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You’ve been dreaming of that big trip Down Under for so long and it’s finally time to make it happen. But the country is so big, how are you ever going to decide what to see on one small vacation? Our resident Australian, Erin Holmes of Explore With Erin, is here to guide the way! She knows the best 15 things everyone should do in Australia.

Australia is big. Almost as big as the U.S. The USA has a land area of almost 10 million square kilometers. Australia’s land area is almost 7.7 million. That’s a whole LOT to explore. Attempting to see everything in the U.S. on one vacation would be considered insane by most. Likewise, you are not going to see everything in Australia in just a few weeks. But I’m going to make your life easy by giving you my favorite 15 things to do in Australia, so you can more easily find your way around this giant, sunburned land.

New South Wales

Climb Sydney Harbour Bridge

The Sydney Harbour Bridge in New South Wales is Australia’s most famous bridge. It opened in 1932 and is the 6th longest spanning-arch bridge in the world and the tallest. And you can climb it. Whether you are looking for beautiful daytime views of Sydney or perhaps the glimmering lights of the city, this easy climb is safe and breathtaking.

See Opera at Sydney Opera House

With over 40 shows a week at the Sydney Opera House, there’s something for everyone. It is one of the 20th century’s most famous and distinctive buildings. And Opera will never sound the same once you listen to the Sydney Opera House.

Victoria

Ride the oldest operating roller coaster in the world

You can’t go past a visit to the historic Luna Park that has been running for over 100 years. The Great Scenic Railway is the oldest operating roller coaster of its kind anywhere in the world. And the only one that still has a standing brakeman in control aboard the moving carriages. 17 meters tall, speeds of 60km/h and a ride time of 3 minutes and 30 seconds.

Travel the Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road spans 400 kilometers (249 miles) from Victoria right to the South Australian border and is one of the world’s most scenic coastal drives. Make sure you stop in at the famous 12 Apostles and read the story of Loch Ard Gorge. One of the best things to do in Australia.

Northern Territory

Uluru, also known as "Ayers Rock"

Uluru, also known as “Ayers Rock”

Photograph Uluru at sunset

Just like Australia has its most famous bridge, we also have a pretty famous rock. Ayers Rock or Uluru is in the Northern Territory, in the very center of Australia. The area around is home to an abundance of springs, waterholes and rock caves. And you’ll never experience any other sunset is spectacular as one at the “Red Rock”.

Aboriginal Cultural tour

Discover Australia’s indigenous people through a cultural tour. You’ll be able to engage with local Aboriginal people in their environment, learn basket weaving, dilly bag making, how to throw a spear, blow a didgeridoo, play the clapsticks and samples local bush tucker, like witchetty grubs and damper.

Queensland

Aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia

Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef

I’m sure you realize Australia has the largest coral reef system … but did you know you can even see it from outer space? 900 islands across 1,400 miles of beautiful, colorful, alive reef. The best way to see the Reef is by jumping in the crystal clear waters to snorkel along with all the other fish in the sea. This was voted as one of the most favorite things to do in Australia.

Ride as many rides as you can at Gold Coast’s Theme parks

Queensland is the theme park state of Australia and you will never run out of things to do. Whether it’s water slides at Wet n Wild, re-living your favorite movies at Warner Bros. Movie World or cheering on wildlife at SeaWorld, you won’t be bored on the Gold Coast.

Discover Steve Irwin’s vision for Australia Zoo

This is not just any zoo. Australia Zoo was created by Steve and Terri Irwin, whose vision was to make it the biggest and best wildlife conservation facility in the entire world. And you won’t be disappointed by the animal experiences offered at this special place.

Western Australia

Quokkas on the Rottnest Island in Australia.

Smile with a Quokka

Off of Western Australia is an island that the Dutch considered to be rat-infested, and so named it Rottnest (Rat Nest). But they weren’t rats. They were actually the happiest animal in the world, the Quokka, a small cat-sized marsupial, like a tiny kangaroo.

Ride camels at sunset in Broome

You must have seen the photos of the iconic Cable Beach, where a camel ride in the sunset is pure beauty. Be careful, I hear camels spit.

Get friendly with the local dolphins in Monkey Mia

Friendly wild bottlenose dolphins regularly swim to Monkey Mia’s shore to interact with humans up to three times a day. Renowned as one of the best and most reliable places for dolphin interaction in the world, Monkey Mia is the only place in Australia where dolphins visit daily, not just seasonally.

Swim with whale sharks in Ningaloo Reef

If you haven’t swum with these gentle giants, then head to Ningaloo Reef between March and August. Whale sharks scour the world’s oceans in search of plankton to feed on and Ningaloo Reef has one of the largest concentration in the world.

South Australia

Vineyards in Barossa Valley, Australia

Vineyards in Barossa Valley

Take a hot air balloon ride over the Barossa Valley

The Barossa Valley is a world-renowned wine producing region. To truly admire these wineries, take to the sky and enjoy breathtaking views during peaceful sunrise. You’ll even spot the ocean.

Australia-Wide

The Big Pineapple, a tourist attraction in Queensland, Australia

The Big Pineapple, a tourist attraction in Queensland

Make your way to all the BIG things

We like it big in Australia. As big as our country. So we have over 150 objects around the country that are big. Large novelty architect structures or sculptures. You can find them in every state. I won’t name them all, but you’ll likely want to see The Big Lobster in SA, The Big Ned Kelly in Victoria, The Big Merino in New South Wales, The Big Banana also in New South Wales and The Big Pineapple in Queensland.

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