Three Sisters, Blue Mountains, NSW

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Three Sisters, Blue Mountains, NSW

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Frances, Limestone Coast, South Australia

Frances

South Australia

Once known as the railway town, the rural community of Frances is now famous for the annual Frances Folk Gathering. Held every February, Australia's only participation-based Folk Festival features music awards, workshops, song writing, dancing and poetry. More than 3000 people get involved each year. Enjoy bushwalks and picnics at Little Desert National Park, just five minutes from the town centre. Gaze in wonderment at the majestic red gums and rich bird life at Mullinger Swamp Conservation Park. One 800-year old tree is so large that a family is said to have once lived in its hollowed out base! Frances is located between Bordertown and Naracoorte.

Gregory, Western Australia

Port Gregory

Western Australia

The beachside village of Port Gregory is famed for its pink lagoon, exposed reef, spring wildflower scenery and settler history, complete with convict-era buildings and shipwrecks. Swim, dive, fish and immerse yourself in this quintessential Western Australian beach holiday spot. Just under six hours north of Perth by car, this picturesque fishing village is nestled between the beach and Hutt Lagoon, near the mouth of the Hutt River. With its five kilometres of exposed reef forming a natural harbour, Port Gregory is a sheltered aquatic playground. From the safe swimming beach to the water-skiing area, there's something for everyone. Launch and anchor your boat. Scuba dive in the clear waters. Explore the reef. Try your hand at offshore fishing, or drop a line off the jetty - rock lobster is a local favourite. A host of natural delights await on land too. In spring, colourful wildflowers blanket the surrounding countryside. Take a scenic drive through the hinterland's hills and valleys, or contact a local tour guide to ensure you see all the native flora hotspots. Or, for an adventure of a more interactive kind, try a guided self-drive quad biking tour at Wagoe Beach. It's a unique opportunity to discover the pristine Indian Ocean coastline between Port Gregory and Kalbarri. While you're exploring inland, head to nearby Lynton - a historic settlement built by convicts in the mid-19th century. The townsite was home to a depot that served as an early employment agency, recruiting convicts to work at the local Geraldine Mine and pastoral stations. Today, you can visit restored buildings, the hiring depot and Sanfords House - a must-see for history buffs. There's much to see and experience in and around Port Gregory, with an equally diverse range of accommodation options, from the town's caravan park to nearby farmstays, chalets and beach cottages. Wherever you stay, be sure to visit Hutt Lagoon at sunset when this magnificent salt lake changes colour, from mauve to pink to

Venus Bay

Venus Bay

Victoria

Beyond the vegetated sand dunes of the South Gippsland town of Venus Bar lie wild waters and golden sands - no less than five superb surf beaches as well as sheltered swimming beaches. Venus Bay has a population of around 500, but can surge into the thousands as anglers, surfers and families converge during holiday periods. Just outside the town are the five surf beaches patrolled by surf lifesavers in the summer months. The state's longest sand spit at Anderson Inlet is where you can find safe, sheltered beaches ideal for swimming. The coastline from Venus Bay to Cape Liptrap offers visitors the chance to see an old lighthouse and native Australian plants and wildlife. The Point Smythe Nature Trail traverses thick coastal vegetation, while the Tarwin Lower boardwalk follows the Tarwin River - a good spot for fishing. View abundant bird life and mangroves at Bald Hill wetlands, close to Tarwin Lower and heading towards Walkerville. The Tarwin Lower to Venus Bay Pathway is a scenic and easy cycle between two towns that follows the banks of the Tarwin River on a gently undulating shared pathway. Venus Bay is approximately 170 kilometres from Melbourne, or around two hours and 10 minutes by car along the M1 and South Gippsland Highway.

Quorn, Flinders Ranges, South Australia

Quorn

South Australia

The pretty Flinders Ranges town of Quorn is home to the Pichi Richi Railway, a treasured steam journey which chugs its way through glorious rugged countryside to Port Augusta. Quorn retains much of its old world character, with charming street frontages and a pub on almost every corner. Stop in at a cafe for coffee and cake, or wander through bric-a-brac stores and an art gallery. The discovery of rich mineral deposits in the Flinders Ranges and the opening up of the Willochra Plains for agriculture made it necessary to construct railways to serve the north of the state. To meet these needs the town of Quorn was surveyed and proclaimed in 1878 and soon became an important railway town. Mount Brown 14 kilometres south, is the highest peak rising majestically over 900 metres. Nearer to the town, Devil's Peak and Dutchmans stern overlook the valley with their rocky outcrops richly coloured, to the north where Warren and Buckaringa Gorge carve through the hills to Mount Arden. You can find accommodation at the Quorn Caravan Park.

Brookton, Western Australia

Brookton

Western Australia

The historic Wheatbelt town of Brookton gives you glimpses of what life was like before and after the arrival European settlers, with grand heritage architecture and natural habitats teeming with rare native wildlife. You can make the journey from city to Brookton country charm in less than two hours, hitting the Brookton Highway south east of Perth. This is the quickest route to reach Wave Rock - an awe-inspiring granite cliff shaped over 2,700 years to form a huge wave. Alternatively, why not head southbound at a more serene pace, following one of the world's great long-distance walk trails - the Bibbulmun Track. Stretching nearly 1,000 kilometres from Kalamunda in Perth, it passes just to the west of Brookton on its way to Albany on the south west coast. This section of the track is accessible to wheelchairs and prams and makes an ideal day walk and picnic spot. Just 10 kilometres south-west of Brookton lies another idyllic picnic setting at Boyagin Rock Nature Reserve. Walking among the powderbark, jarrah and marri trees, you'll see the bush as it was before its transformation into the Wheatbelt. Widely recognised as a significant remnant of original flora, the reserve is also a habitat for lesser-spotted fauna, including Western Australia's emblem, the numbat. If you're visiting in spring, head up to Nine Acre Rock and take in expansive views of the picturesque countryside carpeted in colourful wildflower blooms stretching to the horizon. Here, the ruins of an old stone house stand in tribute to one of the region's European settlers of the early 1900s, known as the 'Animal Doctor'. Some of Brookton's lovingly restored heritage can be enjoyed at the Old Railway Station and Pioneer Park in the centre of town, where you'll also pick up some authentic country arts and crafts. Whether you're heading to the central west or deep south, Brookton makes for a pleasant stay offering hotel and caravan park accommodation, as well as the opportunity to experience the Wheatbelt way

Leonora, Western Australia

Leonora

Western Australia

Leonora is a mine of outback history and heritage, from the old world grandeur of its legendary State Hotel to the simple charm of iron and hessian miners' cottages in the eerie gold rush ghost town of neighbouring Gwalia. The best way to reach Leonora is to take the three hour drive north of Kalgoorlie, following the Golden Quest Discovery Trail and allowing a little extra time to stop at some of the interpretive sites along the way. Since its early settler days, dating back to when John Forrest set up camp here in 1869, canvas tents, iron cottages and wooden shacks made way for much grander brick hotels and establishments as gold, nickel and silver mining brought fortune, growth and prosperity. That said, even today the wide main street is lit by kerosene lamps, with many characterful buildings of the early 1900s serving their original purpose, including both of the town's hotels, the post office, police station, courthouse and fire station. More of the region's rich gold rush heritage is revealed with a short drive to the ghost town of Gwalia. Lovingly restored remnants of its heyday, from establishment in 1897 to the closure of the Sons of Gwalia mine in 1963, make for an awe-inspiring journey into the region's past. Take a walk through the precinct of 20 original miners' cottages. Visit the Gwalia Historical Museum. Or spend a night in historic Hoover House - the former residence of the 31st President of the United States, Herbert Hoover, who migrated to Western Australia to work as a mining engineer prior to pursuing his political career. More accommodation options are available within Leonora itself, including the town's original hotels, a motel and caravan park, providing a welcome break for tourists en-route to Alice Springs and North West Australia. Make time for a little extra rest and relaxation with a visit to the favourite local picnic spot at Malcom Dam or the Leonora lookout at the top of Smoodgers Hill.

Ginger Factory, Yandina

Yandina

Queensland

This is the famous 'Ginger Town' of the Sunshine Coast hinterland, which boasts some of the most beautiful country in Queensland. Yandina lies just to the north of Nambour, the centrally-located retail and service town for the central Sunshine Coast hinterland. This area is extremely rich in natural rainforest parks and reserves. Native animals such as kangaroos, koalas and wombats, which can often be elusive in the wild, are on constant show here. Yandina is home to the Ginger Factory, where you can sample all things ginger, and taste the delights of the award-winning Spirit House restaurant. Yandina is 107 kilometres north of Brisbane.

Warragamba

Warragamba

New South Wales

The gateway to Sydney's water supply, the village of Warragamba is a quiet retreat nestled by the side of Warragamba Dam. A visit to the village will reveal some quaint shops, houses, and narrow streets giving visitors insight into life during the construction of the dam. Silverdale is a fine example of urban growth containing a mix of small to medium and large residential allotments surrounded by rural outskirts.

The Rocks and Circular Quay

The Rocks and Circular Quay

New South Wales

The Rocks precinct is the historic site of Sydney's first European settlement. Encompassing Circular Quay, the area bursts with a colourful history dating back to convict days and is a maze of sandstone lanes, cul-de-sacs and courtyards, jam-packed with shops, warehouses and terraces that were built in the early 19th century. While The Rocks was once home to Sydney's dockworkers and stevedores, it's now a magnet for international visitors, who flock to its many shops, boutiques, markets, pubs and restaurants. As a creative and cultural arts hub, a visit to The Rocks must include the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Argyle Gallery and The Rocks Discovery Museum.

Darwin Area - Northern Territory

Darwin Area

Northern Territory

Darwin, the Northern Territory’s vibrant capital, is a city with influences that are as much Asian as they are western. A city with dozens of nationalities sharing an easy-going lifestyle, Darwin is located on a peninsular with the sea on three sides. It is a place unvisited by winter where the weather can usually be described as either balmy or sultry. Darwin is well appointed, possessing most of the amenities expected of a much larger city. Watching sunsets and storms are something of a local pastime, and after a cleansing rain shower you can almost hear things growing. An hour south of Darwin is Berry Springs Nature Park, a swimming and recreational area and the popular Territory Wildlife Park is just next door. Operating on the nearby Adelaide River, regular jumping crocodile cruises provide the chance to see saltwater crocodiles propel themselves from the water. Further south along the Stuart Highway is Litchfield National Park, a great place to cool off beneath cascading waterfalls and view attractions such as unique magnetic termite mounds, monsoonal rainforests and tumbling rocky waterholes. To the north of Darwin are the Tiwi Islands where visitors can share in the culture of the Tiwi people. Take an organised tour and purchase some local art and crafts, chat with some of the local Tiwi ladies over a pot of billy tea, or fish the clear waters surrounding the islands.

Information provided by the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse