Australia might just take the cake for being the travel destination with the most experiences that you can only find on this South Pacific continent. Where else can you see unusual animals such as kangaroos, koalas and the infamous Tasmanian devils? Where else can you engage in adrenaline-pumping pursuits at the blink of an eye? And where else in the world can you get up-close and personal with the largest living structure on earth?
Australia is a magical place where visitors can take part in hundreds of exciting and life-changing pursuits. While there’s much more we could have added to this list, including a dive in the Great Barrier Reef, a stroll with the penguins on Philip Island or taking surfing lessons on Bondi Beach, Vacation provides a few other once-in-a-lifetime experiences that you can only get in Oz.
Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge
The vibrant Sydney Harbour, with its white-sailed Frank Gehry-designed opera house and the immense Sydney Harbour Bridge, is one of the most iconic settings in the world. And from above, you can see this spectacular vista from this rare vantage point. Led by a certified guide, you’ll slowly, but surely, climb through the arches of this bridge (nicknamed the “Coathanger”), while learning stories about its impressive 80-plus-year history. When you reach the summit, 440 feet above sea level, you’ll be able to soak up incredible panoramas. It may be an extreme option if you have a fear of heights. In that case, we suggest you avoid looking down… for the entire 3.5-hour trek along the famous landmark.
Explore Award-Winning Wineries
It’s common opinion among wine connoisseurs that Australian wines don’t always get the credit they deserve. Although lesser-known than wine countries such as France or Italy, Australia is home to more than 2,400 wineries scattered throughout the country. The region’s mild climate and fertile soil make it a grape-growing haven, offering over 100 different varieties. Penfolds Grange is often lauded as Australia’s finest wine. For the ultimate tasting experience, head to Magill Estate, located in the foothills of Adelaide in South Australia. Here, you can tour the Grange Cottage, the original home of Dr. Christopher and Mary Penfold, the winery, the vintage cellar and the underground drives while you learn about the winery’s rich history, which dates back to 1844. Be sure to dine at the adjacent Magill Estate Restaurant to indulge in fine cuisine paired with equally fine wines.
Visit Uluru (Ayers Rock) with an Aboriginal Guide
Located in the heart of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in Australia’s aptly named Red Centre, Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock) is one of the country’s most well-known symbols. The massive rock form – about 2.2 miles long and just over a mile wide, rising 1,141 feet into the sky – needs to be experienced in person to truly understand its grandeur. The oxidation of the rock’s iron content gives it its extraordinary orange-red hue. Fully appreciate this ancient landform by touring the base with an Aboriginal guide, who will share the native Australians’ millennia-old traditions and mystical connections to the landscape. Or, get a bird’s-eye view of this natural spectacle on a tour via a helicopter or a hot air balloon.
Go Bungee Jumping or Ride the “Minjin Swing” in Cairns
Extreme sports are not uncommon in the land Down Under. Specifically, bungee jumping is one activity that tops many visitors’ bucket lists. And it’s no surprise that the world’s first-ever tower built specifically for bungee jumping was built in Australia. Located just 10 miles north of Cairns surrounded by waterfalls and a tropical rainforest, this massive tower is high enough that from the tip, you can see all the way to the Great Barrier Reef. The tower is also the location of the one-of-a-kind A.J. Hackett Minjin Jungle Swing, where up to three people at once are strapped in plank position to a large pendulum that swings from a height of 148 feet to just above ground in just 3.5 seconds, reaching speeds up to 75 mph. Talk about an adrenaline rush!
Witness Rare and Extraordinary Wildlife
More than 80 percent of Australia’s plant, mammal, reptile and frog species are native to the country and cannot be found anywhere else on the planet. From kangaroos and koalas to wallabies and wombats, there are plenty of rare and unusual animals to keep your eyes peeled – no matter which region you travel. To ensure you spot your favorite bunch (and perhaps a few you’ve never ever heard of), head to one of the region’s world-class zoos or wildlife parks, such as Cleland Wildlife Park in South Australia, the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, the Rainforest Habitat in Port Douglas or the Australia Zoo in Queensland. And if underwater fun is more your thing, go swimming with the whale sharks – the biggest shark species and the world’s largest fish – in the Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia. You’ll be glad you did!