With border and other coronavirus restrictions slowly evaporating, the thoughts of many Australians are turning towards how to escape the necessary torture of lockdown and hit the road out of town.
With overseas travel grounded for the foreseeable future due to coronavirus, there has never been a better time to explore Australia’s backyard - and help our national economy recover at the same time.
Many states and territories are in the final stages of easing COVID restrictions, so now is the perfect time to start ticking off that bucket list.
Thankfully, we are spoilt with an embarrassment of riches.
So what are the best places to escape the crowds?
We’ve done the hard yards to help you make the big decisions.
Bedourie, Outback Queensland
Perched on a sand dune, the quaint town of Bedourie is said to be a desert oasis.
Bedourie, meaning dust storm, is located in far west Queensland, surrounded by Eyre Creek and home to about 120 people.
It’s also the birthplace of the Bedourie camp oven, invented in the droving camps of a bygone era and recognised as uniquely Australian by the federal government.
In June, enjoy Bedourie’s camel races.
Year round, soak in the artesian spa, using water from the town’s original bore drilled in 1905.
Visit the renowned Cuttaburra Crossing wetlands and hit a round of desert golf.
Four hours away, camp in the shade of a coolibah tree at Diamantina National park, named one of Australia’s top 10 by the Worldwide Fund for Nature, with its rare wildlife, desert colours and stunning sunsets. Bedourie is RV friendly and accessible by plane.
A flock of colourful fibreglass sheep greets visitors to the small gem of Kaniva, halfway between Melbourne and Adelaide.
The town, located on the Western Highway, features historic buildings dating to the 1880s decked with wide verandahs and colourful bushes. You won’t miss the big windmill, a sign of the town’s reliance on underground water supply.
In early spring, fields of canola in the surrounding district burst into colour.
Enjoy the silo art, the local history museum, see native animals including emus and kangaroos at the wetland and fauna park and visit the 132,000-hectare Little Desert National Park.
Meander through native scrub and enjoy the impressive birdlife on the Billy Ho Bushwalk or shade under the huge red gums at Mooree Reserve, a scenic camping area popular with nature lovers and surrounded by dark green lagoons. Kaniva is accessible by bus.
Come By Chance, NSW
Come By Chance and the grey nomads reckon you’ll be glad you did. Off the beaten path, this pleasantly named village is about 250 km from Dubbo in northern NSW.
The town’s name comes from a sheep station named in 1862 by brothers George and William Colless, surprised they could snap up land in such a remote place. The locality was also immortalised by Australian bush poet Banjo Patterson.
The local cemetery offers an intriguing insight into life and death in the outback. Meanwhile, visitors flock every September to the annual horse race. About 50km away, soak in the soothing Walgett Artesian Bore Baths, naturally heated to 42 degrees.
Or ease your aching muscles at the nearby Burren Junction Bore Baths and campground. Carinda is another great nearby village, home to an iconic pub that starred in a David Bowie music video, while the town of Collarenebri is great for fishing.
Eighty Mile Beach, Western Australia
Flee the bustle for paradise on the west coast, halfway between Port Hedland and Broome.
There is plenty to do at Eighty Mile Beach, whether it’s walking the white sandy beaches, swimming in the turquoise water, fishing, bird watching or glimpsing wildlife.
Or simply relax and enjoy the bucket-list worthy sunrises and sunsets to open and close your day.
The beach is actually longer than its name suggests, extending for 220km and making it the longest uninterrupted beach in Western Australia. The marine park is also one of the world’s most important feeding grounds for small wading birds that travel thousands of kilometres to migrate to the area in summer.
Flatback turtles, only found in northern Australia, also use it as a major nesting area.
Ceduna, South Australia
Embrace the solitude of the bush and coast at Ceduna, dubbed the country’s oyster capital.
Located on South Australia’s far west coast, it’s the last major town before the Nullabor.
There’s plenty to do, whether you fish, take a dip or discover Indigenous art. Or simply absorb the spectacular beauty of the sandy beaches and rugged cliffs.
Ceduna also lays claim to the world’s longest golf course, spanning 1365km. Nature’s palette is on show in the beautiful pink salt lake, known as Lake McDonnell.
Go whale watching at the Head of Bight during the winter, catch some of Australia’s best waves at Cactus Beach or feast on oysters, grown and harvested in the region’s ocean waters. Ceduna is accessible via bus and plane.