Australia is what you could call a bucket list destination. It’s somewhere nearly everyone I’ve ever met has said, “I would love to go there one day.” And why not? You see images of the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru and get sucked into it’s beauty. But not every destination is, in my opinion, worth adding to your list. These overrated and underrated Australia destinations may cause controversy, but be sure to weigh in with comments.
Before readers pick up their pitchforks, hear me out. While I was captivated by the sunset over Uluru, it looks exactly how you think it’s going to: a big monolith coming out of nowhere in the middle of the desert. The size is impressive, but I was significantly more impressed with Kata Tjuta, “The Olgas,” or the lesser-known sister of Uluru. Although it’s not the same place, I’m including Alice Springs under this umbrella since most tours for Uluru depart from there. Don’t spend more than a day there if you can help it as there truly is not much to do.
Fraser Island and I didn’t see eye to eye from the beginning. I hated everything that was supposed to be fun about it: the camping, the 4×4 driving, the dingos, the sand. A lot of my experience couldn’t be helped, namely the rain and the people, but I definitely think the sand island is an overrated destination on the East Coast party circuit.
It was probably because I took a day trip, but I didn’t see a single kangaroo on Kangaroo Island. My tour included stops in overrun touristy cafes and I saw a birds of prey show I could have seen back home. The only thing I really enjoyed was a trip to the Remarkable Rocks. Perhaps had I stayed more than one day I would have been able to see what all the fuss was about.
It wasn’t exactly my kind of paradise. For me, Surfers Paradise was more like the Jersey Shore or Las Vegas, very tacky and over-the-top. It rained the entire time, I’m not into nightclubs and everyone seemed to be missing a layer of clothing.
Most people told me to skip Brisbane when planning my East Coast itinerary, saying there was nothing really to do there. But I was pleasantly surprised with Brissy, as the Queensland sun finally decided to make an appearance after weeks of constant rain. I liked the homey feel of my hostel and the neighborhood it was located in. If you’re coming from Canada, book Air Canada Flights, which go directly to Sydney, Melbourne and of course, Brisbane.
When an Adelaide bartender told me he paid half the rent I paid back in Sydney, I couldn’t believe it. While I feel that Adelaide is less hip than Melbourne, it had a lot of great things to offer, namely the annual Fringe Festival.
In regards to Tropical North Queensland, Cairns gets all the glory. And maybe rightfully so. It’s the hub for scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef, bungy jumping and treks further into the rainforest. But for me, Cape Tribulation wins on charm. I took a tour that was a part of a package I had already booked, which included two nights in one of the most remote destinations in Australia. I learned why they call it a rainforest, saw crocodiles, emus, kangaroos and cassowaries up close, and found one of the few places safe to swim.
It’s hard to include Newcastle since I consider it to almost be part of Sydney. It’s accessible by public transportation, but it was my first stop on my Greyhound journey. I probably spent a day too long there, but I wanted to ease into things. Luckily, Newcastle is as laid back as it gets. The pubs are old and worn in and the coastline is stunning.
You’ll notice that I didn’t comment on every single destination I visited in Australia. I thought I would leave a few places alone or felt there wasn’t enough to say one way or the other. I left Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra out because I could argue either way about each one.