100 THINGS TO DO IN AUSTRALIA YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF
From incredible sculptures to swimming with seals, sharks and tuna. This is Australian Traveller’s list of 100 Great Things To Do In Australia You’ve Never Heard Of . . . By The AT Team
Overwhelming feedback from our seminal 100 Things To Do In Australia Before You Die led us to think we’d missed something: sure, we had all the big icons covered, but what about the underrated and unknown?
These are the experiences we as Australians value and love about this amazing, sometimes bizarre, continent. We figured we’re always coming across something fascinating we’ve never heard of before, why not share it with the world?
Once again our esteemed panellists got right into the spirit of the exercise, plucking the best and brightest from an original list of hundreds and hundreds of great nominations from around the country. They deserve our hearty thanks, because by its very nature this was a far trickier task than identifying Australia’s major icons, since no one panellist had heard of even a fraction of the attractions offered. But if it sounded intriguing and their reactions led them to exclaim, “now that I’d like to see,” then there was a fair chance that you, the reader, would agree.
The result is a fun, fascinating, wonderful eye-opener of a bible to some of the historic, mythic, incredible hidden corners of Australia.
As always, please send us any Great Things you think we’ve missed.
See you out there,
The Australian Traveller Team
Click the links below to check out each 100 Great Things Entry
Stay the night in Australia's most haunted house - Monte Cristo Homestead Boarding school kids would’ve heard many terrifying ghost stories in their time. But these leave those for dead. Reg Ryan and wife Olive, owners of Monte Cristo Homestead, have lived at Monte Cristo for 40 years and subjected themselves to the presence of others in their home, their children grew up with a man dressed in work clothes peering into their bedroom window, family pets have gone berserk and run away, and the property was once illuminated with lights streaming from every window and doorway of the home...
Put your hard hats on and infuriate your insurance broker as you head for a tour on a real working mine. This is the stuff of insurance companies’ nightmares. Touring a real working copper mine. In an era of soaring public liability insurances and the cancellations of school fetes, local shows and swimming carnivals, one oddity stands out: Douggie’s Mine Tours. The only place in Australia (and possibly the world), where you take a tour inside a real working mine. Douggie takes you on a tour of the world’s purest copper deposit at the Mt Lyell mine in Queenstown, Tasmania....
When it comes to listening to the blues, can you think of a more perfect vessel than a vintage steam train, clickety-clacking its way across the countryside? The Blues Train, departing from the Victorian coastal town of Queenscliff and making its way through the Bellarine Peninsula is totally unique. Combined with four top-of-the-line blues acts and enough food and wine to run a small music festival, you’ll dance, eat and drink your way past the foreshores of Swan Bay, up into the hills of historic Drysdale, swapping carriages at every stop to listen to another band’s music, before looping back...
Musical Mount Scoria near Rockhampton As a famous failed nun turned governess once sang, those hills most certainly are alive with the sound of music. And nowhere is this better expressed than our tiny but impressive hill of Mount Scoria, south of Rockhampton. Billed as one of only three “musical mountains” in the world, and the only one in the Southern Hemisphere, the 150m high Mount Scoria is a rare, prehistoric rock formation that was the core of a volcano about 25 million years ago. The curious and interesting thing about Mount Scoria, however, is not its complex volcanic history...
Share your secrets with a lump of concrete at the Barossa Reservoir's Whispering Wall. Engineers are a funny bunch. They draw up detailed plans and make all sorts of calculations using words like “megajoule” to make us think their jobs are harder than they are. Naturally they don’t make mistakes, and when something wacky occurs, they nod and say, “But of course. There’s a simple scientific explanation for that.” But sometimes the unexpected occurs, such as when the Barossa Reservoir was built some 105 years ago. At the time this dam was a bit of a marvel, with a curved,...
Visit Australia's Unkown Grand Canyon: the Capertee Valley of the Blue Mountains It’s surprising, but the Blue Mountains does maintain a hidden gem – the Capertee Valley on the western side of the ranges, north of Lithgow. The place has it all: history, nature, quaint guesthouses and an excellent claim to fame. The valley itself is the second largest “enclosed” valley in the world – second only to the Grand Canyon. So for a jaw dropping, goose bump-inducing vistas, stop off at Pearsons Lookout on the road into the valley. And for those who like the views after a two-day...
Rent a cave of your own two hours drive from Sydney in the upper Blue Mountains For rent: one cave. Big, sunny and dry with most mod cons. Sound like something you’d be interested in? Awake to the sounds of thousands of birds and the sight of a million-year-old sandstone cathedral arching over your head. On a property that transects a deep gorge in the Upper Blue Mountains, Mark the Hatter (he makes leather hats) offers a simple solution to the satisfaction of human needs: “Water comes directly from the sky. Food is sumptuously prepared over a fire. Most guests...
Like the smell of Sulphur? Head to the Hunter Region's Burning Mountian. Considered the world’s oldest coal fire, Burning Mountain in the Upper Hunter Region is Australia’s only example of a naturally burning coal seam (one of only three in the world). Believed to have been naturally ignited about 6000 years ago, it’s slowly burning through a thick coal seam about 30m deep. The first non-Aboriginal observation of it occurred in 1828 when a local farmhand named Smart claimed to have found an active volcano. Poor old Smart’s fame was shortlived, though, and he completely failed to have a volcano...
Visit the Hasting Caves thought to be 40 million years of age. They’re estimated to have been untouched for 40 million years, but in 1917 timber workers finally stumbled upon the Hastings Caves in southern Tasmania. Newdegate Cave, named for a former Tasmanian governor, is one of only two dolomite caves in Australia and the largest tourist cave in the country. Inspect the huge chambers and unique fauna with a guided tour, operating several times a day with remarkable explanations of the cave’s geology. Pay special mind to Titania’s Palace - 5km from the cave you can luxuriate in a...
The Tilba Region, not your usual weekend retreat. The Mountain that dominates the skyline of the Tilba region is the densely forested Gulaga. Here, the larger of the two timeless towns, Central Tilba, nestles alongside the volcanic slopes, referred to as Mt Dromedary by non-locals. Both the tiny towns are preserved heritage villages with a cheese factory, jewellery stores, a woodturning gallery, bygone sweet stores, walking tracks and friendly locals. These towns may be quaint but certainly aren’t your dainty little weekend retreats – get tipsy at Tilba Valley Wines situated on the shores of Lake Corunna, hike through the...
An inexpensive wine tour in the Barossa Valley with an experience of a lifetime! Tour the Penfolds vinyards, and then make your own legendary bottle of wine to take home. The Barossa has always been synonymous with Australia’s most famous reds. Penfolds Grange Hermitage lives here. As does Henschke’s Hill Of Grace. And, more importantly, so can you. The Penfolds cellar door in the Barossa has opened Australia’s first “Make Your Own Blend” experience. That’s right – after a short walking tour of the winery and cellars, you then descend to the lab and get to blend Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre...
Enjoy the legendary Geebung Polo Match on Easter weekend. It was somewhere up the country, in a land of rock and scrub, that they formed an institution called the Geebung Polo Club . . . every Easter Sunday, crowds swarm to Victoria’s Dinner Plain to witness what has become a legendary event: The Geebung Polo match. The name of the game is victory as the High street boys (the Cuff ‘n’ Collar team) take on the local country cattlemen (Geebung Polo Club). This bareback battle is Australia’s largest Polo match and in true Aussie style adheres just barely to accepted...
Wonderful transportation though the land of Piners and Miners. Explore Tasmania’s west coast with the most unique and diversified tour of the state, starting in Strahan and winding through the fascinating world of Piners and Miners. The most amazing thing, besides the wonderful views and natural flavour, is that you’re transported in a number of ways: on the West Coast Wilderness Railway track on board a Landrover turned into see-through rail car; by 4WD to the Bird River Track; then on foot along a secluded track to Kelly Basin, a historic mining site with old ruins waiting to be explored....
The perfect family holiday, mosey along behind your very own Clydesdale. If you like to mosey, then this hobbit-like experience is probably the pick of them. The Colonial Way wagons are, as the name suggests, old style wooden caravans fit for Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin and any other fellowship you care to name. Sitting in your wagon, you’ve got your massive Clydesdales up front carrying you through the secluded and tranquil camping sites of this bucolic Victorian countryside. This is varied country for the traveller (or mosey-er), where rivers trickle and bubble, hills are climbed gently, and forests are wandered...
Catch your own dinner at Black Point in South Australia To make a list of Great Things To Do In Australia, beaches are a little handicapped. Since we have so many of them, a beach has to have something a little more than just beautiful white sand and gorgeous turquoise water. Out of South Australia, the Yorke Peninsula doesn’t get the attention it deserves for its fantastic beaches. And Black Point makes this list for its additional activities. As the sun sets and the tide is out, grab a snorkel and mask and head out to the shallows where you...
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