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 everyone’s 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 that are not on the main tourist track.
When planning a trip to Aus, it’s important to add some off the beaten path destinations in Australia to the plan too.
These hidden gems are where you get to see the real Australia. They are places that few international, and local, tourists venture into – making a more meaningful and authentic experience for those who do visit.
After spending 18 months road tripping around Australia, we were blessed to discover many hidden gems in Australia that are off the beaten path, which gave us special stories to take away and remember our experience from.
Whether you’re looking for secluded beaches that you share with sun-baking crocodiles, or looking for nights spent sleeping in underground homes, or camping where koalas, kangaroos, and wallabies freely roamed around you – these below destinations great the most unique Aussie travel experiences.
- The Best Off-The-Beaten Path Australia Experiences
- 1. River Red Gum National Park, New South Wales
- 2. Glenworth Valley, Central Coast, NSW
- 3. Gibb River Road, The Kimberly, WA
- 4. Tasmania
- 5. Newcastle and the Hunter Valley, NSW
- 6. Ningaloo Reef, Exmouth, Western Australia
- 7. Coober Pedy, South Australia
- 8. Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory
- 9. The Central Coast, NSW
- 10. Port Macquarie, NSW North Coast
- 11. Phillip Island, Victoria
- 12. The Grampians, Victoria
- 13. Arnhem Land, Northern Territory
- 14. Cape York Peninsula, Queensland
- 15. Kangaroo Island, South Australia
- 16. Outback
- Final Word on Off The Beaten Track Australia
- More Australia Travel Tips
The Best Off-The-Beaten Path Australia Experiences
Below you will find some of our favourite hidden gems in Australia that take you off the main tourist trail and into the wild…
1. River Red Gum National Park, New South Wales
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 river, 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
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
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!
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 off-the-beaten-path experience.
Tasmania is known as a natural state with pristine wilderness areas to explore, overland tracks to hike and some of the best fresh produce in Australia to enjoy along the way.
It’s also known for its wild and untamed national parks, where you will find some of Australia’s most unique and rarest wildlife, including the Tasmanian Devil, Emus, Wombats, and Gray Kangaroos.
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.
It’s a great base to explore many of Tasmania’s top places to visit and rural off-the-beaten-path locations. Be sure to check out Cradle Mountain and the amazing hiking trails nearby.
Launceston is another city in Tas that makes for a great base for exploration.
5. Newcastle and the Hunter Valley, NSW
Newcastle has everything Sydney has but on a smaller scale, and yet it’s only 2 hours north.
It made Lonely Planet’s must see destination list of 2011, and is the seventh largest city in Australia – although it doesn’t feel like it as it has a relaxed, surfer vibe and thriving art scene.
Newcastle has amazing dining experiences, great surfing beaches, and a laid-back lifestyle.
It is also the gateway to fantastic destinations such as The Hunter Valley wine region; Stockton Beach for dune buggy fun; and whale watching (between June and November) in the aquatic playground of Port Stephens.
6. Ningaloo Reef, Exmouth, Western Australia
Ningaloo Reef is The Great Barrier Reef of the West Coast, except this one is unspoiled and unpopulated.
You can swim from the shoreline at Exmouth and Coral Bay directly onto the reef which is thriving with sea life.
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.
It’s located halfway between Perth and Broome.
7. Coober Pedy, South Australia
If you like it hot and quirky then head to Coober Pedy in the middle of South Australia.
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 an underground 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
If there’s one national park you must experience in Australia, it’s Kakadu National Park. Although it’s quite well-known, it’s still off the beaten path as it’s quite a trek to get to. You must first get to Darwin, and then take a drive for about 2.5 hours to the park.
Getting there by public transport is going to be extremely difficult, so you will need to hire a car.
Kakadu is one of the few places in the world that is World Heritage Listed for both its cultural and natural values.
It’s also the biggest national park in Australia which means there is plenty of room to get away from the crowds, however, we wouldn’t recommend you venture too far away from the path as this is croc territory.
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, mammals, and more than 2,000 plant species.
Kakadu has six different landscapes and habitats and six different seasons.
If you’re looking for some hidden gem experiences in Kakadu, then we recommend you enjoy the sunset at Ubirr, visit the beautiful Gunlom waterfall, and visit the Nourlangie Aboriginal rock art site. You can also take a Yellow Water Cruise (Cooinda) though this is quite touristy.
For those wanting to experience off-the-beaten-path destinations in Australia’s Top End, Kakadu should not be skipped.
9. The Central Coast, NSW
The Central Coast Region is just 90 minute short drive north of Sydney. So be sure to come visit us when you arrive.
One of our favourite spots is Terrigal Beach, 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
- The Five Lands Coastal Walk
10. Port Macquarie, NSW North Coast
Port Macquarie is the total package for off the beaten path Aussie experiences. Located on the East Coast, it’s about the halfway point between Sydney and Brisbane.
Uncrowded, miles of white sand beaches with excellent surf, an 8km walk along the coastline, wild dolphin and whale encounters, vineyards, activities for families, and the most magnificent sunsets.
Enjoy the sunsets on a Sunday with $20 cocktails at the Beach House on the waterfront. Magical…
11. Phillip Island, Victoria
Phillip Island, Victoria is a car-free outdoor adventure land and is the perfect off the beaten path retreat from Melbourne.
It has small sleepy towns, coastal scenery, wild surf, and wetlands.
Most people head to Phillip Island for the penguin parade, which is a name given to a colony of penguins who march out from the sea at dusk each day to burrow down for the evening in the sand dunes. Too cute.
Although the penguin parade has become a bit of a tourist gimmick over the years, not many people venture around the rest of the island, so you can always find a nice, secluded spot to watch the waves.
12. The Grampians, Victoria
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? The Grampians are still an off-the-beaten-path adventure in Australia waiting to be explored.
- Stay at the Grampians YHA
- A guide to hiking the Pinnacle, Grampian National Park
- While here, the Great Ocean Road is not too far away!
13. Arnhem Land, Northern Territory
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, which is why you should 100% make it part of your off-the-beaten-path itinerary.
Facilities for visitors are limited and you need a permit to enter. But what you get back is a rich and diverse cultural experience and a way to learn more about the original owners of this magical land.
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
Jump in your 4WD and explore the narrow peninsula of Cape York at the tip of Australia. While many people consider Fraser Island the best place for 4WDing – those people probably haven’t been to Cape York.
Cape York is only accessible by road in the dry season between May and November. After that, it’s cut off by the ocean.
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 the rich history and indigenous culture.
The Coastal Route via Cape Tribulation near the Daintree Rainforest, as well as the Bloomfield Track to Cooktown also requires a 4WD and is incredibly scenic. You’ll get rainforest and reefs in one place!
15. Kangaroo Island, South Australia
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.
It’s a short 45-minute ferry ride from Adelaide to Kangaroo Island.
While many people visit Alice Springs to explore the outback and don’t see more than Uluru (Ayers Rock) and a few other rock formations, you should note that the Australian outback is 6.5 million square kilometres, making it one of the best places to get off the beaten path in Australia.
Hire a campervan and drive to Boodjamulla National Park, which is in the Queensland Outback.
It’s similar to Uluru in that it has the iconic red rock formations, but it’s also an emerald, green oasis with many swimming holes, craggy gorges, arid landscapes, and many hiking trails, bush walks, and camping sites.
It’s one of our favourite national parks in Australia and is iconic for its gorges. Some of our favourite things to do in the park are canoeing on the Lower and Upper Gorge, and walking up to the Upper Gorge lookout.
Final Word on Off The Beaten Track Australia
There you have it, those are the best hidden gems and off-the-beaten-track adventures in Australia from a locals perspective.
Of course, there are plenty more places just waiting to be discovered, and some that we felt are too good to share.
One of the best things about visiting off the beaten path places is that you get to experience somewhere no one else has heard of, or very few people frequently visit.
It would be counter productive of us to share every hidden gem we visited in this guide, as they would no longer be hidden, so we urge you to go out and explore for yourself.
But do take great care when exploring the back roads of Aus and keep an eye out for local wildlife!
More Australia Travel Tips
Of course, as well as visiting the off-the-beaten-path destinations in Australia, you should also make sure to visit some iconic places too. Here are some other resources to help you plan your trip to Australia:
- How to Visit the Great Barrier Reef
- Adventures in Australia to Experience with Friends
- Australia Travel Tips
- 15 Best Australian road trips
- Top 20 Places in Australia
- 45 things to know about Australia
- 25 Outstanding national parks
- 18 short walks in Australia to love
- 38 of the best beaches in Australia
- Handy tips for driving in Australia
What other off the beaten path experiences in Australia can you add to this list? Let us know in the comments.