Iconic Aussie landmarks like the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Melbourne City Centre are without question highlights of any Australian trip, but there is so much more to the beautiful country. Our advice, jump in a car, coach, campervan or get yourself booked on to a tour to one of our favourite off the beaten track locations.
High on my Australian list is Tasmania. It’s a truly exceptional and beautiful place that receives top marks from just about everyone that has ever visited it.
It looks good on the eye with unspoiled wild areas to explore, overland tracks to hike and some of best fresh produce in Australia. Hobart has been declared the food hub of Australia and we suggest that you get over there and find out why.
Hobart, Australia’s second oldest city, retains so much of its colonial and heritage buildings, in some areas it’s like stepping back in time and to top it off the splendid scenery of Mount Wellington, their very own Mount Kilimanjaro.
It’s also one of Australia’s smallest cities and easy enough to get around on foot. A walk around the old town will take in the best cultural experiences including Battery Point, Salamanca and its famous markets where you’ll be able to find souvenirs, clothing, food and beer.
Cape Range National Park, WA
Cape Range is a place of rugged limestone ranges, breath-taking deep canyons and 50km of pristine beach. I stayed at Sal Salis, a remote beachside safari camp nestled in the dunes of the park. It’s an incredibly isolated yet stunning location, just metres from the World Heritage Ningaloo Reef. Grab your mask and snorkel for an underwater adventure you’ll never forget, or if visiting between April and June swim with the world’s largest fish, the docile whale shark.
Monkey Mia, WA
Some 24km from the town of Denham is Monkey Mia, a place that offers a little something more than your typical Aussie beach. It’s one of the most reliable places for dolphin interaction in the world, and the only place in Australia where dolphins visit daily rather than seasonally. It sure beats hanging out with them in a chlorine filled pool.
It’s a marine reserve with an area of the beach having been sectioned off for interaction, though a small fee must be paid to enter the reserve. At the discretion of the guides, select visitors are able to feed the dolphins when they come to shore.
Monkey Mia offers plenty of recreational facilities beyond dolphin-spotting that make it a getaway rather than a day trip to one of WA’s most interesting beaches.
Oh, and there’s 320 days of sunshine a year.
Noosa credit: patrickoberem
Noosa has a sunny climate, friendly locals and after a major facelift resulting in awards, it’s sprung up on the backpacker list. It’s even getting compared with Byron Bay.
Some must-dos are the Noosa National Park, shopping along Hastings St, tours around the nearby Fraser Island (we’ll get to that later), surfing, horseback riding, jet skiing, kite surfing, kayaking, biking and skydiving.
It’s a backpacker’s dream with hostels, a bustling nightlife, bars and live music.
The main beach is only minutes away from the shopping hotspot and is great for all sorts of beach activities. Whether you’re keen to surf, swim, or just lounge about in the sun drinking beer, Noosa has it all.
And if you’re a surfing pro Castaways and Marcus beaches offer great waves for intermediate and advanced surfers.
Fraser Island, QLD
Nothing quite beats hitting the world’s largest sand island in a 4WD. The inland lakes are also some of the best swimming spots you’re likely to find in Australia.
Fraser is also home to more than 40 freshwater dune lakes – over half the world’s known total – and dingos.
Another little secret for you, there’s a fair bit to see and do in Rainbow Beach too. Bizarre multi-coloured cliffs, friendly locals, spectacular coastal scenery, Great Sandy National Park, lovely beaches... it’s a wonderful little escape.
It’s the world’s largest sand island, with subtropical rainforests stubbornly thriving in a seemingly infertile environment.
If it was not up against such steep competition, Fraser Island would probably make it on to the iconic Aussie list to.
The Whitsundays, QLD
There’s 74 islands here and most are sandy with tropical rainforests and accommodation options. The most famous is Whithaven Beach on Whitsunday Island.
Sailing the Whitsundays hovers pretty close to the top of most backpackers’ must-do lists. People come for different reasons: some to dive by the Great Barrier Reef, some for Whitehaven Beach and others for the pure luxury of exploring this part of Australia without having to cook, clean or even lift a finger, apart from putting on suntan lotion that is. The trip can be as action-packed or chilled out as you want it to be. It’s got to be action packed for me.
Adelaide - meet the locals, SA
The generally pretty chilled, laidback locals are mostly friendly and happy to mix with visitors, especially if you’re into football. Here football is king, people live for AFL and there’s a lot of beer drinking to.
The people of Adelaide love a good drink, they’re guaranteed to be hanging out in the popular pubs around the city. So if you’re into football, beer and partying Adelaide is the place for you to kick back and drink beer for a while.
Shark Bay, WA credit: CUHRIG
Ningaloo Reef, WA
Just like the Great Barrier Reef on the West Coast, but Ningaloo isn’t overpopulated with visitors.
The star of the show has to be swimming out from the shore line at Exmouth onto the reef to swim with whale sharks. Try not to be intimidated by their sheer mass, they’re surprisingly friendly and inquisitive.
Phillip Island, VIC
It’s a car-free outdoor adventure land and the perfect off the beaten path retreat. Small sleepy towns, coastal scenery, wild surf, and wetlands.
Most people head to Phillip Island for the penguins who march out from the sea at dusk each day to burrow down for the evening in the sand dunes in their hundreds.
And don’t miss out on the Koala Conservation Centre where boardwalks take you into the eucalyptus trees and bring you almost face-to-face with these wonderful animals.
Porcupine Gorge, QLD
Not many people know about Porcupine Gorge, Australia’s Grand Canyon located in a desolate area of the Queensland Outback. It’s not easy to reach, you’ll need a 4WD, but the reward is utter tranquillity, against a backdrop of jaw dropping scenery. The cliffs plunge down 120 metres to the gorge floor, where a sliver of a river runs through it.
There is a small campsite with no facilities that is unmanned. Pay for your pitch at the honesty box, $3AUD is all they ask for. Where else can you sleep for that sort of money? It’s not unusual to find the place empty.