The past two months in Australia have been a whirlwind! I feel so incredibly grateful that I had so much time to get to know this country at a leisurely pace, rather than cramming everything into a week or so (which is what most Americans have to do when we take time off from work).
There is SO MUCH to see and do in the land of Oz; it can all be overwhelming. All across Australia I went on hikes, coastal walks, boat trips, camping, and I chilled out on more beaches than I ever have in my life.
Most people just know about the basics of Australia: the Opera House in Sydney, Byron Bay, the Great Barrier Reef, and a visit to Melbourne.
There is more fun you can have… other than the top touristy things.
Written below are my top 5 favorite excursions I went on during my trip and what I think would make any trip to Australia complete for anyone.
Add them to your Aussie bucket list ASAP.
On my way to Noosa from Brisbane, I decided to make a stop at the Australia Zoo, famously run by Steve Irwin’s family. I spent literally an entire day here! The grounds are HUGE, but they offer a free shuttle that goes around the park to get you where you wanna go.
My favorite parts were the Crocodile show and the giant gated area they have for kangaroos to roam around. You can actually feed them too! The koala section was also nice; I paid an extra $30 AUD to be able to hold the Koala—worth it! This is definitely one of the most famous zoos in the world and is fun for all ages! They open at 9am and close at 5pm. I recommend buying your tickets online first to save yourself a lot of time!
Fraser Island was a must-do on my list after literally EVERY traveler I met who had done the same east coast road trip I was doing told me that it was their favorite part of their entire time in Australia. I opted for the 2 night/3 day tour with Palace Adventures where I got to camp, hike, swim, bbq and have fun with 30 other travelers–it was a blast! I understand now why the tour was so highly recommended.
For those who don’t know, Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world; it stretches over 75 miles! Because Fraser has no roads, we got to drive four-wheelers all around the island—including the beach! We drove to different locations which included gorgeous freshwater lakes, wave pools from the ocean, and cliff edge walks that gave us the most amazing panoramic views of the island. All of the food was provided for us, and at night I’d play games or stargaze with my fellow campers. I would highly recommend it, especially if you are a solo traveler like me!
Bungy Jump in Cairns
Cairns is known as the place where most people go to see the Great Barrier Reef, but what are you going to do after that? AJ Hackett is the ONLY bungy tower in all of Australia, and it’s located right in Cairns! The bungy height isn’t super high (50 meters actually), so it’s a great option for beginners. If you’re not into that idea, they also have a swing!
AJ Hackett provides the option of picking you up right from your accommodation, and afterward they even gave me a ride to the airport! Another cool thing they did was strap a GoPro to my wrist before I jumped, so I got GREAT footage of my jump that I now can look back on and laugh at my face! 😂
Before actually landing in Australia, I had never even heard of the Whitsundays. Even the name is, like, huh? What is that? Basically, the Whitsundays are a cluster of mostly uninhabited islands (74 to be exact) that lie between the northeast coast of Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef. They’re known for their dense rainforest, hiking trails and white sand beaches. The town of Airlie Beach on the mainland is the region’s central hub where people take off on tours to go explore the islands.
It was a full day of sailing, hanging out on Whitehaven Beach, meeting other travelers, and snorkeling around the Great Barrier Reef! 🏝 This is definitely one of those must-do things you’ll hear about from everyone you meet in Australia. Most travelers opt for a 2 or 3 day cruise around Whitsundays, but I didn’t have time, so I was thankful Cruise Whitsundays offered a convenient day cruise on their Camira sailboat. I would def recommend them if you’re ever in Airlie Beach!
As soon as I heard Australia had mountains, I knew I had to make a visit.
Named for the cool hued haze that hangs around its vast landscape, the Blue Mountains are part of a national park that encompasses steep cliffs, deep forests, gorgeous waterfalls, and plenty of hiking trails to wander through. 😍 My kinda place, basically, and the trails were only a short walk away from my YHA Hostel! 🙌🏼
The Blue Mountains are located only 2 hours west of Sydney & made a perfect little getaway trip! It probably comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me that this was my top favorite stop in all of Australia. 💯 If you ever make your way to Sydney and get done with the touristy stuff (which will literally take you 2 days max), I highly recommend taking a train ride out for a day or two here!