If your impression of Australia is all surf, sand and sea, take a look at what you could be missing out on.
As an island nation, Australia is surrounded by so many stunning beaches it is easy to get swept away. It truly is the perfect destination for a beach holiday, but it’s certainly not all there is to see and do. Australia also has vibrant lakes, rugged mountains and an exciting range of bucket-list activities to do in its urban areas - and that’s just the beginning. So dry off and head inland to discover some of these unforgettable experiences.
Discover Canberra in bloom during Floriade
Australia’s event calendar is packed with exciting options no matter where your travels take you across the country. If you’re visiting in September or October, don’t miss a trip to the nation’s capital when Canberra is blanketed in over one million blooms. The largest flower festival in the Southern Hemisphere, Floriade includes an exciting program of horticulture workshops, music and entertainment. Night owls will also love Floriade NightFest, with illuminated flower beds and night-time entertainment. Entry to see the flowers is free for the entire month, making it the perfect family and budget-friendly day out.
Explore Australia’s colourful carpet of wildflowers
If the image of Australia you have in your mind is white sand and rolling waves, prepare to be surprised. From June through November, Western Australia is an explosion of spectacular colour and fragrance as 12,000 wildflower species bloom across 2.5 million square kilometres (965,000 square miles) of terrain. It’s the largest collection of wildflower species in the world and nearly 60 per cent of them are found nowhere else on Earth. Take a guided stroll through Kings Park in Perth, or head out of the city on an adventure to see to see this colourful side of the country.
Capture Tasmania’s vibrant natural scenery
Tasmania is home to countless incredible backdrops, making it a favourite destination for professional and amateur photographers alike. In the summer months (December to February), Instagram is flooded with images of vibrant rows of purple lavender found on farms dotting the state’s east coast - some of which stretch for up to 200 kilometres (120 miles)! These working farms make a stunning backdrop for an Instagram post, but your visit isn’t limited to snapping pictures. You’ll also find fragrant soaps, hand cream, tea and lavender flavoured ice-cream to enjoy. If you’re visiting Tasmania in autumn, you’re not out of luck. Head to Cradle Mountain to see what locals refer to as “the turning of the Fagus”, when the Tasmanian Deciduous Beech tree transforms from green to vibrant reds, oranges and golds.
Explore Australia’s undiscovered nature
Some of Australia’s most spectacular natural attractions are hidden gems, tucked away from the country’s coastlines. These awe inspiring landscapes were forged millions of years ago and offer a peek at Australia’s Aboriginal history, challenging (but rewarding) treks, wildlife, star-filled skies and a chance to connect with nature in a way that few get to experience. The Grampians National Park is just three hours from Melbourne, yet feels worlds away. The area is famous for quality red wines, hiking trails and Aboriginal history. The craggy peaks and rocky gorges of South Australia’s Flinders Ranges require a five hour road trip from Adelaide, but are well worth the journey. Explore the 100 kilometre (62 mile) crater that is Wilpena Pound on a scenic flight, taste kangaroo and emu at an outback pub, and glamp under the stars at Arkaba Station.
Let urban Australia surprise you
It’s true that most of Australia’s big cities lie along the coast, but that doesn’t mean a beach holiday is the only thing they offer. There’s a thriving arts scene (both curated and street art), exciting theatre calendar, world-class sporting competitions, events and festivals as well as a rich cultural history that can be explored both in major institutions and small galleries. Get lost in Melbourne’s laneways as you bounce from hidden bars and foodie hotspots to the beautiful Queen Victoria Markets. Explore Sydney’s emerging craft beer sceneor head to Canberra for the latest exhibition at The National Gallery of Australia. Brisbane is a haven for live music and rooftop bars, while Adelaide is known for its festivals. With so much going on, Australia’s cities will surprise and inspire you.
Eat and drink your way around
From coffee to fine dining, Australia takes its food and wine seriously. You’ll find innovative and award-winning restaurants both in major cities and regional areas, such as Quay and Firedoor in Sydney, Attica in Melbourne, Brae in Birregurra and Orana in Adelaide. Wine aficionados will be impressed with the level of sophistication found in Australian wines, from alternative varietals to the latest trends in natural winemaking. With over 60 wine regions across the country, you’ll find diversity and quality set amongst stunning landscapes. Head to McLaren Vale for a unique tasting experience or degustation lunch at The Cube. The country also plays host to a myriad of food and wine events that attract top chefs from around the world. Don’t miss the Margaret River Gourmet Escape or the Noosa Food and Wine Festival.
Snap a pic of Australia’s colourful lakes
The stunning blues and greens of Australia’s coast are a crowd favourite, but if you’re looking for something different, take a trip to see one of the country’s colourful lakes. Australia’s Golden Outback has bubblegum pink lakes that are a photographer’s dream. Lake Hillier is the most famous of the pink lakes, and can be found near Esperance in Western Australia. The region is also home to Lake Ballard, a shimmering salt lake near Kalgoorlie that features a permanent art installation of 51 metal statues. In South Australia you can find Lake Eyre, the world’s largest ephemeral lake. Containing water or not, it's a phenomenal sight of swirling colours, best seen from above on a scenic flight.
Soar above the hinterlands in a hot air balloon
Heading inland from the coast will lead you to discover Australia’s hinterlands. Quaint towns, lush rainforests and wine regions make for the perfect backdrop when you explore from above. In a hot air balloon you can soar above the clouds and watch the sunrise over the countryside. In Canberra, your flight will take you above the city where you can spot Parliament House and other attractions. In the Hunter Valley near Sydney or Yarra Valley near Melbourne, you’ll float above perfectly manicured vineyards before descending to a champagne breakfast. It’s an exhilarating and romantic way to start your day.
Seek out your next big adventure
You can learn to surf in almost any Australian coastal town, but if you’re looking for another way to get your blood pumping you’ll find that Australia is an adventure-seeker’s playground. In Tasmania you can abseil down the world’s tallest dam; head to the Gold Coast to climb 270 metres (886 feet) to the summit of the Q1 building, or skydive over some of the country’s most beautiful beaches near Sydney or in the Whitsundays. Australia also offers unique opportunities to get up close to wildlife. Cage dive with great white sharks in South Australia or “swim” with Darwin’s biggest crocodiles at Crocosaurus Cove.