The alternative Australian weekend
Five ways to mix up your minibreak.
Want a weekend in Australia but don't fancy following the crowds? Tired of tourist traps and bored with the usual beaches? Here are five ways to take your mini-break to the max by exploring the other side of Down Under.
Have a beer in an opal mine.
Right in the middle of the South Australian desert, 500 miles north of Adelaide, the temperature gets so hot that the people of Coober Pedy have to live underground. Spending all day in a cave might not sound like the most exciting way to enjoy your weekend, but Coober Pedy is also home to the world's largest opal mine - which means the tiny outback town has grown to include a range of amazing shops, restaurants, museums and pubs - all completely underground.
Swim with a crocodile.
Forget Uluru, Kakadu national park is Australia's bigger, better, less visited natural wonder – large enough to have four separate ecosystems (including its own rainforest), home to the world's oldest and best preserved ancient rock art at Ubirr and also to some of the country's most terrifying nighttime bushwalk safaris. But you don't have to get out into the wilderness to experience the scarier side of nature – with Darwin's neighboring Crocosaurus Cove offering the chance to share a tank with a 5-meter crocodile in the ‘Cage Of Death’.
Watch a movie under the stars.
The small pearling resort town of Broome is worth a weekend for many reasons, not least because of the Sun Picture Garden – the oldest working outdoor cinema in the world. Originally built as a Noh theatre in 1913, the cinema survived daily flooding until the mid-70s, when it was fully restored as one of Broome's best-kept secrets. Now running multiple movies a night, you can enjoy all the latest releases on one of the most historic screens in the world.
Be a barbarian.
Feel like burying the hatchet with your friends? Head over to Maniax in Sydney or Melbourne to try your hand at competitive axe throwing. One session will buy you all the professional coaching, wooden targets and handheld axes you can you possibly want for two hours - with one review likening the experience to ten pin bowling “with more axes and less mullets”.
Swim in the other barrier reef.
Whilst most tourists head to Queensland to ruin the Great Barrier Reef, the smarter traveller goes to Ningaloo instead. Fringed with rugged ranges and gorges, the reef is still spectacularly unspoiled – offering the opportunity to explore some of the most diverse underwater terrain in knee-deep water. The reef is also a great spot for scuba diving in deeper seas – and there are regular boat trips running from Coral Bay that give you the chance to swim with whale sharks and manta rays.
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