Exploring Australia’s off-the-beaten-path destinations: Discovering hidden gems across the country

If you can look past everything trying to kill you down unda’, Australia actually has a magnificent array of destinations to visit. From sparking beaches with bustling reefs to the rugged bush with spectacular sunsets. Forget about watered-down tourist stops like the Sydney Opera House or Melbourne Cricket Grounds and dive into these hidden gems across the country for a truly unforgettable experience the next time you visit Australia.

Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Just 13 km off the coast of South Australia is one of the best spots to see nature at play. This island is both beautiful and overflowing with some of the country’s most adorable and iconic creatures. Here you can see koalas, wallabies, kangaroos, and seal living together in harmony on a tiny island. You can also spend the night camping out by Remarkable Rock, which is just as the name implies, remarkable. Enjoy some delicious local food and beverages while you are at it, turning this into an all-in-one weekend destination.

Freycinet National Park, Tasmania

Tazzy, as the locals call it, has the cleanest air in the world and the island is also bursting with fascinating wildlife. It is a tiny island but it has no shortage of natural wonders. Freycinet National Park is a prime example, with its craggy peaks, white sand beaches, and crystal-clear waters. Here visitors can see wombats, wallabies, and echidnas, and visitors can explore the many hiking trails that wind through the park. You can also snorkel from the beach in between your searches for the elusive Tasmanian Devil.

Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia

The Great Barrier Reef is certainly a bucket list item for many but its lesser-known cousin on Australia’s west coast is just as (if not more) impressive. Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia has gigantic visitors like whale sharks, manta rays, and humpback whales but you will also be delighted by all the small creatures living on the thriving and healthy reefs. Visit Exmouth or Coral Bay to book a trip to the reef. With more than 250 km to explore, you won’t be disappointed.

Lord Howe Island, New South Wales

If you are up for an adventure, look no further than Lord Howe Island. It is a 2-hour flight from the east coast of Australia and this island only allows 400 visitors at any given time. Here you can snorkel on the world’s most southern coral reef and hike on some of the most scenic paths in the country as you wind through tropical forests and along coastal ridges. It is also a haven for birdwatchers with 14 species of seabirds raising their young on the island. If that isn’t already enough adventure, try your hand at fish feeding as you are surrounded by inquisitive parrot fish on Ned’s beach.

Mudgee, New South Wales

Not all hidden gems in Australia are nature-based (although, they are pretty incredible). Small-town Australia has tons of adorable settlements where you can escape the city and unwind in the presence of grape-ness.  Yes, Australia’s wine destinations are a must but look at underrated towns like Mudgee to explore this delicious side of tourism. Mudgee has several top wineries in the area but you can also visit the farmer’s market, cool down in Drip Gorge, or visit the Putta Bucca Wetlands. The town is only a few hours from Sydney but make a weekend out of it and enjoy every element of the town to the fullest.

Paluma Range National Park, Queensland

This hidden gem offers fun for the whole family. Big Crystal Creek is a fabulous water attraction in the park where you can unwind in the crystal-clear rock pools or slide down the natural waterslides. Thousands of years of water running down the rocks have made them smooth, thus creating the ultimate thrilling activity on a hot day (which Australia apparently has many of). Enjoy a picnic at the tranquil campsite and take one final dip in Paradise Waterhole before calling it a day. This park has the most southern patch of rainforest in the country and is both entertaining and wildly beautiful.

Francois Peron National Park, Western Australia

Western Australia’s Coral Coast has tons of hidden gems but it is Francois Peron National Park’s rugged and remote location that makes it extra hidden. Here, bright red sand meats crystal clear turquoise water for a stunning clash of the elements. The park is also home to many rare species and you can see dugongs and manta rays swimming in the clear water. You will take a 4WD vehicle to access the spectacular scenes the park has to offer and you can go fishing, kayaking, and snorkelling. Bushwalking is also immensely popular and you can spot some of the region’s endangered birds and reptiles in their natural habitat with a stunning ocean backdrop.

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