Unique. The best word I can find to describe Australia. I spent 2 months exploring Australia, with the majority of time spent in the area of Sydney. I definitely learned how to say phrases like “mate,” “cheers,” and “good on ya.” But, there are many unknown facts about Australia, some of which may surprise you. From the cutest (or deadliest) animals that can only be found in Australia, to the oldest Aboriginal culture on Earth, there is always something to learn. A lot of people (which included me) are surprised by the sheer size of Australia. It is nearly the same size as the 48 contiguous US states and ranks as the 6th largest country in the world. Although its landmass, the population is only 24.5 million, which may sound like a lot, but the state of Texas alone has over 4 million more people. So, Australia is full of undeveloped land and wildlife. It is the perfect travel destination, with the balance of nature and city life. With over 10,000 beaches, plenty of hiking trails, and easy public transportation, it is perfect for any adventurer. Here are some tips on what to do with your time in the Land Down Under!
10. Watch a sport
Like I said, Australians do everything a little differently, they even play basketball without a backboard. This is actually a thing, it is known as net ball. The most popular sports include the Australian Football League (AFL), National Rugby League (NRL), and Cricket. So go out and enjoy an AFL game of the Sydney Swans, or the West Coast Eagles, and learn something new. Sydney was the home of the 2000 Summer Olympics. I would recommend to at least walk around the complex, and maybe even attend a sporting, musical, or cultural event.
9. Enjoy the culture
There is a wide variety of culture to take in when traveling around Australia. You can enjoy the Aboriginal artwork, and inventions like the didgeridoo. You definitely can’t leave until you can throw a boomerang! When it comes to food, there are plenty of options. If you like fish and chips, get it in Australia. But sorry, there’s no Chipotle. They do have Burger King, but it’s known as Hungry Jack’s. And when you want a Big Mac you better be going to Maccas. But, there are two things you have to pick up at the grocery store to fully experience Australia. First, you can try Vegemite. It can be spread on a piece of toast very lightly, but I can’t promise you’ll like it. I sure didn’t. Second, one of Australia’s favorite treats, the Tim Tam. Unlike Vegemite, I brought 12 boxes of Tim Tams back to the US.
8. Bridge Climb
The Sydney Harbor Bridge, located just across the harbor from the Sydney Opera House, is one of the most iconic landmarks in Australia. The climb allows you to get a 360 degree view of the harbor, Opera House, and city from the top of the bridge. The climbs can get a little expensive, so another good option is to walk across the bridge for free. It is not as high up as the climb, but it’s well worth the view.
7. Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House is one of the most recognized structures in the world. Pick from a wide variety of shows or just admire the landmark. Vivid is a light show that lasts for multiple weeks in the Australian winter. All of Sydney is dressed up and lit up at nighttime. It is a free lightshow offering a wide variety of sights and activities. Even the Opera House is covered with projections, it is quite the experience.
6. Go to the Outback
There is no place like the outback (not the steakhouse, but they do have those). See spectacular views and creatures as you drive through. You can also go see Uluru, a large rock in the outback, located close to the center of Australia. It is a common tourist attraction. If you don’t want to travel that far then the outskirts will give you a taste of the outback experience.
5. Beach Day
Like I said earlier, there are over 10,000 beaches in Australia, so take your pick! Spend the day on a beach or just go for an evening walk. The sunrises and sunsets are spectacular, and I hope you like crystal clear blue water.
4. Do something you haven’t before
Australia is the perfect place to try something new. This list could include bungee jumping, repelling, or skydiving. I ended up repelling off of a mountain for the first time ever, in the Blue Mountains. Although it required some convincing, I greatly appreciated the surreal feeling walking off of a mountain with the Australian jungle beneath you. This experience might be scary, but well worth the view.
3. Go Surfing!
At first, I was a little skeptical of going surfing, but it turned out to be one of the most fun activities. If you are an inexperienced surfer, like me, then you can take a surfing class. These usually last a few hours and involve a lot of surfing and enjoyment. And if you are an experienced surfer then Australia is the perfect place for you. I also know that oceans and surfing are not for everyone, so even just watching some experienced surfers from a distance can be fun. Especially when the dolphins join in.
2. Snorkel/Scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is a natural masterpiece. The beauty is truly breathtaking, but the reef is quickly dying due to the increased water temperatures and coral bleaching. There are still parts of the reef that are full of life. See the reef while you still can and see what you can do to help preserve it.
1. Enjoy the wildlife
There is a wide variety of wildlife in Australia. They are home of the smallest penguin in the world, the Little Penguin and two of the mammals that lay eggs, the platypus and echidna. Whale watching is quite spectacular during their migrating seasons. And of course the kangaroos, wombats, quokkas, and koalas, which only live in Australia are probably the most entertaining. Bring a camera!