There is no shortage of iconic and adventure-filled destinations in Australia, and every family will have a different idea of what makes an enjoyable time. But here are some favourites from around the country that can help keep the whole family entertained.
Only a short way from the easternmost tip of Victoria rests the charming coastal town of Mallacoota. It’s a popular spot for any visitors that experience its stunning natural beauty, excellent fishing and the nearby Croajingolong National Park. Plus, it’s located at the rough halfway mark between Melbourne and Sydney, making it a perfect go-to, whether you’re a local or exploring the east coast. While the beaches may not get as busy as those closer to the capital cities, Mallacoota can get busy in the summer months, so plan ahead.
If you’ve got a tinny strapped to the roof, then you’ll appreciate the various lakeside spots where you can hit the water and perhaps enjoy a day or so of fishing. If not, you can hire a boat or kayak to explore Mallacoota’s various waterways.
For those who enjoy keeping two feet on the ground, there are plenty of picturesque walking trails to explore. This includes the fan-favourite 100km Wilderness Coast Walk, a Grade 4 hike that allows visitors to explore the UNESCO World Biosphere area of the Croajingolong National Park and Nadgee Nature Reserve. The hike takes approximately 8–10 days and is for experienced hikers. More information about this hike and some shorter options can be found on the Parks Vic website.
Mallacoota is home to a number of caravan parks and campgrounds where you can set up your base camp, as well as all the facilities you’ll need for a fun-filled holiday.
Bruny Island, Tas
If touring through Tasmania’s pristine wilderness and along its rugged coastline is your idea of a good time, then Bruny Island is the place for you. Brimming with natural beauty, the best way to truly appreciate the landscape is on foot via the island’s many walking tracks that feature breathtaking attractions such as clifftop lookouts and secluded sheltered beaches.
And the action doesn’t stop there. Living up to its name, Adventure Bay has plenty to keep the whole family busy. Perhaps jump on an eco-cruise and soak in the beauty of the environment and maybe spot some coastal wildlife. Or head to the south side of Bruny Island to enjoy a day paddling in the surf in Cloudy Bay, with the towering cliffs to one side and the horizon to the other.
Once you’ve soaked in the scenery and spotted a few local critters on South Bruny, you can settle into your campsite for a cook-up or head to one of North Bruny’s restaurants to sample some fresh local produce. Whatever you fancy, make sure you indulge in the region’s delicious offerings.
Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre, SA
Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre is one of Australia’s most iconic destinations, and if it’s not on your bucket list, it should be. When full, Lake Eyre is so large it covers almost the same area as the entire landmass of Jamaica. However, the lake has only reached full capacity three times in the last 150 years. The rest of the time it takes the form of a huge salt-crusted basin that fills with significant water once every decade or so.
When it’s wet, which happens once every few years, the lake draws huge numbers of migratory birds and produces fields of wildflowers. The high salinity and algae in the lake turn the water into shades of pink and orange. The best time to visit is between April and October, as this allows time for any summer monsoon rainwater locally or in Queensland to reach the lake.
When dry, the vast basin creates an other-worldly landscape that has been used in the past for activities such as land-speed record attempts.
To truly grasp the scale of the lake, it’s a good idea to take a scenic flight. And if you’re lucky, you might also get a glimpse of the mysterious Marree Man, one of the world’s largest geoglyphs.
There are two camping areas in Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre National Park. Park fees apply. Head over to the Parks SA website for more information and any updates on park access.
Shark Bay, WA
Western Australia enjoys the longest coastline in Australia, and there are plenty of beautiful sites to explore along it. But if you head more than 800km north of Perth, you’ll find the stunning Shark Bay World Heritage Area, home of Francois Peron National Park and Dirk Hartog Island.
Lose yourself in this natural paradise, with idyllic beaches and calm, inviting waters perfect for the whole family. A must-do experience is seeing the dolphins at Monkey Mia. Head there in the morning to join one of the ranger-led dolphin viewing experiences and you might just get the chance to feed them! Please abide by all rules regarding not approaching or touching the dolphins or feeding them outside the dolphin interaction zone. More information about dolphin experiences can be found here.
The coastal town of Denham is the perfect spot to set up your base camp. From here, you’ve got easy access to check out the Peron Heritage Precinct, learn about the stromatolites at Hamelin Pool or go fishing at Steep Point, the most westerly point on Australia’s mainland.
If you’re after an off-grid four-wheel driving adventure filled with secluded beaches, fishing and guided walks, then Dirk Hartog Island is the place to go. Please note, it is an island, so you’ll need to organise to cross on the island barge, by boat or by air. But once you’re there, it is well worth the journey. More information can be found here.
Limmen National Park, NT
As the second-largest national park in Australia, Limmen National Park is a wonderland of picturesque locations that will blow you away. One such spot is Southern Lost City, which you’ll find at the bottom end of the park. This ‘lost city’ is a cluster of dramatic sandstone spires that rise unexpectedly from their flat surrounds. Then head over to Butterfly Falls.
Butterfly Falls is a lovely spot to sit and relax or enjoy a swim. The Falls are seasonal and can stop flowing in the dry season (May–October). Or head to the number of spots along the Roper River where you can relax in the serene natural surroundings. Please note, swimming is only permitted in the Falls, as crocs pose a threat in the rivers and creeks.
Throughout the seasons Limmen offers top-notch birdwatching, barramundi fishing and four-wheel driving experiences. There are plenty of campsites to check out, but campers should be fully self-reliant, carry plenty of water and be prepared in the event they get bogged or break down.
If you’re a visitor to the NT, you will need to purchase a park pass to enter Limmen National Park, even if you’re visiting with a local NT resident. More information about purchasing a park pass can be found here. If you’re a local NT resident, no pass is needed.
North Stradbroke Island, Qld
North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah) is the second-largest sand island in the world — the first being the nearby K’gari (Fraser Island) — and is only a short drive from Brisbane.
Spend some time navigating the sandy tracks around the island, traversing sand dunes, scribbly gum forest and heathlands as you go. Please note, vehicle access permits are required.
The island does include a number of restaurants and caravan parks to choose from — Dunwich, Amity Point and Point Lookout are the three main hubs to explore. But if you prefer to set up camp somewhere a bit more private, then there are many options along Flinders Beach or along the vast Main Beach, which stretches along most of the eastern side of the island.
There’s plenty of birdlife, wildlife and sea life to keep an eye out for as you explore the island. Or if you prefer a slower pace, then don’t miss seeing a sunset at Cylinder Beach and Amity Point.
Get your walking shoes ready and enjoy the 3km (approx. 6km return) walk out to Karboora (Blue Lake) or take a drive to Brown Lake. Both lakes are perched freshwater lakes.
Be sure you’ve got the gear for sand recovery before you head over to Straddie — and be prepared to use it.
Jervis Bay, NSW
Jervis Bay is a renowned playground for surfers, swimmers and divers — but that isn’t all this area has to offer. The region’s pristine beaches and gorgeous national parks will seduce even the most land-locked adventurer. From Beecroft Peninsula in the north, which features stunning coastlines and clifftop lookouts, to Jervis Bay Territory (technically a part of the ACT) and Booderee National Park in the south, the region contains some of Australia’s finest natural delights.
There is excellent fishing and bushwalking experiences to be found along the coast, and if you head down to the beaches themselves, you’ll understand why they are said to possess some of the whitest sand in the world.
And of course, there are bush camps and holiday parks that offer a variety of experiences. And whether you’re exploring the coastline or the towns that grace it, you’ll quickly appreciate the area’s rich maritime history.
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