How To Get Off The Beaten Track In Australia by:Bruce Haxton
For many gap year travellers Australia may not seem to be, culturally, a million miles from home. The food, language and obsession with sport might remind you of home, but there are plenty of hidden sights and experiences here that will surprise you. Famous sights such as The Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, Alice Springs and the rest are all worth visiting; the best sort of travelling is discovering something almost no one else has found. It's not guaranteed that you'll feel like exactly like Captain Cook, but this list should provide a way to escape the crowds and still have a great time.
1. Kangaroo Island, South Australia
A brilliant way to get away from the crowds on Bondi Beach, Kangaroo Island is (unsurprisingly) home to Kangaroos as well as wallabies, koalas, seals and penguins! The surrounding water has protected its fauna from decimation; native forest and bush fill the interior and only give way on the edges to rugged cliffs and deep blue waves. Don't miss out on the local delicacy of Ligurjan honey and jam made from the island's fruits, and maybe even a little homemade wine.
2. Cape York Peninsula, Queensland
This one really is for the most determined of explorers. The Cape York Peninsula is at the tip of Australia's coiled tail and certainly packs a sting. The long strip rising in the north of Queensland offers the best 4x4 driving in the country. Watch out (literally) for crocodiles, rainforests and the odd town (though blink and you'll miss them). If this sounds like your kind of adventure then take a look at Lonely Planet's Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef Guide and see what you're letting yourself in for, and make sure you get a good map!
3. The Great Ocean Road, Victoria
Hire a car or better yet a jeep and burn some rubber for the full open road experience. This particular route lies between Torquay and Warrnambool along the Southwest coast and offers nearly 300km of uninterrupted coastal beauty, from huge cliffs, raging surf, peaceful bays, lush rainforests, to an abundance of fascinating wildlife. Remember to keep your eyes on the road; it's a long way down! It's worth thinking about getting someone else insured so you can share the view and leave enough time to stop and explore en route.
4. Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains have been literally a chill out paradise for years; the air cools as you rise and feels like the hiking equivalent of jumping in a swimming pool. It's not just the air that lures people up here; the area boasts incredible scenery and a bevy of rock formations, waterfalls and bushwalks. The eucalyptus oil evaporating from the carpet of gum trees here creates a blue haze which gives the region its name as well as its enduring charm. From the ground, the saddle, the harness or the canoe, the Blue Mountains seem a world away.
5. The Adelaide Hills, South Australia
The Adelaide Hills have remained pleasantly underdeveloped aside from the abundance of lush woods, walking routes and a rich covering of flora and fauna. Follow any road you like and you'll find dipping valleys, gently bobbing hills and vineyards. Great food is never far away from great wine and here is no exception; roadside fruit and vegetable stalls and fantastic restaurants will keep your energy up.
6. Nature conservation working holiday
It doesn't get more off the beaten track that heading off into the wilds of Australia. Volunteering with a company is a great way to see the best of Australia's natural wonders and make a difference too. Meaningful travel company i-to-i have recently launched a new trip that will give travellers the chance to spend a hassle free gap year in Australia. Not only will the company sort out al the paper work they'll give you a years access to their job placement service and a week working at a conservation project at any one of 20 destinations across the country, take a look here http://www.i-to-i.com/volunteer-projects/australia-working-holiday-and-conservation-experience.html
About the author
I'm totally passionate about travel, it's been my life and work for a good few years! My travel adventures haven't really been about seeing monuments etc but far more about people and getting off the beaten track. I would like to share my many experiences and offer a little advice if I can to fellow travellers or anyone who is just about to set off on a life changing trip!