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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wisconsin chapter.

Everyone knows about Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef… but have you ever heard of Straddie, or the Sunny Coast? 

I spent the last five months of my life living in Australia. And by the last five months of my life I mean if we ignore the last three months. Now in Australia I realized there were two different types of travelers that everyone can be generalized to. Of course there were exceptions, but these were just the trends. You either have someone that flies in, goes to Sydney, maybe the Great Barrier Reef. If they’re really insane, maybe even the Gold Coast or Melbourne. And then you have the backpacker. This person is starting in Sydney or Melbourne and going all the way up to Cairns with the beautiful greyhound bus. Magnetic island, Mission Beach? They’ve seen it all. But even then they miss out on so many places, because following the trends of every other backpacker causes you to miss out on other areas! So if you’re planning a trip to Australia, or just wanting to go in the future, here’s your new and improved Australia bucket list (but don’t forget to the classics because they do exist for a reason). 


If you ask me what my favorite place in Australia is, I may say Mooloolaba. If we’re talking about the Sunshine Coast, I will say Mooloolaba. Mooloolaba is an adorable part of the Sunny Coast, featuring good eats, cute cafes, beautiful beaches and coast walks. If you’re in Noosa or on the Sunny Coast, you need to find a way to get there! My favorite cafe ever (Cafe Bomba) is now sadly closed, but if it happens to reopen, go there for coffee.It was amazing, delicious, had good vibes and you can even draw on the tables there! But any other cafe you go to will be killer as well! Now after you’ve gotten your coffee, I recommend going to Kenilworth Bakery for some classic Aussie inspired donuts! They have a Tim Tam one and a Golden Gay Time one as well as other options, and all of them are so delicious! My friend from the Sunny Coast considers this to be his favorite bakery. So keep that one in mind!

Now afterwards you’re going to want to walk along the water all the way up to Alexandra Headlands for some killer views. As well as spend some time swimming in the ocean of course. The waves tend to be bigger here, so if you’re a surfer it’s a great place to bring your board out. And then when you’re hungry again, get a fish wrap from Crumbed or Naked-, trust me you will not regret it! It’s so delicious. Mooloolaba is one of my favorite places ever, and there’s nothing I wouldn’t recommend here. 

Stradbroke Island

Stradbroke island has to be one of the most beautiful places to exist in this world. Like fully, I’m not even kidding. Located off the coast of Brisbane, it features the most beautiful nature and beaches… ever. To get to Straddie I recommend catching the train down to Cleveland, and from Cleveland the ferry. Then to get to the other side of the island, catch the bus!

Once you’re at Straddie I recommend just walking around and taking in all of the sights. The views here are absolutely insane! It’s also a killer place to go swimming and if you get lucky, see some kangaroos (or maybe even my gold bracelet that fell off my hand there). If you have the energy, stay for sunset, as it’s truly beautiful, and some of the beaches will actually face the sun,unlike the rest of the Australian East Coast. Just enjoy the vibes, and don’t forget to pack some food with you, since there aren’t many food options there. 

Glass House Mountains

The Glasshouse Mountains are also one of my favorite places in all of Australia. You can’t understand the joy of the train ride over, when you cross and see all of the mountains. I 100% recommend anyone to go. Plus they’re quite easy to get to with and without a car, whether you’re on the Sunny Coast or in Brisbane. The mountain range features various hikes, as well as places to climb for those who are interested. The town of Landsborough, which is very close to the Glasshouse Mountains, has an amazing bakery called the Landsborough bakery with the best vegemite & cheese scrolls ever. 

Beerburum is a common town in the mountain range, as here you can climb to the  top of one of the Glass House mountains to get a view of the mountain range overall. There’s also an adorable cafe located right at the bottom. The area has hikes for all levels (some steep, some just a short sprint up). It is also a cultural icon in the indigenous Australian community as well, and a beautiful place to go see! It is just important to make sure to pay your respects and not to climb or hike on any sacred land, as the indigenous peoples would not appreciate that. 

Rainbow Bay

Many people may know of Rainbow Beach; Rainbow Bay is its closer cousin that’s equally as stunning. If you’re on the Gold Coast and want to watch the sunset, stopping over at Rainbow Bay is a must. Whereas most Gold Coast beaches do not face west, so you can’t get a direct view of the sunset, Rainbow Bay does. So, you get to see the sun set over Surfers Paradise, Burleigh, etc. getting a gorgeous view. The tides also go into each other which is super cool to see. 

The beaches are obviously amazing with lots of cute food places nearby (poke, coffee in a furniture shop, etc). Also if you’re there mid day, there’s view points you can continue to walk along, as well as a border crossing over to New South Wales if you really want to hit another state! Most importantly however, it’s the absolute best place to watch the sunset, so if you’re in the Gold Coast around sunset time it’s a must. 

Larapinta National Park

Within my first week in Brisbane I got to go to Larapinta National Park. I am so happy I was able to do that. Neighboring the more popular Springbrook National Park, Larapinata features beautiful rainforest and stunning waterfalls. There’s lots to do in the area, but I think the most beautiful thing (though I may be biased) would be the Larapinta falls hike. 

Now this hike is not easy, and to do it you definitely need some hiking experience. But it is all worth it. You go uphill, see a graveyard of a plane crash, traverse through some water to reach the end of the hike which features a stunning waterfall. Now one of my personable favorite activities is swimming in waterfalls, and with this one you can do just that. Not only is it beautiful, but the hike itself is such an accomplishment! And the waterfall is a great way to cool down after a challenging hike. Though Larapinta National Park features many other beautiful locations, the Larapinta Falls hike has to be the winner, and is something I would recommend to everyone.

Now this is just a few places that you could add to your bucket list. Many, many more could be added, but these curate a good mix of beaches, towns and nature. The list features something for everyone, and hopefully a great excursion waiting to happen during your time Down Under!

Andrea Brehovska

Wisconsin '25

Hey! I am a psychology major with a digital studies and textile and designs certificate at the University of Wisconsin! I am originally from Prague, Czech Republic, but I grew up in the Bay Area, California! I love to travel, explore, and fashion. And my favorite colors are yellow and red!