Are you planning a road trip around Australia this year? And you don’t want to miss the big spots? Here, I put together a list of 20 places that every backpacker should visit at least once.
1. Esperance in Western Australia
Perfectly clear blue water and white sand along the coast make Esperance one of the most beautiful beaches in Australia. From Perth, it takes a nice trip of 7.5 hours to reach the beach. And you can make a stop at Wave Rock to get the most out of your trip.
2. Cradle Mountain in Tasmania
At Cradle Mountain National Park, you will find different trek options. First of all, the easy one: follow the walking path and stop at every lookout around Dove Lake. However, the harder option (way better, in my opinion) will lead you on longer tracks, even to the summit, if you choose the hardest path. But, take plenty of water and food because these tracks could take you into an 8 to 10 hours trek. Honestly, you won’t regret it! Of course, if you are in Tasmania, there are many other places to visit: Here is a list of the 10 best places to visit in Tassie.
3. Rottnest Island: visit the Quokka, the happiest animal in the world.
If you are travelling the West coast, you must pay a visit to the happiest animal on earth: the Quokka. Rent a bike and explore the island because this little marsupial is everywhere, mostly in tall grass, but you can also see it in the village, on the beach, … As quokkas are very curious, they will come to you and will be happy to take a selfie. Indeed, they are also well known for their selfies with travellers.
Note: protect the quokkas, do not feed them.
4. Ningaloo Reef to swim with a whale shark in Western Australia
If you travel to Australia as a backpacker, swimming with Whale sharks should be at the top of your list. The best place to see them is in Exmouth – Ningaloo Reef. This place is a little paradise with clear blue water, amazing beaches and great walks in the Cape Range National Park.
To get the best of your experience, here is an article with everything you need to know to swim with a whale shark
5. Karijini National Park in Western Australia
Karijini National Park is one of my favourite parks in Australia. You can spend the entire day there, walking and taking a swim in one of the freshwater pools while enjoying the falls. However, the interesting thing is that the park has been carved out for over two billion years, so you will be surrounded by some of the oldest rocks on this planet.
6. Melbourne: Street Culture Trip
You will always hear about a battle between Melbourne lovers and Sydney lovers, but it is a personal impression, so I will suggest you visit both of them. However, Melbourne has got my heart. First of all, for the street art that you can see all over the city with sometimes the most high-profile and elaborate graffiti art:
- hosier lane (opposite Federation Square)
- Duckboard Place for the beautiful mural with the name of the city
- Johnston Street in Collingwood
- and many other streets…
Then, when you walk in the streets of Melbourne (CBD), you will likely hear music at almost every corner from musicians and singers (here is a perfect example with Natalie Trayling’s astonishing performances)or street performers as dancers and magicians. Finally, visit Melbourne for its diversity of restaurants and great rooftops and other bars. Here are some examples: rooftop bar or the rooftop at TQ. Of course, if you are in Melbourne, go to St Kilda Beach and even further to Brighton Beach to take amazing pictures of the Brighton Bathing Boxes.
7. The Pink Lake / Lake Hillier on Middle Island in Western Australia
You see it well in the picture below; the Lake is PINK! This place is a dream masterpiece of nature 130 kilometres (70 miles) from Esperance (see Google Maps). The mix of the blue of the Indian Ocean, the pink of the lake and a stripe of green of the forest make this place even more captivating. But why is this lake pink? The pink colour comes from a microalgae Dunaliella Salina that produces a pigment. On a very sunny day, the pink colour will be even more flashy, and the lake will look its best.
How to get there? You need to get on a plane or on a boat from Esperance.
8. Lake McKenzie on Fraser Island in Queensland
Get ready for the adventure! First of all, it is good to know that Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world. The only way to get there is by taking a 20 minutes ferry trip, and only 4×4 are allowed on the island. On the island, you will have plenty of things to see along the beach and when you get into the island as:
- the wrecks on the beach (example: Maheno Shipwreck)
- Seventy miles beach
- Eli Creek
- Champagne pool
- meeting dingos (it is forbidden to feed or get too close to the dingos, they are wild dogs and could attack you; also, you can get an expensive fine from rangers).
The place you see in the picture below is Lake McKenzie, a true diamond of this island with crystal clear blue water created by pure rain only and one of the finest white sand in the world.
9. Wineglass Bay beach and Hazard beach in Tasmania
First of all, Wineglass bay in Freycinet National Park is THE place to go if you are travelling to Tasmania. You will need a 45-minute walk to the lookout and 30 minutes more to reach the beach. Most people stop there, but, Wineglass bay beach is nothing compared to the next one. Indeed, there is another paradisiac beach a few minutes away from Wineglass Beach: Hazard Beach. This place will make you feel special, and the 4hours walk along the coast is stunning. Do you want to explore more of Tasmania?
10. François Peron National Park in Western Australia
François Peron National Park is an impressive area with red sand and turquoise water. To get access to the park, you will need a 4-wheel drive, but if you want to visit the Little Lagoon (see on Google map), access is easy with a normal car or van.
11. Whitsunday Islands in Queensland
The 74 Whitsunday Islands are a true paradise on earth! I took a boat from Airlie Beach and spent 2 days on the boat, snorkelling from one spot to another, visiting islands, hiking trails and enjoying perfect white sand beaches, especially at Whitehaven Beach, considered one of the most beautiful beaches on this planet.
12. Friendly Beach in Tasmania
Friendly Beach is a very must if you are restriping Tassie. Indeed, the beach is located in the stunning Freycinet National Park with pristine water, and you will be surrounded by many curious wallabies. However, if you want to have the chance to sleep a few steps from the beach, you will have to get up early as the number of spots at the campsite (see on google Maps) is limited.
Do you want to explore more of Tasmania?
I can also give you a little advice: get up early for sunrise if you want to see dolphins playing around.
13. Cable Beach in Broome, Western Australia
Most people stick to the east coast when they travel to Australia. But, those who travel the West Coast often stop at Ningaloo Reef before going back to Perth. Unfortunately, they are missing one of the most magical beaches and red sand parks of Australia in Broome. The city has a lot to offer, and here is a list of things to do:
- Enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets at Cable Beach (if you have a 4-wheel drive you can park it directly on the beach and have a nice drink with friends)
- Paddleboarding is also a super fun activity to do at Cable beach
- Visit Aboriginal Galleries and get to know more about the culture
- Explore Gantheaume Point to discover ancient dinosaur footprints and stay there for the sunset
- Chill on the beach
14. Uluru / Ayers Rock in Northern Territory
Did you know that Uluru is the aboriginal name for Ayers Rock, and it is today one of Australia’s best touristic attractions? For the aboriginals, Uluru is a sacred rock and a strong link with their ancestors. It is located in the middle of the Northern Territory State, and the closest “big” city is Alice Springs, 5.5 hours away. So, you better get your food, drinks, gas and everything you need before going to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
IMPORTANT: since October 26, 2019, Australia has banned climbers from this iconic natural landmark. So it is completely forbidden to climb on it.
15. Twelve Apostles in Victoria
To get to the Twelve Apostles, you will be driving off the most scenic road in Australia: The Great Ocean Road. The views along the road are spectacular, and even more when you get to the giant rocks. Whatever weather you get (maybe not during a storm), your pictures will be amazing. Along the road, you will have many spots to stop by, but the one in the picture is the most famous and also the most crowded. I advise you to take a walk to Gibson steps, where you will get access to the beach.
16. The Great Barrier Reef in Queensland
Of course, a must-visit list of Australia wouldn’t have been possible without the famous Great Barrier Reef, the beauty of our planet and a real diamond of our ecosystem. You can easily get a boat from Cairns, and if you have time, I advise you to do a bit of shopping with different travel agencies. For almost the same package you can pay from 100$ in one agency to 300$ in another. During your day on the boat, you will be swimming with sea turtles, clown fishes hiding in the coral, giant clams or even Christmas tree worms.
17. Kangaroo Island in South Australia
Kangaroo Island is very fun for backpackers. First of all, the wildlife is amazing! You can see on the same island kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, sea-lions, fur seals and possums. It can take a bit of time as some of them are a bit shy. Then, I advise you to go to the sand dunes and enjoy sandboarding at little Sahara. You can also do some surfing as well as snorkelling.
18. Discover the indigenous culture in Western Australia
The Derby Boab Festival is a big festival happening in July to celebrate the West Kimberley lifestyle with a range of interesting and fun community events. You can attend the Mowanjum Art Festival for an evening of traditional dances, telling the stories of the Mowanjum people.
19. Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge
Like everyone who plans a trip to Australia, the first things you picture are the Sydney Opera House and its best friend the Harbour Bridge. And you are right! You should visit the most iconic place in the city. You can easily walk around, visit the botanical garden next to it and take a walk to the Harbour Bridge. I recommend getting to the other side of the bridge if you want to take great pictures of the bay.
20. Bondi Beach in Sydney
Bondi Beach is one of Australia’s most iconic beaches. From Sydney city center, it takes a 20 min trip by metro and bus. When you get there, enjoy the beach and the vibes and walk from one side to another to see either street art or the famous swimming pool: Bondi Icebergs Club. The walk from Bondi toward the south to Coogee Beach, around the cliffs, is absolutely spectacular.