I love Australia. Like, I am really in love with Australia. I’m not normally one for overt displays of patriotism but how bloody good is this country?! Sure, the last 200 years or so has been a bit hit-and-miss historically but Australia is truly a blessed land. It has unique and stunning landscapes, over 60,000 years of First Nations history and culture, not to mention the fact that you very, very rarely have to worry about frostbite. It’s also got the best produce and it has some of the most incredible landmarks in the world. I love Australia! So, I am going to share with you some of my hot tips on how to commune with this wonderful country and where to go to see places that will truly demonstrate the beauty of this absolute ripper of a land.
1. From Darwin, NT: Kakadu National Park
Let’s dive straight into it with the wonder that is Kakadu National Park. This is the largest terrestrial national park in Australia – it covers a whopping 20,000 square kilometres – and as a result, you’ll probably need at least three days to explore this natural beauty. Or, as it’s only an hour and a half from Darwin, plan to take a couple of trips 😉 Tour the waterways, wallow in the iconic Gunlom Plunge pool and swim in cascading waterfalls (only in spots recommended by the locals of course – you’ll be looking specifically for croc-free zones!)
Don’t miss the chance to stop at Ubirr, Burrunguy (Nourlangie Rock) and Nanguluwur – these spots are internationally recognised as outstanding examples of Aboriginal rock art, with some of the paintings dating back 20,000 years. The custodians of this stunning land are the Bininj peoples in the north and Mungguy peoples in the south, and both maintain a deep spiritual connection to this incredible patch of earth.
2. From Hobart, TAS: Larapuna/Bay of Fires
Larapuna, also known as the Bay of Fires, sits on the land of the Palawa people and is famous for its pristine stretches of white sandy beaches as well as its unique and iconic lichen-covered granite boulders that are strikingly bright orange. It’s said that this spot on the north east coast of Tasmania, just three and a half hour’s drive from Hobart, was given the name Bay of Fires in 1773 when Captain Tobias Furneaux saw the fires of the Palawa Nation on the beaches.
The array of native birdlife makes it a bird watchers dream and the rich marine biodiversity means it’s also the perfect spot to snorkel and dive. The First Nations-owned and operated Wukalina Walk is a great way to immerse yourself in thousands of years of history and deep knowledge of the area.
3. From Sydney, NSW: Bouddi National Park
The NSW coastline is truly special… even more so when you’re exploring it with the knowledge and story telling of a First Nations guide. The Bouddi National Park, an hour and a half north of the Sydney CBD, has some truly breathtaking coastal scenery (the coastal track is a must do!), as well as some fascinating cultural sites (over 100, in fact) to explore, too. Knowledgeable Girri Girra guides can lead you to some of these spots, sharing ancient stories and insights as you go.
4. From Brisbane, QLD: Boobarran Ngummin/Bunya Mountains
Boobarran Ngummin boasts boutique cafes, wintery cottages, and beautiful scenery – all just three hour’s drive from Brissie! The amazing walking trails run through some of the oldest rainforests in the world and are home to Bunya and hoop pine trees that reach high into the sky. Formed around 30 million years ago, it’s now the remains of an old shield volcano, as well as home to red-necked wallabies, great barred frogs and Australian lorikeets.
The Wakka Wakka, Jarowair and Barrumgum peoples are the traditional owners of the Bunya Mountains. Every three to four years, when the Bunya trees (Araucaria bidwillii) bear fruit, thousands of people from surrounding nations in Queensland and New South Wales come to Boobarran Ngummin for feasts and spiritual ceremonies.
5. From Canberra, ACT: Gulaga/Mount Dromedary (NSW)
This special spot within the Gulaga National Park is of great spiritual significance to local Yuin people. The mountain is a spiritual mother; the place where all things begin. It’s also a place to attain knowledge and find healing. It’s also just a truly beautiful place to visit! The national park contains walkways that show off the stunning views of the coastal lakes. There is a shop, picnic area and you can also participate in the Gulaga Creation Experience to learn more about the Dreaming creation stories.
6. From Melbourne, VIC: Gariwerd/Grampians
In true Victorian fashion, the area surrounding the five sandstone ridges of the amazing Grampians is chock full of things to do – whether you’re into wineries, fancy restaurants and luxe hotels (there’s also a super great zoo, waterfalls and a heap of walking trails 🤗)
It’s also located on the land of the Djab Wurrung and Jardwadjali people who have a history stretching back over 20,000 years. It also boasts the densest concentration of rock art paintings in Victoria! These are located across around 60 sites and five of these are open to the public 🎉 You can visit the Manja and Billimina shelters in the western Grampians, Ngamadjidj and Gulgurn Manja shelters in the north and Bunjil’s shelter, near Stawell. The cultural centre of Brambuk is another great place to explore even more displays of art and artefacts that will instill in you the deep spiritual significance of the Grampians.
7. From Perth, WA: Nambung National Park
You’ll be only two hours drive north of Perth but you’ll feel a world away from civilisation among the moonscape surroundings of Nambung National Park. The otherworldly limestone structures of this park date back over 25,000 years and are said to be named for the Nyoongar word for ‘crooked’, the language of the area’s traditional custodians.
After wandering through the thousands of mysterious formations, you’ll want to stop into the nearby town of Cervantes – it’s famous for its lobster! 😋
8. From Adelaide, SA: Karta/Kangaroo Island
This is a super interesting spot in Australia, seen in the translation of the First Nations name of Karta, meaning ‘Island of the Dead’. Kangaroo Island was separated from continental Australia 10,000 years ago and as a result, a small group of the Karta community remained stranded on the island. So, if you’re in the mood to philosophise the complexities of human existence, or you like to consider historical mysteries, this place will resonate with you.
Wildlife fans will love it, too – you’ll find a beautiful place teeming with sea lions, koalas, diverse bird species and penguin colonies protected in nature reserves. There’s also a wealth of peaceful walking trails, beautiful beaches, a choice of awesome places to stay and striking coastal rock formations.
Heads up! Due to COVID-19, government restrictions are in constant review and travel guidelines may change. We strongly recommend that all travellers seek further information about destinations and attractions before scheduling trips or making bookings, take extra care and follow all rules.