When planning a trip down under, cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Cairns have long dominated the tourist scene. Caxton helps you go off the beaten track, with five lesser known (but no less beautiful) destinations you must see when visiting Australia’s East coast.
1 - Lorde Howe Island – New South Wales
Just a short flight from Sydney airport, Lorde Howe is a World-Heritage listed island with unparalleled natural beauty. The island’s diverse landscape includes mountains, rainforests, pristine beaches, acres of stunning coral and seabird colonies. Visitors can enjoy a unique range of activities including scuba diving and snorkelling across stunning coral reefs, climbing Mt Gowa, feeding the King Fish on Ned’s Beach, watching the manta rays swim in crystal clear waters under the jetty and enjoying sunsets (and sundowners) at one of the islands many amazing restaurants. The island encompasses a true sense of community and relaxation away from the usual tourist heavy destinations.
2 - Carnarvon Gorge – Central Queensland
Perfect for a wilderness getaway, Carnarvon Gorge is a superb way to experience Australian wildlife and culture. See wallabies and kangaroos graze outside your cabin, spot endangered sugar gliders on the night safari tour and watch platypuses swim in the river at sunrise. Brightly coloured lorikeets and rosella’s, two of Australia’s most beautiful native birds are regular fixtures around the bush. There are numerous bush walks throughout the gorge which will take you through dense rainforest, freshwater creeks, sandstone cliffs and pools. The gorge is also home to many caves full of traditional Aboriginal artwork.
3 - Noosa Heads, Sunshine Coast - Queensland
Noosa is an idyllic beach escape which combines relaxation with a hint of luxury, just a two-hour drive from Brisbane. There are several beautiful beaches within a 15 minute drive of each other, fronted by Hastings Street, a hub of trendy boutiques, beachfront restaurants and cafes. Special mention goes to delicious newcomer Betty’s Burgers for a tasty lunch, Locale for amazing cocktails and Bistro C for their renowned seafood linguine and ocean views. Don’t forget ice-cream from the famous Massimo’s Gelateria.
4 - Jenolan Caves, Blue Mountains – New South Wales
These limestone caves are some of the oldest in Australia – and the most spectacular. Guided tours will take you through the 9 caves with their limestone formations and underground rivers and teach you the difference between stalacmites and stalactites. There are also rumours that the caves are haunted, so fans of the supernatural can enjoy ghost tours throughout the caves at night – not for the faint hearted! For the full experience, stay in the historic Jenolan Caves House, a short walk from the caves with a beautiful, grand dining room and, if rumours are true, a live-in ghost.
5 - Yarra Valley - Victoria
About an hour’s drive from Melbourne, the Yarra Valley seems even further; hidden away in fern glades and forests and surrounded by waterfalls. As well as beautiful landscapes, the Yarra is perfect for those who love their food and wine, there are over 40 winery cellars and restaurants to visit in the region – ideal for long lunches. Go hot air ballooning over the vineyards at sunrise for a truly breath-taking experience.