10 Places Drawing Me Back to Australia

Even though I’ve already traveled to Australia it’s been a healthy number of years since I was bouncing from one Sydney accommodation to the next in search of a good party or an epic surf spot. Sure, I spent 5 weeks in Australia when I was there, but in a country the size of the continental United States that really amounts to barely scratching the surface.

Have I barbequed on the beach at Bondi and trekked in the Blue Mountains? Sure.  Have I cruised through the Whitsunday Islands, surfed Bells Beach, watched the sunrise from  Noosa and visited Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo? Absolutely.

But really, that’s nothing. There’s an entire country out there that I have never even stepped foot in, so to wax that I am an expert on Australia would be misleading and foolish. This is why I’ve wanted to break from the norm of my usual posting and instead craft a list of 10 places that I HAVEN’T been to, but nevertheless am dying to go. With that thought in mind, here are 10 reasons why I (and you) need to start thinking about making another trip to Australia.

1. Ningaloo Reef

Photo credit: Jayegirl99 on Flickr

Photo credit: Jayegirl99 on Flickr

Everyone knows Australia is famous for the Great Barrier Reef, but few people, however, realize that Western Australia’s Ningaloo Reef, located 732 miles north of Perth, has arguably better diving than its more famous cousin on the eastern coast. A haven for migrating whale sharks from March until June, despite having dove everywhere from Thailand to Hawaii to Mexico I still haven’t had the opportunity to swim with a whale shark underwater.

2. Margaret River

Photo Credit: Julien Carnot on Flickr

Photo Credit: Julien Carnot on Flickr

Not only does Margaret River have some of the best surf in Australia (albeit cold and sharky), it’s also home to 60 wineries which supply 15% of the country’s premium wines. In a burgeoning Western Australian economy awash in mining profits there is a lot of money and development being funneled into Perth and her surrounding communities. Riding a few good waves and enjoying some good food and wine in the hills of Margaret River is a trip I could really get excited over planning.

3. Hunter Valley

Photo Credit: Joe.lipson on Flickr

Photo Credit: Joe.lipson on Flickr

An affluent area about 75 miles north of Sydney, the Hunter Valley is well known as another one of Australia’s premier wine growing regions. I’ve passed through this area before on a 24-hour road trip up to Airlie Beach (and was nabbed by a few speed cameras in the process), but I didn’t have the foresight to stop and do any wine tastings or check out the thoroughbred country the region is also famous for. Doable as a day trip from virtually any Sydney accommodation, I would love to instead inhabit a little bed and breakfast tucked back in a hidden vineyard somewhere and while the days away with a good book and a bottle of local shiraz.

4. Cape Tribulation

Photo Credit: Tasmin Slater on Flickr

Photo Credit: Tasmin Slater on Flickr

Just about as far north as you go in the eastern state of Queensland, Cape Tribulation is a dense tropical rainforest speckled with numerous ecolodges and long, empty beaches. From here you can access some lesser visited area of the Great Barrier Reef or go on wildlife safaris cruising through the Daintree forests in search of the awe and fear inspiring salt water crocodiles. Remote, tropical, and out of the way, this has always sounded like my kind of adventure.

5. Kakadu National Park

Photo Credit: Phillie Casablanca on Flickr

Photo Credit: Phillie Casablanca on Flickr

A UNESCO World Heritage site located south of Darwin, the Northern Territory’s Kakadu National Park is a wide open expanse the size of Slovenia that’s full of crocodiles, dugongs, and numerous Aboriginal cultural sites. Most tours depart for at least three days and venture deep into the interior of Kakadu, a park that’s ecologically different than many other parts of Australia and rich on the history of Aboriginal culture.

6. Uluru

Photo Credit: dincsi on Flickr

Photo Credit: dincsi on Flickr

Known to the world as “Ayer’s Rock”, Uluru is one of the most iconic images for the entire country of Australia—and I’ve never been there. Close to absolutely nothing, what holds as much of an allure for me as photographing the shifting colors of the massive rock is exploring the hinterlands and communities set in the heart of the Australian interior. I’ve always wanted to visit Alice Springs for little other reason simply than that it’s there. As much fun as it would be to climb Uluru and get the 360 degree view of the Australian outback,  I nevertheless respect the cultural importance of the rock and if the native Aboriginal people of Uluru don’t want people climbing it, then I’m fine to just stand at the base at watch the colors explode in a desert sunset.

7. Great Ocean Road

Photo credit: edwin11 on Flickr

Photo credit: edwin11 on Flickr

The truth is that I have been tantalizingly close to the state of Victoria’s 151 mile Great Ocean Road but I’ve never actually driven the whole thing. Making it only as far as Bells Beach outside of Torquay, I want to return to hug the dramatic coastline and see it in all its glory. Stop in the coastal towns of Lorne and Apollo Bay and watch the Twelve Apostles as they wage a constant battle with the sea. It’s one of the continent’s greatest road trips and one that I feel I missed out on during my previous Victoria tour.

8.  Tasmania

Photo Credit: RalphJB on Flickr

Photo Credit: RalphJB on Flickr

The capital city of Hobart and the beaches of Avalon aside, my main reasoning for wanting to visit Tasmania is to trek the 5-6 day, 82 km Overland Track that runs through Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park. Never mind that the water is freezing and the surf is wooly, what’s drawing me to the southern island is the isolation of the mountains and trekking in what I feel is one of the most unheralded of the world’s great walks.

9. Fraser Island

Photo credit: Eduardo M.C. on Flickr

Photo credit: Eduardo M.C. on Flickr

I use Fraser Island simply as an all-encompassing example of the myriad islands which lie along the Queensland coast. I name Fraser specifically because, as the largest sand island in the entire world, it holds a certain type of fascination for me. The idea of driving off road vehicles down the beach to a remote campsite in search of wild dingoes makes me think of forays deep into Baja, Mexico where adventures are birthed in the desert sands.

10. Mt. Kosciuszko

Photo Credit: State Records NSW on Flickr

Photo Credit: State Records NSW on Flickr

My reasoning for wanting to visit Mt. Kosciuszko is pretty simple: At 7,310 ft. it’s the highest point on the continent of Australia, and as of this writing I have never stood on top of the highest point of a continent. Easier to reach than somewhere like Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua, or Everest, aside from the scenic terrain (or the novelty of snowboarding in Australia, perhaps) Kosciusko also sits in the middle of the UNESCO classified Kosciuzsko National Park and is one of the most popular trekking spots in the entire country during the warm and snow-free summer months.

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