25 Reasons to Make Australia Your Next Vacation

By: Lucy Ruthnum

Photo: Tourism Australia

Australia is one of those places that looms large in the traveler’s imagination. And while there are some general things you might know about the country — how it’s home to some of the best beaches in the world, how the wildlife is like nowhere else, how locals enjoy helping visitors discover it all — there’s a lot you don’t. Have you heard about all the Australian chefs, winemakers, and distillers reimagining Australian cuisine? Or that once you step away from the beaches, you can explore rainforests, World Heritage-ranked mountains, and subterranean chambers bedecked in glow worms? And how about the fact that Australia is home to both the oldest living culture in the world and a cutting-edge contemporary art scene?

It’s time to bring Australia out of the imagination and into your travel plans. To help, we’ve put together 25 reasons why the Land Down Under needs to be your next trip. So book that flight, pack your bags, and come and say g’day…because there’s no vacation like an Australia vacation.

This post is proudly produced in partnership with Australia.

Australia is full of natural beauty, and each region holds many diverse landscapes. Magnificent mountains with stunning rock formations, gushing waterfalls, lush rainforests, white-sand beaches, and the sparsely beautiful Outback will each leave you awestruck in their own way.

1. Blue Mountains, New South Wales: Take a trip just outside Sydney/Warrane (its Aboriginal name) to the Blue Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, you’ll find towering sandstone ridges that glow gold at sunset; after dark, a subterranean world comes alive inside caverns lit by glow worms. Visit the Three Sisters rock formation and one of the area’s most famous viewpoints at Echo Point Lookout. Nearby, Scenic World gives you four ways to appreciate this incredible landscape: by boardwalk, via a ride on two different cable cars, and aboard the world’s steepest train.

2. From mountains to penguins, Victoria: Experience the wilder side of Victoria among the mountain ridges of The Grampians, where exploration happens on hikes, bikes, kayaks, and even by helicopter. The Pinnacle walk will take you to the area’s best lookout. And then, closer to Melbourne/Naarm, stop at Summerlands Beach on Phillip Island for 180-degree views of the famous Penguin Parade. Watch as the native penguins come ashore after a day of fishing.

3. Maria Island, Tasmania: Tasmania is Australia’s largest island and least populous state, all craggy coastlines and moody forests. You can see more wombats in the wild on Maria Island, located just off the east coast of Tasmania, than anywhere else in the world. The best way to experience this wildlife haven is to wander among the blue gum trees on the four-day, three-night Maria Island Walk.

4. Surreal landscapes, the Kimberley, Western Australia: The Kimberley is a wilderness region spread over Australia’s northwestern corner. It’s home to a variety of wildlife, majestic canyons, freshwater swimming holes, and several Outback stations, making it one of Australia’s greatest 4WD road trips. Located in Purnululu National Park, the Bungle Bungle Range is an iconic symbol of the Kimberley region. The orange- and black-striped domes, formed over 350 million years ago, are as beautiful as they are bizarre. The range is World Heritage-listed for its striking landscape. From the air, giant rocky domes rise abruptly from dusty savannah plains, appearing like beehives, striped with cyanobacteria. This is perhaps Australia’s most surreal landscape.

5. Remote national parks, Northern Territory: Escape the crowds and head to the Northern Territory for a taste of Australia’s wildest national parks, including Kakadu and Litchfield. Scout the untamed, dusty bushland, the great gorges and mountain ranges, and cascading waterfalls in the depths of the Top End.

Photo credits: Tourism Australia.


No matter which part of Australia you visit, you’ll have a chance to seek out some of the country’s finest food and wine trails. Family-run estates produce wine, cider, beer, and spirits, while restaurants feature top-quality local ingredients presented in innovative dishes.

6. Barossa Valley, South Australia: Start by visiting one of Australia’s oldest wine regions, the Barossa Valley. The name is synonymous with fine wine, and with more than 150 wineries and 80 cellar doors across the region, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Taste the wine, float over the vines in a hot air balloon, and dine at a top restaurant.

7. Distinctive dining, Sydney, NSW: Stop at Since I Left You in downtown Sydney for pre-dinner drinks and munchies under the fairy lights on the patio. Signature cocktails include the SILY’s team fave: Calimocho (red wine and Coke, served with a slice of orange) and the Would I Lychee to You? (gin, lychee, lemon, and rose water syrup). Pair your favorite drink with a gourmet toastie of smoked ham, cheese, and caramelized onions served with a side of olives. Continue your evening at Saint Peter, an intimate seafood restaurant on Oxford Street in Paddington. Head Chef Josh Niland specializes in nose-to-tail cooking, using the whole fish. The selection changes daily, sometimes even twice daily, depending on what is caught that day, but think oysters, swordfish, yellowfin tuna, marlin, spanner crab, coral trout, and more. For a sweet treat, don’t miss Black Star Pastry, which serves its famous Strawberry Watermelon Cake, the “most Instagrammed cake in the world,” according to The New York Times. The signature cake has two layers of almond dacquoise, rose-scented cream, and watermelon. It’s topped with strawberries, pistachios, and dried rose petals. It’s almost too pretty to eat…almost.

8. One-of-a-kind food experiences, Victoria: Combine a road trip to some of Victoria’s most beautiful spots with a memorable dining and wine-tasting experience. Visit the Mornington Peninsula and make a stop at Jackalope, a whimsical hotel and vineyard featuring interactive artworks. Book an overnight stay and enjoy a multi-course dinner at the Doot Doot Doot restaurant, which combines Asian cuisine with Australian produce in its customizable seasonal menu. Or take a day trip from Melbourne/Naarm to the Dandenong Ranges, where you can book the Puffing Billy Railway’s first-class saloon and ride in comfort on plush velvet seats. Relax with a charcuterie box or opt for afternoon tea with scones and cream.

9. Hands-on truffles, Australian Capital Territory: Canberra’s restaurants celebrate the arrival of truffle season with some delicious paddock-to-plate dishes. Get ready to indulge in a range of truffle-infused dishes, from mains to beer. Head to the famous BentSpoke craft brewery to try their Silverback brew — a dark, malty strong ale infused with truffles, kumquats, star anise, cinnamon, and nutmeg. For an unforgettable truffle-hunting experience, visit The Truffle Farm, where you can team up with the owner and truffle dogs to dig up these prized possessions. The executive chef will whip up an amazing meal for you and even share some cooking tips.

10. Food & wine trails, Tasmania: Tasmania has garnered an international reputation for culinary excellence, thanks in large part to its locally produced cheeses, wines, ciders, whiskies, berries, and pork. Expect a hearty welcome from the community of growers and makers on Tasmania’s food and wine trails, including the Tasmanian Cider Trail, the Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail, the Great Eastern Drive, and the Tamar Valley Wine Route. You can even combine art with a wine tasting at the cellar door of one of Tasmania’s oldest wine producers, Moorilla, at the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart/nipaluna. Fun facts: MONA features the largest collection of light artworks by James Turrell in the Southern Hemisphere. You can also experience three immersive Turrell installations, including Unseen Seen, a giant white sphere in MONA’s Faro restaurant.

Photo credits: Tourism Australia.


Australia’s coastlines teem with marine life, and its open, sandy beaches draw adventurous travelers seeking a summer that never ends. Discover the Aussies’ favorite stretches of shoreline and test your surfing skills, or search out a wildlife experience where you can see Australia’s beloved aquatic creatures in their natural habitat. From hotspots to lesser-known waters, here are some ideas to get you started.

11. Great Barrier Reef, Queensland: It’s never just about the beaches on Australia’s coast. The Great Barrier Reef in Queensland spans almost 1,430 miles of the country’s eastern coastline, providing many opportunities to view this peerless underwater landscape. Book snorkeling, diving, and boat trips to swim among the coral and spot 1,600+ types of fish, giant clams, and six of the world’s seven marine turtle species. But the highlight of your trip might just be your guides, who parlay their knowledge of and passion for the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem into an experience equal parts insightful and entertaining.

12. Whale tours, Western Australia: Get up close and personal with humpback whales and whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia. Experience the majesty of this UNESCO World Heritage Site and watch the gentle giants at play in the crystal-clear waters. Manta rays and turtles may join in the fun, too.

13. World-class beaches, New South Wales: Trace the NSW coastline to find the bohemian paradise of Byron Bay. Farther south, there’s Hyams Beach in Jervis Bay, home to some of the whitest sands in the world and waters filled with dolphins, seals, fairy penguins, and whales. Take a dip at Bondi Beach, home of leisurely seaside Sunday brunches and those famous Bondi Icebergs ocean pools. Or head to the Bronte Baths Ocean Pool for a sunrise swim.

14. Great Ocean Road, Victoria: To experience one of the world’s most scenic coastal drives, make your way to the Great Ocean Road, which combines wild coastline, towering cliffs, and wide-open beaches along the southwest coast of Australia. You can’t miss the 12 Apostles, 150-foot-tall limestone pillars rising from the ocean — Teddy’s Lookout is the ideal vantage point.

15. Sea kayaking, South Australia: The Fleurieu Peninsula is one of the best kayaking spots in South Australia, where you can paddle turquoise waters to isolated beaches and sea caves. With a little luck, you may spot a sea eagle soaring towards the high cliffs and seals bobbing in the waves.

Photo credits: Tourism Australia.


From the wetlands of Kakadu to the rainforest of Tasmania, Australia is home to some of the world’s most uncommon wildlife. Whether you prefer to go below the waterline and discover the Great Eight marine creatures or are fascinated by the 830+ bird species that call the country home, you’ll have a chance to spot many only-in-Australia animals in their natural habitat.

16. Kangaroos and more, South Australia: With about 50 million kangaroos living in Australia, the population is almost double that of humans. So if you’ve dreamed of seeing the country’s most famous marsupial in the wild, you stand a good chance of doing so during your visit. To increase your odds, hop over to South Australia’s Kangaroo Island, home to wild kangaroos, koalas, sea lions, and seals. You’ll also want to keep your eyes peeled for the quill-covered echidna.

17. Outback wildlife, Northern Territory: Alice Springs, considered the gateway to Australia’s Outback and the heart of the Red Centre, is home to wild dingoes and wallabies. Seek out the West MacDonnell Ranges, where you’ll find a desert of dusty peaks and gorges full of life. Listen for the distinctive howl of the dingo and walk along the sandy creekbed of Wallaby Gap, named for the population of black-flanked rock-wallabies that call the area home. Also in Alice Springs is the Kangaroo Sanctuary, a 188-acre refuge founded by Chris “Brolga” Barns, aka “Kangaroo Dundee.” The organization provides care and medical attention to orphaned and injured kangaroos — visitors can participate in sunset tours, observe kangaroos up close in an ethical environment, and learn about kangaroo behavior and conservation efforts.

18. Daintree Rainforest, Queensland: Take a cruise through the world’s oldest tropical rainforest: Queensland’s Daintree Rainforest. Here, you can see one of Australia’s most infamous inhabitants, the saltwater crocodile, among the creeping vines of the 180-million-year-old ecosystem. The crocs can grow up to 16.5 feet long, and the best way to witness these fascinating creatures is on a crocodile cruise. While you’re there, see if you can spot the endangered cassowary — a shy yet feisty flightless bird.

19. Devils and more, Tasmania: Tasmania hosts some of Australia’s most intriguing animals. The peaks of Cradle Mountain, for example, are home to the secretive Tasmanian devil. Visit them at Devils@Cradle and lend a hand with conservation efforts. Meanwhile, Tasmania’s east coast is where you’ll find Freycinet National Park, an area full of wallabies, wombats, seals, and seabirds.

20. Rottnest residents, Western Australia: Western Australia’s cutest resident — the quokka — resides on idyllic Rottnest Island. This protected nature reserve is well worth visiting for its natural beauty, spectacular beaches, and abundant marine life, but getting the perfect pic with a curious quokka is the icing on the cake.

Photo credits: Tourism Australia.


Australia’s Indigenous cultures are the oldest living in the world, spanning more than 60,000 years of human history. Contrast that with the country’s creative contemporary art scene — on display at galleries and festivals around Australia — and you get a cultural melting pot unlike anywhere else. Here are some specific experiences to put on your itinerary.

21. Aboriginal storytelling, Northern Territory: At the heart of Australia’s Northern Territory are the ancient rock formations of Uluṟu Kata Tjuṯa National Park, which took 500 million years to form. Hear traditional stories of this sacred place from welcoming Aboriginal guides and learn of its significance to local Anangu people. Spend an evening stargazing and watch as stories unfold above your head with an evening at Wintjiri Wiru; the show features lights, lasers, drones, and projections.

22. Celebration of female artists, Australian Capital Territory: In Canberra, the National Gallery of Australia’s latest exhibition, Know My Name: Making it Modern, celebrates the work of female artists and their contribution to the country’s cultural tapestry. Featuring thought-provoking works, this major exhibition offers insight into the artist’s expression of daily life, nature, and imagination.

23. Tours & markets, New South Wales: Connect with Aboriginal history and culture on a visit to Sydney/Warrane Blak Markets, an Aboriginal experience with song, dance, bush tucker foods, craft stalls, smoking ceremonies, and more. You can also take a personalized guided tour of the First Australians galleries at the Australian Museum, which has one of the finest collections of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artifacts along with contemporary art and sculpture from across the country. And Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden provides a chance to walk in the footsteps of the Gadigal people (Traditional Owners of the land now called Sydney/Warrane) by joining an Aboriginal Harbour Heritage Tour or an Aboriginal Bush Tucker Tour to learn about Indigenous bush foods.

24. Art in Adelaide/Tarndanya, South Australia: Indulge your creative side in South Australia with a visit to the “Festival City,” where a collection of museums, art galleries, and theaters await. Adelaide/Tarndanya serves as a hub for street art, craft, design, cultural expression, and classic art collections that each inspire the others. Visit the Art Gallery of South Australia for one of the country’s finest art collections, and lace up your shoes to tackle the Adelaide Street Art Trail. Also, make sure not to miss the d’Arenberg Cube in McLaren Vale. This multi-functional five-story building is set among Mourvèdre vines and has an optical illusion of floating in the vineyard. With stunning views of the rolling hills of Willunga from each level, it houses a winery tasting room, a casual eatery, private function areas, and numerous works of art.

25. Kuku Yalanji country, Queensland: Travel to the Daintree Rainforest in Port Douglas, the only place in the world where two World Heritage Sites meet: the world’s oldest rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. Join Walkabout Cultural Adventures to meet with local Aboriginal guides who embrace the opportunity to share their culture with visitors. You’ll learn about the Kuku Yalanji country, gain insight into the customs of the Traditional Custodians of this region, and hear Dreamtime stories about the land, sea, and sky.

Photo credits: Tourism Australia and Copyright 2021 Destination NSW.

Twenty-five reasons really just scratches the surface. What are you waiting for? Come and say G’day to Australia.

This post is proudly produced in partnership with Australia.