10 Cool Things to do Down Under

Today's guest post is from our friends Michael, Lisette and James at TravelByU. They just sent us their Top 10 list of cool things to do in their home country of Australia. These guys are great - after reading their tips, check out their travel blog and facebook pages. 1. Visit the 12 Apostles on the Great Ocean Road The Great Ocean Road is without doubt one of Australia’s most spectacular drives, built into the steep seaside cliffs of southwest Victoria. The Southern Ocean and views of the dramatically eroded coastline, including the famed Twelve Apostles, are on one side, the sheer cliffs are on the other. The small strip of bitumen that weaves its way along the coast is right in front of you. 2. Learn to Surf at the Famous Bondi Beach You may not master it. You may never experience the ultimate barrel or do a cutback, and you may have no wish whatsoever to go big-wave surfing, but you’ll have tried to come to grips with a great Australian tradition. And you’ll be guaranteed to have had a great deal of fun trying. 3. Climb the Coat Hanger in Sydney Quite apart from the fact that you can tell everyone you’ve climbed the Harbour Bridge, the act in itself is highly rewarding. The view is fantastic, the climb is tremendously safe, not too taxing, and highly informative. You can climb the bridge at most times of the day (and night), but the best time to do so is in the late afternoon in daylight, and come down as Sydney’s lights come on. 4. Shop Till You Drop in Melbourne Don your finest clobber and go hang out with Melbourne’s most beautiful people. Both Chapel and Greville Streets have long had a reputation for being the city’s premier style strips, and they’re where the rich and fashion-conscious burn their money. Designer labels go hand in hand with fancy bistros and on weekends the streets overflow as cafes compete with boutiques for passing trade. 5. Sample a Bottle of Red in the Barossa Valley Quite apart from encompassing more than 60 cellar doors, the Barossa valley wine region offers a wide variety of European-style foods, historic architecture, inspiring arts and antique galleries, along with grand chateaux and ornate gardens. The region is home to over 500 grape-growing families, many of them sixth generation. 6. Ride the World’s Steepest Railway in the Blue Mountains The Blue Mountains’ towns and villages perch on a narrow ridge that sits atop dramatic escarpments between the Grose Valley in the north and the Jamison Valley in the south. A favourite stop-off includes Echo Point (for the famed Three Sisters) in Katoomba. Here you can travel down the escarpment on the world’s steepest railway, take several walking options on the valley floor, and return via a skyway. 7. Find Nemo at the Great Barrier Reef The best way to explore the reef is by diving right in (there are numerous tour operators that provide diving trips, courses and snorkelling opportunities). If that’s not your cup of tea, take a cruise or a scenic flight and you’ll be assured of an amazing experience all the same. 8. Feed a Crocodile.. then Eat One in Kakadu Kakadu National Park is in the northern part of Australia, known as the ‘Top End’. This rugged part of the country is home to some of the largest salt water crocodiles in the world. While visiting, make sure to take in a crocodile feeding show where you will get the opportunity to witness one of these prehistoric beasts launch out of the water some 6ft or more. As a vast contrast you can then retreat to your comfortable abode and delight in a barbequed ‘salty’. The taste is somewhat of a cross between chicken and fish. 9. Bask in the Wonder of a Sunset Over Uluru Make no mistake: close up, Uluru is powerful, awe-inspiring and intimidating. From a distance, Uluru famously changes colour, anything from blue or violet to glowing red. There are numerous places to watch the sun rise or set over this remarkable pebble (a term coined by explorer Ernest Giles in 1872). You’ll typically be standing on a rise, surrounded by lush vegetation and the famous red earth of the Red Centre. 10. Swim with Wild Dolphins at Monkey Mia On the coast of Western Australia about 800km north of Perth lies a place called Shark Bay. Here you will find the world famous Monkey Mia in this World Heritage Area. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Western Australia, where more than 100,000 visitors come each year to enjoy a close encounter with the wild dolphins.