Even if you have never been to Australia, you’ll still have heard of Uluru, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Bondi Beach and, of course, the Great Barrier Reef. The “Lucky Country” is jammed full of iconic sights, many of which fill our television screens wherever in the world we are thanks to the easy marketability of this spectacular land. If you’re fortunate to visit or move to this vast country, consider a few of these lesser-known places to see in Australia – those hidden gems that the locals visit and the tourists often miss.
1. Kangaroo Island, South Australia
To the south of Adelaide, Kangaroo Island is a fascinating isle of eco adventures, cultural and marine tours, beaches, coves, surfing, diving, wildlife parks, fishing spots and more. With a coastline stretching for more than 500 kilometres, you’ll never find yourself lacking in things to do in nature’s very own fun park.
2. Cradle Mountain, Tasmania
One of my favourite Australian destinations, Cradle Mountain is situated at the beginning of the Great Overland Track in the north of Tasmania. It has a craggy mountaintop, a beautiful lake at its base, many hiking trails, unique and curious creatures, plus an array of fauna found across the park. The entire area is an adventurer’s delight.
3. Orange, New South Wales
With a host of new restaurants, cafes and places to stay, Orange is an ideal regional town to explore over a long weekend or short getaway. Four hours by car from Sydney, it offers seasonal and organic local produce, and is fast becoming a foodies’ favourite.
4. Lord Howe Island, New South Wales
A World Heritage-listed site, Lord Howe Island is a stunning slice of paradise rising up out of the Pacific. With mountain peaks, crystal clear blue waters and an abundance of Australian wildlife, the island is small, uncrowded and unspoilt – this is Robinson Crusoe territory.
5. Flinders Ranges National Park, South Australia
An isolated range of mountains set in the heart of South Australia’s outback, this huge national park offers superb routes to hike and excellent camping facilities – why not try to trek the Heysen Trail, arguably the world’s greatest hiking trail.
6. Hyams Beach, New South Wales
Situated in the Shoalhaven region, this is officially the world’s whitest beach. Only three hours from Sydney, it supplies all the activities you’d expect to find by the water – snorkelling, kayaking, diving – plus an opportunity to see whales, dolphins and more.
7. Glasshouse Mountains National Park, Queensland
Not far from Brisbane in Queensland, this park is one of the region’s finest natural gems, home to walking tracks through deep forest leading to lookouts with panoramic views of the surrounding area. The park is also close to the Sunshine Coast, which should also be top of any traveller’s itinerary.
8. Exmouth, Western Australia
Exmouth merits a mention as a base for accessing the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Marine Park. Home to an array of tropical fish, dolphins, turtles and colourful coral, the reef is also a temporary home for the impressive whale sharks, which swim effortlessly past on their annual coastal migration. The marine park is a truly exceptional natural wonder of the marine world.
9. Bay of Fires, Tasmania
Tasmania is a recurring theme in this post and rightly so. It’s a wonderfully wild and dramatic island full of contrasting landscapes and locations. The Bay of Fires is one such place, covered in pure white beaches, bright orange boulders and ancient forests carpeting the rocky coastline.
10. Esperance, Western Australia
The list of top ten hidden places to see in Australia always had to end with the country’s beaches. Esperance is a prime example of the perfection seen up and down the Australian coastline – beaches with sand so white that it hurts to look at them; pristine turquoise waters that cannot be faulted; coastal drives offering mile after mile of idyllic beachside views. Esperance is Australia’s coast personified.
Russell Ward is a British expat living on Sydney’s Northern Beaches where he writes about his search for a life less ordinary at www.insearchofalifelessordinary.com, one of Australia’s leading expat and travel blogs. Russell can be followed on Twitter and Instagram as @russellvjward.