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From scaling the Sydney Harbour Bridge to cage diving with Great White Sharks, Australia has plenty of “bucket list” experiences for you to tick off before you turn thirty. While some are crazier than others, each experience will leave you with a profound respect and deeper understanding of Australia’s culture and natural landscapes.
Summit the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, which stands 134 meters above sea level, and be treated to unparalleled 360-degree views of Sydney. Since 1998, over three million people have climbed the bridge, with more than 4,000 wedding proposals on record. Choose between dawn, day, twilight and night climbs – all of which take approximately three hours. Or take the BridgeClimb Sampler for an express experience.
Take the plunge at Darwin’s Crocosaurus Cove and come face to face with Australia’s monstrous Saltwater Crocodiles. Cage of Death is a fifteen-minute experience where you and a friend are lowered into a crocodile pen for a heart-racing encounter. While submerged, you’ll get an up-close look at some of the park’s prehistoric-looking inhabitants including Chopper, Axel and William & Kate.
One of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef covers 344,400 square kilometers and comprises of 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands. The best way to see the coral reef is to scuba dive or snorkel through the pristine turquoise waters which are teeming with tropical fish. From day tours to overnight charters, glass-bottomed boats and scuba expeditions, there are plenty of tours to suit any budget or experience level.
There are plenty of reasons every twenty-something should visit Rottnest Island, off the coast of Western Australia, but the number one reason is the Quokka. These smiling marsupials are curious by nature and love nothing more than welcoming visitors to their island; they’ll even smile for a selfie. Just make sure not to feed or handle the creatures, because you can be fined.
Bondi Beach, Australia’s most famous stretch of sand, welcomes more than a million visitors each year. Only 30 minutes from Sydney, Bondi is an iconic surf destination with protected waves suitable for all experience levels. There are plenty of places to hire a board in Bondi as well as surf schools such as Let’s Go Surfing which offers lessons for adults and kids.
Located in the Northern Territory, Uluru, also known as Ayres Rock, is a 600-million-year-old sandstone rock formation which stands 348 meters tall and has a circumference of 9.4 kilometres. Uluru holds not one but two UNESCO World Heritage Site listings in recognition of its unique geology and cultural significance held by local Indigenous Australians known as the Anangu. The best way to see Uluru is on a walking tour with an Aboriginal guide or from above in a helicopter.
For an adventure with bite, head to Port Lincoln, South Australia – one of only a handful of places in the world where you can cage dive with great white sharks. This thrilling underwater experience takes place off the Neptune Islands, known for its high visibility, and allows you to safely encounter the ocean’s top predator from within the security of a cage. There are several tour operators, but Culture Trip recommends the eco-friendly Adventure Bay Charters.
Immerse yourself in Australian Indigenous culture in Arnhem Land, a remote and unspoiled corner of the Northern Territory. Home to the oldest living culture in the world, the Yolngu people who have inhabited the region for 60,000 years, Arnhem Land offers indigenous experiences and natural landscapes such as the spectacular Kakadu National Park.
Spanning 234 kilometers along Victoria’s rugged coastline, the Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s most iconic road trips. Meandering from Torquay all the way to Warrnambool, the highway passes many must-see attractions including Bells Beach, Split Point Lighthouse, the Otway Ranges, The Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, London Arch and the Grotto.
For a truly humbling and unforgettable experience visit the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Coast, in Western Australia where you snorkel alongside whale sharks. Gathering in the region between March and August, these gentle giants can grow to a massive 12 meters long and are known as the world’s largest fish. Several tour companies operate out of Exmouth, and you may even see humpback whales, dugongs, and manta rays.
The bohemian town of Byron Bay in northern New South Wales is one of the most popular destinations along the east coast of Australia; it attracts backpackers, surfers, and yogis. From community markets to health and yoga retreats, to surf lessons and beach kayaking there is plenty to do in Byron Bay. You can also visit Byron Bay Lighthouse – Australia’s most easterly point. When the sun goes down, dance the night away at Cheeky Monkey’s.
Played between March and September, AFL is a huge part of Australia’s culture, particularly in Melbourne where the sport originated in 1896. The Australian Football League is made up of 18 clubs who battle it out across 23 rounds, culminating at the Grand Final which is held at the MCG every year. The MCG is also the largest sporting stadium in the southern hemisphere with a capacity of 100,024.
At 322.5 meters Q1 in Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast is the tallest building in Australia. The residential building features an observation deck on level 77 as well as a SkyPoint Climb. Not for the faint-hearted, the exhilarating 90-minute guided adventure is Australia’s highest external building climb and features 298 stairs leading up the spire. Climbs are available during the day, twilight and at night.