The Definitive Aussie Bucket List: 50 Things to do in Australia

By Aussie on the Road on  5 Comments
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I spend so much of my time pursuing bucket list items outside of Australia that I often forget just how much there is to be said for an Australian bucket list. With a huge variety of climates, landscapes, and cultures to be explored, the hardest part of preparing the following list was limiting it to just fifty things you should do while in Australia.

Enough waffle! On with the show!

Editor’s Note: Needing to brush up on your Aussie slang? Don’t forget to check out my exhaustive Guide to Australian Slang.

The Definitive Aussie Bucket List

Eat these iconic Aussie foods

aussie bucket list vegemite
Image courtesy of Vincent Brown

Australian food is a pretty dizzying blend of cultures and flavours, but there are a few distinctly Aussie foods that you can’t leave the land downunder without having tried:

  • Vegemite (Pictured)
  • Milo
  • A sausage roll and/or meat pie
  • Chico Roll
  • Tim Tams
  • Twisties
  • Kangaroo
  • Pavlova (Although New Zealanders will lie and say they invented it)
  • Anzac biscuits

New South Wales

Visit Lord Howe Island

lord howe island
Image courtesy of Percita.

An unspoiled paradise off the Australian coast, Lord Howe Island is all colourful reefs, idyllic beaches, and breathtaking views.

A UNESCO World Heritage site, Lord Howe Island practices sustainability like very few other places.

Attend a ‘Show’

royal easter show sydney
Image courtesy of Sacha Fernandez

Not to be confused with seeing a player or a live performance, ‘show’ is short for ‘agricultural show’ and these annual events are somewhat akin to a US County Fair.

The Royal Easter Show in Sydney is arguably Australia’s most famous, but virtually every town in the country does one each year. It’s definitely an invaluable glimpse into Australian culture.

Visit the Outback

lake menindee nsw outback
Image courtesy of Steve Mullarkey.

While it’s possible to visit the outback in almost all of Australia’s states (Victoria and Tasmania being the exception), the NSW outback is often called ‘the accessible outback’ due to the fact its a reasonable drive or train ride from civilization.

The outback towns of Menindee, Broken Hill, Burke, and Tibooburra all have a distinct, Mad Max charm.

See a show at the Sydney Opera House

sydney opera house vivid
Image courtesy of Christopher Chan

While it’s free to visit Australia’s most iconic building and snap photos in front of it, there’s something pretty special about stepping underneath those famous shells and seeing a show – be it opera or something a little more low key.

You can check the upcoming show schedule at the Sydney Opera House Events page.

If a show is too expensive, a few cheeky cocktails at Opera Bar should definitely be on your agenda. It’s one of Australia’s most scenic night spots.

Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge

sydney bridge climb
Not a bad way to view the city.

You haven’t seen Sydney until you’ve seen it from atop the city’s instantly recognisable bridge.

Sydney BridgeClimb takes up tours year round, but sunset tours offer a stunning sunset and the Sydney skyline by night.

Climb Australia’s highest mountain

mount kosciouszko camping
Image courtesy of Tatters

Located in the aptly named Snowy Mountains, Mount Kosciuszko is Australia’s highest mountain, but don’t let that intimidate you. At just over 2,228 m (7,310 feet), it’s hardly Everest.

Looking for an unforgettable camping spot? Kosciuszko National Park offers up some pretty breathtaking locations.

See the Three Sisters

three sisters
Image courtesy of cactusbeetroot

Located a few hours train ride from the heart of Sydney, the Blue Mountains region is one filled with breathtaking canyonlands, quaint boutiques and cafes, and some great hiking.

The Three Sisters are arguably the most famous natural landmark in the region, and can easily be visited as part of a day long exploration of the area.

Visit Bondi Beach, and then visit Sydney’s better beaches

bondi beach bikes
Image courtesy of A Beach Cottage

Bondi is grossly overrated, but you can’t come to Australia and not take a glimpse at Australia’s most famous stretch of sand, sunburn, and sea.

Once you’re done, head out to better beaches like Freshwater, Coogee, Bronte, or Shelly.

Or take a train up to Newcastle to visit Merewether, Redhead, or Dudley.

Celebrate New Year’s at Sydney Harbour

sydney fireworks new years
Image courtesy of Sacha Fernandez

Renowned the world around as one of the biggest New Year’s party, the Sydney New Year’s celebrations are a wild orgy of fireworks, live music, and hedonism that you could only find in Australia.

The event itself fills up pretty fast, but there are plenty of free vantage points around the city for those wanting to catch a glimpse of the signature firework display.

Chill Out in Byron Bay

byron bay surfing
Image courtesy of Richard Rydge.

Australia’s unofficial hippy capital, Byron Bay and its surrounding towns & villages epitomise the laid back, surfer culture that so many associate with Australia.

Weekend markets, musical festivals, and laid back attitudes abound.

Queensland

Scuba dive or snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef

great barrier reef
Image courtesy of Richard Ling

The largest living organism in the world and the only one visible from space, the Great Barrier Reef stretches from northern Queensland south to Fraser Island.

The best diving and snorkeling tours can be found from Cairns and its surrounds, and a live aboard out on the reef is a once in a lifetime experience worth pursuing.

Learn to Surf

noosa national park surfing
Image courtesy of Pursuedbybear

Surf culture is embedded into Australian culture, and there’s an abundance of options for those wanting to learn how to surf.

Noosa’s Point Break is considered a world class surf spot while also being a great place to learn, but surf schools are all along the Aussie coast.

Do the East Coast Road Trip

fraser island 4wd
Image courtesy of tph567

Cards on the table: I don’t drive, but I do love going on road trips.

Many a backpacker has made the long and scenic pilgramage from tropical Cairns to cultured Melbourne (or vice versa), and it remains one of the most popular bucket list items for visitors to Australia.

It’s a long drive (almost 3,000km and 32 hours), so an extra set of eyes on the road wouldn’t go astray. Subaru’s new eyesight technology alerts the driver to upcoming obstacles and hazards, an invaluable aid when driving long distances.

There’s plenty of other Aussie road trip options as well, and the ambitious even aspire to circumnavigate the country much as Caz & Craig from yTravel did recently.

Sail through the Whitsundays

whitsundays girl
Image courtesy of Paul Benjamin

Famed for its white sand and crystal clear waters, Queensland’s Whitsundays Islands are an archipelago centered around Hamilton Island and famous for world class sailing and picturesque, isolated beaches.

Whether you sail its emerald waters, visit famous Airlie or Whitehaven Beach for a soak, snorkel the Barrier Reef, or just soak in its unspoiled beauty – the Whitsundays is a must for any Aussie itinerary.

Visit the Bundaberg Distillery in Queensland

bundaberg distillery
Image courtesy of Tobias Spaltenberger

Australia’s most famous liquor is a brown rum distilled in the Queensland town of Bundaberg.

If you can’t find the time to pay the place a visit and snap a photo with its signature polar bear, the spirit in question is available in virtually every pub in Australia.

Go camping in Carnarvon Gorge

carnarvon gorge moss garden
Image courtesy of Craig Gibson

There’s no shortage of places in Australia to pitch a tent and roast a few snags over the fire, but Carnarvon Gorge in central Queensland is one of the more picturesque spots you’ll find.

For those not comfortable with roughing it in a country with so many poisonous animals, glamping is an increasingly popular alternative.

Attend a State of Origin match

state of origin
Image courtesy of Pierre Roudler

For three weeks a year, the rivalry between neighbouring states New South Wales and Queensland reaches fever pitch as their respective rugby league teams contest a three game series.

Dominated by Queensland for much of the past decade, there’s nothing more Aussie than drinking a few XXXX, painting yourself maroon, and indulging in the madness that is a State of Origin game at Brisbane’s Lang Park.

Visit the Australia Zoo

australia zoo crocodile
Image courtesy of thinboyfatter

While Australia has a wealth of fantastic zoos such as Taronga and Western Plains, my personal favourite is the Australia Zoo.

Started by Steve Irwin and his family, the Australia Zoo is a fantastic place for up close encounters with some of Australia and the world’s most fascinating animals.

Their animal encounters are a great way to snap photos with some of Australia’s most beautiful animals too.

Victoria

Drive the Great Ocean Road

great ocean road
Image courtesy of Australian Traveller

You’d be hard pressed to find a more scenic stretch of road in the world. The dramatic way in which Australia just comes to an end needs to be seen to be believed.

See the Twelve Apostles

twelve apostles
Image courtesy Emmett Anderson.

Part of the Great Ocean Road drive, visiting the Twelve Apostles is another must for those who appreciate breathtaking views and beautiful landscapes.

While there are no longer twelve thanks to erosion, these limestone pillars still cut striking figures in the angry sea.

Attend an AFL match

afl aussie rules hawthorn
Image courtesy of h00j-A

The biggest sport in five of Australia’s seven states and territories, Aussie Rules sees grown men in singlets chase a red ball around a large oval while tens of thousands scream their adoration.

It’s not for me, but most who go to an AFL game come away staunch supporters of this weird hybrid between soccer and rugby.

Up the mighty Hawks!

Attend the Spring Carnival

spring carnival melbourne
Image courtesy of Chris Phutully

Described as “the race that stops the nation”, the annual Melbourne Cup is Australia’s largest horse race and the culmination of the annual Spring Carnival of racing.

Women wear fancy hats, men drink entirely too much, and people across the country have a flutter in honour of the biggest race on Aussie soil.

Can’t attend? Most pubs in Australia have special promotions and delayed coverage of the race.

Embrace Melbourne’s food and coffee culture

melbourne cafe laneway
Image courtesy of Andrew Wilson.

Australia’s undisputed culture capital, Melbourne is famous for its coffee and food scene.

Some have even described the Victorian capital as one of the best food destinations in the world.

Don’t you owe it to yourself to find out if it lives up to the hype?

Attend a Test Match at the MCG

MCG Cricket Melbourne
Image courtesy of Tourism Victoria

Cricket is played all around Australia in some truly beautiful grounds (shout outs to the SCG and Adelaide Oval), but the Melbourne Cricket Ground is Australia’s largest stadium and one of its most historic.

While a one dayer or a 20/20 is a fine introduction to the world’s second most popular team sport, a test match complete with overpriced watery beer, cucumber sandwiches, and a meat pie is a dinky di Aussie experience.

Western Australia

Cruise through the Kimberley Region

kimberleys cruise
Image courtesy of Kimberley Cruise Centre.

The most popular suggestion when I asked on Aussie on the Road on Facebook, a river cruise through the starkly beautiful desert gorges of north-western Australia is undoubtedly something for the bucket list.

Swim with Whale Sharks at Ningaloo Reef

whale shark ningaloo reef
Image courtesy of Sylke Rohrlach

While it is possible to swim with whale sharks elsewhere in the world, Western Australia’s Ningaloo Reef allows you to dive or snorkel with these beautiful fish without having to feel guilty.

Get a quokka selfie on Rottnest Island

quokka selfie rottnest island

The most viral marsupial on the internet, the adorable quokka might just be the most photogenic animal in the southern hemisphere.

Head to Rottnest Island to get your own selfie with one of these cute critters.

Take the Indian Pacific from Sydney to Perth

indian pacific australia
Image courtesy of Simon Yeo

Rail might be on its way out, but it’s still the best way to make the long, dusty trip from Sydney to Perth.

While it can be a little pricey, you get a sleeper cabin and a view to some of the most desolate yet beautiful scenery Australia has to offer.

See Desert Wildflowers in Bloom

desert flowers western australia
Image courtesy of Adrian Makarov

The Australian deserts don’t look like the most colourful of places, but on occasion they come to life with a rainbow of colours as wildflowers take over the dunes.

60% of the wildflowers on display in Western Australia’s national parks can be found only in Western Australia, making it a real treat for flower enthusiasts.

Visit Wave Rock

wave rock australia
Image courtesy of Eduardo Camponez

Hang ten at the world’s longest lasting, unbreaking wave.

Ride a camel along Cable Beach

cable beach camel sunset
Image courtesy of Josh Janssen

While camels aren’t native to Australia, the durable dromedary has found a second home in Australia’s dry interior.

Cable Beach is anything but a desert though, and a sunset camel ride along its seemingly unending white sand is something for the dream wall.

South Australia

Spend a night in an underground hotel in Coober Pedy

coober pedy catholic church
Image courtesy of Michael

The sun-baked interior of Australia is mostly desert, but that hasn’t stopped hard-as-nails Aussies from making a home for themselves.

The opal mining town of Coober Pedy in South Australia (or White Cliffs in NSW) has taken it all underground, and you can spend a night beneath the red centre in a hotel carved into the bedrock.

Dive with Great White Sharks

great white shark
Image courtesy of Armin Rodler

Very few things frighten me quite so much as the perfect killing machine that is the great white shark, but you’re (relatively) safe diving with the big bastards in Port Lincoln.

Drink Wine in the Barossa Valley

barossa valley
Image courtesy of asheshwor

Australian wine is famous the world around, and the Barossa Valley in South Australia is arguably the best place to sample some Aussie wine.

Other great places to try Australian wine include the Margaret River region of Western Australia and the Hunter Valley in New South Wales.

Visit Corner Country

cameron's corner store

Stand in three states at once in Corner Country as you straddle the invisible line that separates Queensland, South Australia, and New South Wales.

The Queensland side even has a store for lunch and an ice cold drink, with the aptly named ‘Corner Store’ the only watering hole within cooee.

Northern Territory

Explore Arnhem Land

arnhem land
Image courtesy of Roderick Elme

It’s a sad fact that much of Australia’s indigenous population and traditions have been irreparably damaged by European conquest, but the isolated Arnhem Land region of the Northern Territory is one place where it is still possible to see Australia as it once was.

See the sun rise over Uluru

uluru sunrise
Image courtesy of Lawrence Murray

The world’s largest monolith lies somewhere at Australia’s red centre, and while it’s certainly beautiful at all times of day, there’s something transcendent about seeing it change colours as the sun comes up.

Or sets. It’s pretty spectacular then too.

Explore Kakadu

kakadu jim jim falls
Image courtesy of Ben Ashmore

The kind of country that Crocodile Dundee made famous, Kakadu National Park is about as wild and beautiful as Australia gets.

Dive with a saltwater crocodile

saltwater crocodile
Image courtesy of Stephen

They’re not something to be trifled with, but the prehistoric predators of Australia’s north can be seen face to face from behind the safety of a shatter proof dome in Darwin.

Kayak Katherine Gorge

katherine gorge kayaking
Image courtesy of Amy Berlew

High walled canyons, isolated freshwater streams and lakes, and the abiding silence of the desert – Katherine Gorge offers up unforgettable kayaking and some beautiful, isolated swimming spots.

Attend the Beer Can Regatta or the Henley on Todd Regata

henley on todd regatta
Image courtesy of Alli Polin

Australians have a whole bunch of unique festivals, and these two Northern Territory traditions are worth a look.

The Beer Can Regatta in Darwin sees boats constructed from (you guessed it) beer cans. The racers than fling themselves off a pier and see how far they can go.

No water? No problem! The Henley on Todd Regatta in Alice Springs has teams racing in home-made ‘boats’ across the sun-baked earth.

Tasmania

Climb Cradle Mountain

cradle mountain dove lake
Image courtesy of Atsushi Kase

It’s not Australia’s highest point, but Cradle Mountain in Tasmania is arguably its most picturesque.

Pay your respects at Port Arthur

port arthur
Image courtesy of Tom Fassbender

Once known as one of Australia’s more grim penal colonies, Port Arthur now lives in infamy due to its role in Australia’s worst ever massacre.

Visitors not only get to wander the old jail ruins, but can pay their respect to those who lost their lives in the tragic incident in 1996.

See the Southern Lights

aurora australis southern lights
Image courtesy of Tim Cooper

Not as famous as the aurora borealis in the northern hemisphere, the Southern Lights (aurora australis) are no less spectacular.

Viewable only from Tasmania (and southern New Zealand), the lights are a rare treat for those patient enough to spot them.

See Wineglass Bay from above

wineglass bay
Image courtesy of Victor Ho

Located in Tasmania’s Freycinet National Park, Wineglass Bay is one of Australia’s most photographed bodies of water.

The hiking and camping in the area are pretty spectacular too.

Visit MONA in Tasmania

MONA Tasmania
Image courtesy of ABC

Where else in the world can you see both old and new art (MONA stands for Museum of Old and New Art) in the same location where dolphins play in the nearby ocean?

Australia’s largest privately owned museum is so much more than an art gallery, and is a favourite with visitors to Australia,

Australian Capital Territory

Attend an ANZAC Day Dawn Service

last post

While it is possible to attend a dawn service anywhere in Australia to pay your respect to fallen servicemen, starting your day with the Last Post and the Ode to Remembrance at the Australian War Memorial is second only to spending it at Anzac Cove in Turkey.

The War Memorial is a moving experience year round.

Visit Canberra

parliament house canberra
Image courtesy of Rudolf Helmis

Australia’s capital might not be as exciting as Sydney or as vibrant as Melbourne, but its a city of galleries and memorials worth a look if only for its unique architecture and country charm.

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  • Looks like a fun list! I know one of my favorites will be listening to the Australian accent- it is very hot!:) I’d also love to hug a koala and kangaroo!

  • `Haha, that Aussie accent is certainly popular! I’m looking forward to my US trip so that I can benefit from it again haha

  • The Southern Lights sound epic! I didn’t know you could see them down in Tassie. I’ve always had that on my NZ bucket list. Looks like I gotta plan a trip down there to see it for myself.

    • I wasn’t aware they were visible from Oz until I started putting this post together and found it on a few other lists. My friend on the Central Coast even managed to snap a photo of the Southern Lights leading up to Christmas! 😮

  • Nice to get this list from an Aussie! We have Milo back home in the Caribbean, but we’re not quite as passionate about it.

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