- in the surf. Australia has seemingly endless sandy beaches. Follow the crowds at Sydney’s world-famous Bondi Beach or Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast. You can also get there on your own (but beware of dangerous beach rips, it’s much safer to find a supervised beach). The surf is smaller and warmer in the tropical north where the reef breaks the swell, and bigger and colder in the south with waves coming off the Southern Ocean. (And yes, in the middle, that’s quite normal).
- in the calm tropical oceans. Cable Beach in Broome is tidal every day, the sand is perfect and the water is warm – go there in winter.
- in the thermal pools. South of Darwin there are many natural thermal pools like Berry Springs and Mataranka, surrounded by palm trees and tropical foliage. The most expensive resort in the world could not dream of building such a good pool.
- in freshwater lakes. Inland Australia tends to be dry, but there are freshwater lakes where you’d least expect them. Explore inland from Cairns to the Atherton Tablelands, or drive to Currawinya National Park.
- in the rivers. If it is hot and there is water, there will be a place to swim. Wherever you are, just ask for your favourite swimming spot, with a watering hole and a rope to swing on.
- in artificial pools. In the country towns of New South Wales and Victoria, the local swimming pool is often the centre of community life on a summer Sunday. In many suburbs of Sydney and Newcastle, artificial stone or concrete pools called “baths” allow people to swim by the sea.
- on the beach! Find a spot by the water and get out the towel. The tropical north in winter, the south in summer. As always in Australia, protect yourself from the sun.
- Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef on the Queensland coast or the Ningaloo Reef off the coast of Western Australia. You can also take a trip to Julian Rocks off Byron Bay or simply dive from the beach to see Bundaberg’s tropical fish.
- Scuba diving
- Mountain bike. Try the trails of the Snowy Mountains or Black Mountain in Canberra or bike for days on the Munda Biddi Mountain Bike Trail in Western Australia.
- Horseback riding. The horse has a rich tradition in colonising Australia since the arrival of the first European settlers. Relying on the horse to cover Australia’s vast distances and challenging environments has been the basis for a strong and enduring relationship between Australians and their horses. Today, equestrianism in Australia encompasses a wide range of recreational and professional activities, from extensive cattle ranching in large resorts to the multi-million dollar racing industry. On the outskirts of cities and in the rural countryside, you will see the many pony paddocks and popular horses that demonstrate the enduring passion and commitment of Australian horse owners for their horses and the joy they bring.
- Skiing. New South Wales and Victoria have well-developed ski facilities. In Tasmania you can also ski a few months a year, weather permitting.
- Surfing. If you think Australia is the most populated and remote place in the world to go to escape all traces of human contact, just find a good surf break in the most remote corner of Australia and you are guaranteed to find someone surfing there. Australians love to surf and wherever there is surfing, there are Australian surfers, at all times and in all conditions. Virtually every coastline, with the exception of the area between upper Cairns and Karatha, has surfing and the surfers are there to practice it.
- Sky Diving, around Australia
- Ballooning, in Canberra, Brisbane or the Red Centre.
- Kitesurfing and Windsurfing in and around Geraldton, Western Australia and Coronation Beach, the Australian Kitesurfing and Windsurfing Capital.
They say if two flies crawl along a wall, you only have to look around to find the Australian who will direct a book.
- Casinos. The Crown Casino in Melbourne is the largest in Australia and is located in Southbank, but there are others scattered around the capital cities, as well as in Cairns, Launceston, the Gold Coast and Townsville.
- Day at the races. Horse races are held every weekend in all the capitals, with betting on and off the track. These are mostly family occasions where fashion and being seen are part of the fun. Almost every pub in New South Wales has a TAB where you can bet without leaving your chair at the bar. Greyhound racing and harness racing take place in the evening, usually with a smaller crowd, more beer and less fashion. Smaller country towns hold racing events every two or three months or even every year. These are real events for local communities that allow you to see how small towns come alive. Head to the outback to watch the Birdsville races, or if you find the streets deserted, it’s probably 3.10pm on the first Tuesday in November (the Melbourne Cup).
- The unusual. Lizards, toads, camels, crabs. Betting on these races is completely illegal and you will find TIB (Totally Illegal Betting) at the back of the shed.
- There are two above. If you’re in the area on Anzac Day (25 April), betting on the coins being tossed in the air will take place at your local RSL club, wherever you are.
- Australia has almost a quarter of the world’s gaming machines (locally called “pokies” or “poker machines”), and more than half of them are in New South Wales, where most pubs and clubs have gaming rooms (called “VIP lounges” for legal reasons) where you can “get drunk” and go to the movies.
- If none of this appeals to you and you just have too much money in your pocket, there is a TAB in every city and suburb in Australia. Choose your sport, pick a winner and hand over your money at the ATM.
Gambling is illegal for persons under the age of 18. This can often restrict children’s access to certain parts of pubs, clubs and casinos.