I’ve been a BIG fan of maps since forever. So when Hema Maps wanted to collaborate on a post about Australia’s hidden hot spots, I agreed straight away! Below is the Hema Maps selection of 7 AMAZING almost-secret Aussie Hot Spots – even I haven’t been to some of them – then take the link at the end of the post to find MY 7 secrets on their website!
Take it away, Hema Maps!!
Every Australian state has popular hotspots which grab all the plaudits, but to the side or within these places are hidden gems that manage to fly under the radar of most off-road travellers.
1. Jacksons Crossing, High Country Victoria
High Country Victoria is known for its heights – ridge-riding 4WD tracks and expansive mountain vistas are the norm – but you need to look down low to find one of the region’s most memorable spots.
Jacksons Crossing is a bush camp off Varneys Track, northeast of Buchan, which is situated next to the iconic Snowy River. The trip in is a classic High Country drive, and the reward for your efforts is a campsite that ticks all possible boxes with minimal fuss. A beach unexpectedly appears out of nowhere in amongst this alpine setting, next to a campsite that’s nestled between rising alpine ranges on either side. Offering plenty of room in picturesque natural surrounds, Jacksons Crossing combines classic High Country themes in a family-friendly environment. Keep in mind that private property is nearby, so be sure not to stray into areas you shouldn’t.
2. Organ Pipes – Gawler Ranges National Park, SA
The Flinders may be the most famous ranges in South Australia, but the Gawler Ranges rolling Outback hills are home to something uniquely spectacular. Called Organ Pipes (and named so for obvious reasons), these fascinating columns were pushed upwards from beneath the earth over 1500 million years ago due to volcanic activity, creating eerily consistent formations that make the Gawler Ranges a must-visit Outback destination. The park is also renowned for its rich red tracks and rolling hills, which make for a sensational backdrop as you drive through this unique region.
3. Old Glen Innes Road, NSW
This charming drive through rural New South Wales takes you back in time as you roll through ghost towns slowly being absorbed by verdant hinterland. A town called Dalmorton sprung up in the 1860s after gold fever took over the region, which supported a population of 5,000 in the surrounding area during its peak.
Remnants of this forgotten past is evidenced by old mine shafts that dot the hills along the journey, in addition to dilapidated buildings and a lonely tennis court in the middle of nowhere. Along the drive is a tunnel – supposedly built using civilian labour in the 1880s – that bores through the side of the mountain on which the road climbs. Like a self-driving museum in natural surrounds, the Old Glen Innes Road is an enthralling journey in time and space.
4. Gnylmarung Retreat, WA
Newcomers to Cape Leveque in Western Australia’s Kimberley region can be forgiven for going with the masses to Kooljaman in the north, but for a more secluded coastal camping experience, it’s hard to go past Gnylmarung Retreat. Situated on the western side of the cape above Beagle Bay, everything about Gnylmarung is spacious and blissfully basic, with other campers only spotted occasionally as they make their way to the outdoor shower or down to the beach to watch the sun set.
If you can resist the pull of the more recognised camping areas around Cape Leveque, you’re guaranteed to find tranquillity to go with your Kimberley coastline at Gnylmarung – sans backpackers and other crowd contributors.
5. Redbank Gorge, NT
Central Australia is a hotbed of stunning natural beauty of jaw-dropping proportions, much of which is well-known to any Outback traveller worth their salt. Amongst iconic places like Uluru and Palm Valley, Redbank Gorge quietly amazes visitors who venture to the western end of the West MacDonnell Ranges, its unassuming appearance upon entry giving way to something much more impressive.
The camping around Redbank Gorge offers basic facilities, with everything appearing to be business as usual until you walk behind the campsite to find a view to rival any lookout. You can then head deeper into the ranges to get to Redbank Gorge itself, or to take on Section 12 of the Larapinta Trail to experience central Australia’s most spectacular walking trail. While it may be on the fringes of the West Macs, Redbank Gorge is front and centre as one of the Red Centre’s best hidden gems.
6. Bruny Island, TAS
Australian mainlanders may struggle to see the sense in going to an island to reach yet another island, but once you reach Bruny, any wondering will end. Aside from the artisanal cheese, chocolate, seafood and wine on offer, Bruny offers a wilder side for travellers to experience.
The 100km-long island is fringed by beaches and cliffs, with multiple camping areas available in the south, including the 4WD-only Cloudy Bay Corner Beach Camping Area. There are plenty of walks available all over the island, which are often the best way to see wildlife – 13 of Tassie’s 14 endemic birds can be found on Bruny – such as the fairy penguins which nest near The Neck, a skinny strip of beach which links North and South Bruny Island.
7. Conondale National Park, QLD
South East Queensland’s Scenic Rim is a volcanic remnant that is home to lush rainforest and a multitude of national parks for campers, hikers and four-wheel drivers to explore. While many travellers are drawn to the Scenic Rim’s southwest icons – Main Range and Lamington national parks – higher north is the Scenic Rim’s quiet achiever: Conondale National Park.
Close to the refreshingly quaint towns of Kenilworth and Maleny, Conondale National Park presides over an abundance of attractions and 4WD tracks in a relatively small area. Entry to the park begins with a creek crossing, after which the track cuts into rainforest with occasional steep gradients and excellent views from breaks in the tree line.
Within the park itself are four camping areas with access to stunning Booloumba Creek, as well as entry to the Queensland government’s Conondale Range Great Walk – a 56km hike through cloistered rainforest and open scrubland that takes four days to complete. A short drive from the camping areas is a lookout, while also along the loop drive is a lookout and a handful of rest areas at which you can relax.
Well, that’s 7 secret travel spots provided by Hema Maps. You were promised 14! Now view MY 7 top secret Australian travel spots hosted at Hema Maps.
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* Photos and text courtesy of Hema Maps