Busselton Jetty, WA © Tourism Western Australia and @ospreycreative
Australia’s most unique destinations
The Great Ocean Road, Sydney Opera House and The Great Barrier Reef aren’t the only destinations in Australia that need to be on your bucket list.
By Bonnie Jackson
Australia is well-known for our unique wildlife. But did you know that our landscapes, history and natural attractions are just as special? Where else on the planet can you connect with the world’s oldest living culture? 4WD on the beaches of the biggest sand island in the world? Or glide over the largest living thing on Earth?
It's time to shake up that bucket list. So pack your wide-brimmed hat and your sense of adventure and add these unique destinations to your next Australian holiday.
K'gari (Fraser Island)
The world’s largest sand island, K’gari (Fraser Island) is prime for adventure-seekers of all ages. It’s equal parts wild and luxe, offering experiences and accommodation that will bring you closer to nature. You can run wild on the 4WD driving tracks, hike the famous Fraser Island Great Walk and spot Australian wildlife in their natural habitat (K’gari is known for its wild dingo population and migrating whales). Or take things slow with a float down Eli Creek, a relaxing swim in a natural spa or on a scenic helicopter ride.
Great for: Whale watching and 4WD adventures.
Take a deep breath in, and slowly exhale. That feeling of calm is what you’ll find in the Mornington Peninsula. Located only an hour south of Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula is home to luxurious spas, world-class wineries, luxurious accommodation and spectacular landscapes. Here, the art of self-indulgence is celebrated.
This unique destination will have you soaking up the sunshine next to a seal, diving with the dolphins and gliding from the natural thermal pools into a world-renowned restaurant in a matter of moments. All within easy reach of the city. There’s really no place quite like it.
Great for: World class wineries and food, hot springs and snorkelling.
Kakadu National Park
Located just beyond your wildest dreams (a three-hour drive from Darwin) you will discover one of the most unique destinations in the world; Kakadu National Park. Here you won’t just hike rugged escarpments or fly over waterfalls, you will also have the rare opportunity to learn about the world’s oldest living culture directly from Traditional Owners of the land, the Bininj/Mungguy people. Kakadu is an incredible experience all year round. In the wet season (November to March), it is a tropical wonderland teeming with wildlife, and in the dryer seasons (April to October) you will experience clear skies perfect for hiking and Darwin’s busy calendar of outdoor events.
Great for: Learning about Aborigional culture and waterhole hopping.
Broome and Gantheaume Point
Broome is home to the world’s most sought-after pearls, cultivated right in the Kimberley. Learning how they are made (and buying a stunning keepsake) is an incredibly unique experience. The nearby Gantheaume Point is an ideal holiday spot if you are looking for a harmonious mix of exploration and relaxation in one destination. Stroll along the white sand beaches, perch on top of the red rock cliff overlooking the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean and discover the preserved 130-million-year-old dinosaur footprints. Leading to Gantheaume Point, you will take in the breathtaking 22-kilometre (13-mile) Cable Beach, which is largely regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Australia. No trip to Broome is complete without the iconic experience of riding a camel along Cable Beach, so be sure to add this to your list!
Great for: Walking along the untouched landscape and exploring the ancient history of Australia.
Within the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park you will discover the awe-inspiring Wilpena Pound. A natural amphitheatre carved into an area that is eight times the size of Uluru, this landscape is more than 600 million years old, and it is waiting patiently for you to meet its rugged weathered peaks and rocky gorges. The scenic roads, prolific wildlife and challenging walking trails will have you on the most remarkable adventure of your life. Do it in style with a stay at one of the luxurious glamping accommodations, on a guided multi-day hike or with a scenic flight over the Pound. You can’t leave this magical place without understanding its history as told through the eyes of a local Aboriginal guide, so be sure to book a tour to hear first-hand how two serpents are responsible for forming this natural wonder.
Great for: Hiking adventures and stargazing nights.
Not one day is the same in this picture-perfect pocket of Western Australia. Well-known as one of Australia’s most renowned wine regions, Margaret River is also an incredible destination for epic surfing, outdoor adventures, tranquil beaches, decadent food and indulgent spa retreats. Perch yourself upon the verdant green hills and sip the locally made wine as you absorb the unfathomable landscape that makes up the region. Or head closer to the shore for kayaking, abseiling, and the epic Cape to Cape Walk.
Great for: World-renowned food and wine, wellness retreats and natural surroundings.
Rarely spotted on a world map, Norfolk Island is a hidden gem with a lot to offer. Some of its incredible features include towering pine trees, quiet beaches just steps from a fringing coral reef, a thriving paddock-to-plate food scene and a fascinating history that dates all the way back to the 13th century. You’ll feel at home right away on this small island, where locals wave to passing cars and cows have right of way on the streets. From birdwatching to stargazing, Norfolk Island delights visitors from sunrise to after dark.
Great for: History buffs and nature-lovers looking for a quiet escape.
Discover epic nature, intriguing history and beautiful regional dining as you travel through Tasmania's north. Launceston is the perfect base for exploring the surrounding wine region, colourful lavender fields and the bright orange rocks of the Bay of Fires. In town, spot wallabies and birdlife as you wander the trails of Cataract Gorge before discovering the range of incredible dining options at hand. Spend a day in the Tamar Valley stopping in at wineries, strawberry farms and orchards before treating yourself to a lavender ice-cream at Bridestowe Lavender Estate.
If adventure is what you’re looking for, explore the 50-kilometre (31-mile) sweep of bush-fringed shore that makes up the Bay of Fires. Take one of the walking trails that skirt the water’s edge to jump, climb and explore this colourful natural playground. You may even come across a wallaby, echidna, wombat, Tasmanian devil or a wedge-tailed eagle (they’re not hard to find).
Great for: Exploring the natural landscapes, mountain biking and sipping wine at world-renowned vineyards.
Slow down the pace and unwind in one of Australia’s most spectacular destinations. The Whitsundays offers adventure and luxury on the Great Barrier Reef, so you can island hop in the footsteps of some of the world’s biggest celebrities, or head out to explore the underwater wonders of the Earth’s largest living thing. The pure white sands and swirling blue waters of Whitehaven Beach are mesmerising no matter how many times you’ve seen them, but don’t forget to try something new during your visit. Sail around the 74 islands, snorkel or scuba dive the outer reef or even spend the night above the coral.
Great for: Walking barefoot along one of the world’s most beautiful beaches and sailing the turquoise waters of the Great Barrier Reef.