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danger down under

Travel

Date
July 2015

Written by
Haley Shapley

Category
Travel

When it comes to heart-pumping activities, Australia pulls no punches. Blazing-hot sun, cunning alligators, and some legendary snakes and spiders only add to the excitement. Want to take a walk on the wild side? Consider these activities:

Cruise the Daintree River 
A cruise may sound like a tame activity, and it can be quite relaxing as you slowly and quietly make your way through the water. When you spot your first crocodile, however, that’s when the exhilaration begins. Try the solar-powered Solar Whisper cruise, which has a “croc cam” onboard, helpful for getting an even closer look at all the amazing animals of the river, including tree frogs, birds and fish. Go during low tide for your best chance at seeing a croc—if you don’t spot one, you can ride again for free.

 

Dive the Great Barrier Reef
A mainstay on bucket lists of scuba divers around the world, the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland is the world’s largest coral reef system. It’s teeming with whales, dolphins, giant clams, sea horses, turtles, stingrays and more than 1,500 species of fish, not to mention everyone’s favorite water villain: the shark. (A reputation that’s not entirely deserved, given that most are unlikely to attack humans—still, no doubt that sharks do inspire fear.) Hop on a longbord for a few days to adequately explore the world’s healthiest reef.

Walk on the Edge
At twice the height of Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Skywalk atop the Sydney Tower will give you a true bird’s-eye look at the city below. You’ll spend 45 minutes walking the glass circular platform at 879 feet up, with views up to 50 miles away on a clear day. Guides are available to take photos and answer any questions—maybe even about what death-defying activity you should try next.

Catch a Wave
Surfing’s a sure bet in many spots along the coast of the country, including Bells Beach (the location of the final scene in Point Break). For thrills, point your board toward Margaret River’s Surfers Point in Western Australia, known for its consistency and height—peaks can reach more than a dozen feet. If you don’t have nerves of steel and advanced hang-10 skills, there are tamer waves to conquer in the area, along with activities such as stand-up paddleboarding and wine tasting. 

Jump Out of the Sky
For 60 intense seconds, fall from the sky toward Mission Beach in Queensland, one of the top places in Australia for skydiving. Make sure to keep your eyes open—from among the clouds, you’ll see the Great Barrier Reef on one side and on the other, the rainforest. Straight below, the soft sands of Mission Beach are waiting to greet you at the end of your heart-pounding plunge from 14,000 feet. 

Four-Wheel It Around Fraser Island
A one-of-a-kind island where sand meets rainforest, Fraser Island is a popular place for 4WD adventures. Beautiful freshwater lakes, towering trees and incredible sand formations make driving this “beach highway” memorable. The island is home to dingoes (reportedly some of the purest in eastern Australia), a huge number of bird species, possums, sugar gliders, wallabies, plenty of reptiles and much more. 

Rappel Down Rock Faces
Typically known as rappelling in the United States, abseiling involves making controlled vertical descents via a rope system. There are numerous spots around the Melbourne area to try this sport; there’s nothing like hanging over the edge of a cliff and letting go for that first glide down. You can also combine abseiling with rock climbing, kayaking, or caving, making for a full day of adventurous pursuits. 

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