Top 7 hidden spots in Australia, as nominated by you and selected by us

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We asked you to tell us Australia’s best hidden places and you delivered, revealing all your favourite spots from a waterhole in Mount Isa to a lookout hidden in a state forest. And while we understand you probably want to keep them hidden, we thought they were just too good not to share – sorry!

 

Nundle, NSW

Nominated by Paula, Nundle is a place of big scenery and big charm at the foot of the Great Dividing Range. The town is on the southern end of the Fossickers Way, 56 kilometres north of Tamworth. Like many other towns, Nundle started life as a gold rush village, but now settles for less flashy attractions, like the historic buildings, the old mill (which is still working) and the great local food. You can’t miss a trip up to the nearby mining village of Hanging Rock, which has second-to-none views over the valley.

nundle new south wales

Nundle Woollen Mill, NSW

 

Cactus Beach, SA

Rumour has it that Cactus Beach got its name after a surfer was disappointed by the conditions – but he must have come on a bad day. Mich nominated Cactus Beach because it has some of the best breaks in the country (apparently Kelly Slater has been known to visit). Just south of Penong on the Nullarbor Plain, Cactus Beach is also somewhat notorious for shark attacks, so we wouldn’t blame you if you’d prefer to watch the action from the wildly beautiful beach.

Cactus Beach, SA

Cactus Beach, Tourism South Australia

 

Meelup Beach, WA

If you’re after calmer waters, you can’t do better than Meelup Beach near Dunsborough in Western Australia, which was nominated by Daisy. We don’t know why this beach isn’t as famous as, say, Whitehaven Beach – it has turquoise water and pristine sand too! It’s also family friendly, as the protected beach makes the conditions perfect for paddling with the kids. Go there before everyone else cottons on.

Meelup Beach, Dunsborough

Meelup Beach, Dunsborough, Neal Pritchard Photography

 

Tnorala (Gosses Bluff), NT

The West MacDonnell Ranges are full of hidden waterholes and majestic vistas, but it doesn’t get more majestic than Tnorala (Gosses Bluff). Nominated by Luke, Tnorala was formed when a 600-metre-wide crater smashed into the Earth more than 14 billion years ago, and it’s one of the most significant crater impact sites in the world. The site also has cultural significance for the West Arrernte people, who manage the site jointly with Parks and Wildlife NT.

 Tnorala (Gosse Bluff) Conservation Reserve

Tnorala (Gosse Bluff) Conservation Reserve

 

Josephine Falls, QLD

We all need to thank Yuliya for letting us in on the local secret that is Josephine Falls. Found in Wooroonooran National Park around 74 kilometres south of Cairns, these waterfalls are so picturesque they’ve featured in advertisements (okay, so maybe the locals have let a few other people in on the secret). The water tumbles over granite boulders, and there are multiple swimming holes and even a natural waterslide!

Josephine Falls

Josephine Falls by Tripadvisor user B1ackthesun

 

Little Blue Lake, TAS

Australia is full of blue lakes, found everywhere from Mount Gambier to Kosciuszko National Park. And while the Little Blue Lake between Derby and Gladstone in Tasmania might not be as well known as its siblings, it is just as spectacular, as Sarah pointed out. Little Blue Lake started out as a tin-mining hole, but when the mine shut down, the hole was filled with water. It’s all those minerals on the bottom of the lake that provide its gem-like hue. As there are so many minerals in the water, it’s seriously recommended you don’t take a dip.

Little Blue Lake by Chards5

Little Blue Lake by Tripadvisor user Chards5

 

Darling River Run, NSW

So, you’ve travelled the Great Ocean Road, tackled the Alpine Way and even made it across the Nullarbor Plain. Where to next? Why not drive the Darling River Run, as suggested by Phil? This road takes you deep into the NSW outback, travelling the 730 kilometres between Walgett in northern NSW down to Wentworth on the Victorian border. The drive isn’t just about the Darling River views – you’ll also travel through classic outback towns like Bourke, Broken Hill and Menindee. Don’t miss the detour into Mungo National Park.

Darling River

Darling River

Top 4WD-only campsites in Australia

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4x4 Australia

Drivers, start your engines; we’ve selected the best 4WD-only campsites in Australia. You’ll find these five camping areas at the end of bumpy roads in some of the most spectacular corners of the country, from the croc-patrolled beaches of the Northern Territory to the challenging mountains of Man From Snowy River land in Victoria. This is no-frills camping, and you’ll need to be completely self-sufficient – but that’s half the fun, isn’t it?

Smith Point camping area, Garig Gunak Barlu National Park, Northern Territory

This is just about as remote as you can get, and just about as beautiful. Garig Gunak Barlu National Park is at the very tip of the Cobourg Peninsula, and can only be accessed by boat or by a long and bumpy 4WD trek through Arnhem Land. You’ll need three permits: one to enter Arnhem Land, one to enter the national park and one to stay overnight. Oh, and you’ll have to be entirely self-sufficient. If that all sounds like a lot of effort, there are rewards aplenty for those intrepid enough to tackle the trip – including a jaw-dropping view of the Arafura Sea towards East Timor (don’t forget to keep an eye out for crocs as you stand there gawping).

Port Essington, Garig Gunak Barlu National Park, David Kirkland / Tourism NT

Port Essington, Garig Gunak Barlu National Park, David Kirkland / Tourism NT

Flinders Beach camping area, North Stradbroke Island, Queensland

If you like your beach views slightly more accessible, Flinders Beach camping area on North Stradbroke Island, a tropical paradise only a short commute from Brisbane, might fit the bill. The camping area can only be accessed by a dirt road, or along the beach at low tide. There are 200 campsites hidden behind the dunes in the coastal shrub, and forget about the proximity to the city – this is back-to-basics self-sufficient camping. Flinders Beach camping area will provide the stupendous beach views; you’ll have to bring the rest.

North Stradbroke Island

North Stradbroke Island, Tourism Queensland

Coongie Lake camping area, Innamincka Regional Reserve, South Australia

When you think about outback South Australia, you probably don’t think about a lake and wetland system teeming with birds and other wildlife. But that’s exactly what you’ll find at Coongie Lake, about halfway between Innamincka and Birdsville. You can set up tent right next to the impossible-seeming lake; it’s a simple camping area for the self-sufficient, and you need to leave it as you found it, so no fires or generators allowed.

Malkumba-Coongie Lakes, Wrightsair Scenic Flight

Malkumba-Coongie Lakes, Wrightsair Scenic Flight

Youdales Hut camping area, Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, New South Wales

Youdales Hut camping area is deep in the wild country of northern New South Wales, along a 4WD-only gravel track in Oxley Wild Rivers National Park. This is a land of deep gorges, dense and misty rainforests, and epic views. You can only imagine what the early settlers who built Youdales Hut must have thought when they first saw it! Not much has changed at Youdales Hut from that time, apart from the added amenities of toilets and picnic tables. Don’t miss a plunge in one of the swimming holes at nearby Kunderang Brook.

Oxley Wild Rivers

Oxley Wild Rivers

Pineapple Flat camping area, Alpine National Park, Victoria

If, after a long day of driving the challenging 4WD tracks along the mountains of Alpine National Park, you’re in search of a spacious and charming site to set up camp, look no further than Pineapple Flat camping area. Don’t let the name mislead you, there aren’t any pineapples or other surprising amenities here – you get toilets, water… and that’s it. Oh, and large grassy sites under shady trees, with easy access to some of the best 4WD tracks in the park.

Pineapple Flat

Pineapple Flat camping area, Lyndon Sparrow

Top 5 coastal walks in Australia

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Zoe Bay Coastal Walks in Australia

Zoe Bay, Hinchinbrook Island

Brush off your hiking boots and set your sights seaward, as we reveal the best coastal walks in Australia. Sure, you could just drive to a lookout, but these epic (often multi-day) hikes reveal views and beaches that only intrepid bushwalkers get to see. Don’t forget to bring your camera!

Cape Gantheaume Coastal Trek, Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Starting in the car park at D’Estrees Bay, the first section of this walk is along an old vehicle route. But don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security, as the walk soon goes off-road, with no defined path from Cape Gantheaume to Bales Bay – you have to pick your own route. But what a route! The 36-kilometre trek, which is only for experienced hikers, crosses the wildest section of the already wild Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park, giving unrivalled views over the Southern Ocean from clifftops and isolated beaches.

Thorsborne Trail, Hinchinbrook Island, Queensland

Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island

Thorsborne Trail, Hinchinbrook Island, Queensland

Crossing beaches, creeks, rainforests, rocks, waterfalls and mountains, Thorsborne Trail should have enough varying (and spectacular!) scenery to keep your eyes open and your jaw dropped. The trek will take you 32 kilometres along the rugged and beautiful east coast of Hinchinbrook Island, which is just off the coast of Cardwell in the Wet Tropics. The path can be pretty tough going; luckily you can cool off in swimming holes and on magnificent beaches – it’s just another day in paradise.

Thorsborne Trail, Hinchinbrook Island, Queensland

Thorsborne Trail, Tourism and Events Queensland

Great Ocean Walk, Victoria

While it may not be as famous as the Great Ocean Road, the Great Ocean Walk is just as picturesque, stretching along the south coast of Victoria from Apollo Bay to Port Campbell. Of course, it’s much slower going than the drive; the 91-kilometre hike takes up to eight days. You’ll encounter the classic scenery of the surf coast along the route, from pristine beaches and pounding surf to epic clifftop vistas and the towering mountain ash trees of the Otways. Oh, and did we mention the walk has a loo considered to be the most scenic in the country?

Great Ocean Walk, Victoria

The Coast Track, Royal National Park, New South Wales

Forget about the Bondi to Coogee and the Spit Bridge to Manly – the Coast Track, meandering 26 kilometres along the coastline of Australia’s oldest national park, is the best coastal walk in New South Wales (no matter what Sydneysiders will tell you). The views along this trail will stop you in your tracks. Luckily, you’ve got time to slow down; the hike can be completed in a day, but we recommend taking two and detouring to cool down at the secluded beaches and pausing to admire the panoramic views from the towering cliffs.

Thorsborne Trail, Hinchinbrook Island, Queensland

Stanwell Tops Lookout, Destination NSW

Cape to Cape Track, Leeuwin–Naturaliste National Park, Western Australia

If you just can’t get enough of coastal scenery, the 135-kilometre Cape to Cape Track in Western Australia’s beloved Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park could be for you. That is, if you also like beaches, rock formations, jarrah forests, cliffs, heathland and – when they’re in season – wildflowers. The walk follows the coast between Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse and Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, and, apart from the occasional inland diversion, you’ll be staring at ocean views for around eight days. Sounds pretty good to us!

Sugarloaf Rock, the Leeuwin - Naturalist National Park

Sugarloaf Rock, Tourism Western Australia

Top 5 national parks worth discovering

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Porongurup National Park

Porongurup National Park, Tourism Western Australia

Have you heard of Kakadu? What about the Blue Mountains? Whitsundays? Wilsons Promontory? We’re going to take a guess and say that yes, you have. And for good reason – these national parks are all truly spectacular, and have the visitor numbers to prove it. But what about the national parks that don’t regularly feature in bucket lists? We’ve selected our five favourite national parks that all too often fall under the radar (sorry to all the locals who wanted to keep them secret).

Strzelecki National Park, Tasmania

The wild Strzelecki National Park is on Flinders Island in the Bass Strait, which makes this national park not so much forgotten as hard to get to. Even though Strzelecki was only gazetted in 1967, it’s so remote it remains pretty much as it was when first explored by Europeans. The park itself looks like a cross between Wilsons Promontory and Freycinet national parks, and protects a range of granite mountains stretching down towards sandy beaches strewn with lichen-covered rocks. Oh, and keep your eyes out for wildlife; along with wombats, wallabies and pademelons, you’ll also find species endemic to the park. Hike to the top of the Strzelecki Range for seriously glorious views, or swim in the waters just off the park’s only camping area at Trousers Point (yup, its actual name).

Porongurup National Park, Western Australia

This national park, just 40 minutes from Albany, looks like a giant came and threw a few boulders around, leaving them in remarkable formations rising up from the surrounding karri and jarrah forests. While walking through the towering karri trees is glorious in itself, the true fun comes when you get up onto the granite boulders. There are numerous walking tracks, but the best one has to be around Castle Rock, where a walkway is terrifyingly suspended around the summit. The park also bursts into kaleidoscopic life in spring, when the wildflowers bloom.

Gundabooka National Park, New South Wales

The old saying that ‘back o’ Bourke’ is the start of the outback was probably referencing Gundabooka National Park, an easy 90 minutes’ drive from Bourke in the far north-west of New South Wales. This is a national park on a grand scale. And while there’s plenty of the red desert and sand dunes you’d expect from a national park out here, there are also more surprising landscapes that showcase the varied environs of the outback, such as the lush land around the Darling River, the mulga woodlands and the soaring stretch of the Gunderbooka Range. This is an ancient landscape, and it has a lot of significance for local Aboriginal people; make time for the Mulgowan (Yappa) Aboriginal Art Site walking track to see some magnificent rock art.

Newland Head Conservation Park, South Australia

With wild surf, desolate beaches and sheer cliffs, Newland Head Conservation Park is the sort of place you can imagine a pirate calling home. In fact, it’s so wild that swimming is discouraged and even fishing off the rocks is given a shake of the head. That’s alright though, because the park’s two beaches are rated pretty highly as fishing spots, and keen anglers can fish for mullet, mulloway and salmon. If you don’t fancy throwing a line in, take one of the walking tracks along the beaches or up on the cliffs. More confident hikers (who don’t experience vertigo) can tackle a section of the Heysen Trail on the Newland Head Nature Hike, which meanders along the clifftops.

Crater Lakes National Park, Queensland

Okay, so this national park is more developed than the other ones on this list – it even has gas barbecues! But not many outside of the Atherton region have heard about this national park and the two massive lakes that give the park its name. What’s remarkable about the two lakes? They formed inside ancient volcanic craters and the vegetation surrounding Lake Barrine has similarities to fossilised trees more than 300 million years old. So, basically this is Australia’s version of Jurassic Park, but with slightly more civilised activities, including bushwalking and swimming.

crater lakes national park

Lake Barrine, Crater Lakes National Park, Jean-Paul Ferrero / Auscape International

Top 5 spring campsites

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camping in australia

Hi Explorers,

If, like us, you’ve spent the winter sharpening your tent pegs, checking your marshmallow supply and looking up new camping gear online, the time has almost come. That’s because it’s practically spring, and that means one thing – camping season! We’ve been planning our hit list of spring campsites for the past three months, but if you’re a bit behind on the preparation, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with this list of five camping areas you should visit over the next few months.

 

Tidal River camping area, Wilsons Promontory National Park, Victoria

It can be hard to get a spot at this ever-popular camping area in summer – which makes it the perfect spring campground. Situated behind Norman Beach in Wilsons Promontory National Park, Tidal River camping area pretty much has it all, with views, beach access, grassy sites, excellent facilities (including a kiosk selling fish and chips), hiking trails and even resident food-stealing wombats.

Tidal River camping area

Tidal River camping area, Tourism Victoria

Garnamarr (Jim Jim Falls) camping area, Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory

Kakadu National Park is the biggest national park in Australia, and is home to big crocodiles, big waterfalls, big wetlands and some big campgrounds, including Garnamarr camping area. The closest campground to famous Jim Jim Falls, Garnamarr can fit up to 200 people and is an excellent camping area with facilities including showers and drinking water. The only catch is that Garnamarr is deep within Kakadu via gravel roads, so it can only be accessed by 4WD, and even then only in the dry season. But the payoff – proximity to some of the most spectacular natural features of the park – is certainly worth the journey.

 

Lawn Hill Gorge camping area, Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park, Queensland

You’ll need to rattle along 200 kilometres of mainly unsealed roads from the nearest highway in remote north-west Queensland to get to Lawn Hill Gorge camping area, just inside the boundary of Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park. But if you’re up for the trek, the rewards are epic! This national park is a literal oasis in the desert, a lush tropical landscape that feels like it hasn’t changed for millions of years (with the dinosaur bones to prove it). Well, unchanged apart from welcome human intervention at the campground, which has facilities like showers and toilets.

Lawn Hill Gorge camping area

Lawn Hill Gorge camping area, Lyndon Sparrow

Mystery Bay Campground, Narooma, New South Wales

The chill is shaking itself off the south coast of NSW, which means that now is the time to nab a prime spot at the perpetually popular Mystery Bay Campground near Narooma. The camping area is in the bush just behind a gorgeously isolated beach; if you’re lucky, you’ll get a front row spot with an ocean view, as sites here are first come, first served. While the water is still pretty cold at this time of year, you might find the turquoise sea just behind your campsite too hard to resist.

Mystery Bay Camp Ground

Mystery Bay Camp Ground, Paul Smedley

Dales camping area, Karijini National Park, Western Australia

Early spring is Goldilocks territory at Karijini National Park in mid-north Western Australia – it’s not too cold and not too hot. In fact, it’s just the right temperature to go swimming in Fortescue Falls, which is fortuitously found close to Dales camping area. Yup, that’s right. Even though this national park is smack bang in the middle of the dry landscape of the Pilbara, it has verdant gorges with waterfalls and swimming holes, just waiting for those willing to take the plunge. The camping itself is basic, as the only facilities are toilets, barbecues, picnic tables and all the space you could want.

Dales camping area

Dales camping area, Lyndon Sparrow