Not in it for the food and wine? Australia still has many worthy attractions for non-foodie travellers, writes Bella Williams

WHITSUNDAY ISLANDS, QUEENSLAND

WHAT

: 74 mostly uninhabited islands,

WHERE

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: Between the northeast coast of Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef

WHY

: The Whitsunday Islands lie along a massive stretch of coral, with piercing blue waters teeming with marine life. Explore the islands by yacht, or base yourself on Hamilton Island and head out on a boat trip to take in the diverse reef life. Resorts destroyed by 2017's Cyclone Debbie are now back up and running, including Daydream Island and Hayman Island

TOP TIP

: Don't miss a trip to Whitehaven Beach, frequently named one of the world's best stretches of sand.

CANBERRA, ACT

WHAT

: A glide over the city in a hot-air balloon

WHERE

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: Canberra

WHY

: Take to the skies at dawn and watch the sunrise over the parks, lakes and government buildings of the Australian capital. Balloon Aloft sunrise rides take off daily and conclude with a champagne celebration. Tours meet at the Canberra Hyatt in Yarralumla, and end with a gourmet breakfast at the Hyatt hotel.

TOP TIP

: Don't forget your camera.

Hot-air balloon over Canberra's Lake Burley and the National Library of Australia. Photo / Getty Images
Hot-air balloon over Canberra's Lake Burley and the National Library of Australia. Photo / Getty Images

SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES

WHAT

: A fun family day trip

WHERE

: Taronga Zoo

WHY

: Sydney is a popular destination for Kiwis for food, wine, shopping and sightseeing, but if you've got the kids in tow you'll want something fun for all ages. The ferry will deliver you across the harbour, right on Taronga Zoo's doorstep, where you can meet Australian native animals, as well as exotic species from around the globe — the views back to the Sydney CBD are pretty good too.

TOP TIP

: Use an Opal card for affordable travel on public transport, including ferries. If you're travelling on a Sunday, you'll pay no more than $2.80 — fares are capped, no matter how many journeys you make.

ULURU, NORTHERN TERRITORY

WHAT

: Australia's natural landmark

WHERE

: 335km southwest of Alice Springs

WHY

: The hulking monolith that bulges from the vast Outback desert is a sight belonging on any traveller's must-do list. A Unesco World Heritage Site, Uluru is sacred to the Pitjantjatjara Anangu — the Aboriginal people of the area. The large sandstone rock formation is best explored with a walk around the base — climbing Uluru has always been culturally offensive, and as of October 26, will be banned. A circumnavigation will still provide many interesting sights, including waterholes, caves and ancient rock art.

TOP TIP

: Visit at dawn or dusk to witness the changing colour of the rock.

The Twelve Apostles on Victoria's Great Ocean Rd. Photo / Dhruva Reddy
The Twelve Apostles on Victoria's Great Ocean Rd. Photo / Dhruva Reddy

GREAT OCEAN ROAD, VICTORIA

WHAT

: A 243km stretch of road along the southeastern coast of Australia.

WHERE

: Between Torquay and Allansford.

WHY

: Known as one of the best road trips on the planet, highlights include the Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, London Arch, Bay of Islands and more. An abundance of beaches and wildlife will have you stopping frequently along the route.

TOP TIP

: Make the most of the many accommodation options along the way — there's so much on offer, take your time to see it all.

HOBART, TASMANIA

WHAT

: The capital of Australia's island state

WHERE

: On the River Derwent, backed by Mt Wellington.

WHY

: Tasmania's capital city offers a blend of heritage, scenery and culture, the latter of which is best represented by Mona — the Museum of Old and New Art. It's the largest privately-funded museum in the Southern Hemisphere, with a diverse range of artworks from the collection of David Walsh, a Tasmanian professional gambler and businessman.

TOP TIP

: Mona hosts two annual festivals — coming up is January's Mona Foma, which unleashes an eclectic mix of music and art.

ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

WHAT

: The Festival City

WHERE

: Adelaide

WHY

: South Australia's capital has worn many titles in its time but in recent years it's become best known for festivals. Although Mad March satisfies eager festival goers, with hundreds events across the city, there's a year-round roster of interesting events. Time a visit before the end of this year and check out OzAsia, the Edinburgh Air Show, the Handpicked Festival, as well as night markets and moonlight cinemas.

TOP TIP

: The city's festival calendar steps up even more after Christmas.

Quokkas are the oh-so-cute locals on Western Australia's Rottnest Island. Photo / Julieta Julieta
Quokkas are the oh-so-cute locals on Western Australia's Rottnest Island. Photo / Julieta Julieta

PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

WHAT

: Rottnest Island

WHERE

: A 25-minute ferry ride from Fremantle, or 90 minutes from Perth's Barrack St Jetty.

WHY

: An island getaway just 19km off the WA coast, Rottnest is a protected nature reserve, with a casual atmosphere and Mediterranean-style climate. Home to the quokka — a small marsupial that looks like a mini-wallaby, the island also boasts secluded coves, white-sand beaches, and top-notch snorkelling.

TOP TIP

: Be cautious, the Quokka is super cute but it has a salty side. Give it some space.