We love this sunburnt country, this land of sweeping plains, of ragged mountain ranges, of droughts and flooding rains. We’re lucky to call Australia home, not least for the endless wilderness and varied landscapes across these lands. Yet there is so much of the country many of us are yet to explore. It’s time to bolster your bucket list, with 10 of Australia’s best kept secret natural wonderlands.
1. Montague Island, New South Wales
Located 9 kilometres off the coast of Narooma on the New South Wales South Coast, Montague Island is a largely flat, continental island, home to two main attractions: Little Penguins and Fur Seals. You can stay on the island, in the old lighthouse keepers’ cottages and it is also an excellent vantage point to see the annual humpback whale migration.
2. Carnarvon Gorge, Queensland
This remote and little known national park is one of Queensland’s best kept secrets. Carved out over millions of years, the gorge has tall sandstone cliffs filled with lush flora leading down to the flowing creek at its base. The region is home to an eclectic mix of rainforest palms, open grasslands and a range of bird and animal species.
3. Gunlom Falls, Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory
How does an infinity pool in nature sound? At Gunlom in the Kakadu National Park, a climb to the top of this waterfall and billabong system will see you arrive at a natural infinity pool overlooking the southern region of the national park. Seriously worth the hike.
4. Point Hicks, Victoria
On a rocky outcrop in the Croajingolong National Park, Point Hicks lighthouse has the air of being far from anywhere, mostly because, it is. A six hour drive from Melbourne, visitors can stay in the lighthouse keepers cottages, or camp in the national park. For as far as the eye can see there is nothing but rocky, windswept coastline, bushland and ocean. Explore massive sand dunes, bush walk, canoe, fish or surf along the pristine coastline.
5. Secret Falls, Hobart, Tasmania
While this one isn’t a secret to the locals, most visitors to Hobart wouldn’t have a clue these fern- and rainforest- engulfed waterfalls exist so close to the city. A the base of Mount Wellington, just 15-miniutes walk from the road, Secret Falls drop about three metres down a narrow crevice. If you’re looking for a dose of tranquillity in nature but don’t have a lot of time, these falls are the perfect antidote right by the city.
6. El Questro Wilderness Park, Kimberley, Western Australia
In the heart of the wild, untouched Kimberley region, El Questro, located on El Questro cattle station, puts you right in the heart of the landscape. With some 700,000 acres of land, most of which is yet to be explored, El Cuestro is a haven of swimming holes, epic mountain ranges and incredible vistas, certainly a once in a lifetime opportunity to see one of the world’s true final frontiers.
7. Mungo National Park, New South Wales
While everyone else flocks to Uluru and The Olgas, escape the crowds to Mungo National Park. You’ll be treated to jaw-dropping desert landscapes and camp grounds that you’ll likely have all to yourself. The main reason to venture off the beaten track here is the Walls of China, imposing rock formations towering over the surrounding landscape. Due to rapidly changing weather conditions, the park can be closed at certain times of the year due to flooding or fire threat, so check before you set off.
8. Little Beach, Albany, Western Australia
Located within the Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve, this beach boasts pristine turquoise waters, crisp white sand and rocky hills lining the bay. The Two Peoples Bay Heritage Trail is worth the walk for stunning views from the headland over the beach and waters to the north. Get to Little Beach by car, 35 kilometres east of Albany. Take a picnic and Australia day by the beach, but without the city crowds.
9. Great Wall of China, Flinders Ranges, South Australia
Not to be confused with the Walls of China in Mungo National Park mentioned above, the Great Wall of China is an impressive rocky ridgeline in the South Australian landscape. Actually just outside of the Flinders Ranges National Park, and missed by most of the park’s tourists, the Great Wall is a killer location to view the surrounding ranges, and makes for an excellent sunset spot, the red earth illuminating in the golden hour.
10. Cape Pillar, Tasmania
On the far south-eastern corner of Tasmania’s coastline, Cape Pillar is where you will find the tallest cliffs in the southern hemisphere, rising 300 metres from the sea below. The rocky cape is reachable only on foot, and forms part of the Three Capes Track. From the top of the cape, the views north to other rousing capes are breathtaking, so don’t forget your camera.