Australia’s best-kept secrets — from the people who know it best

Embarking on a cultural learning experience with Dreamtime Southern X. PHOTO: TOURISM AUSTRALIA


Beyond the iconic sails of the Sydney Opera House, New South Wales (NSW) is home to rich and diverse Aboriginal cultures. The opportunity to discover the history and stories behind the world’s oldest living culture is one not to be missed.

Specialising in Sydney-based tours grounded in Aboriginal Dreamtime — the foundation of Aboriginal spiritual beliefs and existence — culture, Dreamtime Southern X is owned and operated by Margret Campbell and her family who are coastal water people of the Dunghutti and Djerrinjah Nations.

Why she thinks NSW is worth visiting:

NSW is known for: Being the place where the first English contact was made with Aboriginal people, who have maintained their cultures and connection with the natural environment.

We have the best: Ancient stories of the first sunrise as it travelled over mountains and deserts.

Our people are: Custodians of the natural landscapes — from the saltwater to the plains, alpine regions and deserts.

If you only have 48 hours to spend in NSW, you should: Explore the landscapes with our Aboriginal people — it is about sharing a sense of belonging and how it connects us all.

Don’t leave NSW without: Meeting Aboriginal people and being greeted by our unique welcome.

The best way to discover NSW is to: Book an Aboriginal cultural experiences tour and learn about the stories of our land, which remains rich in Dreamtime as it has always been and always will be.

Get up close and personal with Australia’s iconic wildlife at The Kangaroo Sanctuary. PHOTO: TOURISM NT


It may have some of the world’s most iconic natural landscapes, but the Northern Territory (NT) has more to offer than just the magnificent Uluru.

Founder of The Kangaroo Sanctuary, a sprawling wildlife sanctuary in Alice Springs, Chris “Brolga” Barns, for one, is a huge admirer of the land’s unique wildlife and cultural heritage. He set up the sanctuary to rescue and rehabilitate orphaned baby kangaroos back into the wild.

Why he thinks the NT is worth visiting:

Not many people know this about us, but we: Have the best clear skies for star-gazing. I think it’s the best place in the world to see the Milky Way.

If you only have 48 hours to spend in the NT, you should: Visit one of our national parks to learn more about our iconic wildlife. For example, most people wouldn’t know that on land, kangaroos can only move their hind legs together; when swimming, however, they can kick each leg independently.

Don’t leave the NT without: Visiting The Kangaroo Sanctuary, of course! Also, make time to see the beautiful West MacDonnell Ranges — especially Ormiston Gorge and Standley Chasm — and walk the Larapinta Trail.

The best way to discover the NT is to: Have a local guide share their inside knowledge on the stories of the land, its wildlife and people.

The quintessential NT experience is all about: Having a deep connection with nature, and Alice Springs is one of the best places to share in this. When visitors come to The Kangaroo Sanctuary, not only do they get to experience the love we have for these incredible animals, but they also often leave with a newfound appreciation of the world around us.

The grand and enchanting Paronella Park contains both natural and man-made wonders, and is well worth a visit. PHOTO: TOURISM AND EVENTS QUEENSLAND


A slice of paradise with something for everyone, Queensland (QLD) is known for the splendour of its coasts, islands, reefs and waterfalls, as well as its tropical rainforests and relaxed riverside capital city, Brisbane.

Judy Evans, owner of the magical heritage-listed Paronella Park, just south of Cairns in Far North Queensland, shares her top tips for seeing The Sunshine State.

Why she thinks QLD is worth visiting:

QLD has the best: Opportunities to see the best of Australia. Where else could you spend the morning strolling along a sand cay on the Great Barrier Reef, the afternoon exploring the world’s oldest rainforest (Daintree Rainforest), and the evening sipping cocktails in a bar?

Our people are: Friendly, relaxed, welcoming, open, supportive and generous. When people talk about mateship – it’s alive and well here in Queensland.

Not many people know this about us, but we: Have incredible food, coffee and wine. When people think of culinary experiences in Australia, they may be thinking more of Tasmania or Sydney, but we have plenty of gourmet offerings just waiting to be discovered.

If you only have 48 hours to spend in QLD, you should: Head to Tropical North Queensland. Some attractions to check off your list include: Port Douglas, the Daintree Rainforest, Atherton Tablelands, Mamu Tropical Skywalk and Paronella Park.

The best way to discover QLD is to: Hit the road. If you just stick to the cities, you’ll never get to experience the wonder and awe-inspiring beauty of the state.

What I love about QLD is: The ability to find whatever environment your soul is craving at that moment. Whether it’s open spaces, busy shopping districts, outback pubs, beaches or swimming holes, we’ve got it all!

One of the most unforgettable experiences for visitors to Kangaroo Island is getting a glimpse of the sea lion colony at Seal Bay Conservation Park. PHOTO: EXCEPTIONAL KANGAROO ISLAND


Surrounded by stunning coastlines, with picturesque rows of world-class vineyards, South Australia (SA) is a scenic wonder and gastronomic haven that often flies under the radar.

According to Craig Wickham, owner of deluxe tour operator Exceptional Kangaroo Island, the best thing about SA is its variety of experiences — its capital Adelaide is the gateway to wildlife encounters in the Flinders Ranges, spectacular seafood at Eyre Peninsula, the wine regions, and nature reserves at Kangaroo Island.

Why he thinks SA is worth visiting:

SA is known for: Its tight-knit communities with good networks of friends and colleagues across the regions, so visitors are often able to get the best local recommendations — for example: “Make sure you go to Cactus for a coffee. Ask for Yen — he makes the best lattes.”

SA has the best: Element of local connection. It is easy for visitors to tap into the local lifestyle, to start conversations and get a sense of our relaxed culture.

Not many people know this about SA, but we: Have thousands of unique species of marine life in our waters. Our wildlife encounters are equally diverse — birds, kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas, dolphins, sea-lions, wombats, great white sharks, dolphins and emus can all be observed in their natural habitat here.

Don’t leave SA without: A care package of Haigh’s chocolates, Kangaroo Island honey, olive oil from McLaren Vale, cheese from Alexandrina Cheeses, some beautiful wines, and a solid plan to come back and visit soon.

The best way to discover SA is to: Take it in small bites. Choose three regions at the most, then come back again and again.

The quintessential SA experience is all about: Awesome local food served in a spectacular outdoor setting, accompanied by wine from a vineyard you’ve just visited, all the while learning about the backstories of the families who live in the area you’re exploring.

Explore the rich history and stories of Australia at the National Museum of Australia, itself an architectural marvel. PHOTO: TOURISM AUSTRALIA


Home to Australia’s capital, Canberra, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is fast becoming renowned for its diverse culture and cool, edgy vibe. With four of the country’s top cultural institutions right in the city centre, National Museum of Australia’s commercial manager Kristy Ryan says Canberra is the culture capital of the country.

Combine this with a flourishing food and drink scene, and easy access to nature activities and national parks, Canberra is the perfect base for a little indulgence and adventure.

Why she thinks Canberra (ACT) is worth visiting:

Canberra (ACT) is known for: Having lots of roundabouts and “pollies” (local slang for politicians), but we have so much more. It’s home to Australia’s Parliament House, but it is also home to some of Australia’s best wine, coffee, truffle farms and cultural attractions.

Canberra (ACT) has the best: Coffee roaster in Australia and the world’s best barista. Do visit an ONA coffee shop when you’re here — we do hipster coffee better than any other state in Australia.

If you only have 48 hours to spend in Canberra (ACT), you should: Book the Lion or Tiger Bungalow at Jamala Wildlife Lodge, where you can make plans for a return visit while admiring your incredible roommate (from behind the glass window, of course!).

Don’t leave Canberra (ACT) without: A bag full of Canberra treats. We suggest a bottle of Underground’s Ad Crescendum Gin, a block of Jasper + Myrtle Chocolate, a jar of Tea Garden & Co’s hand blended tea, a bottle (or two) of Lerida Estate’s awarded Pinot Noir and a beautiful reminder of our scenery with a Scott Leggo desk block (all available at the Museum Shop).

The best way to discover Canberra (ACT) is to: Do a sunrise hot air balloon experience. It’s a perfect way to take in the scenery. If early mornings aren’t your thing, grab a bike and explore the precincts. Our great urban design makes this an enjoyable way to see the city.

Indulge in fine wine and culinary delights at Oakridge, an award-winning, family-owned Yarra Valley winery, restaurant and cellar door. PHOTO: VISIT VICTORIA


Dynamic Australian state Victoria (VIC) needs no introduction — its capital city Melbourne is famed for its cafe culture, calendar of entertainment and cultural events year-round, as well as nearby wineries, coastal drives, surf beaches and national parks.

Multi-hatted, family-owned winery and restaurant Oakridge’s co-executive chef Jo Barrett shares her passion for the vibrant offerings of the state.

Why she thinks VIC is worth visiting:

VIC has the best: Food and wine. Besides having the climate and soil perfect for harvesting world-class produce, we also have plenty of chefs with the skills to do the produce justice, as well as award-winning restaurants and wines.

If you only have 48 hours to spend in VIC, you should: Explore the Melbourne Museum and Fitzroy area for coffee and shopping, and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. Stop for a bite and some wine at Embla, before enjoying dinner and a show in Chinatown. For Day 2, travel out to the Yarra Valley for wine, gin and cheese tastings, and lunch overlooking the vineyards. After that, head back to the city to catch a footy (Australian Football League) match at Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The best way to discover VIC is: Through the food and restaurant scene. Befriend a chef and get him or her to tell you all the hot spots to visit.

My favourite thing about VIC is: The mix of nature and culture in this metropolitan city. In bustling Melbourne, you can enjoy a respite in the vast array of green spaces; when you get out of town, there are places full of history and natural beauty.

The quintessential VIC experience is all about: The penguin parade at Phillip island, wine tasting at the Yarra Valley, 1,000 Steps Walk (trail) in the Dandenong Ranges National Park and a road trip on the Great Ocean Road.

Rob Pennicott, founder of Pennicott Wilderness Journeys, showing off his fresh catch of black lipped abalone. PHOTO: PENNICOTT WILDERNESS JOURNEYS


The ruggedly beautiful Tasmania (TAS) isn’t usually the first Australian destination on people’s bucket list, but those who have visited have fallen for the state’s stunning natural beauty, colonial history and compact size.

Mr Rob Pennicott, owner of environmental tourism operator Pennicott Wilderness Journeys, himself has expressed a deep and abiding love for the island state. With his team, he leads travellers on unforgettable journeys to explore the wilderness of his beloved Tasmania.

Why he thinks TAS is worth visiting:

TAS is known for: Its friendly people, stunning landscapes, close proximity to diverse natural environments and Wilderness World Heritage Areas.

TAS has the best: Seafood and waterways. From the age of four, I have been cruising the waterways of Hobart and Bruny Island, gathering seafood to prepare for my family and friends. Usually, I would catch black lipped abalone, rock lobster and sea urchin. Being a coastal island, we are lucky that such seafood is abundant. I love to pair my catch with one of Tasmania’s world famous whiskeys, the Lark Single Malt.

Not many people know this about TAS, but we: Are an island state which includes 334 other islands. My personal favourite is Bruny Island, 45 minutes from (the state capital city) Hobart, and home to an impressive coastline of soaring cliffs and sea caves, fine food producers and awesome wildlife including rare white wallabies.

If you only have 48 hours to spend in Tasmania, you should: Try one of our restaurants featuring local produce, and head out to the regional areas. Our regions are close to Hobart (perfect for a day trip) and showcase what TAS is all about — great food and beverages, wilderness and wildlife, and awesome aquatic experiences.

Don’t leave Tasmania without: Immersing yourself in our stunning landscapes, such as Mount Kunanyi (30 minutes from Hobart), Cape Pillar (the highest sea cliff in the Southern Hemisphere), or Wineglass Bay on the east coast.

The quintessential Tasmania experience is all about: Relaxing, rejuvenating your soul and connecting with nature and people.

Explore the vibrant streets of Perth on a walking tour and discover the hidden sights and sounds of this capital city. PHOTO: TWO FEET & A HEARTBEAT


Covering a third of the country, Western Australia (WA) is a geographically expansive state packed with stunning natural attractions — from the Kimberley region in the far north of the state to Margaret River and Rottnest Island in the southwest, as well as Perth, the state’s vibrant capital city.

Mr Ryan Mossny, founder of Two Feet & A Heartbeat, says the best way to explore WA is to do it by foot — not surprising, coming from Perth’s first walking tour company providing immersive tours showcasing its landscapes, culture, food and history.

Why he thinks WA is worth visiting:

WA is known for: Its natural beauty, local food and wine, and its down-to-earth and friendly people.

Not many people know this about WA, but we: Don’t brag enough to people outside of WA about how amazing our state is. A lot of local people take for granted the amazing amount of space we have, the beauty of our natural landscapes and the incredible diversity of things to see and do.

If you only have 48 hours to spend in WA, you should: Spend it in Perth and “Freo” (the local slang for the port city of Fremantle). Get out on a walking tour or bus tour. And make sure you eat at a locally owned restaurant to try out the freshest WA produce.

My favourite things about WA are: The people and stories of WA. When you layer the Aboriginal history on top of the colonial and modern history of this place, you get an amazing timeline of events going back 60,000 years.

The quintessential WA experience is all about: Enjoying what WA has to offer, which is a lot. With so much diversity, you can customise a tour that lets you experience all the things you already enjoy, but also lets you venture outside your comfort zone.

Find inspiration for your next adventure in Australia here.

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