How can you narrow down a country the size and depth of Australia to just five highlights? It’s a country known for it’s wide sweeping beaches you can often have to yourself, rugged outback landscapes, stunning cityscapes, magical and mystical rocks, and ancient rainforest.
But on our epic 18-month Australian road trip, we also discovered alpine beauty, a rich indigenous culture, charming country towns, rolling valleys and deep gorges to explore. I’m an Aussie, yet had no idea of the diversity and richness our land and culture offers.
Choosing my top five comes from the places and experiences that dug deep into my soul and won’t let me go. They’re the places I sigh dreamily over and continue to share over and over again.
I could easily give you a list of 100, but let’s go with these Australian experiences that will forever change you.
Broome and the Kimberley, Western Australia
Rich in Aboriginal culture and Asian influence with an outback country town vibe near the ocean. There’s no place in Australia like Broome; it’s laid-back with a hipster edge. I haven’t even mentioned the explosion of colours that meet you at every turn: Vibrant red earth with emerald green sprinkles once the rains come, luminescent turquoise water, and some of the most stunning pink sunsets in Australia.
Broome is also the gateway to one of Australia’s most incredible and unspoilt regions – the Kimberley. 4WD adventures await to pristine waterfalls and gorges and boab trees.
Alpine heaven. I didn’t realise Australia had it until we drove in through the avenue of oak trees. Drive a little higher up in the mountains and they turn to pines. Bright is the perfect getaway place for families. It’s relaxing and charming, with plenty of outdoor adventure. The region has great food, wine and craft breweries to sample – most of them family friendly. We loved to visit them while cycling around town and along the rail trail. On a hot summer’s day, you can hang out at the town pool, which is convieniently (and refreshingly) located in the Oven’s River.
Unwind after it at the Bright Brewery with a refreshing summer cider in the beer garden overlooking the “best playground ever” for the kids.
The Daintree, Queensland
It’s hard not to include the Daintree in this list – the world’s oldest rainforest meets world’s largest coral reef system. Pretty darn speccy!
The Daintree has lots of space for adventure: 8×8 Argo driving on the farmland hilltops; jungle surfing above the rainforest canopy; kayaking with dugongs and turtles; diving amongst the colourful coral and animal life of the reef; walking through the refreshing, vibrant world of the rainforest; SUPing on the Mossman River; and just relaxing on gorgeous tropical beaches.
You might even get lucky and spy a cassowary within the depths of the rainforest. We didn’t but we saw the dragging tracks of a crocodile through the muddy creek bank!
Margaret River, Western Australia
When it comes to a wine region in Australia, Margaret River has it all. World-class wines and craft breweries mixed in with gourmet chocolate, venison sausages, artisan cheese and lavender farms.
But wait, it’s not just for overindulging your taste buds, the region will overload your senses with natural beauty and adventure. This region in South Western Australia has some of the most beautiful beaches in the country and some of the best surf.
But, wait there’s still more! Not too far from shore are limestone caves to explore and the majestic karri forest with plenty of trails for hiking or mountain biking.
The Red Centre, Northern Territory
Having Uluru at the centre of Australia tells me that we live in a very special country. Uluru is ancient and rich in spirituality. We spent eight days exploring Uluru and Kata Tjuta – I could have stayed longer. From camel rides to base walks and bike rides, to rich Aboriginal history and magnificent sunrises and sunsets, there are so many ways to experience the heart of Australia.
But, it doesn’t end there.
The Red Centre also holds the magic of Kings Canyon and the West MacDonnell Ranges. We had an amazing time with our girls hiking along the canyon rim and swimming and tubing through the gorges. It’s a stunning region to visit and packed with surprises.
These areas in Australia fought really hard to make the top 5:
- Karijini National Park, Western Australia
- Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory
- Whitsundays, Queensland
- Freycinet National Park, Tasmania
What are your favourite highlights in Australia, or where do you most want to go? Tell us in the comments
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