Five spectacular Australian landscapes that fly under the radar
Australia is a land of well-worn paths and world-famous wonders — but there are plenty of spectacular sites you won’t find on most travel blogs. Here are five of the best, from the dreamy beauty of WA’s Pilbara to the filmic expanses of Victoria’s Wimmera.
Think you know Australia? There are plenty of underrated and undiscovered gems that most people don't know about. They are also easier to get to than you might think. The real mystery is how they’ve managed to fly under the traveller’s radar for so long.
Here are five to add to your must-see list.
The weathered ridges, gorgeous gorges and sublime swimming spots of the Kimberley in WA’s remote north-west get all the limelight, but the Pilbara, just to the south, is one of Australia’s most underrated landscapes. It’s big, bold and beautiful, and every bit as majestic and awe-inspiring as its more well-known neighbour. Spend a week exploring the gorges and waterholes of Karijini, be blown away by the world’s largest concentration of ancient rock art on the Burrup Peninsula and chill out in a real-life oasis in Millstream Chichester National Park.
East MacDonnell Ranges, NT
The smudged purple peaks of the West MacDonnell Ranges (the West Macs) that curve west of Alice Springs towards Kings Canyon are one of the Red Centre’s most celebrated landscapes — popular with campers, hikers, tour buses and day-trippers who flock there during the cooler winter months. But the gorges, rock art and waterholes of the East Macs, on the other side of Alice Springs, are just as spectacular, minus the crowds and with the added bonus that there’s a sealed road to get there.
Eyre Peninsula, SA
South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula — the triangle of land between the Great Australian Bight and Adelaide — is the outback gone coastal. It’s the place to go when you want to camp beside the sea and walk along deserted beaches. It’s also the place to go if you want to binge on the world’s best oysters (Coffin Bay, Streaky Bay, Smoky Bay, Ceduna, Cowell), tuna (Port Lincoln) and King George whiting (just about everywhere). Tackle the 4WD tracks that run along the beaches, walk the clifftop trails, swim with giant cuttlefish, sea dragons and sea lions, watch southern right whales at play — and go shark-cage diving if you dare.
New England, NSW
When the beaches of the east coast are packed with holiday-makers, the ethereal rainforests of the New England plateau near Armidale and Glen Innes are a cool escape. This swathe of World Heritage wilderness is a beguiling mix of cool temperate rainforest and gentle peaks. Think ferny forests festooned with ribbons of moss and lichen, crystal clear rivers, deep canyons, the state’s highest waterfalls and meadows carpeted in everlasting daisies. Explore them on foot on one of the walking trails, or curl up beside a fire with a good book and a bottle of local wine and watch the mist roll in.
The Wimmera, Vic
The film version of Jane Harper’s bestselling book The Dry (starring Eric Bana) was filmed here, so the Wimmera is about to hit the spotlight. And the region will challenge everything you thought you knew about Victoria. Less than a day’s drive from Melbourne is an outback landscape of desert dunes, saltbush, mulga and pink salt lakes. It’s not as parched as it sounds — there are also some fabulous river beaches, like those in Little Desert National Park near Dimboola, where you can beat the heat. The region is also home to the Silo Art Trail and the stargazing here is sensational.
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