Australia's most thrilling adventures
Check out some of Australia's unmatched dives and epic adventure experiences for an off-field thrill.
By Lee Atkinson
Australia is an adventure playground, with more ways to get your heart racing than just about anywhere else. Whether you like your thrills sky high or wet and wild, Australia offers awesome adrenaline-inducing activities to suit every kind of thrillseeker.
Dive over the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns
You’ve definitely heard of diving in the Great Barrier Reef, but what about diving over it? Go skydiving at Mission Beach, about two hours outside of Cairns, for a different sort of Australian dive. You’ll fly up to 4,570 metres (15,000 feet) over the rainforest, beach, and turquoise waters before making the brave leap out of the plane. After the mind-boggling excitement of tumbling through the sky, you’ll be treated to awe-inspiring views of the coastline, with the green of the forest coming up to greet the golden beach. It’s not only a thrilling experience, it’s an unforgettable one.
Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Climbing the arch of Sydney's iconic Harbour Bridge is a thrill like no other. You will get a chance to gaze down at the city spread out beneath you, as well as see a unique perspective over the city’s beautiful harbour. It may look steep as you stare up from the ground, but there’s nothing to worry about; you will be secured by a harness to a safe, static line as you follow your expert guide. In fact, it’s easy enough that kids (eight and over) can take on the climb. BridgeClimb offers a variety of climbs throughout the day, so it’s up to you which suits your adventurous side.
Go diving with great whites in South Australia
If you’re on the hunt for a heart-pumping experience, this one’s for you. Great white sharks can weigh in at over 3,000 kilograms and grow up to seven metres (23 feet) in length. If you want to interact with them, South Australia’s Port Lincoln is where you should be; this is the only place in the country to go cage-diving with great white sharks. You’ll be totally safe as you climb into the strong, secure cage with Calypso Star Charters, Adventure Bay Charters or Rodney Fox Expeditions for an incredible opportunity to observe these graceful animals in their natural habitat. If cage diving is too close for comfort, you can ride in a glass aqua-sub instead. For something a little bit different, head to the waters at twilight.
Do the world’s highest dam abseil in Tasmania
Can you imagine stepping off the edge of a dam that seems to keep going and going? You can experience just that with an abseiling adventure at the Gordon Dam in south-western Tasmania. Sign up for an epic experience with Aardvark Adventures, who will have you abseiling (dropping vertically as you’re attached to a secure rope) down 140 metres (459 feet) in one continuous drop. If sky-high heights are your kind of thrill, your search for an adrenaline-inducing adventure ends here. The dam is close to Strathgordon, a 2.5-hour drive west of Hobart, Tasmania’s capital, making this a perfect day-trip for brave adventurers.
Raft through an ancient rainforest in Tasmania
There’s an incredible adventure waiting for you along the Franklin River in south-western Tasmania. As you’re paddling down one of the world’s last untamed rivers through deep gorges, adrenaline-spiking rapids and placid pools, you’ll go past ancient Huon pine forests and rugged rainforests. This isn’t a one-day experience; most rafting trips take between five and ten days and are a true wilderness experience. Rafting season extends from October to April, and you will find many specialised operators that depart from Hobart and Launceston.
Walk in the sky in the Gold Coast
The Gold Coast is well-known for buildings that stretch from the sand to the sky, and you’ll get to gaze down at the tops of them from the tallest building here. The SkyPoint Climb is a true test of your comfort with heights – you won’t be looking out at the ocean from behind glass walls, but from the outside of the Q1 Resort building, from 270 metres (886 feet) high. You’ll clip yourself onto a safety harness and step outside at 240 metres (787 feet) before climbing up to the top of the spire. You decide what will be more breath-taking – making that climb, or the views when you reach the top.
Jump into the rainforest in Cairns
Tucked away in the verdant trees just 20 minutes outside Cairns, you’ll find the world’s first tower that was built specifically for bungy jumping. The only bungy site in Australia, it's a 50-metre (164-foot) drop down to a waterbody (you can choose to dip into the water at the bottom of your jump, or stay dry above the surface). Experience the epic jump as the sounds of the rainforest surround you. Choose from a graceful swan dive off the platform, a running jump, or even ride a bicycle off the edge – speak to the guides to find your style.
Swim with whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef
If you’re looking for a gentle giant to swim with, head on over to Ningaloo Reef on Western Australia's Coral Coast, about 1,200 kilometres north of Perth. This is the only place in the world where whale sharks swim so close to the coast – and the surface – each year, allowing snorkellers to spend some time in their presence. They may be 14 metres (46 feet) long and weigh in at about 15 tonnes, but whale sharks are harmless and an absolute thrill to swim alongside. Whale shark season lasts from late April to early July, so plan your visit to match.
Stroll among the tree tops in Nornalup
Western Australia is home to trees that rise up to 75 metres (246 feet) in height, making them among the loftiest trees in the world. In this area, known as the Valley of the Giants, you can get a feel for just how high they’ve grown on a Tree Top Walk, a 420-metre (1,377-foot) long steel truss walkway. Located near the town of Denmark, a 4.5-hour drive from Perth, this walk takes you over a deep forest gully and through the tops of these massive trees. The highest point of the walkway is about 40 metres (131 feet) above the ground, and as you look down at the massive bases of the karri and tingle trees, you’ll understand why the Valley of the Giants deserves its name.
Raft through an ancient rainforest
Rafting the Franklin, one of the world's last untamed rivers, is a magnificent wilderness adventure. Your rafting ride will begin in tranquil gorges and Tasmanian rainforest, but don't let this fool you. Soon you'll be navigating exhilarating rapids and splashing over river drops.
- How to experience it: Rafting season runs from November through March, and most trips take between five and ten days. Numerous rafting companies specialise in Franklin River expeditions and depart from Hobart and Launceston.
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Experience the off-field
Few things come close to the sheer excitement of watching a world-class fielder diving to make a great catch – will he make it, or will it slip through his fingers? You’ll find moments just as exciting as you travel across Australia (though none of them take place on a cricket field). There are plenty of adrenaline-spiking activities to be found Down Under, whether you like being on land, underwater, or even up in the air. Here are nine heart-pumping experiences to try.