30 things you must see in Australia
Australia is a country and a continent in one. That often doesn’t sink in until you start exploring the best places to go in Australia and realise just how huge and spread out the place actually is. While its population is positively teensy at 21 million, the vast majority of that population is crammed into 3 or 4 coastal cities. The rest are scattered around a vast, multi-coloured, multi-climate mass of near-emptiness. If you only read two pieces of advice before visiting, make it these: always wear sunscreen; and always carry emergency supplies if you go driving in the outback or bushwalking anywhere.
Asking yourself, what to do in Australia? The following Australia tourist attractions and events are experiences that you should try to include in your plan to visit landmarks in Australia. Some of these tourist attractions in Australia are well-known around the world, some are more obscure. All will show you a part of the Australian way of life.
These recommendations are intended to give you ideas regarding your trip planning of what to see in Australia. I haven’t added time estimates, as that would make it too complex in my opinion.
To make finding the experiences, you personally like, easier, some recommendations are tagged in the title with these four options: Hidden place, Culture, Nature and Food
Places to see in Australia: New South Wales
The zoo at Dubbo is unusual. For a start, fencing is minimal. Animals are contained to their areas with cunning ditches and other natural-looking barriers. Animals range from the standard lions and giraffes to Aussie natives and endangered animals from around the world. How about adding an overnight stay within the zoo to enrich your Australia holidays.
Hidden place: Stone Pine Distillery
This little micro-distillery in Bathurst creates a ‘Native Range’ dry gin the likes of which you won’t find anywhere else. They take the traditional recipe and add some native botanical ingredients to give it a unique flavour. Well worth a taste for fans of gin. They also make a lovely chocolate cream liqueur and seasonal liquors.
Culture: Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras
You don’t have to be gay or lesbian to enjoy the spectacular shows and parades of the Mardi Gras. It runs annually in February with a host of shows, displays and cabarets, culminating in the parade itself at the end of February or early March. Visit some of the numerous visual and performing art shows, or simply join the crowd to watch the parade.
Nature: Jenolan Caves
The Jenolan Caves are a system of limestone caves near the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. They range from huge, well-lit caverns with stairs and walking tracks to small, dark caves accessible only by rigorous climbing and wriggling through tight spaces. They contain some of the most beautiful calcite formations in the world.
Are you interested in alternative lifestyles and self-sufficiency. Even if it’s not your piece of cake it’s certainly worth a look. The article “Brisbane to Sydney: What to do?” also gives you some other ideas, what to do between the these two big cities.
itself is a worthy attraction too. My favourite place there is Darling Harbour. The nearby Blue Mountains also are a must visit. Discover in the article “5 attractions in & around Sydney“, what else you can do there.
Things to see in Australia: Queensland
Culture – Food: Noosa Food and Wine Festival
What makes this particular food and wine festival special is the location. Noosa is a beautiful spot on the Queensland coast, a couple of hours’ drive north of Brisbane. Sample local music, art, food and wine, and then take some time out to lie on the beach. It’s held in mid-May every year.
Nature: North Stradbroke Island
There are a number of lovely resort islands in Queensland. This isn’t one of them, but it is one of the loveliest and most tranquil vacation spots around. It’s located to the east of Brisbane and the Gold Coast, and has some gorgeous surf beaches, bush walks, lakes and 4WD tracks.
Nature: Carnarvon Gorge
If you plan a trip, don’t forget to include this picturesque national park in the central highlands of Queensland in it. Expect high sandstone cliffs, a variety of unique flora and fauna, and natural pools and waterfalls. Bushwalk, swim, and camp in designated areas. The only access is via unsealed roads.
Culture – Hidden place: The Vision Splendid Film Festival
This outback film festival showcases a huge range of Australian films, both new and vintage, short and feature-length. It’s held over June-July in Winton in western Queensland, a town famed within Australia as the birthplace of the national airline, Qantas. Book tickets for each film in advance.
Nature: Great Barrier Reef Australia
Another one you must see in Australia: Have a look at one of the greatest ecosystems of this planet.
In the article “Australia Queensland places to see” you will also find recommendations to visit Brisbane, capital city of Queensland, the Daintree rainforest, Fraser island (which is the biggest sand island of the world) and Australia Zoo, founded by the famous Steve Irwin.
What to do in Australia: Victoria
Culture: Pioneer Settlement
The Pioneer Settlement in Swan Hill is a recreation of a historical town. Ride in a horse-drawn carriage or vintage car, churn butter, have an old-fashioned Australian morning tea, and take a trip down the Murray River in an old paddle steamer.
Culture: Things to do in Melbourne & Melbourne Fashion Festival
One of the best cities to visit in Australia, if not the best one, is Melbourne. Aussies tend to regard Melbourne as Australia’s centre of the cultural and fashion. If you’re fashion-minded, this is a perfect opportunity to check out the latest and hottest designers from around the country. It’s held every two years in mid-March. While you’re there, check out the myriad wonderful restaurants and the Queen Victoria Markets, too. Find further tips in the article “A city full of beauty!”
If you like mineral springs, you’ll love Hepburn Bathhouse. It offers traditional communal warm-waters bathing in modern surroundings at a reasonable price (cheaper mid-week), and the more standard spa treatments as well.
Rent a car in Melbourne and continue your Australia travel adventure by adding this once in a lifetime experience! Cruise on the Great Ocean Road, that connects Torquay to Allansford along the South-Western shoreline of Victoria. You will be rewarded with amazing views and scenery.
Places to go in Australia: Australian Capital Territory
One thing that Canberra does very well is flowers. Canberra’s Floriade is a huge floral extravaganza that celebrates all things blossomy. Floral clocks, floral recreations of impressionist masterpieces, floral… you get the idea. It runs for a month from mid-September to mid-October.
Are you a fan of architecture and long, symmetric alleys. Then you should have a look at Canberra, the capital of Australia. If you want to dig deeper into the history of Australia, the many museums there will be your choice.
Things to see in Australia: Tasmania
Culture – Food: King Island Long Table Festival
King Island, about 80km (50 miles) northwest of Tasmania, is a foodie heaven. It’s renowned for the popular King Island Dairy, but also produces top-notch beef, seafood, fruit and vegetables. The Long Table Festival in late February offers tours of farms and wharves, cooking classes, and a banquet feast on the last day. Advance bookings are essential, if you want to make this experience a part of your Australia holidays!
Nature – Hidden place: Overland Track
Go for an extended bushwalk along the Overland Track in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. It’s 82km (around 50 miles) long, and winds through some truly spectacular scenery. The track usually takes 5-7 days to walk, and it’s recommended that you start at Cradle Mountain and walk south. There are huts available along the track, but take a tent just in case. Ensure you have adequate supplies.
Food: Chocolate Winterfest
Every year in August, Latrobe holds the Chocolate Winterfest to buoy the spirits of locals and tourists alike. It hosts a range of events from chocolate tastings and markets to a lantern parade and wearable-chocolate fashion show. Add some luxury to your trip planning.
Places to see in Australia: South Australia
Culture – Food: Winery Tours and Drives
There are a huge number of wineries scattered through south-eastern South Australia and south-western Victoria. If you’re a wine buff, consider hiring a car in Adelaide, driving out to the famous Barossa Valley, then making your way slowly down to Melbourne. Just save the drinking for after driving. Numerous winery tours are also available if you’d prefer to taste without restraint.
Nature – Hidden place: The Blue Lake
The Blue Lake is a crater lake in the hills just outside Mount Gambier, in south-east South Australia. In November, it slowly changes from your average greyish-blue to a bright turquoise blue. No one’s quite sure whether mineral or biological reactions are to blame for the colour change, but it’s quite impressive regardless. So include this hidden place, if you plan a trip to Australia any time soon. There are some lovely bushwalking tracks around the lake as well.
The Guitar Festival runs every July for four days. It features some of the world’s best acoustic and electric guitarists in a wide variety of styles and musical genres. As it’s held in the centre of Adelaide, there’s a plethora of options for accommodation nearby, not to mention food and drink.
While many of the recommendations here include some serious study or travelling I recommend Adelaide and surroundings solely for relaxing and enjoying! It’s the vibe there, that makes it! 🙂
What to see in Australia: Western Australia
Broome is a small city on the north-western coast of Australia. Every August, its population triples as people flood in to watch the horse races. The races are held on a dirt track, just a stone’s throw from the beach. If you’re planning a trip to Australia in August, include this!
Hidden place: Albany Wildflower Exhibition
Albany is a city in southern WA, about 400km (250 miles) from Perth, the state capital. Every year, for one weekend, the local wildflower association holds its Wildflower Exhibition. While this is a relatively small event (and cheap – $3 entry at last check), it’s perfect for nature enthusiasts and can be combined with a wander around the historic port city and some local cuisine.
Kayak on the Swan River and explore the rest of Perth
Perth’s Swan River is a perfect vacation spot and ideal for kayaking. A number of companies either hire out kayaks or operate kayak tours up and down the river. See some great views, keep an eye out for the river dolphins who sometimes decide to join a group, and get some light, enjoyable exercise at the same time. In the article “Things to do in Perth” you find more ideas on what to do in Perth.
What to do in Australia: Northern Territory
Nature – Hidden place: Alice Springs Desert Park
A definite must see in Australia. The outback is what dreams are made out of, both joyful dreams of having all this desert beauty to yourself, but also the nightmare of getting lost in this vast nothingess.
The desert park offers a unique opportunity to experience some of outback Australia’s landscapes and wildlife without venturing too far from civilization. There are a number of educational shows daily, and lots to see throughout the park, as well as a café and picnic area. It’s 6km (4 miles) from Alice Springs, an easy drive or bicycle ride.
The Ghan is a train travelling between Darwin on the northern coast and Adelaide on the southern coast of Australia. For train enthusiasts and those who want to experience some of the most varied landscapes around, plan your trip around this 4-day experience. A number of different accommodation classes are available.
Culture – Hidden place: Milimika Festival
This arts and culture festival is held every year in early August. It’s held in Wurrumyanga on Melville Island, 80km (50 miles) north of Darwin. It’s a great opportunity to experience some local indigenous culture, see the works created by the local artistic community, and go for a bush or beach walk.
Don’t be scared to miss out on some of the things, even though I say differently in the title. 🙂 Even with a lot of time you can’t visit every place. Focus on having fun and focus on the things you like!
When is the best travel time?
This question and much more in answered in this article: Improve your trip now with this Australia travel advice