After 10 months on my own Australian roadtrip, I saw a lot of Australia. Not all, but a lot.
In ten months, I drove with my husband, Rich, from Sydney to Melbourne via the N.S.W. South Coast and Canberra. Ten days were spent flying up to Cairns and exploring the northern end of the east coast, from the south of Cairns up to Cape Tribulation. When returning, we continued the road trip, exploring the N.S.W. Snowy Mountains, before continuing south to the Victorian Highlands and then south again to Wilson’s Promontory on the bottom eastern end of Australia.
From there, we went westward, seeing penguins and seals along the coast because spending two months in the Melbourne area looking after some beautiful rescue dogs. The Great Ocean Road was another part of the journey, as was Kangaroo Island, Adelaide, before the taking the heart-wrenching journey across the Nullarbor, to the very beautiful Western Australian South Coast.
Time was spent in the Margaret River area and the most southern point on the Western side of Australia, in beautiful Augusta. Then it was on to Perth before heading back to the east coast, back across the Nullarbor, to the very isolating Flinders Ranges.
We headed back to Sydney quickly (for a conference which was cancelled only two short days before we arrived!) before heading south again to Tasmania. After exploring the southern end, I headed back to Canberra then Sydney, which then ended my 10-month road trip.
Away from the tourist trail, there are pockets of Australia that are breathtakingly beautiful.
There were places on this adventure that really blew me away. I am an Australian and had seen much of the eastern side of Australia during my life, mostly up and down the Eastern coastline, but I never realised just how stunning Australia really was.
Part of me doesn’t want to share this information, but another part of me feels compelled to share because everyone should experience these places in their life.
On this list, there are some tourist trail destinations. But there are also many off-the-beaten-track places as well.
What You Can Find in This Post:
- 1 Great Barrier Reef, The Daintree and Cape Tribulation, Queensland
- 2 Southern Highlands inc. the Kangaroo Valley
- 3 Blackheath and Medlow Bath, N.S.W.
- 4 Off the Beaten Track Around Sydney, N.S.W.
- 5 Merimbula, N.S.W.
- 6 Charlotte Pass, Snowy Mountains, N.S.W.
- 7 Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.
- 8 Wilsons Promontory, Victoria.
- 9 Bright, Myrtleford and Keiwa Valley, The Victorian Southern Highlands
- 10 Phillip Island, Victoria
- 11 Kangaroo Island, South Australia
- 12 Adelaide, South Australia
- 13 Head of Bight, Nullarbor, South Australia
- 14 Greens Pool, Denmark, Western Australia
- 15 Emu Point, Albany, Western Australia
- 16 Margaret River, Western Australia
- 17 Rottnest Island, Western Australia
- 18 South East Cape, Cockle Creek, Tasmania
Great Barrier Reef, The Daintree and Cape Tribulation, QueenslandWhen you fly into Cairns, you see the various depths of turquoise water and below the surface, the outline of the Great Barrier Reef. On the water’s edge is what looks to be a large country town. Clouds hover the hills around the area in theatrical ways. On one side of the town is the ocean, but surrounding it is a deep, green, luscious rainforest.
When you depart the plane, you feel the intensity of the humidity, confirming you are now well and truly in the tropics. The first thing you want to do is find an empty beach, but you see and hear warnings of crocodile infested waters. Ah, but the locals know where to swim and their recommendations are otherworldly. Freshwater natural swimming pools are tucked into the base of that bordering rainforest and they are as refreshing as they look. Ask a local when you arrive and they will point you in the right direction. Or, just check out my post on where to swim safely around Cairns, based on the local recommendations I received.What’s amazing about this area is there is so much to see and do and most adventures you will want to partake in are day expeditions.
Snorkelling off the Great Barrier Reef is a day trip.
The best and most environmentally-aware companies, the ones working to protect that reef, are found out of Port Douglas. Check out this post for the snorkeling company I recommend, based on my extensive research before I joined their eco-certified snorkeling cruise. Port Douglas is an hour’s drive and approximately 68km from Cairns. It’s worth an early morning departure, just to see this stunning coastline. You’ll want to take photos.
Exploring the Daintree Rainforest up to Cape Tribulation.
I was excited to see the rainforest. There was no actual destination. But, at every turn on the narrow, winding road, it revealed more and more amazing scenery. When we arrived at Cape Tribulation, I was amazed we’d come so far. But it didn’t feel like it was a long way. It was in fact 3 hours, give or take 2 or 3 hours to stop and take photos, to enjoy the rainforest walks, to take photos of the elusive Cassowary. The distance was around 150km one way. When we hit the dirt road, we knew we had to turn back. Our car wasn’t equipped for what lay ahead and it was 150km of winding road to return. But even the return, with a ferry crossing croc-infested waters, was exciting.
Take a step back in time in Kuranda.
Kuranda is a tourist trap for sure, but it’s one for a reason. (Bear with me. Not all of the places I list are on the tourist trail.) Taking the Skyrail to Kuranda is expensive, but when you consider that saying of ‘it’s about the journey, not the destination’, it’s an expense to consider. The SkyRail offers some amazing views of Cairns and of the rainforest. It’s a longer ride than I imagined and well worth the money. Check out this post for pricing, information, and links on booking.
Check out some great tour options in the area: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
Southern Highlands inc. the Kangaroo Valley
Only 90 minutes from Sydney, this is a great weekend getaway or a fantastic stop on a larger road trip.
The Southern Highlands
There’s much to see in the Southern Highlands. I spent two weeks here and still didn’t see everything. If you can book when Bundanoon is on, it is a sight to see, totally worth the experience. It’s the biggest Scottish festival in the southern hemisphere and it’s a sight to see. But arrive early because there is no parking and I mean, you’re walking miles and miles for any type of parking at this event.
But I digress. The area has a lot to offer.
Cricket fans will love the Bradman Museum. Foodies with love the plethora of restaurant options in Bowral, Mittagong and neighbouring communities. Some of the food gems I loved are noted in my post ‘48 Hours in the Southern Highlands’, most notably the award-winning patisserie, Gumnut Patisserie. Even on a trip down to Canberra from Sydney, I will stop in for the delicacies.
Then there is the natural wonder of the Southern Highlands. Fitzroy Falls and Belmore Falls alone are stunning but add in the rolling green hills around Exeter and Bundanoon and it’s storybook stuff. For a truly Southern Highland experience, check out one of my favourite bookstores in Australia on the Bendooley Estate in Berrima.
But that’s not all.
Tucked into the surrounding area is another special spot that people tend to just drive through – the Kangaroo Valley. But after spending a long weekend there, it’s one of those places that you want to continually return to.
If you want a truly memorable experience, I highly recommend staying at Broger’s End in the Upper Kangaroo Valley.
Click here for the latest pricing and information. 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
Blackheath and Medlow Bath, N.S.W.The Blue Mountains is on every visitor’s agenda but if you stop in Katoomba for the Three Sisters and return to Sydney, you’re seriously missing out. Granted, I stop at the Three Sisters with personal visitors because it’s a great indigenous story of how they came to be, but I when I take friends, I continue up the mountain. There’s so much more to this area!
Let’s start with Medlow Bath.
If you time it right, you can enjoy a delicious high tea at the restored Wintergarden restaurant at the Hydro Majestic. This was an eyesore for many years, but the restoration efforts are phenomenal and they have not only restored it to its former glory, but they’ve also embraced the history here as well. Try the Eastern High Tea – it’s delicious.
Check out my post of my amazing experience at the Hydro Majestic.
Click here for the latest pricing on the High Tea and information for booking.
Now let’s talk about Blackheath.
For a more serene experience, travel a few more minutes to the town of Blackheath to Govetts Leap. If you’re feeling energetic, hike down to the base of Bridal Veil Falls and feel the spray of water wash over you. You can imagine what it’s like to get lost in the bush so far below.
Here, you can actually experience the wildlife as it’s not as busy as Katoomba, so the wildlife will come around (and not just for the scraps!). This is a place where you can feel nature calling you. And hopefully, you will understand why this, and the Hydro Majestic, which overlooks the Jamison Valley, is the preferred spot to truly experience the draw of the Blue Mountains.
For more, check out my post on why you should skip the Three Sisters.
Off the Beaten Track Around Sydney, N.S.W.Sydney alone needs at least five days to explore it well. But then, so do Melbourne, Adelaide, Hobart, and Perth.
But there a few places Sydney that are worthy of your time, outside of the Sydney Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and the Rocks.
One gives you an opportunity to explore an area only an hour north of Sydney, where indigenous history is prevalent – if you know where to look. The other is an experience I think Sydneysiders and tourists alike should experience – staying on an island in the middle of the city.
Joining the Sydney Outback tour was an opportunity I jumped at. As a tour, I had my hesitations, but I soon discovered this was a very different experience to the mass of tours available around Sydney. It made total sense.
After receiving a history lesson on the way to our destination, we were introduced to this area with an Aboriginal Welcome Ceremony. Then we were shown indigenous carvings which I would never have picked up, had I not been shown what to look for. Since this tour, I’ve discovered rock carvings on my own that I would never have seen otherwise.
Then, after that education, we had a relaxing cruise the Hawkesbury River, enjoying a sunny afternoon, eating a delicious lunch made from local Australian ingredients from the bush. On the cruise, we were provided with even more information of the aboriginal lifestyle which I knew about but had not really comprehended until then. This tour was an eye-opening experience for me.
Cockatoo Island is truly one of Sydney’s secrets. As I mention in my post about Cockatoo Island, the island sits in the middle of Sydney Harbour, on the westerly side of the Harbour Bridge. It’s where the Harbour meets the Lane Cove and Parramatta rivers.
Ask most Sydneysiders and they will tell you that they know about Cockatoo Island, yet few have ever visited the island, let alone stayed overnight. If they were like me, they will remember Cockatoo Island being closed to the public – for years. 100 years in fact. It was only reopened in 2007.
After spending the night, glamping on the island, this is something everyone should experience, local and tourists alike.
Staying on Cockatoo Island was truly one of the best experiences I’ve had in Sydney.
Yep, I would put it up there with visiting the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, even my personal favourite, the Royal Botanical Gardens. What they all don’t have is that you can relax in a comfy chair, watch the world go by, soak up the comings and goings of waterways of Sydney, before sleeping in comfort, with all the city lights around you.
Merimbula, N.S.W.If you’re looking for a quintessential Aussie beach community that has swimming, surfing, snorkelling, diving, fishing etc., on offer, that’s not over the top, over-booked or over-hyped (I’m looking at you Byron Bay), then try Merimbula on the Sapphire Coast of N.S.W. It’s a must stop on your Australian road trip. No doubt.
The moment I looked at Short Point, I knew this was a special place. It has small town charm with big town shopping convenience. And, only a few minutes from Merimbula and you are in the middle of farmland. It’s the land of fat dairy cows and luscious green rolling hills.
There really is such a variety of outdoor living here.
Merimbula is a bay, or an inlet, where you can watch the tide come and go throughout the day. Where oyster farms lie on one side of the inlet and a river snakes its way through on the other. Where on the opposite side of one headland is a brilliant beach, with rock pools to explore, and on the opposite headland, fish are abundant, just waiting to be caught from the pier.
Further round, quaint restaurants offer simple fare with picnic benches so diners can admire the views. And further still, a boardwalk that takes you out over the water and through an estuary so you can see the little fishes feeding in the current.
The area is breathtakingly beautiful.
Charlotte Pass, Snowy Mountains, N.S.W.Confession: I’m not a skier, but I love the Snowy Mountains in Australia.
I mean, I did learn how to cross-country ski here, way back when, but I much prefer this area in Spring. The air is still crisp, there is still some snow on the ground in the higher elevations, but there’s a place that’s my absolute favourite in the area.
It’s Charlotte Pass.
Not the ski resort, but at the end of the main road, there is an opportunity to take on the breathtaking scenery of the Snowy Mountains without much effort, at the lookout here, which includes Kosciuszko, Australia’s highest peak.
The true reward is down by the river.
If you have about two hours to spare, take a walk down the boardwalk. The looks like a trickling stream from the top, but go to the bottom and you will find a full river with cascading water rushing over granite. Rocks provide the walkway across the river, leading up the other side of the valley where another peak awaits.
When I explored here, I walked along the river towards a free-standing chimney off in the distance. There was no signage, which gave way to my imagination of who may have once lived in this remote, winter-bound cabin that once stood many years ago.
What would life have been like at this elevation? How would they have eaten? Could this have been a summer house for them? My imagination flew as I gazed out at the magnificent surroundings. The russet tundra seemed to go on forever between the massive hills. The allure of isolating oneself in these surroundings is completely relatable.
Yeah, it’s worth the hike but I’ll warn you, it’s not for anyone with a heart condition. Your phone app will tell you will be 47 floors to return back to your car. Take your time, take a snack and take lots of water. You’ll need your energy. Even the twenty-somethings were struggling.
Check out my post for more details.
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.I wrote a post about Canberra, titled: “The Mistake I Made About Canberra and Why You Need To Visit”. It could not be a truer statement. Most people don’t put it on their Australian roadtrip, but I do think that’s a mistake.
Canberra is an interesting place. It’s not somewhere that’s high on the tourist list, but with extended time in Australia, it’s worth a visit. It’s a 3.5 hours’ drive South of Sydney, and it’s an interesting mix of both a University town and the Political Hub of Australia.
For many years I actually found it boring. As a city, you’d expect it to be lively. And it is. It’s just done behind the scenes. It’s done with class and intention. The cultural atmosphere is amazing, with art galleries and museums offering world-class exhibitions and events constantly.
Canberra also has an amazing outdoor culture.
Stroll along the banks of the Kingston Foreshore and you’ll find people rowing, kayaking, fishing, doing yoga, bike riding… Because the outdoors is so accessible in Canberra, people take advantage of it. You see people walking everywhere. It’s unlike a lot of cities where it’s just not jam-packed with traffic. Canberra simply flows.
Now I may be biased at this point because my daughter lives in Canberra. But the more time I spend there, the more I discover I how much I like Canberra. There are neighbourhoods tucked away from the main roads, offering lovely little cafés and shops (I recommend the Kingston Foreshore and Manuka). There are amazing restaurants offering foodie delights. There are even quirky bookshops that will make you want to stay for hours devouring what’s hidden in the stacks.
Canberra is worth the stop. Just take plenty of change for the parking. It can be a bitch.
Click here for more information and to book your stay.
Check out some great tour options in the area: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
Wilsons Promontory, Victoria.I had read about Wilsons Promontory over the years. It’s described as a Mecca for camping. Everything I read, raved about it. It was one of the first places I put on the itinerary when I started planning my 10-Month (re) Discover Australia road trip.
Wilsons Promontory is one of those special places on earth you dream about.
With stunning coastal views, it’s equaled with amazing bushwalks and wildlife too. You feel like you are a part of the landscape. Even a wander in the early hours, camera in hand, I felt connected to nature here.
But let me tell you about the moment I arrived. Following the signs to Wilsons Promontory, the road winds around flat marsh areas, with markers posted to show the way to various bush tracks. You wonder when you’ll actually get to Tidal River because it’s sort of humdrum and you start rethinking about all you’ve read. Surely, this isn’t it. It isn’t until you traverse the mountain and turn the corner to witness a scenery that is so breathtakingly beautiful, it looks to be out of a movie set.
The more time you spend here, the better it gets. The views from the top of Mount Oberon are even better and worth the strenuous hike.
Click here for more information and to book your stay.
Bright, Myrtleford and Keiwa Valley, The Victorian Southern HighlandsBefore leaving Sydney, I was talking to a friend about my upcoming road trip. I asked him where in Australia was a great drive, one he would recommend. I knew he was a great person to ask, given he was a great fan of an epic scenic drive.
He said the Great Ocean Road was over-rated (and after three times visiting it myself and seeing what else Australia has to offer, I have to agree) and the drive to do was the Great Alpine Drive. Up until then, I had never heard of The Great Alpine Drive. It’s not one that’s advertised a great deal.
Oh, but everyone should know this spot: The Great Alpine Drive. Put it on your Aussie roadtrip list. Especially Hotham, Bright, Myrtleford and oh, the Keiwa Valley.
The drive over the mountain range from the coast to Bright is breathtaking. Multiple times I caught my breath from the scenery and ‘wow’ escaped my lips. Mount Hotham, while a ski resort, offers the most beautiful, mountainous scenery I’ve ever seen in Australia.
When you transcend the mountain, you will eventually make it to Bright. It’s such a funky little place and worthy of a few days. I could have stayed a month. I found this spot to be calming and a great writing destination. Further up the road is Myrtleford and the drive between Bright and Myrtleford is so picturesque you may find yourself thinking of Italy.
Go over the hills, heading northward, and you will find the Keiwa Valley. Staying on a property here, with no WiFi allowed me to breathe again. To disconnect. Granted I can’t do that all the time, given this business, but there are times you need to disconnect from technology and this area is the perfect place to do just that.
For more information and to book your stay, click here.
Phillip Island, Victoria
Just to be clear: I’m not putting Phillip Island on the list because of the Hemsworth boys.
Although you may be lucky to catch a glimpse if they’re around. I’m putting this on the list for the penguins. There are 32,000 little penguins that call Phillip Island home.
You can see Little Penguins in various places in Australia but the Penguin Parade provides you an education. The conservation program educates visitors about the penguin colony and habitat as well as allowing spectators to view little penguins up close. The penguins arrive on the beach and make their way home at sunset every day.
It’s an amazing experience if you can overcome the tourist groups arriving in droves on tour buses. But the secret is to find a spot up on the grandstand but close enough that you still hear the ranger giving his speech. Then, after the first penguins come in and the crowds thin out, make your way down to the front row. You’ll be able to see these little guys surf the waves in before they waddle and jump their way up the dunes to their nests scattered between the boardwalk and the centre.
When you are done at the beach, slowly make your way back up to the boardwalk and listen to the penguins call to each other, finding their mates, the babies, their friends. It’s amazing to be so close to them, but please, don’t touch. They bite. Hard.JTNDY2VudGVyJTNFJTNDYSUyMGhyZWYlM0QlMjJodHRwcyUzQSUyRiUyRnByZi5obiUyRmNsaWNrJTJGY2FtcmVmJTNBMTEwMGwzcllSJTJGY3JlYXRpdmVyZWYlM0ExMTFsMTkzNCUyMiUzRSUzQ2ltZyUyMHNyYyUzRCUyMmh0dHBzJTNBJTJGJTJGY3JlYXRpdmUucHJmLmhuJTJGc291cmNlJTJGY2FtcmVmJTNBMTEwMGwzcllSJTJGY3JlYXRpdmVyZWYlM0ExMTFsMTkzNCUyMiUyMHdpZHRoJTNEJTIyNDY4JTIyJTIwaGVpZ2h0JTNEJTIyNjAlMjIlMjBib3JkZXIlM0QlMjIwJTIyJTJGJTNFJTNDJTJGYSUzRSUzQyUyRmNlbnRlciUzRQ==
Check out some great tour options in the area: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
Kangaroo Island, South Australia
When people have asked me to name one of my favourite places on the 10-month Australian road trip, Kangaroo Island always comes immediately to mind.
There was something between the natural beauty of the island. Flinders Chase alone is worth a visit to the island, but the beauty continues throughout the island, even the long stretch of roads the joins one side of the island to the other.
The abundance of the animals blew me away. I’ve not seen so much Australian wildlife in one concentrated area – in my life.
And the entire community has character and charm, with an edge of bohemian-ness, that really drew me in. I could imagine living here. I connected with this place almost immediately.
When we joined a local, feeding pelicans (my favourite bird on the planet!) early in the morning, we learned more about the history and the communities of Kangaroo Island. It was a wonderful introduction! With local recommendations of where to go and where to eat, it just added to the authenticity. The residents of Kangaroo Island love their island, and it shows.
For more information, including where to stay and those local’s recommendations, click here.
Check out some great tour options in the area: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
Adelaide, South AustraliaI know there are many Australians that would be surprised that Adelaide is on the list. But Adelaide is great. Maybe it is because I am a country girl at heart and Adelaide is like a big country town. It’s so easy to get around but it embraces two things I love – nature and food.
I mean, the Barossa, Eden and Clare Valleys are all right there. They are abundant with award-winning wine and the entire area is a foodie’s dream. Add in gently rolling hills and the design elements and the whole package blows you away.
But you don’t have to go to the valleys to get the best of Adelaide. It’s all at Adelaide’s Central Market. I LOVE this market. It’s the best fresh food market in Australia. Yes, I really said that. You can pick up fruit, vegetables, coffee, cheese, bakery items and it doesn’t stop there…you can even find Kangaroo Island products here without going to the island (although I wouldn’t recommend you skip Kangaroo Island at all!). There are so many fabulous finds.
You can spend hours wandering the aisles. And, if you’re heading to the outback, THIS is the place to pick up goodies to take with you. At least for the first few days. Just don’t pick up too much fresh fruit and vegetables if you’re heading west. Otherwise, you will have to abandon it at the South Australia/Western Australian borders.
And then there is the opportunity to hit the beach via a short tram ride. Better yet, stay at the beach and tram into the city, getting both of worlds.
Adelaide is also the door to the outback in numerous directions but I love that it’s upmarket and sophisticated while still maintaining the big country feel.
For two really unique places to stay with Airbnb in the Adelaide area, click here and here. (And if you haven’t used Airbnb, click here for on how to sign up for the first time AND get a discount for your first stay.)
To book a recommended hotel in the city, click here.
For more information and to see what TripAdvisor readers say about Adelaide, click here.
Check out some great tour options in the area: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
Head of Bight, Nullarbor, South Australia
Crossing the Nullarbor was, for me, one of the most stressful sections of a 10-month road trip.
That was BEFORE I embarked on this stretch. Actually, doing it was not stressful at all. Okay, I lie. I was mainly stressed about the petrol aspect, but you can read about that challenge here.
Head of Bight
Everything I read, and friends had recommended, was pointing me to see the Head of Bight. Since I was travelling during whale season, stopping at Head of Bight off the Eyre Highway was a must do. When I arrived, I was absolutely astounded by how many whales I saw.
I counted 40 whales in the first hour I was at the Head of Bight. 40.
Mummas and their babies frolicking in the water, juveniles learning how to breach was amazing to watch. It was mind-boggling and fantastic at the same time.
If you are visiting between June and October, you would be remiss if you didn’t stop at Head of Bight. Yes, you have to pay to get down to the boardwalk, but it’s absolutely worth the money.
Click here for pricing and more information.
Traveling across the Nullarbor is something everyone to put on your Australian Itinerary. It’s funny but I never felt the sense of isolation I expected. This is a busy highway. There are lots of grey nomads with their caravans travelling across the Nullarbor. And then, of course, there are road trains. Massive trucks that carry two, sometimes three, at times four trailers long. These are professional drivers who know how to navigate this highway but you also need to give them plenty of room.
There are plenty of warnings not to drive this highway from dusk to dawn. I would even add an hour either side of that just to be safe, and you’ll see why when you head back down the road every morning. It’s like a graveyard of kangaroo carcasses. There may even be an occasional emu. It’s something to take seriously.
Click here for more information on crossing the Nullarbor and visiting Head of Bight.
Greens Pool, Denmark, Western Australia
Greens Pool has become one of my absolute favourite places in all of Australia. It’s up there with Kangaroo Island.
When I walked down from the car park toward the water, I audibly gasped when I saw just how beautiful this pool of water was. The clarity of the water was amazing and the colour of blues and greens just blende like an artist canvas.
I had the most serene feeling just being at Greens Pool.
It initially took me by surprise. I instantly felt relaxed (not something I often am, believe it or not.) I wanted to wander. I wanted to sit on the sand and just ‘be’ for a while. I wanted to paddle into the water and float on my back in the water and simply let the hours pass by.
The interesting part of Greens Pool is the indigenous history. This area is significant to the local peoples. It was an aboriginal birthing place many years ago. I didn’t know about that history when I visited, but once I knew of it, it spiritually made sense to me.
Every time I think of Greens Pool, my shoulders drop a few inches just remembering the moments I spent there.
Click here to read what others are saying about Greens Pool on TripAdvisor.
Emu Point, Albany, Western AustraliaAlbany is a unique place. It encompasses a settlement town with a connection to the outlying outback areas while the Southern Ocean brings it all together.
On the outskirts of Albany, on the northeastern end, is a little beach community called Emu Point.
One side is a swimming area, with an ocean pool, a beach, playground and picnic area. Emu Point is the western side of a deep channel linking Oyster Harbour with the King George Sound. In the middle is the amazing Emu Point Café, with beautiful views of the water, great coffee, and really yummy meals. You could spend a lot of time in the café just taking in the views and people watching.
Click here to read what others are saying about Emu Point.
Margaret River, Western AustraliaWhen I researched the Margaret River region, I became excited. But, it wasn’t until I was actually there, that I discovered the secret pockets that really made this area outstanding. Only 3 hours from Perth, it’s a great weekend getaway but for people doing ‘the lap’, it’s a must-see.
Taking a day to explore the area, going outside of the township of Margaret River, I found some really amazing spots.
Cave Road is a 111-km road connecting Augusta to Busselton. It’s incredibly scenic, especially when the wild calla lilies are in bloom (although the locals will swear what a nuisance they are and be happy to inform you they are indeed noxious weeds!). Vineyards and beach roads branch from Caver Road, giving you delicious food and beaches that scream for you to stop and enjoy the surroundings.
The areas I loved most were Hamelin Bay and Meelup Beach – they are postcard perfect. Swimming, surfing, snorkeling… it’s a summer dream. Even if you don’t visit during summer, there’s a lot to explore and it’s the scenery can at times feel ethereal.
While the region is popular, it’s not only for wine lovers. It’s foodie heaven. Between the local farm produce, down to earth goodies and gourmet offerings all over the place, it’s delectable. I put together a post, building a DIY Food Tour based on a day trip exploring the region.
Click here to book accommodation and for more information on the Margaret River region.
Check out some great tour options in the area: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
Rottnest Island, Western Australia
Rotto, as the locals call it, is a magical outdoor playground.
You could take the ferry and spend the day to see the highlights, riding a bike around the entire island, or you could spend a week or a month hanging out, enjoying the slow pace and have an amazing holiday.
Cycling the island gives you the opportunity to see the sights of the islands. Ranging from white sand beaches which host crystal clear turquoise waters, to watching a colony of N.Z. Fur Seals doing yoga poses in the water, basking in the sunshine.
For warm weather, it’s an outdoor mecca.
Hours could be spent at one spot snorkeling or frolicking in the water. While the waves don’t seem big enough to surf, boogie boarding would be fun. Fishing is a popular activity too, but you need to be sure not to be in a marine sanctuary, of which there are five zones surrounding the island.
In the Thomson Bay Settlement, the main shopping and accommodation area, the area where the ferry arrives and departs the island, there is a lot to see and do. Historical buildings, art exhibitions, cafés to linger in, restaurants to savour the local cuisines.
A day isn’t enough. You could do it in a day, but it would be worth the splurge to stay a night or two. It’s not a place you can take your vehicle, but it’s a great side trip on your Australian road trip.JTNDY2VudGVyJTNFJTNDYSUyMGhyZWYlM0QlMjJodHRwcyUzQSUyRiUyRnByZi5obiUyRmNsaWNrJTJGY2FtcmVmJTNBMTEwMGwzcllSJTJGY3JlYXRpdmVyZWYlM0ExMTFsMTkzNCUyMiUzRSUzQ2ltZyUyMHNyYyUzRCUyMmh0dHBzJTNBJTJGJTJGY3JlYXRpdmUucHJmLmhuJTJGc291cmNlJTJGY2FtcmVmJTNBMTEwMGwzcllSJTJGY3JlYXRpdmVyZWYlM0ExMTFsMTkzNCUyMiUyMHdpZHRoJTNEJTIyNDY4JTIyJTIwaGVpZ2h0JTNEJTIyNjAlMjIlMjBib3JkZXIlM0QlMjIwJTIyJTJGJTNFJTNDJTJGYSUzRSUzQyUyRmNlbnRlciUzRQ==
Check out some great tour options in the area: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
South East Cape, Cockle Creek, TasmaniaIf you want to go to a place that gives you an ‘end of the earth’ vibe, this is the place. This is Australia’s southern-most point – by car anyway.
From this vantage point, you are closer to Antarctica than you are to Cairns.
When I stood at the end of the path, holding my stance against the blast of cutting wind, despite it being the beginning of summer, I felt like I’d stepped into another world. There were other people around but it had the feeling of vast remoteness and extreme isolation.
It was shocking to me when I thought about those who tried to settle here. The lengths they had to go to, simply to survive. There is a graveyard nearby that shows just how hard it was for them, with their stories posted nearby, but it left me wanting to know more about their lives. What they may have lived through. Why those chose such a place to settle?
Cockle Bay and the beginning of the South East Cape is not close to anything. It is two hours south of Hobart and to get there, you have to travel there on purpose. But the journey is rewarded by water so crystal clear and of a colour of blue that is pure. The bays offer what could be very private beach spots for those who have made it here. There is a 14km bushwalk here – the South Cape Bay Walk which is part of the larger and more famous South Coast Track.
It is a great spot for camping and there were many people already set up, tucked up from the coastline, their primitive camps ready for any weather that would come their way. There is no place to stay here, other than camping, but boy is it an amazing day trip.
For some other amazing places, check out these links:
How To Get the Most Out of 5 Days in Sydney, N.S.W.
Pacific Wanderings Road Trip, N.S.W.
6 Amazing Destinations on the N.S.W. South Coast
Port Hicks Through the Lens, Victoria
6 Unbelievably Stunning Spots on Australia’s Southern Coast
Perth. It’s Worth Going the Distance.
Why Mount Wellington is on the TripAdvisor ‘Must See’ List
Our New Favourite National Park: Mount Field, Tasmania
To make your Australian Road Trip even BETTER, check out these posts:
Travel Far Enough’s Top 10 AirBnbs in Australia
The Only Roadtrip Checklist You Will Ever Need
10 Ways to Save Money on a Road Trip
The Great Australian Road Trip, The Frugal Way
9 Audiobooks You Need For Your Next Roadtrip