After spending the last few years working so hard on your exams and then taking the time to compare universities, deciding to take a gap year in Australia is the easy part! Choosing what to do in those months of fun is going to be a bit trickier.
And that’s got everything to do with the size of the country and the thousands of different opportunities you’ll have to do epic things. Look at it this way. Australia is 31 times bigger than England. In fact, the whole of Europe can fit into the land down under. In one small word, Australia is BIG - but luckily you’ll have a whole gap year to explore, discover and experience this awesome continent.
From east to west, north to south, it’s incredibly diverse. You’ll find colours and contrasts, rainforests and deserts, snowy mountains, sunny beaches, cool cities, country towns, wildlife and even wilder entertainment - this great southern land has it all. Australi-YEAH!
But with so much ground to cover and so many awesome places to go and things to do, how do you know what to choose?
Planning your year will obviously depend on your own interests, but here are five unmissable things to do in your Australian gap year:
1. Visit the red centre
Get yourself to the red centre of Australia - the country’s spiritual heart and home to one of the natural wonders of the world, the spectacular monolith of Uluru (or Ayers Rock as it is also known). See incredible rock art sites, learn about the plants, animals and fascinating geology of the area, immerse yourself in some Aboriginal history and witness the powerful presence of this historical site during its famous sunsets and sunrises. You could also visit the iconic town of Alice Springs and hike the stunning the West MacDonnell Ranges, marvel at all the spectacular sandstone cliffs and gorges and swim in pristine waterholes.
2. Learn to surf
With a coastline that stretches for nearly 37 000 kilometres, perfect weather, warm seas, white sandy beaches and world-famous surf breaks, learning to ride the waves is a must for any ‘gappie’. There are plenty of places where you can have lessons or you can just hire a board and learn from the locals. From Margaret River in the West to Bondi Beach in Sydney, from Bell’s Beach down the road from Melbourne to Noosa in Queensland, you’ll be spoilt for choice wherever you are - so don’t miss out on a chance to hang five and catch a rad barrel, duuuuude.
3. Drive the Great Ocean Road
It’s only 240 kilometres long (which by Aussie standards, is a short hop) but this stretch of road from Torquay to Warrnambool in Victoria takes you through some of the most unbelievable coastal scenery in the country. Take in the famous Apostles (giant chunks of limestone rising from the sea), hillside vineyards, quaint seaside villages, heritage attractions, awesome pubs, iconic surf breaks, pristine rainforests, misty waterfalls and native wildlife. The views are epic and your photos will be even better. You can also go bushwalking in the wildlife reserves and mountain biking along awesome tracks - so take your time exploring this sensational ‘must-do’ scenic road.
4. Sail the Whitsundays
No gap year would be complete without a trip to the Great Barrier Reef and what better way to go about it than a trip around the Whitsunday Islands. Sail the coral-filled seas, snorkel or dive the aqua depths, soak up the scenery on a cruise, or just chill out on the beaches of the world’s largest sand island, Fraser Island. You can also get to see another Aussie icon on Fraser Island, a dingo in the wild!
5. Do the cowboy/cowgirl thang
If you’re made tough - or you need to toughen up - you really should seek out the quintessential Aussie outback experience of being a ‘jackaroo’ (for the boys) or a jillaroo (for the girls). Basically, it means working on a farm or ranch for a few weeks (or longer), helping out with the animals and the equipment and just lending a general hand around the place. It’s a great way to experience rural Aussie life and get a better understanding of what ‘living on the land’ really means. Oh, and the campfire chats are legendary too!
It hasn’t been easy narrowing down unmissable Aussie experiences to just five because there’s a vast world of fun and excitement out there, just waiting to be explored. We haven’t even touched on the cities, the incredible wilderness areas of Northern Territory, the weird and wonderful animal encounters, the many wine regions and the huge range of adventure opportunities like climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, zip-lining, white water rafting, jet boating, skiing and snowboarding, hang gliding, canyoning and abseiling and our favourite, skydiving.
Freefalling over the most beautiful sights in Australia? Yes please!
Check out Skydive Geronimo for the most thrilling aerial experiences over WA’s majestic coastline complete with beach landings - and of course, a complimentary drink to celebrate your life-changing jump for joy. Go tandem with their team of trained and experienced Perth skydiving instructors and get a whole new perspective on Australia’s breathtakingly beautiful landscape. To find out more about the most awesome skydiving in Perth, Broome or Rottnest Island, phone 1300 449 669 or visit www.skydivegeronimo.com.au.