The Land Down Under has made quite a name for itself – and not only off the back of its national icons.
Roughly the size of the continental United States, Australia is a vast country packed with remarkable natural beauty.
With a large majority of Australians clustering in the major cities along the coastline, well-known beaches pack out well before midday, meaning a relaxing holiday can quickly turn into a fight for a towel-sized patch of sand.
Whether you’re an overseas visitor planning an upcoming visit to Australia or a local deciding on your next road trip destination, it’s time to skip bustling Bondi and add some lesser-known Aussie treasures to your itinerary – we promise it’ll be worth it.
1. Strahan, Tasmania
As the land under the Land Down Under, the island of Tasmania, once deemed a remote destination, is slowly climbing up the list of must-see destinations.
Don’t let the effort of crossing the channel faze you: Australia’s southernmost state is spectacular for this very reason, with almost a fifth of its wilderness recognised as a World Heritage Area.
The harbourside village of Strahan acts as a doorway to the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. Jump on a boat at Macquarie Harbour and cruise up the Gordon River into Tasmania’s rugged wilderness. It is an experience you are unlikely to forget.
2. Esperance, Western Australia
Extending over more than 2.5 million square kilometres, Western Australia is one of the largest states in the world.
Drive eight hours southeast of Perth – the state’s sunny capital – and you’ll cruise into the beautiful town of Esperance.
If it’s a beach holiday you’re after, you’ll have arrived in paradise. With an abundance of crystal-clear water and snow-white sand, Esperance boasts Australia’s whitest beach, Lucky Bay, as well as the remarkable Pink Lake.
If you’re after some of the most spectacular scenery Australia has to offer (and why wouldn’t you be), take the Great Ocean Drive – a 38-kilometre loop that showcases the best of Australia’s lengthy west coast.
3. Port Douglas, Queensland
Just an hour’s drive north of the popular holiday destination of Cairns in Queensland sits the magnificent Port Douglas.
Once a sleepy fishing village, the town is somewhat of a rarity: it is one of the few places in the world that is home to two unique World Heritage Sites.
Dive right into the world’s most extensive coral reef system – the renowned Great Barrier Reef is less than an hour offshore – or venture into the Daintree, one of the world’s most ancient rainforests.
A remarkable location through and through, Cairns’ little brother is increasingly gaining the attention of Aussies and internationals alike, so get there quick!
4. Yamba, New South Wales
Declared the “Best Town in Australia” by Australian Traveller magazine, you’ll find Yamba at the mouth of the Clarence River in New South Wales, one of Australia’s largest waterways.
Seven hours’ drive north of Sydney, or three south of Brisbane, Yamba borders the Yuraygir National Park, the Clarence River and the Pacific Ocean.
Unlike your typical tourist location, this quiet haven boasts nothing but unspoilt beaches and village charm.
Declared to have the best climate in the world in 2014 by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Stanford University in the US, Yamba is the perfect spot for your next relaxing getaway.
5. Apollo Bay, Victoria
The Great Ocean Road and its famous majestic limestone rock stacks, the Twelve Apostles, are typically on the Australian traveller’s to-do list, but have you heard of Victoria’s Apollo Bay? Let’s just say it’s not called “paradise by the sea” for nothing.
Located midway along the Great Ocean Road in southwestern Victoria, this seaside village offers some of the most breathtaking views the state has to offer.
Take a drive to Cape Otway, the southern tip of Victoria’s west coast, where you’ll find the Australian mainland’s oldest lighthouse, Cape Otway Lightstation, which was built in 1846.
This story was originally published on 07/02/16