Australia is known to have its fair share of quirks, but how many of the country’s super-unique experiences can you say you’ve ticked off the bucket list? From the nonsensical destinations you’ve ever heard of, to the strangest sites, festivals and experiences that draw visitors from all over the world, Australia is like nowhere else on earth.
Whether it’s melon skiing at a festival in Chinchilla (QLD), a visit to the Big Potato in the village of Robertson (NSW) or a swim in Eggs and Bacon Bay (TAS), there’s no shortage of quirks to add to your itinerary when dreaming of your next trip to and around Australia.
Australia’s uniquely named towns and destinations
- Australia is a land of oddly named places. Although they don’t all sound as inviting as Surfers Paradise, they are certainly worth exploring!
- Come by Chance, Central West (NSW): Located 100km north-west of Coonamble in central-western New South Wales and home to about 180 people, this quaint village is significantly boosted once a year thanks to its popular Picnic Race Meeting. Named after a sheep station from the 1960s, the town epitomises the beauty and warmth of regional New South Wales.
- Birdsville, Outback Queensland (QLD): At the end of the Birdsville Track on the eastern edge of the Simpson Desert is the frontier town of Birdsville, one of Outback Australia’s most isolated but recognised towns. With a population of around 100, this tiny town makes up for its size with its beautiful gibber plains, braided Channel Country and lots of great activities for the whole family, including the iconic Birdsville Races.
- Nowhere Else Road, Eyre Peninsula (SA): Located in the South Australian Outback, Nowhere Else Road runs through the Eyre Peninsula, starting in Sheringa, a 135km drive north of Port Lincoln, and finishing up, well, somewhere else. The road sign is so iconic that it keeps being stolen by travellers wanting a souvenir of their time driving along this beautiful outback track.
- The Edge of the World, The Tarkine (TAS): A 90-minute drive south-west of Stanley on the edge of the Tarkine rainforest, The Edge of the World truly lives up to its dramatic name. Located at the mouth of the Arthur River, it has some of the cleanest air in the world and is the longest uninterrupted expanse of ocean on the planet — with 20,000km of ocean between it and South America. You might want to strap yourself down though, as the wind is known to blow people off their feet!
- Eggs and Bacon Bay, Huon Valley (TAS): Located in Huon Valley, the legend says that Lady Jane Franklin named it after her favourite breakfast, but it was actually named after a wildflower, called the eggs and bacon flower, which coats the shore of the bay like carpet in early summer. The pretty bay is a popular fishing and camping spot which draws visitors from all over.
- Whipstick Scrub, Wombat State Forest (VIC): Located near Ballarat’s Goldfields, the delightfully named Whipstick Scrub is a beautiful stretch of forest where you can see a wide variety of Australia’s native flora and fauna, and even try your hand at panning for gold! Records state that the first gold in the area was found in 1884, with lucky visitors still stumbling onto nuggets to this day.
- Useless Loop, Shark Bay (WA): A generous 320km drive from Geraldton or 700km from Perth, Useless Loop is located at the World Heritage listed Shark Bay, which is also home to Monkey Mia, famous for its dolphins. Far from useless, the site was named after a sandbar that prevented French navigators from entering Shark Bay in 1801.
Australia’s quirkiest sites: from the big to the very small
- Been to The Big Banana, The Big Pineapple or the funky town of Nimbin? Well that’s just the tip of the iceberg – there are still so many more wacky sites throughout the country to experience, many of which are the heart of their community.
- The Big Dish, Canberra (ACT): For all the space nuts out there, the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex is a must see! Featuring a number of ‘big dish’ antennas that receive data from and transmit commands to a wide variety of spacecraft each day, a visit to these giant dishes is about as close to an Area-51 vibe as you can get. Fun fact: this site also played a crucial role in the original moon landing!
- The Big Potato, Robertson (NSW): Crowned the “Green Heart of The Southern Highlands”, the village of Robertson is famed for its distinctive red volcanic basalt soil, excellent rainfall and mild winters – all the perfect conditions for potato growing. Naturally, this inspired local grower Jim Mauger in 1977 to build a ten-metre long, four-metre wide, big, brown concrete potato as a key attraction for the region.
- Artesian Baths, Lightning Ridge (NSW): The eccentric town of Lightning Ridge in New South Wales is best-known as a hotspot for opal mining. Just as impressive are the Artesian Baths, which are said to hold water approximately two million years old and have therapeutic qualities that relieve muscle aches. Take a dip with locals and enjoy the balmy 41.5 degrees celsius temperatures all year round.
- The UFO Capital of Australia, Wycliffe Well (NT): A stop-over between Alice Springs and Tennant Creek will land you in one of the world’s top UFO sighting spots. UFO sightings have been part of the Wycliffe Well’s folklore since World War II and locals stand by the sightings wholeheartedly. Stop in and see it for yourself!
- The Big Gumboot, between Tully, Innisfail and Babinda (QLD): The Big Gumboot was a coveted award granted to the winner of a competition between the Far North Queensland towns of Tully, Innisfail and Babinda, all vying to be proudly crowned “The Wettest Town of Australia”. Standing 6.1 metres long and 8 metres high (a fraction higher than the 7.93 metres of rainfall recorded by Tully in 1950), the gumboot features a white-lipped green tree frog carved by Roger Chandler.
- Oodnadatta Track, The Outback (SA): Encompassing 600km through some of Australia’s most significant parts of The Outback, The Oodnadatta Track is the world’s largest art installation. Featuring countless exhibits along its ever-changing and rugged landscape, it’s truly an outdoor museum like no other in the world!
- Coober Pedy Opal Fields Golf Course, Coober Pedy (SA): Who says golf course greens need to be technically green? Without a blade of grass in sight, you can tee-off at Coober Pedy’s golf course where the greens are red and the fairways dusty. Many golfers have sighted opal whilst playing a round too.
- Town of Murals, Sheffield (TAS): Just 30 minutes from Devonport lies Tasmania’s capital of murals – a collection of 100 murals painted on the walls of buildings, created by local artists which depict local history and it’s characters. The annual Mural Fest has been moved to November so be sure to tack on a tour as part of a trip around Tasmania!
- Mira Mira, Crossover (VIC): Drive 90-minutes from Melbourne and find yourself at the fantasy-style retreat of Mira Mira. Choose between magnificent accommodation options including an underground room named The Cave, where you enter through a subterranean chamber moulded as a giant mouth doorway and descend into a Hobbit-style underworld. Redefining instagram-worthy.
- Gnomesville, The Ferguson Valley (WA): The community-driven gnome village is home to over three thousand inhabitants – standing in groups, sitting among the trees or beside the stream and pathways. Head 30km south-east of Bunbury and bring along a gnome to add to the quirky collection!
Australia’s most wonderfully wacky festivals and experiences
- Many Australians have travelled abroad to get a taste of the world’s most unique festivals and experiences. However, you don’t have to leave Australia to find some of the quirkiest and most unforgettable festivals and experiences out there.
- The Copper Dragon Tavern, Tuggeranong (ACT): For those looking for a life-changing fantasy quest, The Copper Dragon is a must see destination: this fantasy-styled tavern was created as a home for those with a passion for cosplay, table-top gaming, role play, board games, pop culture in general and, according to their website, “everything geeky in between”.
- Deni Ute Muster, Deniliquin (NSW): Laying claim to the title of “Ute Capital of the World”, this muster attracts around 20,000 people each year to celebrate all things Australian and the iconic Aussie ute. The festival features Australia’s best country and rock musicians and a jam-packed weekend of entertainment for all ages. Die-hard ute lovers can even get a selfie with the ‘Ute On The Pole’ and a fabulous mosaicked vintage ute.
- Pelican feeding, The Entrance (NSW): Originating over 20 years ago by the local fish shop who would feed scraps to the pelicans every day, the pelican feed now takes place on The Entrance waterfront each day and is one of the Central Coast‘s most popular attractions. With a huge pelican colony flocking in for the show each day, it is a great experience for the whole family!
- Darwin Lions Beer Can Regatta, Darwin (NT): Established in 1974 and taking place each year at the beautiful Mindil Beach, this iconic family fun event involves a regatta of home-made vessels made exclusively from – you guessed it: cans, plastic bottles and milk cartons. There are prizes to be won for sandcastle competitions, thong throwing competitions, kayaking races, and of course the big finale event ‘The Battle of Mindil’.
- Tunarama Festival, Port Lincoln (SA): Annually held in Port Lincoln, the highlight of the festival is the famous ‘Tuna Toss’ competition. Competitors travel from around the world to see who can throw the 10kg fish the furthest!
- Dismal Swamp Slide, Dismal Swamp (TAS): Home to the largest sinkhole in the southern hemisphere, Dismal Swamp is home to a natural blackwood forest believed to be the only one in the world. Instead of strolling along the walkway, experience the exhilarating 110-metre slide to the swamp floor. Disclaimer: this is not for the faint-hearted!
- Ararat Jailhouse Rock Festival, Ararat (VIC): A true celebration of everything that made the 50s and 60s eras so great, the main street closes for live band performances, kids rides, rock n’ roll memorabilia and classic cars and motorbikes lining the street from one end to the other.