We very rarely explore our own backyard, but once you start to research it a little more, you would surprised with the fascinating and unique experiences we have on offer down under. Here is just a small taste of some of the must do bucket list experiences here in the Great Southern Land.
1. Whale Shark Diving, Exmouth, Western Australia
With just a 45 minute flight from Perth you can find yourself in the Ningaloo Marine Park and Cape Range National Park. Here you can take your adventure to the next level and snorkel alongside the majestic Whale Sharks in Exmouth. With some Whale Sharks measuring up to 12 metres in length, this is definitely an experience to get the heart racing. Dives start from $395AUD and the best time to visit is between March and July.
2. Cave Dive Piccaninnie Ponds, South Australia
The crystal clear waters at Piccaninnie Ponds have been slowly filtering through the limestone over thousands of years forming the Pond’s features. One of these beautiful features is The Chasm which formed from freshwater rising to the surface under pressure and eroding the limestone. Take a leisurely snorkel over The Chasm to view its white walls that have been covered in delicate green algae which provides a great contrast to the depths below. Here you will also find the large underwater cavern known as The Cathedral due to its majestic white walls of sculptured and scalloped limestone. With visibility that can exceed 40 metres, it’s no wonder that it is considered one of the prettiest and most spectacular underwater sites on the Limestone Coast. February is the best time to visit and diving and snorkel permits are required so plan ahead.
3. Swim with Platypus, Eungella National Park, Mackay, Queensland
Platypus are shy and elusive but there is one small ‘pool’ that you can swim in and hope that you will encounter these creatures. Oliver’s Pool is a large clear pond on the rainforest creek within Eungella National Park not far from Mackay. This is known as the most reliable place in the world to see a platypus.
4. Shark Cage Dive, Neptune Islands, South Australia
Diving with Great White Sharks is one activity that is just indescribable until you have experienced it. You may be interested to know that Australia offers the only tour in the world that has Ocean Floor Cage Diving. Anchored off the Neptune Islands, up to three guests and a Dive Professional descend approximately 20 metres (66 feet) into a blue aquarium of rocky outcrops teeming with reef fish, white sand and swaying sea-grasses, Giant Blue Groupers, elegant stingrays and, of course, the Great White that appears out of the blue and sweeps gracefully towards, over and around the cage. There are no excuses for not going in, as there are also a surface cage diving available for those who are not certified divers. Best time to dive is between October and March with tours departing from Port Lincoln.
5. Bloomin Tulip Festival, Wynyard, Tasmania
No need to venture all the way to the Netherlands. The Tulip festival hosted in October will offer you the chance to enjoy local art, craft, and music to suit all tastes; experience some magic at the spectacular fireworks over the Inglis River on Saturday evening; sample the culinary delights of the fresh island produce or just become a local during your stay. Other events include the Bloomin’ Tulips Cocktail Party and the Mayoral Ball. The Bloomin’ Tulips Foreshore Market is an integral part of the festival and is held on the first and third Sunday of each month from 8.30am until 2pm. While in the area, visit Table Cape Lookout and historic Table Cape Lighthouse for stunning views up and down the coast.
6. Aurora Australis, Tasmania
The small coastal town of Eaglehawk Neck, on the Tasman Peninsula, offers magnificent opportunities to witness the Aurora Australis, more commonly called the southern lights. The lights appear in a variety of colours from pink to mauve and yellow to green. The region is also home to some of the most rugged and scenic coastal cliffs in the state, the historic Port Arthur site and the Tasman National Park. The southern lights are most commonly seen in the winter months.
7. Tank Stream Tour, New South Wales
The Tank Stream was the first supply of water for the colony of Sydney and the stream still runs under the city streets today. The walk is only available twice a year and takes you through 60 metres of the tunnel that was built by convicts and stonemasons. The Tank Stream is a confined space so if you are scared of confined spaces or have limited mobility probably not the activity for you. But this is one fascinating tour that will give you some great insight into Sydney’s history.
8. Truffle Hunting, Majimup, Western Australia
Truffle lovers this is one for you. Manjimup is home to one of Western Australia’s best-kept gourmet secrets – the illustrious black truffle farmed at the Wine & Truffle Co. The truffiére is one of the few in the world to allow foodies the opportunity to head out on a truffle hunt – a must do for those interested in the farm-to-plate experience. During the truffle season the three-hour hunts are led by an experienced truffle master and loyal hounds, specially trained to sniff out the stuff from under over 13,000 majestic hazelnut and oak trees. To make the most of your truffle hunting experience, make sure you book a table in the Truffle Kitchen for lunch. Tours run from May to end of August.<
9. Black Marlin Fishing, Cairns, Queensland
The North Queensland coast is famous for its black marlin fishery, offering anglers two very different fishing options and black marlin fishing seasons. The black marlin is the least common of all marlin species and are usually found in tropical and subtropical Indo-Pacific and east Pacific oceans such as Cairns. The Giant Black Marlin Season off Cairns which runs from late September to early December, is recognised world-wide as THE number one place to catch a 1000 pound black marlin. As for the juvenile black marlin (baby black marlin) – fish enthusiasts can have some light tackle fun off both Cairns and Townsville (Cape Bowling Green) from July through September.<
10. Tree Top Crazy Rider, Ourimbah, New South Wales
The world’s longest and Australia’s first rollercoaster zip lines can be found in Ourimbah State Forest on the NSW Central Coast. Here the ‘Crazy Riders’ swoop, twist, turn and zig zag through the trees combining the thrill and suspense of a rollercoaster with the flying sensations of zip lines. For something a little extra you can test out the Crazy Rider Xtreme where you are suspended in the trees, twisting, turning, diving through 40 slaloms including three that are complete 360 degree turns and one 540 degree circle around a tree. There is a one kilometre ride or a 330 metre ride to choose from depending on your adventure level.
Looking for more unique Australian travel experiences to include in your travels or want more info on the above? Download and search the Crooked Compass Travel App for inspiration.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.