Australia is full of iconic destinations, and travelling the East coast is almost a rite of passage for many who visit the land down under. The likes of Byron Bay, The Great Ocean Road and Sydney are visited by thousands of tourists everyday. And whilst these places are impressive, it is no surprise a country as huge as Australia has so many more places which are less visited and yet just as amazing. If you want to escape the crowds and discover a hidden gem, read on to discover some of the most underrated destinations in Australia.
Port Macquarie is quite popular with Australian’s for summer holidays, but for some reason often gets overlooked by visitors. It is right on the popular route between Sydney and Cairns and chock full of things to see and do. For starters, it has 15 beaches including one that is over 9km (5.6 miles) long. You can swim at many of them, or walk between them for a stunning day out. And, in summer, you can even go for a camel ride on the beach, an activity you won’t find very often.
Port Macquarie also has a beloved Koala Hospital that takes care of the sick and injured koalas found in the area. You can come and visit and get a close-up peek at Australia’s cutest animal! There are also lots of water sports to do here including surfing, jet skiing, stand up paddling and kayaking. And, when it’s the season (May to November) you can also go out whale watching and get amongst some 17,000 Humpbacks that pass by here every year. And when it’s time to eat, Port Macquarie also has some of the region’s best restaurants. Make time to visit a hatted restaurant (the Australian equivalent of the Michelin Star) called the Stunned Mullet. – Roger, ExpertWorldTravel
Humpty Doo is a small town in the Northern Territory about 40 kilometers from the state capital of Darwin. This tiny town with a population of about 4,000 people is (unfortunately) often skipped by visitors. After living in Darwin for two years I grew to really like Humpty Doo and appreciate it for a few different reasons. The first being that it is an authentic “Aussie Outback” community. Literally, this tiny town is in the middle of nowhere surrounded by red dirt as far as the eye can see. If you ever wanted to meet some rough and tumble Aussies then you must hit up Humpty Doo.
The second reason Humpty Doo is a great destination (and why I loved it) is because of the pub. I know what you’re thinking – a pub?! Yes, at the Humpty Doo Hotel there is a very famous pub. This pub has become known for its strange (but tasty) menu items like buffalo and crocodile, but also for it’s down to earth and friendly vibe. The pub and hotel was originally built in the 1970s and is said to be the NT’s longest continually licenced bar! If you do visit the pub one thing is for sure, you’ll be up and dancing with the locals to live music in no time at all!
And finally, Humpty Doo is awesome because of the nature that surrounds it! If you stay in Humpty Doo for a night or two you can easily venture to the Adelaide River and join a Jumping Crocodile Cruise where you’ll see wild saltwater crocodiles, or, you can drive only an hour to the world famous Litchfield National Park! – Bailey, Destinationless Travel
Cape Leveque on the Dampier Peninsula has to be one of the most unique and beautiful beaches on the west coast of Australia. Rugged red cliffs tower above the white sand and deep blue water at this incredibly unusual beach. As the sun sets and casts its golden glow on the cliffs at Cape Leveque, they turn a bright red reminiscent of sunset at Uluru.
Not many people make the trip out to Cape Leveque as it is a 2.5-hour drive from Broome, much of which is along unsealed roads. The unsealed section of the road is part sand and part corrugated dirt meaning you need a 4-wheel drive to reach Cape Leveque. Until we visited Broome and the surrounding area we never knew there was a natural colour palette quite like this. The coastline here looks otherworldly. If you venture out onto the Dampier Peninsula you will be richly rewarded with beautiful beaches unlike anywhere else in the world. – Roxy, The Coastal Campaign
Australia’s east coast is home to a number of cities that are visited by plenty of tourists of every year. Two hours north of Sydney lies the city of Newcastle, one often overlooked by those visiting the land down under, but there are enough things to do to be worth a visit. Originally called home by a number of indigenous tribes before European settlement took place in 1797, Newcastle gained a notorious reputation were the most violent criminals were sent to dig in coal mines.
Today, there are a number of relics of the convict era, as well as some sun-drenched beaches and beautiful viewpoints of the ocean. Newcastle is home to a number of beaches dotted around the coast. One of Newcastle’s best beaches is known as Nobbys Beach. Not only is this a stretch of unbroken golden sands, one of Newcastle’s most iconic sights, Nobbys Lighthouse, is always in view from the beach.
Taking a short walk to Fort Scracthley gives some beautiful vistas of both the Pacific Ocean and the city of Newcastle itself. Even though Newcastle is often missed in favor of other east coast Australian cities, it is well worth the visit in itself, and firmly earns a place on this list of underrated destinations in Australia – Ben, Horizon Unknown
Jervis Bay is located 2-3 hours south of Sydney. It is home to some of Australia’s best beaches and many of the most underrated destinations in Australia. Hyams Beach, which was (falsely) believed to be the beach with the whitest sand in the world, is the most popular place in these parts, but explore a little further and there is so much to discover. There are at least 10 beautiful white sand beaches in Jervis Bay, some of which you might be lucky enough to get all to yourself!
Highlights of a trip to Jervis Bay include the White Sands Walk, which connects to some of the best beaches in the area. Also, Booderee National Park is home to some amazing beaches and viewpoints. No visit is complete without a dolphin spotting tour out on the calm waters of the bay. You might also see kangaroos hanging out at some of the beaches and camping areas. Huskisson is the main tourist town in Jervis Bay and is a great place to base yourself, but there are plenty of other places to stay if you want somewhere a bit quieter. – Jon, Jonistravelling
Black Spur Drive
Black Spur Drive is one of the best little roads in Australia, but one you’ve probably never heard of. Snaking 27km from the pretty Yarra Valley town of Healesville it makes is way through a forest of huge Mountain Ash trees. This is road trip paradise, with a new scene of beauty greeting you around every corner. A deep undercover of ferns sprawl across the forest floor. Only the iconic yellow of the Australian road signs offering a relief from the barrage of green. The trees themselves, whilst called Mountain Ash, are actually Eucalyptus. They are the second tallest in the world behind the great Redwoods of North America.
Why is it so underrated? Being in a state that has probably to greatest road-trip in the world, (they even named it the GREAT Ocean Road!), it’s a little hard to compete. But if you’re heading out to the Yarra Valley, make sure you make a trip along Black Spur Drive. You definitely won’t regret it! – Ben, The Sabbatical Guide
Bruny Island is divided into North Bruny and South Bruny. The two are connected by a narrow strip of land known as the Neck. The Neck is just wide enough to hold a connecting road, car park, penguin rookery and lookout. North Bruny is dreamy farmland of forest and ocean views. South Bruny has three small townships of Alonnah (Hotel Bruny), Lunawanna and Adventure Bay. South Bruny is also where you’ll find South Bruny National Park, Cape Bruny Lighthouse and more stunning ocean views.
The island opened to European settlement late in the 1800’s with the timber industry. It wasn’t thought of as a holiday destination until the 1920’s. More recently it’s grown into a foodie destination with the advent of Bruny Island Cheese, pioneered by Aussie Food Entrepreneur Nick Haddow. The island now has a drive through oyster bar, berry farm, island honey, vineyard, chocolate shop and Whisky Bar. When not eating and drinking your way around the island, try a wild ride along the coastline on a Bruny Island Wildlife Cruise. It’s very easy to take your vehicle from Kettering Tasmania to Bruny Island on the Bruny Island Ferry. Alternatively you can take a tour from the Tasmanian Capital of Hobart. – Jan, Budget Travel Talk
Grampians National Park
The Grampians National Park is undoubtedly one of my favorite, and one of the most underrated destinations in Australia. And I reckon it’s a greatly underrated destination in Australia compared to other major attractions! Referred to simply as ‘the Grampians’, this epic location is based just 3 hours or so outside Melbourne, Victoria. That’s nothing by Australian standards, but it feels a world apart in almost every other way!
The Grampians are sublime. This monstrous set of sandstone cliffs rises from no-where in an otherwise flat and empty landscape. The unforgettable beauty on offer is truly staggering. Forests, waterfalls, mountains and hiking trails abound. It’s an outdoor lover’s paradise and there’s a huge amount to see and do. You can climb, boulder, hike (I recommends the iconic Pinnacle hike!), camp, dirt bike, mountain bike, and more.
Fancy something altogether less strenuous? Hang out for the afternoon in the lovely town called Halls Gap, situated in the heart of the Grampians. Grab a drink and an afternoon meal from one of the many bars and cafes. Then, as the sun starts to descend, drive on up to one of the numerous lookouts around. One of the most famous is called the Balconies. Watching the sun go down over this incredible National Park is an experience you’ll never forget. If you’re ever in the area, then I wholeheartedly suggest you head over to the Grampians. You won’t regret visiting this underrated destination in Australia! – Danny, What’s Danny Doing?
Mount Gambier is South Australia’s second largest city. It’s located almost exactly half way between Adelaide and Melbourne, and is a perfect stopping off place before or after travelling along the Great Ocean Road. The city is located in an area that was covered with volcanos in ancient times. It now has many natural attractions that reflect this, such as caves under the city, the stunning Blue Lake that sits in the crater of a now dormant volcano, and sinkholes that have been turned into magnificent gardens. Nearby there have been significant fossil finds, with caves and museums showing the ancient creatures that lived in the area. And since you are in South Australia, you are not too far away from a wine region. The Coonawarra region is a perfect day trip.
During summer there are great beaches nearby, and freshwater ponds and caves that provide snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities. A quirky winter attraction are the glow-in-the-dark Ghost Mushrooms than grow throughout the pine forests in May and June. Mount Gambier is also a hub for music festivals, with one each summer that features popular Australian artists, and each winter it is the host of a three day Jazz competition and festival. – Josie, Josie Wanders
Many Australians and tourists know Adelaide by name, but have never actually ventured to the capital of South Australia. Boy are they missing out, especially when the weather heats up and festival season begins. The largest festival is the Adelaide Fringe that showcases a variety of big and small performances. The highlight is the Garden of Unearthly Delights, which features affordable shows with food and drinks. Race fans will enjoy Adelaide 500 Supercars, and there are plenty of music festivals for even the most discerning enthusiasts.
Of course there are traditional things to do in Adelaide too. Within the downtown area, you can visit several museums and art galleries. There is also the famous Adelaide Central Market and excellent restaurants nearby in Chinatown. Compared to Sydney or Melbourne, it is still relatively easy to find a free parking spot or you can use the free tram. Part of the allure of Adelaide are all the excellent places to visit nearby. There are three fantastic wine regions within 2 hours drive. You can find sweet whites to bold reds in Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale, and Barossa Valley. You can also go from Glenelg Beach to spotting kangaroos and koalas in the wild in the same day. Maybe it is time to discover Adelaide for yourself! – Erik, DIY travel HQ
Located 2500km from Perth, this Australian External Territory is actually closer to Indonesia than it is to the mainland. That is just one of the reasons Christmas Island should be on your list of Aussie places to visit! There are a limited numbers of tourism beds on the island keeping visitor numbers low. This is to preserve the natural wonders of the island, and to maintain the small community feel.
It’s most famous for the annual Red Crab migration which sees over 50 million red crabs walk down out of the rain-forest. They breed and spawn at the oceans edge between December and January each year.
Besides beautiful beaches, hidden caves, and a laid back lifestyle, the the island is home to several endemic bird species and over 20 species of crab. It also boasts whale sharks, manta rays and pods of spinner dolphins at different times of the year. Amazing nature. Amazing people. Incredible experiences – there’s no other place in Australia quite like it! – Vicki, Make Time to see the World
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How many of these underrated destinations in Australia have you visited? And is there anywhere else you would add to the list?! Let me know in the comments!