What About Oz? My Australian Bucket List

I have always dreamed of visiting Australia. Ever since I was a little girl and my dad told me about his six-week trip to Australia and New Zealand: white-water rafting in Queensland, scuba-diving the Great Barrier Reef and sailing around Lizard Island.


My dad scuba-diving the Great Barrier Reef… with an 800-pound codfish!

And when I was in Vietnam, I found an incredible deal on a flight to Australia; from Kuala Lumpur to Perth for less than $200. After consulting a few friends via Skype, who told me not to buy it (lame), I decided to give the deal a miss. (Which, obviously, is for the best, considering I’m not longer in Asia. And considering Australia is crazy expensive.)

But I definitely intend to make it to Oz someday (once I have more money!) so here are the things I absolutely have to do in Oz.


Go White-water Rafting on the Tully River



Like father like daughter, right? Ever since I went white-water rafting back in 2011 in Patagonia, Chile, I’ve been dying to try it again. I love both the adrenaline rush of paddling through rapids and the serenity of drifting slowly through nature. And where better to do it than Australia?

Scuba-dive the Great Barrier Reef

Now that I’m a diver (thanks, Thailand!) I’d love to experience some of the world’s best diving on the Great Barrier Reef. When my dad was there he saw an enormous school of barracuda and an 800-pound codfish- see above!

Scope out Street Art in Melbourne



Melbourne seems to have all the makings of a city I would love: artisanal coffee, street art and lots of ethnic food. And considering Anthony Bourdain called it the “San Francisco of Australia”, I’m sure I would adore it.

But seriously, the coffee- C’est Christine’s coverage of Melbourne coffee culture there makes me apply for the under 30 Australia visa immediately. Also did you know all of my favorite coffee places in Paris, like Kookaburra and Tuck Shop are Australian-run?

Road-trip Up Australia’s East Coast

While I’m not a huge road-trip person (I’m kind of a terrible driver) I would love to spend a few weeks driving up Australia’s East Coast from Sydney to Brisbane. (You can take a look at Motoring if you’d like to do the same!) On the way I would cuddle with koalas in Port Stephens, watch the sun set over South West Rocks and pull over for countless beautiful beaches.

A Wine Tour in the Yarra Valley



As anyone who reads this blogs knows very well, I’m a big fan of wine- so no trip to Australia would be complete without tasting some of the country’s finest vino. I’d love to do a wine tour in the Yarra Valley, the Australian answer to Napa Valley.


This list in no way is all I want to do in Australia- I’d be a fool not to check out Tasmania‘s untouched beaches or dive with whale sharks on the West Coast. And while I’m in Australia I would naturally have to pop over to New Zealand to indulge my Lord of the Rings obsession.

Your turn! What’s on your Australian bucket list?

Follow me!

Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is an American travel blogger and freelance writer who moved to Paris at 21, traveled the world for a year and now lives in Denver. She's usually in pursuit of skiing, languages and perfectly ripe cheese. Her writing has been featured in National Geographic, Viator and Jetstar Australia.
Follow me!

Latest posts by Ashley Fleckenstein (see all)


  1. That is a great deal, but you’re right, it’s a painfully expensive country to be a tourist in!

    I went to Oz when I was 18 for a couple of months (I have family over there which saved me a small fortune in accommodation) but I didn’t really see too much outside of Sydney and Melbourne, so now I’m a bit older and more travel-savvy I’d like to go back and properly explore – and get over to NZ.

    The flight is hell though!
    georgia recently posted..My first trip of 2014: Mexico! (With £258 RTN flights)My Profile

    • That’s great you have family there, I feel like that would make things so much simpler! And I can’t even imagine how expensive the flight is!

  2. There aren’t that many places in Australia I’m that keen on visiting, but Melbourne (like you said for the art and coffee) and Tasmania are definitely two of them.
    Sam recently posted..Greens Organic, CuscoMy Profile

    • I totally agree- I’d say Melbourne is the place I most want to visit!

  3. How fun on your travel desires, and too, your Dad’s shared experiences! Terrific stuff! As a woman who eats plenty of kangaroo, I’d say that what draws me most into the Australian culture is their humor and ability to take themselves with such. If venturing there, I would want to try “Wattleseed” seasoned dishes, (new spice/seasoning to me), and of course spend some time around the smaller and more family run vino houses too. So fun to read your post!!!! Cheers!
    Leah Elisheva recently posted..I’ll Have What Your Dogs Are Having!My Profile

    • It’s hard for me to imagine anywhere being more expensive than places like Paris or the U.K. but Australia seems to manage it! I definitely have considered working there so time will tell :)

  4. Sounds exciting. Your dad certainly loved it, and you being the adventurer you are will also. Are you aware that Angela was there, and took her dad for his 80th birthday for two weeks? she might have sharing that would be interesting.


    • I remember she told me that! Angie said it was exciting too because it was her 7th continent. (Wow!) Hopefully I’ll make it there as well sooner rather than later. Love, Ashley

  5. Australia is right on top of my travel bucket list – right next to New Zealand! We actually contemplated going there this summer, but then decided to give it a miss in favor of Asia, just because of the cost associated with traveling there – but it will happen one day! And hopefully one day soon! :) I would love to see the beaches in Sydney and road trip up to Brisbane as well!
    Melanie Fontaine recently posted..5 Stops On My Asian Summer AdventureMy Profile

    • Ugh, the cost! That’s what deterred me from going most. I’ve heard the prices are absolutely astronomical if you’re not working there- which is maybe why I should think about the under-30 visa! NZ would be amazing as well!

  6. I’d love to visit Australia but I’m greedy and want to be able to add on NZ when I’m down there, being such a long blank flight and all :) In a dream world I’d also tack on 2 weeks on a South Pacific island too.

    But Australia does look like an amazing place!
    Julie recently posted..Pittsburgh neighborhoods: Oakland, a photo essayMy Profile

    • Two weeks on a South Pacific island would be ideal! That whole trip sounds amazing :)

  7. Ahhhh yes! come, come! I live in Melbourne right now, and am working at a coffee shop. You would absolutely love it if you like SF! Very similar! Aus is a great place, but yes, expensive! Thanks for the read, you may have added some things onto my Oz BL! Take care!

    • That’s so cool!! I bet you’re a coffee-making pro now (prepare yourself for Michigan… just saying.) I’ll definitely try to make it down there at some point, Melbourne looks amazing!

  8. Australia is a phenomenal place – definitely a good one to have on your bucket list!

    I’m also so happy to see Melbourne on your bucket list. I lived there for a year, and I don’t think it gets the attention it deserves. Sure, Sydney has a magnificent harbour, but once you get away from the waterfront, I found it no different to any other city. Melbourne, on the other hand, has a great vitality, and a fantastic sense of art and discovery. The graffiti laneways are well worth a visit, and as you say, the coffee is very yummy! While you’re there, the Great Ocean Road is also well worth a visit.

    Pleased you have Tasmania on the list, too – even more overlooked than Melbourne, and a stunning place to visit! A real wilderness, and totally different from the mainland.

    Snorkeling with manta rays at Ningaloo Reef was also one of the highlights of my year living in Oz, if you’re looking for amazing experiences on the west coast.

    Really hope you make it to Oz – it’s worth the expense. Good luck!
    Katie recently posted..New Zealand: Whakarewarewa and Jumping from a PlaneMy Profile

    • I will definitely check out the Great Ocean Road… it looks beautiful! And I would love to snorkel (or scuba-dive!) with manta rays. Thanks for all your tips, Katie!

    • I didn’t know you could do a multi-day liveaboard, that would be amazing! Thanks for the tip, Johnny! :)

  9. I’m a bit biased being from Sydney but it’s the most beautiful city and the coffee is better than Melbourne haha. Nah I love Melbourne as well but it is an expensive country but still possible to do on a budget.

    The road trip up the coast will be the best thing you’ll ever do. So many little towns you can get lost in.
    Jimmy Dau recently posted..Having a short break from long term travellingMy Profile

    • I would love to visit both Sydney and Melbourne but I feel like I’d be more drawn to living in Melbourne :). And yes, the road trip up the coast looks amazing!

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge