The top 10 ultimate aussie activities

BORED? Crazy? Need holiday inspiration? Well, you’re in luck. Lonely Planet’s Asia Pacific Travel Editor, Shawn Low, talks up 10 of Australia’s ultimate experiences (that don’t involve billy tea, cork hats, sports, or barbecues).

Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road. Picture: Barry O’Brien Source: Supplied

Morning Glory

Morning Glory Clouds, Queensland. Picture: John Durand Source: Supplied

Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef. Picture: Tourism Queensland Source: Supplied

BORED? Crazy? Need holiday inspiration? Well,

New South Wales

Don a gray jumpsuit and shimmy your way to the top of the great metal coat-hanger that spans Sydney Harbour. The Sydney Harbour Bridge can be scaled n 3 1/2 hours and you’ll be taken up a gradual incline to the bridge’s apex, 134m above the water.
Go in the late arvo and catch the sunset but don’t drop that engagement ring if you want to propose…it’s a long way down. Oh, and remember to visit the bathroom before you start the climb. Kinda hard to go when you’re at the top…and in a jumpsuit.

Northern Territory

On the topic of climbing, Uluru, Australia’s other icon at 378m, in the heart of the outback, is still being scaled by many. However, it’s a sacred site and the Anangu traditional landowners request that people don’t climb it. Yes, that means, “Please don’t do a striptease at the top, YouTube it, and declare it a ‘tribute’”.

Stripping and climbing aside, you can still get covered in the red dust by attempting to do a circuit of the base. It’s a 9.4km walk in searing heat so start early.


Dust off your Gore-Tex boots, fill up that backpack with supplies and embark on a six- to seven-day, 65km hike in Tassie.

Starting at Cradle Mountain and finishing at Lake St Clair, the Overland Track is not for the faint of heart (or faint of walking). You’ll traverse the highest ground in Tasmania, taking in wild alpine moors, craggy peaks and swathes of luxuriant rainforest.

Don’t expect five-star accommodation along the way: it’s strictly sleeping bag in a hut. We hope you like company!

Western Australia to Southern Australia

London to Moscow. Perth to Adelaide. What do they have in common? Well, it’s the distance between them.

At 2700km, the Eyre Hwy that crosses the southern edge of the vast Nullarbor Plain is just long and brutal. Let’s just call it the mother of all road trips.

People tend to be suckers for pain (and long drives) so why not do it too? To break up the long stretches of highway, toss your golf bag into the boot. The Nullarbor Link is an 18-hole golf course that is dotted across 1400km of the route – play a hold, drive on and play on the next! It’s the world’s longest golf course.

How’s your handicap?


The Great Ocean Road is arguably Australia’s most famous stretch of road and stretches 250km from Torquay to Warrnambool. The coastline has classic surf beaches, seaside towns, enough fish and chipperies to feed an army, and the thrashing Shipwreck Coast that inspires eerie stories of sunken vessels.

Across the midway point, the famous rock stacks known as the Twelve Apostles (we’re not exactly sure how many remain, we can never tell) are a key sight. We wish we could have been there in 1924: a steamboat Casino had to jettison 500 barrels of beer and 120 cases of spirit that diggers helped themselves to. Work stopped for two weeks. If only…

Western Australia

Another drive you say? Australia is HUGE we say! The 660km Gibb River Road (aka The Gibb) between Derby and Kununurra is one of the country’s great outback highways.

It’s a near-endless sea of red dirt, big open skies and dramatic terrain studded with picturesque gorges, pristine riverbeds and pounding waterfalls.

Did we mention that the road is unpaved? Plus it’s closed during the wet season (flooding you know). Make sure you get a 4WD and check your suspension.


Each spring, scientists and gliding enthusiasts turn up at Burketown in northern Queensland in the hope of witnessing a meteorological phenomenon.

The Morning Glory Clouds are tube-shaped roll clouds that stretch for upwards of 1000km and pushes 60km/h updrafts ahead of it. It’s these updrafts that stir the passions of gliders and hang-gliders.

You have to be passionate (and mad) to get up at 4am each day to prepare to catch the clouds. But with reports of gliders being carried for more than 700km and up to six hours, it’s not hard to understand the fascination.


Larger than the Great Wall of China, the Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven wonders of the natural world. The planet’s biggest reef system, where 2900 separate reefs form an outer ribbon parallel to the coast, is well worth visiting. And even better when you see it from below.

Cape Tribulation is good for snorkelling, as is Fitzroy Island and Lady Elliot Island. There are wrecks to explore, over 1500 species of fish, 400 types of corals and other weird things we can’t even name. You could dive here every day of your life and not see it all. So better get started!


There’s nothing like spiking the adrenaline levels (conquering your fear of heights) than abseiling 140m down the side of a dam. The Gordon Dam in southwest Tassie is a mammoth strip of concrete that holds back the Gordon River.

Don’t let it hold back your desire to do a James Bond and abseil face forward down. Yes, you can most certainly do it. Hopefully with more grace than the ones who have posted videos on YouTube.


The wild Franklin River avoided being dammed in the early 1980s. It’s a good thing because it’s now a white-water rafting hotspot with a 100km-plus expedition-style adventure through Tasmania’s pristine Southwest World Heritage region.

The eight-day journey starts below the Lyell Hey, on the Collingwood River and ends at Sir John Falls. The greatest paddling rush – literally – comes in the Great Ravine, a 5km-long gorge. No prizes for guessing what to expect with rapids such as the Cauldon, Thunderush and the Churn. Don’t forget your life safety vest!

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