An Aussie Bucket List
As I’ve hinted at elsewhere, Aussie on the Road’s already popular bucket list is soon to be expanded by an arbitrary 323 items to a more round 1,000. As part of that process – and perhaps to inspire myself to explore my own back yard while I’m based in Australia – I’ve compiled a list of ten activities worthy of any Aussie bucket list.
I’ve made this list with an eye towards items for a first time visit to Australia, but I’ll revisit the idea in a couple of weeks with a few more off the beaten track suggestions for those who have already done most or all of the below.
Consider this the iconic Aussie bucket list, and the one to come will be for those looking to live a little bit more dangerously.
#10 – Visit Wine Country
Australia might be more famous for its beer, but Aussie wine is rapidly gaining an international reputation for excellence that can no longer be ignored. And while you’re now forced to pay for your wine tours in the famous Napa Valley region of California, most Aussie vineyards are still entirely free for those wanting to sample a bit of the local grape.
The more famous Barossa Valley in South Australia is very accessible from Adelaide, but consider looking at the Margaret River region of Western Australia or the conveniently close to Sydney Hunter Valley for your wine escape.
You can read all about the Hunter Valley’s many charms in my Wine Virgin’s Guide to Broke.
#9 – Travel Across the Nullabor
People often forget just how large the Australian landmass is, and no journey makes that quite as evident as the long and lonely stretch of mostly desert that exists in the country’s heart.
Whether you choose to drive it or take the more luxuriant Indian Pacific to get you there, the trek across Australia’s red centre is something to behold. The harsh landscape is broken up occasionally by quaint and distinctly Aussie towns and villages, giving you a window into a side of Oz far removed from the glitz and glamour of Melbourne or Sydney.
#8 – Work up a sweat on an Aussie farm
If you’re looking to spend more than a year in Australia, doing a little bit of farm work is essential to extending your Working Holiday visa by another year.
While you’ll never find this lazy and entitled Aussie out toiling in the sugar cane, cotton, fruit, or grape fields for his supper – my experiences speaking with backpackers who have done farm work or WWOOFing have painted an intriguing picture of the experience.
Sure, it’s hard work – but the bonds formed working in the fields and then collapsing into a boozy pile together at night’s end speak of a kind of camraderie that you’ll speak of for years after the sweat and dust have been washed off.
#7 – See the sun set and rise over Uluru
At the heart of Australia lies Uluru (sometimes called Ayers Rock) a massive, red monolith that only gets more beautiful as the sun rises or sets over it. While this sacred Aboriginal site can no longer be climbed, there’s something moving about the silence and serenity of this ancient icon.
#6 – Visit Kakadu
Also in Australia’s Northern Territory is Kakadu; a national park of river canyons, crocodile infested wetlands, ancient Aboriginal cave art, and some of the most stunning waterfalls you’ll find in Australia.
For those who still see Australia as it was portrayed in Crocodile Dundee, a visit to Kakadu and its surrounds is about as close as you’ll come.
You can read more about the Northern Territory and all it has to offer in my Travel Daydream: Northern Territory piece.
#5 – Learn to surf
Surfing may not have originated in Australia, but the sport has become synonymous with Australian beach culture and the image of a nation of suntanned beach bums who live and breath the ocean.
While not all of us surf, it’s safe to say that the sport is something of a national pastime and that there’s no shortage of places where you can learn. I learned to surf in Sydney, but in a country with plenty of coast – you don’t have to look far to find a lesson.
#4 – Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Alongside the Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge is perhaps Australia’s most well recognised landmark. It’s also Australia’s most climbable landmark, and the view from atop the bridge has to be seen to be believed.
You can catch the sun rising or get to see the Harbour City glittering by night (or anything in between), and the relatively easy climb is a wonderful way to take in the city and bring home a fun story for your friends & family.
Read about my own Harbour Bridge climb experience.
#3 – Drive the east coast
Is there a better way to see a country than by driving its width and bredth? I certainly don’t think so.
Australia’s east coast – stretching from Melbourne in the south up to the backpacker haven of Cairns in the north is one of the most drivable stretches of road you’re likely to find on earth, littered with quaint beachside towns and the occasional night life rich city to keep you occupied.
Pick up what locals call a ‘paddock basher’ or buy a campervan for your Aussie road trip, and let the road and your whims design an unforgettable itinerary for you.
#2 – Visit Lord Howe Island
I think I manage to squeeze in a Lord Howe Island mention virtually every time I write a piece about Australia, but it’s one Aussie bucket list item that I am still positively itching to check off my own list.
This stunning World Heritage listed island has to be seen to be believed, and is a haven for bird-watching, hiking, and water sports such as diving and fishing.
#1 – Scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef
See it before the Australian government inevitably destroys it. The Great Barrier Reef, the largest living organism in the world, might not be there for future generations – and that makes seeing it and sharing your love of it all the more important.
Stretching up most of the Queensland coast, there are plenty of places from which to launch your own scuba experience – and most scuba companies also allow snorkelers along for the ride so that they too can see the wonders that exist beneath the waves.
I was lucky enough to learn to scuba dive on the Barrier Reef, and it’s ruined me for other dive sites.
What would be on your Australian bucket list?
Obviously, I’ve written this list for a first time visitor; but if you’ve been before, what would you suggest as Aussie bucket list items that are a little bit more off the wall?