Sydney BridgeClimb, Sydney, New South Wales
Pump up the adrenaline on your Australian holiday with these seven adventures.
By Lee Atkinson
Australia is an adventure playground, with more ways to get your heart racing and your pulse pumping than just about anywhere. Whether you like your thrills sky high, or wet and wild, by mixing with wild animals on their home turf or getting close to nature from a different perspective, there's awesome adrenaline-inducing adventure to suit every kind of thrillseeker.
Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Where: Sydney, New South Wales
It's a long way down from the top of Sydney Harbour Bridge, but the view of the world's greatest harbour and the glittering city spread out below your feet is unbeatable – climbing the arch of Sydney's iconic bridge is a thrill like no other. It might look scary from ground level, but it's so safe that even kids as young as eight can do it. Before you go you're kitted out with a climbing suit and a harness that is linked to a secure, static line. It's an easy walk, but with lots of steps. Sunrise, daytime, sunset and night-time climbs are available, as well as climbs that go just halfway if you're nervous about heights. You can also climb Brisbane's Story Bridge.
Do the world's highest dam abseil
Where: Gordon Dam, Tasmania
If getting ready to step into the void on the world's highest commercial abseil, 140 metres (459 feet) in one continuous drop down the wall of Gordon Dam in south-west Tasmania, doesn't get the adrenaline pumping, nothing will. The dam is several metres higher than the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and this is an extreme adventure that's not for the faint-hearted or those scared of heights, but if you're game, it’s a thrill that you'll find only in Australia. Tours are run from Hobart by Aardvark Adventures.
Dive with great white sharks
Where: Port Lincoln, South Australia
Coming face to face with a great white shark with nothing between you and its giant jaws but steel mesh is an incomparable adrenaline rush, and only in Australia can you do this and swim with wild sea lions on the same trip. The waters off the southern tip of the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia are home to a large colony of endangered sea lions that love interacting with swimmers, so much so they are known as the "puppies of the sea". This is also the only place you can go shark cage diving in Australia. Intrepid divers often see sharks that are almost six metres (19 feet six inches) long, though thankfully, not while they are swimming with sea lions. The cage is suspended just below the surface and you breathe through a "hookah", so you don’t need to be a certified diver. However, you do need a sense of adventure. Adventure Bay Charters runs shark and sea lion tours from Port Lincoln.
Swim with whale sharks
Where: Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia
Nothing is guaranteed to make you feel small like swimming with a 14 metre (46 foot) long, 15 tonne (16.5 ton) whale shark. But don't be put off by the name. These massive but harmless fish are truly the gentle giants of the deep. Ningaloo Reef, near Exmouth on Western Australia's Coral Coast, 1200km (745 miles) or so north of Perth, is the only place in the world where the whale sharks are known to visit so close to the coast, every year. The whale sharks swim close to the surface, so even snorkellers can get near them. Whale shark season is from late April to early July, and a number of tours operate from both Coral Bay and Exmouth.
Raft through an ancient rainforest
Where: Franklin River, Tasmania
Rafting the Franklin, one of the world's last untamed rivers, in south-west Tasmania, is a magnificent wilderness adventure through deep gorges, drifting in tranquil pools one moment and navigating exhilarating rapids the next. It's a remote journey through some of the world's most awe-inspiring scenery, including rainforest and ancient huon pine forests. Most trips take between five and 10 days. Numerous rafting companies specialise in Franklin River expeditions, departing from Hobart and Launceston.
Walk through the sky
Where: Gold Coast, Queensland
The Gold Coast is famous for its high rise towers, and you'll get a great view of them from the top of the beachside strip's tallest building. Even better, you won't be on the inside of the building, but the outside. At 270 metres (886 feet) high, the SkyPoint Climb to the summit of the Q1 Resort Building is the ultimate high-altitude adventure. It's the highest external building climb in Australia. Attached to a safety harness, you step outside on to the launch platform on level 77 (240 metres, or 787 feet high) then climb to the top of the spire. If the stairs don’t take your breath away, the view certainly will.
Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk
Where: Denmark, Western Australia
The tall trees of southern Western Australia are among the tallest in the world, soaring up to 75 metres (246 feet) high. They are pretty big at ground level too, with some karri and tingle trees having a girth of more than 20 metres (66 feet). The best way to get a measure of just how vast these trees are is on the Tree Top Walk, a 420 metre (459 yard) long steel truss walkway that takes you up and over a deep, red tingle gully through the treetop canopy near the town of Denmark, about five hours drive south of Perth. Looking down from the walkway's highest point, 40 metres (132 feet) above the ground, you’ll see why they call this place the Valley of the Giants.
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