• Blue Mountains (NSW): Many bushwalks in the Blue Mountains National Park offer awesome views of valleys, waterfalls, cliffs, and forest. All are easy to reach from Sydney.
  • Four Mile Beach (QLD): The sea is turquoise, the sun is warm, the palms sway, and the low-rise hotels starting to line this country beach in Port Douglas can’t spoil the feeling that it is a million miles from anywhere. But isn’t there always a serpent in paradise? In this case, the “serpents” are north Queensland’s seasonal, potentially deadly, marine stingers. Come from June through September to avoid them, or confine your swimming to the stinger net the rest of the year.  
  • Larapinta Trail (NT): You can start from Alice Springs in the Red Centre and walk the entire 250-km (155-mile) semi-desert trail, which winds through the stark crimson McDonnell Ranges. You don’t have to walk the entire length—plenty of day-length and multiday sections are possible. This one’s for the cooler months only (Apr–Oct).
  • The MacDonnell Ranges (NT): The Aborigines say these red rocky hills were formed by the Aboriginal “Caterpillar Dreaming” that wriggled from the earth here. To the west of Alice Springs are dramatic gorges, idyllic (and icily cold) water holes, and cute wallabies. To the east are Aboriginal rock carvings and the Ross River Homestead, where you can crack a cattle whip, throw a boomerang, feast on damper and billy tea, and ride a horse or camel in the bush.
  • Surfing: No visit to Oz could really be considered complete without checking out one of the iconic Aussie activities—surfing. It’s not just the rush of the waves that pulls people in, it’s the ethos and everything that goes with surfing. Every state has its special spots where the surf can be especially challenging.
  • Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park (NT): Don’t go home until you’ve felt the powerful heartbeat of the desert. Uluru will enthrall you with its eerie beauty. Nearby Kata Tjuta is equally interesting, so make the time to wander through the Valley of the Winds. Hike around Uluru’s base, burn around it on a Harley-Davidson, saunter up to it on a camel . . . but don’t climb it.
  • Whitehaven Beach (QLD): It’s not a surf beach, but this 6 km (3 3/4-mile) stretch of white silica sand on uninhabited Whitsunday Island is pristine and peaceful. Bring a book, curl up under the rainforest lining its edge, and fantasize that the cruise boat is going to leave without you. 

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.