From the Sydney Opera House and Darling Harbor to the Great Barrier Reef and the Gold Coast, a tourist will never be bored while discovering the man-made and natural wonders Australia.
These magnificent attractions are famous for a reason, and definitely worth experiencing.
However, don’t be surprised if you’re herded like cattle off the crowded bus to spend a few minutes fighting with your fellow tourists to snap a blurry photo.
There is more to Australia beyond the busy tourist attractions, shopping malls and theme parks. Step off the beaten track, walk away from the generic paid tours and discover sites that the locals keep closely guarded.
Here is a brief sampling of the lesser-known tourist attractions every novice or seasoned Australian traveler should experience.
Staircase to the Moon
If you’re traveling to Australia between March and October, make it a point to witness one of the continent’s most breathtaking natural wonders, the Staircase to the Moon. Near the beach town of Broome in Australia’s northwest coast, the Staircase to the Moon appears when the full moon reflects off mudflats during extremely-low tides. The resulting illusion creates the appearance of a staircase rising toward the bright, blue moon. Several vendors and performers also host night markets in Broome celebrating this amazing event.
Tasmania’s Bay of Fires
Tasmania is Australia’s lone island state and located approximately 150 miles of the mainland’s southeast coast. Take the short boat ride to Tasmania, grab your swimsuit, towel and fishing pole and head straight to the Bay of Fires. With miles of white sandy beaches, red rocks, crystal blue water and lagoons filled with fish, the Bay of Fires offers a variety of distractions to please the most discerning tourist. If you’re feeling adventurous, and willing to shell out anywhere from $700-$2000 per person, participate in the Bay of Fires walk. A guide takes you down the entire length of the Bay of Fires, which takes anywhere from 3 to 4 days to complete.
Brunette Downs Races
If you’re in the market for a family-friendly event the kids will actually enjoy, check out the Brunette Downs Races. Located on an enormous cattle farm in Australia’s Northern Territory, the Brunette Downs Races is a century-old event that is held every June 18-21. The main event is a horse race, which is restricted to local horses and riders. Come for the race, but stay for the camaraderie, camping, vendors, rodeo and cattle handling events.
Arnhem Land Region
Also located in Australia’s Northern Territory, the Arnhem Land Region is completely owned by the continent’s indigenous inhabitants, the Aboriginals. This unspoiled land is an outdoorsman’s dream, and features some of the world’s best fishing. Rocks featuring the Aboriginal’s famous “X-Ray” paintings, which are over 2,000 years old and feature images of humans and animals with their bones and internal organs clearly visible, are found in the western section of Arnhem Land. Be aware that visiting or camping inside the Arnhem Land Region requires a special permit from the Northern Land Council. File the permit at least 10 days before visiting Australia to ensure the forms are properly processed.
Situated east-southeast of Western Australia’s capital, Perth, you’ll find the coastal town of Esperance. If venturing from Perth, the trip to Esperance will take at least nine hours to complete, although the arduous journey is well worth the destination. Once you arrive, immerse yourself in the local culture before hitting the beach, browsing the local shops and ending your day with a scuba diving lesson. Travel 20 minutes away from the town’s center and you’ll discover the Cape le Grande National Park, which is only one of five national parks near Esperance. Hike, bike or ride a four-wheeler through the national park, before settling into a fishing spot and throwing your line in the water.
The Bungles Bungles
The final destination is a strange natural phenomenon, and accessible by an arduous hike or bumpy ride on the back of a four-wheeler or SUV. The Bungles Bungles National Park, otherwise known as Purnululu National Park to the Aboriginals, is the site of odd rock towers featuring natural black and orange alternating stripes. As the sun goes down, the large formations cast a supernatural glow on the gorge below. Another option to witness this strange sight is by air, which is possible almost any time of the year. The Bungles Bungles National Park is located in the Kimberly Region of Western Australia.
Whichever strange, dramatic or fantastical hidden treasure you choose to visit, remember to provide yourself with plenty of time to take in the local culture, and contribute to the local economy. This list is only a sampling of the many off-the-beaten-track wonders Australia has to offer. Do your homework to decide which destination is right for your family, budget and sense of adventure.
Travel tip shared by Erica Gustafson