Top 10 Reasons to Visit Australia
Featured destinations: Australia
Published 24 May 2016
Carpeted with wild landscapes, drenched in sunny days, fringed by perfect beaches and home to exotic wildlife, Australia is one of a kind. So, as if you need an excuse, here are our top ten reasons to head Down Under. For a country stuffed full of sights, we found it very hard to narrow this down to only ten, but here goes…
You’ve seen it in a thousand postcards but you’ll never forget the first time you set eyes on the real thing – the faceted red surface of Uluru, a sacred Aboriginal site and the definitive symbol of Australia. Sometimes thought of as a monolith, Uluru is actually part of a much larger underground rock formation, only parts of which peep above the surface. Uluru’s colours vary depending on the light, so be sure to visit at different times of day to see it change from deep red to orange to purple and back again.
Top of numerous bucket lists, climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, a.k.a. the Coathanger, is a fabulous way to see the glittering blue expanse of what must be the world’s most beautiful harbour below, with the white sails of the opera house glinting in the sunlight. You’ll need quite a head for heights though, so if that’s not your thing then a walk around Circular Quay or a romantic harbour cruise is far less vertigo-inducing. Alternatively, for a fraction of the cost, hop on the ferry to Manly for picture postcard opera house views.
Great Barrier Reef
One of the seven natural wonders of the world, and visible from space, the Great Barrier Reef stretches for over 2300 kilometres along Queensland’s coast. Diving or snorkelling among the corals and fish has to be one of Australia’s greatest experiences. But if you’re not really a water baby, fear not, you can still see the underwater delights without even getting wet. Try a cruise in a semi-sub, or if you are feeling a bit more adventurous, you can walk on the sea floor with a transparent helmet, keeping your head completely dry.
The planet’s largest sand island and designated World Heritage site is an outdoor playground of windswept dunes, dramatic cliffs and crystal clear creeks. Where else in the world can you climb over a giant sand dune into an impossibly green freshwater lake? The island is also home to a range of wildlife, including the dingo, which you can often spot wandering along the beaches, while dugongs, dolphins, whales and sharks are often sighted offshore.
With swirls of pristine white sand interspersed with sapphire seas, the 74 beach-fringed islands of the Whitsundays seem other-worldly. Waves of every shade of blue lap against vast sandy coves and bays, the best of which is the legendary Whitehaven Beach, a 7 kilometre long slice of paradise laced with pure white silica sand. Sailing between the islands is a popular way to explore, as is sea kayaking, diving, snorkelling or just beach chilling.
It’s wildlife galore on Kangaroo Island, a natural wilderness home to koalas, dolphins, seals, whales and of course kangaroos. Keen-eyed wildlife spotters should look out for the elusive echidna on the roads and the camera-shy platypus in the streams. Less difficult to spot is the rather adorable little penguin, found in a colony down at Kingscote. Having said that, on our trip to meet them, the penguins were somewhat eclipsed by the orca nonchalantly swimming past, who seemed oblivious to all the attention.
Great Ocean Road
For the ultimate Aussie road trip, head to Victoria, hire a car and drive the 285 kilometres along the winding clifftop roads and through the dense eucalyptus forests from Torquay to Warrnambool. It’s a thrilling ride, with twist after turn offering fabulous views of the craggy cliffs and crashing waves. The most impressive stretch of coastline is along the shores of Port Campbell National Park, where the Twelve Apostles, a collection of eight limestone stacks (the other four collapsed), rise majestically from the waves.
Kakadu National Park
For a culture fix, move away from the beaches and head up to the big blue skies of the Northern Territory and Kakadu National Park, a vast wilderness filled with towering rock formations, plunging water falls and a wealth of ancient aboriginal rock paintings, some of which are over 25,000 years old. Hike the pathways, cool off in the pools and cruise the billabongs in search of birdlife, keeping a look out for crocs.
Lovers of food and quality wines will not be disappointed with pretty Margaret River, where surf schools and tall gumtree forests sit side by side with over 100 wineries, many with charming vineyard restaurants. The rolling waves, wild coastal scenery and pristine beaches have made this town something of a surfing mecca, with numerous surf schools catering for both beginners and experienced wave riders.
Yes we know Tassie is a whole state, but it was impossible to pick just one stand-out highlight. The whole island is gorgeous, with the best bits of rural England all rolled into one - think rolling hills, sweeping beaches, quaint seaside towns and top notch food and drink. The voluptuous curves of Wineglass Bay should be high on the list of must-sees, as well as the former convict settlement at Port Arthur, not only filled with history, but a tranquil and scenic spot for a day out.