100 THINGS TO DO IN AUSTRALIA BEFORE YOU DIE (2006 EDITION)
The 100 Things To Do In Australia Before You Die. It’s a big country out there. But with so many ways to experience it all – and only one lifetime – where on Earth do you start? That’s where we come in . . .
The 100 Things To Do In Australia Before You Die
In rank from One to a Huindred, this is how the panel voted:
How We Arrived At The 100
Compiling the 100 Things To Do In Australia Before You Die is an exercise fraught with danger, as we always knew it would be; Australians can’t agree on a republic or a monarchy, let alone what are the most important things to experience in this country. So we undertook this project with a real understanding of the challenges. That’s why we stood back and said we shouldn’t be the arbiters of this guide, but instead the facilitators of the debate.
Ultimately, the list should be a collaborative assessment that represents all of Australia, which really requires two things: a starting point that includes as many “things to do” as possible; and then a way to distil this into the 100 things Australians should prioritise as the most important.
To arrive at the most exhaustive starting list possible, we went first to the most informed: the travel and tourism industry. The call went out to the entire industry to submit a nomination (or nominations, as we invited them to vote early and often). To balance this we also enlisted the help of our bank of expert travel writers, and finally you, our readers, through our website.
And what a turn out. From the tourism industry alone we received more than 700 submissions (a huge testimony to their enthusiasm for the project – thanks, everyone, for your support), then we added to that the fantastic ideas and inspiration our readers and writers brought to the project. In the end, after culling double-up nominations, we had a fairly definitive list of more than 950 unique “Things to Do In Australia Before You Die.”
To arrive at the magic 100, we pulled together an excellent panel of passionate, well-travelled individuals from all quarters of society. (In fact, a special thanks must go out to our panellists, who generously donated their time and expertise and were, without exception, thrilled to be involved. Their enthusiasm and love for our vast and sometimes inexplicable land kicked this project into another stratosphere.
All nine panellists then received a spreadsheet of nominations, divided into two categories: around 300 probable and 400 possible items. Each was then scored out of five, where a one was “No Way”, and a five was “Must Be Included.” We tallied the totals, and there was our list.
You’ll have noted that the panellists judged only 700 nominations from an original list of 950. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, we developed this guide primarily for Australians, so we culled what we believed to be important, yet assumed. A great example is “see a kangaroo.” For an overseas visitor, yes.
For an Australian, most of us would have seen one, maybe eaten one, probably even hit one in a 4WD. Secondly, the guide is mainly about activity, not a specific place where that activity can be done. So, while “swim with dolphins” was nominated 18 times at 18 different spots, we decided it should appear as only one nomination for our panellists to consider.
We hope you find the inspiration to get out and see this great country of ours, and of course we know you’ll think we missed a few Things To Do. That’s fine, that’s how it’s supposed to work – so we’ve set up a section on the website for you to tell us what you think should’ve made it.
There are really two things you have to do before you die regarding Australia’s largest national park: see Kakadu in the wet (December to March) and see it in the dry (all other months). In either case, the place has a reputation for overloading the senses. “A pre-Noah’s Ark, not to mention the pre-Noah art. Walk, drive, swim, watch the wildlife and be reminded of the World Heritage worthiness of this beautiful realm.” - John Borthwick In the wet the park drowns in water, heat, humidity, bright tropical colours, nature in the raw – all the fundamental elements that make...
No matter how many documentaries you’ve seen or how much it has been hyped up by everyone you’ve spoken to, once you’ve taken your first look into the world’s biggest aquarium, it is waaaay better than expected. “A genuine wonder.” - George Negus The vivid colours, subtle movements and interactions between the many life forms are utterly mesmerising. Not surprising, really, as the reef boasts dugongs and green turtles, a large variety of dolphins and whales, more than 1500 species of fish, 4000 types of mollusc, and more than 200 species of bird. “There’s no way around it. You’ve...
It’s the dream of many Australians, but often it takes some guts to say: “Now is the time.” Time, that is, to drop out of the rat race for a while, take three to six months off and drive around Australia. Cut yourself free. And freedom is the most important word here. Freedom to jump in your vehicle (be it a family sedan, 4WD, campervan, caravan, Ute or the famed but slightly overrated Kombie), head where you want to head, stop where you want to stop, spend extra days at places you like, skip right by places that disappoint, and...
There are many remarkable things about Uluru, the huge monolith 465km southwest of Alice Springs in Australia’s Red Centre. But perhaps the most remarkable is how few Aussies have ever visited it. Maybe because it’s a long way to go from most population centres and people think there’s little to do once you get there. Think again. A trip to Uluru (Ayers Rock), and the neighbouring Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), represents one of the world’s most memorable walking holidays. Firstly, there’s the opportunity to walk around the rock (some 9.4km – our tip: start early in the day), which is...
You wouldn’t visit Paris and not climb the Eiffel Tower, would you? Or make the trip to New York and not stand atop the Empire State Building. So why would you visit Sydney – or even live in Sydney – and not climb the world famous, instantly recognisable Sydney Harbour Bridge? You might argue that you’d like to climb the Sydney Opera House, too, which is just as - if not more – famous. The problem there is that you’d be arrested. Just like you would’ve been had you climbed the Coathanger prior to 1998, when BridgeClimb was opened. Quite...
The Kimberley offers visitors one of the most spectacularly rugged coastlines in the world - a place of soaring red cliffs and cascading waterfalls, tidal rivers lined with dense rainforest and sprawling mangroves. And all are teeming with wildlife. The area is virtually unspoilt, and for a very simple reason: it is remote. “This is an amazing region so unique to our country. And the area itself is great on or off land! I say take your time to explore both.” - George Negus The only roads in the region are a very small number of 4WD tracks that are...
Off the North West Cape of WA is Australia’s other magical reef, Ningaloo. Far from being out to sea and accessible only by boat, Ningaloo is special because you can walk literally from the beach to the reef, with water only coming up to your knees in the brilliant white sanded lagoon. More than 500 species of fish are found here, along with 220 species of coral. “What more eerie and special treat can there be than swimming alongside these gentle giants? For intimate wildlife encounters, this is about as good as it gets.” - Greg Barton From mid-March to...
Sydney Harbour, NSW: This list was compiled in 2006. The updated 2011 Edition can be found here. Sure, you should “do” Sydney Harbour before you die. The problem is how. Sydneysiders have been inventing new ways to do the Harbour for years: you can cruise on it, power boat on it, sail it, swim it, sit by it, canoe it, fish on it, eat on it, dance on it, drive over it, drive under it, fly past it, sit on an island in it, view it from the zoo . . . the list goes on and on. It’s also become increasingly...
The Great Ocean Road is without doubt one of Australia’s most spectacular drives, built into the steep seaside cliffs of southwest Victoria. The Southern Ocean and views of the dramatically eroded coastline, including the famed Twelve Apostles, are on one side, the sheer cliffs are on the other. The small strip of bitumen that weaves its way along the coast is right in front of you. But the Great Ocean Road is much more than a road these days. It forms the most popular surf coast of Victoria (including Bells Beach), boasts superb and often deserted beaches, lighthouses, remarkable shipwrecks...
If you want ancient history, take a stroll in the world’s longest continually surviving rainforests in Tropical North Queensland. Sister icon to the Barrier Reef, the forests have been around for over 110 million years. They’re inspirational, primeval and an absolute must-see for every Australian. The sort of place you could travel to over and over again and still not see everything. It’s a lush paradise with over 3000 plants (many still being discovered), host to half the known species of Australian birds, and many ways to explore: boat along mysterious rivers; trek through the dense, damp ecosystem; or drive...
Dazzling sapphire waters, colourful coral cays, bright, white inviting beaches, safe anchorages and coves, and hundreds of inhabited and uninhabited islands to explore: these are the Whitsunday Islands. “I’ve never once heard a traveller return less than thrilled.” - Catriona Rowntree Is there any other way to explore the world’s ultimate cruising region other than on your own boat - owned or rented? Can you believe that you haven’t yet sold the house and spent three months undertaking this arduous task? Dropping a line over the side to catch lunch. Determining off which island or in which cove you’ll anchor...
Ten years. That’s (probably, hopefully) how long you have to visit Cape York and experience a land that has defied the onslaught of civilisation, before the dirt tracks become sealed roads and the peninsula is changed forever. Until 100 years ago, only Indigenous Australians enjoyed this area – and what an area to enjoy. Australia’s most northerly point, and one of the few remaining great wildernesses, the Cape has plenty to offer. The dusty tracks contrast dramatically with the abundant river systems, crystal clear creeks and spectacular waterfalls. If you love bushwalking, four-wheel driving, wildlife, fishing, bird watching or camping,...
If it’s one of your desires to truly understand Aboriginal culture in this country, there are many ways to learn about Australia’s first nation. There are now many high-quality cultural attractions designed to inform the wider community about Aboriginal culture, including theatre, art and dance. But to get to know Australia’s oldest community properly, and for an experience that will change the way you view the world, you have to spend some time with them. And what better way than spending a week walking the desert with Indigenous Australians? Moving from community to community across the Central Desert, you can...
It’s amazing to think that the Sydney Opera House has been open just 33 years, and yet it’s as representative of Australia as the pyramids are of Egypt or the Colosseum is of Rome (both of which, if you think about it, have been standing a while longer). It’s photographed almost as often as these buildings as well, but how many people have actually been inside one of the Opera House’s 800-plus rooms? “Soak up the history with a backstage tour . . . you were born for that stage!” - Catriona Rowntree There’s one room in particular that every...
100 THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU DIE #016 - VISIT MELBOURNE'S SPORTING COLOSSEUM - THE HOME OF AUSSIE RULES
Australia’s greatest sporting temple, in Australia’s most sports-mad city, every seat on every tier full, and it’s game on - it’s an experience you simply have to have. (And once you’ve had it, you tend to want to repeat the dose.) To most Australians it doesn’t seem the slightest bit odd that a stadium dubbed the Melbourne Cricket Ground should be the home of Australian Rules football. Cricket these days rarely fills the MCG, so large is its capacity (nearly 100,000) - although pretty much every ticket is sold for the Boxing Day Test every year. “This really is the...
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