Words by Tara Young.
Our Great Southern Land boasts of world-class attractions, natural and man-made, too many to list here. So we have selected each State’s and Territory’s essential and iconic thing to see and do – and of course these signature experiences are all right here in our own back yard.
Discover the Daintree Rainforest, Queensland
Venture into the world’s oldest tropical rainforest and discover the mystic behind the Daintree. Experience a unique blend of serenity and adventure as you explore this ancient tropical rainforest and the plants and animals within it.
Extend your stay and see more of this region that includes the tropical city of Cairns, and its idyllic northern beaches, and then boat out to the Great Barrier Reef to tropical Dunk Island, or to the exotic Lizard Island.
Sense the Uluru, Northern Territory
One of Australia’s most iconic symbols, and World Heritage-listed, Uluru is approximately 460 kilometres southwest of Northern Territory’s capital city of Alice Springs. Right in the heart of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Uluru is a place that speaks of timeless folklore and rich indigenous culture – its energy and great spirituality become tangible the closer you get.
Spend a day exploring the rest of the incredible Kata-Tjuta National Park and take a guided walk in the Valley of the Winds and learn about the geology, rare Australian plants and animals.
Taste the Barossa District, South Australia
Head to the heart of Australia’s red wine country – the Barossa region is internationally recognized as the home of the best Shiraz. Make sure to do the winery tour at Penfold’s Magill Estate and get an insight into the rich history of how Penfolds’ famous Grange and other wines are made.
A real bucket list thing to do whilst at the Barossa is to visit the Seppelt Estate for the port tasting tour, where you can sample your birth-year port straight from the barrel. After descending into the hidden away cellar, you feel like you have joined an exclusive club.
Fly over The Kimberley, Western Australia
Understanding Australia’s vastness really is truly reaffimred when visiting Western Australia’s Kimberley region. The Kimberley is home to only 40,000 people, meaning that there are fewer people per kilometre than almost any other place on the planet.
Within the Kimberley region is the landmark Bungle Bungles. This range has beehive-like towers that rise up hundreds of metres on its edge, providing stark contrast to the cavernous gorges, and palm-fringed rock pools below. The best way to see it is by air, so take a scenic helicopter flight over its incredible sandstone formations.
Whilst in this part of the world, experience a sunset over the ocean at Cable Beach from the saddle of a camel - a special treat for us East Coasters.
Drive the Great Ocean Road, Victoria
Experience one of the world's most scenic coastal drives with the towering 12 Apostles in this magical part of Australia. Along the stunning coastline be sure to enjoy the wide choice of fine dining options up and down the coast and stock up at local winemakers along the way.
Make sure to take the spectacular Great Ocean Walk to see the diverse and inspiring landscapes of Victoria's rugged west coast. Explore the national parks, discover deserted beaches and historic shipwreck sites, and gaze out over rugged coastline.
Take in the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), Hobart, Tasmania
Go and take in the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), the largest privately funded museum in Australia. The museum showcases antiquities, modern and contemporary art from the David Walsh collection. There are around 300 art works on display, and the collection takes up three floors within a subterranean architectural masterpiece. The collection has a reputation to shock, surprise and impress – often all at the same time.
The Mona is located on the Derwent River just outside of Hobart's CBD and whilst there be sure to include a trip to its harbourside that hosts the vibrant and fashionable Salamanca Place, old sandstone warehouses, galleries and cafes.
See a performance at the Sydney Opera House, New South Wales
No matter whether a high-brow opera or stand up comedy, go and see a show at the Sydney Opera House. The Opera House is a multi-venue performing arts centre on Sydney’s Harbourside. Designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, it is one of the 20th century's most famous and distinctive buildings.
Follow the Opera House experience and shuck some fresh oysters at the world famous Doyle’s Restaurant at Watsons Bay.
Float over Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
For the best view of Canberra, take a hot air balloon flight over the nation’s capital and finish with a traditional champagne celebration at the Hyatt Hotel Canberra. The aerial
perspective highlights the town planning and design that went into the birth of Canberra.
Experience the powerful Last Post Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial that begins with the Australian National Anthem, and each day honours one of the 62,000 who gave their lives in service.
Visit some of the national institutions that call Canberra home, including the National Portrait Gallery, the National Library of Australia, Parliament House, the National Gallery of Australia and the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House.
Images Getty and Flight Centre.