With every big city advertising tours, adventures and enough activities to fill up months, it's hard to know where to start when figuring out what tourist attractions are worth the money. In Australia, a place that’s notoriously expensive, it's easy to spend your whole budget way too quickly. After exploring the Australian East Coast for three weeks, here are five tourist attractions that I think are totally worth the money,
Great Ocean Road (throughout Victoria) – This is a famous tourist attraction for a reason – the views are unbeatable. Follow the winding roads along small, beach side towns and through nature reserves for one of the prettiest, most peaceful drives you will ever do. If you’re lucky, you might even see a kangaroo hop across the road. The price just depends on how much it costs to rent a car and fill it up with gas. It will be a bit pricier if you’re under 25 because you have to pay a young driver fee.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary (Brisbane) - When I thought about Australia, koalas and kangaroos were two of the first things that came to mind. So I knew that one of my must dos was to hold a koala. I learned through Pinterest that Queensland is the place to go and Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is an easy bus ride from Brisbane. You can expect a ticket to the sanctuary along with a photo pass (it comes with a professional photo of you holding a koala and the ability to take photos of all the animals) to cost about $50.
It's also supposed to be one of the most humane sanctuaries - they frequently switch out the koalas being held, make sure you're very cautious with them and place a big emphasis on conservation. It was such a fun break from touring big cities, and I got to hold a koala and feed/pet kangaroos. Australian dream....check.
Uncle Brian’s Fun, Falls and Forest Tour (Cairns)– This was by far the best tour I’ve been on. I originally booked it because a friend who studied abroad in Australia recommended it and so did the girl at the travel agency. The tour was fun from start to finish with one of the highest energy, most interactive tour guides I’ve ever seen. I left the tour at the end of the day with a whole new slew of Facebook friends and several people to go out with that night. We got to slide down rock slides, do the Herbal Essences hair flip by a waterfall and swim in a lake formed in a volcanic crater. The day was definitely worth every penny. This tour ran at about 115 AUD, but I bought both this tour and a trip to the Great Barrier Reef combined from a travel agency for about $250.
Great Barrier Reef (Cairns) – This is pretty much your staple tourist activity when coming to Australia, but I’d definitely say it’s worth it. I honestly had no idea what to expect, but I was able to see two sea turtles up close, as well as barracuda and fish of every color and enjoy the clear waters surrounding the beautiful reef. The tour came with snorkel gear and you can pay extra to do an intro scuba diving lesson. I purchased the Reef tour from a travel agency for about 160 AUD. Also, be prepared to spend about another $15-20 on a reef tax that every visitor must pay.
Australian Open (Melbourne)– If you love tennis, then this is an absolutely amazing opportunity to watch some of the best players in the world. If you're not super into tennis, but still want to experience the atmosphere, just buy a grounds pass. This pass lets you past the gates, but not into any arenas. You can still access the food and shops and watch the matches from the big screens, all for a pretty cheap price. If you love tennis, but don’t want to spend tons of money, buy a ticket for one of the first few days and enjoy some of the biggest names in tennis for around $100.
Every major Australian city and state is so different, and you could easily spend months or maybe years discovering all Australia has to offer. The vast amount of possibilities can be overwhelming, but here are just a few ideas to get you started. Happy travels!