the fp is things-to-do
Things to see and do in Australia
Tourism Australia in the UKAddress: Australia Centre, Australia House, 6th Floor, Melbourne Place, Strand,
Telephone: +44 20 7379 4334.
Tourism Australia in the USAAddress: 6100 Center Drive, Suite 1150,
Telephone: (310) 695 3200.
Attractions in Australia
Canoe Nitmiluk Gorge
Also known as Katherine Gorge, this spectacular canyon system lies in the Northern Territory and rewards those who make the trip with one of the most memorable canoeing adventures in the country. The gorge is sacred to local indigenous groups. Choose from a few hours' hire to a multi-day trip.
Dive the Great Barrier Reef
Australia's east coast is brimming with mainstream tourist hotspots, from the brash hedonism of Surfer's Paradise to the 4-wheel-drive-friendly Fraser Island, but for most leisure visitors it's the Great Barrier Reef that remains the must-see sight. It's vast (2,300km/1,430 miles long, to be precise) and is arguably best experienced through diving and sailing trips to the Whitsunday Islands.
Drive the Gibb River Road
If you're looking for outback adventure, there are few better options than this 600km (370-mile) road across the Kimberley. Venerated by enthusiasts for both its rugged scenery and its challenging conditions, it can only be negotiated by 4-wheel drive vehicle. There's a shorter 'tourist loop' at the western end of the road.
Some cities just get it right. And Melbourne is one of them, giving visitors everything from Victorian-era architecture to cutting-edge counterculture, while also placing plenty of importance on food, festivals, the great outdoors and sport. A month or so here, among the laneway bars and street markets, and you'll be praising the city for life.
Fly over the Bungle Bungles
Australia knows all about otherworldly landscapes, but the orange-striped beehive domes of the Bungle Bungle Range – high up in Western Australia in Purnululu National Park – is one of the most extraordinary examples in the country. Take a scenic flight to get a sense of the scale of the domes.
Get arty in Adelaide
Generally to be found near the top of the list of those "world's most liveable cities" surveys, South Australia's capital is rightly seen as something of an urban gem. Attractive and uncrowded, it's renowned for its parks, its art galleries and its busy cultural calendar, which includes the largest arts festival in the southern hemisphere, the Adelaide Fringe.
Give Tasmania a try
Tasmanians cheekily refer to mainland Australia as 'the north island', and you can forgive the self-confidence. The island state is deserving of as much time as you can spare, cramming in an extraordinary variety of landscapes and outdoor activities. In Hobart, meanwhile, it also boasts a highly liveable capital city.
Go west to Perth
Western Australia's biggest city is something of a slow-burner. It lacks the immediate wham-bam of Sydney and Melbourne, but for those who take the time to explore its parkland, beaches and laidback urban vibe, it's somewhere that's easy to love. The surrounding region, offering up winelands and character-rich towns, adds to the appeal.
Go wild swimming in Litchfield
'Litchfield-do, Kaka-don't'. So runs the tongue-in-cheek advice from the Northern Territory's locals when it comes to choosing between their main national parks. Litchfield lacks the epic majesty of Kakadu, but its cascading waterfalls and swimming holes make it a deservedly more popular day-trip from Darwin.
Head to the Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains' proximity to Sydney makes them a near-essential part of any New South Wales itinerary. Their name comes from the bluish haze given off by the eucalyptus trees that carpet the range's huge slopes. A great spot for everything from bush-walking to horse-riding.
Hike the Flinders Ranges
Many visitors never make it down to South Australia, which makes the rolling mountains of the Flinders Ranges all the more special. They play home to national parks, sleepy towns and the kind of true-blue Aussie character that the country's famous for – don't miss the colossal natural amphitheatre of Wilpena Pound.
Marvel at Kakadu National Park
Wrapped up in endless layers of spiritual significance, Kakadu National Park offers 20,000 sq km (7,700 sq miles) of untamed (and some would say unrivalled) Australian wilderness. There are crocs, creeks, escarpments and waterfalls, as well as an immense collection of ancient Aboriginal rock art.
Ride the Ghan
A north-south alternative to the east-west passage of the Indian Pacific, The Ghan passenger train chugs the full length of the country from Darwin to Adelaide, calling in at Alice Springs and Katherine en route. It's a great way of taking in the breadth of the outback while enjoying Aussie wine, good food and comfortable cabins.
Sink into Sydney
Where to start with Sydney? It's a toss-up as to whether the locals or the tourists do the most swooning over it, and once you've experienced the surf beaches, the harbour, the skyline and that warm, lazy-day culture, it's not hard to understand why. Give the place as much time as possible.
Travel the Great Ocean Road
Showcasing arguably the finest surf-pounded coastal scenery in the country, the Great Ocean Road sits within driving distance of Melbourne. It's 250km (155 miles) long, so can be 'done' in a couple of days – far better, though, to take your foot off the gas and experience its towns and beaches at a relaxed pace.
Every bit as magical as the hype would suggest, 'The Rock' is the kind of monumental natural feature for which sightseeing seems too crude a category. Getting there can be time-consuming, but the reward (like Uluru itself) is immense. Take time too to visit nearby Kata Tjuta, in many ways just as epic a landmark.