Going on an adventure to the Land Down Under? The following places are “must-see” in my opinion. Each destination is in a different part of Eastern Australia and Southern Australia. I haven’t made it to Northern or Western Australia yet, but trust me they are on my list. Here are the places that I have been and would recommend to anyone traveling to Australia for the first time. Also, be on the lookout for the places on my bucket list to check out next time I’m in Australia. You might beat me to them!
1. Check out The Sydney Opera House.
Located in Sydney Australia and featured on every New Year’s televised program around the world, the Sydney Opera House is an obvious number one. Have you ever been to Australia if you don’t get a selfie in front of the Sydney Opera House? The answer is no. All jokes aside, the Sydney Opera House is open and free to enter. It’s just as gorgeous on the inside as it is stunning on the outside. They offer tours, but if you are like me and trying to save as much as possible while traveling, then you can walk around yourself. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to catch a show while I was in Sydney, but the locals said it has fantastic acoustics. I also recommend checking out one of the restaurants in the harbor to have a nice dinner to enjoy the views of the Opera House at night just aware that they tend to be pricey so if you are budget conscious, you can skip the meal and opt for just a drink and enjoy the view.
2. Scuba dive/snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef.
If you are looking for a tropical climate, laid back atmosphere and views for days then head to Cairns! Cairns is the closest city to the Great Barrier Reef, and it’s the best place to be if you want to see it up close and personal. My first-time scuba diving experience was in Cairns, and it is what made me fall in love with scuba diving. I booked my experience through Pro Dive Cairns who made the day beyond memorable. If you would prefer to stay at the surface, then they also provide snorkel excursions as well. Scuba diving is expensive and not in everyone’s budget, but if you do make it to Cairns, you should try to at least snorkel. Also, please use the reef-safe sunblock while you are there. The reef has is damaged, and over the years, the use of regular sunscreen has increased the damage further. No one wants to harm marine life more than it already is, and you really won’t want to after you experience how beautiful it is for yourself.
3. Interact with koalas at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, located in Brisbane, is a huge attraction. When I asked for things to do while I was hanging out with locals, they all agreed that Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary was a must. I feel like this choice is self-explanatory because who doesn’t want to hold a cute, cuddly koala? For those of you who may not understand the appeal behind holding a koala, let me say that they smell like eucalyptus and are super fuzzy. Also, did I mention that they are adorable? Plus, you can post your photos on Instagram and Facebook and brag to all of your friends back home that you made a new friend.
4. Get your sip on in Barossa Valley.
Barossa Valley, located in Adelaide in Southern Australia, is known for one of my favorite things. WINE. While I was there, I was fortunate enough to tour a winery named Jacob’s Creek, which is a gorgeous vineyard. Not only is the vineyard stunning, but the facility is very posh as well. Anyone who has even been to a vineyard knows the real reason why they go isn’t for the tour or to walk amongst the vines; it’s to taste the final product. I purchased a wine flight, and I was able to choose which wines I wanted to taste, and the best part was that their staff is highly educated and trained on all of their wines and will make sure that you find a wine that is perfect for you. Jacob’s Creeks wines are very reasonably priced, and you can purchase a bottle of any of the wines that you sampled to take back home with you or to have over dinner another day. I recommend getting there early so you can tour the vineyards and have enough time to purchase a bottle of wine and enjoy the view in their patio area.
5. The best tour you can book in Australia, Uncle Brian’s Cape Tribulation Day Tour.
Another Cairns adventure awaits. It is rare to find a tour company that makes your entire visit enjoyable because let’s be honest, sitting on a bus waiting to arrive at your destination tends to be boring. The guides at Uncle Brian’s are anything but boring. My tour guide was Brad, and he is hands down one of the funniest guides that I’ve ever had. From the moment he picked everyone up to the moment that he dropped everyone off he was entertaining and knowledgeable. The Cape Tribulation tour takes you to Port Douglass and the Daintree Rainforest. Port Douglass provides scenic views of the Great Barrier Reef and a chance to take a dip while the Daintree Rainforest is one of the oldest rainforests in the world. Mother Nature lovers this is your moment to enjoy both the beaches and rainforest. There is also a boat ride that will allow you to see crocodiles and channel your inner Steve Irwin as you yell out “Crikey, mate!” You know you will want to. This tour is more geared to the younger generation of travelers, so if you have an issue with inappropriate commentary from young backpackers; it is probably best not to book this tour.
Australia is a vast continent, and there are plenty of places to see. My best travel tip is to narrow down your points of interest by choosing what you want the trip to be for you. Relaxing, adventurous, fun, chill, the way you choose to spend your time is up to you, but it’s always good to have a focus or intent for your upcoming journey.