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The ultimate Australian bucket list

9It’s impossible to count the number of outstanding experiences available in Australia – but if time is short and you can only choose a handful, here is our list of Australia’s most incredible activities.

1. Indulge on Australia’s most tasteful island (South Australia)
Kangaroo Island is a paradise for food lovers, with a plethora of boutique producers so that everywhere you turn someone is creating, harvesting, serving or devouring something delicious. As you tour the seal-dotted beaches and rolling hills you’ll find raw organic honey made by rare bees, sharp sheep cheeses, king crabs pulled from the deep – and of course, as the name suggests, friendly kangaroos galore. The culmination of the island’s purest flavours is best expressed by its coast-clutching getaway, Southern Ocean Lodge. The kitchen sources locally, matching the food (and wine) to the classically luxe surrounds. Read more on p72.

2. Swim with whale sharks at Ningaloo (WA)
From the moment you leap into the ocean to the second you lay eyes on the world’s largest fish, this experience is unlike any other. Huge, gentle whale sharks are mysterious beings, and more congregate close to shore in WA’s Ningaloo Marine Park than anywhere else on earth. They appear at the same time each year, happily feeding on krill and plankton as snorkellers float alongside. Plus, the World Heritage-listed coast they visit contains the planet’s largest coral fringing reef, so there are many world-class aquatic adventures at your fingertips. Read more on p104.

3. Escape to Lord Howe Island
(New South Wales)
Can you imagine a place where people don’t lock their doors, where bikes are more popular than cars and where only a limited number of visitors are allowed to share the utopian paradise? Lord Howe Island isn’t a dream – it’s real, and just a two-hour flight from Sydney or Brisbane. The beaches and rainforests harbour a luxuriously private feel, yet strangers happily greet each other here. Then there are the turquoise waters, the schools of shimmering fish at local secret, Herring Pools, and the lush, mountainous ranges. It’s how Lord Howe Island will stay, thanks to its World Heritage listing and much-loved status. Read more on p44.

4. Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef (Queensland)
The Great Barrier Reef’s kaleidoscopic colours can’t help but impress, with fish and coral in every hue of the rainbow, swaying in harmony with the gentle ocean swell. It’s an international icon for a reason: Queensland’s prime World Heritage Area is the world’s largest coral reef system, containing some 3000 separate coral reefs and more than 900 islands. You can snorkel over sea stars and giant fan coral, spot turtles and hover over clownfish, or even swim with dolphins, whales and more. Read more on p16.

5. Absorb the silence at
Whitehaven Beach (Queensland)
The views here are so breath-taking that arriving visitors often forget – just for a moment – to take photos of this incredible scene. Instead, they’re too busy mentally filming the translucent blue waters that glitter like a million diamonds, and the seemingly endless stretch of greenery-fringed beach and silica-white sands here on Whitehaven Beach’s seven-kilometre stretch. Take a short bush walk to the lookout at Tongue Point to see the magical swirling of aquatic colours in Whitehaven’s ocean inlet. Read more on p22.

6. Catch a Sydney seaplane to lunch (New South Wales)
There are few things more exhilarating than landing on the water in a seaplane. But knowing you have a glamourous lunch to follow adds an extra frisson, doesn’t it? Sydney’s unforgettable scenic flights pair must-see views of Sydney Harbour, its Harbour Bridge and the magnificent Opera House with renowned destination restaurants. Coasting over the ocean at speed before touching down on a remote Sydney waterway, you’re led to dining gems including Jonah’s Whale Beach and Bells at Killcare, or you might prefer a romantic, surprise picnic in a secluded spot. Read more on p34.

7. Sail over the national capital in a hot air balloon (Australian Capital Territory)
Feeling a hot air balloon’s cane basket lift
off the earth is quite a thrill. As gas is fired into the giant overhead envelope there’s a sense of rapid elevation;7 tentatively, you look over the side. Glimpsing the bush-rimmed city of Canberra below, you see the symmetrical design of Parliament House, the country’s War Memorial and National Art Gallery, as well as mirror-like Lake Burley Griffin. Travelling with the wind, it’s three hours you’ll never forget. Read more on p50.

8. Shuck oysters at Saffire
Freycinet (Tasmania)
Ask any chef: there’s nothing better than plucking your food fresh from the source
and devouring it on-site. That’s exactly what you get to do at Tasmanian luxury lodge Saffire Frecyinet, which overlooks the
crystal clear waters where thousands of plump, sweet molluscs are grown. Harvest your fill while wearing waders then learn
to shuck them on an outdoor dining table dressed with a white tablecloth – all while still in the water. It’s an incredible treat.
Read more on p82.

9. Trace the edge of an age-old coastline (Tasmania)
You’ll pinch yourself as you follow the highest sea cliffs in the Southern Hemisphere along the brand new Three Capes Track, found on the edge of Tasmania’s rugged southeast. The rocky dolerite columns tower up to 300m, rising from Tasmania’s ocean like cathedral spires, and there’s no better way to see them than via this newly created route. The 46km cliff and bush walk takes about four days and grants extraordinary views at every turn, explaining why it’s already being praised as one of the world’s premier multi-day walks. Kick the experience off with an eco-cruise, departing from the World Heritage-listed penal settlement,
Port Arthur Historic Site, and spend
your nights in surprisingly comfortable, architecturally designed track huts.
Read more on p87.

10. Soar over the Great Ocean Road via helicopter (Victoria)
The majestic limestone stacks that make up the 12 Apostles are beautiful from land, but gazing at them from a helicopter – at angles seen only by a lucky few – delivers something else. Floating back and forth along Victoria’s mottled coastline reveals a scattering of islands, the sculpted forms of peach-hued cliffs and the wild, frothing Southern Ocean – and no photo-snapping crowds in your way. You’ll also glimpse the Great Ocean Road that ribbons along land’s edge, just begging you to follow it. Read more on p58.

11. Canoe through ancient
Katherine Gorge (Northern Territory)
Paddling beside towering rock walls so big they throw shade across Katherine River, you glimpse a 7000-year-old piece of art painted on a hidden surface. It’s these special moments that make a canoe trip through Katherine Gorge so spectacular – and authentic. Deep in the outback, you’ll barely see another soul, allowing your guide to unlock the bush and its secrets as you pass through. The silence and solitude will refresh your being, delivering a perspective you may have lost in the frantic pace of everyday life. Read more on p96.

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