Essential Australia

Nov 1, 2005
Outside Magazine
Australia adventures

   Photo: Laszlo Kubinyi

SAIL AND DIVE THE WHITSUNDAYS: Island-hop this archipelago of 74 coral-fringed, rainforested isles on the Great Barrier Reef aboard Bliss, a skippered 60-foot yacht that sleeps six (double cabin from $1,346 for three nights, with meals; diving is extra; 011-61-7-4946-5433,
DRIVE THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD: Roll the 219 miles between Torquay and Warrnambool on one of the world's best drives, past old lighthouses and the famous 12 Apostles rock formation (011-61-3-5222-2900,
COMMUNE WITH THE TINGLE FORESTS: Get dwarfed in Walpole-Nornalup National Park's Valley of the Giants, Australia's answer to the Redwoods, 280 miles south of Perth (011-61-8-9840-1027,
RUN THE FRANKLIN RIVER: Take a mind-blowing nine-day whitewater trip with Tasmanian Expeditions through pristine Tasmanian wilderness ($1,761 per person; 011-61-3-6339-3999,
OFF-ROAD ON THE CAPE YORK PENINSULA: Ford rivers, dodge crocs, and bathe in waterfalls. Getabout 4WD Adventures offers 16-day guided, self-drive camping trips from Cairns to Cape York ($3,947 for two; 011-61-2-9831-8385, BIKE THE OUTBACK: For the full Mad Max tour, try Wayward Bus Touring Company's new "Outbike" tour, a fully supported two-week cycle from Alice Springs to Coober Pedy ($1,553; 011-61-8-8410-8833,
DIVE WITH WHALE SHARKS: From April to July, migrating whale sharks converge on Western Australia's central coast near Exmouth ($284 per day with the Exmouth Diving Centre; 011-61-8-9949-1201,
INDULGE IN THE WILSON ISLAND EXPERIENCE: Spend five days at permanent luxury camps on two coral cays, Heron Island and Wilson Island, on the Great Barrier Reef ($1,533 per person, including meals; 011-61-2-8296-8010,
KITEBOARD IN ST. KILDA: Melbourne's hip beach 'hood is a magnet for kiteboarders and windsurfers. RPS, a local surf shop, offers half-day lessons for $192 (011-61-3-9525-6475,
SURF BYRON BAY: Paddle out to Tallows, Byron's hallowed beach break. Byron Bay Surf School rents boards for $23 per day (011-61-2-6680-9761, Then chill at the Byron at Byron Resort and Spa (doubles from $230; 011-61-1-300-554-362,

BEST EVENTS, 2005-2006
MELBOURNE CUP CARNIVAL (October 29–November 5): Experience Australia's version of the Kentucky Derby. COMMONWEALTH GAMES (March 15–26): These Olympic-style games, which occur once every four years, come to Melbourne in 2006. IRONMAN AUSTRALIA TRIATHLON (April 2): Hundreds of finely sculpted masochists race in Port Macquarie, New South Wales. RIP CURL PRO at Bells Beach (mid-April): Surfers and wannabes descend on Victoria during Australia's top pro-surfing contest. SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL (June): Rub shoulders with Nicole Kidman, Baz Luhrmann, and Cate Blanchett in the heart of Sydney. HOG'S BREATH RACE WEEK (August 10–17): It's party time when one of Australia's most competitive regattas kicks off in the Whitsundays.

OUTBACK ENCOUNTER is one of Australia's premier luxury tour operators (011-61-8-8354-4405, WILDERNESS AUSTRALIA specializes in custom guided safaris (011-61-2-9231-2113, BACKROADS runs a nine-day multisport adventure in Queensland (800-462-2848, WILDERNESS TRAVEL offers 12-day Wild Australia and 10-day Wild Tasmania trips (800-368-2794,

For general information, visit And to try to make sense of Aussie slang, pick up a copy of A Dictionary of Australian Colloquialisms (Oxford).

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