Welcome to week three of our four-part blog series, “23 Amazing Places to Visit in Australia”. We’re here to give you insider info on the best little-known places to go, sights to see, and things to do while you’re adventuring down under!
In part one we filled you in on how to get up close and personal with some of Australia’s iconic wildlife, from kangas and koalas to whalesharks; last week in part two we drank at some historical Outback pubs, caught crabs (for lunch!), and revealed the gorgeous natural wonder of a national park that’s one of the nation’s best-kept secrets.
All of the gems on this list are things the Leading Out team and our country-wide network of friends have seen or done personally. So toss that boring old guidebook and get on board!
12. Tangle with Crocodiles
While you (hopefully) won’t witness Australia’s most dangerous reptile up close, you shouldn’t miss the chance to see it in its natural environment. The Adelaide River is about 100km from Darwin, and is home to an incredibly high concentration of Saltwater Crocodiles (who just happen to be humongous)!
As a local guide dangles remnants of chicken over the side of a shifty boat, 4-meter beasts will cruise towards you, and then leap out of the water to feed. Just keep your arms in the boat to avoid being next on the menu!
P.S. Pay a visit to Litchfield National Park while you’re in the area and check out Wangi Falls, Florence Falls, and Buley Rockhole.
When To Go
April – November; avoid the wet season
Adelaide River, Darwin, Northern Territory
13. Become a Castaway in the Whitsundays
Exploration by water is one of humankind’s earliest advances—why not relive that heritage in the East Coast paradise of the Whitsunday Islands? We recommend partying in one of Airlie Beach’s epic clubs the night before you leave.
Any hangover you’ve got the next morning will quickly diminish upon cruising to Australia’s top rated beach—Whitehaven. It’s not known as heaven on earth for no reason! While you may not find a lost treasure here, you can clean your jewelry with the island’s pure white silica sand. This is the epitome of Australia’s white sandy beaches—enjoy!
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, extend your sailing excursion to include a sailboat trip including dives on the Great Barrier Reef. Between the months of May and September you can even hear Humpback Whales as they migrate past your snorkel/dive site!
When To Go
May & June
Whitsunday Islands, Central Coast of Queensland
14. Great White Shark Cage Diving in Port Lincoln
The 1975 thriller, Jaws, was filmed along the shores of the Neptune Islands, a couple hours boat ride from Port Lincoln. Do you want to swim here? Heck no! Do you want to visit here? Absolutely! When you are fainthearted or not, the cage dive is a must-do experience. There are several companies that depart Port Lincoln daily at 6:30 am (we couldn’t recommend any company better than Calypso Star Charters) and take you out to the (Great White) shark infested waters.
There, they will not only draw the beasts of the sea in, but drop you down in a cage to witness their feeding frenzy! Shark cage diving is a safe way to observe the ocean’s ultimate apex predator eye to eye. You aren’t required to bring any diving certification (anyone can do it), however we do recommend you bring a pair of spare knickers… just in case.
When To Go
May – October – cold but great sightings
December – February – warmer temperatures, good sightings
Neptune Islands, Port Lincoln, Eyre Peninsula, South Australia
Calypso Star Charters
08 8682 3939
15. Enjoy Champagne Overlooking an Outback Sunset at Gunlom Falls, Kakadu National Park
We all deserve a bit of luxury sometimes, and your rugged drive into Gunlom Falls followed by a short, steep hike with a freshly iced bottle of champagne is sure to justify a reward. Although the place is really isolated, tours still find their way to this absolute beauty of a spot. Plan to camp here so you can wait out the flocks and enjoy the serenity for yourself.
A 30-minute hike to the peak of the falls reveals a natural plunge pool that allows you to safely lean over the edge of the waterfall. Your view: an orange sun setting over expansive Outback paradise. Your mood: complete peace while you sip your bubbles and bath in the tropical, sun heated, crystal clear waters. Did we mention they filmed Crocodile Dundee here?
When To Go
May – December; access restricted during the wet season. Check water levels in the dry season
Gunlom Falls, South Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory
16. Season Your Sunset BBQ With Organic Salt At Lake Hart
Have you ever wondered where salt comes from? Well it likely wasn’t from Lake Hart, unless of course your salt was purchased in 1931, when the region thrived with the salt production industry. This naturally-salty body of water produces copious amounts of the mineral in a very shallow lake, which can be easily harvested to season your favourite barbequed meal.
Exploring the shallow surface will give you photo ops that make you appear to literally walk on water. Lake Hart has a rather unearthly feel and is definitely worth camping overnight as you travel to the Red Center.
P.S. Keep your eye out for remnants of the old industry (cars, train tracks etc.) frozen in time.
When To Go
May – October; flies are worse in the warmer months
Lake Hart, Lake Eyre Basin, South Australia
17. Spend the Night in an Underground City at Coober Pedy
Have you seen Chronicles of Riddick: Pitch Black? Neither had we, but Hollywood thought this place was bizarre enough to shoot a science fiction movie here without having to change much—it’s known for being one of the most eccentric places on our planet. Why, might you ask? Most of the town’s live underground in refurbished mining shafts.
Temperatures often exceed an unruly daytime temperature of 40°C and shivering nighttime temperature of 6°C (Try regulating a thermostat that will adjust to those temperatures!) In your very own underground hotel room, you maintain a constant and enjoyable 23-25°C, without a punishing AC bill.
The city has built a small but unique tourism industry on this odd way of living. What’s more, Coober Pedy is known as the Opal Capital of the World, producing 80% of the world’s opals. Buy an opal, explore the mines, sleep in a dugout, and continue through the Outback.
When to Go
May – October; temperatures are less extreme and flies are worse in the warmer months
Coober Pedy, northern South Australia
That’s it for this week’s instalment. Check this space soon for the FINAL PART in the series, when we’ll offer even more gasoline to power your next adventure!