The Ultimate Aussie Bucket List

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May 11, 2018

by BRIDGET DE MAINE, Online Writer

You’ve seen our best on postcards: the glittering coast of Bondi Beach littered with sunbathers or Uluru standing guard over sands of ochre red. These landmarks seem almost too familiar to capture in a different light but as any local will tell you, there’s always a new way to see Australia. Here’s how to experience our most celebrated landmarks from a new angle. 

Uluru, Northern Territory

In October 2019, Uluru will return to its rightful role as a sacred monument for the Indigenous population of the Northern Territory and the ban on climbing it will finally come into effect. Currently, the Uluru Base Walk is a popular alternative for visitors but the vermillion hue of this ancient wonder can be appreciated in myriad different ways – and time of day is key. Sunrise illuminates Uluru in a way that no other hour truly can and evenings spent under the stars – perhaps at the popular open air dinner Sounds of Silence – with the rock silently looming in the background confirms its hallowed status.

Twelve Apostles, Victoria

Though only eight remain of the original towering twelve, these stoic limestone stacks steal an impressive share of attention off the south coast of Victoria. Most visitors will head to the lookout points on the edge of the Great Ocean Road but there are other options: taking a turn from above in a helicopter or seaplane will lay the sharp juts of coast out below in stunning detail or, if you’d prefer a more languid look, a 40 kilometre, multi-day trail culminates at this very point. Starting from Castle Cove and leading through rugged beach track, lush wetlands and deep valleys, this lingering hike is punctuated by a welcome luxury lodge

Sydney Harbour Bridge, New South Wales

The affectionately christened ‘Coathanger’ frequently steals the sightseeing limelight when visiting the Emerald City. Short of climbing its curve or gliding underneath it aboard a ferry, is there any other way to capture the essence? A guided kayaking tour should do the trick – even few locals could claim they’ve traversed the harbour this way. Sydneysiders also love a hearty brunch, so paddling past an eatery with harbourside windows such as Celsius Coffee Co. and stopping in for a super greens breakfast would be quintessentially laid-back Sydney.

Melbourne CBD, Victoria

With nooks and crannies that lend themselves perfectly to exploration, the cultural weave of Melbourne’s heart gives weight to its frequent portrayal as the most European of all our cities. Probing into its corners reaps rewards aplenty: cafes churning out coffee of an unrivalled standard, cave-like watering holes that guard their sovereignty and street art that never shies away from a shock or two. Locals know these laneways well and you’d do well to emulate them by taking up a few trails with a clear purpose in mind. Consider looping in an art mural trail by following a simple walking tour and letting yourself be lured into other alleys or consider swapping a pub crawl for a bar crawl instead – Melbourne is known for its cosy speakeasies that occasionally take more than an ID to enter and just being able to step through the threshold of bars such as Smith Street’s clandestine Above Board or the unnamed backdoor drinking den behind Pizza Pizza Pizza feels like a win.

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SEE ALSO: Two Weeks, One Country – How to See Australia’s Most Beautiful Places

Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia

Yes, the water is an unnaturally vibrant shade of swimming pool blue and yes, the reef is a marine metropolis of busy, varied fish but nothing will truly compare to saddling up to a Dalmatian-esque whale shark. Swim alongside these placid creatures and feel your heart rate quicken, while other friendly sea-dwellers join the group: turtles, dugongs and dolphins are also frequent visitors. If you’re a dry land sort of person, consider whipping past the swimmers on a quad bike tour instead. 

Kakadu, Northern Territory

There’s over 65,000 years of history written into the deep ravines and rushing rivers of Kakadu National Park, where our Indigenous ancestors have spent generations thriving in its ruggedness. Hiking is a popular outlet for keen explorers but combining an on-foot adventure with a canoeing element provides a new edge to your experience. Drifting down the Katherine River – trimmed with ancient pandanus and ghostly paperbark forests – is the most popular choice. For all its apparent harshness, Kakadu is abundant as an LA Wholefoods store to those who know how to forage. Take the opportunity to gather ancient wisdom and experience real bush tucker and you’re likely to change your view on Kakadu. 

Bondi Beach, New South Wales

When in Bondi do as the locals do: take the Bondi to Bronte for fitness rather than photo opps or grab brunch at a café that captures that breezy Bondi spirit (Parida Bondi, for example, with its indoor palms is both tropical and tasty). Or, tick that bucket-list and take a surfing lesson: there’s nothing more Sydney than the lingering scent of sea salt through your hair.

SEE ALSO: The Ultimate Food Bucket List