I have a confession.
For the founder and editor of an Australian travel platform, my Australian travel resumé is short. Skinny. Patchy. Sparse.
I sat backseat, perhaps begrudgingly, on some killer cross-country road trips as a kid, and can proudly say I’ve visited every Australian state and territory; I get up to Byron sporadically, and on a friend’s birthday getaway pre-COVID I sunk my toes into Broome’s pearly white sand and rich red earth.
But that’s about the extent of it. My real idea of a holiday involves a passport, foreign currency and the requisite side of jetlag.
Perhaps you’re the same. Your travel bucket list brims with far-flung locales and other-worldly adventures: seeing the pyramids of Giza; soaking in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon; cruising Route 66 in a Chevrolet Corvette, top down and wind blowing in your hair.
But while those dreams and destinations remain just that – dreams, for now – there’s merit in creating a holiday hit list closer to home. 2021 should see Australian domestic travel soar, making said list more than a flight of fancy, but rather a list you’ll be able to tick off and relish.
A great Australian bucket list, in my opinion, comprises a blend of awe-inspiring sights, thoughtful experiences, and a little bit of luxury.
1. See South Australia’s pink lakes
While there’s more to any great destination than Instagrammability, these watermelon waters sure make for a pretty picture. I’m desperate to see Lake Bumbunga (just 100 minutes from Adelaide) in all its bubblegum-hued glory, as well as some of the more remote but equally vibrant outback options, like Lake Macdonell, near the Nullarbor Plain (860km from Adelaide). Note that the shade of each lake varies depending on the salinity of the water, so do your research before turning up to avoid disappointment.
2. Stay in a tiny house
Cramped hotel rooms have had a rebrand, with petite off-grid cabins proving the new currency in cool. Top of my lust list is JR’s EcoHut, a small yet spectacular stay near NSW’s Gundagai. I’m also keen to try Kindled, a gorgeous little getaway in the state’s Oberon Shire, any of Victoria’s Shacky properties, or a teeny retreat in NSW, Victoria or Queensland courtesy of In2thewild Tiny Holidays.
3. Redo the Great Ocean Road
The last time I swooped and curved down Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, I threw up in my friend’s parents’ car. That was in 1996, but in 2021 I’m planning a rematch (perhaps with the same friend, if she’ll have me). This time, we’ll take three days to cruise the iconic coastline, stopping for the windswept beaches, craggy cliff walks and lush local eateries.
4. Sleep under the stars at Sal Salis
Next I want to escape to the place where the outback meets the reef, in Ningaloo, Western Australia. Sal Salis is an eco safari camp that walks the line between decadent and down-to-earth: think glamping on the sand dunes, indulging in chef-prepared fare, and strolling down to the Indian Ocean every morning to swim with whale sharks and humpback whales.
5. Take an Indigenous history lesson
When we holiday overseas, we often get swept up in a destination’s history, so why don’t we exercise that same sense of intrigue at home? Right now, virtual travel is a great way to connect to Australia’s ancient culture – as Yatu Widders Hunt articulates beautifully here – while going forward I’d love to partake in the Aboriginal Blue Mountains Walkabout, an Aboriginal Heritage Tour of Sydney’s Botanic Gardens, complete with foraging for bushfood, and hopefully eventually, the Garma Festival in Arnhem Land.