6 must-do Australian aquatic experiences

With more than 50,000 kilometres (31,000 miles) of coastline, Australia has countless beach and seaside destinations to explore. But Australians love of the water extends beyond the coast and inland where rivers, lakes and waterfalls reveal more about why Australia is not just a place you see, but a place you feel. If you're not sure where to start, follow this guide of six must-do aquatic experiences in Australia. 6 must-do Australian aquatic experiences
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6 must do Australian aquatic experiences

Australia's diverse range of aquatic experiences will take you all over the country, from relaxing, white sandy beaches to unique inland waterways.

With more than 50,000 kilometres (31,000 miles) of coastline, Australia has countless beach and seaside destinations to explore. But Australians love of the water extends beyond the coast and inland where rivers, lakes and waterfalls reveal more about why Australia is not just a place you see, but a place you feel.

If you're not sure where to start, follow this guide of six must-do aquatic experiences in Australia.

Great Ocean Road, Victoria

Drive the coastline on a beautiful road trip

Australia offers incredible road trips that thrill at every turn with secluded beaches, mountaintop views, towering forests and unique wildlife viewing.

If you only have a few days available, try the Great Ocean Road which can be seen in as little as one to three days, departing from Melbourne. The famous cliff-hugging curves, endless sea views, pretty coastal towns and dramatic rock formations combine to make Victoria’s Great Ocean Road one of the world’s best. 

At the other end of the spectrum is Western Australia's Coral Coast, where a seven to 10 day drive is just the start of the adventure particularly well-known for its wildlife experiences. Drop into Jurien Bay Marine Park, a unique eco system and breeding ground for Australian sea lions and spend time at Ningaloo Reef, where you don’t even need a boat to see whale sharks close to shore.

Check out 10 of Australia's most beautiful road trips

Three Capes Track, Tasman Peninsula, Tasmania

Conquer the southern hemisphere's highest sea cliffs

Amongst one of the most remote parts of Australia are the southern hemisphere's highest sea cliffs, made of sheer rock walls, worn and weathered over millions of years by waves andwind. It may sound daunting, but these cliffs are easily accesible due to the Three Capes Track.

The 46 kilometre (29 mile) track makes it easy to experience this unique and rugged natural landscape regardless of how experienced you might be when it comes to hiking or walking. The four-day walk features hand-built stone staircases to make steep sections easy to master and purpose-built tracks, so there's less uneven terrain to worry about.

All these features mean that you're free to enjoy the epic natural beauty and biodiversity of the Tasman Peninsula around you. Along the way you may see spotted-tailed quolls, Tasmanian devils, wombats and eagles and be greeted by seals, dolphins and turtles in the ocean below. If you visit from May to November, passing pilot, humpback and southern right whales might also feature amongst the stark landscape.

Experience the Three Capes Track in 360° video

Wategos Beach, Byron Bay, New South Wales

Discover secluded Wategos Beach

Wategos Beach, on the northern New South Wales coast, is uniquely placed next to the popular holiday town of Byron Bay, but with a relaxing atmosphere all of its own.

One of the first things to do when you arrive at Wategos Beach is take the seaside walk to the Cape Byron Lighthouse. Early morning is the perfect time for this walk as you could be the first person in Australia to greet the sun on the country’s most easterly point. 

Luxury experiences are also on offer at Wategos Beach with Rae’s Day Spa providing treatments such as the Silver Rain spa ritual featuring body exfoliation, aromatherapy massage and a Vichy shower (like having a shower lying down). As your day draws to a close, stay at the Watermark apartments, close enough to the beach that you can hear the waves crashing as you float away to sleep.

Find out what else you can see and do at Wategos Beach

Aboriginal rock art, Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory

Learn about Aboriginal culture in the Northern Territory

Head to Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory to learn about Aboriginal culture from traditional owners the Bininj/Mungguy people.

Set amidst Kakadu's beautiful flora, fauna and swimming holes, is one of the world’s highest concentration of Aboriginal rock art. See rock crevices cut by Dreamtime ancestors at Nourlangie Rock. Or view a painting of Lightning Man, the Dreamtime ancestor who still controls the violent wet season lightning storms, in the nearby Anbangang Gallery. 

Head south to Nitmiluk National Park (about 2 hours drive) and Nitmiluk Gorge where Biddlecombe Cascade awaits. At its best in the the drier months from June to September, the five to six day Jatbula Trail will take you from the Nitmiluk National Park visitors' centre near Katherine Gorge to this hidden swimming spot. 

Fed by a permanently flowing creek, Biddlecombe Cascade is unique in that water rushes down a series of small steps, fanning out as it hits each rock to create spectacular curtains of spray. Above the falls, there are smaller rock pools for a dip that offer a unique view of the Australian Outback after the long walk here.

Experience Biddlecombe Cascade in 360° video

Kayaking on the Murray River, Victoria

Travel the length of the Murray River

The Murray River is Australia's largest and it starts as a tiny stream in the Australian Alps before winding more than 2500 kilometres (1500 miles) through five distinct landscapes in three different states to empty into the Southern Ocean off South Australia.

The sheer size of this river means that there are countless experiences along its length. If you're a fan of fishing, point yourself towards the prime fishing spots of Mungabareena and Heywood’s Bridge in Albury-Wodonga, Yarrawonga, Kings Billabong near Mildura, and Paringa and Katarapko in South Australia. 

If you're looking for an active way to travel the river, hop into a kayak or canoe. Paddle 66 kilometres (41 miles) from Albury to Howlong on a two-day adventure organised by Murray River Canoe Hire. Or, if you're in South Australia, head to Berri where Canoe Adventures leads two-hour sunset kayak tours of the wetlands of Gurra Gurra Creek.

Horse-riding is another classic Murray River experience and Echuca has some of the best options for riders. Explore trails through magnificent red-gum forests that are suitable for all levels of experience and, if you're a confident rider, head out for three hours to explore the Murray and Goulburn rivers and canter beneath the gum trees.

Check out more ways to experience the Murray River

Swimming with whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef, Exmouth, Western Australia

Close encounters with Australian marine life

Australia’s wide range of marine environments play host to some of the world’s most fascinating creatures. 

Swim with a whale shark – the world’s largest fish – on Ningaloo Reef off Exmouth in Western Australia. Ningaloo Whaleshark Swim operates tours from mid-March until mid-September.

On the NSW South Coast, swim, snorkel and dive with the playful fur seals living around Montague Island with Island Charters Narooma

Watch the parade of little penguins returning home at sunset on Phillip Island, a 90-minute drive south-east of Melbourne. Head to the beachfront viewing stands and boardwalks to see the world’s smallest penguin surf in on the waves and waddle towards their burrows in the dunes.

Adrenalin junkies can look a crocodile right in the eye at Darwin’s Crocosaurus Cove. Hop into the Cage of Death to meet a saltwater crocodile measuring more than five metres (16 feet) long.

And, of course, the Great Barrier Reef is a must-do with its 1625 fish species, 450-plus types of coral and other marine animals. At Green Island near Cairns, Seawalker helmet-diving involves walking along the sea floor close to a coral reef. The waterproof helmet allows those with glasses and contact lenses to keep wearing them for a better view of the reef animals.

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