Australia was my seventh continent. I remember feeling overwhelmed with joy as my plane touched down in Melbourne after spending a month road tripping through New Zealand, and I couldn’t believe that it was real! I’d wanted to visit and discover the things to do in Australia since I was 13 years old and heard the Aussie accent for the first time; I’m pretty sure that’d make any young teenager want to go Down Under! Little 13-year-old me never could have known though that I’d go on to spend almost nine months traveling through Australia over the years – and, yes, the accent still gets me every time.
Realizing that I hit my 7th Continent: Australia!
You may think of Australia and the fact that there are more kangaroos than people, or that they have this weird thing called “Vegemite” or that they have some of the world’s deadliest animals… and you certainly wouldn’t be wrong! But there’s still this charm to a place where the living is easy, the lifestyle is laid back, and family is valued above everything. Except maybe the waves. Depending on who you speak to, the waves might be Australia’s biggest draw; actually, about 75% of Australians live near or on the beach! As for me, I’d prefer sitting on one of over 10,000 of Australia’s beaches and watching the surfers!
In Australia's coastal towns, they learn to surf at such a young age – so cool!
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How To Get To Australia
The quickest way to get to Australia is via air. The main airlines that serve Australia are Qantas, Virgin Australia, United Airlines, Delta, Air New Zealand, Hawaiian Airlines, and Jetstar. Of course there are a few others, but those are the most popular – and I’ve actually flown just about all of them at one point or another. You’ll want to have a rough itinerary before purchasing your flights, as you’ll have to choose where to fly into; Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns, and Perth are the major international hubs and many offer direct flights depending from where you are flying. You can book your flights here. There are also many cruise lines that go up, down, or around Australia’s coast (frequently paired with New Zealand), and you can view your cruise options here.
It’s important to note that you do need a visa to visit Australia as a tourist. While I cannot speak for every country, Americans and Canadians need the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) Visa, which costs about $15 USD. You can apply for the visa here. If you’re from another country, I recommend visiting the Australian Visa Bureau’s website here to find out more information on the visa you might need.
There are also other visas for those wanting to visit Australia longer-term. The most popular of the bunch is the “working holiday visa” for people aged 18 to 30. This is an extremely common route for people who want to live and work in Australia, up to a year. When visiting on this visa, it comes with the notion that you will be working while over there, typically in the agriculture or hospitality fields. A good friend of mine set up a business – ExtendOz – to help young travelers navigate the visa process and find work, and I highly recommend using them as a resource if you’re thinking of going this route!
How To Get Around Australia
The most carefree way to travel Australia is via car. You can search car rental options here. If you really feel like “going for it,” you can rent or purchase a campervan as well, which is an incredibly common thing for people to do. If you’re planning on just bouncing from city to city you won’t need a car, but you’d be missing out on the true Australian gems if you stay confined to the cities.
Remember, Australia is BIG! Probably bigger than you realize. The distances are large in Australia, so you’re in for some either really long road trips, or some quick domestic flights, depending on how much time you have to travel around Australia.
Believe it or not, Australia is actually home to the longest national highway in the world. Highway 1 circles the entire country! Now that is a road trip that’s definitely on my bucket list!
Places To Visit In Australia Based On Region…
Since Australia is massive, and consists of six different states, I figured that the best way for me to put together this Australia travel guide was by region. I have visited each destination listed below, but there are still so many places to see in Australia in the future. If places you’ve heard of are missing from this list, it’s simply because I haven’t gone there myself (yet); I wanted this Australia travel guide to be my firsthand recommendations, like the rest of my articles. Hopefully this is just the beginning of an incredible journey through Australia. So, without further adieu…
Victoria is Australia’s smallest state on the mainland, but is home to Australia’s second largest city: Melbourne. There’s so much more to Victoria than just Melbourne though! Whether you’re looking for city life, gorgeous coastlines, stunning beaches, tasty wineries, or national parks, Victoria has it all. Maybe you’ve heard of The Great Ocean Road? Well, that’s in Victoria too! Next time I visit Victoria I hope to spend more time on the Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Valley, Gippsland, and the Grampians. But for starters, here are 7 things to do in Victoria…
Melbourne is known for its artsy scene and hipster cafes. Think mural walls, narrow alleys, lush green parks, and water views. It’s a very culturally diverse area of Australia and is said to have one of the best food scenes! Whether you want to go on a coffee tour, check out the street art, stroll through botanic gardens, or learn about the history, there’s certainly something for everyone!
Hosier Lane – Things to do in Australia
From Melbourne, head east to Brighton Beach. Scattered along the beach, you will find the colorful Brighton Beach Boxes. They’re incredibly colorful (and apparently also incredibly expensive to own), but each “Box” has cute designs or images painted onto them. My favorites were the crab, Japanese wave, and – of course – the boxing kangaroo. I recommend going first thing in the morning before the area gets busy.
Brighton Beach Boxes – Things to do in Australia
After wandering Brighton Beach for a bit, you’re bound to get hungry! Drive south toward Sorrento and grab yourself a “Famous Vanilla Slice” for breakfast. It’s a massive sugary, creamy pastry with a pudding-like consistency that’s likely way too terrible for you to eat for breakfast, but equally as delicious. Breakfast doesn’t always have to be healthy, right?
A Vanilla Slice for Breakfast – Things to eat in Australia
Torquay is home of Australian surfing. Coming from a family that loves and follows pro surfing, it was definitely a necessary stop, but I’d honestly recommend it for everyone – surfer or not. In Torquay you’ll find Australia’s National Surfing Museum, which documents the history of surfing in Australia, explains the Aussie surf culture, and showcases some awesome memorabilia from the pros. There’s also some great shopping for beachwear in Torquay if you forgot your bathing suit!
Australia's National Surfing Museum – Things to do in Australia
5. Bells Beach
Bell’s Beach is home to the WSL Rip Curl Pro Surf Competition. The winner is awarded the acclaimed “Bell” trophy and the lookouts over Bell’s Beach are simply beautiful. The competition is usually set in April, so unfortunately I missed witnessing it myself!
Bells Beach – Things to do in Australia
6. Teddys Lookout
Teddy’s Lookout offers you the first great view over the winding Great Ocean Road! It’s definitely worth a quick pit stop before continuing along. It’s located in Lorne, at the top of George Street.
Teddys Lookout – Things to do in Australia
7. Marriners Lookout
Marriners Lookout offers a completely different vantage point. Rather than overlooking Great Ocean Road, Marriner’s Lookout overlooks Apollo Bay and the surrounding areas. You can reach the lookout by either a short drive or long walk from Apollo Bay.
Marriners Lookout – Things to do in Australia
The Great Ocean Road
While the Great Ocean Road is part of Victoria, I wanted to give it its own separate section, as it’s one of the greatest tourist attractions in Australia. If you’re only driving one way, be sure to drive the route in order that I have listed (East to West). This will ensure that you’re driving on the left side of the road, closest to the ocean, and will allow you easy access to all of the viewpoints. Whatever you do, do not do the Great Ocean Road in one day! Designate at least three days (minimum!) to drive the Great Ocean Road, as it’s one of the best places to visit in Australia. If you can allocate longer, I highly recommend it! Feel free to read about my experience driving the Great Ocean Road here.
Where to Sleep? As everyone drives the Great Ocean Road at a different pace, it’s up to you when and where you want to stop along the way. Feel free to search all accommodations on the Great Ocean Road here, as you have many options!
Entrance to Great Ocean Road – Things to do in Australia
These are the most well-known sites to see in Australia along the Great Ocean Road…
8. The Twelve Apostles
Arguably one of Australia’s most well-known sites, the Twelve Apostles simply cannot be missed! But the thing is… do yourself a favor, and wake up for sunrise. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a spectacular sunrise, bearing witness to one of Australia’s most beautiful moments. It surely didn’t disappoint! Bear in mind that it can get crowded, so I do recommend arriving early (and bringing a blanket, as it can be chilly near the water so early in the morning). After sunrise, it’s worth taking the Gibson Steps down to the beach for a close-up view of the Twelve Apostles.
Sunrise over the Twelve Apostles – Things to do in Australia
9. The Island Arch
The Island Arch used to, in fact, be an archway. It has since collapsed and there are just the two rocks that once supported the arch in the sea. The coastline is ever changing and shifting, so we didn’t particularly know what to expect at each stop.
The Island Arch – Things to see in Australia
10. The Razorback
The Razorback is a massive limestone stack. This is one of the more popular sites along Great Ocean Road, so make sure you arrival prior to 3pm to avoid hordes of tourists. I was mesmerized simply watching the waves crash against the Razorback.
11. The Shipwreck Walk
The Shipwreck Walk will take you to the anchors of The Marie Gabrielle and The Fiji. The plaque at the lookout point describes the sinking scene as, “Paralyzed with fear, the passengers clung to one another and, amidst their screams and cries, the ship slipped into the silent depths below.” A bit dramatic for my liking, but an interesting viewpoint nonetheless.
12. The Loch Ard Gorge
The Loch Ard Gorge was named after the Loch Ard ship that ran aground nearby. It’s a pretty area, and serves as the central point for many other walks nearby. The Loch Ard Gorge car park is a great place to park for a while as you explore.
13. Thunder Cave & Broken Head
Drive on over to Sherbrook car park to make your way to Thunder Cave and Broken Head. The Thunder Cave viewing area is only about 550 meters from the carpark and continues forward to Broken Head, which is an unpaved path but definitely easy enough.
14. London Bridge
From Sherbrook car park, we went to see the London Bridge. While it is no longer a bridge, it’s situated just off a beautiful (and empty!) beach. The natural bridge was once a major tourist attraction, but it came tumbling down in 1990. Crazy enough, two people were stranded on the (now) island, but were thankfully rescued by a helicopter a few hours later.
The Collapsed London Bridge – Things to see in Australia
15. The Arch
Just outside of Port Campbell, you’ll find The Arch standing at 8 meters high. I personally loved watching the waves crash against the Arch and could have sat watching for hours.
The Arch – Things to see in Australia
16. The Grotto
The Grotto is similar to a sinkhole, and located near the end of the touristy section of The Great Ocean Road. I recommend going at low tide so that you can take the steps down to the bottom and look through the Grotto.
The Grotto – Things to see in Australia
South Australia has 12 different regions, each quite unique. Whether you’re looking for gourmet restaurants, native wildlife, or quiet beaches, South Australia has you covered. Unfortunately I didn’t get to spend half as much time in South Australia as I would have liked and certainly hope to visit the Flinders Ranges, the Clare Valley, Kangaroo Island, the Yorke Peninsula, and much more the next time around!
Where to Sleep? You can search all accommodations in South Australia here.
Start by visiting…
17. The Blue Lake
If you continue along for about three hours, you’ll reach Mount Gambier. Mount Gambier is most known for its nearby Blue Lake located within a beautiful volcanic crater. The Blue Lake is a bright cobalt blue, and pictures honestly don’t do it justice. There were once four crater lakes on the Mount Gambier maar, but today only two remain. Surprisingly, the Blue Lake supplies the residents of Mount Gambier with their drinking water.
Blue Lake – Things to see in Australia
18. Umpherston Sinkhole
Back in the town of Mount Gambier, you’ll find the Umpherston Sinkhole, a stunning sunken garden. It’s incredibly lush and green, and is quite unique. It started forming when the ceiling of a large cave collapsed in the 1880s, and the garden began being planted in 1886.
Umpherston Sinkhole – Things to see in Australia
19. Naracoorte Caves
The Naracoorte Caves were a nice surprise along the way as well. They are South Australia’s only UNESCO site, and I certainly recommend joining the Fossil Caves tour. The Naracoorte Caves preserve Australia’s most complete fossil record for the past 500,000 years!
Naracoorte Caves – Things to see in Australia
Adelaide concluded my first short stint in South Australia. It has a fantastic food scene, as well as wineries just minutes away. There are many churches around town, lots of lovely architecture, and quite a bit of history around town. Adelaide is also the opal mining capital of the world (who knew?!), so if you’re one for gemstones, you’ll definitely want to do some jewelry shopping.
Delicious Breakfast Bowl in Adelaide – Things to eat in Australia
Rather than driving West to East, back toward Melbourne, I recommend hopping on a flight from Adelaide to Alice Springs. There’s no easier way to access Australia’s Outback than by taking a quick flight. If you choose to drive, make sure you do your research and are prepared given the harsh environment that you will drive through. Rated the World’s 4th Best Region to Visit by Lonely Planet, the Northern Territory isn’t to be missed. While I had the opportunity to explore the Red Centre, I’d like to get back soon to check out Darwin, Katherine, and Kakadu too. The best place to start though is certainly in the Northern Territory’s most famous “Red Center!”
21. Alice Springs
Alice Springs serves as the gateway to Uluru, formerly known as Ayers Rock. It’s recommended to take a tour out into the desert, and most leave from Alice Springs. Give yourself about a day to settle in, and it’s worth having a look around Alice Springs before setting off on your outback adventure. I recommend visiting Alice Springs Desert Park to learn about the various species in the Outback.
Where to Sleep? If you’re ready for a bit of luxury, be sure to stay at Vatu Sanctuary in Alice Springs. To date, it’s one of the most beautiful and homey locations in which I’ve stayed. Located within the heart of Australia’s Red Center, 1500 km away from the coast, it’s easy to feel isolated, but Vatu Sanctuary is a beautiful piece of paradise within Australia’s desert. I genuinely wish that I had had the opportunity to spend a full week at Vatu Sanctuary so that I could have enjoyed all that it has to offer. Feel free to read about my experience here.
Alice Springs Desert Park – Things to do in Australia
Uluru has been making headlines recently, as crowds of tourists have recently been caught climbing Uluru despite the fact that it’s a sacred aboriginal site. When I visited, this wasn’t an issue and everyone respected the land. The Aboriginals have been on the land for 35,000 years or so, and I do hope that anyone who reads my site can respect their wishes. Uluru is one of the world’s most iconic World Heritage Sites and – standing at 348 meters – it is the biggest monolith on Earth. You can visit Uluru as part of a camping, overland tour, or you can experience it in luxury, staying at some of the most beautiful chalets in Australia. As I visited back in 2016, I went the camping route, but today, I dream of visiting it in style. You can read more about my visit to Uluru here.
Uluru – Things to do in Australia
23. Kata Tjuta
Kata Tjuta, commonly referred to as the Olgas, have 36 different domes formed by wind and erosion. Standing at 546 meters, Mt. Olga is one and a half times taller than Uluru, but because it is made up of multiple rocks, Uluru still holds the title of the biggest monolith. I highly recommend waking up early to watch sunrise over Kata Tjuta, as it’s certainly an experience worth remembering! The most popular hike would be the Valley of the Winds, as it brings you up close and personal to Kata Tjuta. Feel free to read about my experience at Kata Tjuta here.
Where to Sleep? Near Uluru.
Sunrise over Kata Tjuta – Things to do in Australia
24. Kings Canyon
Located six hours away from Kata Tjuta, you’ll find Kings Canyon. The Kings Canyon Rim Walk is the best way to experience the canyon itself. The 6lkm, 3-hour hike starts with the “heart-attack mountain” with quite a bit of stairs, but then evens out at the top and becomes a relatively easy hike. Do note, the North Rim Trail closes at 9am and the South Rim Trail closes at 11am in order to keep tourists from hitting extreme heat waves.
Kings Canyon – Things to do in Australia
New South Wales
New South Wales is most famous for Sydney and its environs, yet there’s so much more to see and do than just that! Stunning coastlines, great hiking trails, and beautiful islands all make up much of what New South Wales has to offer. While I’ve seen a fair bit, I’m eyeing Lord Howe Island and the Blue Mountains from my next trip over!
25. Jervis Bay
Did you know that Jervis Bay is home to the world’s whitest sand? I didn’t, but it surely didn’t take me long to realize that it was true. Head to Hyams Beach to wiggle your toes in the whitest sand on the planet.
Jervis Bay – Things to do in Australia
26. Maroubra Beach
Maroubra Beach is located just south of Sydney’s CBD and is home to many local surfers. It’s a weekend hotspot for Sydney families. I recommend grabbing a coffee and setting your eyes on the ocean – and surfers – to take in the views. So, needless to say, I was too distracted to take any photos 😉
Where to Sleep? Stay in an AirBnB!
I actually spent a month living in Cronulla after I absolutely fell in love with it. It’s a little surf town about 45 minutes south of Sydney, where everything you could possibly need is within walking distance. As it’s a peninsula, you’ll have access to many surfable waves and long stretches of beach, but you’ll also be nearby the bay if waves aren’t really your thing. The main downtown area has everything you could possibly want to eat or drink, and the train will take you directly to Sydney CBD if you’re looking for a city escape.
We had (unedited) sunsets like this nightly – Things to see in Australia
Known for its iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge, Sydney is not to be missed when visiting New South Wales. It’s worth joining a free walking tour to learn about the history of the area and see all that there is to see in the city center. Otherwise, I recommend heading to the coast and doing the famous Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk, as it offers some incredible views just outside of the city center. I recommend starting early though to avoid the midday heat!
Sydney Opera House – Things to do in Australia
29. Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach very well may be Australia’s most famous beach. It honestly reminds me a bit of Miami Beach, and I believe that there are far better options in the Sydney area for places to plop down on the sand. But if you’re looking for a glitzy, well-patrolled beach with many food options and boutiques nearby, Bondi would be it. It’s also incredibly easy to reach via car or bus from downtown Sydney.
Bondi Beach – Things to do in Australia
30. Port Stephens
While Port Stephens is known for the One Mile Beach and Fingal Bay, I’d suggest making your way to Zenith Beach. It’s a bit more rugged and off-the-beaten path, but it’s a virtually empty, beautiful beach. I also suggest waking up early for a sunrise hike up Tomaree Head. It’s an easy enough hike with some gorgeous morning views.
Zenith Beach – Things to do in Australia
31. Port Macquarie
Port Macquarie is a super cute coastal town and boasts 17 beautiful beaches.. The main reason I stopped in Port Macquarie though was to visit the Koala Hospital where injured koalas are rehabilitated and cared for. The hospital entry is free of charge and it’s worth it to see the koalas up close and personal. Port Macquarie is also home to some luxury retreats that I plan to check out next time I visit.
Found a koala – Things to do in Australia
32. Nambucca Heads
Nambucca Heads is one of my favorite spots in New South Wales. The Ocean meets the river in Nambucca Heads, creating the most beautiful shades of blue. The water is warm, the town is peaceful, the seafood is delicious, and – quite frankly – I could have easily spent a week in this sleepy seaside town. Make sure you walk down to see the Nambucca Heads Rocks, as it’s customary to paint a rock at Nambucca Heads as part of your journey. Take the time to stroll down the boardwalk, read the messages painted on the rocks, and enjoy a (likely perfect) sunset!
Nambucca Heads – Things to see in Australia
33. Coffs Harbour
Have you ever heard of the Big Banana? No? Well, neither had I! Apparently the Big Banana is a necessary stop for anyone driving along the coast, yet I still can’t tell you the significance of it. What I can say though is that they make a killer banana smoothie with vanilla ice cream, maple syrup, nutmeg, cinnamon, and, of course, bananas! Other than the Big Banana, swing by the Butterfly House while you’re in Coffs Harbour. In an enclosure set to a humid, tropical climate, you’ll be surrounded by tons of butterflies that may even land on you… if you’re lucky!
The Big Banana – Things to see in Australia
34. Lennox Head
When I visited Lennox Head, I had no idea that it was one of Australia’s iconic National Surf Reserves, but now I completely understand why! Visit early in the morning to catch the sunrise and take to the waves! If you’re not a surfer (like me), the best spot to watch is from the Pat Morton Lookout on the headland. It’s the perfect area to relax and breathe in the salty air.
Lennox Head – Things to see in Australia
35. Byron Bay
Byron Bay might as well be the hippie capital of the world. It’s arguably the most touristy spot on the coast between Sydney and Brisbane and you’ll find all sorts of boutique shops, fabulous eateries, and a great nightlife. I personally most enjoyed The Pass between Clarkes Beach and Wategos. It was the perfect place to catch some rays, while others caught some waves. Make sure to walk to Fisherman’s Lookout at the end of the beach for a great overview of the beach and mountains in the distance. It’s the perfect sunset spot!
Byron Bay – Things to do in Australia
36. Cabarita Beach
Cabarita is a small village on the coast, with just 3,000 residents. Cabarita Beach is absolutely charming though, with beautiful views and nature walks on the headland nearby. I’ve heard that it’s an excellent spot for whale-watching if you visit during the right season!
Cabarita Beach – Things to do in Australia
I was lucky enough to visit Coolangatta during the WSL Quiksilver Pro Surf Competition and it was absolutely mesmerizing! Whether you’re there during a competition or not, you’re bound to find plenty of surfers catching waves at Snapper Rocks! Coolangatta is definitely a bit more built up than the other beach towns I stopped at during my journey up the coast.
WSL Surf Competition in Coolangatta – Things to do in Australia
Queensland is my personal favorite state in Australia. With 13 different regions, you simply cannot go wrong! Whether you’re looking for nightlife and a live music scene, mountains to climb in the National Parks, laid back beach life on the coast, exquisite farm-to-table meals, off-roading adventures, and the incredible Great Barrier Reef, Queensland truly has it all, and has stolen my heart along the way! If you choose to spend some time in Queensland – as I did – I highly recommend looking up the free events hosted by The Kindness Collective, as it’s a fantastic way to get outside, see parts of Queensland you wouldn’t normally visit, and meet the locals.
Whether you’re looking for a nice night out, wanting to visit Streets Beach – Australia’s only man-made beach and lagoon, or looking for some great live music venues, look no further than Brisbane. If you want a great lookout over the city, head to Mt. Coot-tha; while I went mid-day, I’ve heard that it’s a fantastic spot for sunrise! My favorite Brisbane activity though is Lone Pine Sanctuary, located just outside of the city. It’s the world’s largest koala sanctuary and if you want to see Australia’s iconic koala, there’s no better place! Not only can you snuggle a koala, but you can even make your way into the kangaroo reserve to get up close and personal with Australia’s beloved marsupial. You can read more about my experience here.
Hold a Koala – Things to do in Australia
39. Moreton Island
Moreton Island is known for its snorkeling, shipwrecks, and sand dunes. It’s the perfect day trip from Brisbane, but you could easily spend a few days on Moreton Island too (one of my friends says that it’s her absolute favorite place in all of Australia). I chose to visit on a day trip with Australian Sunset Safaris, as I wasn’t traveling around with my own car, and we had an absolutely fantastic time! Whether you want to paddle around in transparent kayaks, snorkel alongside the shipwrecks, or sunbathe on the beach, there’s something for everyone. The water is pretty calm, and the shipwrecks themselves were actually artificially created by the government to foster an abundance of new marine life. There’s so much to see and do on Moreton Island, and you can see what else I got up to here.
Snorkel Moreton Bay's Shipwreck – Things to do in Australia
40. Glass House Mountains
You can find the best hiking on the Sunshine Coast – and potentially some of the best in Australia – in and around the Glass House Mountains. There are hikes for people of all levels, whether you’re a beginner hiker or a more advanced scrambler. You have 11 different peaks to choose from, so I’m certain you’ll find a worthwhile hike! Next time I visit, I hope to stay at Glass on Glasshouse, an absolutely stunning property by the mountains.
Where to Sleep? Stay in an AirBnB! Get $55 off your AirBnB using my code here.
View over the Glass House Mountains – Things to see in Australia
Immerse yourself in nature by retreating to Maleny. Located west of the coast, Maleny is known for its beautiful hikes, scenic lookouts, and local wines and brews. There are many cute bed and breakfasts, cottages, and eco-lodges in the area for those who just want to get away for a bit. I personally love Maleny as it offers stunning views over the Glass House Mountains, particularly from the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve.
Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve – Things to do in Australia
Similar to Maleny, Montville is an incredibly charming town near the Blackall Range. On the main street you’ll find numerous art galleries, cute coffee shops, and boutiques. You can find everything accommodation-wise from cabins to cottages and luxury resorts as well. If you’re visiting Montville, it’s worth checking out Kondalilla National Park, as there are some great hiking trails and waterfalls along the route.
Visited Kondalilla Falls with The Kindness Collective – Things to do in Australia
43. Point Cartwright
Point Cartwright is one of my favorite spots on the Sunshine Coast. It’s an unpatrolled, very peaceful beach that offers beautiful views of Mooloolaba, the Mooloolah River, and Mt. Coolum in the distance. Walk up to the lighthouse to take in the views or have a bit of a picnic. I actually spent New Year’s Eve 2018-2019 at Point Cartwright; not only was the vibe of it all wonderful, but it also offers a pretty awesome look at the fireworks! Point Cartwright is easily one of my favorite places on the coast to watch sunset, as it simply doesn’t disappoint!
Where to Sleep? Continue onto Mooloolaba.
Gorgeous Sunrise at Point Cartwright – Things to see in Australia
Mooloolaba is the first place that I ever visited on the Sunshine Coast, and it was the perfect introduction! Voted the sixth best beach in Australia by TripAdvisor, Mooloolaba is humming with locals on the weekends, but you simply can’t blame them! You can find everything from coastal walks to outdoor entertainment, cafés, bars, restaurants, and ample shopping all within a few minutes from each other. I recommend looking up the Mooloolaba Street Fest to see it’ll be going on during your visit, as it’s a great way to grab some food and local products along the Esplanade.
45. Alexandra Headland
Alexandra Headland might be my favorite place in all of Australia (perhaps tied with Cronulla), as I also made this my home base for two months this year. There’s certainly something to say about watching the waves crash off your balcony and sunrise over the water out your bedroom window. You won’t find many tourists on this beach, but plenty of locals! I may be biased, but I think it’s the best place where the living is easy on the Sunshine Coast. Grab a beach towel, hang out at the surf club, go for a skate, or wiggle your toes in the sand… it’s the perfect place to relax.
I went to Alexandra Headland everyday for two months, yet somehow never took a photo. So, here's the view of it from my balcony!
46. Noosa Heads
Noosa reminds me a lot of the Hamptons, if you’ve ever been. It’s a bit more uppity than the other areas on the Sunshine Coast, and prices are a bit higher, but Noosa is a dream. Whether you want to hike through Noosa National Park, shop your way down Hastings Street, kayak through the Noosa Everglades, sunbathe on Noosa Main Beach, eat your heart out with locally-sourced food, or relax in the luxury of a resort, Noosa has it all. I was lucky enough to spend five nights in Noosa and very quickly realized that I never wanted to leave. It’s the perfect “staycation” for any local in Australia, and a “must do” stop for any tourist making their way up or down the coast. Just be warned that it gets quite busy on weekends, so plan to arrive early if you want to find a parking spot!
A walk through Noosa National Park at Sunrise – Things to do in Australia
47. Fraser Island
Fraser Island is a remote island located off the coast of Australia, and can only be accessed with a 4x4 car. If you’re traveling through Australia and don’t have a car, I’d recommend joining a tour to experience the best of Fraser. Since that was the case for me the first time around, I signed up for a 3-day trip to Fraser Island with Australian Sunset Safaris, and couldn’t recommend them enough! Fraser Island is 128 km north to south, 24 km east to west, and stands at 224 meters above sea level, making it the largest sand island in the world. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its ongoing geological processes and threatened flora and fauna. You can read about my full 3-day experience on Fraser Island here and here.
Fraser Island – Things to do in Australia
48. Cape Palmerston National Park
From rocky headlands to mangroves, swamps, rainforests, and sand dunes, Cape Palmerston has it all. You will need a 4WD car for this adventure, but it’s a secluded paradise. Think of kilometers and kilometers of sand without another soul in sight — that’s the beauty of Cape Palmerston National Park.
Where to Sleep? Search all accommodations near Cape Palmerston here or get $55 off your AirBnB using my code here. Who doesn't love a Dirty Dancing Lift? – Things to do in Australia
Whether you’re road tripping up the coast to checkout the Great Barrier Reef, or flying in for a peaceful trip away from tourists, the Mackay Region has something for everyone. Known for its 261 days of sunshine a year, along with 31 untouched beaches, Mackay makes for the perfect stop along the Queensland Coast. I’d love it if you read up on my week in the Mackay Region here.
50. Eungella National Park
Eungella National Park is home to Australia’s longest stretch of sub-tropical rainforest. Eungella is an abordiginal word meaning “land of the clouds,” and we certainly saw plenty of those during our visit! On a clear day, there are many beautiful lookout points as well. Rain or shine though, Eungella National Park is incredibly lush and there are many different walking trails to check out.
A Walk through Eungella National Park – Things to do in Australia
51. Cape Hillsborough
Watching kangaroos and wallabies hop down the beach at sunrise should certainly be on your Australian bucket list! Sign up with Wallaby Tours to ensure that you have the opportunity to see Australia’s national symbol up close and personal. Each morning they head to the beach to feed on mangrove seed pods and – believe it or not – they say that it’s a guaranteed sighting! This was honestly one of my favorite experiences in Australia and I couldn’t recommend it enough. On a nice day there are also many stunning coastal hiking trails to be discovered.
Where to Sleep? If you’re visiting a place so unique, you might as well sleep in one equally as unique! Make your way to The Feathered Nest where you’ll have your own private villa, 3 meals a day ordered a la carte, a two-person spa, and your own private aviary and aquarium! Yes, you heard that right. Read my full review of The Feathered Nest here to see just why this 5-Star Eco Retreat is worth it!
Kangaroos at Cape Hillsborough – Things to do in Australia
52. Airlie Beach
Make Airlie Beach your base from which to explore the Whitsundays, Whitehaven Beach, and Hamilton Island. It’s quite common to visit Whitehaven Beach and Hamilton Island as day trips, but people typically spend a few days at sea sailing Whitsundays. While I didn’t have the opportunity to stay on Hamilton Island back in 2016, I would certainly factor that into my itinerary this time around, as some incredible luxury resorts have popped up. When you’re not exploring the beautiful and iconic beaches surrounding Airlie Beach, be sure to hop on a scenic flight over “Heart Reef.” The views from the sky over the Great Barrier Reef are simply magical! You can have a look at what I witnessed from above here.
Heart Reef – Things to see in Australia
While most people “Sail Whitsundays” from Airlie Beach, it’s important to do your research to decide which boat that you would like to make the journey on. I personally chose a three night trip to the Outer Great Barrier Reef on the Anaconda III a few years back and loved every minute of it. That said, this was a few years ago already, so look up your options and choose whichever boat is right for you! Each boat can typically accommodate any dietary restrictions, as long as you give them advanced notice, and you’ll find everything from luxury yachts to low-cost boats targeting Australia’s many backpackers. Sailing Whitsundays is the best way to experience the Great Barrier Reef, and you will have plenty of opportunities to snorkel and dive while out there as well. You can read about my experience sailing Whitsundays here.
Where to Sleep? On a boat!
Whitehaven Beach – Things to do in Australia
54. Atherton Tablelands
If you’re one of those people that’s always searching for the greatest waterfalls, be sure to factor the Atherton Tablelands into your Aussie adventure. With 13 different waterfalls in the region over varying degrees, you certainly can’t go wrong! Of course, there are plenty of lakes, hikes, and walking trails in the region, as well as plenty of local places to indulge your taste buds. While I only had one day in the Atherton Tablelands, I’ll hopefully be back to explore it in much greater depth sometime soon.
Atherton Tablelands – Things to do in Australia
Cairns is known as the “Gateway to Queensland’s Tropical North” and is a great place to start or end your journey up the eastern coast of Australia; I flew from Cairns to Tokyo, as the international airport is only 10-15 minutes from the city center. Whether you want to relax in the city, or explore the tropical paradise that surrounds Cairns, you’ll never be at a lack for things to do. You could very easily check out a different section of the Great Barrier Reef, go island hopping, or even savor the delicious seafood options in and around town. I made Cairns my base up north and took a few different day trips during my time there.
A sunrise in Cairns – Things to see in Australia
56. Port Douglas
Port Douglas is a quiet seaside village, used as the gateway to the Daintree Rainforest. The climate is fantastic year-round, so you really can’t go wrong if you’re overdue for some relaxation. You can chill out on the Four Mile Beach (perfectly lined with palm trees, of course), go on a sunset sail, or find yourself something tasty to eat before climbing into your comfortable bed for the night. I definitely recommend checking out their Wildlife Habitat too, as it’s a way to get up close and personal with Australia’s most common animals. The sanctuary itself is divided into three different sections – the Wetlands, the Grasslands, and the Rainforest – and it’s both fun and educational.
57. Daintree Rainforest
Daintree Rainforest, where the rainforest meets the reef, is the only place in the world where two UNESCO World Heritage Sites meet. I recommend going on the Marrja Botanical Walk to learn about how important the mangroves are to the Great Barrier Reef. Following that, it’s worth checking out Mason’s Swimming Hole for a quick dip before continuing on to the Alexandra Lookout. The lookout point offers a gorgeous viewpoint over Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation. If you have the time, it’s also worth taking a river cruise down the Daintree River to spot crocs. You can read about my whole experience here. Otherwise, be sure you don’t leave the Daintree Rainforest area without stopping at Floravilla Ice Cream for “biodynamic-organic ice cream from the Daintree Rainforest,” as it’s simply drool-worthy with their incredibly unique flavors!
Where the Ocean meets the Sea – Things to see in Australia
58. Cape Tribulation
Cape Tribulation is known for its long, wide beaches, and small population. The town was named by Captain Cook, as he wrote that this area of the coast gave him many trials and tribulations because he kept crashing into the reef; he didn’t realize how close the reef was to the shore, nor how big it was. Today, Cape Tribulation is lovely and secluded.
Cape Tribulation – Things to do in Australia
Western Australia is said to be one of the most incredible, pristine, untouched places in all of Australia. Not only does the color of the water look fake (it’s that pretty!), but you can even swim with Humpback Whales and Whale Sharks depending on the season! Perth is actually the most isolated city in the world, and Western Australia is Australia’s largest state – there’s over 12,500 km (7,767 miles) of coastline! As for me, I unfortunately have yet to visit Western Australia; it’s been a bucket list destination of mine for a while now so, I’ll leave it with, “TO BE DISCOVERED!” 🙂
Where Are These Places In Australia Located?
There are so many things to see and do in Australia that I simply couldn’t list them all if I tried! Below, please find a map with the places to see in Australia, and feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions!
The Twelve Apostles
The Island Archway
The Shipwreck Walk
The Loch Ard Gorge
Thunder Cave & Broken Head
Glass House Mountains
Cape Palmerston National Park
Eungella National Park
What To Pack For Your Trip To Australia
What you pack will depend on what season you visit Australia. Contrary to popular belief, Australia (as a whole) isn’t always warm and sunny. In fact, it even snows in the winter in some places! It’s important to note that their seasons are opposite from ours in the States – our summer is their winter, and their winter is our summer. While your clothing may vary, there are 137 travel essentials that I recommend bringing on your trip. From packing essentials to tech essentials, outdoors essentials, fitness essentials, business essentials, and more… I’ve got you covered! Click here to discover the 137 travel essentials you need on your next trip to Australia.
A final picture to leave you yearning for Australia as I do…
Do You Have Travel Insurance?
I hope you don’t travel without travel insurance! If you do, you better think again. Travel insurance is arguably the most important thing to have on hand (after your passports and visas). I’ve had to use my travel insurance multiple times on the road, even though I’m healthy. You never know when something might happen; take comfort in knowing that whether your flight gets cancelled or you wind up sick and in the hospital, you will be covered. I recommend World Nomads Travel Insurance for each and every one of you travelers. You can get a free quote here.
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