As with any nation, Australia has a number of iconic representational sites. Even those who have never traveled to the “Land Down Under” could mention Ayer’s Rock, the Great Barrier Reef, and Sydney Harbor when asked to describe the country. While all three places are worth their prominence on the tourist trail, there is so much more to Australia than just the aforementioned sites. With that in mind, here are Australia’s 5 Most Beautiful Hidden Gems to keep in mind on your next visit.
Ningaloo Marine Park (Western Australia)
Despite being easier to access from shore than the Great Barrier Reef, the Ningaloo Reef has yet to achieve the same popularity. However, it has also been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is home to numerous marine species. Manta rays, dugongs, and humpback whales can be found here along with various types of coral. Those who wish to go snorkeling should head out to the Oyster Stacks area.
Between the months of March and June, the Ningaloo Reef is an excellent place to view the local whale sharks. Although several different companies offer guided tours of the environs, the reef can be reached on foot from the shore in some places.
Phillip Island (Victoria)
Only two hours away from Melbourne, this island is home to a flock of minuscule penguins that are its main attraction. Measuring about 23 centimeters (13 inches) in height and weighing around 1.5 kilograms (3.3 pounds), it is no surprise that these birds are referred to as “fairy penguins”. On a daily basis, these diminutive creatures leave the ocean en masse in order to return to their sand burrows for the night. Island visitors are welcome to witness the penguin parade from a specially constructed viewing platform that was created for this purpose. Those coming to watch the show are advised to bring a sweater because the weather can get chilly and windy at times.
Although the penguins are unquestionably the island’s biggest star, the largest colony of fur seals in Australia can also be found here, as well as many other indigenous animals. Even those who aren’t animal lovers may decide to make a stop, as surfing and motorcar racing are both popular activities on Phillip Island.
Kosciuszko National Park (New South Wales)
This park is reasonably well-known with Australia’s ski crowd, but there are plenty of other activities that visitors can participate in during the off-season. Rock climbing, ice climbing, swimming, canoeing, fishing, and boating are popular pastimes here.
Among the numerous hiking trails are the photographic Clarke Gorge Trail and the rather steep Dead Horse Gap Trail. Those who want to check out the views from the top of the latter can use the nearby Crackenback chair lift if they are unable to make the trek up on their own. There are also caves and thermal pools for visitors to enjoy. Guests are advised to wear warm clothing when visiting the park as weather conditions can be chilly, especially at higher latitudes.
The Great Ocean Road (Victoria)
This 243 kilometer (150 mile) highway runs from Allansford to Torquay and is also known by the less charming name of the B100. It is popular with both tourists and surfers alike. While The Twelve Apostles near Fort Campbell National Park is a favorite stop for those traveling through the area, there are numerous points of interests and many other rock formations to be found along the road. The area is also quite spectacular at sunset. Cape Bridgewater and Port Fairy along the route are also good places to stop and view the excellent scenery.
Margaret River Region (Western Australia)
Dotted with towns such as Yallingup and Augusta as well as the namesake town of Margaret River, this scenic region is best-known for its boutique vintages and family owned wineries. There are also a number of caves and walking trails in the area. Among the local beaches, Hamelin Bay is noteworthy for its friendly stingray population. Travelers might also like to pay a visit to the photogenic Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse and go on one of the guided tours there. Another excellent stop for families with children that are visiting the area is the Yallingup Maze or the Amaze’n Margaret River maze.
The best time to visit is this region between the months of October and November when the wildflowers are in bloom, though the vintages naturally are quite good at any time of the year.
Is there anywhere you think we should add to Australia’s 5 Most Beautiful Hidden Gems?