1. Island hop on your own private yacht (it’s affordable!)
The Whitsunday Islands offer some of the world’s finest sailing, with mostly perfect winds, calm seas, beautiful scenery and 74 islands to hop through (69 of which are uninhabited). It’s called bareboating: hiring a boat, stocking it with provisions and friends and sailing off into the sunset. Even if you have no sailing experience, companies such as Cumberland Charter Yachts will give you a yacht and a safety briefing and then set you free, with the requirement that you respond to their twice-daily radio schedule to say where you are and where you’re going. Leave from the coastal town of Airlie Beach or have your vessel delivered to Hayman or Hamilton Island.
2. Ride a luxury train across the continent
Named after the Afghan camel drivers that used to roam Australia’s centre, this unforgettable train journey takes in 2979 kilometres (1851 miles) of tropics, the mountains of the Flinders Ranges, scorched desert, Katherine Gorge and the Red Centre. The Ghan takes three days to cross the continent, from Darwin to Adelaide or vice versa, including fascinating whistlestop tours in Katherine and Alice Springs. You can also opt for a trip on the Indian Pacific, a four-day journey from Sydney to Perth or vice versa.
3. Enter another world at the Pinnacles
On the Turquoise Coast of Western Australia, 250 kilometres (155 miles) north of Perth, you will find the Pinnacles Desert, where hundreds of ancient limestone pillars look like extraterrestrial tombstones. The park is fringed by secluded white beaches, wildflowers, unique fauna and excellent fishing. Stay in the nearby fishing village of Cervantes or journey up the Indian Ocean Drive to discover all the colourful beauty and incredible wildlife interactions along the way.
4. Take a foodie road trip around Tasmania
Start with a breakfast of fresh doughnuts and bagels at the Farm Gate Market in Hobart then spend a few days feasting through Tasmania. There is lots of local produce to sample, with rarely more than an hour’s drive between gourmet towns and stores. Eat apples at Willie Smith’s Apple Shed, a ciderhouse turned museum in the Huon Valley’s apple groves; just-shucked Tassie oysters at Bangor Wine & Oyster Shed in Port Arthur; Belgian-style chocolates at the House of Anvers near Latrobe; and the triple cream brie or chilli camembert from Wicked Cheese in historic Richmond. Tasmania is famous for its cool climate wines, and the Tamar Valley, running north from Launceston, is Tasmania’s premier wine region. Don’t miss the Pinot Noir, Tasmania’s signature wine variety, from the state’s oldest vineyard at Providence.
5. See the Sydney Harbour New Year’s Eve fireworks
One of the first places in the world to welcome the new year, Sydney Harbour puts on a spectacular show. The fireworks at 9pm and midnight on New Year’s Eve are not to be missed, with pyrotechnics from the Sydney Harbour Bridge to the Opera House, and light shows and more fireworks from barges on the harbour. There are vantage points to suit every budget. Plant a picnic rug at one of the many parks around Sydney’s foreshore, jump on a ferry or boat cruise to view from the water, book into a waterside hotel room or attend one of the many ticketed events such as the parties on Fort Denison and Shark islands or the family celebrations at Taronga Zoo Sydney and Darling Harbour.