Before you start reading this article, I recommend reading the ‘20 places you must visit in Australia in 2020‘, where I listed iconic places everyone should at least visit once in their life. But, Australia is a very large country with 7 different states to explore. So, behind the most famous places, Australia has some secret ones, what we used to call “off the beaten track”. Honestly, who wouldn’t like to wake up surrounded by dolphins, swim in crystal water and walk on a desert beach? Let’s take you to some places where most of the people think there is nothing to see. Anyway, they will be missing some spectacular landscapes and experiences for an epic road trip… but you won’t.
1. Charles Knife Canyon, Western Australia
First of all, you should start your “off the beaten track bucket list” by adding one of the most spectacular Canyons of Australia. In my experience, if you do a road trip to Ningaloo Reef, you really should visit the Charles Knife Canyon as the view is absolutely spectacular. Along with, I met only one person in this park, it is very peaceful, the track is easy and the end of the track will make you speechless. Yet, you should count a 2 to 3hours return walk and take plenty of water as it could be very hot there.
2. Elephant Rocks, Western Australia
What?? Do they have elephants in Australia? Not really! In the case of you are travelling Western Australia, planning a road trip to Perth or even to Albany, you may see some…. with a bit of imagination. For this reason, don’t skip the sheltered beach of Elephant Rocks. From different angles, you will see a series of exposed rocks that create a herd of elephants. This place is located in Denmark, just a few meters away from the famous Greens pool.
3. Litchfield National Park, Northern Territory
On a hot day, take your car and head south from Darwin. Then, sixty kilometers later you will be arriving in Northern Territory best-kept secret: Litchfield National Park. Jump in your speedo and your bikini as the park is filled with waterfalls and waterholes for a very fun day: Wangi falls, Florence falls (on the picture below), Buley Rockhole, …
4. Mataranka Bitter Springs, Northern Territory
Personally, I would say that Mataranka Bitter Spring are absolute diamonds of the Northern Territory. Actually, if no one mentions it, you wouldn’t think a minute this place could even exist in the middle of a very dry area. It does! And it is a must to visit if you are travelling in this state. It is like an oasis: the green nature is absolutely beautiful, the water is fresh and warm, and with the crystal blue water, your pictures will be very clean. For people who even struggle by opening their eyes in the water, I can assure you that it won’t be a problem at all. I have blue and very sensitive eyes, and the Mataranka Bitter Spring is the only place on earth I could swim with my eyes opened.
5. Lake MacDonnell, South Australia
Should I really say something about this place? Or should I let you look at the picture below and put Lake MacDonnell right now on your bucket list for an epic road trip? I think the picture talks for itself.
6. Bay of Fires, Tasmania
If you think that Tasmania should be only a little extra to add to your list for a road trip, I guarantee that you will miss one of the most beautiful places in Australia. And one of the spots you shouldn’t miss on the island is the Bay of Fires. Here is a quick history learning: the Bay of Fires refers to the Aboriginal fires spotted by Captain Tobias Furneaux in 1773 when he first sailed on the beach. However, if you look at the beach you can also easily say that it comes from the orange colour of the rocks. It is perfect for snorkelling, surfing, swimming or just chilling on a sunny day. If you plan to camp in the area, there are some campsite available in the park but, make sure to book in advance during the high season.
7. Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Queensland
If you wish to learn more about the aboriginal history of the region, Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre is the Gold Coast’s only dedicated Aboriginal cultural center and is fully owned and operated by the local community. You will embark on a journey of Aboriginal culture with a walk along a beachside rainforest, learning about hunting, bush tucker, the history of the land and ecological practices from indigenous ancestors. Tours start from 30$ and I really recommend it as you will get a lot of knowledge.
8. Shell Beach, Western Australia
This beach is made up of millions of tiny shells and is stretching for over 70 kilometers. Honestly, there is nothing like Shell Beach anywhere else on earth where the sand is replaced by shells and only shells.
9. Horizontal Falls, Western Australia
David Attenborough described the horizontal falls as “Australia’s most unusual natural wonder“. To get the most of the experience, you must take a tour with a boat in the Kimberley Region or a helicopter flight Tour.
10. Wilson Promontory, Victoria
Wilson Promontory is only two and a half hours from Melbourne and it definitely worths the trip. There are plenty of things to do in this Victoria’s oldest National Park:
- a trek on Mount Oberon for spectacular views on Wilson Promontory National Park
- Take the 19km walk (return) to the secluded beach of Sealers Cove
- Visit Darby Beach: the sand dunes are great fun to climb, catch the views and then run or slide down.
- Go to Cotters Beach, perfect for wildlife watching
- Don’t miss out the greatest beach of the National Park: Norman Beach
- wildlife spotting as wombats, wallabies, and echidnas
11. Gunlom Waterfall, Northern Territory
Do you plan a road trip to Kakadu National Park? In my experience, here is one of the falls you shouldn’t miss at all. From the base of the falls to the top where you can swim in beautiful crystal clear pools with a perfect scenery view for sunset. Indeed, the AustralianTraveller webzine recently ranked the Gunlom Top Pools within the ‘Top 100 best views of Australia’. That’s all you need to know to convince yourself to visit this place.
12. Edith Falls, Northern Territory
Welcome to Nitmiluk National Park! If you like mixing a good walk on steep rocks with a nice swim in freshwater, Edith falls is your place. Here is a PDF map to download if you want to have full information about walks and falls provided by the visitor center.
13. Broome: Staircase to the moon, Western Australia
The city of Broome is probably one of my favourite places in Western Australia for the staircase to the moon. This natural phenomenon is caused by the rising of a full moon reflecting off the sea. It occurs at Rockey Bay at low tide 2 or 3 days a month between March and November. The Broome’s visitor center always provides the time and date of this natural event on their website.
Where is the best place to watch the phenomenon? Actually, I only have one answer to this question: Town beach. Also, when the staircase to the moon occurs, a “Moon Market” is set at Town Beach where you can eat local food and buy some artisanal gifts. The atmosphere is super chilled with some local bands.
14. The Grampians, Victoria
Most of the people think about Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road while traveling the state of Victoria. But, they miss a beauty of mother nature: the Grampians, only located 3 hours away from Melbourne. There are different walks to do as the Grampians are actually dived in 4 different areas, the south, the north, the west and the east.
Where to go :
- Mackenzie falls, one of the largest falls in Victoria
- The Pinnacle is one of the highlights of the entire region
- Reeds lookout, give a perfect view on the Victoria Valley. Also, it is the perfect spot for sunset.
- Boroka lookout is the perfect place for sunrise with a panoramic view of the park
15. Ord River, Western Australia
The Ord River is a 320 kilometres long river in the Kimberley region and it covers about 46,000 square kilometres within Purnululu National Park. Even if the river and the lake look very peaceful, you must always be aware of the crocs! I really recommend you to go to Lake Argyle Tourist Village, where you could enjoy a magnificent view of the Argyle Lake directly from the swimming pool.
16. Karijini National Park, Western Australia
If you plan a road trip in Western Australia from Ningaloo Reef to Broome, you may want to keep driving along the coast. But, a nice détour inside the state will leave you speechless in this “Australian’s under the radar” National Park. Indeed, you can spend the entire day in the Park, walking and taking a swim in one of the freshwater pools while enjoying the falls.
17. Savannah Way, WA, NT, and QLD
From Broome to Cairns and through the Northern Territory, the Savannah is the Ultimate Australia’s adventure drive. This road is about 37,000km long and will drive you through 15 different National Parks in Western Australia, Northern Territory, and Queensland, meet the aboriginals and discover abundant wildlife. Real explorers take this road when they want to live another type of adventure. It’s your turn!
Note: the Savannah Way is an only inland road, so forget about the beach, parties in hostels and meetings with other backpackers. It is truly a whole different journey that awaits you in a very hot and arid climate (depending on the season), with few cities crossed and therefore few refreshment points. Obviously it is a road to take only for 4×4 because there are river crossings to do. So you need to be well prepared for your trip regarding petrol, food, water, etc.
18. Reddell Beach, Western Australia
The most popular and touristic beach in Broome is definitely Cabble Beach. But, a few minutes drive from there, and you will find Reddell or Riddell Beach. It is one of the favorite local places in Broome with great contrasts between the red rocks, the green bushes, and the white sand.
19. Dingo Beach, Queensland
If you do a road trip on the east coast you will hear a lot about Airlie Beach, as it is the main city to take your boat to go and visit Whitsunday Islands. Indeed, no one will tell you about Dingo Beach located only 20 minutes north from Airlie Beach. It is a quiet place with Palm Trees everywhere, clear blue water and even a pub on the beach to get a cold beer and enjoy it on the sand. It is definitely one of the tops off the beaten track places to put in your bucket list in Queensland.
20. Roebuck Bay, Western Australia
Finally, last but not least of this off the beaten track’ list is Roebuck Bay. Located in Broome, Roebuck is probably one of the most beautiful attractions in the area due to the different mix of colours you can picture in once. It is also well known for birds watching as many different species made Roebuck their home.
You probably have some amazing off the beaten track places you would like to share too. So feel free to add them in the comments below!
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