Destinations

The Aussie historical hot spots that should be on your bucketlist

Road trip fanatics and history buffs rejoice!

To celebrate the release of Peter Spearritt’s new book on historical hot spots around Australia, Where History Happened, we’ve compiled the ultimate Aussie history bucket list for you, made up of extracts from the must-read guide.

tenor

Broken Hill

Broken Hill Post Office and Royal Exchange Hotel, Australia. Twilight.

Broken Hill sits in a desert-like landscape. Its rich industrial history can be seen in a remarkable number of structures, from the remnants of its vast mines to the banks and hotels of a once very wealthy city.

It is best viewed from the recently built Miners Memorial, atop an artificial hill made of mine tailings. From here, you see the grand layout of the town, with its wide streets and scores of heritage-listed buildings.

Mine workers here won a 35-hour week in 1920, the first workers in Australia to do so. But the mines were dangerous places, with many deaths. Broken Hill is also home to one of the oldest mosques in Australia and the Palace Hotel, known to cinema-goers around the world from the scene where three Sydney drag queens win the respect of the locals in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Byron Bay

Touristic guidance directional signs on pole in Byron Bay, NSW, Australia

Byron Bay has a surprising history. In just 60 years it has gone from being a dirty, industrial town to one of the nation’s most popular beach destinations.

The stench from the piggery, the abattoir and the whaling station—with whale carcasses cut up just off the main street—has been replaced with throngs of Australian and international holiday-makers. The township has lost much of its intimacy to modern tourism, but the camping grounds retain a modest charm, and the surf beaches remain unspoilt.

Looking north towards Brunswick Heads from the famous lighthouse, you can’t see a structure over three stories. When you look at the Gold Coast from Point Danger, on the New South Wales–Queensland border, just 70 kilometres north, you are confronted with a coastline dominated by scores of high-rise apartments.

Darwin

Aerial View Australia Port

Darwin is the only Australian city ever to be destroyed twice in its history. Rained with more bombs than Pearl Harbor in 1942, hundreds died, mainly on naval ships in the harbour.

Three decades later, nature rents its fury, destroying thousands of homes that had been built to house a growing population. Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory, has become a flamboyant and quirky place, known for its casual outlook and croc stories that challenge even the most gullible.

The night markets of Darwin are testament to the cosmopolitan mix of the population, offering food from around the globe, and both international and local Indigenous arts and crafts. As it is always hot and humid, both locals and visitors are often found sitting on the beach watching the sun set over the Arafura Sea.

Great Barrier Reef

Aerial view of the Heart reef

Stretching more than 2,300 kilometres along the Queensland coast and comprising almost 3,000 individual reefs, the Great Barrier Reef has been listed as a World Heritage Site for nearly 40 years.

The current reefs are over 6,000 years old and are home to a diverse array of marine animals and plants, from 1,600 types of fish to molluscs, sharks, corals and 500 species of worm. The Great Barrier Reef is a refuge for turtles to lay their eggs, including six of the world’s seven marine turtle species.

In 2014, then US president Barack Obama expressed concern about the health of the reef, saying he wanted his daughters’ children to be able to visit. Threats to this world wonder—from climate change and tourism to a massive expansion of Queensland’s export coal ports—remain a matter of international concern.

Burra

Chimney at Burra Mine South Australia

Burra and its copper mines were central to the progress of a struggling South Australia in the mid-nineteenth century. As mining in Cornwall declined, its copper miners looked to Britain’s imperial colonies for new prospects, but copper is quickly mined out. Burra’s miners headed for the goldfields of the eastern states.

A rich array of heritage structures, the location for the making of the film Breaker Morant and an internationally recognised heritage conservation agreement (the Burra Charter) make Burra well worth a visit.

Melbourne’s Trams

Vintage tram in Melbourne.

Today, Melbourne’s trams are a long way from the picturesque cable cars of the 1880s, but they are still an inherent part of Melbourne life, for both the tourist and the commuter.

Interstate drivers marvel as the ability of locals to make a compulsory hook turn in the city’s centre, so that the trams are not held up. In the days of 6 o’clock closing, schoolgirls were told to be on the tram well before then because, after that, the trams would fill with inebriates falling out of the pubs and onto their transport home.

After a long battle with trade unions, Melbourne got rid of all its tram conductors by 1998. Today, the system is easy to use and free in the immediate city area, while a myki card lets you explore the world’s most extensive tramway system at a reasonable cost.

Albany

Exploring Albany region in Australia

Albany, the first permanent European settlement in Western Australia, began life as an outpost for the New South Wales government in 1826, fearing continuing French interest in the west.

In the nineteenth century, its deep sea port made it the first and last stop for large steamers going to and from Britain, as well as for whalers. The smell of boiling blubber pervaded the town. Remarkably, the whaling station survived until 1978, the last to close in the English-speaking world.

King George Sound, on whose shores Albany is located, was the last glimpse of home for departing soldiers heading off to conflict and an unknown fate in 1914.

The National Anzac Centre, high above Albany, provides a spectacular view of the Sound and pays tribute to troops shipped off to the Great War from there.


Extracted from Where History Happened: The Hidden Past of Australia’s Towns and Places (NLA Publishing $39.99) by Peter Spearritt, now available at all good book stores and online at https://bookshop.nla.gov.au/book/where-history-happened-the-hidden-past-of-australias-towns-and-places.do



SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Leave a Reply

Destinations

Mauritius drops mandatory testing requirement

Another day another bloody beautiful destination becomes more accessible for rebound travel. We love to see it!

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

CTM completes acquisition of 1000 Mile Travel Group

Shout out to Corporate Travel Management, who have successfully doomed us to having Vanessa Carlton’s A Thousand Miles stuck in our head for the foreseeable future.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Vanuatu says Welkam back to Aussie visitors as first flight lands in Port Vila

Pack your suitcase because international travellers no longer have to quarantine upon entry to Vanuatu!

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

ATSB report sparks overhaul in Qantas’ safety instructions following passenger injuries

Australia’s transport safety authority raised concerns over the clarity of Qantas’ safety instructions after six passengers were injured evacuating a plane via an escape slide.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Aurora partners with education platform & expands into French-speaking markets

It’s berets and baguettes all ’round at the Aussie expedition company’s office today, while Travel Weekly makes do with a simple pairing of Jam Fancies and Aldi tea.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Tourism NZ celebrates first Matariki public holiday with music colab

New Zealand has scored a new public holiday for the Māori New Year, marking its first national holiday to recognise and celebrate mātauranga Māori.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

This island is tipped to be the next coveted Italian destination

Are you done with Rome? Do you find Positano passé? You’re going to want to check out this little slice of Italian paradise… before everyone else does.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Marriott to implement minimum wage bump earlier than expected

Not only were the staff chuffed that they’ve gotten a pay bump, but receiving it earlier as well must have them over the moon.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

REVIEW: Visit literal Paradise in the Maldives

by Chloe Noel De Kerbrech

Imagine an island with shimmering teal waters and perfectly white sand. Imagine an island you never want to leave. Actually, stop. You don’t have to imagine any of this because we found it.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Cairns welcomes Coral Princess’ maiden call

Crew members were also chuffed to be there, so much so that they learned the Cairns-Can, which is like the French can-can but with much more Four X Gold involved.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

TravelManagers market supplier day goes ahead after two years of delays

Agents and suppliers spent a whirlwind day catching up at a special market event, though that’s not to say they bonded over fresh produce, at least, that we know of.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Bonza begins search for customer facing ‘legends’

Do you love giving safety briefings to a metal box full of people who are clearly not listening? Boy have we got news for you.

Share

CommentComments