From epic outback homesteads to natural hot springs, discover Australia’s newest and most incredible experiences.
By Leah Dobihal
Australia boasts a long list of iconic activities, but emerging experiences mean your bucket list is ready for a refresh. Walk alongside an Aboriginal Elder, indulge in one-of-a-kind accommodation and see the Great Barrier Reef like few others have.
Walk with the world’s oldest storytellers
Get active and connect with the world’s oldest living culture on two new walks that showcase two very different sides of Australia. Few walks immerse you so deeply into indigenous culture as the Wukalina Walk in Tasmania. The Wukalina Walk isn’t just another hike; it’s a spiritual journey into palawa (local Aboriginal culture). On this four-day, 33-kilometre (20-mile) guided walk, you’ll be welcomed by an Elder before trekking through landscapes that are both culturally significant and beautiful. At night, enjoy beautifully prepared dinners and local Tasmanian wines before resting in domed huts and renovated cottages. Listen to the creation stories, participate in traditional practices, and immerse yourself in a culture that has existed for hundreds of generations. While the Wukalina Walk takes you through bushland and rugged landscapes, you don’t have leave the city to experience indigenous culture. Aboriginal culture is alive and well in Australia’s urban centres, with easily accessible walking tours as well as museums, galleries and cultural centres to explore. Take a coastal walk along Sydney’s shores with Dreamtime Southern X, where the spiritual significance of Sydney’s famous harbour is revealed on an intimate walking tour.
Discover, learn and care for the Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef has long been one of Australia's dreamiest destinations. Now, discover the reef more deeply on a Reef Expedition. Staying on Lizard Island, a remote island getaway north of Cairns, 12 guests can access areas of the reef not usually available to visitors. You’ll learn about the local landscape from top researchers, swim and snorkel above vibrant reef sites and share the water with sea turtles and schools of fish. With incredible inclusions like sunset drinks with experts and transparent sea kayaks, Reef Expedition offers many different, responsible ways to see the Great Barrier Reef.
Tick the Australian Open or Presidents Cup off your list
Melbourne is Australia’s sporting capital, and the city will serve up two great events to check off your list. For golf lovers, head to the Presidents Cup golf tournament held in Melbourne in December 2019. Play some of the world’s top courses and watch some of the world’s greatest golfers. Alternatively, attend the liveliest major tennis event of the season at the Australian Open. After cheering along with the Aussies, relax in the nearby wineries and hot springs in the up-and-coming Mornington Peninsula. Slip into naturally heated spring water and total serenity with a trip to Peninsula Hot Springs. In addition to private pools and spa treatments, you can also bathe at twilight for a truly unique experience. After you’ve stepped out of the water, experience top drops at one of more than 50 cellar doors in the Mornington Peninsula wine region. Head to Ten Minutes by Tractor to experience an estate made of three wineries, each within a ten-minute tractor ride of the next. Or check out Jackalope, a decades-old winery as well as a luxury hotel.
Encounter wildlife just outside the city
In Australia, you don’t have to go far to encounter incredible local wildlife. While Brisbane has a reputation for being the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, the city has experienced a cultural revival. New, chic hotels have popped up across the city, from the American brands W Brisbane and Westin Brisbane Hotel to Aussie boutique hotels like Emporium Hotel South Point (the first in the country designated with the EarthCheck Design Certification). These venues, along with the emergence of Ovolo Hotels, have helped Brisbane become the perfect base to explore nearby nature.
Just over an hour drive from Brisbane you can visit Australia Zoo, also known as the Home of the Crocodile Hunter because of its deep connection to the Irwin family. See and experience animals from Australia and beyond, and learn about the zoo’s wildlife hospital and conservation programs.
Then, spend a day on Moreton Island, a large sand island located right in Brisbane’s backyard. Take the 40 kilometre (25 mile) ferry journey to experience the local dolphins, shipwrecks and marine park. Stay at Tangalooma Island Resort, where you can hand-feed the dolphins that swim to shore each day.
End your wildlife journey with an hour and a half flight to Sydney, where Taronga Zoo Sydney offers epic animal encounters just minutes from the city centre. Book your spot at Roar and Snore, an overnight safari where guests stay in tents near the animals. From August, experience the zoo’s new Wildlife Retreat, where visitors can see kangaroos hopping just outside their doorstep.
Treat yourself in the last frontier
Western Australia’s Kimberley region, an ancient landscape of canyons and waterholes, is one of the last great frontiers in the world. Experience it from above on a six night HeliSpirit Luxury Helicopter Safari. Land on a mountain pinnacle before soaring through gorges and swimming through the world’s only horizontal waterfall. Embrace the area’s one-of-a-kind wilderness accommodation, including the Bullo River Station, Kimberley Coastal Camp and El Questro Homestead, all set within the Kimberley’s stunning rock formations and towering trees.
Continue your Western Australia experience in Perth, the state’s sunny and relaxed capital. One of the city’s most popular activities is a ferry trip to Rottnest Island, home to the cute and cuddly quokka. From March 2019, the island will also be home to a new eco-minded luxury glamping resort. Discovery Eco Village will be nestled behind the dunes of the beautiful Pinky Beach and allow visitors to reconnect with nature and wildlife. As you head back to Perth, check out the city’s best hotels, including COMO The Treasury, Alex Hotel and QT Perth.
Experience food and wine in the outback
Australia’s cities are overflowing with delicious culinary creations, but there’s equally beautiful food and wine in the outback. You can experience a huge range of the country’s best culinary inventions as you wind your way from South Australia’s Adelaide to Western Australia’s Perth. Less than an hour from Adelaide, head to McLaren Vale to sip stunning wine among the region’s rolling hills. Don’t miss the world renowned Wirra Wirra winery, and be sure to check out the architectural anomaly of the d’Arenburg Cube, a Rubik’s Cube shaped restaurant with a menu as impressive as its exterior.
After you’ve had your fill, head to the Gawler Ranges via Port Lincoln to experience an outback landscape dating back 1.5 billion years. Take in the incredible volcanic rock formations and a salt pan lake so white it looks like snow. Next, head to the Eyre Peninsula, where you can not only swim with sea lions but also follow a 380 kilometre (236 mile) seafood trail renowned for its world-class seafood and award winning wines.
Finish the journey in Fremantle, Perth’s port town, which is home to a number of unique eateries. Hit the hotspots like Bathers Beach House and Manuka Woodfire Kitchen, or peruse the Fremantle Markets for fresh finds to cook up.