Australia is a land of many possibilities: a place where you can snorkel the world's largest coral reef system, meet kangaroos and sink your toes into the world's most beautiful beaches. But there is also a whole host of unique experiences and places that you never imagined - things you won't want to miss ticking off your Australian holiday bucket list, such as sailing across salt plains, glamping in a natural amphitheatre and witnessing a bizarre sheep run.
It's not just off-the-beaten-track destinations that offer unusual holiday experiences as some of the best-known sites allow you to try something different. Take the famous Great Barrier Reef, for example. Did you know that you could have a one-of-a-kind trip to this natural wonder by spending the night there? There are luxury pontoons permanently moored at Hardy Reef which invite visitors to go snorkelling, take a semi-sub ride and go diving before resting up for the night.
Those in search of the weird and wonderful should head deep underground in Coober Pedy, the largest opal mining area in the world. Visitors can experience the unique way of living in this Outback town with a stay at an underground hotel.
Then there's the world's longest golf course which spans a whopping 848 miles from Ceduna in South Australia to Kalgoorlie in Western Australia, with nearly 50 miles between some holes. Travellers who prefer to sit back and enjoy the views should look no further than Broome for the rare Staircase to the Moon optical illusion that occurs just three nights each month.
Discover more unusual things you didn't know you could do in Australia in our slideshow below.
Ten things you never knew you could do in Australia
Ten things you never knew you could do in Australia
Broome in Kimberley, north-western Australia, is one of the most remote towns in the world but once you’re there, you will be rewarded with a beautiful natural phenomenon. The Staircase to the Moon is an optical illusion that occurs when the full moon casts its reflection off exposed mudflats during low tide, creating the impression of a golden staircase. This remarkable rarity occurs just three nights each month between March and October.
The mercury can hit as high as 47 degrees in Coober Pedy, the largest opal mining area in the world. This exhausting heat is why most residents in this South Australian Outback town live underground in dugout-style homes. Visitors can experience this unique way of living by staying at the Desert Cave Hotel, which has 19 underground rooms built into the sandstone and, as a result, gleam a glittery gold. For more underground hotels, see this selection from Flight Centre.
Price: $260 per night
Nullarbor Links, the world’s longest golf course, took five years to build, covers two states, takes four days to complete and was dreamed up over a couple of beers. The 18-hole golf course spans a whopping 848 miles from Ceduna in South Australia to Kalgoorlie in Western Australia. There are nearly 50 miles between some holes which can be found along Mile Straight, the most famous stretch of dead-straight road in Australia, and a selection of motels, petrol stations and wombat holes.
Forget bring your own booze – Sydney’s diners bring their own crab. Malacca Straits on Broadway is a Malaysian restaurant located in Ultimo, an inner-city suburb close to the Sydney Fish Markets. For $20, Chef Tan will return your crab dressed in a Singapore chilli sauce or Kam Heong. It’s not first date food but at least you know it’s fresh.
For the ultimate overnight experience, head to the Whitsundays and spend a night on the Great Barrier Reef. Reefsleep’s luxury pontoons are permanently moored at Hardy Reef, 40 nautical miles from the coast. The only overnight option on the world's largest coral reef offers a package that includes snorkelling, semi-sub rides and night-time diving.
Price: $440 per tent, per night
Lake Lefroy, a hard and huge dazzling salt plain in the south west of the country, is the perfect spot for the unusual sport of land sailing. Land yachts have three wheels and a seat for the driver who controls his vessel with nothing other than foot controls and a hand-held rope. The flat, open space invites strong winds that will send you flying along at speeds of up to 100 km per hour.
Tiny Tasmania is regularly overlooked by the bold attractions of Australia’s mainland but it’s been busy racking up cool credentials in recent years. The creative Avalon City Retreat is a 17-metre glass pod that was lifted by crane in a single block to crown a nine-storey office block. The two bedrooms sit at opposite ends of the sleek capsule and, needless to say, the views of Hobart are quite spectacular.
Price: From $680 per night
Australians like to compare their Running of the Sheep in Boorowa, a Irish settler town close to Canberra, to Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls (we assume in jest). Every October, farm dogs shepherd a large flock of sheep along Boorowa’s main street and, following the flock, is a street parade consisting of Irish dancers, floats and a fashion parade where humans model woolen clothes.
Grove Hill Heritage Hotel, which looks a little like a tin shed, sits in an old gold mining locality in the Northern Territory and was built in 1934 from the materials found at abandoned mining sites. It’s as basic as a hotel can be, but on the last Saturday of every month it puts on a free barbeque and live music for the town and its guests. Price: From £78 per night.
Wilpena Pound, a natural amphitheatre that looks like a meteorite crater, is believed to be an incredible 800 million years old. The mountain range sits in the Outback’s dusty Flinders Ranges National Park, a six hour drive from Adelaide. Visitors can camp at the foot of its majestic walls in the Ikara Safari Camp, a cluster of 15 high-end safari tents. Start your day with a scenic flight over the pound, just as the sun rises, and see her in all her glory.