If you find yourself dreaming about the Land Down Under, here are some ideas we’d like to pitch for your very real Australian vacation:
Kakadu National Park
Take a cue from Mark Twain and delve into Australia’s history in the Northern Territory. Indigenous Australians settled the region more than 40,000 years ago, and with the right guides and guidance, you can see some of their earliest rock art. In Kakadu National Park, you can explore billabongs (isolated ponds left when a river changes course), wetlands, and prolific rain forests. Walk underneath the lush tree cover and listen to the melodic and unfamiliar birdsong “raining” down on you from high overhead—a third of Australia’s bird species live here.
While you’re there, visit Arnhem Land, located on Kakadu National Park’s border. Arnhem Land is a vast, unspoiled wilderness that still belongs to the indigenous Yolngu, who have occupied the region for all of memory and who retain strong cultural and spiritual ties to the land. Australia’s famous musical instrument, the didgeridoo, originated here. Wildlife—including dugongs (a relative of the manatee), nesting turtles, and saltwater crocodiles—thrive in and along this mesmerizing land’s winding rivers, remote islands, rugged coastlines, dripping rain forests, towering escarpments and savannah woodlands.
The famous and fabulous Uluru (Ayers Rock) is technically in the Northern Territory but is really smack dab in the middle of the country. There you can wonder at the prehistoric rock paintings and caves around the UNESCO World Heritage site, a looming 600-million-year-old sandstone rock formation in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Uluru is sacred to the Anangu, the Aboriginal people of the area who believe it was formed by ancestral beings in the Dreamtime, the era of the world’s creation.
Daintree Rain Forest
The Daintree Rain Forest on the northeast coast of Queensland is one of the oldest continuously surviving tropical rain forests in the world. It is the closest living counterpart to the forests that once covered the ancient supercontinent of Gondwanaland. Due to its incredible biodiversity and large numbers of plants and animals found nowhere else on the planet, it is of immense scientific value. It also offers an unforgettable travel experience. In this place of spectacular forest-clad mountains, stunning valleys, superb beaches, clear streams, magnificent rivers, and rolling farmlands, you can hike, take a wildlife-spotting river cruise, zip-line through the canopy, boat to the Great Barrier Reef, ride a horse, take a scenic drive, or relax on an uninhabited beach.
If you’re interested in seeing a great cross section of Australian wildlife all in one place, head out to the “Galapagos of Australia”—Kangaroo Island, a third of which is national parklands or wilderness protection areas. Meet up with bushtail possums, brown bandicoots (a marsupial), kangaroos, koalas (which outnumber the people!), wallabies (which outnumber the koalas!), rare echidnas (spiny anteaters), Australian fur seals, goannas (a monitor lizard), little blue (or “fairy”) penguins, and platypuses. Stay in a cottage next to a lighthouse that warns ships away from the rocky coast.
Relax in South Australia’s legendary wine country of Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale. Sample delicious vintages from three, world-class wine regions in a single, epic and memorable road trip.
Ferry or fly to the wild and beautiful island of Tasmania. Take in the sights of Hobart, its vibrant capital, or call on a Tasmanian devil sanctuary. Stay in Launceston, one of Australia’s oldest cities, or discover some of the island’s most spectacular wildernesses, such as Cradle Mountain-Lake Saint Clair National Park and Freycinet National Park. Hike ancient rain forests, alpine heathlands, and rugged, glacially sculpted landscapes, or kayak miles of unspoiled coastlines and waterways. Even your meals will be extraordinary: Tasmania’s strong tradition of small-scale, organic farming and sustainability—along with pure air, rich soil and clean water—results in truly local, authentic foods.
Off the Beaten Path helps you get your arms around Australia, winnowing down the just-short-of-three million square miles into a spot-on Land Down Under custom planned vacation. We can talk exquisite lodges in awe-inspiring locales, coastal walks, wine regions, and the best wildlife viewing hotspots. We'll unravel the mysteries around why you might consider Uluru, Tasmania, Kangaroo Island, the Blue Mountains, Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rain Forest, The Kimberley, Woollemi, Kununurra, Wollongong, or Bungle Bungles. Fair dinkum!