Last Updated on August 19, 2020 by Red Nomad OZ
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.
Hema Maps are adventure and navigation experts who produce a range of navigation solutions that will help you to find your own secret spots!
PS Having trouble finding these secret hot spots? Why not check out the Hema Maps Hema HX1 Navigator! How good is it? Then check out the Red’s Australia HX1 Navigator Review?!
* Photos and text courtesy of Hema Maps
This post is a useful touring guide for international tourists who have plans to go down under. I would like to thank the author for posting such an informative article.
Thank you Randall! I hope you get to visit all of them one day 😀
When I read about Cloudy Bay the first thing that I think of is the divine Sauvignon Blanc that comes from there.
Although I do not usually camp, having seen the beautiful photos in this post I might be persuaded to give it a try in this divine setting.
I think a lot of people have the same reaction to Cloudy Bay, Janine – at least camping in that area would be civilised!
I was going through the list thinking you were going to have gotten me on not knowing any, but then I ot to Bruny Island – such an amazing spot – love Tas! We just moved, and Bruny Island is on the list – we’re up North at the moment, so are planning trips to Hobart and further south in summer – looking forward to seeing the fairy penguins, and there are apparently albino wallabies too!
Thanks for sharing these secret spots 🙂
Haha, Bruny Island also featured in my book ‘Aussie Loos with Views!’, Meg – it’s an amazing spot!! The more I see what’s down there in Tassie, the more I realise our 10 day teaser was SO not enough time!! Could have spent the whole 10 days on Bruny – and Bruny Island has apparently got all the Tassie endemic bird species (as I recall)
That retreat looks great. Very pretty, I would like to see it in person.
Good luck with that, Holly!
14 top secret means I want to check it 😉 Thanks for sharing cause usually people follow well known tracks and I think there is always a place well known for inhabitatants and worth seeing, but also bit secret 😉
Couldn’t agree more, Ollie! I see so many visitors spending a lot of time in Sydney, or Melbourne – nothing wrong with that, but these places show a completely different side to OZ!
Apart from Bruny island, I havent heard of the the others. They all sound interesting to visit. I’m due for another visit in aus
If you like getting WAY off the beaten track, you’ll love these Karla – but it’ll be easier to get to some of them if you’re an independent traveller!!
Surprising I haven’t heard about these places before. Pretty offbeat for me and looks like its nature and you. Love “The Neck, Bruny Island”. Great post and thanks for sharing.
You’re right, Johann! It really IS just nature and you 😀 That’s either really good, or really scary depending on your point of view 😀
Thanks for sharing these pretty secrets! <3 The natural beauty in each is stunning. I was struggling to find a fav. The fold of the Gawler ranges or the pools of the Redbank gorge! Each looks so fascinating! 🙂 Thanks for sharing these:)
You don’t have to find a favourite Divyakshi! Just visit them all, haha 😀
Your 7 off the beaten track places are awesome. Thanks for sharing. I was stoked to see I’d been to at least 2… YAY! Old Glen Innes Road Tunnel and the Gawler Ranges in SA, these spots make me want to get on the road and explore more asap.
Haha, you should see the OTHER 7, Anna!! Take the link at the end of the post and tell me what your score for the whole 14 is 😀 But seriously, there are SO many cool HOT spots off the beaten track – I know you’ve already found some, but I hope you get to see some more of them one day soon!
Beautiful photos! Even though I’m used to lovely pictures from Australia, I just seem to go back to take another look when ever I see a post like this one.
And how interesting some of these places are! That Gnylmarung Retreat sounds like fun, and the photo of the road covered in red sand is really lovely. 🙂
The hidden places not many people get to are the best, Danijela! Hope you get to see some of them one day!
LOL they are not secret anymore!
Haha, knowing about them and actually going there are two different things, Jill!
Wow! They are stunning!
How much time would I need to visit all of them?
Thanks for sharing!
Cheers from Argentina 🙂
You would need a LOT of time to see all of them, Maria! They’re all over Australia which is as big as Europe – so if you’re driving, it would be a super huge road trip!!
The top secret Aussie hot spot is not secret anymore. I love extreme road adventure, Jacksons Crossing, High Country Victoria is on my top of the list to visit this coming summer. Australia has unlimited hidden beauty for all travelers who has owns need. The good thing is, there are many places for everyone to visit. You own a car, you have the right to drive to your favorite destination. Traveling is something you will cherish forever.
Yep, you gotta have a car to get to a lot of these places! Thanx for dropping by!
I love these kinda hidden hotspots. Every place has them, but it needs a discerning traveler to uncover them. These places are more alluring to me for they are not the over-hyped and run of the mill destinations, but places which are off-beat and with less footfalls. Loved reading about the Aussie hot spots, thanks to you and Hema maps.
The hidden secrets are the BEST places to visit as a traveller – it makes your journey so much more memorable, and if you’re like me you get a bit of a thrill visiting somewhere that not many others have seen. It sounds like you’re the same, Sandy N Vyjay!
Wow these are some awesome hidden gems! The Redbank Gorge looks fantastic! I really hope to visit Australia soon and will refer to this list when I finally go!
There’s a lot to see and do before you even get to the hidden places, Linda! Plan a LOOOOONG trip!!
Red, have not seen your photos in some time, and have missed your excellent photos and stories. Are you thinking of a second book?
Hey TFG! Great to hear from you!! I’m thinking of a second book … but not so sure about my publisher, haha! Keep watching – there’s a LOT more I have to show you!
Some truly inspiring places there. Can’t believe I’d never heard of Gnylmarung Retreat! I guess its an excuse to head back up to Broome! Thanks for the great information
The more you look, the more you find Aaron!! And there’s ALWAYS an excuse to head to Broome 😀
I hope I can make it to Australia this year! Such a lot of places to see and things to experience.
Health, love and happiness I wish to you,
Merry Christmas and good tidings too.
Have a wonderful Christmas!
I hope you get down here too, Indrani!! Best wishes for the new year!!
Been to two of them. Obviously need to get out there and travel some more.
The hidden corners can be the best places in OZ, JETnomads!! See you on the road in 2017!
Oh, Red, do you have to post this right now?! How hard it is to not say, alas! I´m here, I buy a car now and take off!!!!
Only of these we´ve seen was Organ Pipes, back in 1995…
Having not much money helped in this decision, too 😉
I should play and win lotto big!
Haha, I’m so sorry to have inspired you to win lotto, Iris!! But I have never been to the Organ Pipes – so you have done one better than me 😀 I hope one day I’ll see you on the road!!
My goodness, I’ve barely heard of any of these places, which makes me feel very under-travelled in Australia. We did try to go into the Gawler Ranges on the Eyre Peninsula but couldn’t take our dog in. I really do need to do some more exploring!
If this post has made you want to get out and do some more exploring in Australia, then our work is done, Kathy!! Even I haven’t been to some of the Hema Maps choices – including the Gawler Ranges! We were stopped by rain – or more specifically, a non-mud-running vehicle! Maybe we’ll get to meet there someday??!!
You’ve listed such varied places….something for everyone. I would really like to visit Bruny Island. I hope the neck doesn’t get breached while I am there.
Haha, I’m sure there’s an enterprising local with a boat if you run into trouble on the Neck, Andrew!! It really is an amazing spot – the whole of Tasmania is amazing, but Bruny Island is AWESOME!!! We could have spent the whole of our short stay in Tas on Bruny – so I was thrilled that Hema Maps chose it too 😀
fabulous line up Red, and congratulations having HEMA contact you. I’ve sold a few photos to them in the past, and I know the feeling of seeing your own images in their map books. I’m happy to say that I have been to a few of the spots you mention. But I would love to check out Jacksons crossing when we eventually get to go touring over there. Is it caravan friendly to get there? We camped up in the Gawler Ranges during our SAust visit a few years ago. The Organ Pipes are spectacular. Happy travels Red and wishing you and yours a happy Christmas and good things for you in 2017.
Thank you Jill and Merry Xmas to you too! I’m yet to sell any photos … but having my name up in lights kinda makes up for that :D! I haven’t been to Jackson’s crossing either – that destination was courtesy of Hema Maps. Everything I’ve read about it indicates it’s on a 4WD track – here’s the Parks Vic link: http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/snowy-river-national-park/things-to-do/jackson-crossing-area.