Australia six ways from Sunday.
Lake Mackenzie, Fraser Island
Situated on the beautiful and laid back Fraser Island just off Queensland’s Sunshine Coast is Lake Mackenzie. A perched fresh water lake, it boasts crystal clear water and sparkling white sands. It is perfect for swimming and snorkeling. Fraser Island is accessible by ferry from Rainbow Beach and the nearby township of Hervey bay. Fraser Island is a popular four wheel drive and recreation destination and is Australia’s biggest sand island. Personally I love Fraser Island and I have visited there often. I actually began my career as a guide on Fraser Island driving day tours from the nearby town of Noosa. The best time to visit Lake Mackenzie is before 12pm or after 3pm as it can get quite busy. And you must dive down and see the small turtles swimming close to the sandy bottom.
Bay of Fires, Tasmania
Along Tasmania’s North East coast is The Bay of Fires. Dominated by sandy white beaches, aqua blue water and huge granite boulders the region is simply stunning. The granite boulders are covered in Orange lichen giving a sharp contrast to the surrounding area. You can walk for miles along secluded beaches free of people giving you the feeling that you are the only one there. I lived in Launceston in the northern part of Tasmania for 3 years so I visited this region frequently. On your way to or from the Bay of Fires you should stop in at the Bakery at the small village of Campbelltown. Australia is well known for its meat pies and the pies from this small bakery are certainly up there with the best in Australia. You can access The bay of Fires via the nearby town of St Helens. If you are feeling adventurous try the 4 day walk.
Glasshouse Mountains, Sunshine Coast
The Glass House Mountains are a group of awe inspiring hills that rise abruptly from the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast, just north of Brisbane. The mountains were actually named by Captain James Cook as he sailed past in them in 1770 as their sheer sides gave an appearance of an English Glass House. The mountains are actually part of a volcanic plug and are now heritage listed as they are so significant to the local area. The views from the top are incredible and best viewing times are at sunrise. The pick is the scenic lookout within the Beerburrum State Forest or if you are feeling more adventurous you can explore one of the many local walking tracks. I have actually completed the walk to the top of Mount Ngungun. This walk is not for the feint hearted and literally goes straight up the side of Mount Ngungun for about half a mile. The other technicality is that I completed the walk in complete darkness as I climbed to see the sunrise. At any time of the day the walk is absolutely worth it but if you are not completely confident in negotiating rocky slopes I would recommend climbing this section during the daylight hours.
Jervis Bay, South Coast of NSW
Situated on the South Coast of New South Wales, around a stunningly scenic 2.5 hour drive from Sydney along the aptly named Great Scenic Way is Jervis Bay. Famous for its glacier white sand and clear turquoise water, Jervis Bay is a favorite for locals. Unspoiled coastal and country villages feature local produce and arts and craft markets, boutique shops and galleries. This place was a favorite for some of my family members who have been visiting for well over 20 years. I have often joined them with my kids in tow and I must say this is a simply stunning and family friendly destination. If you walk down to the edge of the St George Basin at dusk you can often see the strange phenomenon of what looks like kangaroos hopping on water. Kangaroos go down to shore line to snack on the abundant seaweed that washes ashore. Often they may be standing in a couple inches of water some meters off the dry land. So when startled they hop off and give the impression of hopping on water as they make their way through the shallow water. The area is also teeming with other wildlife including kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas and wombats as well as resident dolphins within Jervis Bay itself. Huskisson or Sussex Inlet are the stand out towns to stay and feature great cafes, restaurants, country pubs and a vast range of accommodation options. Nearby you can also visit the well known areas of Kangaroo Valley, Kiama and Mollymook.
Karijini National Park, Western Australia
The second largest but most spectacular National Park in Western Australia is the Karijini National Park. Located in the Hamersley Ranges of the Pilbara region, the park is located just north of the Tropic of Capricorn and 600 miles North West of Perth. Karijini is well known for its eye catching geological features and rich deep outback colors. Immerse yourself amongst the ancient geological formations and you suddenly feel awestruck at the red layered cliffs that line the spectacular gorges eroded by nature over billions of years. I made the trek to the Pilbara a few years ago and the long drive in at some stages felt like we were never going to arrive. But once we did the travel time in was never in question. It was a hot day and we headed straight to the Spa Pool, a natural rock pool to swim. To say this was one of the most amazing places that I have swum is an understatement. And pictures just don’t do it justice, you have got to get there. This part of Australia is quite hard to access and wont suit everyone but it is in incredibly beautiful and worth the effort. The National Park and surrounding area is nothing like anything I have experienced ever before. The Pilbara’s gum trees, termite mounds and expansive plains give way to picturesque gorges, refreshing waterfalls and the emerald waterholes.
Zebedee Springs, The Kimberley
Zebedee Springs are located in the El Questro Wilderness Park, in the Kimberly Region of Western Australia. Zebedee Springs are a number of natural thermal springs that sit at the base of sheer sandstone cliffs and are constantly heated at around 36 degrees Celsius or around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The Kimberly is on many people’s bucket list of things to do and see while in Australia but visitation is very low. There are many ways to see and experience the Kimberly and I had the incredible pleasure of driving along The Gibb River Road from Kununurra to Derby some years ago. To really engage with the destination, driving the Gibb River Road is by far and away the best way to go. I was able to visit Zebedee Springs which were quite hard to find but once located very easy to get to. The best time to go is before 12pm and pack some drinks and snacks and stay a while. The springs are often closed for sole use of guests staying at El Questro in the afternoon. You will discover a pure oasis in the middle of a dry desert region as you take the short walk from the nearby car park. Sit back and relax and take in the contrasting lush tropical rain forest. Not easy to find or get too but it wouldn’t be special if it was.