12 Australian hidden gems unearthed by TripAdvisor users

Want to go where few other tourists have gone before?

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The guidebooks barely give them a mention, but the lovely people of TripAdvisor share their great Australian discoveries - from swimming with seals to a beach that squeaks (yes, really).

1. Swim with the seals off Montague Island, New South Wales

Fur seal pup at Montague Island
If you love getting up close and personal with wildlife in its natural setting, don't miss the chance to go snorkeling with the playful resident seals off Montague Island – they're used to human visitors. Fiona W was awestruck: "The big seal gets so close you can rub his tummy and look into his gorgeous brown eyes!"
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More about Australian marine life

2. Find some hidden gems – literally – in Coober Pedy, South Australia

Raw OpalsGuidebooks mention this subterranean opal-mining town: its underground motels in disused dugouts and interesting opal-themed attractions. What they won't necessarily tell you is that you can quite legally go 'noodling'- fossicking around for opals - yourself. General-Joe went on a tour: "We were given a very informative lesson on what to look for, and how to find raw opal - several pieces were found - at the site and, as we were fossicking, we were allowed to keep them".
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More about Coober Pedy

3. Hand-feed possums at the The Umpherston Sinkhole, South Australia

Cute possum

By day, The Umpherston Sinkhole is a lush, ornate sunken garden, growing in the remains of an ancient collapsed limestone cavern. By dusk, it's a playground for irresistibly cute possums venturing out into the floodlit garden to feed and frolic. TripAdvisor user thegreekvilla visited in the evening: "The possums come down and eat grapes and apple out of your hand, cute little creatures and a must-see".
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4. Identify the Southern Cross on a Remtrek Astronomy Tour, Karijini National Park Western Australia

Southern Cross

The huge, starry night skies of the Karijini National Park are perfect for stargazing. All the better if you have telescopes and an astronomy guide to help you differentiate Alpha Centauri from Omega Centauri. Maximil86 enthuses: "Please, for your own good, do not overlook this two-hour mind-blower of a tour... I really feel like I should learn more about the universe that we're a part of..."
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More about Karijini National Park

5. Bathe in a natural infinity pool, Gunlom Waterfall Creek, Kakadu National Park, Northern territory

Gunlom Waterfall Creek

It's worth the effort of climbing the waterfall to slip into one of the infinity pools at the top. Raroa7 writes: "When you get there a 20-minute climb is rewarded by a series of beautiful plunge pools where you have a massive view of the Plains."
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More about Kakadu National Park

6. Stay at a secret, back-to-nature campsite near Sandy Cape, Jurien Bay, Western Australia

Girl walking through wildflowers, Jurien Bay, Western Australia

If you're a camper who relishes a beach site accessible only in a 4x4, bringing your own water and paying your $15 nightly fee into an honesty box, Sandy Cape Recreation Park may be your very own paradise. PopcornBuddy gives some practical advice: "If you do go 4WD on the beach, the sand is mighty soft. Do let your tyres down quite considerably."
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7. Authentic Outback adventure to Starlight's Lookout, Longreach, Queensland

Starlight's Lookout, Australia

Starlight's Lookout is a sandstone mesa – a high, flat-topped rock formation you can scramble up to enjoy panoramic views and breathtaking sunsets. It's an adventure getting there. Charlottelane2014 hired a car: 'Loved the changing terrain we drove through, the billabongs...! Couldn't believe we were driving along and suddenly saw emus galloping along beside us! The Lookout was easy to find, and there were old bones of something right on the top!'
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More about Australia's Outback

8. Relax and revitalise in an open-air Artesian Mud Bath, Eulo, Queensland

Artesian Mud Bath, Eulo, Queensland

Beauty treatments are rarely as natural as this: hot water straight from the subterranean Great Artesian Basin fills your own private outdoor bath tub. Add natural clay from the local mud springs and soak in this mineral-rich soup sipping a glass of wine and watching the sun go down. After a refreshing shower, Matthew J and his wife agree: "We both came out revitalised and feeling relaxed after spending the last two weeks in dusty desert environments."
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More about Queensland

9. Try Moreton Bay Bugs – Queensland's seafood speciality

Moreton Bay bugs

If you enjoy seafood and shellfish, you'll love Moreton Bay bugs. A local species of slipper lobster, you'll find these meaty crustaceans on menus all along the Queensland coast. Ian A recommends 2 Fish Restaurant in Port Douglas: "The Moreton Bay Bugs was the highlight though, simple and great tasting. Would recommend to anyone."
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More Australian food and wine experiences

10. Find your way along Newnes Glow Worm Tunnel, Wollemi National Park, New South Wales

Newnes Glow Worm Tunnel

It's rare to see glow worms during daylight hours, but it's so dark inside this abandoned railway tunnel that these remarkable insects switch on in sociable daytime. It's a trek through vegetation and along an escarpment to get there. SportCanberra advises: "Go 100 metres into the tunnel and turn your torch off and wait and sure enough there is a plethora of small lights from the glow worms that resemble stars in the sky. Exhilarating."
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11. Try not to make a squeak on Squeaky Beach, Wilson's Promontory National Park, Victoria

Squeaky Beach, Wilson's Promontory National Park

Yes, it does squeak as you walk on it, and nobody really knows why. Squeaky Beach has gorgeous pure white sand, azure sea and imposing grey-rusty rocks to clamber on. It was the highlight of kkjeffrey's trip: "this beach had the softest sand and amazing rocks... The water was so clean that you could see all the fishes around and no annoying shells to hurt your feet."
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Hear the beach squeak

12. Indulge yourself with a gourmet food tour, Hobart, Tasmania

Gourmania Food Tour, Hobart, Tasmania

Hobart is Australia's gastronomic hotspot, attracting foodies from as far as Sydney and Melbourne. Enjoy some of what they're having by joining a food tour. Talene P 'had generous tastings including a savoury tart, large sweet pastry plus coffee, we tasted cheeses, gelato, wines, meat, gin and scotch and more. What a wonderful intro to Tassie!"
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More hidden food and wine gems in Tasmania

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