Every traveller has heard of Sydney, the Great Barrier Reef and Ayer’s Rock. They’ll have plans to get in the sea and surf; sit on the beach and enjoy a barbeque; and party in some of Melbourne’s best bars and clubs. And there’s nothing wrong with visiting Australia’s well-known attractions – after all, they’re well-known for a reason! But we think that there’s much more to see than the standard backpackers fare, so that’s why we’ve come up with some great ideas for exploring Australia off the beaten track…
Kangaroo Island, South Australia
Great name, right? And it’s deserved too, as this island is teeming with Australia’s national emblem. Kangaroo Island is completely unspoiled and the vast majority of it is protected land, meaning that the teeming wildlife will remain for years to come. It’s the perfect place to head into the Australian wilderness and get lost among the stunning scenery and wildlife. The best way to get there is by ferry from Cape Jervis, with the journey only taking around 45 minutes.
The Kimberley, Western Australia
The Kimberley is one of the remotest areas of the country – 423,500km2 (over three times larger than England) and a population of 50,000. It’s also the best place in the country to strap on your boots and head out hiking, probably not seeing another human for the whole time. The coast is also spectacular, with Cable Beach often being mentioned in lists of the world’s best. From the Bungle Bungles to the Mitchell Falls, you’ll fall in love with everything in this part of Oz!
Carnavon, Western Australia
Want to surf and see some of the most amazing ocean sights in the world, but don’t fancy the hustle and bustle of some of Australia’s bigger surfing locations? Then Carnavon in Western Australia is perfect. It’s a chilled out town on the coast with a massive reputation for some of the best surfing around, as well as close to the stunning Ningaloo Reef and Shark Bay, where you can see the threatened dugong (otherwise known as the sea cow), as well as dolphins, sharks and whales.
Coober Pedy, South Australia
Coober Pedy really is a hidden gem, quite literally! This is because most of this town is actually underground and it sprang up thanks to the massive amount of opals that are mined here. There’s a great underground bar and even underground museums, but the highlight is the tour of the mines. If you decide to stay the night, you’ll even get to sleep underground. Coober Pedy is served by Greyhound coaches and the closest large town is Alice Springs – 9 hours away.
Kakadu, Northern Territories
Kakadu is arguably the most spectacular national park in the whole country, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s right up the top of the country in the Northern Territories and plays home to all manner of animal and bird species – including absolutely loads of crocodiles. It’s also incredibly important in a cultural sense, as it has loads of ancient Aboriginal sites. Darwin is pretty close and is generally the best base for visiting Kakadu, and afterwards you can head to Cairns.
Darling River Run, New South Wales
Australia has loads of well-known and spectacular drives, but the Darling River Run is not often included on most travellers’ itineraries. This is because a visit to New South Wales is usually spent on the coast, and not inland. But if you do drive the Darling River Run, you’ll experience the outback as you’ve seen it in the movies. It’s a remote and long drive, but you won’t get bored: the stunning scenery and numerous small towns will make sure of that.
Lord Howe Island, New South Wales
While technically in NSW, Lord Howe Island is actually around 370 miles from the Aussie mainland, and takes about two hours to get to by plane. The trip is worth it though, as it is regarded as one of the most stunning islands in the world. It’s home to loads of wildlife and also offers some of the best SCUBA diving in the country. The catch? Only 400 travellers are allowed on the island at once, so you have to book up well in advance.