A Dozen Adventures Down Under

by Melanie Sherman

Australia is a place where the possibilities are endless. The amount of things to do, see, and experience could keep anyone busy for a lifetime. With so many options and so little time, go right for these 12 Australian adventures during your high school study abroad program in Australia. You’re in for the trip of lifetime...fair dinkum (Australian slang meaning seriously)!

The Sydney Harbour Bridge
The Sydney Harbour Bridge. Photo by Kayla Patterson

1. Hold a Koala

This may sound like a pipe dream, something that could never actually happen, but it is entirely possible to hold a koala in Australia but only in the state of Queensland. Koalas are one of those animals many dream of holding, and when they do, it is like holding a baby for the first time, but much fluffier. If you haven’t considered holding a koala, put it on your list right now. Check it off during your stay and put the picture on display to remind you for years to come of the day that fuzzy little bundle of joy with the big nose was in your arms.

2. Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef

This is a given. The Great Barrier Reef is a natural wonder and home to millions of different species. Many people travel from the ends of the earth to do this one thing! A three hour boat ride will take you to one of the many sections. It is absolutely breathtaking with crystal water, reefs that seem never ending, and bright sea creatures. Visitors can choose to snorkel or dive in order to come face to face with the creatures living there.

3. Visit the Waitomo Caves

Located in New Zealand, these caves are also known as “glow worm caves.” Travel deep beneath the ground you stood on only moments before for a guided tour. The caves are safe to walk on and become more cavernous the deeper you go. Just when the experience seems as dark and mysterious as it can get, visitors board a boat in the blackness to see the beautiful glow worms. The worms emit a blue light, which guides the boats through the tunnel. They glow to attract mates and warn predators but also tend to leave viewers breathless. 

Gold Coast, Australia

Gold Coast

4. Visit the Gold Coast and Surfer’s Paradise

Beaches are an important part of Australian life — they are found in every state and each is unique and beautiful. Surfer’s Paradise is located in Queensland, Australia, and is a suburb of the Gold Coast. Surfer’s Paradise is a pristine beach with ocean and sand for miles, beautiful, white sand, and crisp blue water. The Gold Coast itself is a stellar place, with loads to see like Warner Brother Movie World, which is a movie theme park, and SeaWorld Gold Coast. The town has a very relaxed, laid back vibe, where you can go to a coffee shop and sit for hours on end. 

5. Jungle Surf through the Daintree Rainforest

Jungle surf? You read that correctly. In Cape Tribulation, it means zip lining through the Daintree Rainforest. After a treacherous walk up, the zip lining seems like a breeze. That is, until you look down at the jungle far below, but don’t fret! The highly trained, hilarious instructors ensure comfort every inch of the way. They allow pictures and videos, and make sure that your time flying above the rainforest is unforgettable. Be sure to take their advice when they recommend flying upside down!

6. Take a Jungle Walk

Also in Cape Tribulation, is the jungle walk. In the dark of night, a guide leads a tour through the rainforest. You will hear your alarm clock’s rainforest setting in real life: frogs, bugs, and gentle but steady rain. Trekking through the mud, see a scene that cannot be recreated — true Australian rainforest. The tall trees, moving waters, and animals native only to Australia, make a tromp through the mud worth it.

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

7. Visit the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge

Both are iconic pieces of Australia found in Sydney, New South Wales, right on the Darling Harbour. The Opera House, which is made to look like a ship, is exquisite in its detail and vibrancy. The Harbour Bridge is an integral piece of Australia’s city skyline. Make sure you get up close and personal with the Opera House, as the detailing included to help it resemble a ship is amazing. Make sure you board a ferry to be able to get a 360 view of the Opera House. Students can experience Sydney in a whole new way by walking across the Harbour Bridge. Make sure you visit the middle as well – Circular Quay, which allows a beautiful view of both landmarks!

8. Visit The University of Sydney’s Graffiti Tunnel

The University of Sydney is one of Australia’s most prestigious universities and home to some  exquisite architecture but below that is some major defacing of private property. Tucked away in a corner, is the popular graffiti tunnel. This tunnel is a place where students can leave their mark on the university...literally. Governed by few rules, the graffiti tunnel is open to everyone for release of creative expression. 

Inside, you will find layers upon layers of artwork, building and accentuating upon each other. There are words of wisdom, names of visitors, and beautiful images to feast your eyes upon. The University, the oldest in Australia, is an open, beautiful, ivy-covered landscape that is site all its own so by adding the graffiti tunnel, you will see two Australian highlights in one!

9. See Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Australia. Bondi is located not far from Sydney, and a beautiful beach and town accompany the gorgeous Australian coastlines. The beach has its own interpretation of a boardwalk, which is accented with a large wall covered in graffiti. The wall seems to extend the length of the beach, telling the visitors stories along the way. The ocean, light and bright blue, glimmers from the other side. Here, you can watch surfers flying high on waves or sunbathe on a towel in the warm sand.

Bondi Beach, Australia

Bondi Beach

10. Have a Beer at The Lord Nelson

The oldest pub brewery in Sydney, The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel is hidden neatly in the historic rocks not far from Circular Quay. This pub brews all of its own beer and has delicious gourmet food to match. Some of the staple brews —The Old Admiral, Nelson’s 

Blood, and Three Sheets — must be tasted when visiting The Lord Nelson.

Adorning the walls are coats of arms and flags, showing the history of the brewery. The typical burger and beer will never be the same after experiencing a Lord Nelson sandwich and homemade brew.

11. Hike The Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains are not a far journey from Sydney, but after arrival you will feel like you are a world away. The region has many well known sites to take in like the Three Sisters rock formation and the Giant Stairway. The Three Sisters is the largest part of the mountains, and the stairway allows beautiful sights. Take a scenic cable car up to the top and begin your trek down the guided pathway. Throughout the hike, you will see natural waterfalls and trees.

Blue Mountains

Blue Mountains

12. Walk through The Rocks Market

Finding an authentic outdoor market with homemade goods when technology and quick buyer’s satisfaction is king can be hard, but The Rocks Market delivers. This weekend market, located right off Circular Quay, allows visitors to see local businesses and designers hard at work. There, you can buy goods made only by the Rocks Market vendors and have a one-of-a-kind piece. You will find jewelry, clothing, electronics, toys, and more. It’s the perfect place to find a piece of Australia to bring home.

Are you ready to venture to Australia?