Australia is a vast playground for adventure travel.
As one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world, you can mountain bike on off-grid trails, abseil down towering cliff faces or descend underground into elaborate cave systems in nearly complete isolation. But there’s also adventure to be had in its coastal cities, whether you’re scaling the edge of a supertall skyscraper or riding an electric ‘e-foil’ board around an urban canal network.
Here we present the most epic adventure experiences to have on a tour of the country, from the Outback to the sunny Queensland coast…
THRILLING CABLE CAR RIDE – NEW SOUTH WALES
Visitors can climb on top of the 270m- (886ft) high Beyond Skyway cable car in Australia’s Blue Mountains region
You need a head for heights to try out this experience.
The Beyond Skyway is a 270m- (886ft) high cable car that glides a distance of 720m (2,362ft) over the Jamison Valley in the rugged Blue Mountains region west of Sydney. If sitting inside the cable car isn’t dizzying enough, visitors can climb on top of it to take in the scenery from the open air (securely attached to anchor points, of course).
From their perch, they’ll see the Three Sisters rock formation, the Katoomba Falls waterfall and the peak of Mount Solitary.
Scared of heights? Beyond Skyway says: ‘Most people find that once they’re sitting on the benches in the middle of the roof, that any feelings of fear wash away and a sense of tranquility replaces it.’
WINE-THEMED HOT AIR BALLOON TRIP – NEW SOUTH WALES
Admire Hunter Valley, Australia’s oldest wine region, from a height with an early morning hot air balloon tour
This experience gives you the chance to watch the sunrise over Hunter Valley, Australia’s oldest wine region, from a unique vantage point.
Tour operator Beyond Ballooning, which has more than 40 years of experience under its belt, offers early morning hot air balloon rides over the area’s rolling vineyards, farmlands and mountains, known for cultivating the Semillon and Shiraz grape varieties.
The ride lasts an hour, and once the balloon touches the ground, you’ll head to a local restaurant to toast the experience with a glass of sparkling wine and a serving of breakfast.
The experience will set you back £156 ($299AUD/$198US). Visit beyondballooning.com.au.
CLIFF-EDGE CAMPING – VICTORIA
Travellers can spend the night in a ‘portaledge’ – a type of hanging tent – that’s suspended over a 300m- (984ft) high cliff face in the Mount Buffalo National Park
For some, even looking at photographs of this experience will be enough to make their stomach sink.
The nail-biting ‘Beyond the Edge’ experience sees travellers spend the night in a ‘portaledge’ – a type of hanging tent – that’s suspended over a sheer 300m- (984ft) high cliff face in the stunning Mount Buffalo gorge in Victoria’s Mount Buffalo National Park.
To reach their bed for the night, guests must abseil down the cliff wall.
Once they’re settled on the portaledge, they can take in the breathtaking views all around and tuck into the dinner that’s provided as part of the package. The experience is priced at £476 ($899AUD/$605US) per person.
HIKE THE GREAT OCEAN WALK – VICTORIA
Discover a ‘dramatic coastline of soaring cliffs and remote beaches’ on the Great Ocean Walk route
The 110km- (68 mile) long Great Ocean Walk in Victoria comes highly recommended for those in the market for a spectacular hike.
The route runs east to west from the seaside village of Apollo Bay to the iconic 12 Apostles sea stacks.
The local tourist board says that hikers discover a ‘dramatic coastline of soaring cliffs and remote beaches, with tangents exploring giant eucalypt forests full of kangaroos, wallabies and koalas, and meandering estuaries brimming with birdlife’ on this eight-day route.
Keep your eye on the water – you might spot whales in the distance as you trek.
When darkness falls, spend the night in campsites or check into one of the B&Bs located just off the trail.
HELIBIKING IN THE OUTBACK – NORTHERN TERRITORY
Marvel over the scenery around the outback town of Alice Springs by helicopter, before going mountain biking on the area’s trails
The landscape surrounding Alice Springs, an outback town set between the East and West MacDonnell Ranges mountains in the Northern Territory, is known for its beautifully arid terrain.
This exhilarating ‘helibike’ tour whisks you over this landscape of desert and mountains in a helicopter before touching down at the start of a mountain biking trail, so you can explore the region on two wheels. The area is billed as a ‘mountain bikers paradise’ by Alice Springs Helicopters, which runs the tours.
The transfer is one-way, but bikers can choose to be delivered at one of three different mountain biking trails.
The helibike tour costs £201 ($385AUD/$256US) per person. Visit alicespringshelicopters.com.au.
TREK THE JATBULA TRAIL – NORTHERN TERRITORY
Gecko Canoeing and Trekking offers a guided hike along the Jatbula Trail in the Northern Territory
The Jatbula Trail in the Katherine region of Australia’s Northern Territory is a 62km- (39 mile) long route that winds from Nitmiluk Gorge to the Leliyn area, known for its waterfalls.
Gecko Canoeing and Trekking offers a guided hike along the trail, which covers ‘lowland river and creek country, hillsides dotted with eucalypts, [and] higher escarpment country overlooking the Seventeen Mile Valley and beyond’, its website reveals.
Learn about the history of the route as you walk – it’s an example of a ‘songline’, an ancient Aboriginal navigational track. Hikers will encounter beautiful rock art paintings along the way.
Nights are spent at campsites that each have their own water source, from a spring-fed creek to a 30m- (98ft) high waterfall.
The six-day tour is priced from £1,199 ($2,295AUD/$1,524US) per person. Visit geckocanoeing.com.au/jatbulatrail.
CLIMB A SUPERTALL SKYSCRAPER – QUEENSLAND
Strapped into a harness that’s attached to a safety rail system, travellers can scale the exterior of the Q1 Tower, a supertall skyscraper in the city of Gold Coast
Take in stunning 360-degree views of the coastal Queensland city of Gold Coast from a height of 270m (886ft) with this nerve-jangling experience.
Strapped into a harness that’s attached to a safety rail system, travellers can scale the exterior of the Q1 Tower, a supertall skyscraper.
The website for the ‘SkyPoint Climb’ experience notes that an expert instructor will point out the city’s geographical, historical and cultural landmarks as visitors make the ascent from the start of the platform, which begins at 240m (787ft).
It says that those brave enough to try it out will be ‘fully immersed in the stunning views of golden sands, lush, tropical mountains and the Gold Coast’s cityscape’.
The climbing experience is priced from £46 ($89AUD/$59US). Visit skypoint.com.au.
RIDE AN E-FOIL – QUEENSLAND
Riding an e-foil around Gold Coast is described as ‘one of the most thrilling experiences you will have in Australia’
Zip around the canal network of Gold Coast city on an e-foil, an electric-powered surfer-style board that can lift off the water’s surface when you reach a certain speed.
‘Fliteboard Gold Coast’ offers guided group tours of the waterways and notes that travellers will ‘experience the feeling of flying on a real-life hoverboard above the water’.
Its website adds: ‘It’s one of the most thrilling experiences you will have in Australia!’
FOREST ADVENTURE – QUEENSLAND
O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat offers a variety of activities in Lamington National Park, including a Tree Top Walk (image one) and a zip-lining experience (image two)
Lamington National Park in southeast Queensland, home to ancient trees and beautiful waterfalls, is a haven for twitchers thanks to its distinctive birdlife, with everything from king parrots to green catbirds spotted amid its trees.
Immerse yourself in this vibrant landscape with the experiences offered by O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, a hotel and adventure centre set on the edge of the park.
You can stroll along the Tree Top Walk, a series of nine suspension bridges up to 16m (52ft) above the ground, or try out the centre’s 25m- (82ft) high zip-line, which sends visitors careening over a distance of 180m (590ft) as they’re rewarded with stunning views of the Morans Creek waterway below.
he zip-lining experience costs £18 ($35AUD/$23US) for an adult and £13 ($25AUD/$17US) for a child. Visit oreillys.com.
EXPLORE AN UNDERGROUND CAVE SYSTEM – QUEENSLAND
Undara Volcanic National Park is home to the longest lava tubes in Australia
Head underground and explore the fascinating lava tubes – tunnel-shaped ‘caves’ formed by volcanic activity – of the Undara Volcanic National Park, which is around a three-hour drive from Cairns in Queensland.
Undara is an Aboriginal word that means ‘long way’ – an appropriate name, as these are the longest lava tubes in Australia.
After touring the subterranean caves, ‘Undara Experience’ can arrange for overnight stays in a range of accommodation such as a railway carriage, a pioneer hut or a swag tent. Rock wallabies, insectivorous bats and owls are dotted across the national park that surrounds the cave system.
Guided tours of the caves are priced from £33 ($63AUD/$42US). Visit undara.com.au.
FLY TO THE REMOTE SOUTHWEST NATIONAL PARK – TASMANIA
Fly into Tasmania’s Southwest National Park and explore the area by foot and by boat
Tasmania’s Southwest National Park covers 10 per cent of the state and is home to jagged mountains, expansive moorlands and rainforest. Deep within the national park lies Melaleuca, a former tin-mining settlement that can only be reached by plane or via a week’s worth of walking.
Par Avion offers tours of the park, picking up passengers on a small aircraft in Cambridge, a suburb of Hobart, and flying them to the remote Melaleuca airstrip inside the national park. After disembarking, they explore the coastal stretch of the park with a boat ride around the Port Davey Marine Reserve, cruising past beauty spots such as Waterfall Bay and the Breaksea Islands.
Next, a lunch prepared using Tasmanian produce is served, before guests pay a visit to the Melaleuca Museum, which celebrates the area’s tin-mining heritage and details the local flora and fauna. A highlight of the day is wandering along the short Needwonnee Aboriginal Walk trail, where signs shed light on the indigenous history of the area.
On the return flight to Cambridge, passengers are flown over the Arthur Range, arguably Tasmania’s most spectacular mountain range.
The tour is priced from £365 ($699AUD/$463US) per person. Visit discovertasmania.com.au.
For more on everything that Australia has to offer visit www.australia.com/en-gb.