The Best Ways to Explore Australia
From soaring above the world’s largest coral reef to hiking mountain passes and paddling down majestic rivers, there are as many ways to explore Australia as there are wonders to behold...
BY AIR: Take your breath away
While the Great Barrier Reef offers myriad options for exploring this natural wonder from the water, the best way to appreciate its awe-inspiring scale is from a bird’s-eye view. Take a seaplane or helicopter over the UNESCO World Heritage site, keeping an eye out for dolphins, sharks and rays below. Thrill-seekers should jump at the chance to leap out of a plane in a tandem skydive in Cairns; the spectacular views over the reef and the verdant Daintree Rainforest will be matched by your soaring adrenaline levels as you plummet through the air at speeds of up to 136mph.
For a different perspective on some of Australia’s most stunning landscapes, hang out while you take in the view. A zip-line through the canopy of the Daintree Rainforest is a real thrill, while abseiling down the gorges of Kalbarri National Park or even off the Gordon Dam in Tasmania offers unforgettable vistas for those with a head for heights.
If you’re in Sydney or Melbourne, take a break from city life and reach for the skies, gliding peacefully in a hot-air balloon over the Hunter or Yarra Valleys – two boutique wine-growing regions. Have your camera at the ready as you drink in the panoramic views of lush vineyards and the surrounding mountains before returning to earth and swapping your balloon for a glass of bubbly.
BY LAND: Linger over the view
Those who prefer being on two legs can don their hiking boots and trek the Scenic Rim Trail with Spicers, covering three summits in Queensland’s high country in just four days. Or for a true taste of the wilderness, seasoned walkers can brave the six-day, 100-mile Overland Track through alpine country from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair in Tasmania.
Romantics should hop aboard The Ghan or Indian Pacific trains for an unmissable opportunity to watch the Outback roll by beyond the window. For a slower pace, try a camel tour around Alice Springs and Uluru, or along Cable Beach in Broome at sunset.
If driving is your thing, a road trip along the coast from Sydney to Melbourne takes you via charming seaside towns, national parks and pristine beaches. If you’re after a more rugged experience, set out in a 4X4 loaded with camping gear and supplies for a true adventure.
BY WATER: Get close to nature
Weaving through diverse scenery, Australia’s waterways are rich in wildlife and invite exploration. Paddle past jagged cliffs and emerald forests on a leisurely canoe trip down Western Australia’s Margaret River, or up your speed on an airboat tour of Mary River’s floodplain wetlands in the Northern Territory, keeping a lookout for crocs and birds galore.
To get face-to-face with an array of marine animals, there’s no better way than taking the plunge. From taking a dip with playful sea lions in the waters off Port Lincoln to swimming with whale sharks and humpback whales in Ningaloo – under the guidance of an eco-certified guide – or even braving
a cage-dive with saltwater crocs in Darwin, there’s something for all nature enthusiasts.
Let the breeze fill your sails and take to the ocean. A catamaran day tour from Port Douglas to the coral cay of the Low Isles will provide a taste of life at sea, as well as the chance to snorkel around the beautiful coral gardens of the Great Barrier Reef. In Sydney, charter your own sail boat in the harbour to admire the city from the water.
Queensland’s Noosa is the paddleboard capital of the world, but if staying upright isn’t enough of a challenge, how about a spot of yoga as you float? Classes by Luxe Escapes are held in secluded mangrove channels, a short paddle from the resort town’s lively centre – and yet a million miles away. Namaste.