As the world's biggest island, the sun-loving, BBQing, odd-football-playing, opposite-driving Land Down Under is as unique a country as any. It's a vast land that welcomes millions of tourists year after year. Unfortunately, 95% of these millions of people tend to flock to the same places, again and again, oblivious to the plethora of untouched beauty that this enormous nation has to offer.
For each beach that is overcrowded, there are ten that look like an untouched painting, and for each overrated city, there's one waiting to impress any tourist who just gives it a chance. Australia can certainly be overrated, however, if you know where to look (and where to avoid), it doesn't have to be.
10 Bondi Beach
Australia is the world’s largest island, and as a direct result, is full of endless stretches of beautiful, sandy beaches from the north to the south, and from the east coast to the west coast. So then, with so many world-class beaches, why do the majority of all tourists flock to Bondi? It might be a convenient location and picturesque crescent shoreline, but its serenity is quickly ruined by immense hordes of tourists.
For those on a quick trip to Sydney who want to work on their tan, a short ferry ride to Manly in the Northern Beaches area will deliver just as good waves, sunshine, and views, without the annoying crowds.
9 Luna Park, Melbourne
Melbourne has an abundance of great culture, restaurants, sport, coffee, and it’s not too far from some worthy nature spots either. While Luna Park might have an iconic facade, the park itself is full of mediocre, old rides that can be conquered within half a day and then leave you wanting so much more. The park advertises its main attraction, the Scenic Railway, as the oldest continually operating roller coaster in the world - and that doesn’t sound too appealing, nor safe, to be honest.
If you’re in the St Kilda area, forget Luna park altogether and just stroll around by the beach for great views of the bay and the CBD, or walk down Acland Street and sample a delicious treat from one of the famous cake shops.
8 The Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road can’t be missed - it’s one of the most scenic, winding roads in the world, and its entrance is only an hour or so drive from Melbourne. Back in the day, when there were actually 12 magnificent rock stacks, it would have been a worthy stop on anyone driving the road. These days, the rocks have fallen victim to erosion and there are only eight left, a couple of which are teeny-tiny. Combine that with the hoards of tourists (particularly at sunset), and it becomes rather overrated.
Instead, keep driving a little further and check out London Bridge and Loch Ard Gorge, some equally picturesque but less crowded natural rock formations.
Surely an entire city can’t be overrated, you say. But oh, trust us, it is. Canberra is the awkward geographical middle ground between Melbourne and Sydney, and despite being the home of Questacon - a cool science museum - and Australia’s parliament, Aussies avoid the city altogether for its lack of culture and things to do.
If the hustle and bustle of Melbourne and Sydney seem a little too much, but you still want to check out an authentic Australian city, forget about Canberra and go to Adelaide instead. The South Australian capital hosts a plethora of festivals and is the gateway to one of the world’s best wine regions: the Barossa Valley.
Hundreds of thousands of tourists - local and international - flock to Cairns every year. As the largest city in the Far North Queensland region, it’s a gateway to the long list of essential Australian icons: the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree National Park, Cape Tribulation, and it’s also a handful of hours’ drive down to the stunning Whitsundays. So, with so much to do outside of the city, it’s a wonder that visitors actually spend any time in Cairns at all.
The city itself is wildly overrated and you can’t even swim and its beaches because of the deadly Irukandji jellyfish. So, make the most of your time up north by getting out of Cairns as soon as possible and check out the Daintree and Cape Tribulation instead.
5 Eureka Tower Skydeck
We’re heading back down to Melbourne, specifically to the observation deck of its tallest building, the Eureka Tower. Everything about this experience screams tacky, tourist-orientated and overrated. By day, the views are impressive, but by night, the awkwardly angled floor is awfully disorientating. It’s add-on experience called The Cube - a glass cube that extends outside the main building - is both expensive and underwhelming, plus its view is somewhat obstructed by the main tower.
If a view of Melbourne from above is what you’re after, head to Lui Bar on level 55 of the Rialto (Melbourne’s second tallest building). Entry is free, just buy a drink.
4 Sydney Harbour Bridge (climb)
Considering that it stretches a total of 1,149 meters across the beautiful Sydney Harbour, it’s no surprise that this bridge is wildly popular among Sydney tourists. The views from the top of the structure are stunning, but that’s not the issue here. The issue is the uncomfortably high cost to walk up a couple hundred stairs. Unless you opt for the ‘sample climb’ which sets you back $174 (in which case you might as well climb the whole thing), you’ll be paying at least $268.
The perfect alternative is to take a simple, totally cost-free stroll along the bridge’s pedestrian path. The views are still phenomenal and your wallet will thank you.
3 The Bell Tower, Perth
The majority of Australia’s largest cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane) sit over on the nation’s East Coast. So, as the only major city out in Western Australia, Peth needs to do a lot of work to attract tourists. For visitors who do make the trek out west, The Bell Tower is a popular spot to visit. However, aesthetically it seems like a strange blend between London’s Shard and a rocket ship, and presents itself as the awkward intersection between landmark and eyesore.
The views from the tower aren’t too bad but they’re certainly not elite. For an alternative, head to Kings Park instead, where the views over the Swan River are much more impressive.
2 Sydney Tower
The highest structure in Sydney lures flocks of tourists into exactly the same trap as countless other skyscrapers across the world: tourists hand over too much money, only to be underwhelmed by the views at the top, and not even be able to see the skyline (because they’re standing at the top of it).
So, either save your high-in-the-sky experience for the Rialto when you’re down in Melbourne, or get your A-grade views of Sydney’s harbor (and the Sydney Tower while you’re at it!) by taking a free stroll across the Sydney Harbour Bridge from Milson’s Point to Circular Quay.
1 Penguin Viewing at St Kilda Beach
As a whole, Melbourne’s backpacker-centric bayside suburb of St Kilda is overrated. We’ve spoken about Luna Park already, but the beach itself is usually dirty, and due to its location by the bay, the waves aren’t big enough to surf. One element that is both locally unique and interesting is the little penguins that emerge usually at dusk at the end of St Kilda pier. However, plenty of tourists will accompany you there, and the viewing is often underwhelming.
For tourists who want a guaranteed penguin parade, head down to Phillip Island at the end of the Mornington Peninsula. Here, tourists can take a seat on the sand and watch anywhere from tens to hundreds of Little penguins returning to the shoreline.