When you start putting together your schedule for the big lap, you may be horrified at how much money it costs to do some of your bucket list items. Here are five that are amazing but are also budget-friendly.

Kalbarri Sky Walk

570km north of Perth is the seaside getaway destination of Kalbarri. It is a quiet, unassuming little town where you can get away from all the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy some relaxation by the many beaches in the area. When you get tired of the coastal life, you can take a short 36km drive out to the Kalbarri National Park. This spectacular park surrounds the lower reaches of the Murchison River, which has cut a magnificent 80km gorge through the red and white banded sandstone to create formations such as Nature’s Window and The Loop, Z-Bend and Hawks Head, with scenic gorge views at the Ross Graham Lookout and views of the town and river mouth at Meanarra Hill.

Without question, the main attraction at Kalbarri is the Skywalk. Featuring two lookouts that stretch 17 and 25-metres respectively from the edge of a 100-metre high cliff, they offer amazing views of the Murchison River and the spectacular gorge it has carved out the surrounding landscape. Standing at the edge of these walkways looking out over the endless outback landscape is one of the most incredible experiences you can have anywhere in Australia.

This world-class facility features a wonderful cultural centre where you can learn about the heritage of the Nanda people who are the traditional owners of the area. Discover local fauna statues, fossils and geolocation information on the 400 million-year-old sandstone that makes the gorges. There’s plenty of room to sit and enjoy the views as well as escape the heat of the day under one of the many shelters. While food and drinks are available at the kiosk, it is highly recommended that you take plenty of water to drink while you explore the area. We also recommend you take fly nets as the pesky insects can be bad at times especially during the warmer months.

The best thing about the Kalbarri Skywalk is that entry is included in the park entry fee which is just $12 per vehicle (or $8 for concession) with up to 12 occupants. That is ridiculously cheap for what is one of the best national park experiences anywhere in the world.

Since the rock climb at Uluru closed back in 2019, many people have questioned what the attraction is to visiting this iconic outback destination. Well, I can assure you that there is far more to Uluru than just climbing it. In fact, there are arguably better and more intimate ways to experience Uluru that don’t involve the climb.

Uluru Segway Tour

After breakfast, your guides will take you through a thorough lesson on how to ride the specialised off-road Segways. If you’ve never ridden one of these before, don’t worry. It’s easier than walking. The tour takes you along the walking/cycling track the meanders around the base of Uluru and into the many culturally significant sites. Water holes, rock art, and unique geographic features can all be found on the tour. The guides explain how the local Anangu people lived around the rock and how it influenced their lives. It’s fascinating and fun all at the same time. Sunset and daytime tours are also available.

We did our’s through Uluru Segway Tours and they were absolutely fantastic. Their knowledge of the area and professional, safety-first approach was very impressive. Priced from just $179 per person, this is well within the budget of most travellers.

Lake Argyle Cruise

Most travellers will have heard of Lake Argyle but few will know that it is actually referred to as an inland sea and that it is the largest man-made lake in the southern hemisphere. Formed by the damming of the Ord River in 1971, it was intended to be the water source for the food bowl of Asia.

Lake Argyle is huge. At 980 square kilometres, it holds 10.7 million megalitres of water, over 18 times the volume of water contained in Sydney Harbour. If all you do is visit the caravan park at Lake Argyle, you will never get a sense of the enormity of this incredible lake.

To truly appreciate Lake Argyle, you have to get out onto it by boat and the best way to do that is to take a tour with Lake Argyle Tours and Boat Cruises. Owned and operated by the Sharpe family who will take you on an informative tour of the lake where you can hear about the history and development of Lake Argyle and the Ord River Scheme. Abord the “Kimberley Durack”, you get very up close and personal with the resident birdlife, rock wallabies, crocodiles, wallaroos as well as the landscape surrounding the lake. The highlight for me was taking a swim off the boat in Lake Argyle. The temperature of the water is surprisingly mild. By any measure, it is a breathtaking experience.

We reckon the Sunset Explorer Cruise is the best value for money at just $95 for adults, $90 for seniors, and $60 for kids aged 3 – 15. There are special prices for families as well. Note these are 2021 prices which rise slightly next year.

Darwin Harbour Sunset Cruise

Darwin is a favourite destination for many travellers and for good reason. Darwin is the gateway to so many of Australia’s most popular tourist destinations. The town itself has no shortage of things to see and do. The sunsets in Darwin seldom disappoint and most people view them at Mindel Beach but if you’re looking for something a bit different, a boat tour of Darwin Harbour will not disappoint.

There are several cruise companies operating out of Darwin but the one we used was Cape Adieu Harbour Cruises and they were absolutely fantastic. The boat, the MV Cape Adieu, is a 21.6m motor sailing ketch that was built in 1978 for remote cray & shark fishing in the Great Australian Bight. Today, the MV Cape Adieu has been decked out with every modern convenience. It’s a nostalgic way to see the delights of Darwin from the harbor.

We did the full Sunset Dinner Cruise which is their most expensive at $119 per person (there are special rates for pensioners and kids) but for that you get an amazing meal starting with a selection of home-made dips, ocean-caught seafood including NT caught banana prawns, fresh Spanish Mackerel smoked daily onboard or succulent natural Coffin Bay oysters. If that wasn’t enough, mains are a choice of either a prime scotch fillet steak or fish of the day (Spanish Mackerel, Jewfish, or King Thread Fin Salmon). Mains are cooked to order and complemented by a selection of freshly prepared salads and crusty bread. Finish the night off with a choice of tea, espresso coffee, and a tropical fresh fruit platter. Let me tell you, it was absolutely delicious. If your budget can’t stretch that far, there are lower-cost options.

Best of all you get to enjoy the Darwin sunset without all the crowds of the beach. Just amazing.

Daintree Rainforest Horse Ride

Have you ever watched a movie where at the end the lead couple get onto a horse and ride through the forest up onto a beautiful tropical beach and thought you would love to do that one day? Well…we have found the bucket list item just for you.

No trip to Far North Queensland would be complete without exploring the Daintree Rainforest on Cape Tribulation. This place offers an incredible sensory feast of lush tropical rainforest, beautiful mangroves, and unspoiled beaches. Everything here is very eco-friendly as it should be given this is the only place on Earth where two UNESCO world heritage sites meet.

There are plenty of ways to explore the Daintree but by far the best fun we had was a horseback tour with Cape Trib Horse Rides. Here you can experience the unrivaled beauty of Cape Tribulation like a true explorer with a guided horse riding tour!

Along the trail, you will see an abundance of local flora and fauna as you weave through the rainforest all the way to Myall Beach. We were fortunate to see a small crocodile and a mother cassowary with her chicks. Once at the beach, you can explore the beautiful coastline and you may have the opportunity to walk your horse into the shallow waters of the ocean if the water is clear enough. You don’t need to be an experienced horse rider and children between the ages of 10 and 14 years are welcome, as long as they are accompanied by an adult.

Best of all, this tour is extremely affordable with an adult price of $129 and kids 10-14 just $89. That is a pretty good price for what is a truly unique experience.

This article was originally published on RVDaily.com.au.


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