Uluru, Daintree rainforest, the Great Barrier Reef... Australia is an island of incomparable natural beauty. However, the world's sixth-largest nation is home to thousands more dazzling experiences, from weird and wonderful landscapes to ancient sacred art and dynamic cities.
Long before Arthur Phillip and the First Fleet arrived at Port Jackson on 26 January 1788 - the date now celebrated as Australia Day - nature and then later, indigenous Australians, left their mark on this most beguiling of countries. Which all means that there are endless opportunities for visitors to explore, even on second, or third, fourth or fifth visits.
So if you've seen Sydney, been to the Barrier Reef and been wowed by the Whitsundays, here are some suggestions to delve a little deeper.
Best alternative places to visit in Australia
Best alternative places to visit in Australia
1/10 Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia
You’ve tried the Great Barrier Reef, now try…. Ningaloo, Australia’s largest fringing coral reef at 160 miles long. It is located on the edge the Ningaloo Coast - a World Heritage Site in Western Australia - and is the only large reef positioned so close to a landmass. So close, in fact, you can walk from the beach straight into a coral reef. It is home to more than 500 species of tropical fish and 220 species of coral.
2/10 Bungle Bungle Range, Western Australia
Kata-Tjuta's sacred rock formations are undoubtedly startling, but equally awe-inspiring is the Bungle Bungle range. Located in the far north-west of Western Australia in Purnululu National Park, the mountain range is a crumple of bizarre, tiger-striped domes, steep gorges, and seasonal waterfalls.
3/10 Melbourne, Victoria
Sydney steals the limelight, but Victoria's state capital is every bit as seductive. Melbourne is known as the cultural capital of Australia - with a slightly more European vibe than Sydney - and is famed for its architecture, art, and museums. Go on an edgy street-art tour, visit the city’s cricket ground, or wander around the Queen Victoria Market - the largest open air market in the southern hemisphere.
4/10 Cottesloe Beach, Western Australia
Where Sydney’s Bondi beach feels constrained and, sorry to say, tacky, Perth’s leading city strand - Cottesloe - is wide open and delightful. You can reach it in 19 minutes from Perth’s railway station (or just nine from Fremantle) and find white sand, clear water and a stylish promenade, Marine Parade. Best at dusk, when you can dip into the Indian Ocean and watch the sun do the same - the dying embers of another great Australian day.
5/10 Mount Kosciuszko, New South Wales
You’ve climbed Sydney Harbour Bridge - now for Australia’s highest mountain. Don’t panic: Mount Kosciuszko, on the NSW side of the Snowy Mountains, is only 7,310 feet above the Pacific. According to the mountaineer Graham Hoyland, “You can drive a rental car to the top,” but you are advised on legal grounds not to try. Instead, you can walk to the top and back in a day, enjoying the Alpine flora along the way - or take the chairlift with a mountain bike and test your steering and braking on the bumpy descent. Just watch out for some serious mountain men and women: by some counts, “Kosci” is one of the seven summits, the highest peak on each continent, so it attracts climbers out of proportion to its frankly modest merits.
6/10 Cape York Land, Queensland
If you've joined the masses to see the sacred site of Uluru at sunrise, strike north on your next visit. In the far north of Queensland, a vast swathe of cattle grazing and uranium exploration land was handed back to its traditional owners, the Olkola in December. Cape York Land is to become Australia's newest national park, home to newly-discovered ancient rock art, as well as wetlands, rainforest and river systems.
7/10 Thirroul, New South Wales
You've had a picnic at Hanging Rock, now head for the South Coast for another literary connection - not the coast along the south of Australia, but the stretch of New South Wales shore south of Sydney towards the Victoria state border. The picturesque resort of Thirroul, with its own rail station, reveals a fine beach with top-grade Pacific breakers and bungalow with a literary claim to fame: DH Lawrence wrote Kangaroo in a rented cottage called Wyewurk, which still stands at 3 Craig Street. Visitors are not welcome, but you can wander around the structure that was imported as a flat-pack from California and contemplate the novel and its haunting description of Australia: The sky was pure, crystal pure and blue, of a lovely pale blue colour: the air was wonderful, new and unbreathed: and there were great distances. But the bush, the grey, charred bush …”
8/10 East Coast Escape, Tasmania
Done the Great Ocean Road? Try Tasmania, where a drive along the east coast, starting in Hobart and ending in St Helens, will take you through a spectacular landscape of granite cliffs and pristine beaches.
9/10 Lucky Bay, Western Australia
Forget Sydney's Taronga Zoo, in this postcard-pretty corner of Western Australia's south coast you can spot wild kangaroos bouncing across the beach. Sunset is the best time to see the marsupials, when they head out in search of dinner.
10/10 Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory
While Queensland has the world's oldest surviving rainforest, Daintree, the Northern Territory flaunts spectacular and remote Kakadu. A long journey is rewarded with remarkable wildlife, more than 5,000 ancient rock art sites and diverse landscapes that take in soaring sandstone cliffs, waterfalls, savanna, wetlands and tidal flats.