Lonely Planet reveals Australia’s 500 best travel destinations and experiences

Australian domestic tourism is on the road to recovery as confidence in local travel grows, and we are spoiled for choice when it comes to amazing destinations.

If you’re looking for ideas, the Lonely Planet travel gurus just posted The Ultimate Australia Travel Checklistwith 500 experiences and curiosities.

Lonely Planet’s Chris Zeiher explains more about the list in the video above

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“We’ve never done anything like this in our 50-year history, so compiling 500 destinations was a bit overwhelming,” said Lonely Planet’s Chris Zeiher. Sunrise.

“Where we started, we looked at all the highly recommended places in Australia that we put in all of our products – which came in the thousands.”

It’s no wonder Uluru has been among Australia’s top destinations. Credit: LUKAS COCH/AAP

“Then we put it into a big voting spreadsheet and asked all of our authors who are on the road as staff and some of our key community members to vote on their top 20 experiences.

“From there, the list was born and we went from 500 to a really clear number one.”

Lonely Planet Ultimate Travel List Top 10

  1. Uluru – Northern Territory
  2. MONA Museum – Hobart, Tasmania
  3. The Great Barrier Reef – Queensland
  4. The Great Ocean Road – Victoria
  5. Three Capes Trail – Port Arthur, Tasmania
  6. Bungle Bungles – Kimberley Region, Western Australia
  7. Daintree National Park – Queensland
  8. Kangaroo Island – South Australia
  9. Dark Sky Park, Warrumbungle – Coonabarabran, NSW
  10. Vivid Festival – Sydney, New South Wales

MONA Museum

It may be surprising to see a museum so high on a list of travel destinations, but according to Zeiher, MONA is quite unique.

“The Hobart Museum of Old and New Art has completely changed the kind of cultural fabric of Tasmania, which has always been known as a great place to visit for outdoor experiences.

“But it’s really reshaped for the reason to go there and that’s one of the reasons it’s so high on the list.”

The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart.  (File picture).
The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart. (File picture). Credit: LUKAS COCH/AAP

“It’s such an experience getting there, getting on the boat, climbing the stairs, the exhibits change all the time.”

MONA is Australia’s largest private museum, built by David Walsh and comprising three levels of underground galleries, as well as outdoor galleries, wineries, a brewery and bars and restaurants.

Not just sights to see

While The Ultimate Australia Travel Checklist offers many places to see, it also includes many experiences to have.

“We don’t want people to be passive tourists, we want people to go out and discover destinations,” Zeiher said.

Experiences form a large part of the list.
Experiences form a large part of the list. Credit: Jeff Hunter/Getty Images

“The number one destination on the list is Uluru, and it’s a place where you can cycle around the rock, get to know (and) talk to the native landowners and understand their art, look up at the sky and get interpretation of the night sky via the native owners there.

“It’s about experiences to be had in a particular destination, rather than just taking a photo for Instagram.”

Surprising experiences

Some of the experiences on the list include:

  • worship the gods of sport at the MCG – Melbourne, Victoria
  • winery tour – Mclaren Vale, South Australia
  • rock and roll at the Esplanade Hotel – St Kilda, Victoria
  • ride the Parramatta Ferry, Sydney NSW
  • enjoy Aboriginal art at the East Pilbara Arts Center – Newman, Western Australia
Lonely Planet's Ultimate Australia Travel List is now available.
Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Australia Travel List is now available. Credit: Provided

Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Australia Travel List – Top 500 Australian Experiences… Ranked is available now in bookstores and online.