Australia Experiences – 15 off the Beaten Path Destinations

The Sydney Harbour Bridge, The Opera House, The Great Barrier Reef and Uluru. Everyone has heard of these iconic places to visit in Australia and they should be on the travel bucket list of Australia experiences.

But, Australia’s diversity stretches across a country almost as big as the US and is filled with adventures and off the beaten path destinations that few international, and local, tourists venture to.

What if you could share the stories about your trip to Australia of beaches that you shared with sun baking crocodiles, nights spent sleeping in underground homes, or camping where koalas and kangaroos freely roamed around you?

Well now you can create those unique Aussie travel experiences.

15 off the Beaten Path Australia Experiences

1. River Red Gum National Park, NSW

Bike riding through the River Red Gum Forest
River Red Gum Forest, NSW, Australia

I cannot rave enough about the River Red Gum National Park.

Kangaroos and koalas running freely in the wild, a national park all to yourself, free camping, kayaking the Murrumbidgee River, Australia’s second longest and mountain bike riding under the canopy of huge river red gums.

The River Red Gum is located near Wagga Wagga, NSW and close to the Victorian border and is a truly unique flora and fauna Australia experiences.

2. Glenworth Valley, Central Coast, NSW

Kalyra watching the horse mustering Glenworth Valley
Glenworth Valley, NSW, Australia

Glenworth Valley on the Central Coast is only a 20 minute drive from our hometown and only an hour north of Sydney.

We visited for the first time last month. and spent the weekend horse riding, quad biking, abseiling, kayaking, and camping in the beautiful valley.

Glenworth Vally is one of the Australian experiences where adventure meets the tranquility of nature.

Do not miss the horse mustering early in the morning.

3. Gibb River Road, The Kimberly, WA

One of the many Gibb River Rd waterfalls Image: Tourism Australia
Waterfall on Gibb River Rd, The Kimberleys, Western Asutralia Image: Tourism Australia

This is the Australian 4WD road trip experience you most want to have.

The Gibb River Road runs through the heart of the Kimberley region in Western Australia, one of Australia’s last wilderness frontiers.

You can free camp alongside waterholes where another soul can’t be found and spend your days exploring gorges and waterfalls, savannahs and bushlands,  and if your game you can even swim with freshwater crocs. Apparently they don’t bite!

4. Tasmania

Wineglass Bay, Tasmania, Australia
Wineglass Bay Tasmania Image: Tourism Australia

Very high on my Australia bucket list is Tasmania. I have never heard anything but high praise heaped upon it as a truly unique and beautiful Australian experience.

Tasmania is known as the natural state with pristine wilderness areas to explore, overland tracks to hike and some of best fresh produce in Australia to enjoy along the way.

Hobart, Australia’s second oldest city, retains so much of its historical and heritage buildings and atmosphere and has the stunning backdrop of Mt Wellington.

5. Newcastle and the Hunter Valley, NSW

Hunter Valley
Hunter Valley wineries

Newcastle has everything Sydney has but on a smaller scale and is only 2 hours north.

It made Lonely Planet’s must see destination list of 2011. Newcastle has amazing dining experiences, great surfing beaches and a laid back lifestyle.

It is also the gateway to a fantastic destination experiences such as The Hunter Valley for wine tasting; Stockton Beach for dune buggy fun; and whale watching in the aquatic playground of Port Stephens.

6. Ningaloo Reef, Exmouth, Western Australia

Swim with the gentle giants Credit: Luxury Lodges of Australia

Ningaloo Reef is The Great Barrier Reef of the West Coast, except this one is unspoilt and unpopulated.

You can swim from the shore line at Exmouth onto the reef. It is also the place where you can experience the once in a lifetime swim with the gentle giants of the sea: the whale sharks.

7. Coober Pedy, South Australia

Coober Pedy South Australia
Coober Pedy South Australia Image: Tourism Australia

If you like it hot and quirky then head to Coober Pedy.

Coober pedy is the opal capital of the world and It’s so hot that much of the town is underground. Sleep in an underground cave, explore underground museums, mines, and churches and play a round of golf on the desert course – not a blade of grass to be seen.

Enjoy a beer in a undeground bar and listen to the stories that come from the 3,500 people from 45 nations who live in Coober Pedy- Colourful!

8. Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory

Kakadu National Park NT
Kakadu National Park NT

Craig recently experienced Kakadu National Park on his photography trip to the Northern Territory with Canon and highly recommends it as a place to get off the beaten path and experience the Top End of Australia.

Kakadu is one of the few places in the world that is World Heritage Listed for both its cultural and natural values.

Kakadu is home to one of the oldest living societies on Earth, the local Bininj and Mugguy people, as well as hundreds of saltwater crocodiles other reptiles, birds, fish and mammals and more than 2,000 plant species. Kakadu has six different landscapes and habitats and six different seasons.

Craig recommends:

  • Sunset at Ubirr
  • Yellow water cruise  (Cooinda)
  • Gunlom waterfall
  • and the Nourlangie Aboriginal rock art site.

9. The Central Coast, NSW

Crowne Plaza Hotel Terrigal
Terrigal Beach

The Central Coast Region, our home, is just 90 minutes drive north of Sydney. So be sure to come visit us when you arrive.

One of our favourite spots is Terrigal Beach is a small coastal town often visited by celebs and famous sports stars.

It’s quiet and surrounded by surfing beaches, a lagoon for stand up paddle boarding and paddle boats, and The Haven for picnics, rolls down the Skillion and spectacular sunset views. Take your wine and cheese and crackers and enjoy the magic.

Other highlights include:

  • Bouddi National Park coastal walk
  • Avoca Beach
  • The Entrance

10. Port Macquarie, NSW North Coast

Port Macquarie is the total package for off the beaten path Aussie experiences. Uncrowded, miles of surfing beaches, an 8km coastal walk, wild dolphin and whale encounters, vineyards, activities for families, and the most magnificent sunsets.

Enjoy the sunsets on a Sunday with $10 jugs of beer at the Beach House on the waterfront. Magical…

Australia experiences
Sunset view from the Beach House

11. Phillip Island, Victoria

Phillip Island Victoria
Run little fellas Credit: Tourism Australia Copyright

Phillip Island, Victoria is a car-free outdoor adventure land and is the perfect off the beaten path retreat. Small sleepy towns, coastal scenery, wild surf, and wetlands.

Most people head to Phillip Island for the penguins who march out from the sea at dusk each day to burrow down for the evening in the sand dunes. Too cute.

12. The Grampians, Victoria

The Grampians Victoria
The Grampians Credit: Tourism Australia

I first heard about the Grampians, Victoria from my Swedish rock climbing friend. He’s rock climbed around the world and said the Grampians was his favourite, not just for the challenging rock climbs, but for the beauty and the peace and tranquility that comes with it being an off the beaten path Aussie experience.

And it’s only a few hours drive west of Melbourne.

You decide- adventure or chill out in the mountains? Oh heck why not have both?

13. Arnhem Land, Northern Territory

Arnham Land in the Northern Territory of Australia

A truly unique Aboriginal cultural experience would be a visit to Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. It’s not an easy journey and definitely not a regular tourist destination. Facilities for visitors are limited and you need a permit to enter.

Arnhem Land is a highly protected area and is governed by the Aboriginal elders of each of the small coastal communities. It’s definitely a rewarding off the beaten path experience for culture and untouched beauty.

14. Cape York Peninsula, Queensland

Cape York Peninsula
Cape York Peninsula Credit: Tourism Australia

Jump in your 4WD and explore the narrow peninsula of Cape York at the tip of Australia.

Cape York is only accessible by road in the dry season between May and November. The Coastal route via Cape Tribulation, the Daintree Rainforest and the Bloomfield Track to Cooktown requires 4WD and is incredibly scenic. (You’ll get rainforest and reef in the one place!)

The Cape York Peninsula is a land of few people and prolific wildlife, amazing fishing, stunning scenery and many ancient aboriginal cultural sites. Jump on a ferry over to Thursday Island to experience rich history and indigenous culture.

15. Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Seal Bay on kangaroo Island is where you can see Australian sea lions up close on the beach Click to read more

Known as ‘Australia’s Galpagos Kangaroo Island, off the coast of South Australia, is rich with wildlife and untouched by humans.

A vast majority of the island is a protected National Park and wilderness area. It is a place to relax and unwind and see native animals in their natural habitat.

Kangaroo Island is the place for 4WD exploration with much of the island only accessible with this vehicle.

More Australia places to visit

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What other off the beaten path experiences in Australia can you add?

40 thoughts on “Australia Experiences – 15 off the Beaten Path Destinations”

  1. I lived in Australia for 5 years when I was younger (my family moved there from the Soviet Union) and there truly are so many stunning gorgeous places. I always loved the national parks where the animals roam free.

  2. It’s great to have these suggestions all in the one place! Often we see more of another country than our own but we are missing some great places. I love the Gibb River Road and Kakadu. Now for a couple more on your list!

    1. I know Jenny! I was really hard to cap it at 15 as well. I kept thinking of other places to add. There is so much to Australia. Makes me really keen to jump in a 4WD and take a year exploring.

  3. I need to spend more time in Australia, I’ve only been to the Northern Territory (same trip as Craig) and agree that the Yellow Water Cruise is a “must do” when in the area. It was the favorite part of my trip.

    Tasmania is also really high on my list. I would love to volunteer with Tasmanian devils.

    1. Hi Laurel! Sorry I didn’t get to meet you on the trip. Sounds like you all had fun. I’m jealous of the Kakadu experience. My brother and his wife are going there on the weekend so I am feeling extra left out now. My turn has to be next!

  4. Wow — I feel a bit guilty having only been to two of the places on this list (Newcastle and Port Macquarie), although a lot of them have been on my list for a long time (especially Tasmania and diving with the whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef). Australia really does have so many interesting and diverse places to see, whether they’re on the beaten track or not!

    I would add the Sunshine Coast hinterland as a place that’s a bit off the beaten track. I love the Glass House Mountains and have actually climbed three of them…but even if you don’t like hanging off the side of a rock face, there are plenty of them that can be walked up. They are so different from normal mountains and well worth seeing. Plus, it’s dotted with little towns like Maleny that make great stops.

    1. GREAT suggestion! I am ashamed to say we lived not far away in Mooloolaba for 18 months and did not venture out to the hinterlands as much as we should have. Climbing the glasshouse mountains would be awesome. We used to go to Montville a bit which was lovely.

  5. Hmmm. I can tick 7 out of the 15 top experiences!! While I am keen to get to Coober Pedy sometime a good alternative is White Cliffs in NSW, about 3 hours drive from Broken Hill. It is also an Opal Mining town and we stayed in the Underground Hotel which was great.

    1. Great suggestion. Thank you! I’d say this is even more off the beaten path and a lot closer to our home town. Putting it on the list

  6. Oh – you are making me so homesick for the coast! I lived in and around Terrigal for 7 years and loved it! 7 years was definitely not enough! Lucky for me, work took me to the Hunter and Port all the time – fabulous! I never made it to Coober Pedy – but I would love to experience it!
    Another for the list – Pub Crawl on Horseback – it was my first Aussie Experience – all my friends killed themselves laughing – but it was amazing fun! (I hope adding a link is ok – but it really was a crazy awesome trip!!! http://traveldestinationbucketlist.com/2012/01/27/pub-crawl-on-horseback-adventures-in-the-australian-outback/)

    1. Oh wow!! That is on my bucket list for sure now. Sounds like so much fun!! The horses are beautiful and the scenery looks so gorgeous. Thanks for sharing that one! Adding a link to useful information is always okay!! LOVE it!

      1. Awesome – I debated adding – but it definitely was off the beaten track and so much fun – I just had to share! Worth the trip to Northern NSW! Hope you make it out there – you will have a ball!

  7. I’ve definitely only hit the more major on-the-beaten-path destinations on my 2 trips to Australia, but I definitely want to see some (all?) of these next time I’m there. Sometimes I hate that Australia is such a big country with so many things to see and do, because there’s no way I’ll ever get to it all!

  8. I managed 9 of these 15 on my two trips to Australia, so think I did pretty well! Tasmania is an absolute gem of a place to visit – I absolutely loved it there. And the Gibb River Road is just bloody fantastic! Great list – of the ones I didn’t make – heading up to the top of Cape York by 4×4 is the top of my list 🙂

      1. I definitely agree on your Tasmania comment. We had three weeks there on our honeymoon a few years ago and there are some awesome sights.

        Just don’t do the classic ‘I’m going to Tasmania for one week so I will go all the way around the island’ which I have heard from a few people over time. We went around the full island over three weeks and we still felt a bit rushed.

  9. Grampians is definitely making it to my bucket list! Looks like a very special place, especially for rock climbers.

  10. Gibb River Road (#3) and Arnherm Land (#13) are my thing. Maybe add in Cape York Peninsula (#14) since it’s near. Thanks for sharing.

    I don’t think I can go that far to the edge on the Grampians, though.

  11. I’ve just started planning my travelling around Australia and I’ve already got 5 of these in my eyesight(Grampians, Kangaroo Island, Philip Island, Tasmania and possibly Coober Pedy) so I really appreciate this post. Unfortunately, travelling as a student on a budget (who isn’t old enough to rent a car and doesn’t have enough money to buy one!) I don’t think I’ll be able to achieve many of the others. This is a real shame considering how amazing they look. Thanks for sharing.

    1. There’s always a reason to come back. Put those ones on your list for when you are old enough to rent a car. Shame that you can’t.

  12. I have been to a few of these places over the years, and I must agree that they are must see’s if going to Australia. They aren’t exactly the most popular sites, and you don’t hear much about them, but they are truly amazing to experience in person.

  13. There are so many great off-the-beaten-path places in Australia that I love. The O’Reilly Rainforest in the Gold Coast Hinterland is often over-looked, and it is beautiful. Also, Coober Pedy is a really amazing town to experience.

    1. Oh thanks for the great tip. Actually I was chatting to some elderly backpackers on our recent cruise boat who told me about O’Reilly’s and how special it was. It’s now on my list

  14. Great way to plan an itinerary by ticking off this list! Newcastle, Phillip Island and Tasmania are all on my ‘hope to see soon’ list

  15. I have done at least the Phillip Island among these. Uluru is left of the big famous ones. Australia is so vast filled with one of the most spectacular landscapes. Above all I love to do bush walking in the national parks. Bunya mountains walk where even the dinosaurswalked, is coming soon for me which I had done few years ago and its simply superb to see the flora and fauna, ofcourse the wallabies and kangaroos :).

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