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Things to Do in Australia

With its imitable mix of nature, culture, and laid-back coastal cool, there’s far more to Australia than koalas and kangaroos. The cosmopolitan style and iconic cityscape of Sydney and its opera house don’t compromise the quality of Bondi Beach, ripe for surfing and sunbathing. In Melbourne, a cutting-edge culinary scene and nearby vineyards are a top draw for foodies. And in Cairns, opportunities to spot wildlife in tropical rain forests or the Coral Sea abound. If you’re a thrill seeker, climb Sydney Harbour Bridge, take a hot-air balloon over Alice Springs, or go scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef. Visit Adelaide’s Kangaroo Island, watch dolphins at Port Douglas, or snorkel with tropical marine life on Fraser Island if nature is your bag. And, if you’re after unique and spectacular sights, you’ll be spoilt for choice in the Land Down Under. Natural wonders and World Heritage sites include the Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road, Ayers Rock in Uluru (best seen on a sunrise tour), and the imposing Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains. If that’s not enough, flightseeing tours of the Whitsunday Islands, excursions to Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory, and a ride on Melbourne’s colonial tramcar restaurant should also be added to your Oz itinerary.
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Great Barrier Reef
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Encompassing roughly 3,000 individual reefs and dotted with almost 900 islands and coral cays (small sandy isles), Australia's Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most unforgettable natural treasures. Snorkelers and certified divers flock here to see the unparalleled array of marine life.

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Freycinet National Park
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One of Tasmania’s most popular coastal holiday spots, Freycinet National Park is backed by the pink-tinged granite outcrops known as the Hazards.

Low-lying coastal heathland frames views of blue sea and sand throughout the park, with the Hazards looming large in the distance. Bushwalkers head here to follow coastal trails along the peninsula’s secluded coves, and the park is a popular holiday camping spot for families.

The park’s white-sand beaches are beautiful but top marks always go to perfectly formed Wineglass Bay, which often appears in travel top 10s as one of the world’s most gorgeous beaches. It really does have a circular wineglass shape, fringed by white sand and untouched bushland.

Birdwatchers come to Freycinet to spot seabirds, and you might see cockatoos, wattlebirds and wallabies on the two-hour return walk to the lofty lookout over Wineglass Bay. It’s an often steep incline with steps, or you can follow the wheelchair-friendly boardwalk at Cape Tourville for less-exhausting but still stunning views of the bay.

Boating and fishing are other popular activities, along with rock climbing, sea-kayaking, swimming at the Friendly Beaches and snorkeling at Sleepy Bay and Honeymoon Bay.

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Port Arthur Penitentiary
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Isolated on a peninsula facing the Tasman Sea, the once-feared Port Arthur Penitentiary was where Britain’s most-condemned convicts were sent to endure harsh conditions. Today, the UNESCO-listed site has been restored and preserved to remember Australia’s past; a visit here sheds light on the darker days of Port Arthur.

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Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge National Park)
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Nitmiluk National Park (formerly Katherine Gorge National Park) offers vast sandstone cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and a series of 13 gorges carved out by the mighty Katherine River. All of this dramatic scenery is located on the ancient lands of the Jawoyn people and is home to some impressive Aboriginal rock art sites.

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Uluru (Ayers Rock)
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A gigantic monolith of rust-red rock looming over the desert plains of the Australian Outback, Uluru (Ayers Rock) is more than just a postcard icon—it’s the cultural, spiritual, and geographical heart of Australia, one of its most impressive natural wonders, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Sydney Harbour Bridge
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Few sights are as instantly recognizable as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the grand centerpiece of Sydney Harbour and one of Australia's most photographed landmarks. The historic structure dates to 1932 and is the world's largest steel arch bridge. It's also an important transport hub, linking downtown Sydney with the north shore, Manly, and the area's northern beaches.

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Swan River
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The liquid heart of Perth, the Swan River touches many of the city’s neighborhoods on its way to the Indian Ocean. The river passes through the Swan Valley wine region, Perth’s Central Business District and affluent suburbs, and the port city of Fremantle, and there are lots of recreational opportunities on the banks and in the water.

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National Anzac Centre
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Devoted to telling the story of the more than 40,000 ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) soldiers that fought in the First World War, the National Anzac Centre is one of Australia’s most important military museums. It’s housed in a purpose-built building in Albany Heritage Park.

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Fremantle Markets
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With a history dating back to 1897 and a far-reaching reputation, the Fremantle Markets are among the most famous of their kind in Western Australia, and the lively weekend markets are equally popular with locals and tourists. Housed in a striking Victorian market hall, restored in the 1970s, the legendary markets feature more than 150 stalls split between two sections – The Yard and The Hall.

Visiting the Fremantle Markets is an experience in itself, with huge crowds turning out each weekend, and an array of street entertainers, artists and musicians providing entertainment. This is the place to buy fresh farmer’s produce, organic delicacies and artisan foods, or feast on tasty street food. It’s not just food on sale either – the eclectic stalls include clothing and accessories by local and upcoming designers; unique art and handicrafts; great value cosmetics and toiletries; and a myriad of souvenirs.

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The Strand
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All roads in central Townsville eventually lead to The Strand. As the city’s most beautiful and popular beach, The Strand is the sparkling centerpiece of Townsville’s golden coast. Even better, it has twice been voted “Australia’s Cleanest Beach” for its tidy, modern facilities. Take a jog on the walking paths that weave along the coast, or plan an afternoon barbecue or picnic on the park’s expansive lawn.

Fishermen gather at the northern end, in front of Kissing Point Fort, as bathers wade in the famous Rock Pool that faces out to sea. If it’s “stinger” season for Queensland’s box jellies, the section of beach just south of the pool has stinger nets and lifeguards. Waves are rarely an issue here, and it’s easy to simply float on your back and feel the sun on your face. For an extended trip when walking The Strand, make the climb up to Kissing Point Fort, where views stretch out to Magnetic Island and the vast Pacific beyond. The passenger ferry to Magnetic Island also departs from The Strand, and families will enjoy the large waterpark that’s perfect for children. Add in roadside cafés and restaurants just steps from the manicured grounds, and it’s easy to see why the famous Strand is the most happening place in town.

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More Things to Do in Australia

Busselton Jetty

Busselton Jetty

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At more than a mile (1.8 kilometers) in length, the Busselton Jetty is the longest timber-piled jetty found anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere. Ships no longer dock here, and instead the historic jetty draws visitors to the Western Australia coast to stroll its length and take in the views both above and below the water.

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National Museum of Australia

National Museum of Australia

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The National Museum of Australia explores national identity and heritage in a hugely kid-friendly and fun way.

Like a big abstract Australian storybook, the museum’s creative exhibits use controversy and humor to get you thinking about Australia's big picture.

From Indigenous culture to national icons, personal stories and artifacts, this enjoyable museum has a huge range of exhibits.

To get an overview of the collection, watch the free introductory film or take a guided tour.

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Three Sisters

Three Sisters

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The Three Sisters is an ancient rock formation located in the Blue Mountains National Park in the town of Katoomba. The towering trio of stone has a mythical dimension in the Aboriginal Dreamtime legend about three sisters who lived in the Jamison Valley and fell in love with three brothers from a rival tribe whom they were forbidden to marry.

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Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

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The Sydney Opera House, a world-class performing arts venue and iconic Australian landmark, defines the Sydney Harbour in the heart of the city. Designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon, the structure is a masterpiece of late 20th-century architecture, despite challenges that plagued the 15-year project before it was formally opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1973. Distinguished by soaring halls with a white ceramic-tiled exterior shaped to evoke the sails of a yacht, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must-see Sydney attraction.

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Tamar Valley

Tamar Valley

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The Tamar Valley is right on Launceston’s doorstep, stretching north to the sea at George Town. It’s a lush, fertile area of orchards, pasture, B&Bs and, importantly, vineyards.

If you’re driving or taking a tour from Launceston, follow the Tamar Valley Wine Route winding through the valley to visit notable wineries like Pipers Brook, Clover Hill, Delamere, Bass and Ninth Island. The area is particularly renowned for its Pinot Noir wines.

The route heads north from Launceston, running along the western side of the valley through Exeter, Rosevears and Beaconsfield. The valley is crossed by the strikingly cable-trussed Batman Bridge at Deviot, then runs north to George Town on the valley’s eastern bank. Returning to Launceston, the route loops south through Lilydale and Rocherlea.

Wines to sample along the route include Riesling, Chardonnay and, most notably, Pinot Noir. Cellar door restaurants are another highlight, and you’ll also pass the Tamar Island Wetlands, mining history at Beaconsfield, and the Georgian-era sailing port of George Town.

Other towns to visit include riverside Rosevears, Beauty Point, where you’ll find Seahorse World, and Low Head with its maritime history museum and pilot station, lighthouse and penguin tours near George Town.

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Lake McKenzie

Lake McKenzie

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Awe-inspiring Lake McKenzie is possibly one of the world’s most beautiful lakes. It is also one of the world’s least polluted and a swim in the crystal-clear freshwater will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

The lake is a “perched lake,” meaning it sits atop a sand dune where the sand and humus underneath have bonded into a concrete-like base. The lake isn't connected to streams or the ocean, which means all the water is pure rainwater. The sand also acts as a filter keeping the water clear, and makes for an amazing experience when relaxing in the lake.

Fraser Island is home to forty of the world’s eighty perched lakes, and like the many other freshwater lakes on the island, Lake McKenzie relies solely on rain for replenishment.

The sand surrounding the lake is pure silica so you can wash your hair with it or exfoliate your skin, perfect if you’ve been camping for days. There are a lot of delightful picnic areas and stunning beaches around the lake, which makes it perfect for an afternoon trip or a multiple day excursion.

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Tamborine National Park

Tamborine National Park

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Located in the Gold Coast Hinterlands, Tamborine National Park is known for its natural beauty, rich biodiversity, and breathtaking views over the Gold Coast and the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Scenic Rim to the west. Queensland’s first national park, Tamborine is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike.

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Sydney Harbour

Sydney Harbour

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With the iconic silhouette of Sydney Opera House and the dramatic arch of Sydney Harbour Bridge etched against a backdrop of glittering ocean and soaring skyscrapers, Sydney Harbour is Australia’s quintessential postcard image. The harbor, the natural heart of Sydney, features more than 150 miles (240 kilometers) lined with golden beaches, lush gardens, and vibrant neighborhoods.

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Brisbane River

Brisbane River

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The Brisbane River winds its way through the heart of the city, from the neighborhoods of South Brisbane all the way to Moreton Bay. The river is also a center of local life, and residents and visitors alike enjoy the many waterfront parks and landmarks, riverside walks, and sightseeing cruises.

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Scenic World

Scenic World

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Situated at the heart of Australia’s Blue Mountains UNESCO World Heritage Site, Scenic World offers the rare chance to explore the mountains from all angles. Ride overhead in a cable car, hike along the valley floor, ride a train through mountain tunnels, and discover some of the most impressive scenery in Blue Mountains National Park.

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Abrolhos Islands

Abrolhos Islands

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With 122 almost entirely uninhabited islands and a vast expanse of coral reef stretching along the Coral Coast, the Abrolhos Islands are Western Australia’s answer to the Great Barrier Reef. Visit for world-class snorkeling, wreck dives, marine life, and bird sightings.

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Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)

Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)

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Often overshadowed by its more famous neighbor, the mighty Ayers Rock (Uluru), Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage–listed Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park. This natural wonder, comprising 36 domed red rocks looming up from the desert plains, is a spectacular sight and one of the highlights of Australia’s Red Centre.

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Turquoise Bay

Turquoise Bay

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With its sandy cove, crystalline waters and close proximity to the Ningaloo Reef, it’s easy to see why Turquoise Bay is renowned as one of Australia’s most idyllic beaches. Running around 600-meters along the west coast of the North West Cape, the Turquoise Bay Beach is one of the many natural highlights of the Cape Range National Park and a hotspot for sunseekers.

The most popular activities at Turquoise Bay are swimming and snorkeling, and the warm, shallow waters are teeming with colorful corals, tropical fish and starfish. For avid snorkelers and scuba divers, there are also plenty of opportunities for spotting reef sharks, sea turtles, manta rays and dolphins in the surrounding waters.

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Glen-Forest Tourist Park

Glen-Forest Tourist Park

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Just outside Port Lincoln, in South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula, Glen-Forest Tourist Park offers attractions from minigolf and Segway rides to vineyards and wildlife encounters. For most, animals will be the major draw. The park is home to koalas, dingoes, wombats, kangaroos, emus, and more, and many species can be hand-fed.

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