Nestled within these vast expanses of land are some of the world’s most ancient and remarkable wilderness areas ripe for travellers to discover. These destinations offer memorable wildlife and flora encounters, primordial monuments and reminders of Gondwanan rainforest and Ediacaran fossils, Aboriginal rock art dating back over 50,000 years, and cragged mountain landscapes that have stood proud for hundreds of millions of years.
Discover our top five favourite wilderness areas to explore in Australia.
1. The Kimberley (Western Australia)
At a Glance: Enormous and sparsely populated area full of dramatic gorges, red cliffs, and remote water holes with strong Aboriginal history.
Wilderness in the truest sense of the world, the Kimberley region of Western Australia is an enormous and sparsely populated area with an ancient, complex intersection of Aboriginal culture, dramatic landscapes, and an abundance of natural beauty.
Known for its diverse and ongoing Indigenous culture with over 100 communities in the region, it is home to some of the country’s oldest rock art with Gwion Gwion (Bradshaw) art and Wandjina paintings dating back over 50,000 years, with local guides proudly offering authentic interpretation of this rich history.
These pockets of ancient human culture are found within dramatic geological formations and some of the country’s most dramatic natural scenes. Whether experienced by foot or from above via scenic flight, this region is home to the surreal honeycomb-striped mounds of the Purnululu (Bungle Bungle) Ranges, the dramatic plateau of Mitchell Falls, the awe-inspiring view of Horizontal Falls, and the enormous human-made freshwater reservoir of Lake Argyle at the mouth of the River Ord.
2. Top End (Northern Territory)
At a Glance: Rich Aboriginal cultures, expansive National Parks teeming with wildlife, and aquatic landscapes of wetlands and coursing rivers, floodplains, and rainforest.
The Northern Territory lies on Australia’s tropical savanna and draws travellers to discover its distinctly Australian landscapes and strong traditional Aboriginal cultural ties.
Home to both National Parks and sprawling cattle stations, the Top End invites guests to get hands-on and discover biodiverse landscapes ranging from idyllic floodplains to rugged ranges which serve as home to thousands of animal species. Unique natural treasures like the striking and imposing magnetic termite mounds of Litchfield National Park inspire awe, while cattle stations like Bullo River and Finniss River Stations demonstrate the beauty and hard work of the land.
Guests looking for authentic immersion into Indigenous cultures venture to Arnhem Land, known for its unique landscapes and strong emphasis on traditional knowledge and ongoing cultural traditions. Mount Borradaile offers the world’s largest outdoor art gallery within a registered Aboriginal sacred site, or taking a safari up to the permit-only Cobourg Peninsula to discover colonial ruins and camp on ultra-remote shoreline lined by red cliffs.
3. Cape York (Queensland)
At a Glance: Nature-rich tropical peninsula fringed by the Great Barrier Reef housing ancient Quinkan rock art and adventurous 4WD tracks.
Found on Queensland’s most northern tip, the Cape York Peninsula one of the largest unspoiled wildernesses in the country. Eucalyptus-wooded savannahs, tropical rainforests, and other habitat serve as home to extraordinary endemic flora and fauna, including the magnificent cassowary.
The region’s tropical and monsoonal climate transforms the landscape each year between waterholes and sandy riverbeds to mighty waterways alive with fish, birds, and crocodiles.
With only sparse populations, this region summons cultural and outdoor adventurers alike to explore with local guides. Camping, hiking, bird watching and fishing are popular throughout the Dry Season, while more adventurous guests often take the thrilling and rewarding 4WD track up to the tip. Be sure to experience the extensive and ancient Aboriginal rock art galleries surrounding the town of Laura.
4. South Australia
At a Glance: Vast and varied, home to the Channel Country of Lake Eyre, the mountainous Flinders Ranges, sweeping west coast beachfront, and Kangaroo Island.
Australia’s most centralised state, the regions outside of capital city Adelaide offer dynamic and varied landscapes including expanses of arid desert, ancient mountainous ranges, wind-carved coastline overlooking the Great Australian Bight, and the unique bush ecosystem of Kangaroo Island.
Guests to the state will be swept up into remarkable natural phenomena, including the salt Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre that shines in striking white and pink hues, and the enormous and ancient Flinders Ranges mountains which has the striking Ikara/Wilpena Pound natural amphitheatre, soaring peaks to explore via hike, and Nilpena Station housing some of the oldest fossil evidence of animal life in the world.
To the South, the Eyre Peninsula houses the country’s freshest seafood including world-class oysters and crystal-clear waters home to many different species of fish, dolphins, sea lions, and seasonal migratory whales. Kangaroo Island offers its own unique ecosystem and is one of the Earth’s last unspoiled refuges to discover, described as a ‘Zoo without Fences’ due to its exceptional wildlife encounters with kangaroos, koalas, echidnas, wallabies, Australian sea lions, dolphins and more.
At a Glance: Australia’s off-shore island state housing World Heritage-listed wilderness and spectacular coastal hiking trails.
Tasmania’s natural abundance inspires travellers near and far to discover stunning landscapes, unique endemic animals and plants, and soak up nature at its most pristine.
In the northwest, UNESCO World Heritage-listed temperate wilderness covers a quarter of the state. Cradle Mountain is this region’s centrepiece and a regular bucket list item for hikers and nature lovers, while those looking to go even further into the remote can venture to the fragile and breathtaking Southwest Wilderness via boat charter or scenic flight – the only access routes available.
On the east coast, the secluded slither of Freycinet National Park houses coastline flanked by cragged cliffs and sparkling shores and pockets of luxury. Home to the renowned Wineglass Bay and off-shore Maria Island, this region compels adventurous hikers and luxury lovers alike, with renowned 20-suite luxury lodge Saffire Freycinet pampering guests while overlooking the dramatic landscapes.