If you’re planning a trip to Australia, but don’t have months at your disposal to soak in the Aussie atmosphere and slow travel around, this is the bucket list for you.
Australia is a huge country, which offers an incredible variety of landscapes, cities and experiences. With so much choice and such huge distances (Australia is bigger than Europe after all!) it can be tough deciding what to do while you’re there.
In this guide I’ve put together 15 epic and iconic Aussie adventures that have to feature on your Australia bucket list. There are loads of other awesome things to do in Australia, but if you’re short on time and want to live the most incredibly Aussie experiences, this is the guide for you. So let’s dive in!
- 1 15 epic Australia bucket list adventures
- 1.1 See the sunrise over Uluru
- 1.2 Do a road trip on the Great Ocean Road
- 1.3 Go hiking in the outback
- 1.4 Visit Blue Mountains National Park
- 1.5 Have sunset drinks in Sydney Harbour
- 1.6 Do the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk
- 1.7 Snorkel or scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef
- 1.8 Have brunch in Melbourne
- 1.9 Sail in the Whitsunday Islands
- 1.10 Climb Pylon Lookout in Sydney
- 1.11 Explore the Daintree Rainforest
- 1.12 Surf in Byron Bay
- 1.13 See the sunrise with kangaroos at Cape Hillsborough
- 1.14 Drive a 4×4 on Fraser Island
- 1.15 Swim in the fairy pools of Noosa
15 epic Australia bucket list adventures
See the sunrise over Uluru
Uluru is one of Australia’s most recognizable landmarks. As such, it couldn’t miss from this Australia bucket list.
There are many ways to see and experience Uluru, but the most magical in my opinion is at sunrise. Uluru is famous for its sunsets, which set in front of the monolith and enhance the red colour of the rock.
However at sunrise the sun rises behind Uluru, and the sky lights up in loads of different shades of red, orange and yellow, to match Uluru and the surrounding landscape. There are also considerably less people around at sunrise.
Do a road trip on the Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is possibly one of the most famous road trips in the world. The Great Ocean Road is a 243km stretch of road that starts in Torquay, and goes all along the coast up to Warnambool.
Along the way it drives past some beautiful beaches, awe inspiring cliffs, lush forests and beautiful waterfalls. The most famous spot along the Great Ocean Road are the Twelve Apostles.
These are imposing rock formations that completely detached from the coast, and stand alone in the sea. It’s a particularly popular sunset spot.
Go hiking in the outback
Uluru isn’t the only thing worth seeing in Australia’s Red Centre. What might appear from the air as a huge expanse of red desert (which it mostly easy to be fair) actually has some stunning natural formations and landscapes.
During our 3-day Uluru tour we visited also King’s Canyon and Kata Tjuta, two equally impressive attractions with stunning views. In both places we had the opportunity to hike amongst landscapes that were completely different from anything I had ever seen before.
I was a bit wary of visit Uluru during my Australia trip. Despite being one of the main attractions in Australia, it is incredibly far from everything else, and I was afraid it would be a huge trip just to see a rock in the middle of the desert. I was pleasantly surprised.
Uluru itself is incredible, but visiting the surrounding outback and hiking in the red desert is what made it memorable for me.
Visit Blue Mountains National Park
Blue Mountains is a huge national park about one hour drive away from Sydney. Here you will find waterfalls, wild kangaroos, wild forests, steep cliffs and incredible landscapes.
You can visit Blue Mountains on a day trip from Sydney, but if you really want to get lost amongst the nature (figuratively, please don’t really get lost in the mountains) you should spend a few nights in Blue Mountains. Being away from the big cities you’ll be also to see also the most incredible starry skies.
Have sunset drinks in Sydney Harbour
Sydney harbor is home to two of the most iconic Australian symbols; Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge. Even just visiting the harbor is an experience in itself, but if you want to really see it in all its beauty and soak it in, make sure to visit at sunset and have drinks at Opera Bar.
Opera Bar is located just next to Sydney Opera House, and has been named Australia’s Most Iconic Bar. Food and drinks are a bit expensive (as you can imagine) but the location premium isn’t even as high as I had feared.
Just sit back, relax, mojito in hand, and watch the sun go down over Sydney harbor and these beautiful Australian bucket list landmarks.
Do the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk
Sydney Harbor isn’t the only stunning part of Sydney. A short drive away in Bondi, one of the most popular neighbourhoods of Sydney, you will find a fun and chill surfing vibe.
Starting in Bondi there is a beautiful coastal walk you can do that goes all the way to Coogee, another popular area of Sydney. These 6kms of coastal walk are amongst the most scenic you will ever find, with clear turquoise water, saltwater swimming pools, surfing waves and stunning views all throughout.
The trail is paved all throughout and the walk if easily accessible for anyone. It’s one of the trendiest parts of Sydney and well worth a visit.
Snorkel or scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. How could you not see it while you’re in Australia?
The GBR stretches for over 2,300km and is composed by over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands. There are loads of parts of the GBR that you can visit, but the most common is the one in front of Cairns. Cairns is often considered the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.
You will find loads of tours on offer to the GBR, including scuba diving, snorkeling and live-aboard overnight sailing trips. I went snorkeling as I’m not a fan of scuba diving, it’s up to your personal preference which activity you choose to do, they’re all guaranteed to be awesome!
Have brunch in Melbourne
Before going to Australia I asked some of my Australian friends for advice on the best things to do, where to stay and where to eat, you know, the usual. When it came to Melbourne the only thing everyone told me was a list of brunch places.
Apparently that’s “the thing” to do in Melbourne. The city itself is quirky and fun, but doesn’t have much to offer in terms of activities. The most Melbourne thing you can do is go for brunch, and if you want to be a bit extra, maybe even more than once a day.
Some of my personal favourites that I tried during my time in Melbourne were Penta and Kettle Black. Not only were they delicious but also very Instagrammable!
Sail in the Whitsunday Islands
The Whitsunday Islands are a group of 74 islands located just off the coast of Queensland, in eastern Australia. They are famous for their pristine environment, rich marine life, fine white and their incredibly turquoise water.
Here you will also find Whitehaven Beach, often ranked as the best beach in the world. Numerous boat trips set off from mainland Australia every day to visit the Whitsunday Islands, each with a different focus. Some tours focus more on snorkelling, some more on beach time, and others are overnight live-aboard trips.
Whichever boat trip you choose, you will be glad to be sailing around this island paradise.
Climb Pylon Lookout in Sydney
Many will tell you climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge is a must-do activity on any Australia bucket list. Personally we decided to give it a miss, and climb Pylon Lookout instead.
Pylon Lookout gives you a just as incredible view over Sydney Harbour and the city skyline, for a tenth of the price. For $15 you can go to the top of the pylon, learning a bit about the history of Sydney and Sydney Harbour Bridge along the way, and spend however long you want enjoying the view.
Climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge on the other hand costs at least $143, for the added experience of being strapped onto a bridge. The view is stunning and I highly recommend it, but might as well go for the cheaper option and spend the rest on drinks at Opera Bar later that day!
Explore the Daintree Rainforest
Cairns isn’t only the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, it’s also a great base for lots of incredible day trips. One of these is to the Daintree Rainforest. The Daintree Rainforest spreads across 1,200 square km and is the oldest rainforest in the world.
The easiest way to do visit it is to do an organised tour from Cairns, which will take you to all the highlights in one day. These include a river cruise where you can spot crocodiles and other cool animals, a walk in the rainforest, a swim in a freshwater creek (crocodile-free!) a barbecue lunch and a visit to Cape Tribulation Beach.
The Daintree Rainforest is unlike anything I’d ever seen before, and I was extremely glad we had added it to our Australia bucket list.
Surf in Byron Bay
You can’t go to Australia and not try surfing. It’s one of those things that you stereotypically imagine all Aussies do, spending their days chilling on a beach waiting for the right waves.
There are loads of beaches all over Australia where you can surf. The one I personally loved the most was Byron Bay. The waves were long and easy to surf for a beginner, and there were rental shops all along the beach to choose from.
I also loved the vibe of Byron Bay. The town felt extremely relaxed, with lots of cute shops, bars and restaurants dotted all over. It’s the perfect place to pair a surfing lesson with chill beach life vibes!
See the sunrise with kangaroos at Cape Hillsborough
Seeing the sunrise at Cape Hillsborough beach is a unique experience, which has to feature on your Australia bucket list. Not only are the sunrises here incredible, but the beach is visited every morning in the early hours of dawn by a group wild kangaroos and wallabies!
There is a camping area right by the beach whose owner feeds the kangaroos, however they are not kept captive in any way and are free to roam. Watching the sky lighten up as these beautiful and peaceful animals eat on the beach is a magical experience.
Drive a 4×4 on Fraser Island
Fraser Island is located just off the coast of Queensland. It’s the world’s largest sand island, and a must see during any Eastern Australia road trip. What I loved most about Fraser Island was how wild it is.
There are no paved streets and no proper towns on the island. There are some accommodation options dotted here and there, and the only way to get around is by driving a 4×4 either on the beach or through the inland forest.
There are a few particularly famous spots on Fraser Island that you have to visit, such as Lake McKenzie, the Champagne Pools, the SS Maheno shipwreck and Lake Wabby.
Besides these iconic spots just being on Fraser Island, driving around the wilderness is an experience in itself.
Swim in the fairy pools of Noosa
Noosa Heads was my favourite place in the whole of Australia. With its chill surfing vibes, beautiful beaches and wide bar and restaurant variety, it quickly became a place where I could see myself living.
Pair that with some of the most incredible natural rock pools I’ve ever seen and you have an absolute winner! The fairy pools are about a half hour way away from the main beach of Noosa Heads, a beautiful coastal walk along the sea.
There are a couple of different pools that you can swim in, depending on the tide and how high the water level is. The waves sometimes come crashing into the pools and turn them into natural bubble baths.
It’s a great place to spend a day relaxing, basking in the sun and swimming around in the natural rock pools.
So there you have it, the ultimate Australia bucket list! While I realize there are tons of other awesome things to do in Australia, I wanted to keep this bucket list concise.
It’s a bucket list for those who might not have the time to travel around a country the size of Europe. I put together those that are, in my opinion, the most iconic Aussie adventures that must feature in any Australia trip.
I hope you find this bucket list useful in planning your own Australia trip!