Sleeping Underground in Coober Pedy, Australia

5 Quirky Activities to Fill Your Australia Itinerary

I’m the type of person that likes to find the unique experiences wherever I travel, those of which help me to see the lesser-talked about parts and the underbelly of a culture. When it comes to Australia, we all can easily associate it with beaches covered in surfers, great adventures diving the Reef, petting kangaroos and hugging koalas. You might even think about the infamous Mardi Gras that happens each year in Sydney.

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What about those more unique, and perhaps even quirky, experiences that take you down to the local’s level? If you’re like me, then these might be some of the activities to consider adding to your Australia itinerary:

#1: Sleep Underground in the Outback

Sleeping Underground in Coober Pedy, Australia
Sleeping Underground in Coober Pedy, Australia © Graeme Churchard

Most tourists when visiting Australia will want to see the outback, especially the area with red dirt up to the site of Uluru. Some adventurous people drive across the country to see it, while others hitch a ride on the Indian Pacific or the Ghan long distance trains. To me, however, a really unique feature of the outback is the fact that it gets so hot at certain times of the year that people actually decide to build underground cave-like houses. As a tourist, you can take part in this quirky little culture when visiting such places as Coober Pedy by sleeping in underground hotels.

#2: Become a Jack-a-roo or Jill-a-roo

Horseback Riding, Australia
Horseback Riding, Australia © Haydyn Bromley

For those who have managed to sit through the movie “Australia”, you will know that cowboys and cattle drives are a bit part of Aussie culture, as well as an even bigger part of the outback. Well, toss on your cowboy hats… er… your akubras and grab your lassos because testing yourself at this trade is as easy as joining a Jack-a-roo and Jill-a-roo training school. Classes can run anywhere from 5 to 11 days, and you might even find yourself taking part in a real cattle drive.

#3: Watch the Camel Cup

Camel Cup in Alice Springs, Australia
Camel Cup in Alice Springs, Australia © Peter Ross

Camel racing is known to be an occurrence in some Middle Eastern countries, but did you also know that it happens in Australia as well? A lot of people are unaware of the large camel population of Australia’s outback, or that there is a big camel race each year in the Northern Territory during the Australian winter called the Camel Cup. Instead of horses, jockeys ride camels during the event, which also coincides with other festival type activities.

#4: Dig for Gold

Digging for Gold in Victoria, Australia
Digging for Gold in Victoria, Australia © Simon Yeo

Digging for gold had just as much an impact on Australia’s history as it did for the USA, and gold mining is still an industry floating certain outback towns’ livelihoods. Tourists also get the chance to strike it rich by panning for gold at locations like Soverign Hill in Victoria or Bathurst in New South Wales. These towns have rich gold mining histories and can still be a spot to find your piece of the pie, if you have the patience to spend in the muck with a pan and a close eye!

#5: Take Your Cockroach to the Races

Cockroach (closeup)
© Wm Jas

Every year on January 26th, Australia Day, you can get a first-hand glimpse at an event so weird that it could really only happen in backwards Australia. Yes, it’s cockroach racing, and it is a real thing. In Brisbane, thousands of people gather on this day to see which cockroach will win the big race, but the main point just might be to drink beer. Learn more about the underground world of Australian cockroach racing and make it a goal to book a cheap flight to Brisbane for the big match next year.

Before planning your Australia itinerary, I highly recommend making it more of a unique experience by fitting in a couple of these quirky Australian goodies.

  1. Coober Pedy is my very favorite Australian town! Our family still talks about the nights we spent in the underground motel. The site of an underground backpackers, church and swimming pool will stay with us for a long time!! Great post!

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