Dubbed as the largest island on Earth, and with a landscape covering everything from dry, cinnamon-hued outback to verdant rainforest, soaring cityscapes to immersed kaleidoscopic reefs, it would take more than a holiday or two to experience all of Australia’s treasures.
To make it easier, we’ve compiled our knowledge and composed a quick guide of what not to miss on your next trip, depending on where you’re thinking of visiting, and what you’re looking to get out of your Oz adventure.
...for the avid sight-seer.
Glitzy Sydney, with its iconic landmarks and chic city haunts, is unapologetic about appealing to tourists with cameras in hand. The majestic Harbour Bridge arched over the sail-like architecture of the Opera House is likely its most famous depiction, and an image not to be missed for any visitor.
Witnessed from many vantage points around the city, the Harbour Bridge connects the Sydney business district with North Shore’s commercial and residential areas, acting for many as the pulse of city life since it’s completion in 1932. Nicknamed ‘The Coathanger’ due to its arch-bridge design, it is an impressive 141 metres in height, offering some of the most spectacular city vistas for those who dare to take the Bridge Climb up its steel framework. If you choose to take your Harbour experience a step further, whether it’s for the bragging rights, the hands-in-the-air photo at the summit, or the awe-inspiring views, the Bridge Climb is fantastic to experience at sunset, as you witness the city wind down from the day, and gear up for the night.
Book yourself into one of the magnificent performances at Sydney Opera House, including musicals, comedies, and opera, inside the various venues, or enjoy dining on the harbour’s edge and watch the cosmopolitan city life race by. If you’re seeking an insider’s perspective of this celebrated attraction, we suggest the exclusive Backstage Tour, which runs daily and takes you ‘behind the scenes’ in intimate groups, including breakfast in the Green Room, usually reserved for the performers and privileged staff members. Top off your time here with a stay in the luxurious Shangri-La Hotel, with sweeping vistas of the skyline and Opera House from your lavish room or suite, and you’ve had the full VIP Sydney experience.
…for the animal lover.
A rugged region west of Sydney, the Blue Mountains boast dramatic canyons, sandstone escarpments, lush rainforest, and within all this, intriguing wildlife that call this enchanting mountain range ‘home’. Listed as a World Heritage Site in the millennium, The Greater Blue Mountains allows guests to explore its sights, including the iconic Three Sisters rock formation, by foot on walking trails, by horse with horse riding activities, and by bike along the Burramoko Ridge cycling track.
Animal fans will love to encounter Oz’s springing kangaroos at the Featherdale Wildlife Park on route to the Blue Mountains, where you get the opportunity to hand feed the roos and cuddle the koalas. Once you’ve been welcomed by the wallabies, The Blue Mountains Canyons and Wildlife Discovery Tour continues with a stroll over the Jamison Valley for views of the cascading three-tier Wentworth Falls, and onto the delightful, dancing water waves of Govett’s Leap. For a luxury Blue Mountains experience, the Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley is set on 4000 acres of land, 98% of which is used as a conservation reserve, so you can indulge in gourmet dining, soothing saunas and wildlife safaris, all guilt-free!
The Red Centre
…for the adventure enthusiast.
The crimson colours of the Australian Outback are a geographical marvel, and a sacred site for the Aboriginal people here. The 36 rock domes making up the ‘many heads’ of Kata Tjuta lie to the west of Uluru and are best explored with a AAT Kings tour; trek through the Valley of the Winds, winding through the creeks of Walpa Gorge, before a BBQ dinner of Australian specialities such as kangaroo meat and sparkling Australian wines. If you fancy a more energetic climb, we suggest Uluru be left for the sunsets and culturally enriching experiences that surround it, as climbing it can be controversial amongst the Aboriginal owners, but the Kings Canyon nestled in Watarrka National Park is an impressive 270 metre deep that may be scaled for magnificent views over Watarrka National Park.
The ruggedly beautiful outback town of Alice Springs is a must for anyone interested in experiencing aboriginal culture still thriving today, six unique Australian dialects can be heard as you wander down the main street, which the enchanting art galleries display local art works. Finish your outback experience at Longitude 131°; under the humbling amber glow of Ayer’s Rock, these luxury tented pavilions are scattered across the World Heritage-listed wilderness, a perfect base for learning of the ancient creation stories of the Anangu, and discovering the diverse flora, fauna and outback animals.
Great Barrier Reef
…for the water baby.
Comprising of 2500 reefs, 600 islands and cays, and 25 island resorts, the Great Barrier Reef is a marine playground for visitors to spot migrating whales, sea turtles, rare seahorses, and multi-hued fish - a sight not to be missed or left unexplored. Lizard Island spans over 1000 hectares and sits directly on the reef, offering a secluded retreat reminiscent of paradise, lined with 25 powdery beaches. Whether its high-end dining or deep-sea diving you’re looking for, the island is an all-inclusive mecca; many guests take one of the motorised dinghies out for the day, armed only with a freshly-prepared picnic hamper and snorkelling equipment to uncover their own spot on one of the Reef’s glistening gems. If you’re staying on Hayman Island, take to the skies one afternoon with a private helicopter tour over Heart Reef with One&Only Hayman Island, for spectacular aerial views of this kaleidoscopic reef, before your feet hit the soft sands of Whitehaven Beach.
The Daintree Rainforest
…for the nature buff.
As the largest continuous area of tropical rainforest on the Australian continent, stretching right down to the edge of the sea, Daintree Rainforest is an emerald-infused haven for nature enthusiasts. Expect to meet some flying friends here, the home for 90% of Australia’s bat and butterfly species, as well as an array of exotic birds, scurrying insects and small, scaly reptiles. Silky Oaks is intertwined with the Mossman Gorge River, offering total relaxation and seclusion in the heart of the World Heritage listed Daintree National Park. Importantly, you can enjoy canoeing down the winding river, guided rainforest walks and sleeping to the sound of humming birds, knowing the lodge is eco-friendly.
For the past 15 years, Silky Oaks has prioritised the Integrated Environmental Management System to ensure its presence has zero damaging effects on its local environment, from the organic toilet amenities in all guest bathrooms to the locally-made products in the gift store. The discerning foodies will not want to miss the Treehouse Restaurant, Northern Queensland’s fine dining experience with open-side design, panoramic rainforest views, and fresh local produce teamed with fine Australian wines.