How to take a virtual trip Down Under

While the global coronavirus pandemic has meant travel plans and holidays have had to come to a halt, keen travellers can still explore many different parts of Australia – all without leaving their homes.

Whether it’s a live stream of baby koalas, cooking experiences with Australia’s top chefs, music from some of the country’s most loved singers and bands, or 360-degree tours from some of Australia’s most iconic natural and cultural destinations, Australia’s top attractions and artists are rising to the challenge and keeping people entertained at home.

Once it’s safe to travel again, make sure you plan to see their work in real life, but until then, settle in and let your mind travel.

Dive into a 360-degree video of Australia

With Tourism Australia’s collection of 360-degree videos, you can feel what it’s like to be in Australia. Immerse yourself in some of Australia’s most beautiful aquatic and coastal experiences – all from the comfort of your couch.

  • Kayak and trek through the ancient landscape of Katherine Gorge, part of Nitmiluk National Park in Australia’s Northern Territory and discover Aboriginal rock art millions of years old.
  • Go snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef in north Queensland through clear water off a secluded island. Swim with unique marine wildlife and explore this famous landmark from underwater.
  • Discover white sandy beaches and crystal blue waters of Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays, off the coast of north Queensland.
  • Dive into the azure waters of Boston Bay, by Port Lincoln, a charming city on the lower Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, and go for a swim with the friendly sea lions in their natural habitat.
  • Feel the sea salt on your skin and experience an incredible wildlife encounter as you’re surrounded by a pod of dolphins in Fortescue Bay in Tasman National Park, Tasmania.
  • Get up close to the 12 Apostles along Victoria’s iconic Great Ocean Road, and imagine you’re flying overhead and exploring in a helicopter.
  • Ride through Rottnest Island, off the coast of Perth in Western Australia, and see quokkas in their natural habitat. Watch the sunset over the water and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.

Take a virtual tour

Can’t make it to your dream destination in Australia? You can still experience some of Australia’s most iconic destinations from the comfort of your home with these virtual tours and experiences.

  • Culture vultures can now feast on some of the National Gallery of Victoria’s art offerings from afar, thanks to its newly launched virtual programming. On the new NGV Channel, find a growing haul of virtual content to explore. Right now, you can join a free, curator-led tour of Collecting Comme, the NGV’s Indigenous art collection Marking Time, and KAWS: Companionship In the Age of Loneliness. From Saturday, March 28, Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines will also be open online.

  • Continue through Victoria’s cultural institutions by virtually touring the exhibitions in the Melbourne Museum. Take a tour of the First Peoples exhibition and learn about the diverse languages, histories and cultures of the Victorian Aboriginal people. The team of museum experts will also be regularly hosting Q&A videos where you can submit your own questions.
  • Down at the Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) in Tasmania, in true Mona style, you can live stream Tim between 10am and 4.30pm AEDT daily. Since 2011, Tim has sat at Mona for over 3,500 hours and with the museum now closed to guests, Tim is clocking up some additional hours while also practicing social distancing. A former tattoo-parlour manager from Zurich, Tim Steiner has an elaborate tattoo on his back that was designed by a famous artist and sold to a German art collector. As part of the deal, Tim spends his days sitting in galleries so people can admire his work of art.

  • Transport yourself to the Outback in the Northern Territory and explore the iconic Uluru via Story Spheres, which provides you with 360-degree images and storytelling to serve as excellent research for when you can visit this magical part of the world.

  • The Sydney Opera House offers a 360-degree tour where you can explore the iconic site at your own pace – and check out a number of online exhibits and performances by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
  • For all the adrenalin junkies, Merlin Entertainments is offering live streams of their various experiences around Australia, including a virtual zipline tour at Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures via their Facebook page. Feel like you’re soaring across the canopy and look out over the stunning Illawarra/South Coast countryside and coastline from the top of the Illawarra Escarpment.
  • For those dreaming of the gorgeous Sydney Harbour, Webcam Sydney provides a panoramic livestream where you can easily spot the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay and The Rocks. Make sure to sneak a peak when the sun goes down to see a beautiful sunset followed by the harbour’s glittering nighttime lights.

Be entertained by some of Australia’s best artists 

Artists across Australia are now streaming live performances, giving rise to a new era of virtual gigs for those at home. You can also find a huge back catalogue of content to consume from some of Australia’s most loved institutions. Turn up the volume and enjoy a laugh with Australia’s top comedians, groove all day long to some of Australia’s most-loved artists, or even learn the perfect pirouette with the Australian Ballet.

  • For lovers of dance music, Australian DJ Hayden James has revealed he will be streaming a live DJ set each Saturday from 12pm AEDT from his backyard instead – a virtual house party, from his actual house!
  • After having shows cancelled, Nai Palm and Swooping Duck of Hiatus Kaiyotannounced a Patreon page where they will host a series of live-streaming sessions. For $5 a month, fans will get access to “music made by us that you won’t hear anywhere else”, 1-on-1 chats, a breakdown of songs, sleepover parties, jams, backstage passes and live streamed concerts.
  • Melbourne garage rockers, The Naysayers, have also announced their own Live Stream From Quarantine gig in lieu of a cancelled show at The Post Office Hotel, which took place on Saturday 21 March. The stream is free to access, but The Naysayers encourage you to donate to Support Act, which provides crisis relief and wellbeing support to Aussie music industry workers.
  • For music lovers looking for some amazing undiscovered Aussie talents, Triple J Unearthed has launched #Covered19, encouraging unearthed artists to cover each others’ songs on Instagram during the outbreak.
  • Pub Choir, which began in Brisbane as a social organisation drawing hundreds of people together to learn harmonies and record popular songs, has now evolved into “Couch Choir” and their recent video went viral and had over 1,000 submissions across 18 countries. Check out their version of (They Long To Be) Close To You on YouTube and follow on their new journey.
  • During its temporary closure, Arts Centre Melbourne is keeping the show going by live streaming its upcoming performances and then making them available for viewing on their YouTube channel, starting with a celebration of legendary icon Edith Piaf, in a stunning mix of authentic French chanson and contemporary sounds.
  • Love a throw-back? Legendary Australian DJ Hot Dub Time Machine has released his biggest podcast yet, an 80-minute journey from 1990 to 2015 called ‘Rave’. The entire show and individual tracklist can be streamed online.
  • Hardstyle fans can also get your rave on via HSU’s Hardstyle Lockdown Party, an exclusive group for your event videos and favourite tracks to keep the hard style community alive and stronger than ever!
  • If you’re after entertainment, brighten up your day with 10 of the biggest Australian comedians (that were booked for Melbourne International Comedy Festival) streaming their stand-up special via Amazon Prime. Two shows will be released every week starting Friday, 10 April. The line-up of Aussie comedians includes Zoë Coombs Marr, Judith Lucy, Celia Pacquola, Anne Edmonds, Tom Walker, Tommy Little, Lano and Woodley, Dilruk Jayasinha, Alice Fraser and Tom Gleeson.

Classical music

  • For lovers of classical music, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is hosting live streams of their scheduled performances so you can enjoy the works of Beethoven, Bach and Mendelsson live from the comfort of your own living room.
  • Sydney Symphony Orchestra has a huge catalogue of live concert videos to explore.
  • West Australian Symphony Orchestra has some fantastic webcast concerts for the entire family to enjoy, from classical to jazz and pop as well as Maximus Musicus Visits the Orchestra.
  • This Saturday March 28 and every Saturday evening thereafter, West Australian Opera (WAO)  will release a Ghost Light Opera aria through its social media platforms. Artists include Emma Matthews, Fiona Campbell, Paul O’Neill and James Clayton, accompanied by pianist Tommaso Pollio. Visit WAO’s website and Facebook page for more details.
  • The largest classical ballet company in Australia, The Australian Ballet is now offering free morning classes to those at home. Artistic Director David McAllister will teach five simple but effective ballet exercises that are perfect for small spaces. First up is the plié, which begins every ballet class. Over on Ballet TV, find full-length ballets to watch but plenty of excerpts, interviews, and behind-the-scenes documentaries.

Find new friends at some of Australia’s best zoos

From the comfort of your home, wildlife lovers can live stream some of Australia’s most adorable animals online. Warning: if you’re meant to be working, these videos can be highly distracting.

  • The Australian Reptile Park is inviting people to connect with wildlife virtually with keepers still working hard to feed and look after all animals. Making educational videos to assist parents who are now homeschooling their children, the videos will be called ‘Animal Tales With Tim Faulkner‘. The Australian Reptile Park will also be live-streaming zookeepers daily showcasing their favourite animals and answering viewer questions. This will include feeding Elvis, the saltwater crocodile, play time and cuddles with dingoes, feeding cuddly koalas and virtual tours of different areas within the park.
  • If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about Australia’s most colourful sea life, the amazing aquarists at SEA LIFE Melbourne will be livestreaming from the aquarium to take people at home on a journey of discovery into marine life. Tune in via their Facebook page for each of their special live Q&A sessions, and while you’re there take a scroll through their series of posts to learn all about the fishy characters swimming around down in Melbourne!

  • Tune in to feeding and cuddling time at SEA LIFE Sydney and Wild Life Sydney Zoo, with their special live streams of lunchtime with the penguins, the impressive croc feed with Rocky the saltwater crocodile, and quokka cuddle time with Davey, your new smiley furry friend.
  • The CaPTA Group Wildlife Parks in Queensland are also sharing a daily dose of cuteness on their Cairns ZOOM Facebook page, which includes a live stream of their beautiful Australian wildlife in “hibernation mode” and Q&As with the zoo keepers.

  • Zoos Victoria has set up live streams at some Melbourne Zoo and Werribee Open Range Zoo enclosures, including some adorable snow leopard cubs who nap frequently. Or watch over the Zoo’s friendly penguins, lazy lions and wandering giraffes.
  • Tune in for heart-warming live streams of cute and cuddly koalas over at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Queensland. There’s a range of koala cams to tune into, from the koala cuddle train to young joyful joeys, this is the wholesome content you need.

  • If you are longing for the seaside The Nature Conservancy has both above and below reef cams. Located at Pope’s Eye, within Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park, Victoria, see some of the life teeming in Port Phillip Bay. On the underwater camera, see habitat, fish, seals and even dolphins, or on the above the water camera, take in views of the birds nest in the area – such as Australasian Gannets and Black-faced Cormorants. The webcam is solar powered and therefore only operates during local daylight hours and when there is enough sun – but a highlights stream is played when it’s offline.
  • For something more educational to watch with the kids, unlock the mysteries of the Great Barrier Reef and see what some of Australia’s favourite Reef animals are up to with Reef Tracks by Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef. With real-time data, track turtles, sharks and manta rays which show their movements and location since they were first tagged by researchers to better understand these amazing creatures and support their future through science.
  • Live vicariously through one of Australia’s most beautiful birds via BirdLife Australia Discovery Centre’s EagleCAM, a live stream of a resident pair of Sydney’s white-bellied sea eagles. The live stream is an interactive, interpretive hub that provides opportunities for people to learn about and engage with the eagles in their natural habitat.

Learn how to dine (and wine) like an Aussie

Australia has long been famous for its food and wine – and if you want to experience some of Australia’s best cooking or drinks, there are a number of places offering live stream tasting experiences and classes:

  • If you’ve ever wanted to master your cocktail game, Sydney’s bar and vegetarian diner Golden Gully is providing one-hour classes with bartenders Rachael and Danny via video chat on how to mix up some drinks from whatever you have in your liquor cabinet. Chef Emma Evans is also running one-hour video chat classes that take you through a recipe to teach you how to improve your kitchen skills whilst cooking up something tasty, even using the most mundane ingredients in your pantry.
  • Award-winning fermenter from Victoria Sharon Flynn is going live on The Fermentary‘s Instagram page to #FermentTogether. Tune in each day to watch one of Australia’s foremost experts on fermentation walk you through the flavours and techniques of the ancient art of slow fermentation, with influences taken from Malaysia, Japan, Europe and the US.
  • Ben Ean winery in wine-region Pokolbin, New South Wales is also offering virtual wine tastings via Skype! Lovers of wine looking to learn more can order some bottles of wine and then Skype in with one of the cellar door staff to take you through a virtual tasting.

Comments (7)

  1. Diana Presley says:

    It’s well over a decade since my last visit to Australia – high time for another one – so I will enjoy this virtual tour, making plans for my next trip. Thank you.

  2. Beth says:

    All of this brings back such great memories of my gap year. I had the most amazing time. I’d love to go back and do it on a proper budget some time so that I’m getting some luxury and not just staying in backpacker ghettoes!

  3. Nicola Clarke says:

    I read another post by a blogger somewhere else listing a whole bunch of different virtual tours, lots in museums in the UK and even a tour of the Vatican, which is pretty cool. I’ll bookmark this post to come back to for when I have the time because I hadn’t known these Aussie virtual tours were a ‘thing’. The wonders of technology, eh. Now we can travel and expand our horizons without leaving the comfort of our sofa. This lockdown would look a lot different without technology and the Internet. You’ve listed some brilliant finds here, thank you.

  4. Jane says:

    Nice to give a bit of PR for Australia. What with the fires and now Coronavirus they’ve had a nightmare year. I hope that they can get back to welcoming visitors soon – after all its what they do do well.

  5. Kerry says:

    I was just talking to my mom about this kind of thing last night. I mentioned being able to see things in the States from virtual tours of the Grand Canyon or museums. But this is way cool! I’ll have to show this to her.

  6. K. Owens says:

    It’s so crazy to see all these ideas about experiencing the wonders of travelling without really going out of the country. It gives me something to look forward to and gives me hope that however long it takes these places will still exist for us to enjoy. It really helps those people who are eager to getaway as soon as possible. I’ve never heard of these virtual trips until today. Back then, I used to go to Google Maps and look at streetviews of the place that I’m visiting to become familiar with the surroundings, stores, and restaurants near where I want to go. Also, I have a fear of being lost in a country that I am not that familiar with. I have a problem of trusting strangers because of a bad travel experience that I had a few years back. I’ll look into these virtual trips later to pass the time and add to my travel list.

  7. Keith says:

    This is quite remarkable and truly impressive. So much to share with others who probably don’t know this is even a possibility. Some great exhibits, and I’ll have to keep tabs on the classical music performances. I love listening to live performances like that. These are great concepts and an innovative way to attract tourism again.

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