Australia: travel for backpackers
Australia is well known around the world as being a ‘must travel’ Backpacking destination. Although, the country appeals to explorers, hikers, families, nature lovers, and pretty much everyone…
it is particularly incredible for intrepid young wanderers. So much so that the continent in a country has become a right of passage.
For me, the outer rim of Australia became my first solo backpacking experience in 2013. And while there have been many more since then, Australia was the catalyst and set the gold standard for expedition style journeys.
Pre-planning is essential. I spent several months looking over maps, reading guidebooks, and talking to travellers who had visited some of the areas. Original ambitions of circumnavigating over 6-weeks were scaled back. After arrival in Sydney the enormity of the road ahead became apparent.
By foot, bus, plane, train, automobile and boat, I moved clockwise taking in all of the magic that this beautiful and diverse country had to offer. From sleeping in hostels or under the stars on the west coast to diving in the Great Barrier Reef, one adventure evolved to the next. While I was traveling solo, I was constantly meeting other adventurers and was never lonely.
So much is written about the well-trodden sites, so I have put together a list of the top 5 underrated places to visit:
- Kangaroo Island is located off the coast of Adelaide and is where a third of the island is protected by national reserves. It is a place where you can spot both kangaroos and watch fur seals bask in the sun or swim by sandy beaches. This island offers diverse scenery, rugged wave-swept coast lines, island hospitality and many cottage industry ways of life. The daily Sealink ferry makes this an easy visit and is recommended for 2-3 days.
- A Western Australia must see is Rottnest Island just offshore from Perth. It is an easy day-trip by ferry to this protected natural reserve. The white-sand beaches and secluded coves area ideal for relaxation and restoration but it is equally fun to rent a bicycle and cycle around the island in hopes of spotting a quokka, known to be one of the happiest looking animals in the world. Looking down the cliffs you can also see fur seals and on the ferry back look out for whales and dolphins that frequent the area.
- Travel up the western coast of Australia from Perth to Broome to explore one of the most awe inspiring places in the country. Watch the Bottle-nose dolphins swim to shore at Monkey Mia, discover the petroglyphs in Kalbarri National Park, and spend one or more days snorkeling off the beach at at the stunning Cape Range National Park. Karijini National Park is located in the interior of this region, and provides one of the most magnificent hiking locations in the world. Through an ancient landscape of red rock and magnificent gorges, you can edge your way along the layered rock walls to enter deep canyons and clear water holes perfect for a dip. Recommended is the climb atop Joffries Gorge where a 360 view rivals that of the of the Grand Canyon and reminds you of the feat you achieved. With very little traffic besides road trains (transport trucks that pull 4-6 trailers), and limited petrol stations, you won’t see many people on this side of the country.
- The oldest forest on the planet (even older than then Amazon) is the Daintree Rainforest. This area that is home to the cassowary, and over 430 other species of birds, as well as abundant wildlife, unique plants, waterfalls, jungles, and tropical forested mountains. Easy to advanced hiking trails abound. Best access is a combination of 4X4 and foot. An extension to nearby Atherton Tablelands is advised.
- Another island to visit is Tasmania in the state of Victoria. Lying so far south, the landscape is unlike typical Australia. Tasmania is home to the famous Tasmanian devil and MONA (Museum of Old and New Art). This beautiful place was filled with wonder, excitement, and stunning bays like Wineglass Bay that provided days of wat fun. famous).
- You may also want to include a trip to the outback to uncover Australia’s red center, visit the iconic Uluru (Ayers rock) at sunrise and hike into the Kind Canyon.
If you are looking to plan a backpacking adventure of a lifetime, Australia is the place to do it.