I have been hearing so much about Australia lately that I’ve halfway made up my mind that I should go visit next year. It’s relatively closer to the Philippines than say, the United States, where I’d been three times, and it does offer a lot more to me who’s interested in extreme adventure activities.
A fellow blogger, who wrote a post on traveling solo in Sydney, raved so much about that city and how close it is to some national parks. It’s only an 8-hour flight from Manila.
There are indeed so many things to do in Australia — and so many places to visit — that I can’t quite decide what to do or where to go first when I do get a chance to travel there.
In any case, I’ve come up with my own mini-bucket list of places to visit in Australia and some exciting (read: heart pumping) things to do. But first, what about accommodations?
I know it’s very expensive to travel Down Under, but like anywhere else, it’s easy enough to save on accommodation if you know how. Online booking sites like Hotels.com, for example, have loads of properties listed, so it’s easy to choose what’s best for your budget.
They offer discounts and last minute deals, like their Boxing Day Blowout which has a number of discounted hotel rooms. I would definitely check it out when I go there. As a solo traveler, for example, I would most likely choose hostels where I can socialize with other travelers. You can find beds in 2-star hotels for less than 20 AUD. I was surprised to see Israel hostels are more expensive!
With the accommodations squared away, here are the best things to do in Australia (at least for me) that I would definitely prioritize doing.
Diving the Great Barrier Reef (Queensland)
Hands down, this is the first thing I would do when I travel to Australia. I’m just an open water diver with less than 20 dives under my belt, but even I have heard so much about the rich marine life in the Great Barrier Reef. It has been called a “magical place,” and however cliché-ish it may sound, I firmly believe it is so.
According to PADI.com, the Great Barrier Reef is “the only living structure on earth that can be seen from outer space…Made up of nearly 2900 individual reefs, 600 continental islands and 300 coral cays, it’s the world’s largest single structure comprised of living organisms.”
I can’t even imagine how it would feel diving there, where, depending on the season, you can see dwarf Minke whales, giant potato cods, manta rays, and crowds of barracuda, sharks, and a whole lot more.
Skydiving at Mission Beach (Cairns)
I admit I have a low key fear of heights, but when I set my mind to something, I achieve it. Just thinking of jumping off an airplane is turning my knees to jelly, but if I had done the canyon swing in Bohol, then I can go skydiving, too!
My friend Karla had done it, and she said it was fine. There’s less than 1 minute of free fall before your partner pulls the chute, so it’s like a few seconds of not being able to breathe before gently falling and getting the best view of Australia from up above.
Caving in Tasmania
Niggly Cave in Tasmania is said to be one of the deepest caves in Australia, and is actually in the running for being called the deepest in the country. The reason they can’t give the title yet, is that none of the caves being considered have been fully explored.
Aside from diving, caving is another of my passions. Unlike caving in some countries, where you have multi-colored lights and train stations underground (hello, Silver Fox Cave in China!), my ideal caving experience is definitely to rough it out by rappelling, wading through the waters, and even chimneying up canyon walls.
I can imagine that Australia, with its numerous national parks, has its share of untouched caves just begging to be explored. Some of the best caves mentioned in other publications are Jenolan Caves in the Blue Mountains (New South Wales), Newnes (NSW), Minnow Falls (Tasmania), Jewel Cave (Western Australia), Naracoorte Caves (South Australia), and more.
Rappelling the Blue Mountains (NSW)
Another extreme adventure that I would be very happy to do is to go rappelling in the Blue Mountains National Park. It is very accessible from Sydney, only 50km away, and there are day trips specializing in this activity. I have rappelled before in the Philippines and Israel, and boy, I can’t wait to do it in the Blue Mountains!
You can rappel down limestone cliffs in the park, and tours, of course, include lessons, from how to check your gear to how to go down (always pay attention to your brake hand!). There are safety briefings, and all necessary equipment are included in the tours.
Exploring the Great Outback
Of course, no Australia visit would be complete without experiencing the Outback. Most travelers buy a van or a 4WD and go off on a road trip. They pick up hitchhikers, stop where they want, and camp where they can.
Australia is huge; a friend told me once that they had been driving for days and didn’t see anybody. It’s enough to make you loco if you’re doing it alone. Staying at a hostel beforehand will give you an opportunity to find fellow travelers who’d love to drive around Australia. You’ll get someone to split costs with, take over driving duties at some point, and most importantly, call for help if something happens to you.
If you find the idea of driving a 4X4 too vapid, the other options to explore the Australian Outback include using a bicycle, motorcycle, camel (yes, you read it right), or a cattle train. Indeed, when it comes to Australia, the sky’s the limit!
I don’t know yet when I’ll get to go, but one thing is for sure. For someone like me who’s very much into extreme adventures like diving, rappelling, and caving, Australia should definitely be my next destination, whether as a solo traveler or not.
Have you been to Australia? What can you say about the extreme adventure activities there?
Featured photo by Alexandre G. ROSA via Shutterstock.