8 adrenaline rushes found only in Australia
Pump up the adrenaline on your Australian holiday with these exciting adventures.
By Lee Atkinson and Deborah Dickson-Smith
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.
Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge
It's a long way down from the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but the view of the sparkling harbour and glittering city is unbeatable. It's no wonder that climbing the arch of Sydney's iconic bridge is known as a must-do. Before you go, BridgeClimb will get you kitted out with a climbing suit and a harness that is linked to a secure, static line. It's an easy walk, but has lots of steps.
How to experience it: Sunrise, daytime, sunset and night-time climbs are available, as well as climbs that go just halfway if you're nervous about heights. Climbs can take anywhere from 1.5 to 3.5 hours depending on the type of experience you choose, so give yourself plenty of time.
Do the world's highest dam abseil
If getting ready to step into the void on the world's highest commercial abseil doesn't get the adrenaline pumping, nothing will. The Gordon Dam in south-west Tasmania, is several metres higher than the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and an abseiling adventure will have you descending 140 metres (459-feet) in one continuous drop.
How to experience it: Join a tour from Hobart with Aardvark Adventures. This is an extreme adventure that's not for the faint-hearted, but if you're game, it’s a thrill that you'll find only in Australia.
Swim with whale sharks
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 fish are truly the gentle giants of the deep. Located in the north-west corner of the country, Ningaloo Reef is the only place in the world where whale sharks are known to visit so close to the coast each year.
How to experience it: The best time to visit is between late April and early July when dozens of whale sharks swim close to the surface. Choose from snorkelling alongside these majestic creatures, or going deeper with a scuba dive adventure. Either way, it's a wildlife encounter you'll never forget. You can reach Exmouth on an epic road trip along the Coral Coast, or fly to Learmonth Airport.
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.
Dive with great white sharks
Where: Port Lincoln, South Australia.
Coming face to face with a great white shark is an incomparable adrenaline rush. In the waters off the southern tip of South Australia's Eyre Peninsula, you can climb into a cage where nothing stands between you and a great white but steel mesh. You'll be suspended just below the surface, breathing through a 'hookah' as you scan the ocean for the first glimpses of a shark – sometimes almost six metres (19.5-feet) long.
Walk through the sky
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 and Australia’s highest external building climb. Attached to a safety harness, step outside onto 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.
How to experience it: Choose from day climbs and night climbs, or for extra special views, sunrise and sunset tours are available.
Valley of the giants tree top walk
The trees of southern Western Australia are among the tallest in the world, soaring up to 75 metres (246-feet) high. In Denmark, you can get a view from the very top. The Tree Top Walk is a 420-metre (459-yard) long steel truss walkway that takes you up into the treetop canopy for views that will take your breath away. 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.
Experience the underwater world at night
Where: Multiple destinations across Australia.
Night diving opens up a whole new underwater world for scuba divers. There’s an added element of mystery as you watch the ocean come to life under the glow of your dive light. The scene changes entirely, as day creatures retire, and unique nocturnal organisms emerge. Watch as shrimp, lobsters and crabs dance around your torchlight. If you're lucky, you might even spot reef sharks and stingrays.
How to experience it: For an extra special adventure, join a Fluorescence Dive experience with the Cairns-based Divers Den. Fluorescence (or fluoro) night diving adds a further dimension to this nocturnal underwater world. It’s an underwater fluorescent light show that reveals the beauty of coral reefs in a whole new way.