There's adventure to be had in Australia. Serious adventure. You don't need to travel all the way to Africa, or rough it in the sub-continent, or even schlepp your way to South America. If it's adventure you crave - a big, exciting adventure, the sort that will take weeks to experience and a whole lifetime to forget - then Australia is your country.
It doesn't even matter what sort of activity you prefer, whether it's on the road or in the water, on foot or on a bike. This is a nation with no shortage of open space, and no lack of diversity in its landscapes and environments. In other words, it's ripe for a big adventure.
Drive the Gibb River Road
For 4WD enthusiasts this is the pinnacle, a spectacular, though not too technically challenging, 660-kilometre journey through the Kimberley in Western Australia. The Gibb River Road passes through several national parks, each of which captures the Outback at its finest: deep, rugged gorges, rolling plains, rivers, waterfalls, rock pools, native wildlife, and so much more. This is usually a six-day trip that begins in the town of Derby and ends around the sprawling El Questro Wilderness Park. Along the way you can camp out under the stars, go horse-riding, fish for barramundi, and even take a scenic flight over Mitchell Falls.
Do it: australian4wdhire.com.au
Hike the Larapinta Trail
There are plenty of great walks in Australia, though perhaps none as memorable as the Larapinta Trail, a 223-kilometre monster of a track that snakes along the West MacDonnell Ranges in Central Australia. You're looking at about 12 days to complete this walk, 12 days that will take you through both moderate and difficult terrain on a red-dirt track that spans deep gorges, high mountain viewpoints, dry riverbeds and more. There are campsites all along the way too, each with water available, meaning it's possible to do this entire thing unguided.
Do it: worldexpeditions.com
Raft the Franklin River
This is adventure at its best, an 8- or 10-day whitewater-rafting journey that will take you into the heart of one of Australia's most pristine natural wonders, the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park in Tasmania. For this trip you take everything in, and everything out. That means all food, all camping and cooking equipment - everything - comes with you in the boat, and is taken out of the park at the end. Days on this trip are spent navigating the rivers, getting pummeled by rapids in between calmer periods taking in the scenery. Evenings, meanwhile, are spent camping by the side of the river, swapping stories and gazing at the stars.
Do it: franklinriverrafting.com
Explore the Tiwi Islands
Take a ferry 80 kilometres north from Darwin to Bathurst and Melville Islands and you'll feel like you've entered another country, a place with a culture that's recognisable, and yet very much unique. The Tiwi Islanders have their own language and their own traditions and beliefs, and visitors are encouraged to learn about them through art galleries and education centres on the islands. The Tiwis are also prime territory for keen anglers, who come to snag the barramundi, snapper, giant trevally and more that inhabit the surrounding waters. Regardless of your reason for visiting, however, whether it's culture, relaxation or wetting a line, the best time to be up in the Tiwis is in March, when the Tiwi Football Grand Final and Art Sale has both islands buzzing.
Do it: tourismtopend.com.au
Do the "Big Lap"
Every Australian should have this on their bucket list: pack up the car and head either north or south and just drive, drive, drive until you find yourself back where you started. This is the "big lap", the full circuit of the Australian coast. It's an adventure on a grand scale, the sort of journey you'll have to allocate many months to, the type of trip that will take you from the Great Ocean Road to the Kimberley, from Esperance to Far North Queensland. The great thing about this is that if you've got the time and the inclination, you can do it. Anyone can do it. The roads are good, there's accommodation available pretty much the whole way round, and you'll meet plenty of fellow travellers enjoying a similar journey.
Do it: australia.com
Ride the Munda Biddi Trail
Hardcore mountain-bikers have plenty of choice in Australia when it comes to big, multi-day adventures, including highlights such as the 480km Tasmanian Trail, which winds its way through the Apple Isle, and the Wollemi Cycle Trail, a 442km route through the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. However, the granddaddy of them all would have to be the Munda Biddi Trail, a stunning 1000km journey from just south of Perth down to Albany, in Australia's far south-west. This is one of the world's longest continuous off-road cycle tracks, a mix of fire trails, railway lines and bush tracks that will take about three weeks to complete.
Do it: mundabiddi.org.au
Snorkel the Abrolhos Islands
Even getting to the Abrolhos is an adventure: this group of 122 islands, about 60km off the coast of Geraldton in WA, can either be reached by air, with joy flights landing on East Wallabi Island, or by charter boat, which involves usually a three- or five-day tour on a live-aboard vessel. Whatever you chosen mode of transport, what you'll discover when you arrive in the Abrolhos is a largely untouched treasure trove of natural beauty. There's plenty to see above water, including more than 90 species of seabird, but the real attraction lies below, with stunning marine life lying in the warm, crystal-clear ocean:
Do it: australiascoralcoast.com
Go bareboating in the Whitsundays
There are cruises, and there are cruises. You could choose to go sailing in the Whitsundays aboard a crewed boat, relaxing on the deck while someone else does all of the work. And that's fine. But it's not an adventure. For something a little more out there, go "bareboating", renting a yacht and committing to skippering the thing yourself. Yes, you'll need experience, and you'll also need reliable friends or family to act as crew. But what you'll get in return is the ultimate freedom to explore one of the most beautiful sailing destinations in the world on your own. Not much compares to that.
See also: Why Australia is the land of the idiot