Top Spots to Watch the Sun Go Down

Catherine Lawson — 7 March 2019

James Price Point

Dampier Peninsula, WA

These blissfully remote beach camps overlook a tricoloured scene: coral-white sand sandwiched between red pindan cliffs and an endless, calm, cerulean sea. 



On this uninhabited coastline located an hour’s drive north of Broome, travellers position their rigs to face the setting sun and spend long, lazy days on the beach; swimming and fishing and spotting the humpbacks that migrate close to shore over the warm, winter months. 

There are no facilities on offer and no camping fees either, and so many beautiful locations to choose from that never draw a crowd. Closest to Broome, Willie Creek, with its natural boat ramp, and Barred Creek further up the track, are ideal choices for barramundi-chasers.

Continue along Manari Road to Quondong Point where a 3km-long stretch of campsites (some with shade), tops the red cliffs. 

My favourite camps lie 13km north at James Price Point and Coulomb Point, 

both of which provide beach access for four-wheel drivers. 

When you go: Beach camps are located 38-60km from Broome via Manari Road. No facilities are provided so bring drinking water, take rubbish away and use only existing fire-rings (three-day limit). Anglers can expect catches of queenies or trevally off the beaches, and mangrove jack and barramundi up the creeks. Visit from May to September visitbroome.com.au.

Trephina Gorge

East MacDonnell Ranges, NT

After a day spent exploring Altyerre — The Red Centre’s Eternal Land — Trephina Gorge beckons us to the rim of her rugged abyss, climbing past many blooms of vibrant wildflowers to bask in the disappearing daylight. 

As we sit, nibbling our picnic and sipping champagne chilled by the crisp wintertime air, the sun inches slowly through the gorge, illuminating finches flitting through the reeds far below us and stunted ghost gums finding footholds on fractured rock faces. 

We take in the ever-changing imagery: Trephina Gorge zigzagging north, its teetering cliffs of red quartzite gradually disappearing into the wide expanse of Mordor Pound. Finally, the sun slips away to the north, carrying its colours to the far horizon and hurling them skyward in one stunning crimson spectacle.

Perhaps it’s the lack of crowds that makes Trephina Gorge such a remarkable sunset spot. Maybe it’s the black-flanked rock wallabies retreating to rest at dusk, or the noisy flocks of lorikeets that colour the gently trickling riverbed. Whatever the attraction, one thing’s for sure: the sunny, caravan-friendly sites at Trephina Gorge are ideal for discoveries on the eastern side of Alice Springs. 

When you go: Trephina Gorge Nature Park is located 85km east of Alice Springs. National park campsites cost $3.30/adult ($1.65/child) and wheelchair-accessible toilets, free gas barbecues and burners, tables and rainwater tanks are provided for travellers (nt.gov.au). For power and showers, stay nearby at Ross River Resort (powered sites start from $39/night, rossriverresort.com.au). 

Wildlife at Sunset Tour

Undara Volcanic National Park, QLD

Champagne on a lava field? This must be one of the more unlikely places to enjoy a champagne sunset, but with an endless outback vista and stunning wildlife encounters wrapped up into one incredible evening, Undara and its world-famous lava tubes rates highly on this list. 

Located 300km inland from Cairns on the slopes of the McBride Plateau, Undara Experience — the tourism operation that manages the park — hosts a top Wildlife at Sunset Tour, elevating travellers to a 

lookout over an undulating horizon resembling a Dreamtime caterpillar, and handing out champagne and nibbles as the sun sinks west. 

After a day spent spotlighting underground through Australia’s longest lava tubes, this wildlife tour brings you up close with pretty-faced wallabies, euros and antilopine wallaroos. As darkness descends on the lava field, travellers are led to Barkers Cave to witness one of Australia’s most incredible natural spectacles: brown tree snakes stretched out and waiting to snare one of the thousands of tiny insectivorous micro bats that make a mass exodus at dusk.

When you go: Undara Experience is located 300km southwest of Cairns and provides camping, meals and tours over the dry (winter) season. Wildlife at Sunset tour costs $55/adult and $30/child (two hours). Arrive in October to catch Undara’s Opera in the Outback (undara.com.au).  

Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles

Stuart Highway, Central NT

Gigantic granite orbs lie scattered in heaps across the spinifex plains, precariously balanced and frozen in mind-boggling towers that turn travellers into rock-hoppers, luring them skywards for better and better sunset views. 

While some test their grip climbing the great granite spheres, others sit and sip and wait for the show. It’s impossible to take a bad photo here (even with a glass of champagne in your hand), and there are a hundred ways to capture the rock that glows golden with the setting sun.

Just one easy, self-guided trail (15 minutes return) loops in and around the Devils Marbles, but a maze of informal paths beckons you up and onto the marbles themselves, squeezing between rocks and edging up narrow pathways to sit and watch the sun slip away across the plains. 

As darkness falls, dingoes howl and campfires crackle, making Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve one of the loveliest places in the Red Centre to spend a night. 

When you go: Located 100km south of Tennant Creek, Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles is best visited from May to October. Arrive well before sunset to secure a campsite ($3.30/adult, $1.65/child or $7.70/family) and bring drinking water (nt.gov.au). 

Karumba

Gulf of Carpentaria, QLD

One of the few places in Queensland where you can watch the sun set over the sea, Karumba lures wintertime travellers with famously good fishing and an irresistible, faraway ambience. 

For anglers, boaties and snowbirds escaping chilly southern climes, this end-of-the-road town has enormous pulling power. For much of the year, wet season rains fall hard on Karumba, cutting access and isolating the town. But from May to June, travellers fill caravan parks and celebrate the day’s catch over sundowners and lively fish barbecues. 

The good fishing supplies a steady diet of blue salmon and barramundi, and the town’s only watering hole — The Sunset Tavern — serves up chilled ales from every corner of the country and good meals served on the shady lawn overlooking the sea. 

Head here at sunset to salute this watery sunset, or for a more private party, follow the sandy 4WD tracks that parallel the beach north of the tavern. 

To commune with nature at sunset, 

stroll the boardwalk behind the river mouth to surprise agile wallabies grazing amongst the mangroves, or head to the roadside lagoons just out of Karumba where photographers capture stunning sunset silhouettes of brolgas performing their hypnotic mating dance.

When you go: Karumba is located 750km west of Cairns via sealed roads. Of the five camping options, we like Karumba Point Holiday and Tourist Park for its free Saturday night fish barbecues and affordable rates (peak season powered sites from $39/night, karumbapoint.com.au). Visit from May to September or arrive in April for the Karumba Community Anglers Classic (carpentaria.qld.gov.au).

Bunda Cliffs

The Nullarbor, SA

On the undercut edge of Australia, 80 vertigo-inducing metres above the wild Southern Ocean, Bunda Cliffs woos campers with its big sky sunsets and wintertime whale sightings. Right up until October, southern right whales and humpbacks are spotted offshore, lured by the warmth of the Leeuwin Current and the chance to mate. 

There are no facilities but self-sufficient overlanders will be more than impressed with the dramatic clifftop views and the underground exploring in neighbouring Nullarbor National Park. 

When you go: Pull off the Nullarbor Highway 75km east of Border Village. Camping is free but there are no facilities (pets OK). Don’t miss close whale encounters from seaside lookouts at Head of Bight (headofbight.com.au).

Canal Rocks 

Yallingup, WA

In the far southwest where limestone cliffs crumble on the edge of the turbulent Indian Ocean and surfers brave enormous waves, the heady scent of peppermint trees lure sunset-lovers to the sea. Just south of Yallingup’s squeaky-white Smiths Beach, Canal Rocks stretches seaward: great arms of fractured rock pointing far into the sea.

Acting as a natural barrier against the swell, the rock creates calm conditions perfect for blooming coral, vibrant fish and on calm, clear days — snorkellers too. Pick a sunny afternoon, don a wetsuit and join the fish, warming up afterwards on hot rock slabs to wait for sunset. 

If you arrive early, climb above Canal Rocks onto the 135km-long Cape-to-Cape walk trail and enjoy lofty Indian Ocean vistas from Rotary Lookout (a top spot to watch for migrating whales, too).

When you go: Pick up chilled bubbles in Yallingup, follow Caves Road south, turn west into Canal Rocks Road and follow it to the sea. Visit this area from spring to autumn. Stay close by at Yallingup Beach Holiday Park (from $32/couple/night, yallingupbeach.com.au).

Bundella Lookout 

Coolah Tops, NSW 

Coveting a vast, high altitude wilderness of silvertop stringybark forests and crystal cascades, Coolah Tops National Park entices travellers west of Newcastle with great camping and top trails. 

A little-known but exceptional sunset vista awaits on the very edge of the escarpment at Bundella Lookout: a glistening panorama of the Liverpool Plains and the Warrumbungles’ distant volcanic peaks. Head here with sundowners or strap on your walking shoes to explore the Mullian Track, an easy, 20-minute return stroll to The Pinnacle Lookout (900m) to stand on a knife-edge of volcanic rock and watch wedge-tailed eagles riding the thermals. 

The steep cliffs along this escarpment are pockmarked with deep, tunneling caves said to be up to 60m long. Close to Bundella Lookout, the free, caravan-friendly campsites at The Barracks provide good shade, shared with great mobs of red-necked wallabies and eastern grey kangaroos. From camp you can stroll to a rare grove of 100-year-old giant grass trees that tower four metres high. 

When you go: Head 275km from Newcastle to Coolah and follow Coolah Creek Road for 30km east (steep but navigable by conventional vehicles). Camping is free (no pets or generators). Visit from August to October to catch silver wattles in bloom (nationalparks.nsw.gov.au).

Great Ocean Road

Coastal Victoria

The wreck of the Loch Ord beckons us off the bitumen to climb crumbling cliffs and watch the waves. It’s a poignant pause before we are wooed by Victoria’s more famous spires, an hour’s drive east. 

Since the Twelve Apostles were named back in the 1920s, these eight, enigmatic spires have justifiably turned the Great Ocean Road into one of Australia’s most popular drives, magnetising a world of travellers from dawn until dusk. 

Surprisingly though, the crowds ebb away just as the sun glows best, reserving her most stunning vistas of the Twelve Apostles’ crumbling limestone sea stacks and lesser-visited sites — London Bridge and The Arch — for those who linger the longest.

When you go: The Great Ocean Road stretches 244km from Allansford near Warrnambool to Torquay. Visit year-round and stay at Princetown Recreation Reserve, 6km east of the Twelve Apostles (powered sites from $25/couple, princetownrecreationreserve.com). Plan your trip at visitgreatoceanroad.org.au.

Tags

Outback Travel Explore Journey Sunset Outdoor

Photographer

David Bristow

External Links

visitbroome.com.au
rossriverresort.com.au
nt.gov.au
undara.com.au
karumbapoint.com.au
headofbight.com.au
carpentaria.qld.gov.au
yallingupbeach.com.au
princetownrecreationreserve.com
nationalparks.nsw.gov.au
visitgreatoceanroad.org.au