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Mossman Gorge in Queensland

Experience some of the most beautiful parts of Australia without the crowds and get back to nature with these experiences which celebrate the rugged mountains, outback vistas, National Parks, native animals, and remote wilderness areas that have earned Australia world-wide acclaim.

Take in the wonders of Wineglass Bay, Tasmania

Surrounded by the Southern Ocean and Freycinet National Park, Wineglass Bay will take your breath away. Wilderness lovers come here to discover Tasmania’s rugged east coast, with its soaring coastal cliffs and lush green wilderness, and enjoy the region’s famous food and wine. It’s a bit of a scramble to reach the Wineglass Bay Lookout from the beach, but it’s worth the effort to capture one of Tasmania’s most photographed views. For a stylish stay, check into Saffire Freycinet which has its own free-range Tasmanian devil enclosure and free daily excursions and activities.

Swimming at Wineglass Bay
Swimming at Wineglass Bay

Stay in the heart of the Daintree, Queensland

The Daintree is part of the UNESCO listed Wet Tropics of Queensland and contains many of Australia’s most unique marsupials and plants. Guided tours venture deep into the Daintree, but many people choose to simply hire a car to drive the scenic Captain Cook Highway or immerse themselves in the heart of the Daintree with a stay at Silky Oaks Lodge. You can only get so far without a four-wheel drive, but it’s possible to cross the Daintree River on a cable ferry and drive to beautiful Cape Tribulation in a regular car. Want to stay longer? Extend your Tropical North Queensland adventure with a road trip from Cairns to Mission Beach or a stay in Cairns at the Hilton Cairns, Crystalbrook Flynn, Crystalbrook Riley or Crystalbrook Bailey.

Silky Oaks swimming pool
Silky Oaks swimming pool

Swim with giant cuttlefish, South Australia

Head to Whyalla from May to August and snorkel with thousands of giant cuttlefish, some of which are the size of a small dog, as the males’ rainbow colours swirl and pulsate to attract the attention of a mate. It’s the only place in the world where cuttlefish congregate annually in mass numbers and taking in the spectacle is easy as it happens just off-shore. Hire a thick wetsuit plus a mask and snorkel or book a tour that includes all the necessary gear as you’ll be swimming in the chilly waters of the Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park which can drop to just 10 degrees Celsius in winter.

Explore Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Northern Territory

It’s impossible not to be touched by the ancient beauty and spiritual significance of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, especially when you have it pretty much to yourself. Join a handful of people at the sunrise viewing area as the first rays bathe Uluru in shades of russet and lavender. Ride a Segway around Uluru, soar over the landscape in a helicopter, or explore the Mala walk with a ranger. The domes of Kata Tjuta glow like they’re lit from within on an sunset tour that includes drinks and canapes and a sunset spectacle few people get to see.

Kata Tjuta begins to glow with the setting sun
Kata Tjuta begins to glow with the setting sun

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Go hiking at Kosciuszko National Park, New South Wales

The Snowy Mountains in Kosciuszko National Park are best known for being one of Australia’s most popular winter playgrounds but there’s more to this place than ice and snow. This alpine wonderland is a major drawcard for trampers who come here to eat lunch in fields of flowers, watch colourful parrots flash across the sky, rock hop across the Snowy River, and conquer two of Australia’s three highest peaks – Mt Twynam and Mt Kosciuszko – in the warmer months. Take the chairlift from Thredbo to Eagles Nest and follow the boardwalk to conquer Mt Kosciuszko, Australia’s highest mountain, in around four hours or challenge yourself with the full day walk from Thredbo.

Connect with First Nations culture at Kakadu, Northern Territory

Home to a rich First Nations history, an abundance of wildlife, and one of the world’s largest collections of rock art, Kakadu National Park is a feast for the eyes and the soul. Nourlangie is reminiscent of a traditional art gallery with multiple rooms (caves) featuring different art styles. Kangaroos bound across the wall in one section; another shows early contact with Europeans. At Ubirr you can tour not one, but three, incredible Aboriginal rock art galleries. On a sunrise cruise at Yellow Water Billabong, kingfishers flit through the trees, a jacana and her tiny chicks wade across lily pads, and crocodiles cruise alongside the boat as the water turns a burnished shade of gold.

Yellow_Water_Cruises; Tiana Templeman
Yellow Water Billabong cruise

Go wild at Cape Range National Park, Western Australia

Can’t decide whether you want to go hiking, swimming, snorkel with whale sharks, watch baby turtles hatching, or simply soak up the sun? At Cape Range National Park – one of Australia’s most spectacular and most diverse National Parks – you can do it all. Swim with whale sharks from April to July, snorkel over pristine coral at World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef, go hiking in Cape Range National Park, or learn about the three species of turtles that nest here.

Cape Range National Park
Cape Range National Park

Explore gorges in Nitmiluk National Park, Northern Territory

Ancient sandstone has been carved by the Katherine River to create Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge at Nitmiluk National Park. A helicopter tour provides a bird’s eye view of the Northern Rockhole waterfall or you could join a half-day gorge cruise and get up close to the horizontal bands which define the surrounding cliffs that were created by hundreds of layers of sediments. After a stop at a First Nations rock art site, jump into an emerald green swimming hole fed by a gentle waterfall and surrounded by sheer rock walls, for a refreshing swim.

Swimming at Nitmiluk Gorge
Swimming at Nitmiluk Gorge

Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

Head out to a reef pontoon in the Whitsundays and explore the Great Barrier Reef. Whether you would prefer to get wet or stay dry, there is an activity to suit on this pontoon. Watch clown fish peeking out of anemones in a sheltered coral lagoon, join Marine Biologists on a guided snorkel safari, go on semi-submersible and glass bottom boat rides, or check out the marine action from the comfort of an underwater observatory. You can also glamp on the pontoon overnight or take a luxurious live aboard cruise and wake up surrounded by natural wonders.

Snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef
Snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef

Experience the wonders of the Kimberley, Western Australia

With vast stretches of virgin coastline, red sands, pure white beaches, and roads that disappear into the horizon, the Kimberley’s diversity is visually stunning, by land, air, or sea. Larger than 75 percent of the world’s countries but with a population of just over 50,000, what this destination lacks in people, it more than makes up for with stunning scenery. Soar over the beehive formations of the Bungle Bungles in Purnululu National Park, marvel at the Horizontal Falls at Talbot Bay, or experience a ‘Kimberly massage’ on a bouncy four-wheel-drive adventure along the Gibb River Road which takes travellers to pristine gorges and waterfalls.

The Bungle Bungle Range
Bungle Bungle Range

Hike through Carnarvon Gorge, Queensland

Located in Queensland’s arid heart, Carnarvon Gorge National Park is filled with natural wonders like soaring sandstone cliffs, cool flowing creeks, delicate moss gardens, pockets of ancient rainforest, and First Nations rock art sites adorned with ochre stencils and freehand paintings. More than 170 bird species call this ruggedly beautiful area home and you’ll get to see plenty of them on a guided day tour with Carnarvon Gorge Eco Tours. Experienced hikers can tackle the six-day Carnarvon Great Walk which links the Carnarvon Gorge and Mount Moffatt sections of Carnarvon National Park.

Conquer the Three Capes Track, Tasmania

Combine Tasmania’s spectacular scenery with one of Australia’s best multi-day hikes, The Three Capes Track, and surround yourself with untamed wilderness, the crashing waves of the Southern Ocean, and the crunch of your boots on the trail. Highlights of this famous trail include conquering some of Australia’s highest sea cliffs, listening to the rhythmic wash of the waves as you take in the towering sea stacks at Cape Hauy, and watching blowholes shoot water into the sky on the hike to Tasmania’s most south-easterly tip at Cape Pillar. Even better, the trail is suitable for most ages and abilities so you don’t need to be an experienced tramper to enjoy it. Extend your Tasmania adventure with a stay in Hobart at MAQq 01, Movenpick Hobart or the Henry Jones Art Hotel.

On top of Cape Hauy
Hiking to the top of Cape Hauy

See the Twelve Apostles, Victoria

Originally known as the Sow and Piglets, these iconic limestone formations along the Great Ocean Road were renamed The Twelve Apostles as part of a 1920s tourism campaign, despite the fact there were only nine pinnacles. Now there are eight. With the rapid rate of erosion caused by the wind and sea, soon there will likely be even less so see them while you can by travelling the Great Ocean Road, a spectacular driving route along Victoria’s rugged coastline. Along the way, drop into Great Otway National Park to go bushwalking and spot platypus in the wild on a guided tour.

Gibson Steps Beach at the Twelve Apostles
Gibson Steps Beach at the Twelve Apostles

Hike the Grampians Peaks Trail, Victoria

Immerse yourself in the rich Aboriginal culture of the Jardwadjali and Djab Wurrung peoples as you hike the length of the pristine Gariwerd (Grampians) wilderness area on the Grampians Peak Trail. The 160 kilometre walk features 11 hike-in camps with tent platforms, communal areas, shelters, and toilets and is Australia’s newest trail. Enjoy it on a day trip, an overnight hike, or a guided 13-day adventure from Mount Zero to Dunkeld in the south. Even the hardiest hikers will likely be tested by this walk but the view from the summit of Gar (Mt Difficult) alone makes it worth the trip.

See kangaroos on Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Take a trip to Kangaroo Island and spot Australian sea lions, dolphins, wedge tailed eagles, and kangaroos in the wild or, for something more adventurous, sign up for a dune buggy tour and bounce across sand dunes in the island’s back country which is known as Little Sahara. Kangaroo Island Trails offer a culinary adventures with the chance to sample local cheeses and bush honey, freshly caught seafood, and locally grown produce on a food safari with a side of superb scenery.

Want to travel smarter and save money? Check out our tips for flying a low cost airline, keeping your luggage safe, visiting Europe in peak season, getting a great car hire deal, avoiding travel scams, saving money at the airport, staying at an Airbnb, finding cheap five star hotel deals, catching public transport overseas, staying safe in a big city, getting the best round-the-world airfares, making the most of a five star hotel stay, travelling during low season, visiting a theme park in peak season, packing a carry on bag, visiting a wine region, planning a romantic getaway, early morning flights, visiting the Great Barrier Reef, multigenerational travel, travelling in a motorhome, buying the best souvenirs, going on safari, visiting the Eiffel Tower, travelling with pets, holidaying with adult children, travelling with teens, and sleeping on a plane.

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Dr Tiana Templeman is an award-winning food and travel journalist, travel author and media industry academic. She is the creator of The Travel Temple, writes for Australian and international media outlets and appears on radio talking about where to go, what to see and travel industry trends.