Make a splash with any of the many adventure activities happening in, on and around Australia’s waterways. White water raft through Tasmania’s World heritage wilderness or set sail on Sydney Harbour. Cage dive with great white sharks or reel in a barramundi big enough to boast about. It doesn’t matter whether you’re hankering to surf glassy, 10-foot waves or canoe through the towering walls of an ancient gorge. Australia is the place for anyone with a love of water and thirst for adventure. Here are some ideas to whet your adventurous spirit!
Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra
There’s something uniquely Australian about being able to windsurf past the national institutions. On Canberra’s Lake Burley Griffin, you can wave to the wigged judges descending the steps of Australia’s High Court. Or glide past the imposing buildings housing our national gallery, library and museum. Then there’s the city’s lush bushland to see. Launch from the sandy beach of Yatralurnla Bay and catch an easterly past the gum trees. Or sail past the East Basin, great for beginners on longboard or slalom. You’ll find windsurfing boards to rent from many of the boat hire outfits around the lake.
Sailing on Sydney Harbour
Discover Sydney’s famous harbour from the deck of a sailboat. Trim the sails, man the helm or learn to jib as you navigate past islands, waterfront mansions, national parks and beautiful bays and beaches. Learn the ropes on a half-day lesson or sign up for a longer course with one of the many yacht clubs dotted round the harbour. They cater from beginners through to skippers. You can also charter your own vessel and bring your friends along as crewmates. Hire a skippered yacht or, if you’re a skipper yourself, steer your own course on a luxury bareboat charter.
Riviera Nautic, Gippsland, VIC
You’ll have plenty of room to manoeuvre on Gippsland Lakes, Australia’s largest navigable inland waterway, around three hours east of Melbourne. Watersport buffs love this vast, serene network of lakes and lagoons, separated by sand dunes from deserted beaches facing Bass Strait. So there’s no shortage of tour operators offering lessons and equipment, whether you’re a total novice or an acrobatic expert. Learn to wakeboard, practice your stork move or try skiing barefoot. Stay in Paynesville, Metung or Lakes Entrance and check out Bunga Arm, Newlands Arm and North Arm. They’re some of the designated spots, but in Gippsland you can glide across the water almost anywhere.
Take a ride on the wild side with a rafting adventure down the Franklin River, near Strahan on Tasmania’s remote west coast. It’s an intimate and exhilarating way to explore the World Heritage wilderness of Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. Think gruelling rapids and dramatic rock formations, deep valleys and glossy, moss-covered cliffs. Gouging your way through these inaccessible landscapes on one of the world’s last wild rivers is an adventure you won’t forget. Experienced local rafting companies offer everything from half-day tours to longer expeditions that include a day trek to the imposing rocky overhang of Frenchmans Cap.
Turtle eggs, Cape York, NT
You can combine adventure, wildlife conservation and cultural immersion on a beachside turtle rescue camp in Cape York. Stay in the Aboriginal community of Mapoon and work with landowners and researchers to protect turtles from ghost nets and feral pigs. Over the six-day camp you’ll measure and tag nesting turtles, fit feral pig exclusion devices to the nesting sites and remove nets from the beach with purpose equipped 4WD vehicles. This is also a unique opportunity for you to stay in an Aboriginal community in one of Australia's most remote regions.
Join the surfing pros on the legendary waves of the lush Margaret River region, three hours south of Perth. Head to Surfers Point, where the Margaret River Pro is held in early April. Tackle the fearsome left hander at Yallingup, claim your very own waves on Boranup’s secluded beaches or hit the right-handers at Injidup. If you’re a total beginner, sign up for lessons with one of the many surf schools, then test your skills on the smaller surf at Redgate and Margaret River mouth. Away from the waves, the region has outstanding wineries, tall karri forests and underground caves for you to explore.
Face your own fear and the ocean’s most ruthless killer on this cage-diving adventure. Tours depart Port Lincoln, a short flight from Adelaide, for the Neptune Islands, one of the best spots in the world for great white shark activity. Out here a team of professionals will help prepare you for your very own JAWS sequel. Non-divers view the teeth-gnashing action from a cage floating on the water’s surface, while qualified scuba divers can descend all the way to the sea floor in a special submersible cage. Take some underwater photos of your eye-to-eye encounter with the deadly Great White. Just to prove you survived it!
Travel deep into the rugged, majestic world of Katherine Gorge – made up of 13 interconnected gorges - on a canoeing and camping trip. The popular boat cruises can only enter the first two or three gorges. So by the time you reach the first campsite at the fifth gorge, you’ve left the package tourists and sound of engines far behind. It’s just you and the birds, butterflies, lizards, long-necked turtles, iridescent dragon-flies and cicadas. Paddle beneath waterfalls, slip out of the canoe for swims and sleep beneath the stars on secret, sandy beaches. Remember this is an endurance adventure – paddling and lugging your canoe between gorges requires muscle power.