NATURE AND WILDLIFE

The Great Outdoors – your essential 2018 guide

The great outdoors of Australia offers untold variety and rewards.

Australia is a country of remarkable natural beauty and wonder.

We know it, but sometimes we forget it. Or we take it for granted. Sometimes we think to ourselves that we’ll embrace it somewhere down the track.

However, it pays to seize the moment. To feel alive, happy, exhilarated, fulfilled. To experience something that we’ll treasure forever. Now.

So, as part of our Great Outdoors promotion, we’re celebrating this fine country of ours and all that it offers. Because in 2018, it’s time to make it all about you.

Hop to it - it's time to tackle your bucket list.

Do something that rewards you

The sweat trickles down your spine, and your calf muscles begin to twitch. With each step you can feel the shortness of your breath. You’re beginning to question why you bothered going on this stupid climb. Then, suddenly, it becomes clear as the magical views ‘they’ promised you are revealed before your very eyes. You can see to the ends of the earth; sights you never knew existed.

This year, tackle that epic mountain climb. You know, the one you’ve spoken of countless times…usually after a couple too many wines. Get out there and witness the breathtaking, panoramic views from atop a summit. Soak up the patchwork-like landscapes and marvel at Mother Nature’s talents. Get a whole new perspective. Get that Instagram photo. Get whatever you want, because you’re the king or queen of the world.

Further reading: Rewarding Australian mountain climbs

Climb a mountain and enjoy endless rewards. Location: Mount Kaputar National Park, NSW. Credit: Paul Foley/Destination NSW

Do something that’s indulgent

The French do it well. So do the Italians. Those Chileans are pretty good at it, too. And Australians are right up there with the best of them. What are we talking about? Producing wine. Good wine. Excellent wine.

Australia is blessed when it comes to vino, and we should appreciate it. Glorious, diverse wine regions are dotted all over the land. Each is home to world-class cellar doors where the views are almost always as spectacular as the reds and whites that are thrust into our hands. And most Australian wine regions are so easily accessible; near major or regional cities, complete with tour options for those who really wish to indulge.

If you’re a wine lover, make it your goal in 2018 to discover new a region. Find that boutique winery and chat to the passionate cellar-door staff. Admire the scenery. Indulge in tasty food. And don’t forget to raise a glass to that fertile Aussie soil.

Further reading: Underrated Australian wine regions

Life is good while cellar-door hopping. Location: McLaren Vale, SA.

Do something that’s good for the soul

The distinct smell of eucalypt. The sounds of birds chirping. The sight of colourful wildflowers, magnificently carved rocks, or roaring waterfalls. And that’s just the entree.

Australia has hundreds of national parks in its keeping, and they are undoubtedly among our biggest and best attractions. They hoard treasures of insurmountable beauty, they reveal wonders of breathtaking proportions, and they offer a gold mine for photographers. Even better, Australia’s national parks are scattered all over, are often easily accessible and free for day visits, and their labyrinth of walking paths means exploration is achieved no matter your fitness level.

This year, make it your aim to tackle a national park you’ve been dying to unearth. You’ll feel better for it.

Further reading: The A-Z of Australian national parks

In 2018, tackle a prized national park. Location: Freycinet National Park, TAS.

Do something that excites you

Speak to anyone who has ever been diving, or snorkelling, and you’ll almost certainly spot a twinkle in their eye. They’ll recall stories of face-to-face encounters with crazy creatures, and rushes of blood as they spot something unusual…but harmless, as it turns out.

Heading underwater introduces you to a whole new world of colour, intrigue, and beauty. Better yet, Australia’s world-famous reefs and ample diving hotspots make it easy to get among the action. Whether you’re swimming with whale sharks in WA or in the middle of a fish school in the Great Barrier Reef, diving provides memories to last a lifetime.

If diving is on your to-do list, 2018 is the year to make it happen.

Further reading: Unmissable Australian diving destinations

Coming face to face with marine life is a special experience.

Do something that relaxes you

Tranquility. Serenity. Peacefulness. Pure relaxation. A world of colour. Welcome to Australia’s rich offering of botanic gardens.

We’re so fortunate to have such a wide variety of dedicated gardens in this country, from major cities to smaller towns. Strolling within botanic gardens is a soothing experience. They take us to next-level relaxation. They force us to switch off and admire all that’s right with the world. And the cost of all this? In most cases, not a single cent.

When you’re holidaying – particularly on a tight budget – grab the picnic rug and a good book and wander within the boundaries of a botanic garden. Stay for an hour, an arvo, or a full day. It’s the best value therapy you’ll ever find.

Further reading: Australia’s must-see botanic gardens

Find your patch of turf and relax in a botanic garden. Location: Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens.

Do something that takes your breath away

It’s one of those experiences that many of us put into that category we like to call One Day. An activity that we’re almost certain that we’d love, but never quite get around to doing. And by not doing so, we are missing out. That activity? Hot-air ballooning.

Yes, a hot-air balloon ride isn’t cheap. However, that material cost has the power to deliver a feeling of exhilaration so intoxicating that if it were alcohol it would be more potent than absinthe.

Glide across the sky, with a gentle breeze greeting your skin, and you’ll be amazed by how gripping the experience is. It’s the silence (most of the time). It’s the feeling of doing something that feels almost unworldly. It’s a realisation you’re experiencing something you probably won’t again. And it’s all backed by a procession of jaw-dropping views that are straight out unbeatable.

If hot-air ballooning is on your bucket list, tick it off in 2018.

Further reading: Australian hot-air balloon hotspots

A hot-air balloon ride is a magical activity.

Do something that terrifies you

It’s time to challenge yourself. Don’t put it off any longer – do that one thing you’ve always wanted to, but have been scared to do. That experience that gives you the shivers just by thinking about it, but that you know you’ll regret for the rest of your life if you shy away from.

Whether it’s skydiving or cage swimming with sharks, rock climbing or white-water rafting, or anything else, the time is now.

Get out there. Get among the great outdoors. And if you’re still not convinced, go armed with this classic Mark Twain quote.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

If skydiving is on your must-do list, get out there and do it!

What’s your favourite outdoors activity? Have you enjoyed any of the experiences above? What was good (or bad) about them? What’s on your bucket list? We’d love to read your thoughts, so please leave a comment below.

Isn’t it time you embraced the great outdoors? Book your next BIG4 break now.

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