would be most recommended. Epic adventures, you asked? Here are a few ideas to get you on that next plane to Australia.
Do you yearn to see nature’s greatest mysteries with your own eyes? What Netflix’s Our Planet shows you on your flatscreen, Australia has in its full glory – vibrant lakes, rugged mountains and spectacular trails.
Flinders Ranges National Park, South Australia
Start by going millions of years back in history. Some of Australia’s most spectacular natural attractions are its landscapes that date back to ancient times. Here’s where you get to see the real Australia that few people are privileged to know – Australia’s aboriginal history, and nature as you’ve never seen it.
A five-hour drive from Adelaide will get you to South Australia’s Flinders Range, with its craggy peaks and rocky gorges. Hop behind the wheel of a 4WD, go bushwalking or take a flight to explore the 100km crater-like Wilpena Pound.
But don’t worry, you won’t have to rough it out – you can glamp under the stars at Arkaba Station.
California Redwoods, Great Ocean Road, Victoria
Venture off the beaten path of the Great Ocean Road and you’ll discover the towering trees of the California Redwood forest in the Aire Valley. These majestic trees rise as high as 60m, creating a canopy through which sunlight peeks through.
Enjoy the solitude as you walk the eerily quiet trails and stop for a picnic. (But don’t forget to #latergram as evidence that you were there.) If you need to cool down, soak up the spray at the nearby Hopetoun and Beauchamp Falls.
Jenolan Caves, Blue Mountains, New South Wales
Are you game to go underground? You’ll discover some of Australia’s most impressive nature in the Jenolan Caves near the Blue Mountains. This ancient cave system has nine spectacular show caves, underground rivers and limestone formations.
You can explore them through guided tours, multi-lingual self-guided tours, children’s tours or even spooky ghost night tours. Your cave experience will not be complete without catching a cave concert, dining at the award-winning Chisholm’s Restaurant, or spending a few nights in the historic Caves House.
Hot-air ballooning, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
Start your day with a hot air balloon ride. Australia’s vastness is perfect for being viewed from above. For a festive experience, make your way to the Canberra Balloon Spectacular in March 2020.
This event is one of the biggest highlights of Enlighten Festival – Canberra’s largest autumn cultural and arts festival. Experience the thrill of hot air ballooning at sunrise, and watch architectural projections shine bright in the evening.
If these featured experiences have made your heart flutter, explore other Australia’s undiscovered nature here.
When you’ve had enough of the gritty outdoors, trade your walking boots for your Toms and get ready to hit the streets. Here’s how you can get the most out of your Australian urban experience:
Australia’s street art capital, Melbourne, Victoria
The true character, charm and culture of the country lies in its art. You won’t know Melbourne until you’ve wandered through its hidden streets and laneways to explore the city’s street art. Hosier and Rutledge lanes, and Centre Place are some of the city’s best open-air galleries.
You’ll also get to know the other capital cities and quaint neighbourhoods of Australia through its colourful graffiti, public artworks and street art festivals.
Check out the superhero-inspired works at Tocumwal Lane in Canberra’s city centre, or book yourself a 200km art road trip in Victoria, which takes you through one of the country’s biggest outdoor art galleries.
Wine & art, d’Arenberg Cube, McLaren Vale, South Australia
There’s always a new underground bar, rooftop cafe or gourmet restaurant popping up in any of Australia’s cool neighbourhoods. Whether you’re looking for bohemian vibes, a grungy aesthetic or luxurious style, every state has something for you.
Check out the series of high-end conceptual wine-and-art experiences currently sweeping Australia’s vineyards, starting with the avant-garde d’Arenberg Cube in South Australia’s McLaren Vale wine region.
Each of the five levels has been carefully designed to excite the senses, including features such as a wine sensory room, a virtual fermenter, a 360-degree video room, and many other tactile experiences.
The dining continues after dark in the bustling cities of Australia. Hit the cobblestones for night-time dining at one of the laneways’ exciting eateries, like Chin Chin down Flinders Lane in Melbourne. Or, tuck into generous and contemporary Italian fare at Sarti.
Live music, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, Queensland
If it’s entertainment you’re looking for, there are plenty of venues for live music and comedy. Make sure you check in at Fortitude Valley, the best place to experience Brisbane’s live music scene, from homegrown gigs to international acts.
For edgy performance art and live music in Sydney, don’t miss the Oxford Art Factory located in Darlinghurst, a warehouse-like venue with several performance spaces. The Soda Factory in nearby Surry Hills is another popular venue for live music.
Offbeat shopping in Braddon, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
Go beyond designer labels when you shop in Australia. Canberra’s inner city suburb of Braddon was once an industrial area rife with car dealerships, but now boasts a well-curated selection of pop-up design stores, retro op shops (charity shops) and local homewares stores.
Sydney’s inner-west suburb of Newtown gives you the best of fringe culture, where you can spend hours in vintage fashion shops, record stores and alternative bookshops. Melbourne’s the place to go for bespoke fashion choices, while Perth’s Northbridge is the best for locally designed fashion.