As we step into 2024, it’s the perfect time to unleash your inner adventurer and explore the many wonders our vast continent has to offer.
From the iconic Sydney Opera House to the mesmerising Ningaloo Reef, here are 24 Truly Aus experiences that will make a holiday in your own backyard truly unforgettable.
1. Soak up outback culture in Birdsville
Birdsville is one of Australia’s most remote towns: a thriving community bursting with friendly locals and outback charm. Sink a cold one at the iconic Birdsville Hotel, place your bets at the Birdsville Races or rock on at the Big Red Bash. There’s nothing better than catching a spectacular sunset from Big Red, the tallest sand dune in the Simpson Desert.
2. Deep dive in Mount Gambier
You wouldn’t expect one of the world’s best cave diving sites to be located in the middle of a working sheep farm, but that’s South Australia for you. Kilsby Sinkhole, just 15 kilometres outside Mount Gambier, is a 70-metre-deep chasm with exceptional water clarity: an utterly unique place to dive and snorkel. “Cave divers say it’s the closest thing to flying because it just feels like you’re suspended in air,” says owner Graham Kilsby.
3. Laidback luxury on Magnetic Island
This quiet slice of tropical paradise is just a short 30-minute ferry ride from Townsville, but feels like it’s a whole world away. Cruise the winding coastal roads in a mini moke, take a walk on Gabul Way, a 710-metre-long elevated steel pathway that hugs the side of the island, and spot plenty of friendly wallabies.
4. Experience the wukalina Walk
Engage deeply with Aboriginal culture on the wukalina Walk, an eye-opening four-day/three-night walking tour in lutruwita/Tasmania. Learn about palawa stories, culture, food and connection to Country with your guide, as you traverse the magnificent landscapes of wukalina (Mt William National Park) and larapuna (Bay of Fires) on foot.
5. Sail the stunning Whitsundays
We’ve all seen the Whitsundays’ azure waters and pristine sands on Instagram, but just wait until you experience it in person. Spend an inspiring few days sailing through 74 magnificent islands, past coral reefs, white beaches and tranquil rainforests – and, of course, get that Insta-worthy snap of Hill Inlet!
6. Come face to face with a great white
This one is for the thrill-seekers. The Neptune Islands Conservation Park is the only place in this part of the world where you can cage dive with mighty great white sharks. The eco-certified tour operators set out from Port Lincoln and are passionate about shark conservation.
7. Get festive in Adelaide
Adelaide truly is the Festival City, with an abundance of wild and wonderful events held throughout the year. The Adelaide Fringe Festival, the world’s second largest annual arts festival, fills over 400 venues with out-of-the-box entertainment, from comedy to circus to cabaret, and everything in between.
8. Walk on the wild side
Want to go on a real-life safari without leaving the country? At Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo there are more than 1,000 animals roaming across 300 hectares. You can hire a bike, electric cart or one of the brand-new pedal boats to spot lions, giraffes, elephants and the two new rhino calves – and you can even get mobbed by meerkats.
9. Hike to Wineglass Bay
If white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters and granite peaks sound like your ideal day, then Freycinet National Park on Tassie’s east coast is the perfect destination. Wineglass Bay, with its perfectly crescent-shaped beach, is the highlight of the park, while experienced hikers can opt for a more challenging trek to Mount Amos.
10. See the wildflowers in Western Australia
Every year, Western Australia bursts into colour with the world’s largest display of wildflowers. Beginning in June, more than 12,000 species of brilliant blooms carpet the state, with inner-city parks, forests, bushlands, and coastal and outback plains offering a floral overload of the senses.
11. Get faaabulous in Broken Hill
The Broken Heel festival pays homage to the iconic Aussie film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert with three days of drag, discos and divas. There’s cabaret, comedy, live music and social activities – and don’t forget your feather boa!
12. Wine and dine in Orange
Right in the heart of NSW wine country, this charming town boasts a culinary scene as vibrant as its vineyards. From farm-to-table feasts to exquisite wine pairings, Orange is a culinary destination every foodie must visit at least once. Time your visit with Orange F.O.O.D. Week in April for a week-long feast for all your senses.
13. Meet the dolphins at Monkey Mia
Monkey Mia is world-famous for the pod of friendly bottlenose dolphins that frolic at Australia’s most westerly point. Seeing these playful creatures come right up to the shore for feeding time is an utterly magical experience. The region itself is incredibly unique and biodiverse, making this a one-of-a-kind destination.
14. Visit Victoria’s food bowl
Discover the sun-soaked charm of Mildura, where the Murray weaves through vineyards and citrus groves. Savour local wines in rustic cellars, cruise the river on a historic paddle-steamer at sunset, and sample some of the freshest local fruit and veg at the buzzing farmers’ markets.
15. Be wowed by Boodjamulla National Park
Boodjamulla National Park (formerly known as Lawn Hill), is located on Waanyi land in Queensland’s north-west highlands. It has become a must-visit destination thanks to its incredible gorges, sandstone ranges and large collection of fossils. Spend a night under the stars, go bushwalking or kayak on crystal-clear waters.
16. Spend a night underground in Coober Pedy
If you’ve ever wanted to know what it’s like to live beneath the earth, ask the locals of this famous opal mining town in SA. The mercury shoots past 40 degrees Celsius in summer so most of the best digs (so to speak) in town are underground, including the Desert Cave Hotel and Opal Inn.
17. Explore the world’s oldest tropical rainforest
Step into the 180-million-year-old Daintree and lose yourself in its ancient beauty. There are so many amazing experiences to be had here: wander through lush emerald foliage on a bushwalk, spot unique flora and fauna, or take a cruise down the Daintree River for a chance to spot saltwater crocs.
18. Stroll around Sydney Harbour
The blue heart of the city, Sydney Harbour is home to some of the country’s most iconic attractions. Catch a show at the Opera House, climb to the summit of the Harbour Bridge, visit the Museum of Contemporary Art or hop on a ferry to Luna Park to take it all in from the water.
19. Swim with whale sharks
Dive into awe-inspiring adventures at the beautiful Ningaloo Reef on WA’s coral coast. Here, from March to June, you can swim alongside majestic whale sharks. Only one in three million people will ever get to do so, so it really is a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
20. Learn how to hang ten
Australia is ‘girt by sea’, surrounded on all sides by an absolutely stunning coastline and some of the best beaches in the world. So what better place to learn how to surf? Book in for a lesson at an iconic surfing hotspot like Bondi Beach, Byron Bay or Kirra on the Gold Coast.
21. See Melbourne from on high
Melbourne is the only major city in the world where you can commercially pilot a hot air balloon – so this is your chance to soak up a birds-eye view. Drift effortlessly over iconic landmarks, skyscrapers and the Yarra River as the sunrise bathes the city in golden hues.
22. Step back in time on the dinosaur trail
The Dinosaur Trail is an outback circuit through the vast red landscape of western Queensland connecting Winton, Hughenden and Richmond. Dinosaurs roamed here millions of years ago and there are plenty of archaeological sites and museums just waiting to be discovered. Plus, you can even fossick for fossils to find a piece of prehistory for yourself.
23. Take a tour of Canberra
Set off on a cultural and historical odyssey in our nation’s capital. Enjoy exhibitions at world-class art galleries, trace the country’s Indigenous and colonial history in museums, and marvel at the architectural grandeur of Parliament House.
24. Golfing and grazing on King Island
King Island is a place of rugged natural beauty, but that’s not all it is famous for. The exceptional local produce – including award-winning cheeses, succulent beef, fresh seafood and world-class whisky – is worth travelling for. Combine this with some of the most scenic golf courses in the world, and you’ll never want to leave.
Can’t get enough of these Truly Aus experiences? Check out 10 iconic travel opportunities here.
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