Five great Australian experiences

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This article was independently commissioned by Lonely Planet for Tourism Australia.

If you’ve ever wanted to visit Australia – whether to cuddle a koala or surf Bondi beach – there’s never been a better time to head over. With direct flights from Los Angeles and San Francisco, an Aussie vacation is easier than ever. There’s an entire continent full of amazing experiences waiting for you just across the Pacific, so don’t let your chance for adventure  slip by.

Maybe you’ve always had a fascination with kangaroos or dreamt of scuba diving off the Great Barrier Reef. Perhaps you want to sample the cosmopolitan lifestyles of Sydney or Melbourne or the laidback rural one of an outback town. Or you could be a wine lover with a nose for Australian vintages, or want to travel across the red desert at Australia’s heart to see the kaleidoscope sunrise over the amazing rock formation of Uluru (Ayers Rock).

The Lonely Planet Discover Australia guide offers 25 Top Australian Experiences not to miss, and we’ve included a sample of them below. For the rest, download your free PDF copy of the whole chapter by visiting Australia.com.

1. Bondi Beach bums

Image by Richard Moross

Related article: A classic five-day Australian trip

Sydney’s Bondi Beach is as famous for its lifeguards as it is for its swell. A T-shirt from Bondi will have you going home looking like you’ve just stepped off the set of Baywatch, but with a touch more class. – Kate West, Traveller, Australia

2. Snorkeling the Reef

Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef is like entering another world; it is like swimming in earth’s womb. The colors of the reef and fish take your breath away, and when the reef ends and there is a sheer drop into deep ocean, it feels like you’re skydiving from the highest mountain. – Ursula Hogan, Traveller, Austria

3. Top drops

Australia produces brilliant wines for you to sip, swish and swallow. There are numerous picturesque wine-producing regions with cellar-door sales, romantic accommodation and fine dining, including the Barossa Valley, Yarra Valley and Hunter Valley. – Lindsay Brown, Lonely Planet Author, Australia

4. Espresso Melbourne

The great thing about Melbourne is that at almost any place you go, you’re sure to find a happening cafe hub. Cafe culture is part of the scenery in Melbourne. Well-known restaurant and cafe locations in the inner city include the CBD and Southbank, as well as Lygon St in Carlton. – Sandra Taranto, Traveller, Australia

5. Uluru in the rain

It rarely rains in the outback, but while walking around Uluru (Ayers Rock) we were suddenly deluged with one heck of a storm. We noticed waterfalls beginning to form and, as the rain got harder, the waterfalls grew bigger and we experienced something even most locals don’t get to see. – Sherree Worrell, Traveller, USA