CULTURE ART AND HERITAGE

Quirky Australia. Unique attractions you must see

This north QLD attraction has a touch of magic. Credit: Tourism & Events Queensland

Australia bursts with astonishing attractions, including one-of-a-kind marvels.

From natural wonders to those humankind has formed; these eye-catching creations make for fascinating exploration. And several escape the attention of the masses.

So, we’ve rounded up a selection of weird and wondrous, eerie and enchanting, and memorable and mesmerising Australian attractions to check out on your next break.

It’s time to step beyond vanilla.

SA's Eyre Peninsula is loaded with funky features. Credit: South Australian Tourism Commission

William Ricketts Sanctuary, Dandenong Ranges, VIC

This haven makes for an essential stop when visiting the iconic Dandenong Ranges. Within the sprawling sea of green are dozens of impressive and intricate sculptures carved into trees and rocks that are a nod to Indigenous Australia. Tranquil, spiritual, even a little disquieting. And well worth a wander.

Book now: BIG4 Yarra Valley Park Lane Holiday Park.

William Ricketts Sanctuary strengthens the immense appeal of the Dandenong Ranges.

Naracoorte Caves, Naracoorte, SA

Caves abound in Australia but perhaps none is as significant as this collection. The site is on the World Heritage list for its rare and mind-blowingly ancient fossils, and retracing this past makes for enthralling exploration. Couple that with spectacular stalactites and stalagmites to view, and this is one special experience.

Book now: BIG4 Naracoorte Holiday Park.

Mind-blowingly old fossils make Naracoorte Caves a site of global significance. Credit: Mike Haines

Gnomesville, Ferguson Valley, WA

In the heart of the South West region, thousands of gnomes can be spotted in bushland near the small town of Dardanup. How and why the super-quirky ‘community’ of Gnomesville came to be remains unclear: Various theories abound. What is clear, though, is this site has quite the cult following and is a must visit. It’s reachable less than an hour’s drive northeast of Busselton.

Book now: BIG4 Beachlands Holiday Park in Busselton.

The gnome zone: Gnomesville has developed a cult status. Credit: Courtesy Ferguson Valley Marketing

Bay of Fires, near St Helens, TAS

Far from a spotlight dodger, but this gorgeous reserve certainly warrants mention. It’s an area that easily evokes feelings of being somewhere truly special. The largely untouched white sand beaches are sparkling and those orange lichen-covered granite rocks a feast for the eyes. Mesmerising, magical, and a dream for Insta-worthy snaps.

Book now: BIG4 St Helens Holiday Park.

A photographer's dream: Bay of Fires. Credit: Pete Harmsen

Blowholes of Australia, various locations

When it comes to funky attractions, blowholes quickly spring to mind. The sight of water continuously being chucked high into the air with fervour and fury is fabulously fixating. There are several well-known blowholes in Australia, including those in Kiama (NSW), Carnarvon (WA), and Bicheno (TAS).

Book now: BIG4 Plantation Caravan Park, Carnarvon or BIG4 Easts Beach Holiday Park, Kiama.

The Kiama Blowhole is among the town's most popular attractions.

Paronella Park, Mena Creek, QLD

Paronella Park is one of those places that has to be witnessed firsthand to truly appreciate. The centrepiece are ruins of a heritage castle that’s set among beautiful gardens, near flowing waterfalls, and surrounded by lush rainforest. A visit to this multiple-award-winning creation is like being transported to another time and place. Magical, mystical, and tranquil.

Book now: BIG4 Innisfail Mango Tree Tourist Park or BIG4 Beachcomber Coconut Holiday Park in Mission Beach.

Paronella Park has a magical, mystical vibe. Credit: Tourism & Events Queensland

Coober Pedy, SA

Here, uniqueness rises to a whole new level. While much of this famous opal-mining town is located underground, above and below the soil Coober Pedy teems with an infectious quirkiness. Captivating attractions abound, ensuring an extended stay is essential, and a daytrip to majestic Kanku-Breakaways Conservation Park is a must. A destination that will stay etched in your memory.

Book now: BIG4 Stuart Range Outback Resort.

Infectious quirkiness: There's much more to Coober Pedy than meets the eye. Credit: Daniel Westergren

Disused railway tunnels, various locations

Australia has several abandoned railway tunnels, and while they’re not exactly quirky they can feel kinda eerie. One accessible example is the 100m-long Spray Tunnel 40min north of Strahan on the west coast of TAS, which leads to fascinating mining relics.

Another great find is the century-old railway tunnel in Dularcha National Park, 25min west of Caloundra on QLD’s Sunshine Coast. Measuring almost 100m in length, this historical tunnel is home to various bats.

Book now: BIG4 Strahan Holiday Retreat or BIG4 Caloundra Holiday Park.

The Spray Tunnel is a fascinating attraction. Credit: Jess Bonde

World War II Oil Storage Tunnels, Darwin, NT

While these are more ‘commercial’ than the railway tunnels mentioned above, a visit here makes for a memorable experience. Interpretative signage details the history and significance of the rare tunnels as well as a more general overview of Darwin’s involvement in World War II.

Book now: BIG4 Howard Springs Holiday Park.

Fascinating stories abound underground in Darwin. Credit: Courtesy Darwin Tours

Ashcombe Maze, Mornington Peninsula, VIC

While life-size labyrinths are many and varied, this attraction has the honour of being Australia’s oldest hedge maze. Created from more than 1000 cypress trees, Ashcombe Maze is carefully curated each year, and its 2m-thick walls stand roughly 3m high. It all makes for an awesome sight and experience.

Book now: BIG4 Mornington Peninsula Holiday Park.

Ashcombe. A-maze-ing.

MONA, Hobart, TAS

The word quirky absolutely applies to the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), rated one of Hobart’s best attractions. Thought-provoking, compelling, and entertaining also come to mind. But really, this description from Mona itself sums up the attraction perfectly: ‘Mona: a museum, or something. In Tasmania, or somewhere. Catch the ferry. Drink beer. Eat cheese. Talk crap about art. You'll love it.’

Book now: BIG4 Hobart Airport Tourist Park.

'Quirky' and 'MONA' go hand in hand. Credit: Mona/Remi Chauvin

Geological wonders, Eyre Peninsula, SA

The Eyre Peninsula bounds with variable beauty, and its various ‘rock stars’ are among the highlights. There are Murphy's Haystacks, a collection of funky wind-worn pillars and boulders; wave-shaped Pildappa Rock; the famous Organ Pipes formation within Gawler Ranges National Park; and Bunda Cliffs, mind-blowing and dramatic sea cliffs that afford sensational views stretching to south-eastern WA.

Book now: BIG4 Ceduna Tourist Park.

Pildappa Rock is just as cool as its WA cousin, Wave Rock. Credit: South Australian Tourism Commission

Bushranger history, Forbes, NSW

Our fascination with bushrangers is kinda quirky, although their exploits remain incredibly captivating. While Ned Kelly is most infamous, the adventures of Ben Hall are just as fascinating. Daring, elusive, and even likened to Robin Hood, Ben Hall’s life in Central NSW was filled with colour.

The best place to retrace this enthralling past is in Forbes. Stop by the Forbes Historical Museum, see where he was shot at Ben Hall’s Place, visit the notorious bushranger’s grave at Forbes Cemetery, or check out the Ben Hall statue.

Book now: BIG4 Forbes Holiday Park.

Ben Hall's colourful life is immortalised in this statue, among other attractions. Credit: Courtesy Forbes Shire Council

Atlantis Marine Park, Two Rocks, WA

There’s something strangely fascinating about abandoned sites. This former theme park opened in 1981 – recognisable by a towering King Neptune statue at its entrance – and was headlined by live dolphin shows. Yet in 1990, it closed due to financial issues. Various relics can still be spotted at the site, including King Neptune, but its current condition is a long way from its heyday. The park is roughly halfway between Perth and Ledge Point.

Book now: BIG4 Ledge Point Holiday Park.

King Neptune still smiles despite the park's demise. Credit: www.katierebekah.com.au

Spiky Bridge, Swansea, TAS

This convict-built bridge on Tassie’s east coast is a peculiar find. Created from field stones, the bridge is well-named thanks to its many stones that have been laid in a vertical fashion. The reasonings behind its design are not clear but whatever the case it makes for great pics.

Book now: BIG4 Iluka on Freycinet Holiday Park.

Spiky Bridge is well-named. Credit: Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett

Stromatolites of Hamelin Pool, Shark Bay, WA

Complicated to describe, beautiful to gaze at. Loosely regarded as living fossils, the stromatolites within World Heritage-listed Shark Bay are regarded as the oldest and largest of their type. They are seriously quirky and amazing to look at. It’s another location on this list ablaze with epic photo ops.

Book now: BIG4 parks in the Coral Coast WA region.

Stromatolites: Peculiar but enchanting.

What Australian attraction or attractions of the weird and wonderful kind are most etched in your memory? We’d love to read your thoughts, so please leave a comment below.

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