In the sizeable and diverse land of Australia, there are amazing destinations just waiting to be discovered by the intrepid traveller. In this sea-bound continent, you will find ancient geological wonders, cultural gems, and a plethora of unique experiences to ignite your curiosity. Take a journey through some of the most extraordinary destinations in Australia, where history, nature, and culture join to create unforgettable memories.
Undara Lava Tubes: A Journey Through Time
Picture a world deep beneath the earth, where ancient volcanic forces gave birth to one of the world’s most extensive lava tube systems. These tubes, known as the Undara Lava Tubes, are a geological wonder located in Queensland, Australia. They’ve been around for nearly 190,000 years, formed by molten lava oozing from an ancient volcano and carving out hollow tunnels as it drained away.
Visiting the Undara Lava Tubes is like stepping into a time machine. With guided tours galore, you can explore these natural wonders, walking through tunnels decorated with spectacular formations like stalagmites, stalactites, and grand lava pillars. But it’s not just the rocks that make this place special – it’s also home to a unique ecosystem. Bats, frogs, and all sorts of insects call these tubes home, making it a fascinating look at geology and biology.
Night tours give you a chance to witness the soft glow of the rare glow worms that also occupy the Undara Lava Tubes. Outside, you’ll find yourself in a rainforest setting where you can enjoy a picnic amidst nature..
Coober Pedy: Where Opals and Desert Dwellings Meet
Tucked away in the remote northern region of South Australia, about 850 kilometres north of Adelaide, Coober Pedy is a town like no other. Known as the “opal capital of the world”, this place was founded back in 1915 when gold fever was running high… but it didn’t take long for opal mining to steal the spotlight! By the 1920s, it had become the town’s main gig.
However, Coober Pedy is not just famous for opals. What really sets this tiny town apart is its unique solution to the desert heat. This place sizzles in summer, with temperatures regularly soaring past 35 degrees Celsius. So, they came up with a cool solution (pun intended). Underground living! Many locals call ‘dugouts’ their homes, and you can even stay in one when you visit. These are basically cute underground dwellings carved into the hillsides, providing a welcome escape from the scorching sun.
One of the real treasures here is the Serbian Orthodox Church, a unique underground marvel. If you’re lucky enough to ride the Ghan, a luxury train journey that crosses the continent between Adelaide and Darwin, Coober Pedy is one of its stops, so you can hop off and explore this unusual town.
Pilliga Forest: A Wild Aussie Gem
Nestled in the heart of New South Wales, Pilliga Forest is a sprawling 5,000-square-kilometre natural wonderland, making it the biggest forest of its kind in the state. This place is a haven for nature lovers, home to a whopping 900 plant species and about 280 different animals. Think koalas, kangaroos, emus, and a bunch of colourful birds. Some of these critters, like the pint-sized eastern pygmy possum, the show-stopping regent honeyeater, and the beloved koala, need a bit of extra love and protection.
For travellers seeking an authentic Aussie adventure, Pilliga Forest is a hidden gem. You can camp in your luxury motorhome hire Sydney, go hiking, birdwatch, and take many Instagram-worthy photos. Plus, this forest has some special spots that are important to our First Nation people. When you visit, you can learn about the forest’s history and the many plants and animals living there at the Pilliga Forest Discovery Centre.
Lake Tyrrell: Where Victoria Meets the Sky
Nestled in the northwest of Victoria, Lake Tyrrell is unlike any other lake you’ve ever seen. In Australia’s terms, it’s a giant salt pan, but in reality, it’s a place where the sky and earth seem to meet. The Wergaia people named it after their word for ‘sky,’ giving you a clue about its incredible uniqueness.
Most of the time the lake is dry, leaving a shimmering salt crust that blankets the area. But when heavy rains sweep in, something magical happens. The lake gets a thin layer of water that transforms it into a mirror, perfectly reflecting the sky above. It’s a photographer’s dream! Lake Tyrrell is also an essential breeding spot for seagulls, adding to its appeal as a unique ecological spot.
When you visit, you can take a leisurely walk across the salt crust, with care to not venture too far out, as it can be a bit treacherous in parts. Sunrise and sunset are the best times to capture the lake’s beauty on camera. If you’re in the mood for a drive, take the scenic route around the lake to enjoy the breathtaking views. For an unforgettable experience, organise a campervan hire Melbourne to Lake Tyrell and camp out overnight. It’s your chance to soak in the incredible night sky, while emus and kangaroos keep you company!
Roebuck Bay: Nature’s Stairway to the Moon
The Kimberley region of Western Australia hides a rare coastal treasure known as Roebuck Bay, just a stone’s throw from Broome. It’s a place where clear blue ocean meets soft sand shore, making it a popular spot for swimming. The bay is also home to a bustling marine community that includes dolphins, turtles, and dugongs.
As great as these things are, Roebuck Bay has even more exceptional reasons to visit. One of the most enchanting experiences at Roebuck Bay is the natural phenomenon known as the “Staircase to the Moon.” This awesome spectacle occurs when a full moon rises over the exposed tidal flats of the bay, creating a glowing illusion of a cosmic staircase.
Port Arthur: A Journey into Tasmania’s Dark Past
For a taste of Australia’s haunting history, you can’t miss Port Arthur. Located on the Tasman Peninsula in Tasmania, this small town was a notorious convict settlement, located about 100 kilometres southeast of Hobart, the state capital. Established in 1830, it was a place of punishment for the British Empire’s most hardened criminals. By the 1850s, it had grown into the world’s largest convict settlement. The life here was harsh and brutal, with convicts toiling in brutal conditions and enduring cruel punishments, like the cat of nine tails.
Although it has a grim reputation, Port Arthur played a large role in shaping Tasmania. The convicts constructed roads, bridges, and buildings that still stand today. After closing as a convict settlement in 1877, Port Arthur was transformed into a popular tourist destination and today it continues to draw visitors. At the heart of the town lies the Port Arthur Historic Site, a place where you can step into the ruins and restored buildings. The Penitentiary, the largest building in the settlement, is a must-see, showcasing the tough conditions endured by prisoners.
Devils Marbles: Rocks with a Sacred Twist
The Devils Marbles, also known as Karlu Karlu, are an impressive collection of massive granite boulders tucked away in the Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve, about 100 kilometres south of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory of Australia. These iconic boulders have weathered for over 500 million years, created by the forces of nature acting upon a substantial granite intrusion. Beyond their geological significance, the Devils Marbles hold deep cultural and spiritual importance for the Warumungu Aboriginal people. These traditional custodians have lived in this region for thousands of years, believing that the boulders are the eggs of the Rainbow Serpent, a potent creation spirit.
The Devils Marbles have drawn the attention of explorers from around the globe, offering numerous ways to experience this natural wonder. You can choose to explore the reserve on foot, with a variety of walking trails catering to different levels of fitness. For those who prefer wheels over feet, there’s a sealed road meandering through the reserve, while unsealed tracks provide the perfect path for adventurers. To learn more about the history, geology, and cultural significance of the Devils Marbles, make a pit stop at the Devils Marbles Visitor Centre. For a more immersive experience, guided tours led by knowledgeable guides provide an in-depth understanding of this unique and spiritual place. With its captivating geological formations and profound cultural significance, the Devils Marbles offer a remarkable experience in the heart of the Australian outback.
Australia’s vast realm is a treasure trove of unique places and experiences. Explore them and let your curiosity guide you on an unforgettable adventure.