Australia is a vast, diverse, and beautiful country, but it’s easy to get sucked into the tourist traps around Sydney and the Gold Coast. These make for an unforgettable holiday, but if you’re looking for something a little bit different from your trip Down Under, then throw away the tourist brochure and explore Australia’s lesser-known delights.
Western Australia: Even for most Australians, or certainly the ones who live in the metropolitan hubs of Sydney and Melbourne, a trip to Western Australia is an adventure into the heartland of the country’s wild outback. From the Pinnacles Desert to the Kalbarri National Park, Western Australia has it all: sculpted landscapes and geological wonders, lush, green forests and hundreds of miles of wild, dramatic coastline. The native flora and fauna, from the clusters of red and green kangaroo paw to quokkas and kookaburras, bring this incredibly territory to life. A rich source of Aboriginal culture, it provides a window to Australia’s ancient past — take a tour of indigenous lands and learn about the Dreaming, the mythical framework of creation that guides Aboriginal spirituality.
Carnarvon Gorge, Queensland: A green, thriving, natural sanctuary in the middle of Queensland’s semi-arid central region, Garnarvon Gorge is a spectacular spot well off the tourist track. Distinguished by white sandstone cliffs surrounded by lush forest and carved through with boulder-strewn creeks, the park is ideal for trail walks of various lengths. On the road between Emerald and Roma, and sufficiently distant from the nearest petrol station to make filling up the tank a necessity, Carnarvon Gorge is one of those places that feels completely free from the march of progress — an oasis of natural beauty and harmony. Full of rare plant and insect species, and over 170 different types of bird, it’s the perfect place to immerse yourself in Australia’s myriad wildlife. There are plenty of echoes of the humans who inhabited the gorge over the centuries. Aboriginal rock art, including freehand paintings and engravings, mark the sandstone as reminders of their intense spiritual connection to the land.
River Red Gum National Park: Home to huge families of kangaroos and koalas, this stunning national park is an outdoor enthusiasts idea of heaven. Located on the New South Wales and Victoria border, it’s a magnet for campers, kayakers and mountain bikers, but there’s plenty of park to go round.
Tasmania: By the time travelers from Europe arrive in Australia, a trip to Tasmania probably feels like a plane journey too far. But it’s more than worth it. Blessed with miles of pristine coastline and natural wilderness, it also enjoys milder temperatures than the mainland. Tasmania’s biggest city Hobart boasts some of the oldest and most beautiful architecture in Australia, all of it framed by the impressive backdrop of Mt Wellington.
Kakadu National Park: Located in the Northern Territory, Kakadu is unusual in that it’s a World Heritage site for both natural and cultural reasons. One of the most diverse ecosystems on earth, it’s home to the ancient Bininj and Mugguy people, and also a habitat for an array of birds, fish, reptiles and salt water crocodiles.