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Think natural wonders in Australia and you’re likely jolted with visions of Uluru, The 12 Apostles, Great Barrier Reef, Mount Kosciuszko. The usual suspects – and for good reason: they’re all revered globally as spectacular natural works of art.
But dig a little deeper than, say, your average guidebook, and you’ll find there are myriad incredible nature spots off the beaten track that are well worth a visit. Here are five lesser-known gems to get you started.
1. Wentworth Falls, Blue Mountains National Park, New South Wales
With three tiers rising (or falling) nearly 200m, Wentworth Falls is absolutely breathtaking. Only a short way from Katoomba’s Three Sisters, the falls are accessible via various walking trails and are a worthy addition to any Blue Mountains expedition. Nearby, a series of grooves in the rock caused by the sharpening of stone implements are evidence of early human habitation in the region. Pro-tip: time your visit after a heavy rainfall to witness the waterfall in all its glory.
2. Dove Lake, Cradle Mountain-Lake Claire National Park, Tasmania
Stunning as it may be, there’s so much more to admire about Dove Lake than its deep blue glacial waters. With snow gums, pencil pines and loads of wandering wildlife (including wombats and other local marsupials), the habitat surrounding the lake is seriously unique. The lake is encircled by groomed walking paths and located a short distance from Tasmania’s infamous Cradle Mountain. There’s no shortage of natural wonder here.
3. Ghosties Beach Sea Cave, Central Coast, New South Wales
Located halfway between Sydney and Newcastle, the secluded Ghosties Beach is home to one of the most enchanting walk-through sea caves in Australia. Large tides and sand build-up mean the cave isn’t always visible, so you’ll have to chance it – but it’s worth the risk. And if you’re really lucky, the tide may have washed the sand from the beach, leaving only an ancient petrified forest beneath your feet.
4. Murphy’s Haystacks, Eyre Peninsula, South Australia
This ancient formation, which scored its name after being mistaken for haystacks by a passing traveller, consists of granite rock estimated to be over 1,500 million years old. The stacks are located in the middle of a wheat field on private land; but throw a donation into the box at the entry gate and you’re good to venture in and walk amongst the beautiful contours shaped over millions of years by wind, rain and sand.
5. Ramshead Range, Kosciuszko National Park, New South Wales
Containing some of the highest peaks in Australia, the hike through Ramshead Range is not for the faint hearted. However, the beautiful rock formations and stunning panoramic views from the four acknowledged peaks – Mount Twynam, Rams Head, North Ramshead and South Ramshead – are worth busting a lung over. Spanning from the Victorian border to Thredbo, the range is perfect for hikers in the summer months, while its snow-covered peaks play home to cross-country skiers and alpine tours during winter.