Time to head out of the cities and embark on an epic adventure in Oz!
THE scenic vastness of Australia makes it the perfect continent to go to, for an awesome journey. While I was shooting Jason Down Under … uh … Down Under – which was like an epic journey in itself – I was way too busy scooting around the continent to truly savour all that it could offer.
I’m always up for a journey of adventure; and if there’s any place where you can get that, it’s definitely the land of outback hats and dungarees. That’s why I’m already planning my next trip to Australia; I’ll make sure I budget enough time to take on my Top Six Journeying Adventures Down Under!
1. Rafting on the Franklin, Tasmania
The Franklin River is described as “ploughing” its way through the south-west of Tasmania. Any river that can cut through the rugged, craggy, temperate rain forest covered landscape of Tasmania is a waterway to experience. Hop into a raft or opt for the Canadian choice – a canoe – and embark on a five- to 10-day journey deeper into the Tasmanian wilderness world heritage area.
Set up camp along the banks of the Franklin, and enjoy delicious meals prepared by your guides, and don’t worry anything eaten after a day of paddling is guaranteed to be delicious. Paddling and camping? This is the trip Tasmania was made for.
2. Horseback Safari in the Snowy Mountains, New South Wales
Put on a slouch hat and grab a horse before heading into the Australian Alps! Amble on horseback through meadows of wildflowers, ghost gum forests, and open plains. Spot wildlife like wild horses – called brumbies in these parts – and wombats, possums, kangaroos, and if you’re really vigilant, platypuses in the mountain streams.
Camp around a campfire under the open, star-filled sky while enjoying a well-earned three-course dinner (actually the horse deserves three courses because it did all the walking and carrying, but you spotted animals, darn it!).
Spend the night in tents or do it the Aussie way and use a traditional “swag” – a canvas bedroll (akin to a sleeping bag) – used by bushmen, drovers, and probably Hugh Jackman (even when he stays in hotels because he’s Hugh Jackman).
Option: If a horseback ride through the Snowy Mountains sounds too strenuous, there is always a horseback pub crawl (bar-hopping) in Glen Innes if one is alcoholically inclined. Expect to spot fewer animals as your vision blurs but travelling across the countryside and spending your evenings in country pubs may be a nice combination.
3. Hiking along the Great Walhalla Alpine Trail, Victoria
The Australian Alps Walking Track stretches for 680km from Walhalla to Canberra, though the journey most people undertake is the Great Walhalla Alpine Trail comprising the first 40km of the full track.
Spend time to appreciate the vegetation – snow gums in incredible twisted shapes, ash trees that reach high up into the sky, and myrtle beech trees that may still remember the dinosaurs.
From dramatic geological formations, wild rivers and giant ferns to a myriad animals and birds, there is tons to see on the Great Walhalla Alpine Trail, so much so that you may decide to call the office and ask for seven more weeks off to check it all out, who knows?
4. Journey by camel across Flinders Ranges, South Australia
Ride on camels led by cameleers – apparently that’s what camel guides are called – and head into the scenic Flinders Ranges, one of the oldest landscapes on Earth.
Take a three-, four- or five-day trek into the desert landscape and experience open skies, towering red-walled gorges and more spinifex grass than you can mow with an electric lawnmower car. Out in the open with your camel, it’s easy to spot huge numbers of kangaroos, eagles, emus, goannas, cockatoos and kookaburras, whose name is as fun to say as they are to watch.
Unwind around a campfire beneath a blanket of stars and enjoy some South Australian wine; and remember, camels only store water in their humps, so no alcohol for them.
5. Perth Driving Circle, Western Australia
If paddling, walking and riding animals isn’t your thing, then rent a car and head out for an eight-day round trip through beautiful Western Australia. Drive through Fremantle, the historic port with one of Australia’s most infamous maximum-security prisons, now an incredible attraction, and head down to Mandurah to – wait for it – swim with the dolphins! Then hit the Margaret River area where wineries, surf beaches, limestone caves and skyscrapers like Karri forests await. Swim and surf in Esperance’s clear blue waters, and enjoy its beautiful white beaches before soaking up the history of gold fever in Kalgoorlie where you can trace the path of the pioneers on their historic gold trails. Lots to see and do, and everyone loves piling into a car for an awesome road trip, especially when it’s in Western Australia.
6. Tackling Rapids on the North Johnstone River, Queensland
Any trip where you can yell, “Get to the chopper!”, and mean it, is a good one. This great ride starts with a helicopter fly-in to get you into position to raft down the North Johnstone River. Take on spectacular and dangerous Grade Five rapids on this steep waterway that cuts through a volcanic gorge. Making its way through an untouched part of tropical north Queensland’s World Heritage Rainforests, the North Johnstone will be your home for the four days it takes to traverse the river in between camping in rainforest clearings under the starry night sky.
There you have it – six epic journeys that will make for unforgettable memories and experiences. Pick one that looks good to you and check out www.australia.com to plan your trip right, and you’ll be riding camels and paddling through rapids in no time.
> Catch the re-run of Jason Down Under on Feb 20 at 11.30pm, exclusively on Life Inspired (Astro B.yond Ch728).