BY Freya Cormack

Thanks to the global pandemic, it looks like international travel is going to be off the cards for a while. So, what better time to explore our own backyard and support local economies than the present!

1.     The Glass House Mountains, QLD

Explore the Sunshine Coast’s beautiful hinterland by visiting the Glass House Mountains. The Glass House Mountains are comprised of 13 inactive ancient volcanoes that you can admire from a variety of lookouts, walks and restaurants.

If you’re visiting and up for a challenging walk, try climbing to the top of Mount Ngungun and you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous views of the other peaks.

Located just an hour north of Brisbane, the Glass House Mountains could be a great daytrip, but also contain a number of lovely towns to stay overnight in. Maleny and Montville are two popular tourist towns with great eateries and proximity to some fantastic views, walks and waterfalls.

2.     Bellingen and the Mid North Coast of NSW

Bellingen is a picturesque bohemian town located 30 minutes inland from Coffs Harbour. It is a haven for creative types and has long being associated with artists, musicians and those seeking alternative lifestyles.

Visitors can explore the main street that is packed with hippy-ish clothing and craft stores, quirky homeware shops and a plethora of healthy cafes. If you’re in town on the third Saturday of the month, be sure to check out the Bellingen Community Markets and sample some homemade kombucha, buy an artisan soy candle or try some fresh local produce.

The area is also known for its incredible scenery. Head to the Never Never Creek in the aptly named Promised Land for a dip in the clear, still water. Make sure that you also visit the nearby Dorrigo Rainforest for incredible lush, leafy views and bushwalks.

3.     Margaret River, WA

The Margaret River region is a must-see if you are visiting Western Australia. Located between Perth and Albany, it’s a great place to enjoy a few roadtrip stops along the way.

Packed with wineries, nearby national parks and endless swimming spots, you will never be bored. Visitors get to appreciate the scenery while enjoying delicious gourmet meals made from local produce and world-class wines.

Be sure to paddle along the pristine blue waters of the Margaret River which feeds out into the Indian Ocean, or cruise the river by boat. But if you need a break from the never-ending sunshine of WA, head to the nearby caves in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park.

4.     Freycinet National Park, TAS

Tasmania is the hidden gem of Australia, packed with culture, history and a wealth of natural beauty. The Freycinet National Park is the destination to visit, home to the iconic Wineglass Bay and many other beautiful beaches.

While there are plenty of traditional accommodation options in surrounding towns, consider camping inside the park during the summer. You can even camp more luxuriously, with “glamping” options available.

Visitors can enjoy the coastal scenery by kayaking across the unspoiled waters and enjoying the pure white sandy beaches. Freycinet National Park is home to lots of interesting birds, so keep an eye out for those too.

5.     Kakadu, NT

The Northern Territory’s Kakadu National Park is a huge oasis of ancient Indigenous culture, incredible biodiversity and breathtaking sights. Visitors get to witness some of the oldest Indigenous rock art sites in the world and see some of Australia’s most interesting creatures.

There are plenty of stunning natural water holes to go for a swim, including Maguk Gorge, Gunlom Plunge Pool, Jim Jim and Twin Falls and the Barrk Marlam track pool has beautiful views over the national park.

Don’t forgot that the NT is renowned for its crocodiles and you can take crocodile river cruises to get up close and personal with them (while maintaining a safe distance).

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