Today’s blog comes from STA Travel’s James Greenslade, who has left his Oz homeland for a few months to explore the UK. He can currently be found pretending to be a super healthy Aussie in London while taking the tube everywhere because “no one walks anywhere in Australia”.
You know Australia for its big laid-back cities, awesome beaches and the big red rock in the middle. If you head off the beaten track however, you’ll uncover some of our lesser-known, but beautiful, interesting and isolated spots.
Australians are fond of their dense, deserted and vast spaces, and to find them, you’ve got to venture out from the cities. Read on for 16 of Australia’s best unheralded destinations along the east coast from south to north.
16 of the best destinations off the beaten track Down Under
Erskine Falls are peacefully located in Lorne, on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road. View the 30m waterfall from the top looking down, or take to the stairs and fir the more adventurous route to the very bottom.
Just a short drive away from the Erskine Falls, you’ll come across Aireys Inlet. The main attraction here is the Split Point Lighthouse, known as the home of the Twist family on the much loved Australian television show, Round the Twist!
**Warning – don’t play the below unless you want it back in your head for another 15 years!**
McClelland Gallery & Sculpture Park
One of Victoria’s quirkier spots, this outdoor park is a space for some of the most unusual contemporary sculptures you’ll ever see. Spend an afternoon trying to uncover the deepest of deep meanings behind them…or just have a picnic. Whatever.
Courtesy of Melanie Lazarow on flickr
Across the Port Phillip, Portsea is a playground for Australia’s rich and famous. With two major yearly events (the Portsea Pier to Pub swim and the Portsea Polo) it’s a place where Australia’s trend-setters often descend on. A hotspot in summer, make your way to the Portsea Hotel, quite possibly Australia’s most scenic pub.
Established 177 years ago thanks to the discovery of gold nearby, Ballarat has sustained its early boom and is now a modern-day thriving city. Sovereign Hill is an outdoor museum built to depict Ballarat’s early days following the discovery of gold. Run not-for-profit, you’ll find many of Ballarat’s locals dressed in costume from the 1850s!
The Grampians National Park
Head further west from Ballarat and you’ll come to The Grampians National Park. With scenic views aplenty, the park around the size of London with almost no people. Just imagine the peace and quiet….
Courtesy of Alpha on flickr
Mt Buller (simply “Buller” to the locals) is Australia’s premier ski resort. Yes we have skiing in Aus – how do you think we maintain these muscle-bound bodies though winter? Its 1805m summit means snowfall is usually excellent throughout the entire season.
The Barmah National Park
Home to many of Australia’s famous River Red Gum trees, it’s your quintessential Australian park. Camp under the lights of the sky and spend your time bird watching or simply sitting with your friends enjoying the pristine Australian natural environment.
Lord Howe Island
Venturing off-course a little bit, Lord Howe Island is quietly perched 600km east of mainland Australia, a two hour flight from either Sydney or Brisbane. With a population of just 360 people, it’s as peaceful as it gets. You’ll find many plants and animals here that you won’t find anywhere else in the world, and some incredible views!
The Lamington National Park
Sharing its name with the famous Australian delicacy, Lamington National Park isn’t all that far from the bright lights of the Gold Coast. The many rainforests, waterfalls, walking tracks and awesome bird life in particular make the park an essential visit. David Attenborough even visited once. If that isn’t the ultimate endorsement, we don’t know what is.
A quick ferry ride away from Brisbane lies the idyllic Moreton Island. Toboggan the Australian way (on sand), hang out with the many dolphins that frequent the waters or snorkel around the 15 wrecks deliberately sunk just off the island.
Probably the whitest sand anywhere in the world, Lake McKenzie on Fraser Island feels like a place straight out of a dream. Pure in every sense, the lake is above the water table and consists of only pure rainwater; i.e. no crocs. Or anything alive really.
Home to the much-loved Australian drink, Bundaberg Rum, the city itself isn’t bad either. If you really like rocks head to the South Kolan Mystery Craters and try your best to work out how and why they came about. As the name suggests, no one else figured it yet.
Cania Gorge National Park
Host to native Australian fauna including wallaby and platypus, the park is the perfect place to retreat to. Be sure to check out the Aboriginal rock art (dating back 19,000 years) and Fern Tree Pool.
LADY MUSGRAVE ISLAND
Seen from above, you would probably think the island was a default desktop wallpaper from Windows XP. A dream come true for snorkellers and scuba divers, swim with the tropical fish in the protected lagoon, snorkel while looking out at the coral and gaze into the sky while lying on the beach. Probably the most underrated day trip in all of Australia.
This one is a bit of a cheat…it’s the most photographed beach in Australia. But you’ll be surprised by how quiet it usually is! In any other country a destination like this would be flooded with tourists but, because Australia has over 10,000 beaches to spread them out, you’ll be able to enjoy some peace and quiet.