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Australia’s best theme parks

Australia has plenty of adventurous spots to help you go faster, climb higher, hang upside down or make a splash.

By Jac Taylor

Australians love to have a great time, and our theme parks are only too willing to assist. Queensland’s sunny, glitzy Gold Coast is theme park central, home to Dreamworld and the "big three" of Wet’n’WildWarner Bros Movie World and Sea World, which can be visited with a three-park pass. But it’s not the only place you'll find this brand of entertainment. Strap in and enjoy the ride.

Get your adrenaline racing


Get your swimming gear and head to one of the most popular water parks not only in Australia, but in the world. Water sliding at Wet’n’Wild is a heart-pumping thrill in the park’s Extreme H2O Zone, where you can ride in the dark in the Blackhole or take on the near-vertical Kamikaze. But there are plenty of less extreme rides too, as well as an expansive zone for families called Wet’n’Wild Junior, incorporating kid-friendly slides and a huge tipping bucket. Rent a cabana to add a little luxury.  


An oceanarium and marine theme park, the Gold Coast institution of Sea World is as dedicated to conservation as it is to fun. Animal lovers can see and learn about every kind of marine creature from penguins and sea lions to sharks and polar bears (in Australia’s only polar bear exhibit). The Animal Adventures program allows guests to swim with dolphins or seals, encounter a shark (through an acrylic cage) or snorkel in the tropical reef exhibit, which is at least as thrilling as the roller-coasters and thrill rides that can also be found in the park.


The Gold Coast is Australia’s filmmaking capital, with movies including Pirates of the Caribbean and Scooby Doo filmed here. So enjoying a day out at Movie World makes perfect sense. The thrills come thick and fast in the form of multiple roller-coasters, from Superman Escape – which goes from zero to 100 kilometres (60 miles) per hour in just two seconds – to the Green Lantern Coaster, which has the second steepest roller-coaster drop in the world. Stunt shows and live entertainment keep the party going, while the Kids’ WB Fun Zone is for the little ones.


This is it: the largest of the Gold Coast theme parks, and the stuff that theme park dreams are made of. The rides here are separated into the Big 9 thrill rides, family rides, kids’ rides and Whitewater World, but they are not the be-all and end-all of Dreamworld. The interactive walk-through Corroboree area brings local Aboriginal stories to life through hands-on activities and safari-like wildlife exhibits. Tiger Island offers a chance to stroll with a big cat and ABC Kids World will have little fans wiggling with delight. The new, much-anticipated giant Lego Store features life-size models, play areas and rare collectibles.  


Ride back in time over a century, to when the iconic giant face on the gate of Melbourne’s Luna Park, in beachside St Kilda, opened for the first time. This historic park takes you there, yet its rides are state of the art and its popularity with locals and visitors hasn’t faded a bit. Enjoy classic rides such as the Ghost Train or the Carousel, take off on the futuristic thrill ride Enterprise, or ride high in the sky for incredible views on the Sky Rider ferris wheel.


You’ll find a similar laughing face greeting you at Sydney’s Luna Park, in a front row spot next to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Take a spin on the ferris wheel, which dips and rises high above the water, offering one of Sydney’s best views of the harbour. Appreciate the nostalgia and gorgeous design aesthetic of the retro funhouse, Coney Island. And enjoy thrills aplenty as you’re dropped from the 50 metre (164 foot) high Hair Raiser, raced around the compact but speedy Wild Mouse, and spun around mercilessly on the Tango Train.


This is no ’little sister’ park to the original Gold Coast institution. Sydney’s Wet’n’Wild, which opened in 2013, is huge, featuring the newest, most innovative water-based rides and an emphasis on adrenaline. More than 40 slides and other attractions – including the world’s largest double SkyCoaster, which drops you from 75 metres (246 feet) in seeming freefall – mean you'll have a full day trying everything. Catch a wave on The Surf Deck, race your friends on the twin looping 360Rush water slides, experience weightlessness on the Bombora raft ride or splash with the little ones in the Nickelodeon Beach area. 


A little bit of everything adds up to a whole lot of fun in Adventure World, which offers thrill rides, water slides, wildlife encounters and family fun, 20 kilometres (12 miles) south of Western Australia’s capital, Perth. The Kraken rafting ride is a must, breaking all kinds of world records as riders reach almost seven metres (23 feet) a second in speed and experience zero gravity several times. If that doesn’t seem like your scene, you can also cuddle a koala at the Aussie Wildlife Experience, or take a dip in the lagoon.


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