100 Free things to do in Australia

Staircase to the Moon, Roebuck Bay

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Free Walks

1. You’ll need your camera and your swimming costume on the famous Coogee to Bondi walk in New South Wales. This walk promises two hour’s worth of spectacular coastal views and a cool swim to end.

2. If breezy cliff tops and jaw-dropping views sound tempting, spare an hour for the bracing 3 kilometre Federation Cliff Walk from Vaucluse to North Bondi in New South Wales, finishing with a coffee at the end.

3. Visit the Conservation Hut in Wentworth Falls, New South Wales and decide between up to six walking tracks for all levels of fitness.

4. Experience untouched coastal beauty by walking from Coles Bay to Wineglass Bay in Tasmania – arguably the best-known natural attraction on Tasmania’s spectacular east coast.

5. The popular Dubuji Boardwalk in Queensland’s Daintree National Park winds its way through a coastal mangrove, surrounded by enormous fan palms, tropical birds and a diverse variety of plants and animals.

6. Explore the majesty of Uluru on the 9.4 kilometre Base Walk. The walk is dotted with interpretive displays, as well as a network of waterholes and lush woodlands – one of the last things you’d expect to see in the stark desert landscape.

7. Take in the rugged beauty of Tasmania on the Organ Pipes walk, Mt Wellington. The Organ Pipes consist of dolerite rock columnar cliffs which were formed during the Jurassic period.

8. The Shelly Beach Circuit is one of the best short walks on the Great Ocean Walk in Victoria. The easy walking track traverses through fern gullies, coastal scrub, along Shelly Beach and across rocky platforms to Elliot River.

9. A hearty hike featuring sweeping views, the Manly to Spit Bridge walk in Sydney offers a different view of Sydney Harbour’s foreshores. Allow half a day to complete this (so you can finish up with fish’n’chips at the Spit).

10. Walk around an outdoor art gallery in Western Australia, at Inside Australia – Antony Gormley sculptures. The artwork is a collection of 51 black steel sculptures standing over 10 square kilometres of the white salt plain of Lake Ballard, which takes around two hours to walk around.

11.  The spectacular towering vertical walls and pockets of lush vegetation make Kings Canyon, Northern Territory a sight to remember. The Canyon Walk takes 3-4 hours and includes a steep climb to the top of the Canyon, but it’s all worth it for the views.

12. A 30 minute walk through ancient Antarctic Beech forest in Mudgeeraba, Queensland leads to Best of all Lookout, which lives up to its name by providing a panoramic view across Mount Warning to Byron Bay and Coolangatta.

13.  Bathers Way is a 5 kilometre coastal walk in Newcastle, New South Wales, stretching from the lighthouse at Nobbys Head to Merewether. The walk strings together many of the city’s prime historic attractions and best beaches.

14.  Walk along Perth’s famous treetop walk, the Lotterywest Federation Walkway, and take in spectacular views of Perth City, the Mt Eliza escarpment and surrounding rivers. A 222 metre long elevated section with a 16 metre above ground suspension bridge also offers a bird’s eye view of a canopy of tall eucalypts.

Free Gardens

15. The Royal Botanic Gardens are the largest of three major botanical gardens open to the public in Sydney. The beautifully maintained gardens include one of Sydney most spectacular vantage points, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, situated on the edge of the gardens.

16. The Centennial Parklands are 220 hectares of open space in Sydney, a few kilometres south east of the CBD, which provide the perfect setting for a day outdoors. Watch the continuous stream of runners, rollerbladers, cyclists and horse riders go past while you relax on the grass with a picnic.

17. The City Botanic Gardens in Brisbane are the city’s oldest park, originally planted by convicts in 1825 with food crops to feed the prison colony. The gardens include ancient trees, rainforest glades, exotic species and attractions including Bamboo Grove, Weeping Fig Avenue, Mangrove Boardwalk and ornamental ponds.

18. Mount Lofty Botanic Garden, South Australia overlooks the Picadilly Valley and features picturesque walking trails, mass displays of flowers and a heritage rose garden.

19. Attracting over 1.6 million visitors annually, the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne is a treasured part of Melbourne’s cultural life that offers diverse plant collections, year-round events and child-friendly activities.

20. Visit the historic rose gardens around Old Parliament House in Canberra, which provided a place for politicians to relax and roses to decorate their offices. Among the stunning displays are rose bushes that commemorate Australians from all walks of life.

21. The Adelaide Botanic Gardens are among the most beautiful in Australia. See water lilies as tall as you are (maybe taller), lush grass, tree-lined walkways and native birds.

22. Relax in the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, a significant natural and cultural heritage landscape which is home to extensive Tasmanian native collections and ever-evolving specialised gardens.

23. Explore and unwind at the Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra.  Take a guided tour or enjoy a coffee at Hudsons Cafe. Listen to the sounds of the native birds, watch the water dragons’ sunbake and relax to the sounds of live music.

24. Have a wander around the Roma Street Parklands in Brisbane, Queensland – the world’s largest subtropical garden in a city centre. The parklands are home to grassy picnic spots, subtropical plant displays, colourful flower displays, fern groves, rocky peninsulas, barbeque areas and playgrounds for kids

Free Festivals and Events

25.  Celebrate youth and culture at the Australian Open of Surfing, held over nine days at iconic Manly Beach in Sydney, New South Wales each February..

26.  Boats have been built from many materials but only Darwin has beer can boats. Watch them battle it out at Mindil Beach, Northern Territory to win the greatest recycled race in the world, the Darwin Beer Can Regatta in July.

27. Get in early for the best free waterfront vantage points in Sydney, News South Wales on . The world renowned celebrations include multi-coloured fireworks displays, which explode off the Sydney Harbour Bridge and six barges around the harbour.

28. The Adelaide Fringe Festival has a number of free events spanning comedy, cabaret, dance, theatre, film, music and visual arts. The festival is held over 24 days and nights in February and March each year.

29. Expand your horizons at the Biennale of Sydney. Every two years this free event brings large scale installations and artworks to venues across Sydney. Jump on the free ferry to Cockatoo Island from Circular Quay to see striking artworks by some of the world’s leading artists, sculptors and innovators.

30. See an incredible display of more than one million bulbs and annuals timed to bloom on cue at Floriade, in Canberra held annualy from mid September to mid October. The flowers provide a stunning backdrop to this festival featuring live entertainment, children’s activities, horticultural displays and demonstrations, exhibitions, food, craft and shopping.

31. If you’re into cycling, pack a chair and nab a spot on the picturesque Santos Tour Down Under route in Adelaide, South Australia. Held every January, the week-long festival of cycling and entertainment features not only the six-stage race but also the opportunity to ride a stage of the event yourself.

32. Take in the culture of the Brisbane Festival in Queensland, where acclaimed international and Australian productions sit alongside free outdoor events and home grown performances each September. A highlight is the Riverfire fireworks festival, part of the closing extravaganza.

33. In August enjoy the best of Indigenous and contemporary Australia at the Darwin Festival, with free concerts, theatre, dance, music and more all taking place at outdoor venues across the city. Don’t miss the Santos Opening Concert at the Amphitheatre in George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens.

34. One of the top 10 music festivals in the world, the Tamworth Country Music Festival is a combination of tents, buskers, big hats, friendly locals, guitars and stars. Enjoy the welcoming and friendly spirit of the Australian bush at the wholehearted celebration of country music in late January.

35. Catch the Canberra Festival Balloon Spectacular in March and see a stunning array of hot air balloons launch daily at dawn and float over Canberra’s iconic national attractions and Lake Burley Griffin.

36. Enjoy a cultural hit at Parramasala, a celebration of South Asian culture in Sydney, New South Wales that is held each November. Parramasala attracts performers from across the globe and offers a diverse program of theatre, dance and music.

37. Whether you’re into art, dance, theatre, music or film – the Melbourne Festival in Victoria has something for everyone, including free events across the city. The Melbourne Festival takes place in October and is one of Australia’s flagship international arts festivals.

38. Situated between the red sands and the clear blue skies, experience a festival with a difference at the Alice Desert Festival, Northern Territory. Join the locals to share stories and songs and celebrate the unique lifestyle of Central Australia’s arid region in September.

39. Hobart is home to the quirky Australian Wooden Boat Festival, a spectacular four day celebration of maritime culture and craftsmanship. An extensive program of entertainment, music, demonstrations, displays, and sensational food added to the vibrancy of the event.

40. Embrace a Queensland winter (where the average daily temperature is 20 degrees Celsius!) at the Noosa Winter Festival held in May. Apart from enjoying the two-day multi-sport festival spectators can also explore the festival village complete with live bands and entertainment.

41. Join the flocks of visitors for Australia’s most famous outback race meeting, the Birdsville Races. Held on the edge of the Simpson Desert in outback Queensland, the combination of the barren landscape, red dust, quirky characters and outback sun make for a race day like no other!

42. Flock to Sydney Festival, a bold cultural celebration of quality art and big ideas in Sydney every January.The Festival opens each year with the unique Festival First Night – a feast of free music, dance and visual spectacle on the streets and in the parks of central Sydney, attracting over 200,000 people.

43. WOMADelaide brings together the world of music, arts and dance into one joyful festival at Adelaide’s beautiful Botanic Gardens. Apart from stage performances there are also workshops, cooking classes, parades and roving performers.

44. If you’re a food lover then don’t miss Crave Sydney International Food Festival, a month long celebration of all things gourmet held each October. With activities such as the Night Noodle Markets, large scale food events, Breakfast at Bondi and family days out – there’s something for everyone.

Free Culture

45. The Art Gallery of NSW is Sydney’s biggest art gallery and houses an amazing collection of paintings, sculptures and much more.

46. Stroll through the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra and see the portraits of over 400 people who’ve shaped the nation. The works of art reflect Australia’s history, diversity and culture.

47. The Art Gallery of South Australia boasts an outstanding collection of 38,000 pieces of art comprising Australian, European, North American and Asian works including paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings and photographs.

48. St. Mary’s Cathedral stands in the centre of Sydney as a Christian statement of grace and beauty. The magnificent structure was built in 1865 on the site of the first Catholic Chapel in Australia and is open everyday of the week.

49. Appreciate art and surrounds at the two National Gallery of Victoria spaces in Melbourne – the iconic original houses international art and the newer part is a light-filled home of local works.

50. Take a tour of Parliament House in Canberra, learn about parliamentary processes and gaze at the impressive architecture. There’s plenty to keep you occupied – watch parliamentarians in action at Question, head to the roof for panoramic views and marvel at the 81 metre flagpole with an Australian flag bigger than a double-decker bus.

51. Explore Tasmania’s history and the secrets of the universe at Australia’s largest regional museum, the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in Launceston, Tasmania. It is free to the public and even has a planetarium inside.

52. Be moved at the Australian War Memorial, one of the world’s great museums where the sacrifice of Australian men and women who served in war is commemorated. Pay your respects and reflect on the events that helped shape Australia.

53. The Ian Potter Centre at Melbourne’s Federation Square was the world’s first major gallery dedicated exclusively to Australian art and its collection represents some of Indigenous art’s major historical and contemporary moments.

54. The Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney, New South Wales has a lively and varied program of exhibitions. Free guided tours are conducted every day in the galleries, on the destroyer Vampire and in the Maritime Heritage Centre.

55. Check out the Museum of Brisbane, home to a host of exhibits that celebrates the communities and culture of Brisbane through an original and contemporary blend of social history and visual arts.

56. Enrich your understanding and experience of Indigenous art and culture with a visit to the Aboriginal Art Gallery Kings Park in Perth. The gallery, which has been established for 16 years, exhibits the works of Aboriginal Artists from Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

57. Explore the interactive and informative exhibits at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra, ACT. The National Museum of Australia is devoted to telling great stories about Australia and Australians. See objects such as Australian cricket legend Greg Chappell’s cricket cap, a preserved thylacine or as it is more commonly known an extinct Tasmanian Tiger and Captain Cook’s magnifier.

58. The John Temple Gallery in the quaint town of Westbury in northern Tasmania contains beautiful panoramic photography of Tasmanian and Australian landscapes ranging from wilderness to poppy fields to coastal views. You can also purchase the art work either framed or un-framed.

59.  Watch one of the world’s strongest robots make Australian coins at the Royal Australian Mint in Canberra. See displays including the 1930 penny, rare gold sovereigns and even some forgeries in the museum gallery.

60.  Visit the only Gothic cathedral in the world still under construction using traditional medieval building techniques atSt.John’s Cathedral in Brisbane, Queensland.

61. The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory includes an excellent exhibition of Aboriginal bark paintings and a collection of stone axes – some of which are thought to be 22,000 years old.

62.  Visit the Newcastle Region Art Gallery to check out more than 3,300 works of art which present an overview of Australian art from colonial times to the present day.

63. Admire art in the outdoors along the Yarra River in Melbourne, Victoria. The river winds through the heart of the city, providing a vibrant background for sculptures, paintings and architecture.

Free Fun

64. It’ll cost you to climb it, but crossing the Sydney Harbour Bridge on foot is completely free – and what a great photo opportunity!

65. In the tradition of the world’s busiest public spaces, Federation Square in Melbourne buzzes with a daily program of events, restaurants and cafes and bold galleries. Grab a coffee and take a stroll to absorb the atmosphere.

66. Snorkel in Sydney’s rock pools, which are abound with sea-life. Try Gordon’s Bay for gropers and Cabbage Tree Bay in Manly for colourful fish species.

67. Visit the Canberra District wineries, which are small enough to enjoy an intimate cellar door experience and meet the winemaker, yet large enough to find all the varieties of a premium wine growing region.

68. Spot an elusive platypus in the wild. Good spots include the Southern Blue Mountains of NSW, Eungalla National Park near Mackay in Queensland and the Warrawong Earth Sanctuary in the Adelaide Hills. The best time of day for spotting is after dawn and dusk, when they are at their most active.

69. Trawl Melbourne’s lane ways and experience the atmospheric buzz of the city. Jammed with restaurants, bars, clubs, hole-in-the-wall cafes, boutiques and street art, get lost in the maze of laneways and take part in people watching.

70. Do it yourself whale-watching, grab your binoculars and scan the seas at North Head Lookout in Manly and Cape Solander on the southern side of the Botany Bay entrance when the whales are migrating north from the Antarctic in winter. Or hike around the harbour – whales have been spotted on the Federation Cliff Walk, the Bondi to Bronte and the Manly to Spit walk.

71. Fishing is the number one sport in Australia and there are amazing locations nationwide to indulge in the popular pastime. Hotspots include Port Lincoln in South Australia, The Snowy Mountains in New South Wales and Port Philip Bay in Victoria.

72. Walk all the stairs of the Sydney Opera House in New South Wales. A walk around the house is a must for all visitors to truly admire the architectural beauty of this Australian icon.

73. Australia is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and better yet, they are all completely free! Take your pick from the range of stunning beaches around the nation and sunbathe until your heart’s content.

74. Take in Melbourne like a local – from a tram! The City Circle tram not only allows you to have a tram ‘experience’ it also offers a running commentary on the places of interest along its route, all completely free of charge.

75. The House of Anvers in Latrobe, Tasmania, contains a real chocolate taste sensation.  Watch the qualified confectionery staff tempering, moulding and enrobing fine coverture chocolates, truffles, pralines, fudges and indulge in free tastings!

76. If you’re an animal lover don’t miss the daily Pelican feeding at The Entrance, New South Wales from the waterfront in Memorial Park.

77. Go bird watching at Lake Monger, located just ten minutes from Perth city. The lake is home to thousands of magnificent waterbirds including the famous black swan, which is the emblem of Western Australia.

78. Famed for spectacular sunsets, there are an abundance of locations around Australia which are perfect to take in a spectacular end to the day. Tops spots to enjoy watching the sun go down include Cottesloe Beach in Perth, Mindil Beach in Darwin, Uluru in the Northern Territory and Cable Beach, Western Australia.

79. Take a road trip around New South Wales and visit all the Big Attractions along the way (perfect for a quirky photo opportunity!) including the Big Oyster in Taree; Big Banana in Coffs Harbour; Big Prawn in Ballina; Big Avocado in Murwillumbah and the Big Bull in Wauchope.

80.  You’re guaranteed to spot a koala at the Daisy Hill Koala Centre, 25km from Brisbane in Queensland, a bushland retreat for koalas and other native animals.

81.  Adelaide is a great city to see by bicycle, with wide streets and beautiful parks to explore. You can hire bikes for free from the local council at numerous spots around the city, all you need is a current passport or drivers licence and they’ll provide the rest.

82.  Check out a wide range of Australian native animals at the Rockhampton Zoo, Queensland. Don’t miss the daily feeding times and take the elevated walkway through the koala compound.

83.  Take a stroll around the Mindil Beach Sunset markets in Darwin on a balmy evening. Shop for souvenirs, get a massage, watch the buskers and performing artists or simply take in the atmosphere.

84. Take a dip in Newcastle’s famous Bogey Hole – an ocean pool which was cut into rocks by convict labour in 1819. Perfect for those who don’t like to get sand on their feet!

Free Natural Wonders

85. Witness the annual Staircase to the Moon in Broome, Western Australia. Between March and October each year, when conditions are just right, this natural phenomenon occurs when the full moon rises over the exposed mudflats of Roebuck Bay at extremely low tide creating the optical illusion of a staircase reaching for the moon.

86. See the famous Devils Marbles near Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory. The precarious piles of huge granite boulders, wide open skies and golden sunlight make it an unforgettable place to visit.

87. Visit Cape Tribulation in Far North Queensland, where the Daintree rainforest meets the Coral Sea, the only place on earth where two area of World Heritage List sit side by side.

88. Marvel at The Pinnacles Desert in Western Australia. Consisting of thousands of natural limestone pillars, some standing as high as five metres, they were formed approximately 25,000 to 30,000 years ago and create one of the most unique natural scenes on Earth – especially beautiful at sunset.

89. Visit Remarkable Rocks, the aptly named eroded granite rock formations on Kangaroo Island, South Australia. Likened to sculptures by modernist Henry Moore, this ‘outdoor art gallery’ features giant chunks of ‘broken’ granite balancing on top of a huge granite dome, 75 metres above the sea.

90. Venture up The Nut, a 143 metre high volcanic formation that overlooks the historic village of Stanley on Tasmania’s north-west coast.  It takes approximately 20 minutes to walk along the track to the summit of The Nut.  Once there, it offers the most spectacular views across Bass Strait beaches.

91. Take a long soak under the stars in the naturally heated Artesian Bore Baths, Lightning Ridge, New South Wales. Renowned for its therapeutic power in soothing aches and pains, the average temperature of the water is 42 degrees celcius and the baths are open 24 hours a day.

92. Check out the surf – that’s not made of water – at Wave Rock, Western Australia. A unique rock formation sculptured by time and the elements, Wave Rock stands at 15m high and 110m long. Its colour variations, created by spring water trickling down, are spectacular and visitors are able to walk beneath the ‘wave’ taking in the splendour from all angles.

93. Experience the mystery of the Blue Lake in Mount Gambier, South Australia. Every year when spring arrives, the Blue Lake celebrates with a brilliant change of colour – from a sombre blue/grey to stunning deep turquoise.

94. Known as one of the world’s last ocean paradises, the World Heritage Listed Ningaloo Reef  is in abundance with tropical fish, colourful coral and the world’s largest fish, the Whale Shark. It’s one of the biggest fringing reefs in the world and unlike many others, you can get to it just by stepping off the beach.

95. Drive along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria and marvel at the stunning coastline, carved from thousands of years of battering by the Great Southern Ocean. Some of the major sandstone formations created by erosion include The Twelve Apostles, London Bridge and Lord Ard George.

96. Take in the wonder of Tasmania’s giant Eucalyptus trees. The Eucalyptus Regnans can stand at up to 100 metres and are the world’s largest flowering plant and hardwood tree.

97. South Australia’s Painted Desert is an amazing sight – rocky outcrops of large and small hills emerging out of a flat desert landscape. The ‘painted’ element refers to the rock’s vivid colours of ochre yellow, oxide red and deep, rich brown contrasting with crisp whites and jet blacks.

98. The magnificent Horizontal Waterfalls at Talbot Bay, Western Australia is created by massive tidal movements, among the biggest in the world. The white water ocean banking up against one side of a narrow cliff passage creates the waterfall effect, a sight enhanced even more by the red rock cliffs and turquoise water.

99. Meet the Dolphins of Monkey Mia in the Shark Bay World Heritage area. As many as seven wild bottlenose dolphins regularly visit the beach, moving up and down the shoreline within arms reach of the crowd whilst being fed.

100. One of Australia’s most remarkable outback landscapes, the massive Wolfe Creek Crater National Park, lies on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert in Western Australia. The second largest crater in the world, visitors can go bushwalking and see the crater from the rim – prepare to feel dwarfed by its huge size!

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