Off the beaten track

Australia is famous around the world for its natural wonders, with millions of international  tourists flocking to our shores each year to take in iconic sights like Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu and the Daintree, just to name a few. However, there are many equally stunning but less-known sites for visitors and locals to enjoy without the crowds and hustle of their famous and flashier counterparts.

If you’re looking for a holiday destination off the beaten track, get your adventure on and head to one of these hidden Australian gems.

Carnarvon Gorge, Queensland

Travel time: 9.5 hours drive from Emerald or 13 hours drive from Brisbane

Carnarvon Gorge in Carnarvon National Park is nestled deep within Queensland’s central highlands and is arguably the state’s best kept secret when it comes to natural wonders. The gorge stretches for 35km along the 302,000 hectare park and epitomises the stunning beauty of Queensland’s Sandstone Wilderness. The gorge is home to a wild variety of flora and fauna species that provide a glimpse into the region’s ancient past. Explore some of its most spectacular features with a full day work through the Moss Garden, Amphitheatre, Ward's Canyon and the ‘Art Gallery’ which boasts beautiful aboriginal art along the walls of the gorge. Shorter walks and longer multi-day treks wind through the park, catering for visitors with range of experience levels.  Located a day’s drive north-west of Brisbane, accommodation is available near and in the park itself, including camping and ‘glamping’ options.

Litchfield National Park, Northern Territory

Travel time: 1 hour 20 mins drive from Darwin

While most Australians and international tourists will have heard about the famous Kakadu National Park, fewer will be aware of the understated, but equally beautifully Litchfield National Park. Located approximately 100km south-west of Darwin, Litchfield is home to stunning, spring-fed waterfalls, lush eucalypt bushland and an array of walking trails. If you’re a seasoned hiker and up for an adventure, there’s the 39km Table Top walking track. For experienced four-wheel drivers, head out on the 10km track to the Lost City, where you’ll see the remains of a lost ancient civilisation and touch the naturally formed complex sandstone rock formations, some of which are estimated to be over 500 million years old. Visitors to Litchfield should check local websites for information about the suitability of swimming locations and accessibility of tracks.

The Great Southern, Western Australia

Travel time: 4-5 hours drive from Perth

Located approximately 4-5 hours drive south-east of Perth lies the Great Southern region of Western Australia.  Stunning coastline formed by the raging power of the Southern Ocean, idyllic coastal towns and ancient rainforests and mountain ranges make this region an adventure lovers paradise.  For hikers, the national parks of Stirling Range, Torndirrup and Porongurrup offer scenic and challenging walks that make the most of spectacular ancient terrain. At Warren National Park, see some of the tallest trees in the world as you make your way through magnificent karri forest. Head to West Cape Howe National Park, the most southerly tip of Australia and our closest point to Antarctica. The historic town of Albany also has many excellent tourist attractions, including King George Sound, an excellent spot for walking and diving through historic shipwrecks. Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world can also be found in or around Albany; try Little Beach, Goode Beach or Middleton Beach. In nearby Denmark, more stunning beaches at Green Pools and Elephant Cover await exploration.  The Great Southern is also a food and wine lover’s paradise and is the largest producing wine region by area in Australia.  Its award-winning wines and abundant range of fresh local produce is celebrated at Taste Great Southern, an annual 11-day food and wine festival that has just celebrated its fifteenth year of operation.

Feeling inspired? Plan your next holiday adventure with Virgin Australia's range of great value fares.

Words by Rebecca Walker. Image courtesy of Tourism & Events Queensland - Published 15 April 2019
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