The land Down Under is packed with unique landscapes and spectacular terrain found nowhere else in the world. Only 10% of the country is inhabited by humans — the rest is pure wilderness. I’ve explored the continent in various different ways: from hiking in deserts to plunging underwater. If you’re looking to explore the continent in brave new ways, here are some of my favorite adventures in Australia.
Roaming the Red Centre
Australia’s Red Centre is often a synonym for the world-famous Ayers Rock, better known as Uluru. While the UNESCO site has rightfully earned a reputation for its unique beauty, there is so much more to the Red Centre than Uluru. Well-designed hiking routes weave their way through Uluru, the spectacular Kings Canyon, and the famous Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), all of which can be explored on a multi-day camping safari. This region is also home to a myriad of endemic wildlife, such as the kangaroo, rock wallaby, dingo, and hundreds of different species of lizards. Camp out under the stars here and you’ll get the chance to see these animals come out and play.
Bushwalking in Kakadu National Park
Sprawled across the top end of Australia, Kakadu National Park is actually located closer to Southeast Asia than the center of the country. It defies all the stereotypes of Australia with its lush green forests, wet billabongs, creeks, and cascading waterfalls. Bushwalking here is quite the adventure as you walk amidst alligators, finding Aboriginal wall art and learning about native flora and fauna along the way. Half of the land in Kakadu is aboriginal land under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976, and it is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. An interesting way to explore the area is with an Aboriginal native who can share their culture and customs with you.
Driving the Great Ocean Road
In the southeastern part of Australia, close to the city of Melbourne, you’ll find the best scenic drive in the country. The Great Ocean Road runs alongside the dramatic coastline of Victoria, close to the edge of the tumbling waves and giant rock stacks that jut out from the ocean. Stretching across 243 kilometers (151 miles) in length, the coast is dotted with stunning beaches, huge swells, and phenomenal rock formations. The most visited attraction along the route is the Twelve Apostles limestone rock stacks. Built by returned soldiers between 1919 and 1932 and dedicated to soldiers killed during World War I, the road is the world’s largest war memorial.
Scuba Diving off the Great Barrier Reef
As the world’s largest coral reef system covering an area of 344,400 square kilometers (133,000 sq miles), the Great Barrier Reef is undoubtedly the best place to scuba dive in Australia. Plunge beneath the clear turquoise water and you’ll discover a world of multi-hued corals, vast reef gardens, and a slew of healthy, endemic marine life. Thanks to the authorities’ hard work, the underwater world here is extremely well-protected and relatively undisturbed by tourism. One of my favorite islands to explore in the area is Heron Island, a private island resort that focuses on education and conservation of wildlife. Just off the beach, you can easily spot manta rays, nurse sharks, and turtles.
Trekking Cradle Mountain in Tasmania
Standing at a height of 1,545 meters (5,069 ft) above sea level, the imposing Cradle Mountain may not be the highest mountain on the island but it steals the show with its spectacular terrain. Spreading all the way from the Great Western Tiers in the north to Derwent Bridge in the south, the national park covers a massive area of 168,000 hectares. The area around the mountain is criss-crossed with trails that are perfect for day walks, although the famous 80.5km Overland Track is worth attempting for hardcore trekkers. The hikes will bring you through wet and dark temperate forests, over moss-filled logs, dank gorges and waterfalls.