In the past 10 years, the Australian Traveller team has been to some pretty special places and had some amazing experiences across this great continent of ours (we’ve sky dived, swam with sharks, ridden Harley-Davidsons and trekked through the outback, purely for research of course).
So we often get asked that tough question: what has been your favourite place so far? While we find it hard to choose between the vibrant colours of the Kimberley, where the AT story began, the tropical rainforests at the tip of Cape York, the epic drive across the remote plains of the Nullarbor, and the idyllic tropical paradise of Lord Howe Island, we’ve narrowed it down to a mix of 10 very different, memorable places we want you to visit too (in no particular order) .
1. Lady Elliot Island, Qld
Tammy Lim, sales director: Very few places are as pristine as Lady Elliot Island, located 80 kilometres north-east of Bundaberg in the Great Barrier Reef. The snorkelling here is incredible, with hundreds of species metres from the water’s edge including manta rays, reef sharks, Maori wrasses, parrot fish and friendly turtles. Whether you relax on the coral beach with a cocktail in hand, bird-watch during nesting season or climb the oldest (and heritage-listed) lighthouse in Queensland, Lady Elliot Island is a special piece of land that remains as nature intended it to be. Magic!
2. Alice Springs, NT
Megan Arkinstall, deputy editor: I visited Alice Springs as a whistle stop on the legendary Ghan and was fascinated by the town at the heart of our Red Centre. More than just the gateway to Uluru, Alice is a place of extraordinary character, shaped by its history and people (and made famous by the classic A Town Like Alice). It also has a unique culture of cameleering, which stems from the Afghan cameleers who worked on the Overland Telegraph and the original Ghan railway. So, naturally, I spent an afternoon as a (wannabe) cameleer, riding through the deep-red and sage-green landscape of a cattle station, with the MacDonnell Ranges as a backdrop – it felt so iconically Australian. And if you’re there in July, you need to check out the quirky annual camel races, which bring together colourful locals in droves. You won’t forget a town like Alice!
3. Margaret River, WA
Quentin Long, managing director: The Margaret River region is the epitome of first-world problems. What should I do? Taste the sublime wines (I am looking at you Ashbrook), dine at Michelin-star-worthy restaurants, laze on the astonishingly beautiful beaches, peruse incredible art galleries or spend the afternoon at one of the craft breweries – how does it get any better? Nothing makes you feel more like life is beautiful than the Margaret River. I think what really nails it for me is that there is little to do at night (except for the awesome Caves Hotel), so you actually spend quality time with your friends and family.
4. Great Ocean Road, Vic
Raman Kumar, website developer: My wife and I did the Great Ocean Road drive during the Christmas break. It is the essence of natural beauty – rainforest, long stretches of beach, rolling farmland, sweet seaside towns, shipwrecks and, of course, those famous 12 (now seven) Apostles. Just take your time, stopping for a photo, grabbing a bite to eat or simply to breathe in the fresh ocean air. It’s Australia’s best road trip. See more of the great Great Ocean Road
5. Maria Island, Tas
Elliott Barsby, sales manager: The view from the top of Bishop and Clerk pinnacles on Maria Island is stunning – definitely worth the 700-metre climb (and six-hour return walk) from the World Heritage-listed town of Darlington. Stroll past giant Tasmanian blue gums, spot kangaroos and wombats, and breathe in the spectacular views of the Tasmanian East Coast.
6. Falls Creek, Vic
Jack MacKinnon, sales executive: Falls Creek is the annual trip that I’ve been doing since I was five years old with a big group of family and friends. The resort is absolutely buzzing and, dare I say it, has the best skiing in Australia. We stay in the village so we can ski to all the lower valley runs, but we like to head up to Ruined Castle to test out the harder stuff! And there’s nothing better than some après ski drinks on the sun-drenched balcony at Falls Creek Hotel. It’s the ultimate winter break!
7. Mungo National Park, NSW
Nigel Herbert, director: More than a national park, Mungo is the home of Mungo Man and Mungo Woman. The shifting sands of this surreal landscape constantly unearth archaeological oddities. It’s also my favourite place in Australia to photograph. To make the most of Mungo you must get a guided tour. And I cannot recommend Graham from Harry Nanya tours highly enough. He is like an Aboriginal David Attenborough stopping to make sure you don’t tread on 100,000-year-old fossils, while simultaneously giving you a deeper understanding of Aboriginal thinking. My favourite place in Australia. See more of magical, mystical Mungo
8. Flinders Ranges, SA
Steve Madgwick, digital editor: The Flinders Ranges is, quite simply, an epic outback road trip par excellence: filmic landscapes, cute bush towns that time almost forgot and one of the world’s most incredible land formations at its heart: Wilpena Pound. Walkers can revel in the celebration of open space, the highlight of which is the four-day Arkaba Walk. Luxury lovers can glamp it up under the walls of ‘The Pound’ or drink in the polychrome mountain vistas from Rawnsley Park’s Eco-Villas. See more Flinders Ranges
9. Kinchega National Park, NSW
Daniel Down, chief sub editor: The historic Kinchega Woolshed in Kinchega National Park gets my vote. Although it’s deep in NSW’s outback, I visited this beautiful wooden structure in the peak of summer (only mad dogs and Englishmen), but the heat meant we had the place to ourselves. Built out of corrugated iron and river red gum in 1875, you stay in the old sheep shearers’ quarters. The best bit? In the cool evenings we walked barefoot in the red soil with only kangaroos and emus for company.
10. Canberra, ACT
Leigh-Ann Pow, editorial director: Anyone who knows me knows that I love Canberra. It’s a wonderful city for families but Canberra is also cool. Yes, I said it! There’s a host of hip hotels (Hotel Hotel, Realm, East Hotel), chic restaurants (OX Eatery, Eightysix, Public), delicious coffee hotspots and beautifully edited boutiques (Bison is a fave!). But you can’t go past all the nerdy things to do too (Questacon, the National Gallery, National Arboretum). And getting about on the weekend when the pollies have all gone home is a joy! See more of Canberra