Published: 24 June 2016 by: Kate Webster

Discover Australia's unique sights outside the city

Whether its for its amazing sights, thrilling dining options or tempting retail hotspots, Aussies seem to gravitate towards the country’s best city spots for that spontaneous weekend away or a week-long break. Leaving the city lights and exploring Australia’s backyard however can dish up something a little different, making for a truly memorable and unique holiday. 

Global travel search engine, skyscanner.com.au has sourced these Aussie-one-of-a-kind destinations that are not only breathtaking to see, but also won’t make a huge dent in your savings account. 

Thinking of a romantic getaway? Check out our guide to Australia's dreamiest accommodation here

 
1. 12 Apostles – Great Ocean Road, Victoria

Created from millions of years of erosion along the Great Ocean Road on the Victorian coastline, the 12 Apostles are magnificent limestone formations that make up one of the world’s most captivating coastal drives. Unfortunately, only nine are still standing so make sure you see this world heritage listed site before more disappear. Take advantage of the trip and check out other attractions set along the coastline, including Bay of Islands, Gibson Steps, Loch Ard Gorge and London Bridge.

While the Great Ocean Road drive will take about four hours, we recommend heading out early to see the apostles at sunrise. The changing hues of the sky brings out the natural tones of the rock, making it a feast for the eyes. You’ll also beat the tour buses. If you’re not an early riser, sunset will be just as spectacular too.

How to get there:

Fly in to Melbourne Tullamarine airport (flights from $93 ) and hire a car from $25 a day. If you’re flying from Sydney, try flying into Melbourne Avalon airport, which will save you about $50 on flights* and reduce your drive time by about 45 minutes to an hour.

2. Green Island – Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

One of the seven natural wonders, the Great Barrier Reef spans over 2,000km and is the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem. Comprising of thousands of reefs and hundreds of sand islands, the landmark hosts a plethora of marine life that demand to be seen. Make your holiday unforgettable with snorkeling, scuba diving, helicopter tours, sailing, and whale watching when you visit this breathtaking destination.

Just a 45-minute ferry ride away from Cairns is Green Island, a 6,000 year-old coral cay and the only reef that has a rainforest growing on it. Sign up for a snorkel tour to see the beautiful corals and marine life such as turtles, clams, sea anemones, fish and eels, or opt to stay dry and board a glass bottom boat.

How to get there:

While the Hamilton Island Airport (flights from $200 ), also known as the Great Barrier Reef Airport gives you access to the reef, flying to Cairns Airport (flights from $153) is not only cheaper, but is probably the best choice if you have limited time to explore this wonder. It is also the closest airport to Green Island.

3. Uluru – Red Centre, Northern Territory

Believed to be 700 million years old, Uluru is a sacred indigenous sandstone monolith in the heart of the Northern Territory’s Red Centre. The sandstone is approximately 348m high with most of its bulk lying underground and has a total circumference of 9.4km. Known for its grandeur and magnificence, Uluru is one of those must-visit destinations.

The nearest town and airport is almost six hours away, which makes this remote and isolated getaway a truly secluded experience. For a holiday that's impossible to forget, take a camel ride around the base of the rock and through the sand dunes, or venture out by foot. Top it all off with a candlelight dinner under the stars and fall in love with the majesty of outback Australia. 

This world heritage-listed icon holds great cultural significance to its traditional owners, the Anangu people. While at the Red Centre be sure to explore Alice Springs, Devils Marbles, Kings Canyon and Kata Tjuta too.

How to get there:

Fly to Uluru via Ayers Rock Airport (flights from $ 342). There are no taxis available so it’s best to arrange for car hire or take advantage of the free shuttle bus. Alternatively, if you’re up for a six-hour drive, land at Alice Spring Airport (flights from $374) with car hire available from $70 a day. 

4. Ningaloo Reef & Coral Bay, Western Australia

If you’re after the best diving experience in Australia, make sure to take a trip to Ningaloo Reef and Coral Bay. Located in the northern remote and isolated part of Western Australia, Ningaloo Reef and Coral Bay is Australia's only fringing reef where the coral starts at the water's edge. Another UNESCO World Heritage listed site, this destination is one for the bucket-list. 

The natural ecosystem is home to some of the world’s most amazing marine life, including beautiful reef fish, manta rays, green turtles, bottlenose dolphins, dugong and reef sharks. There’s even an opportunity to swim with the biggest fish in the ocean, whale sharks, for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

How to get there:

The closest airport to Ningaloo is Learmonth WA and then it’s a scenic 90-minute drive down to this isolated coral reef. Fly to Learmonth (flights from $483) via Perth (flights from $180) and then pick up a car from $107 a day.  

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