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9 Incredible Things To Do In Australia That Aren’t In The Capital Cities

Australia’s cities are beautiful, lively, full of friendly people, things to do and good food and drinks, but it would be a huge mistake (huge!) to see only Australia its metropolises.

Outside Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane et al, in regional Australia are the famous sweeping plains, mountains, rainforests and landmarks of a country that’s not too far off being the size of Europe (with 715 million fewer people).

In fact, some of the most essential Australian travel experiences are nowhere near a capital city. Here’s a list of nine of the key travel experiences in regional Australia that are not within cooee of a capital.

 

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#1 Uluru and the Red Centre

Trust me, there’s way more to see and do at Uluru than climbing the rock (and if you wanted to, you’d be a nong). The rock was in the news last year as the option to climb it was ended, but the rock looks spectacular from any angle. It changes colour in different light, from a bright rusty orange to a deep dusky mauve. Find vantage points and watch it change.

You can also walk/cycle/run/motorbike around the rock to see if from all angles, walk right up to it and explore its nooks and crannies, learn all about the Aboriginal peoples’ history and their stories. You could dine under the night sky – one of the clearest views of the stars in the country paired with a three-course meal – or ride a camel. Or watch camel races! So much goes on at Uluru, and it’s something all Australians should see and engage with at least once. And the accommodation ranges from cheap campsites to absolute luxury, so there’s very little excuse not to go.

 

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#2 Go island hopping in Queensland

The Queensland coast is dotted with achingly beautiful islands waiting for you to explore them. Check out Fitzroy Island, Magnetic Island, Heron Island, Fraser Island… the list goes on. You could also book your own boat charter and explore the islands of the Whitsundays all on your own – and it’s honestly pretty affordable. What’s more freeing than that?

 

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#3 Eat and drink everything in Tasmania

While the rest of Australia was looking elsewhere, little brother state Tassie grew up. It’s always created beautiful food and wine, but now the rest of the country has caught up. Renewed interest and increased visitation (especially after the Museum of Old and New Art and its associated festivals launched) has brought more attention and infrastructure to the Tassie tourism trails that have popped up to celebrate the state’s whisky (some of the best in the world), cider (fit for the Apple Isle), wine, cheese and more.

They do life differently in Tasmania, and it’s worth it to immerse yourself in it and enjoy.

 

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#4 Explore the Daintree Rainforest

The Daintree is one of Australia’s largest areas of rainforest, and part of the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage site – and it’s part of the oldest continuously surviving areas of tropical rainforests on the planet. Take a tour and see a different side to Australian nature and wildlife – this is not the dusty plains and desert that’s so famous here.

It’s a hub for adrenaline activities such as mountain biking and zip-lining, you can swim in pristine tropical waters, cruise along the Daintree River and look for crocs. It certainly feels more Heart of Darkness than Sunshine State, and it’s an essential side to Australia all travellers should see.

 

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#5 Swim with whale sharks

You can swim with some of the largest creatures on earth in Australia, and we’re one of few places you can do it. Between March and July, enormous whale sharks take up residence in Ningaloo Marine Park in Western Australia.

It’s a surreal experience being so close to these giants (gentle ones, never mind their name) whether you snorkel or scuba dive.

 

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#6 Find your own private beach

Australia has more beaches than any other country – more than 10,000 of them. And they’re some of the best in the world. But forget crowded Bondi, Manly or Cottesloe, head to a beach somewhere out of the capitals and you’re more likely than not to get it all to yourself. I’m not here to tell you the best way to beach, but alternately reading, eating and swimming for a full day with no one around sounds pretty damn good to me.

 

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#7 Explore Kangaroo Island

Just a short skip away from Adelaide in South Australia is Kangaroo Island, the perfect microcosm of adventure, wildlife, beautiful nature and gourmet food and drinks. It’s actually shocking how much you can do here, from quad-biking to wine tasting, checking out koalas to kayaking, bush walking to gourmet restaurant meals. And it’s not busy at all! Somehow people keep missing the message that this incredible place exists. Go and see for yourself.

And it’s never been a more important time to book a weekend on the island — after Summer’s devastating bushfires, they need our help more than ever.

 

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#8 Take a road trip

Every state in Australia has its own incredible road trips. It’s an eminently drivable country, with flat, well-kept roads connecting everywhere you’d want to go. In NSW drive the Kosciuszko Alpine Way for the closest things we have to mountains or the Tablelands Food and Wine Trail. In Queensland you could take the four-day Adventure Way drive through Bunya National Park and regional towns like Cunnamulla or the epic nine-day Central Queensland Outback Drive, linking Sapphire, Anakie, Longreach, Carnarvon National Park, and Biloela. Or there’s Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, of course, which is easily made into something bigger, even connecting through the Grampians and McLaren Vale to Adelaide. Hit the road and I promise you’ll find something incredible – or at least something weird you can tell stories about.

 

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#9 Hit the slopes

Yes, regional Australia has its own skiing regions, and they’re pretty good! NSW and Victoria both have their own snow towns ready for you to have an active getaway on the slopes. In NSW you should start with Thredbo, Perisher and Charlotte Pass, each with their own benefits. In Victoria, go for Dinner Plain, Falls Creek and Hotham. You’re sure to find a run you love, be it green circles or double black diamonds.