8 Best Hidden Gems In Australia That Your Family Will Love
Article by Kristy Alexander
Most guidebooks and travel sites about Australia have very similar “must see” lists when talking about things to do in the country. The Great Barrier Reef, Uluru and the Sydney Opera House are all wonderful destinations in Australia, and definitely worth a visit.
But what if you have already “been there and done that” when it comes to Australia’s most common sights and attractions? Or, what if you want to avoid the crowd at the most popular tourist destinations and find those out-of-the-way hidden treasures that will give your family an experience that most visitors don’t get to have? In those cases, you need to step off the road most travelled and think about visiting these 8 hidden Australian gems:
1) Atherton Tablelands and Kuranda, Queensland
West of Cairns is a beautiful area at the foot of the tallest mountain in Queensland, Mt. Bartle Frere. The walking trails through the rainforest around the base are excellent and likely to be much less crowded than the Daintree Rainforest. From there, it is not far to the Atherton Tablelands, which provide a completely different bushwalking opportunity as well as caves to tour, horseback riding and white-water rafting. One of the best things about the Tablelands is getting there. The nearby town of Kuranda provides the best access to the area, and there are two truly unique ways to get to the town. For an inexpensive ride with spectacular views, choose to ride the old-fashioned Kuranda Scenic Railway from Cairns. If you are feeling more adventurous, or for a change of pace on the return trip, take the tree-top sky rail back.
The smallest state in Australia is about much more than the famed Tasmanian Devil. The island is often overlooked by tourists visiting mainland Australia so you are likely to encounter fewer crowds but the same beautiful landscapes and wildlife. While the weather in Tasmania can be less consistent than in other parts of Australia, the spectacular scenery more than makes up for it.
Hike Cradle Mountain to see rain forests, lakes and waterfalls, and visit the lesser known Bay of Fires for beautiful coastlines and blindingly white beaches. Tasmania has diverse wildlife, and the Bonorong Wildlife Park lets visitors get up close and personal with all sorts of animals.
3) Esperance, Western Australia
If you really want to get away from it all, consider flying into Perth and then driving north about 9 hours to some of the most stunning white sand beaches and turquoise water you will find anywhere. Esperance is not easy to get to, but that is part of its charm. There is a 28 mile ocean drive that loops the area and Cape le Grand National Park has wonderful walking trails. Not far into the ocean is the Recherch Archipelago, 100 islands that can be visited by boat. For a truly unforgettable experience, spend the night on the island known as “Woody,” which is also a wildlife sanctuary.
4) Hyams Beach, NSW
Located about three hours from Sydney, this beach in Jervis Bay offers beautiful beaches, sea kayaking, snorkeling and rock pools to explore. The beach is located inside Booderee National Park and has good walking trails and views. You can even see whales and dolphins at certain times of the year. Nearby towns have cafes, shops and other amenities, without being too “touristy.”
5) Kings Canyon, Northern Territory
When it comes to exploring the Outback, most people focus on Ayers Rock and the nearby town of Alice Springs. If you want an Outback experience that is a little more “off the beaten track,” head to Watarrka National Park and Kings Canyon.
While Kings Canyon is a well-known tourist destination, its size and variety of activities means that it is easy to get away from other visitors and find your own little corner of paradise. The rock walls of the canyon are great for climbing and there are no restrictions on swimming in any of the many ponds, lagoons and watering holes in the area. The 4 mile long “rim walk” around the canyon is spectacular and not to be missed. You’ll see waterfalls, gorges and many native plants and animals.
6) Arnham Land, Northern Territory
If you really want to immerse yourself in Aboriginal culture and experience a way of life that most visitors to Australia yet alone Australians do not get to see, plan a trip to the Arnham Land island communities. You will need to get a permit to camp around the communities of South Goulburn or Elcho Island (there are no accommodations), but once you arrive, you will be treated to warm and open hospitality of the native people. The views from each island are quite spectacular and Elcho Island has a thriving art gallery that exports Aboriginal art all over the world.
7) Montague Island, NSW
South of Sydney on the way to Melbourne is a small island within the Batemans Marine Park that is also a wildlife refuge. In addition to beautiful coastal scenery, a historical lighthouse (with overnight accommodations) and diverse marine wildlife, the island also offers a two day “eco tour” for guests as young as 7 that allows overnight visitors to participate in the conservation efforts of the islands Little Penguin colony.
8) Lady Musgrave Island, Queensland
While you can’t exactly call this beautiful island in the Great Barrier Reef “hidden”, it is uninhabited and undeveloped, so visitors will be able to experience the wonders of the reef and island in their natural state. The coral lagoon offers some of the best snorkelling in the Reef and a select number of tour operators offer glass bottom boat rides, inland hikes, exploration of turtle nesting sites, searches for manta rays as well as swimming and scuba diving for all ages. Camping is also permitted on the island (with a permit), giving visitors an overnight experience far more unique and secluded than you can get at one of the island resorts elsewhere in the Reef.
All of Australia’s states boast other hidden gems that are sure to delight and amaze visitors who seek them out. Ask the locals for their favorite spots and don’t be afraid to drive a little farther to find wonderful destinations that can’t be found in every guidebook.
About Author:Kristy Alexander loves exploring Australia’s best kept secrets, when she’s not on the road she is a freelance travel writer for HotelClub.com where you can save money on everything from boutique hotels in Perth to luxury accommodation in Sydney.