Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, Arkaroola, Flinders Ranges, South Australia © Tourism Australia
The Best Adventure Holiday Destinations
Unleash your spirit of adventure at these epic holiday destinations.
By Amy Fraser
From vast wilderness frontiers to jungle-coated islands and breathtaking outback plains, Australia’s otherworldly landscapes boast a menu of adventure. Explore the intrepid thrills of the highest peaks, the most remote islands and the world’s oldest living ecosystems. Feel a sense of discovery at these 12 Australian destinations perfect for the adventurous traveller.
Cairns and Tropical North Queensland
Home to the Wet Tropics World Heritage Rainforest and the world’s largest coral reef system, Queensland’s tropical north offers thrill-seekers a unique chance to connect with nature. Base yourself in Cairns and spend your days plunging into jungle waterfalls, bungee jumping 50m (164ft) above a lagoon, diving into the colourful depths of the Great Barrier Reef and swinging above crocodiles. Little wonder explorer, Sir David Attenborough, dubbed this his favourite place.
Tasmania’s wild landscapes, rugged mountains and end-of-the-Earth-like peaks create the ultimate recipe for adventure. The state’s capital, Hobart, makes for a brilliant base, with adventure at reach in every direction. Drive north to Freycinet National Park – a hiker’s paradise where the azure ocean meets pink-hued mountains dotted with prolific wildlife. In the west, travellers with an appetite for heights can’t miss Gordon River Dam, home to the world’s highest abseiling experience.
Australia’s Christmas Island is 135sq km (52sq mi) of remote paradise located in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Coated with dense rainforest and enveloped by turquoise ocean, every inch of this island invites you to play, wander and explore. This is no typical island escape – float in an enchanting sea cave, dive among colourful coral gardens and experience the unique red land crab migration as you discover this extraordinary island.
If you’re looking for anything but ordinary, the Flinders Ranges is a destination up for the challenge. You’ll know you’ve arrived when the road blends into a dusty track and dramatic red-tinged cliffs stand before you. Welcome to a 600 million-year-old landscape, home to some of the country’s most epic 4WD, mountain biking and hiking tracks. Stay in an authentic outback station, join a safari adventure and experience the land through the eyes of its Traditional Custodians.
Taking in the beauty of the Blue Mountains from one of the area’s epic lookouts is awe-inspiring, but for the adventurers among us, the real intrigue lies beneath the canopy. It’s here, in the original Gondwana Rainforest, you’ll stumble upon thundering waterfalls, hidden caves, and that deep sense of back-to-nature clarity. Embark on a walking adventure across the rainforest, go canyoning through rivers or take an invigorating leap into a waterfall. Your very own Jurassic-like getaway awaits.
Just 40km (25mi) northeast of Brisbane, Moreton Island is a small sand island with unique opportunities for big adventures. One of the island’s main attractions is Tangalooma Wrecks, and when it comes to exploring them, only the most unique ocean experiences will do. Try gliding through the sunken ships on a sea scooter or, come nightfall, spot marine life swimming beneath your LED-lit kayak. On land, you can’t miss the freedom of flying down Mount Tempest – the world’s highest coastal sand dune.
With spine-tingling marine life, a rugged coastline replete with epic waves, and an outback punctuated with natural wonders, the Eyre Peninsula was made for exploration. Take to the waters to come face-to-face with great whites (from the safety of a cage), or watch playful sea lions somersault around you. For a real Aussie adventure, explore the open outback on a road trip across the Nullarbor Plain, or seek out the most extraordinary road of all: Lake MacDonnell’s pink and blue ‘Watermelon Avenue’.
The Kimberley region is one of the world's last wilderness frontiers. This vast pocket of Western Australia transports you to what feels like a different world. Imagine flying over hypnotic rock formations formed over 350 million years ago, stepping into a real-life dinosaur footprint, or traversing one of Australia’s most legendary 4WD outback adventures. Even the region’s luxuries are sprinkled with adventure, from discovering the region’s pearling history to staying at the lavish El Questro Homestead.
The Northern Territory’s capital blends some of the state’s most brilliant charms with jumping crocs, thundering waterfalls and Aboriginal experiences at your fingertips. Adventurers will feel at home around Darwin, exploring the ancient landscapes of Litchfield, Kakadu and Katherine national parks. In the city itself, you’ll find adventures of a culinary kind, with bustling night markets and a strong Asian influence woven into the city’s food scene.
Australia’s highest peak offers something for every type of adventurer. Summer here sees keen mountain bikers pouring into the quaint town of Thredbo to tackle the mountain’s most thrilling descents, hikers pursuing the region’s walking tracks, and campers settling into a good dose of mountain air. Nearby you’ll find Lake Jindabyne, a breathtaking spot for kayaking and fishing. And come winter, the region transforms into a snowy wonderland, primed for winter experiences.
Great Ocean Road
Known as one of Australia’s most scenic road trips, the Great Ocean Road is as much about the journey as the destination. With craggy cliff tops towering over some of the best surf this side of the country, there’s plenty of scenery and action along the winding coastal drive. Take the journey from Melbourne to Adelaide, stopping off to explore national parks abundant with wildlife and incredible rock formations carved by the impressive winds and waves of the Southern Ocean.
Arnhem Land is everything you’d want from an adventure destination: wild and vast with a deep-seated connection to culture. It also happens to be a haven for fishing, with waterways swarming with barramundi and bluewater. Feel a sense of spirited adventure on an Aboriginal fishing tour or experience the full breadth of this unspoiled region on a multi-day outback safari.