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8 Lesser-Known Coastal Gems of Australia

Do you ever find yourself planning a trip and want to go somewhere amazing… but not the same place you’ve heard about on repeat or seen a million photos of?

In today’s age of social media, it’s hard to attain that magical feeling you get when exploring a place for the first time. Hopefully, with the help of this list, you a little closer to experiencing that enchanting sense of wonder!

Hopetoun, WA

Just over six hours south-east of Perth, you will find the small seaside town of Hopetoun. Located on Mary Ann Harbour and surrounded by 200 kilometres of impeccable coastline, this town provides a perfect holiday destination.

The town has no shortage of beach options nearby, given its proximity to Fitzgerald River National Park. Barrens Beach, to Hopetoun’s west, is a sheltered spot – protected by the surrounding sand dunes and rocky headland, making it a wonderful swimming location. 

Between May and October, you can sometimes view migrating whales from the beach, as is also possible from the equally beautiful Four Mile Beach, which is to Hopetoun’s south.  

In spring, there are over 1800 wildflower species that put on a colourful display for visitors to Hopetoun and the Fitzgerald River National Park region. There are walking trails, lookout points, and abundant wildlife to enjoy in the beautiful expanse of landscape found here.

Marlo, VIC

The tranquil coastal village of Marlo is situated where the mouth of the Snowy River meets and runs into the Southern Ocean. Pristine beaches and waterways envelop the town, providing a waterside wonderland for holidaymakers. 

There are a number of campervan parks and holiday houses, a general store and a hotel bistro in the area. The very small population makes for an ideal place to unwind and get back to nature. Enjoy a stroll on the Estuary Walk, go bird-watching in Cape Conran Coastal Park or experience its picturesque Nature Trail – three kilometres of stunning beaches, fairy pools and banksia woodlands.

Agnes Water, QLD

Breath-taking coastal scenery and picture-perfect beaches welcome you to the splendid seaside community of Agnes Water. Surrounded by national parks and reserves, this nature-based destination will not disappoint.

Take a walk through the Paperbark Forest, visit scenic lookout points and relax on white sandy beaches. Whether you want a surf beach, prefer kayaking, or are looking for calm waters to paddle in; there is a beach to suit everyone’s needs in the Agnes Waters region.

Explore the nearby Deepwater National Park, where baby turtles hatch over the summer months at Wreck Rock, and enjoy watching the many goannas, crabs and birds that find sanctuary here.

Beachport, SA

Located along the stunning Limestone Coast of South Australia, the charming town of Beachport delivers an idyllic escape for vacationers. Dating back to the very early 1800’s, the settlement here features historic buildings and beautiful Norfolk pine trees.

White sandy beaches with sparkling turquoise waters adorn the coastline, and the town’s beautiful jetty, finished in 1882, is South Australia’s second longest pier. Sheltered beaches like Salmon Hole provide perfect conditions for swimming and snorkelling, and there are numerous trails to explore, such as the Cape Martin lighthouse walk.

The community in Beachport is small, but offer some delightful services to visitors – including a deli, bakery, some cafés and a little corner store to buy essentials. There is a golf club, conservation park, a Salt Lake and for non-beach weather days, there is also a museum.

Cobourg Peninsula / Garig Gunak Barlu, NT

Well and truly a “hidden” gem, this stunning location is located in the Northern Territory’s Arnhem Land, which requires a permit to enter. 

A 4wd and camping equipment, or a kitted out 4WD campervan hire, will be required to reach and stay in the National Park, which is generally accessible between May and September. This remote region of Australia is bordered by immaculate white-sand beaches, which encase the rugged outback terrain. 

The maximum vehicle permits allowed at one time is fifteen, so it is very possible to visit the region and rarely cross paths with another person. However – you can and most surely will cross paths with the plethora of wildlife that inhabit the Peninsula. 

Animals that populate the area include marine turtles, dugong, dolphins, stingrays, wild banteng (a type of undomesticated cow), and a vast assortment of other mammals, reptiles and bird species.

Hamelin Bay, WA

A short distance from the well-known Margaret River wine region, Hamelin Bay can be found along Western Australia’s south-west coast.

The towns’ dazzling white sand beaches and glittering aquamarine water is a natural retreat for wild sting rays. The sheltered waters of the Ngari Capes Marine Park provide a perfect location for the sting rays to lay their eggs.

Visitors enjoy a clear view of this once-in-a-lifetime animal encounter, credit to Hamelin Bay’s crystal-like water and the friendliness of these majestic sea creatures.

Cardwell, QLD

The beach meets the rainforest at Queensland’s “Cassowary Coast” town of Cardwell, which is the only coastal gem on our list that is not recommended for its swimming beaches, but for many other attractions. However, the esplanade still provides a wonderful beachfront walkway, dotted with picnic locations, community artwork and kids playgrounds.

One must-visit location is a unique waterhole called the Cardwell Spa Pool, a bright blue seasonal wonder that is naturally fed from a local creek. The spectacular Murray Falls are also one of Cardwell’s drawcards, situated in the Girramay National Park which also provides a campground and day-use area. 

Given its extremely close proximity to Hinchinbrook Island, it would be a travesty to stay in Cardwell and not take a day tour of the World Heritage listed natural paradise. 

Memory Cove, SA

Limited to a maximum of fifteen vehicles per day, Memory Cove is a Wilderness Protection Area that is a sanctuary to rare native flora and fauna. Located in Lincoln National Park, which boasts towering eucalypt forests which house a cornucopia of birdlife, you are sure to sight rare species such as the western whipbird or the bush stone-curlew.

A 4WD is required for the one and half hour drive through the National Park to arrive here, and you can either spend a full day, or beach camp for up to five consecutive nights. There are only five camp spaces available, so if an isolated nature adventure is your thing, it won’t get much better than this.

The three secluded beaches are beyond picturesque, and spectacular views are available from various lookout points, also allowing birds eye view to spot a whale or dolphin, if you’re lucky. 

Other Information

Ready to road trip one or more of these hidden gems? Arguably the most comfortable way to explore Australia is in a self-contained campervan or a 4WD campervan, which allow you the flexibility to travel at your own pace.

If you need help locating and comparing campground options, for either free or paid camp sites, download the free smartphone app “Discovery Roadtrip”.

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