The big ticket ‘must-sees’ in Oz will always be a draw. But for those who crave something that little bit different then our vast country can always be trusted to throw up the unusual, the fascinating and the downright weird!
From iconic movie locations to UFO visitations, the following is just a smattering of what’s on offer…
1. The Devil’s Marbles: A geographical phenomenon, or something more mystical?
Or, to give them their Aboriginal name – Karlu Karlu – is believed by locals to be the fossilised eggs of the Rainbow serpent. And when you get there it’s immediately obvious why… Located 100 kms south of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory, this incredible collection of granite boulders measures up to 6 metres in height. The formations have been shaped by the elements over the millennia, leaving them smooth and round, upended and teetering in seemingly impossible poses.
Far less visited than sites such as Uluru, these behemoth structures are amazing at sunset and sunrise, when the changing light cast eerie colours and shadows on the boulders and surrounding desert. A camera (or decent camera phone) is obligatory.
2. Wycliffe Well: Welcoming extra-terrestrial visitors for decades
The UFO capital of Australia, Wycliffe Well, has claimed to be a place of interest for unidentified flying objects since WWII. Servicemen living in the area began keeping records of the nightly sightings, and it’s reputed that they’ve never stopped. Indeed, it’s promised that a nightly viewing ritual is all but guaranteed to present a glimpse of something other-worldly…
All sightings are recorded, but the original journal was stolen in 1990 (the swine’s!), so the one today only dates from that year – but it’s a pretty interesting read. As an aside, Wycliffe Well’s roadhouse (pub) also reputedly offers the largest range of beer found in a single location in all of Australia – not that we’re suggesting that this has anything to do with the huge amount of alien craft sightings, of course.
3. Mataranka Hot Springs: Paradise found (just watch out for the spiders)
These natural hot springs in the NT are not only beautiful, they have healing properties as well. At 35 degrees, the main thermal pool will soothe away any aches and pains as you lie back and enjoy the spectacular natural wonders all around. Australia’s famous bats – the flying fox – almost always put in an appearance, as do some enormous spiders who weave intricate webs, sometimes only feet about the water.
In addition to the thermal pool, be sure to check out the Bitter Springs, a much deeper pool, as well as the spray of Mataranka Falls just a short walk along the river.
4. Gunlom Falls: “You can live on it, but it tastes like s***”
Crocodile Dundee. The 1980s movie that put Australia’s Northern Territory firmly on the map used this location for one of its most iconic scenes., and was where that famous line was first uttered. Located in Kakadu National Park, it’s an oasis of tranquillity offering multiple options for swimming, hiking and simply basking in the glory of the great outdoors.
Be sure to take the 15 minute climb to the top for wonderful views. Yes, it might be a hot and sweaty effort, but since there’s no salties here (saltwater crocs) you can happily cool off in any of the swimming holes you come across, as well as the huge – and we really mean huge – plunge pool at the bottom of the falls themselves.
5. Horizontal Falls: If it’s good enough for David Attenborough…
When Sir Attenborough says something is, “Australia’s most unusual natural wonder”, then you know it’s going to be something special. Horizontal Falls by name and by nature, this is Mother Nature showing off her immense power. Two narrow gorges force the waters of Talbot Bay into rushing white torrents, and with tides of more than 10 metres this makes for an astonishing display as the waters surge and rise to batter through the rocks – literally a horizontal waterfall.
Only accessible by boat or float plane, this natural event happens twice daily. To view it is a pure privilege, and certainly a memory that will remain with you for a lifetime.
6. Newcastle Waters: No humans, but a mecca for birdlife
This NT town used to be a haven for drovers as they hustled their cattle hundreds of kilometres through the unforgiving landscape. Today it’s a ghost town, but the preserved buildings make for great exploration.
However, after big rain it’s also a birding paradise. So if that’s your thing this should definitely be on your must-visit list. Birds of note include Pictorella Mannikans, Brolgas, different types of Ibis, Kite, Eagles, Bee-Eaters, Doves, Lapwing… A great place to set up camp and while away the hours.
7. Roebuck Bay: A true stairway to heaven
The wonders of the Kimberly are many, but the natural phenomenon that is the ‘staircase to the moon’ is something you can only see at Roebuck Bay. It occurs on certain dates of the year when the full moon rises over exposed tidal flats and creates – you’ve guessed it – an optical illusion that really does appear as a ladder leading up to the gleaming white orb.
When it comes to ‘secret’ travel locations there’s no better method of exploration than asking a local. Within the wonderful remote northern region of Western Australia, including – of course – the breath-taking Kimberley National Park and the above mentioned Horizontal Falls – there’s no one better placed to advise than the local experts at Horizontal Falls Adventures.
So if this incredible area of Oz is on your travel list (and it really should be), then get in contact at www.horizontalfallsadventures.com.au or call on 08 9192 1172 to make sure you don’t only see the guidebook sites, but get to discover those hidden places that turn a great trip into one that truly is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.