TOP TEN: DESTINATIONS

Some of the less obvious yet equally unmissable destinations in Australia 

You can look on any travel website and the list of Top Ten things to see and do in Australia will be the almost exactly the same. Now don’t for one second think we are slamming Ayres Rock, The Great Ocean Road or the Sydney Opera House, bacuase trust me, we aren’t, however if you go home and that’s all you’ve done, then you have missed getting into the heart and soul of Australia. Tucked away in every state and in every corner of this amazing country are less well known but equally superb days out, weekends away or epic road trips that will literally take your breath away. Allow us to show you OUR Top Ten things to do in Oz - a little different and a little off the beaten track. Think of it as insider knowledge - you’re welcome...

1 TASMANIA

Name

Australia’s ‘Apple Isle’, too often ignored by mainlandhugging backpackers, is like nowhere else in Oz. Which perhaps explains why the locals are mocked by those on the ‘North Island’ occasionally. Not that Tasmanians care – they know how good they’ve got it. Indeed, this magical wilderness of forests, mountains and waterfalls is in many ways more similar to New Zealand than it is the rest of its own country. Crammed with colonial history, incredible food and nature at its most spectacular (20 per cent of the state is World Heritage-listed national park) – and all in a handilysized and generally fairly cheap package – it’s hard to know where to start. We’d recommend though that you don’t miss. 

CRADLE MOUNTAIN 

The imposing, craggy peaks of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park are like something straight out of a Rings movie. Only you’ll find no orcs lurking here. Just the occasional walker. And a few wombats. Sat almost in the middle of Tassie, just south-west of second city Launceston, the jagged contours rise from a wild landscape of ancient rainforest and alpine heathlands. It’s truly stunning stuff. Climbing to the top and back can be done in a strenuous day and will offer plenty in rewards. The more hardy, however, should take on the six-day Overland Track, which is widely considered Australia’s best walk, a worthy rival to New Zealand’s legendary nine Great Walks. At the other end of the park, looking up at the forestclad mountains, wallows Lake St Clair, which happens to be Australia’s deepest.

PORT ARTHUR

History buffs, take note. Port Arthur is arguably the most fascinating glimpse of Australia’s convict past that you could find in the land Down Under. Once known simply as “Hell on Earth”, this huge site with its partly ruined buildings was home to Australia’s worst convicts between the 1830s and 1870s. It’s now strangely peaceful, with the odd spooky vibe, and is somewhere you can easily lose a day.

Name

WINEGLASS BAY

Along with Cradle Mountain, this spellbinding corner of Freycinet National Park is Tasmania’s major postcard pin-up. And yet the pictures still can’t do it justice. A mainstay on lists naming the best beach in Australia, sometimes the planet, Wineglass Bay really does have it all. Well, it could be a few degrees warmer at times… There’s a bit of a trek to get there, which means you get some gawp-tastic views of it on the way, plus the coach trip crowds don’t bother. Once there, it’s suddenly huge, and there are dolphins. And there’s even a campsite at the far end.

2 LAKE EYRE & OUTBACK TOUR

Name

This tour is the ultimate in bush experience, featuring an action packed itinerary of adventure activities. The four day small-group based interactive adventure takes you from the remote Oodnadatta Track to the beautiful Clare Valley wine tasting regions. See national parks, historic towns, outback ruins and rarely visited desert areas. Not only do you get upclose- and-personal with the environment, but it also includes a two hour flight over Lake Eyre, an eco-boat cruise of the Spencer Gulf and a visit to traditional aboriginal art sites. The company have the Eco-Certified Nature Tourism badge, meaning their tours leave absolute minimal impact on the environment.

3 KANGAROO ISLAND ADVENTURE

Name

The two day all-inclusive Kangaroo Island wilderness explorer tour covers what is considered to be all the essential experiences on Kangaroo Island. If you’re a spirited traveller who likes to get off the beaten track and share your experience with like-minded adventurers, then this tour is definitely for you. You get to stay at Vivonne Bay Lodge, which was voted best beach in Australia. It’s modern, well equipped and maintained and comes with free WiFi, bar, lounge, pool table and BBQ.

4 FANCY A DRIVE IN WA?

Name

A journey to set the soul on fire, the 120-mile drive between Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin in Western Australia is unbeatable and unforgettable. With national parks, vineyards and an extraordinary beautiful coastline that showcases the diversity of Australia. The best time to visit is in spring, when the landscape is covered with wild flowers, but the Margaret River wineries are open all year round.

5 CAPE YORK ROADTRIP

Name

Beyond Cooktown lies the remote Cape York Peninsula, at the northernmost tip of Australia (only 150km from Papua New Guinea). It is still one of the wildest and least populated parts of Oz. Unsealed roads, river crossings and crocs make the adventure one of the best roadtrips Down Under. Just don’t even think about it without a 4WD. If you’re not too sure about your skills, jump on a tour from Cairns.

6 MARGARET RIVER WA

Name

To properly enjoy this tour you don’t need to be an expert; the excellent guides will be more than happy to show you the ropes. Chose between whether you want to surf or stand up paddle board (SUP) and get ready to get a little wet and wild. This package includes a fully qualified guide and coach tour, transport to and from the Margaret River, lunch and drinks, equipment and wetsuits. Epic.

7 FLINDERS RANGES

Name

Experience sunset in the glorious Flinders Ranges of South Australia. The largest mountain range in South Australia starts about 200 km north of Adelaide. The region offers tour operators and self-drive experiences, give the visitor information a call (1800 220 980 or 08 8648 6419) to get the most out of Flinders. Also on offer; scenic walkways, the pichi richi railway, flights around the area, a camel tour, picnic areas and more.

8 NGADIKU DREAMTIME

Name

The Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk operated by the local Aboriginal community offers an indigenous perspective on the rainforest. Stories and legends from a long time ago in local Kuku Yalanji language, takes visitors on a journey along private, easy graded tracks, visiting special places and culturally significant sites, past traditional bark shelters and cool rainforest streams.

9 ROTTNEST ISLAND

Name

The Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk operated by the local Aboriginal community offers an indigenous perspective on the rainforest. Stories and legends from a long time ago in local Kuku Yalanji language, takes visitors on a journey along private, easy graded tracks, visiting special places and culturally significant sites, past traditional bark shelters and cool rainforest streams.

10 BRUNY ISLAND ECO-TOUR

Name

Get ready for a three hour wilderness cruise exploring the most interesting and breathtaking parts of the coastline. You can expect to meet all manner of wildlife. Lunch options on the beach are available upon return, to soak in the last of the experience. A proportion of every ticket goes to the Tasmanian Coast Conservation Fund, which helps manage the national parks, coastlines, marine reserves and wildlife.