Spending a year down under was amazing – I love going on regular holidays, but for me, spending an extended amount of time living, working and really immersing yourself in a country is the best way to enjoy it! Obviously, this isn’t always possible, but thankfully because of the working holiday visa in Australia we were able to do exactly that.
Looking back, the amount of memories and experiences we accrued was insane – we ticked 80% of the things we wanted to do off of our Australian bucket list as well as added heaps more after recommendations along the way. It was super hard whittling down our favourite things to do in Australia (it started as a top 10 but swiftly had to get doubled!) but here is the official My Wanderlust Addiction guide to Australia’s absolute must dos!
Sand-boarding in Western Australia was definitely an experience to remember, although I don’t think it’s one I’d repeat if I ever went back! We rented sand-boards at the Lancelin sand dunes and challenged each-other to see who would make it to the bottom first. What I failed to remember, was that I don’t have an athletic bone in my body (yes, that apparently includes just sitting on a board and sliding down a sand hill). I zoomed down the dune and somehow managed to flip face first (no idea how) and proceed in tumbling down the hill. Yes, I tried to pass it off as a gymnastic stunt, no it wasn’t remotely graceful, and yes there is video evidence that will probably make it on to an embarrassing outtake show one day! After you’ve launched yourself face first down a sand dune, the rest of the boarding isn’t as exciting – but it’s an experience you should try at least once… just aim to slide down on your ass instead of your face!
Hot summer days are pretty much made for waterparks and the 35-degree temperatures down in Victoria were no exception. The water rides were insanely fun, and we got pretty lucky by attending on a day when there weren’t too many annoying kids running about and hogging all the inflatables; sorry kids. What wasn’t fun, was our minor lapse in 30 min increments of sun lotion applications which left us lobster red and painfully burnt for weeks afterwards. Damn my pasty white Irish complexion and lack of Australian O-Zone layer!
18. Snorkeling with Manta Rays
Honestly, I’d never even heard of a manta ray before arriving in Australia. Clearly, I hadn’t spent enough time watching David Attenborough documentaries because those things are AMAZING! We went out with a tour company in Ningaloo, WA and it was such an incredible experience. The manta rays are a super chill animal and depending on what ones you wind up swimming with, they can be HUGE as well. During our snorkel we were joined by schools of fish, turtles and (terrifyingly for Kenny) reef sharks – by the end of the day we had fully fledged sea legs and felt like we were extra’s in a Finding Nemo movie.
17. Tasmanian Hikes
Tasmania is a beautiful part of Australia – yet because of its location, often missed off of so many people’s travel itineraries! We spent 4 days down in Tassie, hiking around their gorgeous nature trails and national parks, luckily getting summery weather everyday bar one. Typically, that one day was when we went to visit the iconic Dove Lake at Cradle Mountain – so our photo’s wound up looking like a disappointing Instagram vs reality style comparison. Nevertheless, the scenery in Tasmania is outstanding, we just wish we’d stumbled across some Tasmanian devils in the wild when we were out and about!
16. Cuddling Koalas
When you think of Australia, one of the first things you think about is the animals, from the terrifying 6ft snakes and murderous spiders, to the adorable, quintessentially Australian koala bears – wildlife down under is definitely unique! I absolutely adored koalas, massively resonating with the fact their two main activities are eating and sleeping. Although some Australian states prohibit touching or cuddling koalas in anyway, South Australia provide numerous sanctuaries where, for a fee and a very short amount of time, you can give one of them a little cuddle! The temptation to smuggle one out and make it our pet was very high, but we decided to leave little Lucy in the capable hands of the sanctuary and settle for buying a little koala necklace instead.
15. Camel Riding in Uluru
Our Uluru trip was very nearly ruined due to our poor Sunny Subaru breaking down – but thankfully up in the Northern Territory there’s more than one way to travel! We buddied up with Buddy the camel, who took us on a little tour of Uluru in the hot Ozzie sun. The tour guide (human one, not Buddy) was awesome and filled us with both Uluru and camel facts while also giving us an epic little photo-shoot. The best part about the whole thing was spamming Kenny with camel puns the whole time – never seen him get the hump so quickly with me! …I’ll see myself out.
14. Wilsons Prom
Wilson’s Prom was truly one of my favourite spots in Australia. The views were spectacular, the hikes were enjoyable and there were animals everywhere you turned! I’ve never felt more part of a Snow-White movie than I did walking around Wilsons Prom; kangaroos bouncing along beside me, emu’s in the field ahead and little wombats waddling across the road. Although the hike uphill to the Mount Oberon summit awakened every muscle in my body, while simultaneously reminding my lungs that I haven’t hiked in a very long time – it was totally worth the stunning reward at the end!
I’ve always wanted to go camping and spend the night under the night sky enjoying the great outdoors but the hassle of buying all of the equipment for a weekend or two always put me off the idea. Thankfully, glamping started gaining popularity and people like me got to see part of what we were missing out on! We stumbled across the sheltered glamping company via an Airbnb listing and automatically fell in love. The tent was off the grid, sustainable, cosy and even had a hot tub under the stars! It was such an amazing experience going to sleep in the four-poster bed with a roaring fireplace burning after soaking outside under the stars with a glass of champagne. It was such a gorgeous location and the Australian starry night sky is in a class of its own!
12. Tree Surfing
Tree surfing – one of my favorite memories from Australia? Yes. Something I was skilled at? Absolutely not! Being that I’m super scared of falling from a great height, I didn’t think I’d even make it up on to a course let alone complete so many of them! I’m pretty sure there’s footage of me somewhere close to tears and hyperventilating during the point my foot slipped and got caught in a rope bridge (definitely wasn’t as bad as it felt while I was up there!) but the fear added to my enjoyment after the activity finished, as I was able to look back and realise that Bear Grylls ain’t got shit on me. Don’t be alarmed if you see me on the next season of Survivor – tree surfing prepped me for those challenges like a pro!
11. Selfie’ing With Quokkas
I’d never heard of a quokka before starting to plan the move out to Australia, but the more I researched things to do there, the more the adorable, photo friendly balls of cuteness started showing up all over my Instagram feed! Found only on the gorgeous Rottnest Island – a short ferry ride from Perth, it was well worth a daytrip. Not only was the scenery gorgeous, but the quokkas were a huge highlight during our Western Australia trip. Like little wannabe models, they’d waddle straight up to you and pose for pictures and selfies with little smiles on their faces. Whoever said every single animal in Australia is trying to kill you most definitely didn’t meet quokkas!
10. Uluru Field of Lights
I was so disappointed when planning my trip to Australia, as the field of lights exhibition was due to close a week or two before we were hoping to arrive. Thankfully for me, as well as everyone else, due to popular demand it’s been extended indefinitely. It’s not hard to see why, because the exhibit truly took my breath away! Twinkly little lights span out across the entire field, while the night sky twinkles with stars up above, creating a truly magical sight. Pictures really don’t do this exhibit justice so you HAVE to pop a trip to the field of lights onto your Australian agenda!
9. Australia Day
Pretty much every day in Australia is filled with Ozzie’s boozing and partying, so we didn’t think Australia day would be that must of a contrast to a standard weekend – turns out they go extra hard on their dedicated day! We spent Australia day in Adelaide; decked out in temporary tattoos and belting out our lungs to The Veronicas (who, side note, were amazing live and fulfilled so many of my teenage dreams). The parade itself was bizarre to say the least, even the compere had no idea who was marching 90% of the time, but the fireworks at the end were awesome – and every good event finishes with fireworks right?!
8. Helicoptering Over The Whitsundays
Our Whitsundays sailing trip was a massive disappointment – with most of our Whitsunday memories tainted with storms and seasickness. Thankfully, the day before our nightmare out on sea, we managed to see the gorgeous island of Whitsundays from up above! Our helicopter ride was awesome, with the views over the Great Barrier Reef, mashed potato like Whitsundays beach and stunning heart reef unlike anything I’ve seen before. Take it from someone who felt like they had been a passenger on the Titanic – it’s much more enjoyable seeing the Whitsundays from the air, instead of via the sea!
7. Quad Biking In Kumara Rainforest
I’ve always loved quad biking and fancy myself as a bit of a boy racer – poor Sunny the Subaru was pretty much a quad bike stand-in the whole time we drove him. The Kuranda rainforest was our playground during our little quad bike excursion and it was amazing! Splashing through rivers of mud and flying over hills was an epic way to see the rainforest – it’s just a shame we ended up doing a tour with a tyrant who chased every quad bike down on foot ensuring nobody went over the speed limit by 0.1 mph. Although the nutjob who ran the Cairns Quads & Adventures tour wasn’t ideal – the experience itself was amazing, so maybe check out another provider instead so you don’t get screamed at by the fun-killer himself for enjoying yourself too much!
6. Sydney Opera House Show
The Sydney Opera House is one of the most iconic locations in the whole of Australia, so making time to see a show there is integral! From concerts to theatre – there’s something for everyone at every price point. We decided to go ahead and watch ‘choir of man’ – which was one of the funnest shows either of us had ever seen! We had the songs stuck in our head for weeks after and the atmosphere was amazing. Honestly, once inside we totally forgot we were even in the Opera House because there was nothing outstanding about the interior itself – but it was a check on the bucket list nonetheless!
5. Swimming With Dolphins
I’ve ALWAYS wanted to swim with dolphins but never really associated them with Australia, always assuming the main thing in Australian waters were man-eating sharks and crocodiles, so when we stumbled across an excursion with Rockingham Wild Encounters in Western Australia, we knew we HAD to sign up. It truly didn’t disappoint; not only did the dolphins surf on the waves of our boat, but they also danced and jumped around us while we snorkeled next to them – amazing!
4. Tjapukai Cultural Park
I love getting to know the history and culture of a country when I visit, so Tjapukai was the perfect spot for an afternoon of learning! Gaining an insight into the indigenous people of Australia was incredible and the cultural park was filled to the brim with activities and performances. Not to mention, it holds a special place in my heart as it was the spot I discovered I was a total bad-ass when it came to spear throwing, so that’s now my weapon of choice if ever I need one. Cultural and informative – what more do you want?!
Kenny is a HUGE sports buff, both playing and watching. In comparison the only sport I’d be good at is competitive eating, so sports are never normally too high on my agenda! AFL however, was INSANE. The atmosphere at the games is fantastic and the rules are super easy to understand. It’s like a cross of all the good parts of other sports – the speed of basketball, the premise of soccer, the strategy of NFL and the hot players from rugby. We became honorary tiger fans after living in between Richmond and the G for 6 months and are absolutely gutted it’s a sport only popular in Australia! The final is also a public holiday in Melbourne which is another bonus as every single bar/pub/home is packed to the brim and filled with merry AFL fans. Currently petitioning to make AFL a worldwide sport craze!
2. NYE in Sydney
For me, NYE is normally always super over-hyped, expensive and a massive disappointment. A few years back I had the absolute joy of spending NYE in times square sat on a cold concrete slab for 9 hours in the freezing cold, waiting for the ball drop with no access to a bathroom, bar or happy thoughts. Fast forward 2 years later and I was basking in the sunshine by the Sydney Harbour Bridge, laid out on a picnic blanket with a bag of snacks and booze, absolutely loving life. Then, it pissed down torrential rain for an hour, leaving everyone soaked and dumbfounded that our summery NYE had been sabotaged! Alas, it was still an amazing experience – the camaraderie between everyone huddled by the water before the countdown and the incredible firework display that they put on left me speechless! It’s totally worth heading to Sydney for NYE at least once in your life – even if you do splash out & get a hotel overlooking the fireworks instead of enduring the wait & the rain like we did!
1. Feeding Kangaroos
This absolutely had to take the number one spot for me! Kangaroos are not only the first thing you think of when you think of Australia but they also became one of my favourite animals EVER after our experience interacting with them down at the Phillip Island Wildlife Park! There were about 80 kangaroos in the park – both fully grown adults and baby joey’s, all super friendly and definitely hungry enough to be fed by us. Although before coming out we expected kangaroos to be more prevalent than humans, we weren’t too disappointed as there were so many spots around that give you opportunities to get involved with them up close, while getting expert care & attention from those in the know. You can’t go all the way down under without spending time with some of these beauties!
So, there you have it – our comprehensive top 20 of Australian must dos. Have you been to Australia?! Comment with the thing you’d love to do most down under OR swing us a recommendation of what YOU think should have made the top 20 list!