Cranking Australian Holiday Ideas for Active People
If you’re an active person, then a standard holiday tour is unlikely to appeal – lots of time sitting around on buses and trains, with a bit of walking. However, if you look around, there are a lot of options for the more active traveller – from adventure to simple fun outdoor activities for the whole family to enjoy.
Australia’s mountains are ideal for biking, with relatively low altitudes and an abundance of trails on which bicycles are permitted. Queensland’s Sunshine Coast Hinterland is popular, with the Parklands Regional Park particularly popular with locals, especially in winter months. Victoria’s Mount Buller isn’t just good for skiing – in spring, summer and autumn it’s a great mountain biking venue, with a range of downhill courses.
There are a range of hiking options available in our own backyard, ranging from sweeping mountain vistas to lush forest paths. Short day-hiking paths are available in most national and state parks, but there are also some stand-out trails for the more intrepid hiker. South Australia’s HeysenTrail winds through coastal, mountain, farmland, and vineyard areas. It’s open from April to October, and closed during the warmer and more fire-prone months. The deceptively-named SixFoot walking track in the Blue Mountains (west of Sydney) is a challenging 3-day walk for experienced hikers. The Larapinta Trail in the Northern Territory offers a different experience of Australia, with 223 km of track in 12 sections through central Australia.
Australia has some fantastic surfing beaches along its 25,000+ km of coastline. WesternAustralia offers some great choices, including world-famous Margaret River for big waves and Esperance’s white sand beaches. Tasmania’s Shipstern Bluff is a difficult (expert surfers only) but big surf break. TheGold Coast’s ‘Superbank’ stretches from Snapper Rocks through Rainbow Bay to Greenmount Beach, providing a long ride, especially with a south-easterly wind and southern swell.
Skiing and snowboarding
Australia really isn’t known for its skiing and snowboarding, but snowfields in NSW and Victoria are popular winter playtime destinations regardless. FallsCreek and Thredbo are two of the best-known, with Tasmania’s Ben Lomond a lesser-known option with fewer amenities but often great skiing throughout the season. Remember that you’ll need tyre chains if driving up to snowfields.
Australia has a lot of keen climbers, and hence a lot of natural climbing spots have been researched in depth. Victoria’s Grampians are dense with climbing opportunities. Queensland’s GlasshouseMountains are another popular spot, with a number of climbs of different grades. South Australia’s FlindersRanges offer picturesque climbing spots and ancient Aboriginal rock art.
The Jenolan Caves near Katoomba are one of Australia’s best-known caving locations. The limestone caves provide a range of spelunking tours from beginner walks to advanced explorations. NaracoorteCaves in south-eastern South Australia feature numerous fossil records. The Byaduk caves in south-western Victoria are different again – technically lava tubes, they’re volcanic in origin. Harman Cave is accessible to the public.
Ours is a fairly dry continent, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have some great bodies of water on which to kayak. One of the most popular is, surprisingly, Sydney Harbour. You’ll need to watch out for other watercraft as the area is quite busy, but it’s an unusual perspective from which to see some of Sydney’s most iconic points. The Ngaro SeaTrail offers an odd combination of kayaking and hiking in Queensland’s Whitsunday Islands. NT’s KatherineGorge is a spectacular inland option, with canoes for hire from the Nitmiluk Visitor Centre.
If you’re a fan of all things four-legged, furry, feathery, or cute, then there are a number of adventures that you might just love. There are quite a few horse riding trails around, but they’re especially numerous in the SnowyMountains, where horse riding tours have been running since the 1940s. MonkeyMia Reserve in WA is the perfect place to meet and swim with dolphins. If you’re more of a penguin fan, Phillip Island in Victoria is regularly visited by fairy penguins (also called little penguins).