So, the 100 Incredible Experiences (right here in your backyard) special issue is out now. Here are the overall Top 10 Experiences from the 100 – the best in each of our 10 categories for you to add to your bucket list. Enjoy.
Best Unforgettable Walk and Adventure – Bridle Gap hike, Wilpena Pound, SA
Part of the amazing 1200-kilometre Heysen Trail, Bridle Gap’s a six-hour return hike across 19 kilometres, which dissects the wonder that is Wilpena Pound. It’s a bird-lover’s dream with a variety of them calling the native pines, eucalyptus and heath home.
Most Unique Place To Lay Your Head – Moonbah Hut, Moonbah Valley, NSW
These cute stone cabins are nestled on the outskirts of Jindabyne in NSW’s Snowy Mountains. On the banks of the Moonbah River, each of these two charming huts boasts a large open fireplace, underfloor heating, and an indoor bathroom. Pick your season at Moonbah Hut for either fly fishing, horse riding, bushwalking or the likes of snowshoeing, and, of course, skiing.
Best Must-See Events & Festivals – Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, Queensland
Every August yachties and spectators alike descend on Hamilton Island to watch sails race around the Whitsundays and enjoy everything from fashion shows to exclusive dining events hosted by the likes of Guillaume Brahimi. Race Week is Australia’s largest offshore yachting regatta.
Best Invigorating Aquatic Playground – Satellite Island, Tasmania
You can hire the whole of this tiny Tasmanian island for yourself (with the exception of the discreet island manager and a lovely herd of deer). During your stay at Satellitte you can cosy up by the fireplace in the beautiful house or simply choose to sleep in the converted jetty shed, while in the summer it’s a sublime place for a swim.
Most Delicious Culinary Journey – Roaming restaurant, pop-up dining – various locations, WA
Paul Iskov has worked in some of Europe’s best restaurants and having returned to his native WA, he and his friends set up roaming restaurant Fervor. Think native ingredients cooked over open fires in the West Australian outback and towns and presented in the finest fashion. It might be the most ‘Australian’ dining experience you’ll ever have.
Best Ways to Enjoy Wine and Vine – Back with a bang – Australian Chardonnay
Chardonnay is the best example of the changes sweeping through Australian wine. A victim of industrialised winemaking and public listings in the ’80s and ’90s, chardonnay was squeezed into millions of bottles. However, with wine ‘growing’ now more prevalent and wines being made in vineyards not wineries, chardonnay is finally realising its full potential with wines that run from light, fresh and clean to rich, layered and complex.
Best Captivating Design Treasure – Pumphouse Point, Lake St Claire, Tasmania
Taking the notion of adaptive re-use to a new high is the reinvention of two industrial buildings by Cumulus Architects in the heart of a wilderness area in Tasmania. The Shorehouse, an Art Deco hydro sub-station and The Pumphouse (sited 250 metres out on the lake itself) were built in the ’40s as part of the State’s Hydro Electricity Scheme and decommissioned in the ’90s. They have been skilfully refurbished to make Pumphouse Point a great base for walks, cycling and spa treatments. pumphousepoint.com.au
Best Inspiring Aboriginal Experience – Journey to the far reaches of East Arnhem Land
This incredible corner of Australia is full of adventure for those who like to push into the country’s remote outposts. The Yolngu people of East Arnhem Land have a beautiful connection to their environment and are often happy to teach travellers about their ways. If you’re up for a bit of a rustic, croc-laced experience, you can join a tour that will take you into Aboriginal communities where you can stay and spend time with the Yolngu. We have travelled with Venture North and found them to be fantastic, but there are also a few other operators in the area. You can also head to Banubanu Retreat on Bremer Island, where you’ll find simple, tented accommodation and guided activities such as fishing and turtle watching.
Best Little-Known Natural Wonder – Rowley Shoals, WA
Three tear drops of coral reef sit almost equidistant from each other on the face of the Indian Ocean, 260 kilometres from Broome. With them being almost the same size at around 80 square kilometres apiece, Rowley Shoals is surely one of the most unusual reef formations and it has some of the best diving and snorkelling on the planet to boot.
Best Memorable Moment for Kids – Dolphin Marine Magic, Coffs Harbour, NSW
At this intimate and eco-responsible park, over-12s can have dolphin hugs in a deep-water experience, while over-sixes can do the same in the shallows. Anyone over eight can get in and play, swim and, yes, hug and kiss with the sea lions at Dolphin Marine Magic.
MORE: the 100 Incredible Experiences (right here in your backyard) special issue.