10 Strange Places in Australia We Bet You Haven’t Heard Of, Let Alone Visited

May 15, 2019


Road Safety


Ella Donald

Feel like you’ve seen everything in Australia? Struggling with where to visit next? Let us be your guide.

A wide, brown land of all kinds of people and places, Australia has endless entertaining corners that remain unseen by many. For every strange name, weird history, or interesting past inhabitants, there is a new place to explore.

Here’s a few, to book your next unconventional getaway to.

1. Cooladdi

As the railway line extended further west, Cooladdi's role and population declined. Photo: Weston Langford

Take a 9 hour drive from Brisbane on the Warrego Highway and you’ll arrive in Cooladdi, the town with a staggering population of…3, which easily makes it the smallest town in Australia. Once a busy railhead, Cooladdi once had a school, post office, and police station that served about 270 residents. However, as the railway line was built further west, the town’s role and population sunk, with the school closing in 1974. With such a low number of inhabitants, all who live at the general store, it’s now classed as a ghost town.

2. Dismal Swamp

Dimal Swamp's treetop walkway. Photo: Jaws Architects

Named by a group of surveyors in 1828 who (clearly) didn’t have a good time here, Dismal Swamp is the largest sink-hole in the southern hemisphere.Today the town isn’t so dreary, establishing itself as a unique eco-tourism destination. Located 87km from Burnie in Tasmania’s north-west, Dimal Swamp is home to Tarkine Forest Adventures, a park where visitors can use a treetop walkway to explore the untouched environment, go down the 110 metre slide to the swamp floor, and eat a meal of Tasmanian produce, look at art inspired by the forest, and buy locally-made products.

3. Hutt River Principality

The border between Western Australia and the Principality of Hutt River. Photo: Expatior

We’re not sure the residents of Hutt River Principality will be happy to be on our Aussie list considering they classify themselves to be an independent sovereign state of Australia. After a dispute about wheat production in 1970, a one-in-a-lifetime saga started in the Principality where they said ‘seeya later’ to democracy and all hailed monarch, Prince Leonard. The town located on a farm 517km north of Perth, has an area of 75km2, making it larger than recognised micronations like Vatican City, Monaco, and San Marino. It may not be recognised by any government, but visitors can get Hutt River currency, stamps, and passports.

4. Nowhere Else

When there is nowhere else to go, give Nowhere Else a go. Photo: Pinterest

72km west of Launceston, this small community of farms is like many other places in Tasmania - a little slice of England dropped in Australia, boasting rolling hills and tiny lanes. Its namesake hails from an early inhabitant, the original road from the nearby town of Barrington ending in a farmer’s paddock and leading to ‘nowhere else’. Today, however, it does lead to somewhere else - drive another 6km and you’ll be in Promised Land. There is also a Nowhere Else in South Australia, where the sign is an (expensive, for the local government) favourite for thieves.

5. New Norcia

St Gertrude's convent school at New Norcia, built in 1908. Photo: Wikimedia

The only monastic town in Australia, New Norcia also feels like a trip to another place - here, it’s Europe of centuries past. 132km north of Perth, it’s home to a Benedictine Monastery, established in 1847 by two Spanish monks. The name comes from Norcia (here, pronounced nor-sia) in Italy, the birthplace of St Benedict. Today, the monks continue to occupy the town, involved in the day-to-day runnings, including in the nationally well-regarded bakery (built 1886).

6. Smiggin Holes

An overview of Smiggin Holes. Photo: Visit NSW

A ski resort in the Snowy Mountains, Smiggin Holes is one of four villages making up the Perisher ski resort. The name is of Scottish origin, after the tramping of hundreds of cattle that caused depressions filled with water. Since it was established as a destination for snow holidays in 1939, it has emerged as a popular resort for beginner skiers, as its surrounds protect from the harsher conditions in the rest of the mountains.

7. Coober Pedy

An underground house in Coober Pedy. Photo: SCOUT Production Services

With most summer days over 40 degrees, Coober Peedy is known for its underground residences out of necessity. 846km north of Adelaide, today it’s home to around 1700 people, mostly working in the largest opal mining area in the world (70 fields) or tourism. Check out the completely grassless golf course - punters mostly play at night using glowing balls, carrying around a small piece of turf to tee off.

8. Xantippe

View from near the top of Xantippe Rock. Photo: Wikipedia

The only place in Australia to start with an ‘X’, Xantippe is 220km north-east of Perth. Established in 1925, there are two possible origins of the name -  the wife of ancient Greek philosopher Socrates, or it translates to "looking for water from a deeper well" (locals favour the second explanation). In the 2016 census, the population was 20, part of nine families, with an average age of 46.

9. Wycliffe Well

Wycliffe Well, the UFO Capitol of Australia. Photo: Trover

The self-proclaimed UFO Capital of Australia (and fifth in the world), it’s an essential stopover when travelling the Stuart Highway en route to Uluru. Its reputation started to build in World War II, when servicemen kept records of nightly sightings of UFOs. In 1985, a man named Lew Farkus started to establish the town as a destination, getting the idea from an American journal that proclaimed the town as the UFO hotspot of the world. Staying 25 years, he invested $4 million.

"UFO sightings are so common, that if you stayed up all night looking, you would be considered unlucky not to see anything, rather than lucky to see something,” the brochure says.

10. Mamungkukumpurangkuntjunya Hill

The longest official place name in Australia, with 26 letters. Photo: funnylla.com

Translating as “where the devil urinates” in the regional Pitjantjatjara language, this hill in South Australia boasts the longest official place name in Australia. The nearest town is 22km away - named Mimili and mainly home to Aṉangu people, it’s an Aboriginal community built around a cattle station named Everard Park in the 1920s.

Ella Donald

Ella Donald is a journalist, university tutor, critic, and writer from Brisbane, Australia. She teaches at the University of Queensland, and writes for publications including Vanity Fair, The Guardian, GQ, The Saturday Paper, Vice, ABC, Fairfax, and news.com.au.


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