Simply the best

BEN GROUNDWATER
Last updated 05:00 08/06/2014

Related Links

How Tourism Australia dominated Instagram Inside Australia's number one resort Australia's top 10 rooftop bars

Relevant offers

Australia

I love NZ but Oz opportunities are endless What can you use as a dinner plate and toilet paper? Bedarra Island a lost paradise Swimming with sharks and rays Sydney full of delights Long queues at Sydney's GoT exhibition How Brisbane stopped being a redneck wonderland Get your kicks on the other Route 66 How to speak 'Strayan Quiz and win: Think you know Australia?

From diving with turtles to hiking the continent's highest peak, here are 20 top reasons to holiday in Australia.

1 DIVE AT HERON ISLAND

Before you bother with Thailand, or you start thinking about the Caribbean, you have to scuba-dive on the Great Barrier Reef. One of the best places to do that is Queensland's Heron Island, at the reef's southern end, and one of the best sites at Heron is "The Bommie", a series of coral outcrops that attracts manta rays, eagle rays, reef sharks, turtles . . . and scuba-divers.

2 SLEEP BY THE SEA AT WATEGOS BEACH

Close enough to Byron Bay to possess its hippy charm, but secluded enough to avoid the crowds, Wategos Beach in New South Wales is the perfect place to rent an apartment and while away a week doing very little. You could get up early to surf the gentle break, or you could sleep in and enjoy a late brunch. You could lie on the beach, or hike up to the lighthouse. visitnsw.com

3 EXPLORE KAKADU BY 4WD

If there's any natural attraction in Australia that can stand proud among the world's greats, it's Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory. People pay small fortunes to safari in Africa, when one of the true wonders is in our neighbour's backyard. You need to see this by four-wheel-drive, to get down and dirty with the crocs, to camp under the stars and experience the immensity of this amazing park. That's an adventure to rival them all. travelnt.com

4 TREK THE LARAPINTA TRAIL

Spanning 223 kilometres of the West MacConnell Ranges in central Australia, the trail is designed to be tackled over 12 relatively gentle days, beginning at the old Alice Springs Telegraph Station and ending at Mt Sonder. The landscape is rugged and beautiful, and the isolation absolute - not an experience you'll readily forget. travelnt.com

5 PLAY A ROUND OF GOLF AT BONVILLE

Golf enthusiasts travel far and wide for the chance to get angry with their putters in exotic locations, but some of the world's finest courses are just across the Ditch. Bonville, near Coffs Harbour in NSW, is in Australia's top 50, and provides a great balance of affordability, ease of access, and a ridiculously nice, if challenging, layout. With plenty of other courses in the region, it's worth spending a week here. bonvillegolf.com.au; visitnsw.com

6 TOAST THE VIEWS AT WINEGLASS BAY

Set in the pristine Freycinet National Park in Tasmania, viewers of Wineglass Bay have two options: Hike the two hours up to Wineglass Bay Lookout; or jump aboard Wineglass Bay Cruises and spend four hours touring the area, including Coles Bay and the pink granite cliffs of the Hazards. discovertasmania.com.au

7 LEARN TO COOK IN THE BAROSSA

South Australia's Barossa Valley is bursting at its vine-covered seams with quality fresh produce. The best way to use this gourmet extravaganza is to take a cooking class. Learn from local darling Maggie Beer, or Italian specialist Matteo Carboni, or fresh-food champion Mark McNamara. And why not wash it all down with a cheeky shiraz? southaustralia.com

Ad Feedback

8 CYCLE THE NSW SOUTH COAST

Some kids have far too much energy. Actually, some parents do too. Deal with it by getting everyone on a bike and pedalling, and the best place to do that is on the NSW South Coast. From Waterfall down to Kiama there are some great places for the family to cycle, taking in coastal roads, lighthouses, beaches, parks, rivers and small towns. visitnsw.com

9 TAKE IN MELBOURNE'S ART SCENE

What is art, exactly? Is it the modern masters at the National Gallery of Victoria? Or is it Australian classics at the Ian Potter Centre? Maybe it's up-and-coming locals featured in artist-run initiatives in Fitzroy and Port Melbourne? Or could it be found outdoors, sprayed and stencilled on Melbourne's alleyways? Regardless of your definition, there's art to be found throughout Victoria's capital, and it can all be covered on foot. visitvictoria.com

10 TAKE A TOUR AROUND ULURU

Put Machu Picchu on hold. Stick Angkor Wat on the backburner. For many indigenous Australians, Uluru is the country's cultural and spiritual heart and there's no better way to learn about it than with a walk around the base of this monolith with an Anangu guide, who can talk you through all of the Dreamtime stories. ayersrockresort.com.au - travelnt.com

11 RAFT THE FRANKLIN RIVER

This is no ordinary whitewater-rafting trip. It's a week-long adventure through Tasmania's primeval wilderness, tackling rapids by day and camping by night. Trips typically run the waterway's full course and include exploration of the surrounding gorges. It's one of Australia's true adventures. discovertasmania.com.au

12 TAKE A CRUISE THROUGH THE KIMBERLEY

Whether you're there for the fishing or the croc-spotting, the luxury or the deep isolation, there's no disputing that the Kimberley region of Western Australia is an amazing part of the world, and it's best explored from the deck of a boat. There are so many options available that it would be impossible to canvas them here - needless to say, you're sure to find something with a budget and itinerary to suit. westernaustralia.com

13 SAIL THE WHITSUNDAYS

There's a certain beauty to the humble sailboat, the feeling of harnessing nature's power rather than fighting against it as you bob along under billowing sails. Australia has a long history of sailing and there are few better places in the world to experience it than in Queensland's Whitsunday Islands. Whales appear some days. Dolphins, too. The sun beats down on clear water, the wind puffs gentle breezes, and the view from the deck can't be beaten. destinationqueensland.com

14 TAKE A HELICOPTER FLIGHT OVER THE 12 APOSTLES

Those wanting to take a step beyond driving the spectacular Great Ocean Road need to get airborne - it's even more spectacular from up above. Scenic helicopter flights are available over this rugged stretch of coastline, taking in not just the famed 12 Apostles, waves crashing into their bases far below, but also the Shipwreck Coast and Port Campbell National Park.

It's bucket-list stuff. visitvictoria.com

15 TAKE A ROAD TRIP FROM PERTH TO EXMOUTH

Once you've dragged yourself away from the beaches in Perth, there's the Jurien Bay Marine Park to explore, plus the famed Pinnacles nearby. There are dolphins to swim with in Monkey Mia. There are also so many country pubs along the way that you'll never want to see a beer again. Well, maybe. westernaustralia.com

16 HIKE IN THE SNOWY MOUNTAINS

You might not find the soaring peaks of the Andes or the Himalayas, but what you will find is accessibility. Where else can a rank novice scale a continent's highest peak? No oxygen tanks are required on Mt Kosciuszko in NSW - all you'll need is a spare afternoon. And why stop there? There are hundreds of walks throughout the Thredbo area, as well as beautiful accommodation like Moonbah Hut in nearby Jindabyne. Sure beats a tent at base camp. visitnsw.com

17 GO BAR AND RESTAURANT HOPPING IN MELBOURNE

You will need a guide - a local friend and/or a copy of "the bible", The Age Good Food Guide. If you're going to get the best out of an evening in the Melbourne CBD, you need some insider knowledge. You need to know which tiny alleyway to wander down to find that restaurant and which unmarked door to enter to find that bar. The rewards will be self-evident: Cosy spaces with great music, great food, great wine and cocktails, and unpretentious but sophisticated crowds out to enjoy it. visitvictoria.com

18 GO ROCK-CLIMBING IN BRISBANE

There are few cities in the world where you get the opportunity to climb on natural cliffs right in the inner city. At Brisbane's Kangaroo Point you get just that, with a range of routes, from beginner to expert, and views across the river to the CBD. There's also a world-class art gallery GOMA, and the city itself is described by Lonely Planet as the "hippest city in Australia". destination queensland.com; riverlife.com.au

19 LEARN TO SURF IN TORQUAY

The title of Australia's "home of surfing" is up for debate - hello Gold Coast, Coolangatta, Margaret River - but one of the strongest contenders is Torquay on Victoria's Great Ocean Road. Home to world surfing tour venue Bells Beach, Torquay is also a great place for beginners. visitvictoria.com

20 VISIT MONA IN TASMANIA

MONA - the Museum of Old and New Art - is weird. So weird that it'll have even the most sceptical of philistines enthralled. discovertasmania.com.au; monanet.au

- FFX Aus

Comments

Special offers
Opinion poll

What is your favourite Australian city to travel to?

Perth

Brisbane

Canberra

Sydney

Melbourne

Sunshine Coast

Gold Coast

Adelaide

Newcastle

Wollongong

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content