There’s not much Australia doesn’t have. Stunning coastlines? Check. Great, big buzzing cities with epic restaurants and cafes to work your way through? Check. Unusual towns worth the long-haul road trip? Naturally—check!
While city life is where our hearts truly live, nothing beats escaping the big smoke and exploring Australia’s most unusual and interesting places. The good news is that there is a myriad of quirky and fascinating towns which span from UFO hot spots, underground living the size of football fields and even opal mines home to the world’s rarest pineapple opal.
Fill up the tank and start exploring Australia’s most unusual towns.
If visiting a well-known UFO sighting spot (allegedly) is hot on your radar of things to do this year, then look no further than the Northern Territory’s town of Wycliffe Well. Long hailed as Australia’s UFO capital (since World War II) and a no-brainer pitstop for when you’re driving from Darwin to Adelaide, this exceptional Australian town is filled with eerie alien statues, celestial street art and an iconic “Welcome To Wycliffe Well” sign as you enter which definitely calls for a sneaky visitor snap for the ‘Gram. Will you spot UFOs if you stay overnight? Only you can answer that.
Home to Australia’s oldest commercial opal field, White Cliffs is more or less a goldmine, if you will, of unusual antics and places to explore. Hitting hard in the realm of desert-scapes, the town is known for its underground living (all thanks to the outback temperatures) and colonial heritage. Still kicking it as an active opal mine, White Cliffs is one of the few places in the entire world where you can actually score bits of white opal and rare pineapple opal so we suggest booking a tour with Red Earth Tours to see if you can actually score big time (it’s happened before). White Cliffs is also home to Australia’s very first solar power station which was erected back in the 80s.
In terms of where you can actually stay here, there are no places above ground. Instead, the family owned and operated White Cliffs Underground Motel, which sits at a comfortable 22 degrees all year round, keeps actual “dugout” rooms you can stay in to escape the outback heat. Each room has been built by hand and no two rooms are the same with the entire complex casually stretching out to the size of an underground football field.
You’ll find this unusually fairytale-like town clocking in just north of Launceston— an authentic Swiss village residing in Australia and it’s absolutely a spitting image of the real damn thing. It’s the kind of town that truly sparks a whole lot of joy just by looking at it but if you’re craving hard to see this one in the flesh, you’ll find Grindelwald in Tasmania’s Tamar Valley, bearing traditional Swiss farm-style buildings, paddle boats and naturally, chalets. Designed by Dutch immigrant Roelf Vos, this magical little place first came to be in the 1980s and the good news is, you can actually shack up and stay here for the night.
For the slick movie buffs out there, Silverton is a groovy town located at the very far west of NSW—around 25km from Broken Hill. The unusual Aussie town isn’t shy of a former movie set or two and has been dubbed the “Outback Hollywood” of Australia, Silverton sports a quintessential Aussie landscape (think roaring, red dirt and splitting blue skies), one that’s been used in many a commercial, TV show and movie. A myriad of movies have been filmed at Silverton Hotel and parked out the front you’ll find a pimped-out, black Volkswagen Beetle—a little nod to Mad Max’s V8 Interceptor. Just down the road, you’ll also find the worldly Mundi Mundi Plains, the lookout here is notorious for witnessing amazing sunsets, dust storms and thunderstorms plus, Mad Max II stans will also recognise the road leading out from the lookout all too well.
Picture this, you’re driving in the middle of the outback, on your way to The Simpson Dessert. It’s been several hours since the last petrol station, and you’re on your third cycle of listening to Lou Bega’s A Little Bit Of Mambo because yep, you guessed it, there is no reception. But then, far on the horizon, a mirage emerges. Welcome to The Pink Roadhouse and yes, it’s exactly how it sounds—a pub, in the middle of the outback, painted entirely pink. Welcome to Oodnadatta.
While this remote outback town in the middle of South Australia is definitely known for its flaming pink roadhouse (which is a general store slash car workshop slash post office slash caravan slash pub), there’s a few other odd sights to see here. Other attractions include the overland telegraph line and the Mutonia Sculpture Park at Alberrie Creek which sports a collection of desert sculpture, the most popular being the “Big Dog: made from an old water tank and old Chrysler.
Love a lakehouse? Check out Tasmania's best right here.
Image credit: Destination NSW, Destination NSW, Destination NSW