Not everybody wants to go to the most famous tourist attractions in the world, and fair enough. There are plenty of other destinations that don’t get nearly as much exposure, and that may be a big part of their charm.
But as you’ll see, the following four locations don’t need any more charm than they already have. As hidden gems, Australia can be very proud to say they’re perfect as they are.
Made famous by the TV series, River Cottage Australia, Tilba is a quaint little heritage town in the hinterland of southern New South Wales, the very definition of a hidden gem.
It is a mecca every Easter for the annual Easter festival which sees the townsfolk and thousands of visitors engage in curious activities including the thrilling Cheese Rolling Competition, Bushies Boot Throwing Contest and Egg Throwing Championship. If you want to see Aussie quirkiness at its best, then drop by Tilba!
The township’s community spirit is enormous and the locals support and encourage each other through agricultural cooperation, providing all kinds of expertise. Every week, the farmers’ markets are a cornucopia of locally produced fruits, vegetables, pot plants, handmade cheeses, jams, breads, soaps, pastries, clothing and bedding.
Accommodation options are plentiful in Tilba, where you can enjoy a romantic weekend getaway with your loved one or spend a week or two on a farm stay. From cottages and self-contained houses, to bed and breakfasts and coastal retreats, you’ll find comfort, a warm welcome and luscious food in the sweet Tilba region.
Visit the cheese factory for cheese and honey tastings and ice creams made from cows that graze on the stunning green hillsides nearby.
When you feel exhausted, run down and worn out, what you need is a trip to the Mornington Peninsula, southeast of Melbourne. As well as being one of Australia’s hidden gems, it could well be called the spa retreat capital of the country! The hot thermal springs there are nature’s way of saying “there, there, relax and feel better”.
Slide your tired body into the 50°C water, naturally infused with sulphur, calcium, potassium and magnesium, and feel your muscles give way to the warmth. With on-site massage therapists and numerous day spa services, you’ll feel like royalty the whole time. Check out the Turkish steam room and cave pool, and take in the glorious views of the region.
If you get tired of all that relaxation – not that you would – you can always get the adrenalin flowing again with some of the area’s hugely fun adventure attractions. Go horse riding on the beach, climb a lighthouse or dare to go on a spooky night-time ghost tour. The Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation
Park offers the rare opportunity to view nocturnal animals and learn more about them from tour guides. Try out the wicked tube slides, enclosed serpentine flume ride and other wet and wild fun at the aquatic centres, or pay a visit to the dinosaur theme park where you’ll come face to ugly face with prehistoric animatronics. Have you ever heard of tree surfing? Look it up and you’ll be desperate to get to the Mornington Peninsula to try it.
There are tons of accommodation styles, or you can camp on the foreshore or in the BIG4 Holiday Park.
Off the coast of South Australia is Kangaroo Island, once inhabited by aborigines several thousand years ago. Today it is home to around 5,000 residents and is visited by more than 140,000 tourists every year. Its largest town is Kingscote where the airport is located, so you can catch a plane over or take a ferry which transports passengers, vehicles and freight.
The island is a wildlife sanctuary for many different species such as the tammar wallaby, western grey kangaroo, common brushtail possum, koalas, glossy black cockatoos, platypus, echidnas and the sooty dunnart. Also a haven for marine animals, Kangaroo Island is a safe habitat for seals, sea lions, penguins, dolphins and southern right whales. Designated an Important Bird Area, the island supports precious populations of bird life.
Blessed with breathtaking beauty, Kangaroo Island is one of Australia’s most remote hidden gems. Sightseers are drawn to locations like Admiral’s Arch, a natural landmark that was created by thousands of years of erosion. You would go there to revel in the spectacular ocean panorama and also to witness the fascinating New Zealand seals that have established a colony there.
Treat yourself to a food safari, go kayaking, diving, swimming or surfing or just spend a few hours walking along the secluded beaches. There is inexpensive through to luxury accommodation available, depending on your budget.
Don’t forget to buy a jar of sublime honey from the island’s Ligurian bee population. Today, they are the only pure strain of bee in the world.
The Tasmanian wilderness awaits you in Freycinet National Park on the state’s east coast. The park is 38 kilometres long and boasts beaches that look like they are covered in powdered sugar. The turquoise water is perfect for snorkelling and swimming, or catch a glimpse of seals and bottlenose dolphins.
During their winter migration, southern right and humpback whales can be spotted, so prepare for some exciting times. On land, you can go bushwalking amongst rare wildflowers and meet up with rare bird species in the bush.
For more up tempo adventures, how about a sea kayaking tour or the opportunity to ride a four-wheel all-terrain vehicle through hills and valleys? When you’ve done the water and the land, you really should plan to take to the air in a light plane that will take you over the prettiest scenery you could imagine.
When you get hungry, feast on the very best foods Tasmania has to offer. Seafood is a particular specialty in Tassie where the oysters are harvested from some of the world’s most pristine waters. Award-winning local wineries produce fabulous cool climate wines and the free range, grass-fed lamb and beef is extraordinarily flavoursome and tender.
Stay in budget accommodation or splash out and indulge in five-star accommodation at the magnificent Freycinet Lodge. You might even prefer to sleep under the stars and there are powered and unpowered camping sites in the national park.
Where you choose to go on your holiday depends on your budget, your passions and your need to speed things up or slow things down.
There are countless more hidden gems Australia is hiding from the world, so get out there and discover them!