Things to do in Australia

Meenakshi Shankar

Tired of the same old tourist spots like the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House? Wanderers Offbeat Australia is the guide to the weird and wonderful attractions that most tourists miss. Explore the odd places that make Australia truly offbeat.

From saffron to ocher, the earth paints herself in Australia. Some slip into the outback and forget about everything else, some savor the culture of the Aboriginals, some drink in the beauty of the land…and some simply launch themselves into the sky with parachutes attached to their backs.

Fancy a walk? You could either head out from the foot of Tasmania’s most famous peak, Cradle Mountain, and finishing at Australia’s deepest lake, St Clair. It’s called the Overland Track and it will take you a good week to walk it. The constant views of tall and marvelously shaped dolerite peaks (including Tasmania’s highest, Mount Ossa), beautiful waterfalls, rain forest, scrub land, swamps, bush, alpine plains and rivers. And we haven’t even mentioned the variety of fascinating flora and fauna.

Or hike to the top of Mount Amos where you drink in the glorious beauty of the picturesque Tasman Peninsula to Port Arthur.

Find out how you can connect with the world’s oldest living culture. Discover it the same way Aboriginal Australians have passed it down for at least 50,000 years – through art, dance, myths, music and the land itself. See Aboriginal art and contemporary dance in the cities. Or head to the outback and listen to Dreamtime myths of creation by the campfire. Bushwalk and snorkel, share bush-tucker or learn to craft spears and catch fish in the traditional way.
Let Aboriginal Australians help you understand this ancient land and its spirituality and wonder.

Try your luck noodling opal – in Coober Pedy – With more than 90 percent of the world’s opal mined from 70 different fields around northern SA’s Coober Pedy, you’re bound to find something, aren’t you? In between your mining excursions, you might want to take a look at the remarkable desert country near Coober Pedy – aptly named Moon Plain. It looks much like the lunar surface, dotted with mine shafts and mullock heaps from eight decades of digging.

Experience the sheer beauty of Kings Canyon :  The breathtaking sandstone chasm plunging 270m is one of Australia’s most dramatically beautiful places – a slash of deep green in a red landscape. – Hugely rewarding, though, with delights all the way round, including the Garden of Eden valley and the Lost City’s weathered rocks.

Visit little penguins on Phillip Island – Every day at dusk, Summerland Beach on Phillip Island comes alive with thousands of little penguins. Watch them waddle home in riotous packs and pairs after their long day foraging for food in icy Bass Strait. The rugged ocean beaches, sheltered bays, blowholes and caves are also home to koalas, abundant bird life and a large colony of fur seals.

In Kalabari, connect with the adventurer in you – Go abe sailing, Sand-boarding or simply explore Nature’s Window and Z-Bend Gorge which is an exhilarating 150 metre descent into the heart of the gorge.

Exhilarate in the spectacle of the Great Barrier Reef – Unforgettable is the word most people use to describe the Great Barrier Reef – a spectacle so vast it can be seen from space.

Swim with the whales –  Meet the world’s biggest fish – the whale shark – in the clear, turquoise waters of Western Australia’s huge fringing reef. These gentle underwater giants feed on the bright coral reef between April and June. You can also dive, swim or snorkel with dolphins, graceful manta rays and hundreds of species of tropical fish. On Ningaloo, this rainbow of marine life is just metres from the shore.

Drink in the beauty of the landscapeSoak up the beauty on the stunning Freycinet Peninsula. The most famous is Wineglass Bay, a perfect curve of white sand and turquoise sea against pink and grey granite peaks. Take in the magical view after an easy climb from Coles Bay or challenging trek from the top of Mount Amos. Or connect to this coastal paradise by going sea kayaking, swimming and scuba diving.

And, you cannot miss a trip to Christmas Island to watch the march of the red crabs. A perfect illustration on how Mother Nature can astound even the hardened cynic.

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