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Not sure which local cruise ports to visit on your next Australia cruise? Here is a guide to a dozen of Australia’s best cruise ports.

Sydney, New South Wales

Climb the Harbour Bridge, explore the historic Rocks area, go jetboating past the Opera House or stroll around the harbour. Australia’s most popular cruise departure port offers plenty of entertainment for cruise passengers just a few steps away from the ship.

Sydney Harbour
Sydney Harbour

Airlie Beach, Queensland

Most passengers head offshore to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef or soak up the sun on Whitehaven Beach however this town’s attractive main street is also worth a look. The 4,300sqm Airlie Beach Lagoon has stunning Coral Sea views and is free to use.

Whitehaven Beach
Fun on Whitehaven Beach

Darwin, Northern Territory

Darwin is a winner when it comes to entertaining passengers with diverse interests. You don’t need to venture far from the ship to see a baby croc, go shopping for Aboriginal art or discover Australia’s war history at World War II tunnels near the ship.

Adelaide, South Australia

Adelaide’s charming CBD is a foodie’s delight with restaurants, cafes and bars galore and a colourful inner-city market. Top adventures further afield include catching a vintage tram to Glenelg Beach or touring the nearby Adelaide Hills wine region.

Adelaide Botanic Gardens

Moreton Island, Queensland

Moreton Island is the world’s third largest sand island and the jewel in Moreton Bay’s crown, with snorkelling available just off-shore. Other activities range from sand tobogganing to Segway tours along the beach and quad biking through the dunes.

Sand tobogganing on Moreton Island
Sand tobogganing on Moreton Island

Perth, Western Australia

Perth is one of Australia’s easiest ports to explore thanks to the free Central Area Transit buses which cover the city’s main attractions. If you are in town on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, check out the 150 plus stalls and lively atmosphere at Fremantle Markets.

Cairns, Queensland

Day tours abound at this tropical tourist-friendly town. Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef or enjoy a bird’s eye view of the rainforest from a gondola on the 7.5km long Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Cruisers can also cool down at the city’s free swimming lagoon.

Go swimming at the Cairns Lagoon

Melbourne, Victoria

Discover the city’s famous laneways with their funky boutiques, restaurants, cafes and bars or enjoy some art and culture at one of Melbourne’s many museums. Don’t miss the fabulous graffiti art in Hosier Lane near Federation Square.

Street art
See Melbourne’s street art

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Hobart, Tasmania

Hobart’s historic waterfront area is hard to beat but those who venture beyond the city centre are rewarded with contemporary art at the world-famous MONA gallery and the rich convict history of Port Arthur.

Port Arthur on a rainy day
Port Arthur near Hobart

Busselton, Western Australia

Most passengers tour the picturesque Margaret River wine region but the pretty town of Busselton is also a lovely spot for a stroll. It’s home to a Heritage-listed 1.8 kilometre jetty which has a Cultural Heritage Museum and Underwater Observatory.

Brisbane, Queensland

Queensland’s capital is renowned for its sunny weather and laid-back charm. Explore the city’s excellent museums and galleries or go swimming at South Bank’s free inner-city beach. The Gold Coast is just an hour away by car from the Brisbane International Cruise Terminal.

Stroll along the Brisbane River

Newcastle, New South Wales

Newcastle is the unsung hero of Australian ports with beautiful inner-city beaches and one of the country’s most famous wine regions, the Hunter Valley, located just 45 minutes away from the cruise terminal by car.

Want more great cruise advice? Check out our tips for choosing the perfect cruise, cruising with grandchildren, cruising with tweens and cruising with kids of all ages, solo cruising, the best activities on Ovation of the Seas, doing a Transatlantic cruise with kids, cruising in Australia or Papua New Guinea, Iceland cruise tips, cruising on a megaship, scoring a bargain cruise fare, cruising the Mediterranean, making the most of a cruise ship kids club, luxury cruising with kids, and the Byron Beach Club onboard P&O Cruises. We have also reviewed Disney Wonder, Pacific Adventure, Celebrity Edge, Quantum of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas, Pacific Encounter, Carnival Splendor, Voyager of the Seas, Nieuw Statendam, Viking Helgrim, Pride of America, Coral Expeditions in Tasmania and the Great Barrier Reef, Celebrity Solstice, and Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth.

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Dr Tiana Templeman is an award-winning food and travel journalist, travel author and media industry academic. She is the creator of The Travel Temple, writes for Australian and international media outlets and appears on radio talking about where to go, what to see and travel industry trends.