Australians are unable to travel internationally because of Covid, but there are still sites within our own borders that resemble popular overseas holiday jaunts.
Aussies took 11.3 million trips overseas in 2019 with each trip lasting two weeks on average, making us a country of keen travellers.
Covid has kept Aussies at home but there are surprisingly ‘exotic’ holiday locations across the country, and these are Australia’s ten best hidden gems.
Untouched sand stretches as far as the eye can see in the largest moving coastal dunes in the Southern Hemisphere at Stockton beach, NSW (pictured)
Stockton Beach, New South Wales
Untouched sand stretches as far as the eye can see in the largest moving coastal dunes in the Southern Hemisphere.
As if you were traipsing across the Middle East, you can explore the glorious dunes via camel, horse or quad bike. And to wash off, head to the waters of Stockton Beach.
The dunes sprawl across 32km from Hunter River, Newcastle to Buribi Point, Anna Bay. Dunes reach up to 60 metres high and make thrilling slippery dips if you hire a sand board.
You can also take a 4WD tour to see Tin City, a totally off the grid community living in sandy, remote tin shacks originally built for shipwreck survivors.
Once a retreat for Sydney’s landed gentry, Bowral in NSW (pictured) feels like a quaint English town
Bowral, New South Wales
Once a retreat for Sydney’s landed gentry, Bowral feels like a quaint English town, perfect for a pleasant weekend.
Stroll through clipped gardens, chatter over tea at one of the many tearooms, grab a bargain at an antique store or stay in a grand Victorian style estate.
As Southern Highland’s most prosperous town, Bowral is a haunt for wealthy Sydney-siders and is decked out accordingly with tennis courts, boutique bookshops and art galleries.
Green thumbs (or just green admirers) should book a ticket for the Tulip festival run by the meticulously maintained Corbett Gardens in September.
Pump up your campervan and zip up your backpack to visit the little known Northern Territory town of Mataranka (pictured) for a South American-like expedition closer to home
Mataranka, Northern Territory
Pump up your campervan and zip up your backpack to visit the little known Northern Territory town of Mataranka for a South East Asian-like expedition closer to home.
Plough through the jungle to reach a tropical thermal pool, canoe along long gentle rapid rivers and search for waterfalls in the Elsey National Park.
Mangarayi and Yangman people are the traditional owners of Mataranka, which means ‘home of the snake’ and is located 1080 km north of Alice Springs.
The Bitter Springs, so called for the sulphate induced eggy odour, is surrounded by dense forest and remains around a comfortable 34°C year round.
In 1935 Spanish immigrant José Paronella opened a stunning Spanish castle (pictured) to the public, and visitors today can still take guided tours and walk through the wild gardens
Paronella Park, Queensland
In 1935 Spanish immigrant José Paronella opened a stunning Spanish castle to the public, which visitors can still marvel at during guided tours.
José spent eleven years working before he found remote land in the middle of Queensland, which he dreamed of building a Spanish castle on for his love Margarita.
He gradually built his castillo in Mena Creek, a 90 minute drive south of Cairns, decked out with a ballroom, restaurant and a bridge across a racing rapid river.
Guests can picnic next to a gushing waterfall, feed fish and turtles, and gawk at the towering pines Jose and his wife planted years ago in this remote five hectare Spanish castillo and estate.
Pop on your clogs to explore the family friendly town of Bright (pictured) in Alpine Valley, the self proclaimed bike riding capital of Victoria
Pop on your clogs to explore the family friendly town of Bright in Alpine Valley.
The self proclaimed bike riding capital of Victoria, it is best explored on two wheels, over bridges and through bright autumn leaves, on rugged trails or gravelly back roads.
The most famous ride in Bright is the Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail, which takes you through bush, down valleys, up mountains and past green farmland.
After exhausting yourself, put the kids to bed and crack open a bottle of local wine or beer and admire the green vineyards in the crisp cool air.
Those pining for an wintery holiday on the slopes should head to the Australia’s highest alpine village, Mount Hotham (pictured)
Mount Hotham, Victoria
Those pining for an wintery holiday on the slopes should head to Australia’s highest alpine village, which with its steep slopes and rocky terrain is as close to a Swiss ski trip you can get down under.
In winter, Mount Hotham is a stunning white icy paradise in the Victorian alps which is best enjoyed while on skiis, a snowboard, toboggan, snow mobile or dog sled.
If you prefer to stay warm, nurse a mug of hot chocolate and admire the view from a hotel room, restaurant or spa at the Hotham Alpine Resort which sits on the ski fields.
Outside ski season when the mountains are blanketed by snow, the village four hours from Perth is still open with biking trails, hikes, picnic spots and four wheel drives.
The pink lemonade of Australia’s lake community, Hutt Lagoon in Western Australia (pictured) is a rosy delight
Hutt Lagoon, Western Australia
The pink lemonade of Australia’s lake community, Hutt Lagoon is a rosy wonder.
The lagoon has blushing siblings around the world but with sandy surrounds is somewhat reminiscent of Turkey’s own pink wonder, Lake Tuz.
The salt lake six hours from Perth gets its bubblegum colouring from high levels of salinity, and from July to September the goddess is crowned by wildflowers.
Neighboured by fishing village Port Gregory where you can stay or drop in, Hutt Lagoon can be viewed not just from above, but within – so take a salty dip.
A gem that has been truly hidden, you can find a fine splice of Hawaii far, far off the coast of WA in the Cocos Keeling Islands in Western Australia (pictured)
Cocos Keeling Islands, Western Australia
A gem that has been truly hidden, you can find a fine splice of Hawaii far, far off the coast of WA in the Cocos Keeling Islands.
Only two of the 27 islands are inhabited, so the swaying palm trees and water so blue it could burn your eyes remains virginal.
While the visual resemblance is strong, Cocos is best for the well-travelled seeking far flung lands, while Hawaii is perfect for first-timers looking for a ready-made vacay.
It is an Australian external territory and the 600 residents are mostly Cocos Malay, who speak their own language and practice the Sunni Islamic religion.
Hahndorf in South Australia (pictured) is a German and Lithuanian settlement nestled in the Adelaide Hills
Hahndorf, South Australia
Hahndorf is Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement nestled in the Adelaide Hills, and feels like you’ve accidentally transported to European.
In Germanic buildings you will be served artisan beers, feed wurst and kransky and offered goodies like wooden smoker men and Black Forest cuckoo clocks.
Lutheran asylum seekers from formed the town around 1838 when a pastor organised for persecuted Lutherans to emigrate from Prussia to South Australia.
The Beerenberg Strawberry Farm, established in 1839 and run by a six generation German family, allows visitors to pick strawberries from October to May.
Grinderwald in Tasmania (pictured) was designed by dutch immigrant Roelf Vos in the style of a charming Swiss village, spun from the pages of a charming fairytale
Grinderwald was designed by dutch immigrant Roelf Vos in the style of a charming Swiss village, spun from the pages of a charming fairytale.
Centred around an artificial lake, the child friendly village is full of chalets and chocolate cafes; golf courses and perfectly arranged windowbox flowers.
After holidaying in Grindelwald, Switzerland, Vos developed the town for his wife, which opened in 1989 and is a quiet holiday spot for families and retirees.
Glassy Lake Serene sits next to a grand golf course, and children can paddle around while the adults hit a few rounds or browse nearby boutique shops.