view overlooking strabroke island on the north gorge walk, a hidden gem in australia.

Australia’s Hidden Gems

It feels like the whole world knows about the spectacular landmarks, beaches, reefs and hot spots that make Australia one of the most desirable destinations on the planet.  But what about the other hidden gems that are slightly off the beaten track but equally impressive to those who have explored them?  From secret castles and hidden beaches, to coastline trails and breathtaking vistas, below are some of our favourite hidden gems from around Australia.

Hidden Gems in Queensland

North Gorge Walk, Stradbroke Island

North Gorge Walk looking over the pacific ocean.
The view as we walked along the North Gorge Walk. Access this from Point Lookout, North Stradbroke Island.

Located on Stradbroke Island’s north-western peak, the North Gorge Walk showcases the best of both worlds.  Featuring a rugged and picturesque headland on one side and lush natural bushland on the other, the trail also offers families an unrivalled whale-watching vantage point during migration season. Beautifully crafted with wooden steps and walkways interspersed with benches and viewing platforms, the walk also features several different information boards. Visitors will also discover a unique rock formation known as ‘Blow Hole’, which resembles the majestic humpback whale itself.

Paronella Park, Mena Creek

Found alongside Mena Creek Falls in North Queensland, Paronella Park is the realisation of a long-held dream for owner Joe Paronella. On his 5 acres of land, Joe built his castle and then surrounded it with a tropical oasis that has to be seen to be believed.  With manicured lawns adorned by over 7,500 tropical plants, the park features picnic areas, waterfalls, bridges, a tunnel and even a tennis court.  Try to stay for the evening Darkness Tour, when the castle and grounds are lit up against the night sky and the entire park takes on a truly fairytale appearance.

Hidden Gems in NSW

Manly Scenic Walkway, Manly

Manly scenic walk overlooking Fairlight Beach.
Manly Scenic Walkway looking out over Fairlight Beach

The Manly Scenic Walkway is a 10km pathway that stretches between The Spit Bridge and Manly Wharf.  Hugging the coastline, the walk passes through bushlands, beaches and magnificent vistas, taking as little as 3 hours or as many as 10 hours to complete, depending on how much time you have.  If you want to make a full day of the experience, pack a backpack with a light towel, sunscreen and some refreshments and explore the many hidden gems sprinkled along its path.  Swim in a quiet beach or one of the fresh ocean pools found along the path, enjoy the lookout vistas and take in the scenic beauty of this refreshing and much-loved walk.  A regular stroll for locals, the Manly Scenic Walkway is one of our favourite hidden gems, offering the perfect way to experience one of the busiest attractions in Australia from a different vantage point.   

Wollomombi Falls, Northern Tablelands

If you love natural attractions, then our next hidden gem is one you will not want to miss. Wollomombi Falls in the Northern Tablelands is one of Australia’s highest waterfalls, its towering cascade of waters dropping a staggering 230m in height.  Descending from the undulating plateau surrounding Wollomombi to the floor of the magnificent Wollomombi Gorge, these falls are breathtaking to witness in person.  While occasionally veiled in mist, the vistas become even more spectacular after heavy rain in the region.  Located within the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park and less than a kilometre from the charming town of Wollomombi, the falls and their surrounding attractions are well worth exploring with your whole family.

Hidden Gems in Tasmania

Cataract Gorge, Launceston

The spectacular rock formations at Cataract Gorge.
The incredible rock face at Cataract Gorge in Launceston, Tasmania Australia.

Offering a piece of wilderness only 15 minutes from the city centre, Launceston’s Cataract Gorge is a hidden treasure with many gifts to share.  Although the gorge’s natural formation is the main attraction, visitors will also enjoy the numerous walking and hiking trails, beautiful gardens, interpretation centre, naturally-filled basin and feature suspension bridge.  A large swimming pool is also open for visitors. The popular restaurant and café offers a unique dining experience, with views from its glass wall of windows a spectacular backdrop while you eat.  The kids will love riding on the chairlift too, which has a total span of 457m and is officially the longest single-span chairlift in the world.

Maria Island National Park, Maria Island

Discovered just off the eastern coastline of Tasmania, Maria Island is a mixture of quiet solitude, untouched beauty and rich convict history. A natural wildlife sanctuary, the island is home to sweeping bays, stunning beaches, rugged coastlines, historical ruins and an abundance of very friendly and very cute wombats!  Access to the island is by Ferry and even if you are not a history buff a visit to the Darlington Probation Station is well worth it.  The most intact example of a convict probation station in Australia, it is also a World Heritage listed site. On the western side of the island you will find the Painted Cliffs, a remarkable display of nature’s artistry.  These weathered contours, sculpted by wind and waves, unveil a captivating façade of eroded sandstone.

Hidden Gems in NT

Kings Canyon, Watarrka National Park

Watarrka National Park’s King Canyon Bridge walk.
Kings Canyon in Northern Territory, Australia

Uluru (Ayres Rock) draws crowds from all over the world daily but for many visitors it is the neighbouring Kings Canyon that they love even more. Located only 3 hours from the rock, Watarrka National Park’s King Canyon boasts towering 300m high sandstone walls, enchanting palm-filled crevices, and breathtaking desert views.  There are a variety of walks that you can do, with the most popular being the Rim Walk. Involving a hike to the top of the canyon and then a 6km walk along the rim, this 3-hour journey gifts visitors with some of the most breathtaking views the area can provide.  If you are after a more gentle walk, then the 1 hour long Kings Creek Walk at the base of the canyon will be perfect. Whether you enjoy the scenic walks, or take a buggy, 4×4 drive or camel ride through the canyon, this spectacular hidden gem will not disappoint.

Bitter Springs, Elsey National Park

Indulge in a unique swimming experience in the Northern Territory at the tranquil Bitter Springs natural hot springs.  These springs offer a safe and peaceful opportunity to soak and relax – away from the crocodiles that reside in so many other water holes in the state.  Hidden within Esley National Park, a pleasant 500m loop trail leads you to the picturesque spring-fed thermal pools. For those looking to make their stay here a little longer, camping areas and cabins nearby provide the perfect opportunity to unwind, reconnect with nature and create some cherished family memories together.

Hidden Gems in SA

Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island

A solitary sea lion on the shores of seal beach.
A sea lion at Seal Bay

A hidden gem that will provide you with an unforgettable wildlife experience, Seal Bay has been a sanctuary for Australian sea lions for thousands of years.  Offering an exceptional nature-based experience that is unrivalled, what makes this truly special is being able to watch the sea lions in their natural habitat at such a close range. Guided by experienced experts who will be able to educate you about the sea lions and their plight for survival, you will be able to immerse yourself in the heart of the colony.  A 900 metre boardwalk with multiple viewing platforms meanders through the surrounding dunes, offering views over the sea lion colony in their natural environment.

Bunda Cliffs

Experience the exhilarating feeling of standing on the edge of Australia at the awe-inspiring Bunda Cliffs.  A true hidden gem, they are located in one of Australia’s most remote locations, between the Nullabor Plain and the Great Australian Bight. The cliffs, made from fossilised limestone with a uniquely bleached lower half, form part of the world’s longest continuous line of sea cliffs.  Stretching for 100km from the head of the Great Australian Bight to the Western Australian border, the Bunda Cliffs offer a stunning spectacle of nature’s grandeur.

Hidden Gems in ACT

Jamala Wildlife Lodge, Canberra

This extraordinary hotel that is situated within the Canberra Zoo allows you the extremely unique opportunity to sleep alongside the animals and wildlife that reside there.  Offering up-close animal encounters from the comfort of your room, each hotel room shares a glass wall with a different animal enclosure.  Choose from a variety of remarkable accommodation options, such as the Giraffe Treehouse or the large aquarium-like Reef Room.  For a more adventurous stay, you can even opt for one of the Jungle Bungalows – shared with the bears and big cats!

Hidden Gems in WA

The Horizontal Falls, Talbot Bay

As intriguing as it is stunning, the Horizontal Falls – or ‘the Horries’ as it is affectionately named, is one of the most spectacular natural wonders of this world.  Created as fast-moving tidal currents cascade through the narrow gorges of the McLarty Range in Talbot Bay, the resulting horizontal waterfall effect is breathtaking. As the direction of the flow changes with the tides, which can reach an astounding 10 metres in the Kimberley region, the falls actually reverse their direction each day, as the tide shifts, and the water flows in the opposite direction. As the falls are inaccessible by vehicle, a scenic flight over it or speed boat ride through make the journey to discovering this hidden gem even more spectacular.

Little Beach, Albany

One of Australia’s most beautiful beaches, Little Beach is a picture-perfect gem hidden within the Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve.  Unseen from the road, the beach is accessed via a staircase from the carpark and the views as you descend are truly magnificent.  On a sunny day, the water colour is a mesmerizingly clear turquoise colour, the sands reflect pure and white and the giant rocks that litter the beach stand strong against their backdrop.  Although only small, there are so many things to do here.  At the southern end of the beach there is a path over the headland to Waterfall Beach.  Explore the granite rocks and watch as the waterfall gushes down over them on to the beach.  You can also walk the 5km-return Baie des Deux Peuples Heritage Trail to the west.

How to find Australia’s Hidden Gems

In Australia, every state is run by a different National Parks and Wildlife Service or via a Department of Environment. Most have social media page, in particular Instagram and Facebook. If I were visiting Australia, I would follow these pages as they often share hidden gems that link back to directions on how to find them. Reddit is another popular resource for discovering places to go that are off the beaten track and hidden gems in Australia that locals visit.

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Ngaire has lived in Australia her whole life, raising her three kids in Brisbane. She has qualifications in journalism, PR and early childhood teaching and spends what spare time she has advocating for Australian wildlife.

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