HOW TO FIND SECRET TRAVEL DESTINATIONS OFF THE BEATEN PATH
A few years ago, I got sick of being just another tourist, walking in a slow-moving, single-file line across the Australian tourist trail. I had become jaded with travel because every destination was the same. Rock up, wait in line to see or do something, take a photo, then leave. I made a conscious decision that I wouldn’t visit the places you see in all the guidebook. I needed to, or I would have lost my passion for travel.
Since making this decision I have found a pink lake, an abandoned railway tunnel teeming with glow worms, a haunted bookshop in Melbourne, and an abandoned mental asylum in Bundoora. These are the places the tourists don’t go, and they are all the more incredible for it.
USE GOOGLE EARTH
Before going camping, I always have a good explore on Google Earth and look for any oddities that can’t be easily explained. This often sparks an interest in exploring the area on foot. I also look for natural canyons, lakes, rivers, lagoons, or anything that looks picturesque but difficult to reach. This has led to the discovery of heaps of hidden, out of the way campsites in the places where nature has won. I look for old roads which follow rivers. Some take me nowhere, but some have taken me to my own slice of paradise for the night.
TALK TO LOCALS
I am a sociable girl. Whenever I sit in a bar or restaurant, I like to chat with the staff, people sitting around me, and anyone else who will listen. It might be a curse for everyone else, but it is a blessing for me. Ask the people you meet where their favourite spots are and how to get there. I end up keeping a little notepad with me so I can scribble anything down I hear and research it at a later date. I look like a nutter at the time, but I have notebooks full of weird and wonderful places for anyone who is interested. The locals are the ones who know the area best, tap into their wealth of knowledge with a help of a pint of strong beer.
KEEP A FULLY STOCKED CAR
When you are exploring, take enough food and water to spend the night. There is nothing like finding an absolute gem, only to realise you need to drive all the way back to the tourist trails and civilisation because you need more food and water. Keep your car fully stocked at all times so you can take your time and enjoy the places you find.
HUNT NEAR TOURIST SPOTS
Often, the reason a spot has become popular is not that it is the most beautiful, but because it is the most accessible. Look near well-trodden tourist locations to find the same level of beauty, or more, but with a fraction of the footfall and no crowds.
Finding amazing locations off the beaten track saved my passion for travelling. You can keep your Sydney Opera House, I’m going to the Museum of Human Disease.
Have you found any hidden gems? Share your comments below.