Australia is a popular destination for travelers who love outdoor adventures for many reasons. Not only does it have vast areas of wide-open spaces, with many landforms unique to this island nation, a high percentage of Australia’s vascular plants (92%), mammals (83%), birds (45%), and reptiles (95%) are found nowhere else in the world! It’s also the world’s most ethnically diverse country. Hannah Thomas, guest blogger, shares her list of Australia’s top 10 outdoor adventures below.
Australian Outdoor Adventures with Hannah Thomas
Last year I got fired from the job I really loved and it hit me pretty bad. I spent my free time trying to get over it by watching TV and eating delivery food. One day, a friend came to my door and simply said: “Get up, get dressed, pack what you need. We’re going on a trip.”
I didn’t hesitate, honestly. I was tired of myself and feeling depressed. I needed a change of scenery before looking for a new job. When I asked her where we are going, she simply said: “To a place you haven’t seen before.”
Australia may seem small on the map, but in person, it’s even bigger than New York, if you ask me. We’ve spent three weeks on the road, trying to see as much as possible. And these are my top 10 places you should visit while on your Australian outdoor adventures.
Fraser Island is on the south-eastern coast of Australia and the nearest city is Brisbane. The best thing to do is to rent a vehicle and drive it along the beach. This way you can take a dip, see Maheno shipwreck and even try to pet a dingo, which I don’t advise. We stayed in a private apartment so the next day we could go on an inland tour to hike in the rainforest.
I’ve never sailed before. Honestly, I don’t know how that happened but somehow it did. However, the moment we set foot on the Whitsunday Islands we booked a sailing tour. Since the coral reef is protected and uninhabited, the turquoise colour and see through water are serene and magical. I decided to snorkel and even then was able to see amazing sea life. It’s even better adventure if you know how to SCUBA dive.
Ningaloo Reef is not easy to describe since it’s a place where you start feeling unbelievably humble in front of nature. There are many things to see and do here, but the best one is snorkelling with a large whale shark. You will also hang out with dolphins, turtles and whales, as well as enjoy some beautiful corals and clear water.
Nitmiluk National Park is the home of one the most attractive places in the whole Australia – Katherine River. The best way to see it all is by kayaking since you go through the gentle rapids, cliffs and see what many tourists by foot can’t. Tours are led by the Aboriginal guides and you will hear a lot of myths and history about this area.
Crocodiles are certainly something to fear and look forward to but don’t worry you won’t cross paths with them directly. If you choose to go on a couple of days trip then prepare for the insects and strange noise while sleeping under the stars.
We went on an adventure but honestly expected to see more of the coast than inland. However, once on this trip of ours, we decided to board a train and go across the Red Centre. The Ghan is quite a train journey and it takes the train three days to go from one part of Australia to another. On those few stops in Katherine and Alice Springs, you can see how differently people live away from the sea.
So, besides swimming with a shark you can swim with the saltwater crocodile as well, only in the different place. You can do this in Darwin and in the Crocosaurus Cove where I went into the Cage of Death in order to be as close as possible to this creature and not be eaten alive.
The thing is that you enter a room which is, actually, a transparent cylinder and they lower you slowly into the pool with a croc. You stay like that for 15 minutes face-to-face with an animal that is ancient and magnificent and can devour you in just a snap of his enormous jaw.
Museum of Old and New Art
Museum of Old and New Art or MONA in Hobart, Tasmania, is the largest of all privately owned galleries in Australia. Here you can see things like a machine that is actually a model of a digestion system. There are even an authentic Egyptian mummy and a giant chocolate cast of the suicide bomber.
The point is that this is the museum where you can see pieces which are dark, challenging artworks unlike anywhere in the world. It opened a couple of years ago, but it’s already very famous and crowded.
Australian Reptile Park
Snakes and spiders are creatures that Australia has a lot. Some even belong to the deadliest species on the planet. Australian Reptile Park will not only show you those and present their venom-milking program but also you’ll see other less scary creatures.
By that, I mean koalas, platypus, quokka, red kangaroo and all sorts of birds. The very situation of staring into the spider that can kill you within seconds is unsettling, but that passes the moment you see a cute koala hugging a volunteer.
I came to several revelations while on the six-foot track walk in the Blue Mountains. I think that here I believed for the first time that everything would be okay. We all walked in silence down the Giant Stairway to the Three Sisters, and even the tourist guide was scarce on words. The look over the mountainous region and fresh air together with the breeze and sun on my skin made me believe that I can do anything.
TjapukaiTjapukai is a cultural park where you can get to know Aboriginal people and their traditions. It a unique experience with traditional food, dance and art. Night Fire is an experience that will open your senses and show you that there is more to life than everyday chaos. You will hear stories told by the Aboriginal warriors, listen to their songs and watch them shoot fire to the sky.
In the end
I came home exhausted, but in a positive way. Aboriginal tribes that welcomed us, the landscapes we walked over, fresh air and smell of the rainforest at night are something that everyone should feel in their lifetime. It’s an adventure that will change the way you look at yourself, your life and our planet. It recharged my batteries and gave me the strength to restart my life, and I’m sure that it had the same life-changing effect on all other travellers we met.