Ultimate Australian Bucket List: 50 Places to Visit in 2021
Australia is one of the wildest places on Earth with its otherworldly landscapes, ancient culture, diverse wildlife and incredible backpack culture. From vibrant cities like Sydney and Melbourne to sacred sites like Uluru and Kata Tjuta, the country is as culturally diverse as it is scenic. Whether you’re looking to explore the wide-open Outback, lounge with kangaroos or clink a few glasses in Australia’s wine region, there’s an infinite amount of unique experiences to have. Here are 50 worthy places to add to your epic Australian Bucket List.
The Ultimate Australian Bucket List: 50 Places to Visit in 2021
50. The Kimberly Region
Sprawling across an area three times the size of England, The Kimberly Region is truly in a league of its own. The area is chock full of wild frontier, ancient canyons, hidden swimming holes and wildlife galore. The best part? Despite being so large, just 40,000 thousand Aussies live here so it’ll feel like you’ve got the place to yourself. Explore the endless caves and canyons, lounge on the Cable Beach or camp beneath the stars.
49. Gold Coast
Southeast Queensland boasts one of the nation’s largest travelled for destinations; the Gold Coast. While at first glance it may seem like a tacky tourist trap with pounding night clubs, party beaches and hotel chains, that’s precisely why people head there. Gold Coast is a lively place for partiers who want to stay out till the sun comes up and get lost in the atmosphere. Plus, it’s home to the world-famous Surfer’s Paradise which is exactly what it sounds like.
48. Karijini National Park
Rugged mountains, slot canyons, mile deep gorges and dreamy waterfalls are just a few things you can expect from Karijini National Park. This sprawling natural area is the second-largest national park in Western Australia and known for its well-traversed hiking trails and endless pools. Additionally, Karijini National Park is extremely ecologically diverse. Here you’ll find more than 800 different plant species and tons of wildlife like echidnas and red kangaroos.
Darwin is perfect for anyone looking for a culturally rich city with loads to do. Perched on the shores of Australia’s Top End, Darwin is a big transport hub for many neighbouring countries. Thanks to this, it’s about as international as they come and a huge melting pot of Australia. A big draw for tourists is the beer. Darwin has a great line up of unique craft beer bars perfect for clinking a few glasses after exploring the cities famous botanical garden. Be sure to catch a show at the famous Deckchair Cinema, too.
46. Daintree Rainforest
In Queensland, just three hours from Cairns lies one of the nation’s oldest and most diverse rainforests, Daintree. Daintree Rainforest is an absolute feast for the eyes with its colourful floral and fauna, ancient ecosystems and lush jungles. This rainforest has more than your typical tropical highlights, though. In addition to dense jungles and rich wildlife, the landscape is incredibly diverse with rugged mountains, colourful reefs and more.
45. Byron Bay
Byron Bay is the crown jewel of New South Wales and cannot be missed when in the area. Known for its pristine beaches, laidback lifestyle and incredible surf culture, it’s not hard to see why it belongs on any Australian bucket list. Byron Bay is more than a pretty face, though. The town puts on a number of art and culture festivals and outdoorsy events, so there’s always something on.
The capital of Western Australia is one of the best places to visit in Australia for far more reasons than one. Largely isolated from the rest of the country, Perth is known for its unique laidback atmosphere and plethora of nearby natural sites. Whether you explore the endless expanse of Sunset Coast beaches, walk the manicured parks or enjoy a picnic on the Swan River, you’ll be hooked immediately. In addition to all this, Perth is also considered one of the world’s most livable cities thanks to its great variety of cultural sites, natural areas and affordability.
This quaint secluded town of Broome is set on the northern coast of Western Australia and is the ultimate place to unwind. It’s alabaster white sands, turquoise waters and numerous resorts make it easy to see why. For those who want more than some r&r, there are a plethora of outdoor activities. Take in the fantastic rock formations, ruby red cliffs or dinosaur footprints just to name a few.
Tucked away on the eastern shores of Gulf St. Vincent is Australia’s fifth-largest city, Adelaide. Coined ‘the city of churches’ the city is full of charming chapels that dot the area and only add to the charm. The real highlight though is the wine. Adelaide is situated between the Adelaide Hills and the Gulf, creating one of Australia’s most famous wine regions. The sauvignon blanc in Adelaide is nothing short of legendary and warrants a visit just by itself.
41. The Blue Mountains
Just west of Sydney in New South Wales, you’ll find one of Australia’s most stunning natural areas. The Blue Mountains are home to a vibrant culture of the Gundungurra and Darug peoples in addition to jawdropping scenery. Take in the endless hiking trails that wind through valleys, plateaus and dense woods. Be sure to make it up to Echo Point of Govett’s Leap for the most famous views in the park.
40. Great Ocean Road
If road tripping is your thing, then the Great Ocean Road is going to blow you away. Snaking along Victoria’s south coast, this 240+ kilometre road is one of the world’s most scenic drives. The route starts from the sleepy resort town of Torquay and heads to Allansford. Along the way, you’ll be met with epic limestone cliffs, lost coves and some incredible waves. Arguably the most famous sight along the road is The Twelve Apostles limestone stacks.
39. Kangaroo Island
Is there anything more Australian sounding than the words “Kangaroo Island”? We think not. As the name suggests, this gorgeous island is loaded with Australia’s most recognisable animal – the kangaroo. There are so many in fact, that the number of kangaroos and wallabies far outnumber the residents here. Additionally, the island is home to stunning rock formations, ancient caves and jutting cliffs.
This sunny metropolitan gem is known for its thriving art culture, friendly locals and vibrant food and drink scene. Its music festivals rival only that of Melbourne, and it’s quickly coming up as one of Australia’s music capitals. Despite being Australia’s third-largest city, Brisbane boasts a ton of outdoor activities. Bike along the Brisbane River or spend the day exploring the botanical gardens. Either way, you’re in for a treat.
This secluded belongs on anyone’s Australian bucket list for a number of reasons. Known for its wide-open wilderness, alpine meadows, dense forest and dramatic coast, it’s set for the adventure of a lifetime. Nearly half of the area is protected and preserved, meaning you’ll be treated to absolute pristine natural beauty that’s largely left untouched. When you aren’t exploring the natural beauty, be sure to head to the islands eclectic capital city, Hobart.
36. Whitsunday Islands
The Whitsunday Islands are one of Australia’s most popular tourists destinations, and it isn’t hard to see why. The idyllic islands are set in part of the Great Barrier Reef and are home to some of the systems most colourful sea and coral life. Additionally, the island chain is made up of a whopping 74 islands so you’ll have plenty to explore from scuba diving to ancient archaeological sites.
Melbourne is constantly topping lists of Australia’s best cities. The Victorian capital is home to a lively local culture, killer food scene and loads of its own quirks. Take in the city’s most recognisable landmark, Flinders Street Railway Station or head up to the 88th floor of Eureka tower. Afterwards, pop down to the Carlton district to immerse yourself in Melbourn’s fascinating social history from indigenous peoples to Australia’s obsession with football.
34. Kakadu National Park
Home to an Aboriginal population spanning back more than 40,000 years, Kakadu is as rich in history as it is natural beauty. The national park is home to more than 5,000 ancient rock sites each more impressive and culturally significant than the last. Additionally, the park’s ecosystems are some of the most diverse you’ll come across. One minute you’re hiking deserted sandstone and the next you’re bathing in waterfalls.
33. Kuranda Village
Kuranda Village is a perfect trifecta of natural beauty, local culture and memorable adventure. Often coined ‘the Village in the Rainforest’ Kuranda Village is exactly that. Here you’ll find a rich indigenous culture, lush tropical scenery and more outdoor activities than you can handle. From pristine hiking trails, spectacular waterfalls and lush jungle landscape, there’s plenty to keep you busy. The best activity, however, is the Skyrail Rainforest cable car which winds through the tropical rainforest and provides breathtaking views.
32. The Simpson Desert
140,000+ square kilometres of long and wide dunes make up this epic Australian desert. The massive expanse of dry and barren plains are set in the Northern Territory and sing a song of Mars with their rusty red and orange hues. While The Simpson Desert is pretty to look at and explore via foot – the ultimate experience is had via 4×4.
31. Hutt Lagoon
If you dream of visiting a candy-coloured lake at least once in your life Hutt Lagoon has the answer. This gorgeous body of water is 100% bubblegum pink and belongs on any Australian bucket list. Depending on the season, time of day and cloud coverage, this lake changes from red to pink and even to lilac purple. Whether you walk the shores or opt for a flyover tour, you’re sure to be amazed.
This just wouldn’t be a line up of Australian destinations without a nod to the nations bustling capital. Sydney is a top destination for travellers all around the globe. It’s got all there is to love about a capital city, tons of landmarks, stellar museums, colourful nightlife and a diverse bunch of locals. Pay a visit to the world-famous Sydney Opera Hosue or stroll through one of the cities countless museums. Either way, you’ll definitely be back again.
29. Fremantle Prison
There’s no way to sugarcoat it. Australia’s history is flooded with tragic tales of Great Britain’s most vicious criminals. To really dive in and explore Australia’s complicated past, a visit to Fremantle Prison is a must. This World Heritage list find was built by its convicts in the 1850s and now offers a unique and dark insight into the reality of one of Australia’s most famous max-security prisons.
28. Rottnest Island
Just a quick ferry ride from Perth will land you at one of Australia’s most peaceful spots. This island holds the highest level of protection allowed to public land, the A-Class Reserve. Whether you’re wanting to bike the days away or lounge on the beach, Rottnest Island is just about the most pristine place to do it. This islands holds just 300 residents and is home to one very special guest; the mysterious Quokka marsupial.
27. The Pinnacles
Few places are more magical and awe-inspiring than The Pinnacles. Just a hop away from Cervantes in Western Australia, these otherworldly limestone pillars draw visitors from all over. These majestic rock formations jut out of the desert sand and provide for a truly humbling sight. While it’s argued over how exactly they got their distinct shape, one thing is certain; they are spectacular.
26. The Twelve Apostles
Set along the famous Great Ocean Road, The Twelve Apostles are truly a sight to behold. These enormous limestone pillars plunge right out of the sea and are one of Australia’s most beloved natural wonders. Millions of years of rough seas have shaped these dramatic sea columns into what we see today, creating a humbling experience like no other. Over the years they have continued to change with the rough tides with one even collapsing into the ocean in 2005. Definitely worth adding to your Australian bucket list before they are gone.
25. Cradle Mountain
While Tasmania itself is worth a full-fledged exploration, Cradle Mountain is worth zooming in on. This slice of mountain heaven is set deep in the heart of the Tasmania Wilderness World Heritage Area and is one of Australia’s most iconic spots. The spiky snow-capped mountains soar high above the crystal clear Dove Lake below and will surely leave you breathless. Whether you hike the area for a day, camp out, or book a few nights at Cradle Mountain Lodge, you won’t regret a visit to Cradle Mountain.
24. Wilpena Pound
Imagine a ginormous 80 square kilometre formation that dates back millions of years and as formed an amphitheatre of rock and you’ve got Wilpena Pound. This enormous natural area is set just 400 some odd kilometres from Adelaide and is one of the nations most spectacular natural sights. Oh, and when we say it’s old, we mean it’s really old. Around 100 million years, in fact.
23. Barossa Valley
Barossa Valley is one of the best places to take in the splendour and history of Australia’s wine country. Endless rolling vineyards, stunning countryside and stellar hospitality, are just a few of the most amazing things about this place. Australia’s wine culture is seriously undiscovered to most and absolutely worth diving into. Hire a driver so you can experience the very best of Barossa Valley’s award-winning vineyards from Wolf Blass to Penfolds.
22. Lake Gairdner
Few places wow to the degree of Lake Gairdner. This blinding white wonder is a salt lake set in the Gawler Ranges of South Australia and nothing short of wonderful. Just take in the magnificent sprawling bed of white that lies beneath the rolling red hills beyond, and you’ll be swooning for days. Lake Gairdner is no quaint body of water either. This lake sprawls more than 4,000 square kilometres and is one of the largest lakes in Oz.
21. Hamelin Bay
Sandwiched between the south-west coast of Western Australia between Cape Leeuwin and Cape Naturaliste is Hamelin Bay. This serene open bay is perfect for relaxing with a few drinks on the beach or exploring the marine life in the stunning turquoise waters. Namely, stingrays. When it comes to experiencing these mesmerising sea discs, there’s no better place than Hamelin Bay. The area offers a whole host of wildlife encounters with these special creatures that thrive in the region.
20. Sapphire Coast
This breathtaking stretch of coast is tucked away on New South Wale’s southeastern border and is truly a hidden gem (pun intended!) Sapphire Coast is the epitome of rugged beauty with its dramatic waves, rusty red bluffs and unforgiving cliffsides. This is the place to go to truly get away and experience the wild, untouched edges of New South Wales. Once you’ve explored the spectacular beauty, feast on some of the local seafood straight from the bay and don’t skimp of the rock oysters.
This cosy beach town is just adjacent Cape Range National Park and the sprawling Ningaloo Reef. Trust us, it’s every bit as gorgeous as it sounds. Truly a water lovers playground, Exmouth boats one of the longest fringing reefs on the planet meaning some areas have coral reaching right up to the beach. November – March are prime times to visit as that’s when the annual sea turtle hatching takes place but any time of year is still great. Whether you float the endless rainbow of coral, swim with whale sharks or go wallaby counting, Exmouth provides the adventure of a lifetime.
18. Broken Hill
Broken Hill is one of Australia’s most famous outback towns famous for its spectacular desert landscape and interesting mining history. Home to the most abundant lead, zinc and silver ever discovered, Broken Hill played host to a massive mining rush in the late 1800s. Thanks to this, the landscape isn’t the only interesting thing about it; there’s a fascinating colonial history and echo of the mining days that seems to hang over the region.
17. Lake Hillier
Lake Hillier in Middle Island, Esperance, is one of those places everyone deserves to experience at least once in their lifetime. Truly surreal, this blush coloured lake is the stuff of dreams. This fascinating, awe-inspiring and 100% magical lake serves as a home for microorganisms and nothing else only adding to the curiosity of the natural wonder. You can experience this phenomenon via boat, but we recommend splurging on a charter with Goldfields Air Services.
16. Southern Highlands
The Southern Highlands belong on any Australian bucket list for their historic charm, welcoming atmosphere and gorgeous landscape. The region is chock-full of heritage towns such as Bowral and Berrima which could serve as a trip themselves. However, the region is also known for its incredible gourmet scene of fine foods and wines perfect for your inner foodie. Be sure not to miss the natural sights, either. Fitzroy Falls is nothing short of extraordinary.
15. Wilsons Promontory National Park
Feast your eyes on the incredible landscape found at Wilsons Promontory National park. This 50,000-hectare coastal wilderness area is just three hours from Melbourne and absolutely worth being explored on an epic Oz vacation. Sweeping views of pink granite mountains, turquoise waters, hidden coves and dense forests make for the ultimate hiking trip if you’re up for it. Be sure to look out for the abundant wildlife such as wombats, kangaroos and wallabies.
14. Margaret River
Margaret River seems like a fictional place you’d hear about in a movie or read in a book. This cosy region is famous for its craft beer, charming boutiques, small wineries, surf breaks, stunning natural landmarks and whale migrations. Sound too good to be true? We thought so too, but Margaret River is the real deal. Whether you explore the wine country, go nuts on the local breweries, hike the natural areas or shop the town, it won’t be hard to see why Margaret River is a top Australian destination.
13. Lord Howe Island
World Heritage-listed Lord Howe Island is a must-see for animal and nature lovers. The island is made up of a number of islets formed by an ancient volcano, each one more pristine and serene than the last. The dramatic cliffs and rugged coast only add to the island chain’s wild and raw beauty. The best part? Nearly two-thirds of the island is protected, and only 400 guests are allowed in at a time. Here you’ll also find a plethora of migratory species and a rich diversity of flora and fauna. What are you waiting for? Lord Howe Island is calling.
12. Kings Canyon
Set deep in the Watarrka National Park is one of the most impressive canyons across the globe. Its mindblowing age of 400 million years is profound enough on its own, but there’s more to it than that. Kings Canyon is chock full of jagged cliff sides and a kaleidoscope of orange sandstone at every turn. This landmark is also considered a sacred site as it served as a water source and reprieve from the heat for the Lurtija people.
11. Coffs Harbour
Coffs Harbour is a family-friendly destination perfect for an Australian bucket list check with the kiddos. Here you’ll find miles and miles of beautiful beaches, perfect sunny weather and a whole host of activities from kayaking to fishing. Be sure to pay a visit to the Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve and Dorrigo National Park. Whether you explore the local wildlife, bask on an uncrowded beach or dine on local fare, Coffa Harbour will quickly become a favourite.
10. Norfolk Island
Formerly a brutal colony for convicts, Norfolk Island is now a historic resort area with loads of World Heritage sites to discover. It’s the ideal spot to really dive into some of Australia’s most interesting and complicated times. Additionally, the island has a rich Polynesian heritage that can be discovered in its museums and historical landmarks. Don’t forget to spend an afternoon wandering the scenic hiking trails, either.
9. Port Stephens
Port Stephens boasts more than 25 white sand beaches and is sandwiched by two volcanic headlands. The area is popular for its abundance of water sport activities like swimming, surfing, kayaking and more. The real tick off the bucket list is a hike up the Tomaree Head summit that offers jawdropping panoramas of the bay.
8. Mungo National Park
Mungo National Park is an archaeology buffs dream. This is where the famous Mungo Lady and Mungo Man were found resting just meters apart after their deaths more than 42,000 years ago. The famous pair were laid to rest with one of the world’s oldest burial rituals and still baffle historians today. If you can believe it, there’s, even more, to be explored. The park holds 20,000-year-old fossil human footprints and several culturally significant landmarks.
7. Alice Springs Desert Park
Nothing spells epic Australian adventure like its animals. If you’re wanting to experience the very best of the Outback and dive headfirst into its abundant wildlife, this is the place to be. Alice Springs Desert Park is widely considered to be the best wildlife park in the Outback, and its easy to see why. The sprawling area is loaded with all your favourite OZ animals like emus, kangaroos and dingoes. Whether you opt for a day trip or stay and camp out, Alice Springs Desert Park will stick with you.
6. Coober Pedy
This bizarre town is the ultimate experience for anyone visiting Australia. Nicknamed the “opal capital of the world” due to its copious amount of the precious gem, it’s not hard to see why so many enjoy visiting. However, what really sets it apart is the fact that it’s underground. Yep, to escape the brutal heat, Coober Pedy was built entirely underground. Book a few nights in one of the many subterranean Airbnbs that are nothing short of fantastic.
5. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
The spectacular Uluru is one of the most revered ancient sites on the planet. It’s rusted copper hue, and ginormous size aren’t the only important things about this rock, though. Uluru is owned by the Anangu Aboriginal people who’ve considered the site sacred for millennia. Geologists estimate the massive rock formation to be around 500 million years old, making it about the same age as Austalia itself.
4. Fraser Island
Fraser Island off Queensland’s southeast coast is a beach lovers dream. This island is just bursting with natural beauty from its crumbling sand cliffs, lush rainforest and epic dunes. Two of its most popular attractions are Lake Wabby and Lake MacKenzie who seem to compete for who can be the most beautiful body of water in Australia. Thanks to its wide expanse of scenery, the island is home to a mindblowing amount of wildlife from dingoes to dolphins to wallabies.
3. Lake Eyre
It’s no secret that Australia is home to some seriously stunning lakes. From Pepto Bismol coloured lagoons to alabaster-white spreads of calm waters, there are more than a few that warrant being on a bucket list, and Lake Eyre is no exception. Lake Eyre is not only the largest salt lake in the country; it’s also the lowest one.
It’s also part of the Lake Eyre Basin which is one of the largest and most pristine desert river systems in the world. Every three years, Lake Eyre experiences a small flood and every ten years, a large one this means that each century the lake is filled approximately four times. Whether you visit when it’s bone dry or overflowing, it’s still an incredible sight.
2. The Hunter Valley
Just two hours north of Sydney lies one of Australia’s best escapes, The Hunter Valley. From farm-fresh eateries, lush gardens, art galleries and vast expanses of untouched bushland, it’s not hard to see why its a favourite among tourists. The Hunter Valley has a great mix of both city charm like Newcastle and surrounding natural parks full of wildlife. Explore the World Heritage-listed Barrington Tops National Park’s ancient rainforest or trek through Wollemi National Park’s incredible pines.
1. Great Barrier Reef
Who wouldn’t love to experience the largest coral reef system on the face of the Earth? The Great Barrier Reef is the place to be. Spread across the Coral Sea off the coasts of Queensland, the reef boasts nearly 3,000 coral reefs. That’s not all though – the gorgeous ocean wonder also includes hundreds of islands and cays. You can explore the reef via cruise with a glass-bottomed boat, but we think the ultimate experience is via snorkelling or diving.
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