Skip to main content

Bucket List Travel: 4 Once-in-a-lifetime Adventure Trips in Australia

Image used with permission by copyright holder
For most adventure travelers, Australia rivals Africa as the mother lode of exciting, once-in-a-lifetime outdoor opportunities. It’s vast, rugged, and impossibly beautiful. But, if you can only pick four of the continent’s most bucket list-worthy adventures, we suggest these.

Visit the Underground City of Coober Pedy (South Australia)

Australia gets hot. In the Outback, we’re talking average daily highs north of 110°F in the shade. Which is why the South Australian mining town of Coober Pedy was built largely underground–to escape the heat. Half of its population of fewer than 1,700 lives underground and surfaces mainly to work the massive opal mines (it’s the world’s largest source of the gem). The town’s otherworldly landscape is impossibly desolate. Trees are scarce and grass is like gold — visitors to the town’s all-dirt golf course are provided “loaner” patches of grass to tee-off. It’s no surprise the surrounding area was a primary shooting location for the original Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and has since become something of a popular tourist curiosity.

Underground City of Coober Pedy/The Desert Cave Hotel Image used with permission by copyright holder

Good to know: Overnight visitors should head to The Desert Cave Hotel which offers authentic, underground, “dug-out style living,” plus great tours of the Outback.

Discover the 12 Apostles on the Great Ocean Road (Victoria)

On paper, 12 Apostles are little more than “limestone stacks.” But, to glimpse them in person is a truly awe-inspiring experience. The drive along the Great Ocean Road — one of Australia’s most stunning road trips — is a worthy bucket list “destination” unto itself. But, the 12 Apostles are no doubt the highlight and provide a spectacular photo op for tourists. For the slower-paced, the Great Ocean Walk is the most intimate way to experience the surrounding area. The 8-day, 100-kilometer hike begins in Apollo Bay and ends at the Apostles. It’s worth noting that only eight of the formations remain, as the ninth collapsed in 2005.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Good to know: An aerial tour provides a stunning alternate view of the Apostles. The aptly named 12 Apostles Helicopters is the go-to provider as their tours also promise views of Shipwreck Coast and Port Campbell National Park.

Swim With Whale Sharks (Exmouth, North West Cape)

If you’re looking to get wet in Australia, you don’t need us to tell you the Great Barrier Reef should be at the top of your bucket list. But, for something altogether different, head to the other side of the continent. Exmouth — a tiny resort town on a peninsula in Western Australia’s North West Cape — is home to one of the world’s largest and most consistent schools of whale sharks. These massive, school-bus-sized fish are not whales at all, but filter-feeding fish with mouths more than a meter wide. The coastal waters of Exmouth are also home to migrating whales, dolphins, turtles, and manta rays.

Swimming with Sharks/Ningaloo Whalesharks Image used with permission by copyright holder

Good to know: Ningaloo Whalesharks offers a money-back guarantee and promises no snorkeling or diving experience is necessary for their tours.

Climb and Camp Mount Kosciuszko (New South Wales)

Climbers and peak-baggers are familiar with Australia’s Mount Kosciuszko. The 7,310-foot peak may not seem like much compared to its brand-name brethren like Everest or Kilimanjaro, but, it’s actually the tallest mountain on mainland Australia, securing it a spot on the coveted Seven Summits list. It’s also the easiest of the seven peaks to “bag.” The Summit Walk can be completed in just one day. Facilities in the surrounding Kosciuszko National Park are excellent and we highly recommend camping overnight to soak in the scenery.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Good to know: The park is also home to a long list of other year-round activities. Summer is ideal for hiking, biking, cave exploring, and fishing; while winter brings skiing, snowboarding, and cold weather hiking.

Editors' Recommendations

Mike Richard
Mike Richard has traveled the world since 2008. He's kayaked in Antarctica, tracked endangered African wild dogs in South…
Ski tips for beginners: 13 essential things to know
Learning how to ski involves more preparation, equipment, and a greater sense of adventure than many other sports
Person skiing down the slope in a blue jacket and a ski helmet

So you’ve decided to learn how to ski. Welcome to the party, pal! Prepping for your first day on the slopes can seem daunting. Unlike simpler outdoor pursuits like hiking or biking that require minimal gear, skiing is an entirely different animal. It’s more like scuba diving in that it involves more preparation and equipment, and you could argue, a greater sense of adventure, especially if you're gunning to ultimately take on backcountry skiing. Skiing for beginners involves figuring out what clothes to pack, which gear to buy, and how to transport it all to the mountain.

And all of that is before you even get to the mountain. Then there’s the matter of actually learning how to ski. Should you book a proper lesson or go it alone and hope for the best? There's no right answer, really. Here, we tackle these questions and more with the best pro tips for beginner skiers (and a few for intermediate and expert skiers too).

Read more
Mips ski helmet and snowboard helmet protection is now being developed virtually to reduce environmental impact
Mips is mapping safety digitally, and that's awesome
mips helmet protection developed virtually bradley dunn 9sggun3iiig unsplash

Virtually every top-end ski helmet on the market nowadays boasts one thing: Mips. This multi-directional impact system also found in mountain bike and snowboard helmets, is perhaps the major advancement in safety to hit the snow since wearing helmets first became mainstream — a concept that early snowboarders seemed unlikely ever to adopt, given their carefree attitudes toward safety.

But creating new technology and manufacturing new gear throws up a whole host of ethical and environmental dilemmas. While plenty of outdoor companies and movements are calling for better use of our old outdoor equipment, it doesn't always appear that so many are advancing in the design stages. Sure, we're always excited to see new, more eco-friendly gear released, but what wastage has gone into getting to that design stage, and what can be done to reduce that impact? Well, Mips may have an answer.

Read more
Add these East Coast ski resorts to your winter plans
Skiing and snowboarding at these East Coast resorts is fantastic
Sugarloaf ski resort

There are two things the East Coast doesn't lack, mountain ranges and formidable winters. East of the Mississippi River, incredible ski resorts let you challenge some of the East's best mountains — like those in northern New York’s Adirondacks, Vermont’s Green Mountains, New Hampshire's White Mountains, and the Alleghenies in Pennsylvania and West Virginia — have been drawing skiers for nearly a century, since the days when slopes were serviced only with rope tows and solely reliant on the natural powder provided by Mother Nature.

While the East Coast may not have the acreage or the altitude of the West’s most iconic ski resorts, the region’s resorts still have plenty to offer, from vertiginous steeps and spellbinding glades to meticulously groomed cruisers perfect for novices. As this season ramps up and the snow starts to settle on the mountaintops, we're getting to that time of year when you should really have something booked for skiing. But isn't it time you tried somewhere new, or perhaps a little closer to home by hitting the slopes at some of the best East Coast ski resorts?

Read more