10 Unmissable Shore Excursions in Australia

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What makes a cruise holiday so special? Fine food, incredible entertainment, or the fun and frolics of the swimming pool? While these elements are essential to a wonderful seafaring break, no cruise would be complete without shore excursions — the icing on the cake of any cruise holiday.

Wherever you travel in the world, exploration and discovery should be at the top of your agenda. Shore excursions provide easy access to the main highlights and activities in every destination you visit on a cruise, so you needn’t miss out on any of the action.

Choose to book a cruise in Australia, and you’ll be able to access hundreds of shore excursions that make your time at sea truly special. Oz is a hotbed for culture, sightseeing and adventure — introducing you to some of the world’s great natural wonders.

If you’ve recently booked a cruise in Australia and are unsure which shore excursions are worth the effort, here are 10 of Australia’s best shore excursions you won’t want to miss on your next cruise.

Port Douglas and the Great Barrier Reef

Port Douglas Shore Excursions

Never had the pleasure of a visit to Port Douglas? You’re in for a real treat. Located on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, this sub-tropical town boasts acres of golden beachfront and a backdrop of lush, emerald rainforests — paradise found for the inquisitive cruise traveller.

While Port Douglas is in itself a great place to disembark your ship and enjoy a day of Queensland sunshine, the main highlight of the town is its proximity to the mother ship of all shore excursions, the Great Barrier Reef.

If you’ve dreamt of snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef, Port Douglas is your gateway. The town’s harbour is awash with sailors keen to take tourists out to see this natural wonder, so your dream shore excursion can easily become a reality.

Horseback Riding in Australian Wine Country

Australian vineyard shore excursions

Kill two excursion birds with one stone by taking a horseback riding tour through the heart of Australian wine country. Large swathes of New South Wales and Victoria are taken up by lush green farmland, perfect for growing wine grapes. Cruise into Melbourne, and you can enjoy a tour of the neighbouring vineyards on horseback — sampling some of the region’s top vintages along the way.

Perfect for those with a sense of adventure, as well as a taste for fine viticulture, a horseback riding tour of Melbourne’s vineyards is a great way to blow out the cobwebs after a day at sea.

Uluru and the Outback

Uluru rock shore excursions

One of our country’s oldest and most famous landmarks, Uluru is a sight to behold in the flesh. Even if you’ve seen it before, this mysterious mountain and its surrounding brush offer something unique and different no matter how many times you pay it a visit.

Given its location in the heart of the impossibly huge Outback, Uluru isn’t the most accessible of sights to see on a shore excursion. However, given it’s one of Australia’s most treasured natural wonders, cruise operators go out of their way to transport passengers to it — with many lines offering 48-hour return trips to the big, famous rock. Naturally, this will cost you, but we think it’s well worth it for an experience you’ll never forget.

Seaplane Tour of Sydney Harbour

Sydney Harbour shore excursions

See Sydney’s most famous sights in one fell swoop with an exclusive seaplane tour of Sydney Harbour. This incredible excursion sees you join a small number of fellow passengers for an insightful flight around the city’s incredible waterfront, enjoying a bird’s eye view of architectural wonders such as the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge as you go. The tour is ideal if you’ve limited time on your hands, introducing you to the many incredible sights of the city within a short time frame.

Margaret River Caving Experience

Margaret River shore excursions

The Margaret River in south-west Oz may be highly-regarded for its wine, but the region hides other wonders, too. Dip beneath the surface and you’ll discover an extensive cave system, which is one of the most impressive in the country. A tour of the cave network starts in the Ngilgi Cave, whose helictites and stalagmites are as haunting as they are beautiful. Then, you’re plunged deeper into the earth as the cave eats downwards, emerging at an ancient riverbed hundreds of feet below the surface.

While not one for claustrophobics, this eerie cave network is a wonderfully adventurous day trip from the port of Perth.

Darwin’s Crocosaurus Cove

Crocosaurus Cove Shore Excursions

Posing as the gatekeeper of the Northern Territory, Darwin’s beauty lies in its balmy weather, outdoor events and charming scenic backdrop. But there’s one other thing the city is renowned for, and that’s crocodiles.

If you’ve never encountered a croc in real life, Darwin boasts one of the best crocodile experiences in Australia where it’s possible to get up close to these prehistoric beasts. Its name? Crocosaurus Cove.

Located in the heart of Darwin city, this incredible visitor centre gives you a personal view of Australia’s iconic saltwater crocodiles — meaning it’s perfect for little kids and big ones too. If you’re feeling especially brave during your visit, you can hand-feed the residents with nothing but a flimsy fishing road, or else join them for a dip in the so-called ‘Cage of Death’. Sound tempting?

Sailing at the Whitsunday Islands

Whitsunday Islands shore excursions

Queensland’s exquisite Whitsunday Islands are more than just a utopia for sun-worshippers. Should your ship dock at this magnificent crest of isles, you’ll be able to indulge in some of the world’s finest sailing — with the islands’ gentle waters and brisk winds providing a playground for those who want to take to the waves via sailboat or windsurf.

However, if that sounds too much like hard work, why not while the day away on one of Whitsunday’s beautiful beaches? Regularly voted among the best beaches in the world, sunbathing doesn’t get any better than this.

The Ngaiku Dreamtime Walk

Dreamtime Walk shore excursions

If you’re keen to discover more about Aboriginal culture during your cruise tour of Australia, the Ngaiku Dreamtime Walk should head up your list of must-see indigenous attractions. In essence ‘Dreamtime’ means the beginning of knowledge, and is used by Aboriginals as a way to make sense of the world and its great stories. The term has existed for thousands of years, and evidence of early Dreamtime artwork can be seen across Australia from New South Wales to Kimberley.

Make the journey to Queensland’s stunning Mossman Gorge, and you can take part in the Ngaiku Dreamtime Walk. Created by a local Aboriginal community, this immersive hike transports you to the heart of the ancient rainforest, a source of spiritual sustenance for local Aboriginal tribes for thousands of years.

Melbourne’s No. 96 Tramcar

Melbourne shore excursions

Though not an official shore excursion, we couldn’t help adding Melbourne’s No. 96 tramcar to our list of unmissable to-dos during an Australian cruise journey. This specific tramway dissects Melbourne almost entirely and weaves through the majority of its most popular neighbourhoods — passing a plethora of famous landmarks along the way.

If you don’t have much time to spend in Melbourne, this hop-on, hop-off tramcar is a great way to see the city. The tracks pass such sights as Melbourne Museum, Carlton Gardens, State Parliament and the Bourke Street Mall, so you can access all the main tourist spots without miles of walking.

Hobart City and Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary

Hobart shore excursions

Available through leading shore excursion specialists, Shore Excursions Group, the Hobart City and Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary experience lets you explore Australia’s oldest city before venturing forth into one of Tasmania’s best loved nature reserves, the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary.

Find out more about the fascinating heritage of Hobart, and take an escorted tour through the town of Richmond, one of Australia’s most unique and historical settlements. Then, you’ll be transported to the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, where you can spot everything from kangaroos to native Tasmanian Devils frolicking in vast, spacious enclosures.

Keen to cruise around the coast of Australia and discover what our home country has to offer? Cruise1st Australia offers a great range of affordable Aussie cruise breaks, so you can enjoy these amazing shore excursions at your leisure. To browse our complete range, visit the homepage or call us on 1300 857 345.

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About Author

Alyssa Beit

Alyssa lives in Sydney, NSW. Born on the 14th October and is a Social and Human Service Assistant at Cruise 1st Australia. She is in her early 40’s and loves tranquility on luxury cruises.

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