Local recommendations and word-of-mouth tips are one of the best resources when it comes to planning a holiday. After all, who better to share what you should see, do, experience and take in better than travellers who have already been there, done that? So, Webjet recently put out the call for the best regional gems – as loved by you – in our recent ‘Show Us Your Australia’ competition. We asked you to #ShowUsYourAus on Facebook and Instagram, telling us about the regional treasures around Australia that you think should be on every traveller’s radar. Eight lucky winners were then selected to win a $1,000 Webjet eGift Card – perfect to put towards visiting any of the spots submitted for ‘Show Us Your Australia’!
Check out the eight winning entries below and consider these spots your launching pad for planning your upcoming travels around regional Australia!
Ormiston Gorge, Northern Territory
Catch a flight to Alice Springs, hop in a rental car, and head out to the West MacDonnell Ranges to experience Ormiston Gorge. The national park is only about 20 minutes’ drive from the centre of Alice Springs and is a show of the Red Centre at its best. And while there are plenty of things to see and do around the West MacDonnell Ranges, follow in the footsteps of @kyleofsmiles and put seeing Ormiston Gorge at the top of your list.
This coldwater swimming hole is surrounded by rust-red coloured cliffs and it makes for a striking sight. “The scenery is mind-blowing. A photo of the gorge walls simply does not do it justice,” says Kylie. Channel your inner photographer by doing your best to snap your own Instagram-worthy shots. Don’t forget to pack your swimmers if you’re visiting in summer too, as a refreshing dip in Ormiston Gorge is another must-do for visitors.
Ormiston Gorge is an excellent year-round attraction, even if the water might be slightly too chilly for a paddle during winter. If the mercury won’t have you braving the water, there is plenty to fill your day on dry land. There are bushwalking trails galore, including the Ormiston Pound Walk, which takes about three to four hours to complete. The trail extends along the rocky slope and flat floor of the gorge, passing the swimming hole on the way. There’s also the 20-minute Ghost Gum Lookout Walk for those after a shorter hike.
While the landscape is the main attraction of Ormiston Gorge, animal lovers will also be pleased with the number of critters that can be spotted here. “The wildlife is fantastic, particularly the birds,” says Kylie. “Painted finches abound… and spinifex pigeons visit you at your camp.”
Ormiston Gorge just scratches the surface on all there is to do around the region. Once you’ve spent some time there, continue your tour of the Red Centre by paying a visit to these nearby attractions:
- Simpsons Gap: This is the first attraction you’ll come across in West MacDonnell National Park after leaving Alice Springs. Visitors will enjoy a watering hole, towering cliffs, and resident black-footed rock wallabies.
- Ellery Creek Big Hole: Head to Ellery Creek Big Hole for bushwalking and a reprieve from the NT sun with a dip in the watering hole.
- King’s Canyon: Drive along the unsealed Mereenie Loop Road to reach King’s Canyon. Explore this Outback landmark by trekking along the Rim Walk, which extends for six kilometres along the edge of the canyon.
- Gosse Bluff: Gosse Bluff is the aftermath of a crater that scientists believe hit the Northern Territory during the Cretaceous period. It’s 4.8 kilometres wide and is best seen from Tylers Pass on Namatjira Drive.
Magic Rock, Victoria
Victoria’s Great Ocean Road is one of the state’s most visited attractions and while this famous stretch of road can become busy with other travellers, there are still a few hidden spots that the crowds haven’t cottoned on to quite yet. For @bryanvu936, one of these spots is Magic Rock, located southeast of Warrnambool – about a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Melbourne.
Magic Rock is a unique vertical rock formation that tends to fly under the tourist radar. It can be a bit tricky to find, so you may need to rely on GPS. The added effort that goes into finding the Rock makes it all the more special and enchanting when you get there.
Once you see the Rock, you’ll likely understand how it got its name. It sits above the ocean in a way that seems magically suspended on the water, particularly during high tide. Visiting Magic Rock during low tide is super rewarding too as you can climb over boulders for an up-close view of the rock. Just be careful you don’t get too close to the shoreline as waves are strong and unpredictable. The views of Magic Rock are always stunning, but you’ll be especially wowed during the glow of sunrise or sunset.
Take your time admiring Magic Rock, and then keep exploring the Great Ocean Road:
- Deep Blue Hot Springs: Unwind in a series of 15 hot springs and get pampered with a massage or spa treatments.
- Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village: Learn about the Shipwreck Coast’s maritime history and browse a collection of artefacts from 200 shipwrecked boats.
- Port Fairy: A small fishing village at the far western end of the Great Ocean Road.
- More things to see along the Great Ocean Road include Loch Ard Gorge, Twelve Apostles, Bay of Islands, Cape Otway, Apollo Bay, and Bells Beach.
Blue Mountains, New South Wales
The Blue Mountains as a whole is no secret, but head off the main tourist trail to discover dozens of less-visited gems around this world-famous national park. No matter how much time you spend in the Blue Mountains, be sure to plan to visit a lookout point or two. Some lesser-known viewpoints around the Blue Mountains include:
- Lincoln’s Rock: This is one of @kris.charlz‘s favourite Australian treasures. “Lincoln’s Rock gives you sweeping views of Jamison Valley. We love how the valley changes colours as the sun moves across the sky throughout the day,” she says. The rock’s angle also creates an optical illusion while visitors are snapping photos. There are no safety guards at Lincoln’s Rock so always take extra care when taking pictures.
- Sublime Point: This lookout point has a different view over Jamison Valley than the one offered at Lincoln’s Rock. Cross a foot bridge over a deep ravine to reach the viewing platform. Sublime Point also has excellent bird-watching opportunities for the twitchers out there.
- Pulpit Rock Lookout: This little-known location is in the park’s northern end. Visitors can enjoy an almost 360-degree view over Grose Valley, Blue Gum Forest, and Govetts Leap.
- Hassans Wall Lookout: This is the Blue Mountains’ highest lookout point, at about 1,100 metres tall. Head here to look out over Hartley Valley.
Jenolan Caves and neighbouring Blue Lake are other spots to put on your Blue Mountains holiday itinerary. Jenolan is an underground network of about 300 limestone caves; nine are open to the public with guided tours, including a spooky after-dark ghost tour. Blue Lake lives up to its name thanks to its natural deep shade of blue. See it from all angles by walking along the 30-minute Blue Lake Loop.
See more of the Blue Mountains by including some of these stops too:
- Cahill’s Lookout: Gaze out over the Megalong Valley, Megalong Head, Boars Head Rock, and Narrow Neck Peninsula.
- Katoomba Falls: Walk through the bush for about 300 metres and you’ll catch sight of these stunning cascades over the Kedumba River.
- Scenic World: A family-friendly favourite with experiences like Scenic Cableway, Scenic Railway, Scenic Walkway, and Scenic Skyway.
- Three Sisters: This iconic rock formation is located at Echo Point and represents three sisters from Aboriginal legend.
- Blue Mountains Botanic Garden: See a collection of plants from both NSW and other cool climates around the world. The idyllic location also means you’ll be treated to mountain and valley views while wandering the gardens.
Bridestowe Lavender Estate, Tasmania
Take one step onto the Bridestowe Lavender Estate near Launceston and you’ll instantly feel like you’ve been transported to the fields of Provence, France. The lavender at Bridestowe was first planted in the early 1920s and has since grown to make up the largest lavender farm in the Southern Hemisphere.
You can visit Bridestowe all year-round, but the summer months are when it truly shines. This is when the lavender is in full bloom. The period between December and early February see the most iconic views at Bridestowe, but each season has something unique to offer. Autumn brings with it golden foliage, the winter months promise views of snow-capped Mount Arthur, and the lavender begins to flourish and show its colour again in the spring.
Snap some photos of the lavender fields (try to emulate the one taken by @limvoeung!), and then have fun with Bridestowe’s flower-focused activities. Take a free tour, head to the Distillery to see how oil is extracted from the flowers, pop into the cafe for lavender ice cream, and shop the range of products in the gift shop. You’ll find everything from lavender oils and perfumes to soap and skincare products to teas and jams.
Entrance to Bridestowe Lavender Estate costs $10 during flowering season and is free the rest of the year. Tasmanian residents receive free entry year-round.
Flinders Ranges, South Australia
The Flinders Ranges is one of David Emms’ favourite local places. He’s been visiting the Ranges since he was a kid and always feels a force pulling him back there. He says, “A big part of the reason I go to the Flinders Ranges is to centre myself – to find peace in the craziness of modern life.”
The Flinders Ranges is known for its landscapes, and the rust-red terrain has an otherworldly feel to it. Other things adding to the lure of the Flinders Ranges are its fossils and its wildlife. “If you don’t see at least 20 emu a day, there’s something off!” says David.
Set aside at least a few days to explore the different areas of the Flinders Ranges. Some must-sees to have on your radar include:
- Wilpena Pound: This is a natural amphitheatre that stretches for an impressive 17 kilometres long by eight kilometres wide. It’s surrounded by mountain peaks and has several bushwalks, ranging from 90 minutes to several days long. “[Wilpena Pound is] one of the most unique geological structures in the world. Hiking through the Pound and up its many peaks… is utterly rewarding with some of the most spectacular views in the world,” David says.
- Mount Remarkable: Spend a day trekking the 14-kilometre-long Mount Remarkable Summit Hike to reach the top of the 961-metre-tall mountain. The view you’ll get from the top makes the long walk well worth it.
- Pichi Pichi Railway: Hop aboard this heritage steam railway for either a half- or full-day ride through the Flinders Ranges.
- Yourambulla Caves: Explore these caves to admire beautiful rock art painted by the Adnyamathanha people.
- Ediacara Hills: The fossils you’ll see at Ediacara Hills date back between 540 and 570 million years.
- Arkaroola: A wilderness sanctuary home to yellow-footed rock wallabies and more than 160 species of birds. It’s located in the northern end of the Flinders Ranges.
Stirling Ranges, Western Australia
Western Australia is brimming with unique places to explore and Stirling Range National Park is one of the best, as submitted by Jessie Anna Newton. The park sits in WA’s southwestern corner, a quick drive from the coastal city of Albany.
One of the Stirling Ranges’ claims to fame is Bluff Knoll. It’s more than 1,000 metres tall and one of the tallest peaks in WA. It’s also one of the only places in WA where you can see snow when the conditions are just right. Hike along a three-kilometre trail to summit Bluff Knoll and take in the view of the Stirling Ranges around you.
There are more bushwalking trails that take in the other peaks of the Stirling Ranges, including Toolbrunup Peak, Talyuberlup Peak, Mount Trio, and Ellen Peak. Particularly avid hikers may want to consider tackling the Stirling Range Ridge Walk. This 26-kilometre route typically takes two or three days to complete. It’s a more challenging walk so is best for experienced walkers. Those who would prefer to see the sights by car rather than on foot will love the Stirling Range Drive. The spectacular (mostly unsealed) drive winds its way through the national park for 42 kilometres, providing a unique perspective of the peaks.
As well as its physical landmarks, travellers love visiting the Stirling Ranges to see its wildflowers during the summer. More than 1,500 species of wildflowers grow in the Stirling Ranges, and many varieties are only found here – nowhere else in the world!
Once you’ve made the journey to the Stirling Ranges, set aside time to take in more of the hidden treasures around this corner of WA, such as Torndirrup National Park or Yarrabee Wesfarmers Reserve.
Bluff Falls, Victoria
Victoria’s northern border has a bounty of fodder for your holiday itineraries. One of these places to discover is Bluff Falls, located within Burrowa Pine Mountain National Park. The waterfall cascades down the Burrowa Plateau and Cudgewa Bluff – both centrepieces of the national park. Mary Melis loves Bluff Falls because “it’s easy to get to, peaceful, beautiful, and hidden away in a rural area of Victoria… The kids used to love playing under the falls.”
The best way to view the secluded waterfall is by taking a walk along the four-kilometre Bluff Falls Nature Walk. It hugs Bluff Creek and offers views of native plants, birds, and mammals before reaching the base of the gorgeous Falls. It’s possible to visit Bluff Falls and Burrowa Pine Mountain National Park on a day trip from Albury, but you can enjoy it to the fullest is by staying a couple nights at one of the park’s campgrounds.
Bluff Falls is only one of the many secret locations within Burrowa Pine Mountain National Park. Some other ones to put on the bucket list include:
- Pine Mountain: It’s impossible to miss this granite monolith. Hike the track up to the summit where you’ll have your breath taken away by the national park views around you.
- Mount Burrowa: Mount Burrowa stands at a staggering 1,300 metres tall, taking the title as the highest peak in the national park. It’s located atop Burrowa Plateau and has an unparalleled view over the surrounding area.
- Campbells Lookout: Hike the easy 1.4-kilometre return track to reach this scenic viewpoint overlooking Cudgewa Bluff.
- Ross Lookout: There definitely isn’t a shortage of viewpoints in Burrowa Pine Mountain National Park! Ross Lookout is one for the advanced hikers to set their sights on.
Go off the grid by planning a visit to western Tasmania’s rugged wilderness, thanks to Elspeth Lovell’s tips. The charming fishing town of Strahan is the perfect place to base yourself for this adventure. It sits on the northern banks of Macquarie Harbour and is just a stone’s throw away from the beach, ancient mountain peaks, temperate rainforest, and the Gordon River. The area around Strahan is also ideal for getting up close and personal with the Tassie wildlife, such as fairy penguins, platypus, dolphins and even whales in season!
Some of the other places to get in touch with the rugged nature around Strahan include:
- West Coast Wilderness Railway: This heritage railway travels through the forests around Strahan, providing riders with picture-perfect views along the way. Travellers can also stop by the West Coast Wilderness Railway Museum to learn about its history.
- Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park: Bushwalking trails wind through every corner of this national park, taking visitors past gorges, mountain peaks and the two rivers. Head to King William Saddle to look out over the park, or hop on a river cruise. Some of these cruises even stop at Macquarie Harbour’s famous penal colony Sarah Island.
- The Ship That Never Was: Theatre-lovers can’t visit Strahan without seeing The Ship That Never Was, Australia’s longest-running show. It’s based on true events from 1834 and shares the story of the last Great Escape from Sarah Island penal colony. It’s shown almost daily since 1994.
- Hogarth Falls: Take a short stroll from Strahan Village to the Botanical Creek where you’ll come across Hogarth Falls. You may even get lucky and spot some platypus!
- Ocean Beach: Tasmania’s longest beach stretches for 30 kilometres just west of Strahan. The current is strong and the beach is unpatrolled so swimming is not advised. However, it’s excellent for quiet coastal walks and sunset strolls.
- Henty Dunes: These tall sand dunes next to Ocean Beach were formed by the Roaring 40s – strong winds that blow uninterrupted all the way from South America, picking up incredible speed on the way to Tasmania. Get in touch with your inner child by hiring a toboggan and sliding down the dunes.
While there could only be eight winners, the ‘Show Us Your Australia’ competition received hundreds of incredible entries that put the spotlight on destinations and places around Australia that are sure to be added to your visit wish-list! Check the entries out on at #ShowUsYourAus on Instagram, or following the comments on the competition’s Facebook post. And when you’re ready to see those places for yourself, you can get there thanks to Webjet’s cheap flights, accommodation and car hire.