Cruising in Australia is a wonderful opportunity to visit some of the most gorgeous and iconic parts of the country. This is especially true if you have your heart set on a destination that's tricky to get to – all the planning and organisation's done for you, so pretty much all you'll have to do is book, pack, and then decide which cocktails to drink as the sun sets each night! Wherever you choose to go, the option is always there to extend your holiday and see even more sights either before you set sail or once you step back onto dry land at the end of your cruise. Bonus: If you're wanting to go overseas as well, some Australian cruises even swing by Papua New Guinea.
Here are three bucket-list Aussie spots that you can visit on a cruise:
Try this fact on for size: the Kimberley region takes up only a fraction of Western Australia, but is still three times the size of England. Bordered on the north by the Timor Sea and the Indian Ocean on the west, this northernmost corner of WA must surely be one of the most magnificent places on the planet.
The ancient, rugged wilderness is famously home to the striped rock formations of the World Heritage Bungle Bungle mountain range in Purnululu National Park. There are also dramatic gorges, towering limestone cliffs and exquisite waterfalls – not to mention the extraordinary Horizontal Falls, described by Sir David Attenborough as “one of the greatest natural wonders of the world”.
Kangaroo Island is Australia's third-largest island (at 155 kilometres in length it's about the size of Puerto Rico), located just over 100 kilometres southwest of Adelaide. Named in 1802 by none other than Matthew Flinders, these days it's a lovely mix of untouched wilderness and stylish places to lay your head or enjoy a delicious meal.
White-sand beaches make up some of the 509km of coastline, which is also home to the aptly named Remarkable Rocks, and the spot where where cruise ships dock, the quintessential seaside town of Penneshaw. Inland, you'll find huge swathes of bush land supporting loads of native Australian animals, plus spots where the local goodies – including wines, sheep's milk cheese and honey from the Ligurian Bee – are produced.
A living masterpiece. That's how Tourism Australia describes the Great Barrier Reef, the 2,300km-long ecosystem that lies off the coast of Queensland in the beautiful Coral Sea. Stretching from Bundaberg to beyond the northern tip of Cape York, it's greater in size than Tasmania and Victoria combined.
Comprised of thousands of reefs and hundreds of islands (there are 74 in the Whitsundays alone), the Great Barrier Reef is the largest living thing on Earth. Everyone knows it's facing very real threats from, among other things, climate change, but the good news is that (considered and responsible) tourism here is still viable – according to TripSavvy, "the income generated by the Great Barrier Reef’s tourism industry serves as a major justification for ongoing conservation efforts".
It's certainly a bucket-list destination – you can swim, snorkel, dive or sail among truly diverse – and colourful – fish and marine life; explore tropical islands and coastal towns such as Cairns, Hervey Bay, Mission Beach and Port Douglas; and experience the spectacular landscape that lines the coastline, including beaches, mountains and the Daintree Rainforest, another World Heritage-listed wonder in the region.