How to See 6 Australian Icons Like Never Before

Great Barrier Reef

Australia’s natural wonders are among its biggest drawcards – beautiful, unmissable places with 
the crowds to match.

Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

The usual view: 
Snorkelling off major entry points such as 
Port Douglas and Hamilton Island
How to see it anew: 
Set up camp on a remote island outpost

With 2300 kilometres of coastline to choose from, many places offer easy access to Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef. Cairns, Port Douglas and the Whitsundays are among the better-known bases but with more than 900 islands, there are also some under-the-radar spots that will give you the time and space to move at your own pace. North West Island, 
75 kilometres from Gladstone, forms part 
of Capricornia Cays National Park and limits numbers to 150 campers at a time. You’ll need to be self-sufficient (BYO water, food and supplies) but the extra effort is well worth it. Step out of your tent onto white-sand beaches, cool off in an eye-wateringly blue sea and walk through serene native forest. Of course, there’s plenty of snorkelling and diving just offshore. Who needs cotton sheets and room service when you can pitch a tent in paradise?

Uluru, NT

Uluru at sunset

The usual view: 
From an observation area at sunrise
How to see it anew: 
Go to the sunset lookout – at dawn

Watching as the rising sun turns 3.6 kilometres 
of red sandstone ablaze, it’s easy to appreciate why Uluru holds such spiritual and cultural significance for the Anangu people and why 
it continues to be the outback’s most iconic attraction. Even so, it’s difficult to appreciate the spectacle when you’re wedged between dozens of people wielding selfie sticks. Rather than setting up at the Talinguru Nyakunytjaku viewing area to watch sunrise, head for the sunset spot to catch an equally awe-inspiring silhouette of Uluru. Visiting during hotter, rainier months (January to March) also cuts competition and offers the chance to see waterfalls cascading off the monolith. If 
money is no object, check in to Longitude 131° (inside Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park). Uluru is visible from many points around the property but true opulence is watching the sun rise and set from your private plunge pool on the deck of the Dune Pavilion.

12 Apostles, Victoria

12 Apostles walk

The usual view: 
Driving along the Great Ocean Road
How to see it anew: 
Explore the coastline on foot or discover 
it from beneath the waves

Cruising along Victoria’s coast to the 12 Apostles is one of the great Australian road trips. But for most people, the rugged limestone stacks are just a short pit stop in a much larger itinerary. 
A more active approach is doing the Great Ocean Walk. Unlike driving, meandering the 104 kilometres from Apollo Bay to Gibson Steps on foot keeps you on the coastline for the entire trip, traversing everything from sandy beaches to windswept hilltops. It also increases your chances of spotting wildlife such as wallabies, koalas, little penguins and echidnas. Accommodation along the route ranges from comfortable lodges to camp sites. And for the truly intrepid, Twelve Apostles Marine National Park has incredible scuba diving. Pull on a wetsuit to see underwater canyons and arches, kelp forests and brilliantly coloured sponge gardens that lie just below the surface. Conditions can be rough so be sure to go with a licensed guide. 

Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

Cradle Mountain

The usual view: 
From one of the surrounding walking trails
How to see it anew: 
Canyon through the national park’s spectacular gorges and ravines

The most obvious way to see the distinctive peaks of this Tasmanian wilderness is by hiking the eight-hour Cradle Mountain Summit trail 
or the gentler two-hour Dove Lake Circuit. 
Both these routes showcase the pristine forest and glassy lakes of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park but their popularity and accessibility mean you’re likely to meet with plenty of other nature lovers doing the same thing. A more unique way to get the heart pumping is to go canyoning in nearby Dove Canyon. Using a mix of abseiling, walking and swimming to navigate the narrow passes around Cradle Mountain, adventurous souls must launch themselves off waterfalls and ride down natural water slides – including the 10-metre-high Laundry Chute. Afterwards, spend the night at Cradle Mountain Lodge to wake up to that famous panorama. Its Waldheim Alpine Spa treatments will work wonders for sore muscles. 

The Kimberley, WA

Horse riding in the Kimberley

The usual view: 
From the sky or by sea
How to see it anew: 
Ride through it on horseback 

The Bungle Bungles, King George Falls and Horizontal Falls are must-dos in the Kimberley and, given the region’s vast size, the most popular way to see them is by helicopter, plane or boat. But simply joining the dots in an area larger than Japan means missing much of the magic, not to mention surrounding yourself with people in one of the nation’s most sparsely populated places. To truly appreciate the isolated beauty of the Kimberley, it pays to slow down and horseback is the perfect mode of transport. Canter along dry riverbeds, admire the swollen trunks of 1000-year-old boab trees and cool off with a dip in a secluded billabong (with a guide keeping a watchful eye out for crocodiles). Family-run Globetrotting offers a six-day riding itinerary – expect to 
do four to six hours in the saddle per day, eat bush tucker and sleep in a swag under the stars as you travel through the Cockburn Range, before spending your final night in a riverside bungalow at El Questro.

The Daintree, Qld

Zip-lining the Daintree

The usual view: 
From the forest’s boardwalks and trails 
How to see it anew: 
Take in a bird’s-eye view of the reef 
meeting the rainforest

The Daintree is the planet’s oldest rainforest, 
a lush UNESCO-listed sanctuary teeming with Ulysses butterflies, kangaroos and cassowaries. There are plenty of guided walks and boat tours but a zip-line adventure at Cape Tribulation will see you hoisted 16 metres above the forest floor and soaring through the canopy where the honeyeaters dwell – just you, a small group and guides. Even better than the adrenaline rush? The views out to the Great Barrier Reef; it’s the only place on earth where two spectacular heritage-listed sites meet. Closer to ground, you can drift-snorkel through the rainforest in the Mossman River with Back Country Bliss. In the clear, cold, fast-flowing water you won’t have 
to worry about crocs – but you might spot turtles, fish and platypus beneath the surface. It’s not the classic Daintree experience and that’s precisely the point. 

SEE ALSO: Lord Howe Island is Australia's Own Hawaii

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