Traveling around Australia is incomparable due to its diversity. From breathtaking beaches and tropical rainforests to towering mountains and rugged landscapes, there’s no shortage of stunning sights to see. One day you’ll be partying in Sydney, and the next, visiting the expansive Blue Mountains. A road trip in Australia could see you road-tripping from Snowy Mountains to red earth in the Outback to tropical beaches in Queensland, all in the same week! With so many incredible places to explore, it takes time to figure out where to start. Every traveler has personal preferences in the activities and experiences they do. That’s why we’ve put together an Australia trip planner with over 120 must-visit Australian things and destinations to add to your Australia bucket list. We’ve compiled this bucket list for Australia based on different types of experiences and travel preferences, so you can easily select the Australian highlights you prefer.
Traveling Around Australia
We have lived in Australia for over 20 years. During that time, we’ve traveled thousands of miles around the country and to hundreds of destinations.
We’ve seen the Aussie icons, the must-dos in the largest cities, lesser-touristed places, and hidden gems. We’ve discovered the best Australian things to see and do and are now sharing them with you.
Use this list of Australian highlights to compile your own Australian bucket list and as a trip planner for Australia.
Start by making your personalized list of the must-do and see attractions in Australia. Then pick the best time of the year to visit based on the activities you want to do. Follow that with selecting the perfect accommodation to use as a base for your explorations. Finally, work out how to get from A to B to C to Z, and you’re ready to go!
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Best Australian Things for Your Australia Bucket List
Table of Contents
The Top 10 Aussie Icons and Landmarks
It’s hard to pick a favorite destination in Australia as there is so much diversity and something for everyone. We have the favorites we return to repeatedly and some places that were great to see the one time, such as Ayers Rock and Coober Pedy, that we’d love to revisit one day. Even though some areas are heavily touristed, they become that way for a reason. Therefore, here are the do not miss top 10 Aussie icons and landmarks to add to your “Bucket List Australia.”
Sydney Opera House
This world-famous architectural masterpiece is a must-visit destination for all visitors to Australia. Catch a musical, theatrical show, or world-class performance in the stunning concert hall. Or you can explore the colossal icon and admire the unique architecture. Additionally, you can take a guided tour of the Opera House followed by winding down with a happy hour at the Opera Bar.
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Along with the Opera House, this iconic landmark is one of the most recognizable structures in the world. Offering breathtaking city and harbor views, you can even go on a bridge climb tour. Actually, it is one of the must-do items on most travelers’ Australia bucket lists.
Once you’ve seen the bridge and Opera House, why not take to the skies and see Sydney from the air with a helicopter ride over Sydney Harbour? If you prefer to remain on the ground, there are many vantage points to view the harbor from the city. Start with a walk from Circular Quay to the Royal Botanic Gardens. Additionally, you can take a ferry trip on the harbor or one of the many lunchtime or dinner cruises cruising the harbor.
Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is one of our favorite places in the world. It is one of the best Australian things.
The natural wonder of the world is the world’s largest coral reef system and home to abundant marine life and coral formations.
Stretching over 2,300 kilometers in Queensland, many tourists’ highlight of an Australian trip includes visiting the reef on a boat tour with snorkeling or diving.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Daintree Rainforest is one of the world’s oldest tropical rainforests. The Far North Queensland national park is home to an extensive range of wildlife and plants. The lush landscapes make this tropical rainforest breathtaking. It’s our favorite national park in Australia and a must for the Australia bucket list!
Great Ocean Road, Victoria
The Great Ocean Road is one of our Top 10 Australia highlights, mainly due to the extraordinary ocean views. The stunning coastal drive is seriously one of the best in the world. The breathtaking views of the Southern Ocean and the rugged cliffs and rock formations make it a must-do destination. The best parts include the world-famous Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, and London Bridge Rock.
The scenic coastal drive features lovely towns and villages such as Torquay, Anglesea, Lorne, Apollo Bay, Port Fairy, and Warrnambool. Many of these towns offer specialty souvenir and boutique shops and incredible dining options, including cafes, wineries, and degustation dinners at fine restaurants.
The stunning beaches include one of Australia’s best surf beaches, Bells Beach.
The Blue Mountains is a lush mountainous region west of Sydney. You can visit either by self-driving the 1.5 hours from Sydney to Katoomba or by taking a Blue Mountains tour. The Blue Mountains offer panoramic vistas, bushwalking trails and boardwalks, and plenty of adventure activities such as rock climbing and canyoning. This must-visit destination includes the world-famous Three Sisters rock formation.
On top of that, a fun must-do activity in the Blue Mountains is the short trip through the tunnels down the cliff to the rainforest floor on the Scenic Railway. It claims to be the steepest railway in the world, and we love it! Equally impressive is the Scenic Skyway cable car, offering phenomenal views over the valley from its height of 270 meters above the forest. The glass cabin floor adds a surreal element to the exciting experience.
Australia’s world-renowned beach is on everyone’s Australia bucket list. And with good reason! It’s all about the sun, golden sand, and surf. Whether you want to laze in the sun, go swimming or surfing, or walk around the shops and cafes of Sydney’s Bondi Beach, the vibrant beach culture is unbeatable.
Additionally, for some respite from the masses, you can swim laps at the sea pool at the Bondi Icebergs pool. It was recently named by Travel & Leisure as the most photographed pool in the world.
Uluru and The Red Centre
The Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the Northern Territory is home to Uluru. Otherwise known as Ayers Rock, it is the largest single rock monolith in the world.
The famous Ayers Rock is a must-add to your Australian bucket list. However, this national park offers many unique attractions, such as Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre, to learn about indigenous culture.
Additionally, Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) is a surreal natural attraction. The cluster of massive domed rock formations bulge out of the red earth.
Besides that, there are gorges, waterholes, canyons, and the expanse of Red Earth as far as the eye can see. There really is no other place like The Red Centre anywhere in this world.
For the best experience, base yourself at Ayers Rock Resort. This way, you can wake up early and see the colors of Ayers Rock at sunrise and then a different set of hues at sunset.
Kakadu National Park
The Northern Territory’s Kakadu is a world heritage-listed park abundant in diverse landscapes, indigenous cultural sites, and wildlife. The best way to see it is to take a 4WD tour from Darwin. Tours take you to lush rainforests, waterfalls, swimming holes, ancient rock art sites, and the best spots to see wildlife, such as crocodiles. Each tour differs depending on whether you prefer walking tours, scenic flights, or cultural tours where you can learn about indigenous Aboriginal culture.
Our highlight was the Yellow Water Billabong cruise and spotting saltwater crocodiles and birdlife.
If you’re looking for a tour recommendation for Kakadu National Park, we recommend online travel agency, Get Your Guide. They offer the best range of tours with detailed information to help you decide which is the best tour for you. Check them out for inspiration or book a guided tour to Kakadu National Park and start making travel memories.
The Sydney Bucket List
Sydney is a must-stop for every traveler to Australia. As our home base for over 20 years, we have stomped all over the city and suburbs. The Sydney bucket list includes the most iconic places to see in Sydney that you can easily achieve in a few days’ visit.
If you are staying in Sydney longer, make sure you read our upcoming article, ‘Sydney Bucket List,‘ where we will list over 70 of our favorite Sydney things to do and see. If you want to be notified by email when it is published, as well as receive notification of our other travel & lifestyle articles, subscribe today.
Sydney Harbour Cruise
We’ve listed Bondi Beach, Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, and Sydney Harbour in The Top 10 Aussie Icons and Landmarks. You will undoubtedly add these best Australian things to your Australia bucket list. However, one of our favorite things to do in Sydney is a cruise on Sydney Harbour.
The best is a lunch or dinner cruise cruising under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and passing the Opera House. Alternatively, the Hop on/Hop off Harbour cruise is great value and offers many stops. However, you can also catch a government ferry for only a few dollars for a scenic trip to gorgeous Manly Beach. Offering stunning ocean views, high-quality eateries, and lively surf culture, it’s a do not miss for all travelers to Sydney.
Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk
Another of our favorites is the Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk. The scenic coastal walk offers incredible ocean views and is one of the best things to do in Sydney.
Start or finish with a drink on the waterfront balcony of the iconic Bondi Icebergs Club bar overlooking Bondi Beach. Bliss!
The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney
The heritage-listed Royal Botanic Garden Sydney is home to Australia’s most diverse selection of plant species and contains some ancient and rare plants. Therefore, it’s a must-visit for nature and history lovers alike. The garden in the heart of Sydney is an excellent spot for a picnic with a view of Sydney Harbour.
Taronga Zoo offers a chance to get up close with some of Australia’s distinctive wildlife, such as koalas and kangaroos. Additionally, the zoo, overlooking Sydney Harbour, is home to a huge range of wildlife from all over the world.
Luna Park is an iconic amusement park that most Sydneysiders have grown up with. The family-friendly destination has lots of fun attractions, rides, and games and boasts a stunning backdrop of Sydney Harbour.
It’s a short ferry trip across the harbor to get there, and additionally, for history lovers, Luna Park is over 100 years old!
Sydney’s Darling Harbour is a lively waterfront shopping precinct lined with waterfront cafes, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. It is home to the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium and the WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo. Many tourists consider it a must-visit to see koalas and other native Australian wildlife.
Additionally, Darling Harbour is home to the world’s largest cinema screen, IMAX, Madame Tussauds, and King Street Wharf, where you can take a cruise around Sydney Harbour.
A short walk from Darling Harbour, the Powerhouse Museum offers fun for the whole family. The cutting-edge museum showcases the latest in science, technology, arts, innovation, and design. Boasting a collection of over 380,000 objects and interactive fun, adults love it just as much as kids.
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Offering an extensive collection of Australian and international art, the Art Gallery of New South Wales is a must-visit for the impressive painting, sculptures, and photography and the gorgeous parklands overlooking Sydney Harbour. Take a picnic and enjoy one of Sydney’s’ premier waterfront viewpoints.
Sydney Tower Eye
Sydney Tower Eye is the tallest structure in Sydney and the second-tallest observation tower in the Southern Hemisphere. This makes it a must for your Australian bucket list.
For a view of the city and beyond, the scenic observation deck offers 360-degree views.
Additionally, for an added experience, they have a revolving restaurant with a self-serve buffet of international dishes.
Another attraction offering incredible views is the Sydney Observatory. The historical and educational facility is your chance to see the wonder of the night sky, including stars and planets, through powerful equipment, which includes the oldest working telescope in Australia.
Sydney Day Trips and Weekend Getaways
Having spent many years in Sydney working full-time, our goal was to get away every long weekend and any other opportunity we got. Therefore, we have discovered the best places to visit that are within a few hours’ drive from Sydney. Here are our favorites to add to your Australia bucket list destinations.
Royal National Park
The stunning national park, close to the city’s hustle and bustle, is known for its diverse landscapes and scenic walks. The Royal National Park (Established in 1879) is Australia’s first national park and the second in the world! The park offers scenic coastline walks and bush trails and is home to tidal pools, surf beaches, calm bays, and wildlife. However, our highlight is the stunning scenic bush drive, allowing us to view Australia’s native flora.
Grand Pacific Drive to Wollongong and Beyond
The coastal city of Wollongong is known for its stunning beaches, but the best part of a trip to Wollongong is the spectacular Grand Pacific Drive.
If time allows for a South Coast NSW road trip, the 140-kilometer scenic coastal drive sees you road-tripping through the lush rainforests of the Royal National Park, the epic views over the Sea Cliff Bridge, and the chic beach suburbs of Wollongong. If you travel further south, you pass the coastal towns of Wollongong, Shellharbour, Kiama, and the Shoalhaven region.
Kiama deserves its own place on the Australian bucket list. The quaint seaside town on NSW’s South Coast is best known for its blowholes. However, the town offers stunning beaches and national parks, lovely coastal walks, and an easy-going holiday destination.
The charming Southern Highlands region is a must-do stopover for wine enthusiasts. With over 60 wineries, the Southern Highlands is a retreat away from Sydney with scenic bush views, spectacular lookouts, and stunning waterfalls. Additionally, the Southern Highlands’ quaint historic villages, some dating back to 1831, offer historic architecture, antique stores, boutiques, craft shops, excellent pubs and cafes, and breweries.
You will likely need more than a weekend to enjoy the plethora of activities, such as dolphin-watching cruises or swimming with dolphins, quad-biking on sand dunes, kayaking, snorkeling, and coastal walks. The gorgeous sandy beaches, bays, and inlets in Port Stephens make Port Stephens our favorite seaside destination within 3 hours of Sydney. The sparkling blue waters and beachfront accommodations make it a perfect weekend retreat from Sydney.
Jenolan Caves, the largest caves in Australia, is a part of the Blue Mountains. However, the extra 1.5-hour drive through windy roads often sees day trippers from Sydney missing out on one of the most unique destinations in Australia and one of the best Australian things to see.
We love the world’s oldest caves so much that we repeatedly visit them. Each trip, we do a different guided cave tour through one of the 11 caves and their labyrinths of stalactite-lined chasms and beautiful limestone formations.
To make the most of the awe-inspiring natural wonders in the area, stay for a weekend in Caves House. The 126-year-old grand historic hotel is a must for the Australia bucket list for history lovers.
Central Coast, just an hour north of Sydney, spans over 50 miles and has beautiful expansive beaches, pretty bays, surf spots, and sea view resorts. The region offers a perfect weekend getaway for many Sydneysiders.
Highlights include fishing tours, gardens, national parks, the Australian Reptile Park, and the TreeTop Adventure Park.
However, we love the Central Coast for its coastal walking tracks, and we love beach hopping!
The Shoalhaven is a close second to Port Stephens, our favorite seaside destination within 3 hours of Sydney.
The Shoalhaven is abundant in pristine beaches and national parks, and it’s the ideal place for swimming, surfing, fishing, and bushwalking.
Our favorite park in the region is Booderee National Park. With its diverse landscape and crystal clear water, the park has three camping options and a chance to spot lots of wildlife in its natural habitat. During our camping experiences by the sea, we have seen koalas and kangaroos in the wild and whales and dolphins from the shoreline!
Additionally, you can see dolphins on one of the dolphin-watching tours available from Huskisson. The Jervis Bay Marine Park is known for its spectacular calm waters and diverse marine life.
More than what you could squeeze into a weekend getaway, Shoalhaven offers quaint towns, stunning beaches, wineries, beachside walking trails, spas, resorts, restaurants, and much more. Plus, if you want to get away from the tourist crowds, add Shoalhaven to your Australia bucket list.
Australia Trip Planner For City Lovers
City lovers will no doubt visit Melbourne and Sydney. We’ve included comprehensive information about Melbourne and Sydney on this list as it’s a favorite of many travelers. City lovers should not miss these cities.
However, Australia has many cities and small towns to visit. The ones we consider do not miss Australian cities are the larger ones with extensive diversity. Keep reading for more information on some of our favorite cities in Australia to add to your Australia bucket list.
This tropical city in Far North Queensland is our favorite. The gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest is a lively city offering many restaurants with diverse cuisines from all over the world, bars, shopping, and a boardwalk lining the shore to watch the sunset.
The greater Cairns area boasts stunning beaches, islands, freshwater swimming holes, waterfalls, and lush forests.
Read about the top things to do in Cairns next!
In the Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, is the capital city of Australia and is plentiful in historical, cultural, and natural experiences and many diverse Australian things and experiences.
Canberra is a must-visit destination for lovers of the arts, with Australia’s largest art gallery based there.
However, the most prominent landmark in Canberra, and the most visited, is the Australian War Memorial.
Additionally, for history and culture lovers, you can make a day or two of it by visiting the National Military Museum, the Parliament House, and The National Museum of Australia.
Our favorites are the Royal Australian Mint, where you can see how coins are made, and the Questacon Science Museum offering interactive fun and games.
Adelaide is a city rich in history and impressive architecture. Must-visit places to visit during a weekend in Adelaide include historic churches such as St. Peter’s Cathedral and St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, and the historic North Terrace.
You can fill your days by visiting art galleries, museums, botanical gardens, bars, and restaurant hopping, or travel to one of the many gorgeous beaches, such as Glenelg Beach. Then there is the Adelaide Central Market. This market is a must-do on your Adelaide bucket list with its fresh local produce and tasty meals.
If you have time left over, do the Night Roof Climb at Adelaide Oval, it’s one of Australia’s most iconic sports stadiums.
This coastal city in North Queensland is known for its stunning beaches, impressive natural landscapes, and rich agricultural history. While offering the things city lovers love most, such as cafes, restaurants, resorts, galleries, shopping, and nightlife, Mackay is on the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef and many untouched national parks.
For people who also love the Great Outdoors and water activities and fewer tourist crowds, Mackay is a must-add to your Australia bucket list.
Besides your tour of Kakadu, Ayers Rock, and the Red Centre, your trip planner for Australia should include a visit to the capital city of Darwin. The tropical climate lends itself to outdoor activities, including one of Australia’s biggest outdoor markets, the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets.
Also, a highlight, and a must for your Darwin bucket list, is Crocosaurus Cove. Boasting the world’s largest array of Australian reptiles and a 200,000-liter aquarium, Crocosaurus Cove is your chance to swim with crocs, hold baby saltwater crocodiles, and see thousands of fish and over 70 reptiles.
Besides that, there are art galleries showcasing local and indigenous art, waterside attractions such as restaurants by the sea, sunset cruises, or shopping at Darwin’s Smith Street Mall.
Additionally, please keep reading to find information in this article about the Australian bucket list destinations, the Gold Coast, Broken Hill, Hervey Bay, Bendigo, and Port Macquarie, cities that city lovers will absolutely adore.
Best Australia Road Trips For Road Trip Lovers
Australia is just one big road trip. However, you can fly to one of the many city or regional airports for those with limited time or who prefer less time in the car. Our favorite way to travel is by road in our own vehicle, and we’ve done thousands of miles across Australia. Every journey is one of discovery, but our best Australia road trips are the coastal road trips from Sydney to Brisbane and Brisbane to Cairns.
Sydney to Brisbane Road Trip
We are road trip lovers, and that’s how we’ve seen a large part of Australia. However, we have our favorites, and the Sydney to Brisbane road trip is one of them.
The New South Wales coastal drive offers spectacular ocean and bush views. There are many cool seaside towns to visit along the way, such as Newcastle, Forster, and Port Macquarie.
For us, the best part is going from Coffs Harbour to the Gold Coast. New South Wales’s most scenic drive sees you passing quaint towns such as Yamba, Grafton, and Byron Bay. The area is rich in both agriculture and native flora and fauna.
For information on our favorite road trip from Sydney to Cairns, please read about our top 5 road trips in Australia – Road Trip Australia – Don’t Miss Our Top 5 Road Trips.
Coffs Harbour, New South Wales
You will stop at many cool towns on your scenic Sydney to Brisbane drive; however, make sure to visit our favorite town in New South Wales. If not on a road trip, you can fly there from Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane.
The picturesque coastal resort town of Coffs Harbour has stunning beaches, lush resorts, and diverse wildlife experiences.
You can take a whale watching or fishing cruise, visit a national park, swim in one of the many beaches or rivers, or take in the vibes at the town’s marina. Many cafes and restaurants have sea views, and the weekly outdoor arts, crafts, and produce market is a do not miss event.
Northern Territory Bucket List
Northern Territory is a perfect destination for road trip lovers. There are many miles between the favorite (iconic) destinations of Darwin, Kakadu, and The Red Centre. (Read more about them in this article’s City Lovers and The Top 10 Aussie Icons and Landmarks sections.)
Get ready for one hell of a road trip where you will see some phenomenal Australian things; we’ve been to over 50 countries around the world and have yet to see a place quite like it. The Northern Territory will blow your mind.
Litchfield National Park
Litchfield National Park is just one and a half hours from Darwin, making it a perfect half-day trip. Featuring waterfalls and freshwater swimming holes surrounded by Australian native bush, there’s an excellent chance to see Australian wildlife.
Litchfield National Park offers many scenic trails and picnic spots to warrant spending the day. Alternatively, you could camp in the wild and enjoy a few days relaxing in nature.
Katherine Gorge is one of the coolest national parks we’ve been to. The stunning gorge, otherwise known as Nitmiluk Gorge, is located in the Northern Territory and is known for its serene boat cruises passing towering cliffs. Nitmiluk Gorge is one of our absolute favorite Australian highlights. The area is home to diverse wildlife, and there is an excellent opportunity to see freshwater crocodiles sunning themselves on the river banks. However, they are not interested in eating people so you can enjoy the swimming holes in the area!
We’d push you to stay a few days as there are many fascinating activities, such as bush walks with epic panoramas where you can see indigenous rock art, canoeing, aboriginal culture, and camping in the gorge.
Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve
Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve is a surreal place. We consider it one of the unique destinations in Australia and the coolest Australian things to see and, therefore, a must for your Australia bucket list. It’s far from civilization, so it isn’t easy to visit unless you’re on the long road trip from Darwin to Alice Springs.
A road trip will see you driving through nothing but the stark Australian desert, and then you will come upon this incredible geological wonder!
The gigantic round boulders are spectacular and change color according to the time of day and morning or evening sun.
There is a campground so you can stay overnight to make the most of your visit and take short walks and look out for wildlife in their natural habitat.
Mataranka Hot Springs
We’d go out of our way for hot springs, but luckily Mataranka is only 1-hour drive south of Katherine. The thermal pools in Elsey National Park feel like a tropical paradise surrounded by palm trees and woods.
Mataranka Hot Springs is one of the best hot springs we have been to. It is a must for your Australian bucket list. There are two thermal areas. The Bitter Springs Thermal Pools is a crystal clear natural spring, or there is the concrete landscaped Mataranka Thermal Pool.
For campers, you can stay at the nearby Jalmurark Campground or Bitter Springs Cabins and Camping. They are a great base to visit Mataranka Falls and for scenic bush and riverside walks in the national park.
The Outback Bucket List
The Outback refers to central Australia’s vast, sparsely populated, undeveloped land. Much of the Northern Territory is considered the Outback; however, all states in Australia have an area considered the Outback.
The Outback is uniquely Australian, and visiting Australia would not be complete without seeing it. So here are some of the Outback bucket list destinations we love. We strongly advise you to add these unique Australian highlights to your Australia bucket list.
The historical city in the Northern Territory is known for its rich indigenous cultural heritage and diverse cultural experiences. Additionally, it is the gateway to many Outback adventures.
With a population of around 25,000, Alice Springs has more of a small-town feel. It is about 800 miles from any of Australia’s big cities, so it really is the Outback!
The Nullarbor Plain
This immense flat desert landscape spans over 200,000 square across South Australia and Western Australia.
A trip across the Nullarbor Plain passes remote tiny towns, views of the Great Australian Bight, stunning cliffs and bays offering a chance to see whales off the coast, and a long flat endless road with lots of space!
Additionally, the Nullabor offers quirky attractions such as a golf course spread across two states, windmills, ruins of the Old Telegraph Station, and roadhouses.
This road trip is best traveled by car, not for the faint-hearted road-tripper!
Another Northern Territory, do not miss the experience, is 3 hours south of Alice Springs. Kings Canyon offers scenic walks and distinctive vegetation. The spectacular canyons and rock formations are surreal, and the colorful scenery makes for many Instagram-worthy photos.
Coober Pedy, South Australia
When it comes to surreal, Coober Pedy wins that award. The unique town is famous for its opal mines and its underground dwellings. Additionally, the unique desert landscape makes you feel like you are on Mars.
Out of all the unique Australian things to do, visiting the opal mining town is one of the highlights of Australia.
Another opal mining town, Lightning Ridge, has a rich mining history as well as a lively town full of colorful locals. The highlight of a visit to the NSW Outback town is the four self-drive tours to explore the sights of Lightning Ridge. You can see old mines, shafts, lookouts, castles, and many unusual installations.
Five hours from Adelaide is Australia’s oldest mining town. Today the town takes pride in its museums, galleries, street art, and history and still has active mines.
This town is a must-visit for history lovers. It’s a mining boom town with an outstanding exhibition of historic buildings.
Queensland Bucket List
Queensland is our favorite Australian state. The epic coastline spans over 4000 miles. If you are road-tripping, it is the best way to ensure you see the many fantastic coastal towns in Queensland. Besides the must-do destinations of Cairns and the Daintree, the Great Barrie Reef, and the fabulous city of Mackay, here are our must-visit destinations to add to your Queensland bucket list.
The lush tropical and mountainous region near Cairns is a must-do! Offering towering waterfalls, scenic lakes, hiking trails, wildlife experiences, and historic villages, the highlight for us is the spectacular Skyrail Rainforest Cableway above the forest to the quaint mountain village Kuranda. The return trip to Cairns via the Kuranda Scenic Railway travels through historic tunnels and bridges and down the mountain through the rainforest. It’s a trip you will remember for a lifetime!
The Gold Coast is a favorite for many Australians. The coastal area of 81 suburbs is known for its stunning beaches, diverse landscapes, sunny weather, surf beaches, shopping, restaurants, nightclubs, and exciting theme parks. There really is something for everyone of all ages.
Our favorite things to do on the Gold Coast are beach hopping and visiting the many surf clubs. Unlike any other place in the world, the Gold Coast surf club experience offers beachfront dining at affordable prices. If sea views and seafood dinners are your things, we consider Gold Coast Surf Clubs at the top of the Queensland bucket list! Get ready to be busy dining out; there are over 20 of them!
Besides the beach culture, the Gold Coast hinterland offers the opportunity to see the lush native bush of Australia. Some of the best bushwalks on the Gold Coast are at the world heritage-listed Springbrook National Park and Lamington National Park. The parks are plentiful in lush rainforests, picturesque waterfalls, ancient trees, and unforgettable views.
Just a short drive from Brisbane or the Gold Coast, the mountainous region in the hinterland offers a break from the cities with its scenic walks through the lush bush.
A highlight is the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk offering a unique experience of walking among the treetops.
The area offers many wineries, distilleries, restaurants, and cafes. Settings are often in vineyards, in the rainforest, in nurseries, or with scenic views.
Additionally, Tamborine Mountain has its very own coffee plantation and weekly local produce markets, allowing you to experience food and wine direct from the farm to the table.
Another coastal region located in Queensland, the Sunshine Coast offers a resort experience among stunning beaches and the lush Australian bush. We absolutely adore Noosa. Our favorites are Noosa National Park’s scenic walks and charming Noosa Heads with its stunning beaches, vibrant food, and colorful shopping scene.
Additionally, the region boasts rainforests in the hinterland, such as Glass House Mountains, ideal for hiking and rock climbing its rugged volcanic peaks.
Plus, the Sunshine Coast is home to one of the most iconic Australian things, the world-famous Australia Zoo, where you can see Australian native wildlife, including crocodiles.
The equally famous Aussie icon, the Big Pineapple, offers an opportunity to take a trip on a heritage-listed train through lush rainforests and gardens.
Please note (at the time of writing) the train is undergoing major repairs. The Big Pineapple is still worth visiting just for the iconic photos and the fresh produce.
Great Sandy National Park, Queensland
You can visit this vast national park on the mainland or Fraser Island. Great Sandy National Park stretches from Rainbow Beach to Noosa and most of Fraser Island.
The park is known for its diverse landscapes, pristine beaches, wildlife, walking tracks through Australian native bush, and camping. Boasting massive dunes and a surreal landscape, we consider it one of the most interesting national parks we’ve visited.
We love Fraser Island, but an equally interesting adventure is the Noosa Everglades. You can kayak in the pristine waterways or just enjoy the nature trails. The area offers numerous camping options to enjoy the wilderness experience overnight.
Hervey Bay, Queensland
Tours to Fraser Island often start from Hervey Bay.
This coastal city located two hours north of Noosa is where to go to see humpback whales. Additionally, Hervey Bay is known for its golden beaches, rich history, and diverse cultural experiences.
Too many choices?
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Australia Highlights For Lovers of Island Life
We are lovers of island life. Though Australia has amazing islands with opportunities for hiking, wildlife watching, and more, the island life we love is all about the warm water and hot weather. Therefore, all the islands listed are in Queensland. They are a must-add to your Queensland bucket list.
Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island and offers a rare opportunity to either self-drive or tour the island on a 4WD beach road trip. Whether you stay in the resort or enjoy a beach camping adventure, the island’s beaches, lakes, sand dunes, and rainforests offer you a unique experience that is hard to find anywhere else in the world.
There’s also a great chance to see wildlife and dingos in the wild. It’s been a few years since we went there, but we saw many dingos, birds, and baby turtles.
Moreton Island is also a sand island. While we love the wildness of Fraser Island, Moreton Island boasts remarkable attractions and activities such as wild dolphin feeding, kayaking, parasailing, sand boarding, and helicopter flights.
Plus, a Moreton Island highlight, wreck diving, or snorkeling, the Tangalooma Shipwrecks offers the chance to see a huge variety of reef fish and coral formations.
The Whitsunday Islands
A group of over 70 islands located off the coast of Queensland and in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays are known for their stunning beaches, white sands, crystal-clear waters, and world-class sailing and diving opportunities. Some islands are undeveloped and uninhabited, while others, such as Hamilton Island, boast luxurious resorts and holiday accommodations.
There are many activities, from helicopter and seaplane rides over the Whitsundays to boat cruises to isolated beaches and snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef.
Additionally, for beach lovers, Whitehaven Beach has been voted the best beach in the world in TripAdvisor’s “2021 Travellers’ Choice Best of the Best Awards for Beaches.” The white sands and the pristine water make this beautiful beach a Queensland must-do and a must for your ultimate Australian bucket list.
Yet another tropical island offering stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters, Magnetic Island differs in that it’s just a short trip from the mainland and has over 2000 permanent residents.
Besides its many beaches and plethora of water activities such as snorkeling, jet skiing, and kayaking, the island’s lush forests and easy walking tracks offer an excellent chance to see Australian native wildlife such as wallabies and koalas.
While Far North Queensland offers a few islands for visitors to enjoy, our very favorite is Fitzroy Island. We love the tropical island life at the resort while enjoying beachfront accommodation and waterside activities.
Whether it’s lazy days in the sun, swimming or snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters, or hiking one of the many short walking trails, the island just off the coast of Cairns offers stunning beaches and a variety of outdoor activities for everyone.
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Australian Bucket List For Beach Lovers
In any country we visit, we always make sure to find the best beaches. Australia is no exception, and with over 12,000 beaches in over 37,000 miles of coastline, we sure are spoiled for choice. However, we have our favorites, most of which are on the East Coast of Australia, especially in Queensland.
Additionally, the beaches on the islands included in the ‘Lovers of Island Life’ list are a must for beach lovers and your Australia bucket list.
Cairns Beaches, Queensland
This stunning coastline is our favorite area of Australia. Cairns Beaches are known for their breathtaking beaches. You could easily spend a week beach hopping the coastline from the esplanade-lined lagoon of Cairns City to the quaint seaside village of Palm Cove and onto the palm tree-lined beaches of undeveloped Ellis Beach. Along the way, there are beaches, each with its own unique features to appeal to any taste. One thing they all have in common is the golden sands, warm waters, and lush tree surroundings.
Port Douglas, Queensland
Many people we speak with say Port Douglas is their favorite beach in Australia. And rightfully so, with its stunning beaches, exceptional resorts, and a bar and restaurant culture only matched by excellent shopping, Port Douglas offers an unbeatable tropical holiday.
Queensland’s tropical far north premier destination is also a stepping-off point for cruises on the Great Barrier Reef and road trips to lush rainforests.
It is an Australian highlight and a must-add to your Australia trip planner.
Mission Beach, Queensland
We don’t really want to let the masses know about this hidden gem. However, Mission Beach has long been a popular destination for travelers who love skydiving on the beach and tourists who love exploring less touristy destinations. Mission Beach is our favorite beach! We love how the rainforest meets the sea, the warm tropical waters, the quaint seaside villages, and the waterfront resorts.
Byron Bay, New South Wales
A long-standing favorite of ours for the last 20 years is this laid-back coastal town in Northern New South Wales. Since its early days of hippy and surfie travelers, Byron Bay has become a popular destination that’s retained its bohemian vibe and surf culture. It’s one of Australia’s most famous surf destinations!
The beaches around Byron Bay boast spectacular water views and long stretches of sand. Plus, the area has many excellent beaches to explore, such as Lennox Head and Brunswick Heads, the best beaches near Byron Bay.
Additionally, the town boasts a lively cafe, bar, and shopping scene. Make sure to drop into the historic Byron Bay Lighthouse for the most stunning coastline panoramas.
Port Macquarie, New South Wales
While New South Wales has so many beaches worth mentioning, we suggest adding this charming coastal town on the mid-north coast of New South Wales to your list as a great base to see the surrounding areas. Port Macquarie offers visitors stunning beaches and rivers, cafes and restaurants with water views, coastal walking trails, and charming tiny towns nearby.
Additionally, Port Macquarie is an excellent place for animal encounters. There are whale watching tours, camel and horse riding, koala hospital, as well as Billabong Zoo. At the award-winning Billabong Zoo, you can pat, feed or hold many Australian mammals, reptiles, or birds.
A notable mention goes to the beaches of Bondi Beach, Coffs Harbour, and Port Stephens, which you can read about earlier in this article.
Australian Highlights For Lovers of Markets
Queen Victoria Market, Victoria
This vibrant market in Melbourne City is a must-visit destination for its diverse range of food, clothes, unusual finds, and authentic shopping experience.
Additionally, the historic market is a prominent Melbourne landmark and is one of the largest open-air markets in the Southern Hemisphere.
Mindil Beach Sunset Market, Darwin, Northern Territory
Mindil Beach Sunset Market is our favorite market in Australia. Overlooking Mindil Beach, the highlight of a visit includes watching the sunset over Mindil Beach while drinking a fresh fruit shake under a coconut tree. Hundreds of stores sell everything from international foods to arts and crafts and unique clothing.
Darwin’s largest market is not just about shopping; the lively atmosphere and exclusive performers make it a must for the Australia bucket list.
Eumundi Markets, Queensland
A close favorite (Ok, it’s our 2nd favorite market in Australia) is the popular outdoor market located in Eumundi on the Sunshine Coast. The lively open-air market offers a unique shopping experience with handmade goods, arts and crafts, local produce, and street food.
Paddington Markets, New South Wales
The vibrant market, with its diverse range of handmade goods, art, vintage items, local fashion, and unique creations, is a must-visit destination for visitors. However, the market has been open since the 1970s and is a Sydneysiders institution. Paddington Markets are our favorite Sydney markets.
Held every Saturday, there is an International food court, and you will often find live acoustic music creating further ambiance.
Sydney Fish Market, New South Wales
Offering fresh seafood, tours of the market and fish auctions, and restaurants and cafes, this working fish market on Sydney Harbour is a do not miss for seafood lovers.
You can pick up fresh and diverse seafood from six seafood retailers or pop in for lunch at one of the restaurants.
The Rocks Markets, New South Wales
This historic outdoor market in Sydney’s historic precinct is all about the lively atmosphere and majestic Sydney harbor views. The Rocks Markets is known for its unique artisanal goods, fresh local produce, and tasty food stalls. It’s a must-do for your Sydney bucket list.
Salamanca Markets, Tasmania
We love the vibrant atmosphere at outdoor markets. None more so than the outdoor market located on Hobart’s waterfront, Salamanca Markets. It is known for its handcrafted goods, collectibles, local produce, and lively atmosphere.
Over 300 vendors trade every Saturday, and even if you are not into markets, this market should be on your Tasmania bucket list for the vibe, the photo opportunities, the live music, and the food.
Australia Bucket List For Wine Lovers
Several grape-growing regions in Australia are known for their wineries. These regions are known in Australia for offering multitudes of wineries with world-class wines and world-class food. The scenery and attractions make some of the best regions a must-do for many Australians and international visitors alike.
Hunter Valley, New South Wales
The oldest commercial wine-growing region in Australia, The Hunter Valley is the most visited wine region in Australia due to its proximity to Sydney. The 2-hour road trip to the picturesque area makes it a perfect weekend away for Sydneysiders or visitors to Sydney.
Attractions in the region include wineries, excellent restaurants, cheese makers, artisanal foods, scenic walks, and charming country towns.
It is also a popular area for hot-air ballooning, where you can enjoy an adventure in the skies with breathtaking views of the Hunter Valley.
Barossa Valley, South Australia
Another stunning do not miss wine region is the Barossa Valley. The area is known for its historic wineries, gourmet food, historic villages, and scenic rolling hills. Over a hundred wineries make Barossa Valley one of the world’s most well-known Australian wine regions.
Just an hour’s drive from Adelaide makes this popular tourist destination a must-add to your South Australia bucket list.
Margaret River, Western Australia
While we have only recommended destinations that we have visited and love, this popular tourist destination located in Western Australia’s southwest is on this list due to the raving reviews from family and friends, and it’s at the top of our own Australia bucket list!
Margaret River wine region is known for its food and wine trail, excellent surf spots, pristine beaches, scenic coastline, and old-growth forests.
Yarra Valley, Victoria
A scenic wine region near Melbourne, the Yarra Valley is known for its award-winning wineries and restaurants, artisanal food, and breathtaking views of green hills and valleys.
A visit to the Yarra Valley boasts scenic walks, waterfalls, wildlife sanctuaries, ancient forests, and charming accommodations.
McLaren Vale, South Australia
The d’Arenberg Cube within the d’Arenberg vineyards is a five-story building housing food, wine, and art experiences. The tasting room offers panoramic views across the McLaren Vale region.
Besides the wineries and dining experiences, the region has abundant untouched beaches and natural attractions. However, the area’s highlight is the architectural wonder, the d’Arenberg Cube.
Make sure to visit the Alternate Realities Museum and the Blending Bench to make your own wine blend.
Noteworthy mentions go to Southern Highlands, Hahndorf, and Childers, a must-do for wine lovers. You can find more information on these areas in other sections of this article!
Australia Bucket List For Lovers of Getting Off The Beaten Track
For those who love getting off the beaten track, Australia offers unlimited opportunities. However, the Northern Territory is our number one recommendation for you. Even though there are many iconic and heavily visited destinations in the Northern Territory, the endless highways through the desert and the many national parks will give you many epic opportunities to get off the beaten path and on a journey of discovery. (Read more about the Northern Territory bucket list earlier in this article.)
Mungo National Park, New South Wales
The spectacular national park in southwestern NSW is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The extraordinary landscape makes you feel like you are on another planet. If getting off the beaten track is your thing, the remote Mungo National Park is the place for you! The nature, wildlife, and wild landscapes make it a memorable destination.
It is also known for its indigenous cultural heritage and the site where the remains of the oldest human in Australia, The Mungo Man (at least 40,000 years old), were discovered.
Carnarvon Gorge, Queensland
A hike through the rugged wilderness of Carnarvon Gorge features dramatic scenery, towering cliffs, and colorful sandstone gorges.
Not visited by many international travelers compared to some other national parks, for those who like getting off the beaten track, this hidden gem will reward you with diverse plants and wildlife and Aboriginal rock art.
Warrumbungle National Park, New South Wales
A dark sky reserve, this national park in New South Wales’s central west region is known for its rugged peaks, jagged volcanic landscapes, and remote scenic bushwalks. Zero light pollution means you can vividly see the night sky.
The closest town to Warrumbungle National Park, Coonabarabran, has an observatory, Milroy Observatory, where you can take a guided tour of the night sky, planets, and stars. It is one of the most fascinating experiences we’ve had, and since that tour, we’ve become addicted to visiting observatories. A visit to an observatory is one thing you should definitely add to your travel wish list to do at least once in your life!
Additionally, visit Siding Spring Observatory to see some of Australia’s largest optical telescopes. The astronomical research facility is only open during the day and has an exploratory center and cafe.
Australian Highlights of Historical Landmarks in Australia
For those who love visiting historic sites and villages, Australia’s European settlement just over 230 years ago means Australia’s historic buildings are pretty young compared to Europe. However, Indigenous Australians have lived in Australia for over 40,000 years, and there are areas such as Kakadu and Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory where you can see ancient rock art.
Northern Territory’s ancient indigenous historical sites
Significant indigenous historic locations in the Northern Territory include Uluru, one of Australia’s most iconic destinations (you can read more about it in the Icons section of this article), the MacDonnell Ranges, and Katherine Gorge (more information in the Outback section of this article). These are the most meaningful historical landmarks in Australia.
Besides that, there is the Grampians National Park, an area filled with ancient rock art, and likewise for Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Both parks are sacred sites also offering incredible walking tracks and natural wonders.
However, for those interested in historic buildings, you can get a good look at Sydney’s earliest European settlement at The Rocks.
The Rocks in Sydney City offers a historical walk among over 200-year-old buildings. For hardcore history buffs, The Rocks Discovery Museum showcases the history of the city and its early days as a colony, including its maritime heritage.
Additionally, the vibrant cultural precinct has many cafes, restaurants, and bars, some with Sydney Harbour views. We consider this lively and colorful area a must for the Australia bucket list, and there’s always something on, whether it’s markets, live music, or a salsa class.
Hahndorf, South Australia
You could think you are in a small town in Europe when visiting this quaint historic village in the Adelaide Hills. Hahndorf, Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement, is a popular destination for its German heritage, distilleries, and wineries. You can also find cheesemakers, chocolatiers, and German beer and food.
Port Arthur Historic Site, Tasmania
A world heritage site in southeast Tasmania, Port Arthur is a former penal colony. The prison settlement is known for its brutal conditions. With over 30 well-preserved buildings, Port Arthur gives you a glimpse of Australia’s rich colonial history.
Additionally, the sea views from the site are beautiful, as is the Hobart to Port Arthur drive. The picturesque short drive has incredible scenic vistas of the Tasman Peninsula.
The historic city, just 90 minutes from Melbourne, allows you to step back in time to Australia’s gold rush era. The Sovereign Hill open-air museum showcases the story of one of the world’s greatest gold rushes.
Besides that, there is the Art Gallery of Ballarat, the Arch of Victory, the Ballarat Botanical Gardens, the Ballarat Observatory, and the Eureka Centre.
Mostly, we adore the Victorian architectural heritage buildings and charming old heritage homes. Visiting Ballarat will immerse you in history and culture with generous servings of nature, food, and much more.
Another Victorian gold rush town, Bendigo, offers a plethora of historic local architecture.
Take in the sites with a walking tour or the “Vintage Talking Tram Tour,” and then visit one of the 50 pubs in Bendigo.
Heritage-listed, Childers is a must-do for history lovers. The well-preserved masonry colonial buildings line the main street. The Childers historic complex offers “a step back in time.” with its early cottages, government buildings, steam locomotives, and museum.
Besides that, Childers offers a winery trail, with four wineries boasting a boutique experience tasting locally made wine with country views.
Australia Trip Planner For Culture Lovers
Australia is a fantastic destination for culture lovers, with many museums, galleries, theatres, ancient indigenous historical sites, and cultural festivals and events. Festivals and events range from film, light shows, music, theatre, multicultural food events, and more.
As far as festivals are concerned, Vivid Sydney is one of our favorites. We adore the grand and creative displays of lights. The annual festival of light and music is held in Sydney annually. It includes outdoor immersive light installations and projections, performances by local and international musicians, and ideas exchange forums and talks.
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Housing Australia’s most extensive collection of artwork, The National Gallery of Australia, showcases an expansive array of Australian and international art, including works by Indigenous artists.
With over 150,000 artworks on display created by over 15,000 artists, it also includes “the world’s largest collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.”
Melbourne Museum is the largest museum in Australia. It boasts a permanent collection showing Victoria’s cultural, natural, and social history and temporary exhibitions from all over the world.
Additionally, the museum is home to the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre, offering the opportunity to see the living traditions and knowledge of Koorie people and other indigenous cultures of Australia.
The museum complex also includes IMAX Melbourne, showing 3D documentaries and Hollywood blockbusters.
National Museum of Australia, Canberra
As mentioned earlier, Canberra is a must-visit for arts and culture lovers. The National Museum of Australia is a do not miss attraction for visitors to Canberra as well as for culture lovers.
The museum focuses on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and history, and European settlement.
The museum’s cafe is a must-stop for lunch with its waterfront location on Lake Burley Griffin.
Incidentally, Lonely Planet has ranked The National Museum in the top 50 things to do in Australia in their list of 500 unmissable experiences in their “Ultimate Australia Travel List.’ This alone is an excellent reason to add the National Museum of Australia to your Australia bucket list.
Sydney Film Festival
If you love film, you will want to time your holiday to Australia for the annual Sydney Film Festival.
The festival, showcasing the best in cinema from around the world, is your chance to immerse yourself in 12 days of cinema, talks, and parties while exploring the many wonders of Sydney.
Adelaide Fringe Festival
Likewise, if theatre is your passion, you should time your holiday to Australia during the annual Adelaide Fringe Festival. Held for 31 days in February and March, the biggest arts festival in the Southern Hemisphere features diverse and lively events, including theatre, comedy, cabaret, circus, and more.
The best part is that the event is not exclusive to Adelaide, so you can get more sightseeing done while attending events across South Australia.
The Melbourne Bucket List
For us, Melbourne is all about eating out and the city vibe more than visiting attractions that people usually have on a Melbourne bucket list. However, we especially love the vibe along the Yarra River; it’s a must-visit for your Melbourne bucket list.
Activities along the river include walking, kayaking, cycling, and fishing, and there are many bars and cafes lining the riverfront.
Additionally, a Yarra River cruise is one of the best ways to enjoy the river, scenic water, and city views.
St Kilda Beach
The scenic and famous city beach is a long-standing favorite of ours. We love the vibrant atmosphere, the pretty beach views, and the diverse dining options. One of our favorite things to do is stroll along St Kilda Esplanade and St Kilda Pier, especially at sunset. Then there are the St Kilda markets and the fun at the historic amusement park, Luna Park.
St Kilda’s also offers a lively nightlife, with many venues and bars offering live music or DJs. Make sure to check out the historic Palais Theatre, which dates back to 1927 and is a lively entertainment venue featuring live shows and domestic and international music acts.
The river and beach are our things. However, the iconic tram rides in the city are the coolest things to do in Melbourne.
The City Circle Tram is free and offers an easy way to see the sights, city landmarks, and attractions.
The heritage tram links up with other trams taking you out of touristy areas and to many suburbs in Melbourne.
The popular zoo is home to over 5000 animals and over 300 species of wildlife from all over the world.
At the top of our own Australian bucket list is the Roar and Snore overnight camp. So if you love wildlife, take the opportunity to do this guided tour where you can explore the zoo after dark while enjoying dinner there and then spending the night among the wildlife. It includes a morning guided tour of the zoo.
Brighton Beach is the most popular beach in Melbourne due to its bright and colorful bathing boxes and calm waters.
The beach offers breathtaking Melbourne city skyline views and scenic reserves.
Along with St Kilda Beach, Brighton Beach is a must-add for every visitor to Melbourne and the Australia bucket list!
The iconic skyscraper offers awe-inspiring city views from the “southern hemisphere’s highest observation deck.” A popular destination for tourists and locals, Melbourne Skydeck complements views with happy hour in the highest bar in Melbourne.
Lygon St, Carlton
A must-do for the foodie traveler, Lygon Street is home to Little Italy and hundreds of restaurants, cafes, and bars.
Additionally, the vibrant area offers many things to do, from exhibitions to events and shopping.
Theatres lovers, when you are in the area, don’t miss La Mama, one of the most innovative theatres in Australia.
National Gallery of Victoria
The National Gallery of Victoria contains over 75,000 artworks. The leading art museum in Melbourne is Australia’s most visited art gallery.
There are cafes and restaurants on-site, so you can spend the day there if art is your thing!
Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria
Ranked as the No. 1 top attraction in Melbourne, this stunning historic garden is a peaceful oasis in the city’s heart. The Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria is known for its diverse plant collections, scenic views, and cultural events. The best part is that entry is free.
We consider the terrace tea room a must-visit for your Melbourne bucket list, though bringing your own picnic and enjoying the gardens is just as fun.
Add Melbourne’s coffee scene to your Australia Bucket List!
A final recommendation for Melbourne, especially from one coffee snob to another, is to add Melbourne’s coffee scene to your Australia Bucket List! Renowned for the best coffee in the world, the Melbourne coffee culture and cafe scene is lively. And the coffee brews are absolutely moreish.
People-watching from a cafe is one of our favorite travel activities and a great way to absorb the culture. Check out Carlton and the inner city around Flinders Lane, Brunswick, Collingwood, and Fitzroy for the best cafes for both coffee and eats.
Australian Things to See For Wildlife Lovers
From zoos such as Sydney Taronga Zoo and Melbourne Zoo to Australia Zoo, Australia offers a huge opportunity to see Australia’s native wildlife. While zoos and wildlife parks provide this opportunity, nothing beats seeing wildlife in their natural habitat in the wild.
Kangaroo Island, South Australia
This unique island off the coast of South Australia is famous for its diverse wildlife and scenic coastline. The wildlife haven is one of the best places in Australia to see Australian natives, such as koalas and kangaroos.
With scenic walks, natural wonders, and remote beaches, the island also offers the opportunity to see sea lions.
Additionally, Kangaroo Island boasts a gourmet food and cellar door scene that is unbeatable for its scenic locations. Many establishments offer water or bush views.
Rottnest Island, Western Australia
This nature reserve, located just off the coast of Perth, offers gorgeous beaches, secluded coves, and crystal-clear waters. But the highlight is the unique wildlife, such as the small and cute wallaby-like marsupials, quokkas.
If wildlife is your passion, Rottnest Island is an absolute must-add to your Australia bucket list. With the world’s largest quokkas population, you will surely see a quokka in their natural habitat on Rottnest Island.
Phillip Island, Victoria
Phillip Island is a popular destination for wildlife viewing. You can see a plethora of wildlife, from seals, dolphins, whales, koalas, shearwaters, and many other birds.
However, Phillip Island is home to the largest colony of Little Penguins. It is the No. 1 destination in Australia to see penguins in the wild and the world-famous Penguin Parade.
Phillip Island is connected to the mainland by a bridge and is a 2-hour day trip from Melbourne.
Australia Bucket List For Adventure Lovers
Besides the experiences on the Great Barrier Reef, the plethora of adventure activities in Cairns has given it the nickname of the ‘Adventure Capital of Australia.’ Cairns and Far North Queensland are hosts of some of the more adventurous activities, such as bungee jumping, skydiving, rafting, hiking, and canyoning. Additionally, Australia’s national parks offer an abundance of trails, and some, such as the Blue Mountains, offer world-class caving, and rock climbing. On top of that, many Australian beaches offer surfing, boating, jet skiing, parasailing, and more.
Whitewater Rafting, Tully River, Queensland
Australian highlights for adventure lovers include whitewater rafting, and one of our favorite whitewater rafting destinations is in Queensland.
Get off the beaten track in Far North Queensland and tackle the rapids of Tully River. The heart-pumping whitewater rafting adventure is one you will never forget.
Kosciuszko National Park, New South Wales
A stunning national park in New South Wales’s Snowy Mountains region, Kosciuszko National Park is known for Australia’s highest peaks. Home to Australia’s highest mountain, Kosciuszko National Park comes alive every winter with skiers and snowboarders descending to the lively ski towns of Jindabyne, Thredbo, and Perisher from all over the country. It is a must for the Australia bucket list for adventure lovers and skiers.
Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)
The historic sports stadium in Melbourne is known for its rich sporting heritage. Established in 1853, it has been the home of Australian football since 1859. Australia’s biggest sporting stadium offers guided tours of the iconic sports stadium and museum.
Go for the history, the sports, or the pub culture. The stadium boasts world-class eateries and lively beer gardens and is a must-add to your Melbourne bucket list.
Australia Bucket List For Nature Lovers
We love visiting nature in any country we travel to, so many of our Australian bucket list ideas include nature activities. Additionally, for nature lovers and people who especially love hiking, these are the nature destinations we consider highlights of Australia.
MacDonnell Ranges, Northern Territory
A range of towering peaks in the heart of the Australian Outback, The MacDonnell Ranges, offers an exhilarating hike.
You can see stony outcrops, aboriginal rock art, and the landscape, which is expected of the Australian outback.
Grampians National Park, Victoria
Grampians National Park is a hiker’s paradise, featuring dramatic scenery with towering sandstone cliffs and majestic waterfalls. The spectacular MacKenzie Falls is a must-visit for nature lovers.
Plus, the heritage-listed park is the “richest site for Aboriginal rock art in Victoria.”
Dandenong Ranges, Victoria
Much loved by Melbournites for its proximity to the city, the stunning mountainous region, an hour from Melbourne, offers lush bush trails and a chance to see Australian native wildlife.
A road trip to the Dandenong Ranges offers spectacular panoramic views from the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road with scenic lookouts. Picturesque attractions in the Dandenong Ranges include gardens, waterfalls, and quaint towns. However, make sure to visit the SkyHigh Mount Dandenong and Scenic Lookout; it’s an excellent stop for lunch with a view.
Gippsland Lakes, Victoria
Offering the perfect weekend trip from Melbourne, the Gippsland Lakes are the largest inland waterways in Australia. The area is home to gorgeous rivers and beaches, boating, nature, and outdoor activities.
The gateway resort town, Lakes Entrance, is one of our favorite towns in Victoria. The holiday destination at the entrance to the Gippsland Lakes offers an attractive esplanade with lakeside walks and waterfront resorts and dining.
Additionally, the marina is home to one of Australia’s largest fishing fleets, so it’s the perfect place for seafood lovers.
Then there are the boating opportunities from the marina and strolls to the glorious sands of Ninety Mile Beach.
Plus, for history and culture lovers, the Griffiths Sea Shell Museum has one of Australia’s most extensive collections of sea life.
Wilsons Promontory National Park, Victoria
Another weekend destination from Melbourne, this spectacular national park located on the southernmost part of mainland Australia, boasts dazzling rugged beaches and cliffs with many remote coastal bushland trails.
The wilderness cruise is one of our Australia highlights. Venturing into the Bass Strait, you will see the spectacular sculptured granite rock coastline and spot colonies of fur seals, dolphins, and birds.
Flinders Ranges, South Australia
A scenic mountain range in South Australia’s Outback, the Flinders Ranges is South Australia’s largest mountain range. The area is known for its ancient rocky landscapes and abundance of native wildlife.
Flinders Ranges has multitudes of hikes from a few hours to a few days. It includes the 1200 km Heyson Trail, one of Australia’s longest dedicated walking tracks, passing through the Flinders Ranges to the Fleurieu Peninsula.
We enjoyed the range of short scenic bush walks. However, due to bad weather, we missed out on seeing Wilpena Pound, a natural amphitheater, from the air. The photos we’ve seen are phenomenal, so it’s on our Australia bucket list for our next visit to the area.
Fleurieu Penisula is just an hour from Adelaide and must-do for beach and water sports lovers. The region offers sensational beaches and bays, national parks, wineries, restaurants, galleries, and museums.
However, the chance to see penguins at Granite Island Recreation Park drew us there. Accessible via a wooden walkway from Victor Harbour, Granite Island has a diminished Little Penguin population, so we were unsure we’d see any. However, at dusk, the Little Penguins came out, and the experience of witnessing the cute seabirds was one of the best things to do in Adelaide, and one of our Australia highlights.
Murray River, Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia
The Murray River, the largest river in Australia, runs through three states. The river is a boating, fishing, and water sports hub.
The area around the river is abundant in lush farmland, small regional character-filled towns, tranquil scenery, and boating adventures. The best adventures on the river include cruises on a paddle steamer or a night in a houseboat.
Tasmania Bucket List
The Australia bucket list would be incomplete without adding the island state off the coast of mainland Australia. Tasmania is home to a rugged coastline, lush forests, rich history, and distinctive wildlife. Renowned for its national parks (almost 50% of the state is a park or reserve) and quaint towns, Tasmania is a must for your Australian bucket list.
A historic city, Launceston is known for its historic buildings and scenic parks. Launceston is a walkable city; you can walk to the main attractions.
The city has a country charm feel and offers museums, art galleries, a huge Saturday farmers’ market, and many riverfront dining options.
Out of the city, visit the beautiful Cataract Gorge, where you can take a chairlift across the gorge and have a meal in the cafe with lovely bush views. Additionally, just 30 minutes from Launceston, visit Tamar Valley for wine tasting and scenic vineyard views.
Additionally, you can take a Tamar River cruise from Launceston to the gorge or one of the many other cruises around the city.
The capital city of Tasmania, Hobart, has many diverse historical and cultural experiences, including the spectacular port area.
Hobart boasts art galleries, museums, historic buildings, botanic gardens, scenic parks, and the most epic panoramic views from Mount Wellington across Hobart and beyond.
Our Hobart highlight is Salamanca Place for the historic buildings and one of Australia’s most beautiful markets, the weekly Salamanca markets.
Additionally, spend your meal times at the plethora of waterfront restaurants at Sullivans Cove and artisanal food stalls at Brooke Street Pier.
East Coast Tasmania Road Trip
An East Coast road trip from Launceston to Hobart starts from the charming town of Launceston and through the enchanting coastal towns of Binalong Bay, St Helens, Bicheno, Coles Bay, Swansea, Triabunna, and Orford, along the way to Hobart. The highlight is the spectacular pristine beaches of the Bay of Fires and Freycinet National Park.
Dine on fresh produce and seafood, enjoy scenic coastal walks, and visit gorgeous bays before arriving in the capital, Hobart, for arts, history, and culinary experiences with water views.
Cruise the Gordon River
One of the most unique rugged wilderness experiences we have been on starts in the quaint fishing village of Strahan.
Getting there is a little off the beaten part, but the Gordon River Cruise is a cruising highlight. It is also our favorite experience in Tasmania and a must for the Tasmania bucket list.
The boat trip cruises through world heritage-listed wilderness. Lush rainforest, rugged mountain ranges, and pristine waterways combine to be among the most majestic cruises we have been on.
Freycinet National Park
The stunning coastal park on Tasmania’s east coast, Freycinet, has some of the most pristine beaches in Australia. Offering spectacular landscape views from its scenic hiking trails and rugged cliffs, Wineglass Bay Lookout is an Australian highlight with some of the bluest water you have ever seen.
Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
The breathtaking national park in Tasmania’s central highlands, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, is known as a hiker’s paradise due to its spectacular scenery of rugged peaks and its imposing summit.
The vast mountains, epic bushwalks, stunning panoramas, rainforests, and abundant wildlife make this national park one of the best in Australia.
Lake St Clair
Visit Lake St Clair, the deepest freshwater lake in Australia. With a maximum depth of 215 meters, there are boat cruises, fishing, water sports, and calm bays for swimming.
The lake, at the southern end of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, can be accessed from Launceston or Hobart (Allow 2- 2.5 hours drive time.) Alternatively, the lake is the endpoint for the renowned Overland Track, which starts from Cradle Mountain.
Western Australia Bucket List
Only one of us has traveled in Western Australia while spending a year in Meekathara working on the mines. So we will update you about Western Australia in the future. However, these are some of the favorites and some Western Australia items on our own Western Australia bucket list.
Offering a truly unique landscape in Western Australia’s Nambung National Park, the Pinnacles Desert is known for its thousands of towering limestone structures formed over 25,000 years ago.
Within 2.5 hours drive from Perth, makes it a must-visit destination for your Western Australia bucket list.
The world-famous coral reef on the northwest coast of Western Australia is home to an abundance of marine life, including manta rays and whale sharks, and a chance to swim with them.
The tropical town in Western Australia’s far north is home to stunning beaches and resorts and is famed for sunset camel rides on the 22km long Cable Beach.
The seaside town has a rich history in pearl farming, and you can see the famous pearl farms on a cruise.
Whether it’s water sports, dining, history, or natural wonders, Broome offers distinct attractions to make the trip worth it.
We are happy to spend our days sampling breweries and waterfront restaurants, and Fremantle offers these things and more! Fremantle’s Fishing Boat Harbour and Bathers Beach is reason alone to add Fremantle to your Australia bucket list.
However, some of Fremantle’s top tourist attractions include exploring historic buildings such as Fremantle Prison and the Round House, museums and art galleries, the arts center, and colorful markets. The best way to see it all is on a Fremantle tram tour.
This remote, vast region in Western Australia offers rugged landscapes, gorges, limestone cliffs, domed rock formations, freshwater pools, waterfalls, hot springs, and isolated coastlines.
A road trip through the area on the Gibb River Road by 4WD is ideal, and it’s high on our Western Australia bucket list for our next visit there!
Additionally, our Western Australia bucket list includes a road trip from Esperance to Broome. The top 4 things on our bucket list that we want to see and do are hiking and swimming at Karijini National Park, seeing the bright pink color of Lake Hillier, Wave Rock, and dolphin and wildlife experiences at Monkey Mia.
There you have it, over 120 must-visit destinations and Australian things to add to your Australia bucket list! Whether you’re interested in nature, history, culture, or food or want to relax on a beautiful beach, Australia has many things to offer everyone. So make sure to allow as much time for your trip as possible so you can explore as much of this fabulous country as possible.
If we haven’t added your favorite Australian destination to the list, we maybe haven’t been there, or there are 120 must-visit destinations we prefer. Did we include your favorites on our list? If not, what are your favorites? Let us know so we can visit next time we have an epic Australia road trip.