While most people only think of it as a country with kangaroos and crocodiles, there’s more to Australia than what meets the eye. As a matter of fact, there are a number of experiences that you can’t find anywhere but Australia! If you’re hoping to plan a one-of-a-kind vacation, here are just seven crazy things to try in the land down under.
7. Explore the World’s Oldest Caves
Hidden deep underground, the Jenolan Caves are an elaborate “cave network” stretching across the Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve. They cover more than 40 kilometres and offer more than 300 entrances and exits, and their rock formations include everything from limestone to marine fossils. There are even pure white calcite deposits renowned for their beauty! The most amazing thing about the caves, however, is the fact that they’re the oldest in the world and still being explored to this day. There’s no telling what explorers will find in the future, but it will only happen in Australia.
6. Ride the Great Southern Rail
Travelling more than 4300 kilometres in total, the Great Southern Rail is one of the longest railways in the world. It takes almost three days to ride its full length from Sydney to Perth! But don’t worry about accommodations; the train is equipped with everything that you need to enjoy a luxurious transcontinental holiday. From full-service suite showers to leather banquette lounges, you’ll ride in style with the Great Southern Rail. There are even onboard chefs to serve you things like grilled kangaroo fillets. Now that’s authentic Australian cuisine!
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is more than 130 meters tall, and it looms over all kinds of drivers, cyclists, and railway passengers as an important and functional piece of architecture in one of Australia’s busiest cities. So, of course, people like to climb it! There are many different tour groups that offer sponsored climbs of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and if you have nerves of steel and a healthy sense of adventure, you can join them. Your reward will be a breathtaking aerial view of the city and an experience that you’ll never forget.
4. Take a “Big Things” Road Trip
From the big avocado of Duranbah to the big coffee maker of Brunswick, Australia is full of larger-than-life sculptures. There are so many, in fact, that Australia has an unofficial “Big Things” tour that spans the entire country. Travelers from all around the world come to gawk at stone strawberries, painted pelicans and gigantic guitars. There’s even a huge pile of poo that rests in Kiama! It’s made of foam, but it’s still something that you have to see to believe. If you’re interested in taking a one-of-a-kind road trip, it doesn’t get any more unique than Australia’s “Big Things” tour.
3. Travel the Great Ocean Road
If you like your road trips with a bit more gravitas, consider exploring the Great Ocean Road. It’s a 243-kilometer stretch of land that winds through the entire southern coast of Australia, and it offers amazing glimpses at everything from seaside cliffs to limestone rock formations. Originally built by soldiers returning from World War I, it’s now a popular tourist attraction for those who are looking to get off the beaten path and take a self-guided journey through Australia’s gorgeous natural landscape. It’s even on the Australian National Heritage List, so it’s an experience that will offer both sights and culture.
2. Swim with Endangered Whales
Many countries have strict laws about swimming with whales, especially the sub-species that are endangered or otherwise threatened by humans. The good news is that groups like the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) have approved whale-watching and whale-swimming with certain endorsed tourist groups. If it’s always been your dream to snorkel with nature’s largest and gentlest creatures, Australia is the place to do it. You can find Australian tour guides online who will let you swim with everything from humpback to minke whales.
1. Climb Mount Kosciuszko
Measuring more than 2,200 meters above sea level, Mount Kosciuszko is one of the tallest mountains in the entire southern hemisphere. It’s considered one of the “Seven Summits” along with places like Everest and Kilimanjaro, and climbers everywhere flock to Australia to test themselves on its snowy peaks. Even if you’re not a hiker, however, there’s still a lot to enjoy about Mount Kosciuszko. You can ski, snowboard and even run winter marathons along its trails, so the sky is the limit for exhilarating outdoor activities.
These are just seven things that you’ll need to travel to Australia to experience. Whether you’re interested in climbing steel bridges or free-falling down hills in a giant plastic dome, Australia has more than enough to keep you occupied on your next vacation. Happy travels!
This post was written by Andrew Larson, a semi-retired software engineer turned globetrotter and full-time travel enthusiast who now runs Wanderlust 15