OZ Top Spot #14 – The Grotto, via Wyndham, Western Australia

Reflections at the Grotto, via Wyndham, Western Australia

My hard-won title of ‘World’s Greatest Coward’ was in no danger of disappearing as I stood poised on the first of the 140 hand-hewn rocky steps descending into the depths of the chasm. Above the Grotto:  A loo and no view! The Grotto’s inauspicious car park and ‘rest area’ had promised worse than nothing. A desolate expanse of bare, rocky

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OZ Top Spot #13 – Standley Chasm, via Alice Springs, Northern Territory

Standley Chasm, MacDonnell Ranges, Northern Territory

‘It’s just a short walk up the gorge starting over there,’ the kiosk attendant told the three fit young women in front of us, waving casually towards the trail head. Then it was our turn. Pilchard produced his senior’s card. ‘The track is uneven and rocky, and there’s a couple of creek crossings so please take it easy and take

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OZ Top Spot #12 – Naracoorte Caves National Park, South Australia

Thylacoleo carnifex, Australia's lion! Naracoorte Caves, South Australia

The dim yellow light cast a long dark shadow flickering balefully over the seeping rock as we descended deeper into the gloomy cavern. Treading carefully over the uneven rock floor, we dodged the oozing columns towering high above as we rounded the corner to leave the daylight behind. Channelling ‘Becky’ to Pilchard’s ‘Tom Sawyer’ in a weird re-enactment of Mark

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OZ Top Spot #11 – Griffiths Island, Port Fairy, Victoria

Causeway, Griffiths Island, Port Fairy

Apart from the snake on the beach, our island circumnavigation stroll was pleasant, albeit uneventful. But a frisson of danger changes everything – and an element of uncertainty elevates the ordinary, or even just plain old pleasant, into something more remarkable, doesn’t it? Or is that just me? Whether Griffiths Island, at the mouth of Port Fairy’s Moyne River on

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OZ Top Spot #10 – Cawnpore Lookout, Middleton, Queensland

View from Cawnpore Lookout, via Middleton, Queensland

Watching people do things you just KNOW they’re going to regret is one of life’s guilty pleasures. Even more so when there’s a cruel laugh to be had at their expense – without their knowing! So the staggering 360° view from the top level of western Queensland’s Cawnpore Lookout didn’t completely distract us from the horrifying sight of a pair of Grey

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OZ Top Spot #9 – Devils Marbles, Northern Territory

Devils Marbles, Northern Territory

To go from the bizarrely sensational Wycliffe Well, UFO capital of Australia (if not the world!), to the magnificent grandeur of the Northern Territory’s Devils Marbles is to go from the ridiculous to the sublime. A few hours on the road north from Alice Springs, exploring the weird and wonderful Wycliffe Well after parking in the Elvis campsite, then a

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OZ Top Spot #8 Noccundra, Queensland

Thank god for Kerry Packer*! When his Consolidated Pastoral Company purchased nearby Nockatunga station in 1990, the Noccundra Hotel, part of the lease, was almost certainly saved from the oblivion often suffered by historic (aka ‘old’) buildings in areas without a critical voting mass. Outdistancing its surrounding very remote localities (Thargomindah to the east, Tibooburra to the south, Innamincka to

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OZ Top Spot #7 – Bowra Sanctuary, South Western Queensland

With 200+ bird species over several diverse habitats in its 14000 hectares, Bowra Sanctuary puts out for all all elements of a truly excellent outback experience – spectacular scenery; wonderful wildlife – in this case birds; and eccentric characters – in this case human! But while these elements make it a perfect outback hideaway, Bowra is only 16km from South-western

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OZ Top Spot #6 – Starlight’s Lookout, Longreach, Queensland

Puffing and panting, we haul ourselves up the rocky path, our feet sliding on the dusty gravel. Another few metres and we reach the base of the rocky outcrop at the summit. We peer through the gap. We’ve climbed Starlight’s lookout – a mound rising high above the surrounding plain – and the view stretches for miles and miles and

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OZ Top Spot #5 – Kanyaka Ruins, Flinders Ranges, SA

What happens in a world where resources are divided equally, with equal opportunity for developing and managing them through good times and bad, and with an equal chance of success or failure? No, I’m not paraphrasing ‘Imagine’, writing the manifesto for a great big new mining tax or plotting a new version of ‘Monopoly’! But visit the Kanyaka Station ruins

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