Things to Do on Australia Travel That Will Fascinate Your Friends When You Return

Australia & South Pacific

Blond girl jumping in the Pinnacles desert of Nambung National Park, Western Australia, Australia

There are experiences on Australia travel you can enjoy which are different and unusual without participating in wild or strenuous endeavours.

If you are like me, you love to tell your friends about the places you visited where you had a unique experience. Australia offers these without having to swim with sharks, skydive, or go white water rafting. All of the following ideas are for the average traveller.

Climb Sydney Harbour Bridge

This is the way to view Sydney and its harbour like no other. The first sight and site that comes into view on arrival in Sydney on a trip to Australia is perhaps Sydney Harbour Bridge. Everywhere you turn, it is impossible to avoid seeing this amazing architectural phenomenon which connects the Sydney Central Business District with the North Shore of the city. The Bridge Climb started in 1998 and has attracted visitors and locals alike to climb it. This is not climbing in the sense of scaling mountains. After climbing through catwalks and up ladders and stairs, the view is absolutely breathtaking. Groups leave for a climb approximately every 20 minutes depending on the time of the day. The duration of the Climb is 4 hours. The Pylon Lookout is at the city end where visitors can see an exhibition about the bridge as well as experience the spectacular 360-degree view from the top of the pylon. Some celebrities who have completed the climb are Prince Frederik and Princess Mary of Denmark, Will Smith, Matt Damon, Nicole Kidman, Kylie Minogue, Justin Timberlake, Cameron Diaz, Robert De Niro, Pierce Brosnan, Cate Blanchett, Prince Harry, and Sarah Ferguson. When in Sydney, why not add your name to the list.

View of the top of Harbour Bridge, Sydney, Australia
View of the top of Harbour Bridge with climbers, Sydney

Up Close and Personal with Penguins in Melbourne

The Penguin is not unique to Australia and can be found all over the globe. Technically penguins cannot fly even though they have wings. These wings, however, enable them to swim, sometimes at speeds up to 40 kilometres/25 miles per hour. If you find yourself in Melbourne on Australian tours, you can see fairy penguins at Phillip Island just outside of the city. Phillip Island is home to an estimated 32,000 little penguins. Weighing just one kilogram/2.2 lbs. and standing 33 centimetres/13 inches tall, these little birds can still dive up to 75 metres/240 feet and hold their breath for almost 2 minutes. To view these penguins in large numbers, you gather on the beach at dusk and watch the penguins emerge from the sea after spending most of the day catching fish to feed their young who are living in nests along the shoreline. One comes out to announce their arrival, then two or three more and then, eventually, hordes of them waddle up the beach. It’s quite a sight.

Cute fairy penguins on Phillip Island, Australia
Cute fairy penguins on Phillip Island

Take a Camel Ride in the Outback

I once read a fascinating and enjoyable book entitled Tracks, about a woman who crossed the desert from Alice Springs to the west coast of Australia, some 2700 kilometres/1700 miles, with only the company of 4 camels and a dog. Her journey made international headlines and parts were photographed for National Geographic magazine before her story was published in 1980. A movie was also released by the same name. Okay, I am not suggesting a trip of this nature but a ride in complete moderation. The Outback of Australia is more of a colloquial term than a geographical area. It refers to the vast, remote, arid interior of Australia. However, from Alice Springs, you can have a 1-hour camel ride. This can be done in the daytime or, preferably, at sunset. During your ride, you can see wildlife such as wild camels, red kangaroos, desert dingoes, the Thorny Devil lizard, monitor lizards, and the bearded dragon lizard, all while experiencing the natural beauty of the MacDonnell Mountain Ranges in the Outback. You can also visit a “camel lounge” to learn about camels and observe them in their home at the camel farm.

Camels relaxing in a camel farm, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia
Camels relaxing in a camel farm, Alice Springs

Check Out the Colourful Street Art in Melbourne

Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city has a major reputation for street art. It is home to one of the world’s most active and diverse street art cultures which is supported and preserved by local councils. Most of the street art is in the inner neighbourhoods such as Brunswick, Carlton, and Fitzroy. Hosier Lane is a major centre, not far from the centre of Melbourne, offering an abundance of amazing and colourful street art.  Melbourne is also known as the “stencil capital” as the first stencil festival in the world was held here in 2004. It has become an annual event and held for 10 days every year involving exhibitions, live demonstrations, artist talks, panel discussions, workshops, master classes, and street art-related films to be enjoyed on Australia vacations.

Street art in Melbourne, Australia
Street art in Melbourne, Australia

View Aboriginal Rock Art in the Northern Territory

In Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory there exist World Heritage-listed Aboriginal rock art sites. Some of these sites have been dated to be over 20,000 years old and provide a visual record of the oldest living culture on earth. Within the park, there are 3 rock art sites open to the public and each one offers something different. The 3 sites are called Ubirr, Nourlangie, and Nanguluwurr. The paintings provide a fascinating record of Aboriginal life over these thousands of years. These include paintings depicting animals they hunted, activities they still do, and of early contact with European people.  Because a reddish iron oxide was used as paint, the majority of the older paintings are completely red.

Aboriginal Rock Art at Nourlangie, Kakadu National Park, Australia
Aboriginal rock art at Nourlangie in Kakadu National Park

Stay in a Treehouse in the Blue Mountains

If you are in Sydney and want to experience nearby exceptionally dramatic scenery, the colourful Blue Mountains are a mere 50 kilometres/31 miles away to the west of the city. The name itself is derived from the blue haze you encounter when looking at them from a distance. The haze is believed to be caused by the vast forests of eucalyptus (commonly called gum trees) which, in the hot sun, discharge a fine mist of eucalyptus oil from their leaves and makes the haze look blue. So, if you can spend time there on Australia travel, why not consider a stay in a treehouse. This is a cabin built in a treetop or around the stem of a tree. There are several treehouses offering accommodation and you are guaranteed amazing views from them while standing on the outside deck.

Three Sisters in Blue Mountains National Park, New South Wales, Australia
Three Sisters in Blue Mountains National Park

Get to be NOT Eaten by a Crocodile at Crocosaurus Cove, Darwin

You may have heard of diving with sharks. Well, this is basically the same concept. This activity in Darwin is not dangerous but could take your breath away. You enter a transparent cage which is lowered into water which is infested with crocodiles. You can view them and they can certainly see you.  These are saltwater crocodiles and very large. This particular cage is (not aptly) named the Cage of Death. You spend about 15 minutes underwater (you are provided with oxygen masks). Maybe not for the faint of heart?

Saltwater crocodile in Crocosaurus Cove, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia
Saltwater crocodile in Crocosaurus Cove, Darwin

Reach the Pinnacle(s) in Western Australia

The Pinnacles in Western Australia are ancient rock formations which can be found on an Australia vacation just a few hours north of Perth in Nambung National Park. They are limestone pillars which protrude out of the sand across the desert, creating an incredibly unique landscape. The Pinnacles were formed from erosion by the wind and the rain and stand up to 3.5 metres/10 feet tall, coming in various shapes – jagged, rounded, sharp-edged, and combinations of these. There are literally thousands of them on view. The best time to visit them on Australia travel is between August and October, when the weather is cooler and the wildflowers bloom. Also, they are best seen in the early morning or late afternoon at which times the light brings out the colours and extends the shadows. Most animals here are nocturnal, but one can see emus and kangaroos during the daytime. The best way to travel around is by 4WD although it is possible to walk. So if your visit to Australia includes Perth, then consider a visit to the Pinnacles and explore the unique landscape of this region.

The Pinnacles in late afternoon light, Nambung National Park, Western Australia
The Pinnacles in late afternoon light, Nambung National Park