When you think of Australia, the first places to come to mind are the most well known, like Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Ayres Rock. There’s no doubt that Australia is a beautiful and vast place to visit, but what if you want to go off the beaten track a little and explore some not so well known sites?
Here’s a list of 5 places you should definitely add to your “to visit” list.
Sovereign Hill – Ballarat, Victoria
Visit the historic city of Ballarat. Set on 25 acres of an original gold mining site, Sovereign Hill is a living museum with working exhibits brought to life by costumed characters and over 40 horses. Their daily program includes 18 scheduled activities, so there will be something for everyone. You can try your hand at gold panning, discover the dangerous world of deep mining, learn how to load and fire a musket, take an underground tour of a gold mine and visit the 19th century style candle making factory and learn how candles were made!
If breathtaking tropical paradise is your thing then a visit to the Whitsundays should be on your agenda. Choose from 74 islands located in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef. Airlie Beach is a great base. From there you can charter your own yacht, snorkel or dive at the Great Barrier Reef, or visit the largest of the islands, Whitehaven Beach. 7km of pristine silica sand and turquoise sea, named the world’s top eco-friendly beach by CNN in 2010.
Phillip Island – 90 min drive from Melbourne, Victoria
There’s plenty to do on Phillip Island, everything from kayaking to charter fishing, but two things you really cannot afford to miss are the Penguin Parade and the Koala Conservation Centre.
Every evening at sunset, you have the unique opportunity to see the world’s smallest penguins in their natural habitat. They return from a day fishing in the ocean and waddle up the beach to the safety of their burrows in the sand dunes. You can see them from a special viewing area and from boarded walkways. They make a lovely cooing sound as they settle into their burrows, it’s extraordinary and wonderful experience.
The Koala Conservation area is also fantastic. Walk through the Eucalyptus trees on elevated boarded walkways, most of the Koala’s will be sleeping in the tree tops but you will get to see them close range. You may even be lucky enough to see baby joeys as they take their first adventure from their mother’s pouch!
155km in length, Kangaroo Island is not technically in Australia but it’s only a 45-minute ferry ride from Adelaide, South Australia. A pristine wilderness, that offers protection to many native Australian animals. It has a dense forest, towering cliffs, unspoiled sand dunes, white beaches, and wetlands. Around 4,400 people live there, most of them primary producers.
The island offers visitors plenty of interesting activities. You can walk among the sea lions at Seal Bay Conservation Park, take your taste buds on a tour through the islands rich gourmet produce – from award-winning sheep milk cheeses to freshwater marron, olive oil, and boutique wines. Visit the underground world of limestone caves and caverns and finish off the day by visiting Dave and his amazing collection of birds of prey!
Scenic World at Katoomba, in the Blue Mountains – 2 hours by road from Sydney
Visit the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains and enjoy a beautiful day out exploring the skyline on various rides. The site of Scenic World is rich in history, originally known as Katoomba coal mine. In the late 1800s, over 80 men worked in the coal mine, The mine closed in 1945 and the lease was taken over by Harry Hammon.
Harry was loading coal one day when a truckload of American soldiers pulled up and asked where they could find the steep railway because they wanted a ride. This planted the seed in Harry’s mind to start a scenic railway. Since then, the operation has expanded further and now offers visitors, The Scenic Skyway, Cableway, Railway, Walkway, and Scenic Cinema.