Now, more than ever, our backyard is ripe for exploring. Discovering secret gems and travelling beyond the obvious is the thrill we’re chasing. Here’s what we’ve got in our sights.
While Broome might be the Kimberley’s poster girl (and Matso’s beautiful birthplace), Kununurra is the region’s secret gem. It’s closest to World Heritage listed geological wonder, the Bungle Bungle Range, a huge cluster of towering, colour-banded domes hidden within Purnululu National Park. But here’s a secret for you: a mini version of the formations is found on the outskirts of town, in Mirima National Park. While in Kununurra, crunch boab tree root in a salad and try on a rare pink diamond at one of town’s glittering boutiques (Argyle Diamond Mine is nearby). End your day with sunset and beers gazing over the red baked earth from Kelly’s Knob lookout, where the locals go.
Always wanted to see a platypus? Eungella – or more specifically, its National Park – is where it’s at. Deep within the rainforest, Broken River is said to be the best place in Australia to spot our most elusive creature. The town itself is all about the misty, mountainous views from its 686m-above-sea-level position, so plan for picnics in the sun between platypus sightings.
Fish Creek, Victoria
Most people heading between Melbourne and Wilson’s Promontory bypass the colourful community of Fish Creek. Pity, they miss out on the fish-themed seats scattered around town (one includes a giant, rotating steel fish), the murals of underwater scenes and the giant silver mullett at the zenith of the Fish Creek Hotel, a gorgeous Art Deco style establishment. Beyond all the fishiness, this is a vibrant arts hub jammed with excellent artist studios and galleries that fuel the town’s creative vibe.
South West Rocks, NSW
This sleepy beach town halfway between Sydney and Brisbane is home to coveted surf breaks, pretty beaches and national parks. If you hanker after sunsets over sea, head to Trial Bay Beach, which faces west. Hike up to Smoky Cape Lighthouse and think of Captain James Cook as you gaze over the ocean – he named the cape after sailing by and noticing fires there. Round things out with a 4WD adventure over one of the state’s largest dune systems, in Hat Head National Park (and remember to settle your beers before you crack them open).
This tiny town on the doorstep of the Flinders Ranges is as quirky as it is idyllic. Local pub, the Northstar Hotel has two vintage farm trucks with tiny homes constructed on the back of them – staying in one is an experience (and they’re ensuited). Historic and friendly, Melrose’s streets give way to bush walking and mountain biking adventures, with the Heysen and Mason trails both passing through the community. Just beyond is Mount Remarkable; follow the nature walk to Cathedral Rock or go big with an ascent to the 960m summit.