It’s all too easy to come to one of Australia’s many great cities and tick off the sights from the travel agent brochure or use a ‘bible’ such as a Lonely Planet Guide to steer you way to the ‘must see’ spots. Yes, there are some iconic sights and attractions that first time visitors shouldn’t miss but you’re looking for something a little different or you’re lucky enough to come back for a second or third visit what then?
Thankfully there are some great alternatives to the major city sights where you’ll get an alternative view of things or get to rub shoulders with locals and get a feel for what it’s like to live in one of our great cities rather than just being a visitor in one. So if you’ve seen the big landmarks and paid to enter the main attractions we’d like to suggest some alternatives for you to try on your next trip!
1. Sydney: North Head
North Head Lookout. With its great views back towards the city and out into the ocean it’s a welcome alternative to the high price of the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb with a slice of nature thrown in. You can drive or catch a ferry from Circular Quay to Manly Wharf and a short bus ride on the 135 will take you to North Head Station.
Alternatively why not try Blu Bar on 36. Whilst you won’t necessarily meet many locals here you will get enviable views across Sydney Harbour and some world class service.
2. Melbourne: Ceres Environmental Park
Swap the urban hustle and bustle of the central hub of Federation Square for something more in touch with nature at Ceres Environment Park in East Brunswick just a short tram ride from the CBD. It’s popular with locals with a fantastic café, numerous veggie gardens to wander around and backs onto the Merri Creek which you can meander along all the way back to the city.
3. Adelaide: Festivals
The Art Gallery of South Australia is another popular attraction. Adelaide however is also considered as the Australia festival capital so why not trade up the ordinary for the extraordinary. There are a host of festivals and events through the year such as the Adelaide Fringe festival to tickle your fancy.
4. Perth: Sir James Mitchell Park
King’s Park and Botanic gardens is one of the largest inner city parks in the world and larger than Central Park in New York and many visitors flock there during a visit to Perth. Visit Sir James Mitchell Park across the Swan River for a different view in a relaxing setting looking back towards the city or visit one of the A Day on the Green concerts which take place there each year.
5. Brisbane: Coochiemudlo Island
Moreton Island just off the coast of Brisbane is massively popular with day trippers but the lesser known Coochiemudlo Island is an excellent option with a cheap regular boat service operating from the mainland and a host of swimming, fishing and dining options. Take a bike to maximise your opportunity to explore.
6. Perth: Fremantle
Swap wandering around Perth CBD for wandering around its cooler neighbour Fremantle or ‘Freo’ as most Aussies know it. It’s got a laid back atmosphere, cool cafes, the famed Little Creatures Brewery and beach access. In summer you’ll also get to experience the Fremantle Doctor a cooling onshore afternoon breeze to take the sting out of the summer heat.
7. Melbourne: Markets
The Victoria Markets are ranked as the second most popular attraction in Melbourne according to an airport survey. Whilst locals and tourists alike mingle at the Vic Markets there are some excellent and often quieter alternatives. Try the more upmarket Prahran Market for fabulous pastries, arts and crafts and boutique stalls or get amongst it at the South Melbourne Market which is always a hive of activity with locals doing their weekly shop.
8. Sydney: Architecure
For architectural alternatives to Sydney Opera House wander the streets between Darling Harbour and Chippendale where Sydney is undergoing dramatic architectural changes both commercial and residential with a stunning mix of designs to be found. Head into the upmarket suburbs of Surry Hills and Redfern for a slice of local living and a range of large and small public and private designs including the World Architecture Festival’s 2011 World House of the Year.
9. Brisbane: Stand up paddle boarding
A river cruise is always a great way to take in the views of the Brisbane city skyline and surrounds but to take it in from an alternative angle why not try Stand Up Paddle Boarding down the river. Suitable for young and old it’s a unique way to see the sights.
10. Adelaide: Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary
A lot of Adelaide’s attraction is derived from its surrounding wine region of the Barossa Valley and the unspoilt nature of Kangaroo Island. Within the city, Adelaide Zoo is one of Adelaide’s most popular attractions with its famous Pandas. As it’s pretty easy to visit a zoo the world over then why not head out to Barker Inlet, 20 mins from Adelaide CBD home to the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary. It’s a stunning setting and you can also hire a kayak to head out and explore for yourself.