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5 Best Hidden places to visit in Australia- not your typical tour

Updated on February 28, 2014

Since I can remember I have always had a bucket list. Things I needed to see before I got old. One of them was to visit Australia on my backpacking trip around the world. It happened but not as I expected, I had the opportunity to move there for work and I took every weekend as an opportunity to explore the great outdoors. After my work contract expired my husband and I packed up the car with the essentials, sold everything else and went on a 6-month camping trip around Australia. We found some fantastic scenic spots with no tourists at all, completely off the beaten path and definitively worth your while.

If you are traveling to Australia for the first time with only a few weeks to spend in this magnificent country, you will have to pick the most traveled spots, like Sydney, Whitsundays, Brisbane, etc. Even though constantly visited they are absolutely fantastic. Skipping them would be like visiting the United States and not having New York City in your itinerary. For a second visit however, you might want to add new places that will give you a different kind of experience, learn more about the culture and its hidden treasures. Here is a list of the top 5 most fantastic off-the-beaten-path places we found while camping out in the vastness of the Australian continent.

Crystal clear water of Coral Bay
Crystal clear water of Coral Bay | Source

1. Coral Bay, Western Australia

The way we found Coral Bay was driving due North from Perth along 1000 kilometers of uninhabited desert. Keeping the gas gauge in sight and treating fuel like water- a highly valuable commodity. We were traveling during the fall months of March and April and here at Coral Bay the water was still warm enough to swim in. I suggest carrying with you a mask and snorkeling everywhere you go in Australia, at Coral Bay you do not have to get on a boat for great snorkeling. 100 feet off the beach and there is plenty of coral and underwater fauna in crystal clear water.

Relax on the beach or if you are up for an adventure and your wallet allows it, join the tours to swim alongside a whale shark. There are only a few places in the world where you can see this magnificent giants let alone swim with them. It is pricey because the tour uses a spotter plane to locate the whale shark and then radios back to the boats to follow, sighting is guaranteed.

Coral Bay, Western Australia

A markerCoral Bay, Western Australia -
Coral Bay WA 6701, Australia
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Flinders Ranges National Park
Flinders Ranges National Park | Source

2. Flinders Ranges National Park, South Australia

Flinders Ranges are located approximately 450 kilometers north of Adelaide. It can easily be a detour from the tourist trail going from Adelaide to Alice Springs and Uluru. As the name indicates it is a range of mountains in the desolate outback. At the park you can traverse part of one of the world’s greatest hiking trail and Australia’s longest: The Heysen Trail. If you are into mountain biking, The Mawson Trail is designed specifically for bike lovers; the trail has small detours to see the best features of the park like the Wilpena Pound a 80-square kilometer Natural amphitheater. Stay and camp right at the visitor center’s campground, the amenities are top notch. The national park has maps of the bike and hiking trails, it is a big park keep this with you.

Flinder Ranges, South Australia

A markerFlinder Ranges, South Australia -
Flinders Ranges, SA, Australia
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The dugouts
The dugouts | Source
Coober Pedy iconic mining truck welcoming visitors to this unique place was invented here, it is not used anywhere else in the world.
Coober Pedy iconic mining truck welcoming visitors to this unique place was invented here, it is not used anywhere else in the world. | Source

3. Coober Pedy

Coober Pedy is a city in the middle of the desert, about 845 kilometers north of Adelaide. It is very dry and very hot but the city thrives on opal mining. Most of the town’s folk are opal miners and they supply 95% of the world’s opals. Anyone can be a miner; you can apply for your permit, buy a piece of land and start digging. Heavy machinery can destroy the opal so most of the digging is done by hand. If you are just visiting you can get down and dirty and dig through piles of discarded rock to find your own opal or visit one of the many shops that sell the gems.

Besides being the best place to buy opals in Australia, this unique place stands out because most of the people here live underground. Their home are called "dugouts" and it is a great idea since the temperature underground is constant at 72 degrees and makes living here bearable during the summer. These dugouts are in no way rudimentary they have everything a modern world can supply from tiled flooring to pool tables. If you need to expand there is no need to move you can always dig out another bedroom. A great place to stay if you are camping here is an underground camping area where you have your own site to pitch your tent. Natural light is rare so bring your flashlight.

A markerCoober pedy, southern australia -
Coober Pedy SA 5723, Australia
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Lake Argylle, beginning of Ord River
Lake Argylle, beginning of Ord River | Source

4. Kununurra and the Ord River, Western Australia

Kununurra is a small town located approximately 850 km west of Darwin. It is quiet, remote and most everyone here is a rodeo rider. The real attraction here is along the Ord River. A 3-day self-guided canoe tour will take you from the dam at beautiful Lake Argyle all the way back to Kununurra. It is the best way to take in the gorgeous surroundings.

You rent a cooler, tent and a waterproof map and you are the tour guide. The map has your highlighted route and things to do and see along the way. This tour is an Australian-style tour with a no-worries and go-for-it attitude- for example: jumping off a 12-meter rock is highly recommended, and do not worry about the small crocks they are only freshies; oh and by the way you will be about an 8-hour paddle ride from the nearest telephone. No worries! it is a fun adventure that you will remember for the rest of your life.

There are designated campgrounds where you will find everything you need including rudimentary toilets, cooker and off-the-ground tent placements. You are encouraged to go deep into the tributaries, go on shore and hike up to waterfalls and other landmarks. Incredible scenery and lots of wildlife including snakes and spiders but this is why we love Australia. The third day brings you along a settled area, stop at the Zebra Rock art gallery, Northern Australia is the only place in the world where you will be able to see this kind of gorgeous rock and it is well worth a look. Also inquire inside the gallery for amazingly refreshing mango shakes, after 3 days paddling they taste like heaven!

A markerKununurra, Norther territory, Australia -
Kununurra WA 6743, Australia
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Trail to Cradle Mountain with Cradle Mountain in the background.
Trail to Cradle Mountain with Cradle Mountain in the background. | Source

5. Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain is located at the beginning of the Great Overland Track approximately 330 kilometers north of Hobart. The Overland Track is 65 kilometers long and it takes 6 days to traverse. It follows through the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. If you are into hiking by all means complete the 6-day journey it is well worth it, however we found that the 6-hour hike to the crown of Cradle Mountain alone would give you the best view of the track, a sample of the great scenery and your effort well rewarded.

The climb is not easy, at times you will need to be on your hands and knees to go over the boulders at the top. In the pure Australian style there are no safety features installed along the track only markers to guide your way- it is all natural the way it should be. The hard way to the top makes the view at the top most rewarding.

A markercradle mountain,tasmania -
Cradle Mountain TAS 7306, Australia
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Planning your tip? I highly recommend taking only one book: the backpacker's bible

Lonely Planet Tasmania (Travel Guide)
Lonely Planet Tasmania (Travel Guide)

If you are planning on heading down to Tasmania, then I would also recommend to get this book which will only pertain to that area therefore it has a lot more detail.

 

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    • Ruby H Rose profile image

      Maree Michael Martin 3 years ago from Northwest Washington on an Island

      Such wonderful places to add to my list! I am excited about these 5 special spots that you found, the pictures are amazing, would love seeing more of them. Someday yet, my feet may touch Australia.

    • TravelingCrab profile image
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      TravelingCrab 4 years ago from USA

      @AmbitiousMarketer thanks for your comment. On the Ord River for two out of the three days there were no signs of people/houses, we camped at designated spots with an environmentally friendly toilet and places to set up a tent. They give you a map and it shows you were the camping spots are. It was absolutely pristine waters no rubbish or signs of pollution. We passed one other couple on our journey. On the third day we started to see the houses by the river since we were getting closer to the final destination of Kununurra. Kununurra is described as "a big city" by nearby residents, however I do not remember seeing even one traffic light. We traveled throughout the desert, on the way to Coober Pedy we found a "town" with a billboard saying "population: 10" with a campground and a bar. What else would you need?

    • tanveerbadyari profile image

      tanveerbadyari 4 years ago

      wondeful places of austrailla, I really like the beautiful lake argylle. thanks for such a lovely hub.

    • AmbitiousMarketer profile image

      Mark Johnson 4 years ago from England

      This is more like it. No need to find fun in the tourist traps as nothing beats the Natural World.

      Regarding Kununurra and the Ord River did you ever see signs of civilisation or even a house? I know the outback is one of the most desolate regions in the world but there's always signs of human activity in the form of rubbish, discarded items/tools/machninery or abandoned buildings

    • travelholidays profile image

      travelholidays 4 years ago from India

      Surprising to read 'opal miners and they supply 95% of the world’s opals' . That much high quantity of Opals could get in Australia? Interesting Hub Voted Up :)

    • salt profile image

      salt 4 years ago from australia

      Not bad, but these are not places that I would say were off the norm for many travellers. There are some spectacular choices though.

    • Claudia Tello profile image

      Claudia Tello 4 years ago from Mexico

      I went to Coral Bay when I was visiting Australia and it is certainly a beautiful place. The only advice I would add is that you need to go with a few friends or at least someone else because if you are going alone it gets quite boring......

    • profile image

      Monkey 5 years ago

      Great format, had the perfect amount of information to get me excited about returning to Australia. Links are very useful. Thanks for posting :)

    • profile image

      jsm 5 years ago

      great advice...can wait to start planning my trip!!!!

    • Journey * profile image

      Nyesha Pagnou MPH 5 years ago from USA

      This is a very interesting and informative article. I enjoyed learning about these areas and seeing the photos. Thanks!