Australia is a land of Greats and maybe we overdo the word a little but with The Great Barrier Reef being approximately one third the length of the country and about the size of Italy, then great it is. The Great Australian Bight on our southern coast is large, the Great Sandy Desert, well I wouldn’t want to get lost in that. Our spinal mountain range the Great Dividing Range stretches almost the entire length of the country, and at 3,500kms is the fifth longest on earth. The joyously great driving road the Great Ocean Road is magnificent and our source of inland water the Great Artesian Basin spans 1.7 million square kilometres, one fifth of the continent. Yep, that’s great too, but there are other places that deserve to be called Great or maybe Wow!
Just a few of the places that are Wow!
Karijini National Park, is like nowhere else on earth yet it doesn’t get a great deal of publicity. It isn’t easy to get to and has few accommodation options for non-campers which may be is its saving grace. Each gorge is different and protects an almost secret underworld ecosystem.
Ningaloo Reef, if it was anywhere else in the world it would be a drawcard, but Ningaloo is dwarfed by that other reef, The Great Barrier Reef.
Albany harbour, stunningly beautiful and large enough to hold an armada. To be precise King George Sound, the ANZAC fleet converged here before sailing into battle in World War One. This was the last time that many of those lads ever saw the Antipodes.
Cape Le Grand National Park, not one that we often see splashed across the pages of the glossy tourist magazines. One must get up early to snare a campsite here, but it is worth the effort when you see the colour of the water, the islands and the pristine beaches.
Shark Bay region, with millions of tiny white shells, miles of stunted saltbush and heavily salted water this huge World Heritage area is starkly different and quietly captivating.
Cooktown, the Daintree National Park is World Heritage and magnificent but how many people make the effort to continue on to visit Cooktown. Steeped in Queensland gold rush history and of course the place where James Cook put the Endeavour ashore for repairs. Nothing beats sitting on the veranda of the Top Pub in Cooktown and watching the sun set over the Endeavour River valley and this timeless land.
Finch Hatton Gorge, a short drive inland from the city of Mackay and nestled within the Great Dividing Range most coastal visitors miss this tropical wilderness.
Gippsland Lakes, Australia’s largest inland lake system is a haven for birds and is especially beautiful when toured by boat. The cool hush of an early morning glassy lake as thousands of black swans take to the air will leave an imprint on any mind. One can spend a lifetime exploring the rivers and backwaters of this region and boy we’ve tried.
Stanley, the one in Tasmania, and home to a huge volcanic plug called The Nut. Walking the streets of seafarer’s cottages one can almost hear the voices of its salty past.
Freycinet Peninsula, with its lichen covered rocky outcrops is a bushwalker’s heaven. Even the Queen is rumoured to have been secretly taken ashore from Britannia to visit the pristine arc of sand that is Wineglass Bay.
Carnarvon Gorge, another bushwalker’s delight. Agony and ecstasy to a ‘less walker’. Soaring cliffs, gurgling streams, Aboriginal art and cool dripping canyons. It’s nature with a paint brush in hand.
And that’s just a handful of Wows!