To celebrate Australia Day, we’re taking a tour of the country’s best adventures with photographer and writer Lucy Laucht. Before calling New York home, Laucht was a resident of Australia, and she recently returned to the land down under for the trip of a lifetime. She documented her travels on her wanderlust-inducing Instagram feed, @lucylaucht, and we caught up with the globetrotter herself to get the scoop on the best places to see (and photograph) during a trip to Oz.
Bondi Icebergs Club: Sydney, New South Wales
Recently named one of the most Instagrammable places in the world by AFAR, the iconic Bondi Icebergs Club is best suited for a Saturday morning visit. Founded in 1929 as a lifeguard training facility, the pool now attracts visitors vying to experience the calming pool waters set adjacent to the ocean’s rough waves. “The views—and people watching—are legendary,” Laucht says.
Bondi Beach: Sydney, New South Wales
Bondi Beach is in a suburb just outside of Sydney’s city center, making it the perfect location for locals to enjoy a day at the beach. During her trip, Laucht photographed Bondi from above. “It gets busy, but there’s nowhere else like it,” she says.
Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk: Sydney, New South Wales
At almost two hours long, the Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk offers some of the best views of Sydney’s sculpted coastline against the sweeping sandstone cliffs. “I would happily walk this every day—the views along the Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk reveal a thousand shades of shimmering blue and turquoise.”
Bronte Baths: Sydney, New South Wales
Also known as the Bond Ocean Pool, the Bronte Baths in Sydney are a completely free, open pool for serious swimmers and novices alike. “A morning dip at Bronte Baths followed by an espresso at one of Sydney’s many cafes was our morning routine,” Laucht says.
Frangipanis in Wooli, New South Wales
Laucht visited the small coastal town of Wooli during her adventure, where she stopped to smell the Frangipanis at an abandoned beach shack. With almost 300 varieties growing wild in Australia, the flower is known for its iconic swirled, scalloped shape and for its scent that lingers on. “For me, their scent is evocative of long, hot Australian days.”
Halcyon House: Cabarita Beach, New South Wales
Halycon House, recently featured in AFAR’s November/December 2015 issue, is a boutique hotel located in the coastal town of Cabarita Beach. Designed in hues of deep, calming blue sure to put any traveler in vacation mode, Laucht had no problem photographing the relaxed ambiance in and around the property. “In the restaurant, ex-Noma chef Ben Devlin serves up locally-inspired fare, including pippies (Australian clams) and a delicious paper bark grilled fish with lemon myrtle (so delicious we actually ate the bark, whether that was intended or not).”
Gap Beach: Hat Head National Park, New South Wales
Just five hours north of Sydney is Gap Beach, which is only accessible via 4x4 truck. The journey is well worth it, as the scenery is some of the best in all of Australia. “We nicknamed it Gondwana because of how wild and untouched it was. Think rainforest tumbling down to soft, white sand and nothing but the sound of crashing waves,” Laucht says.
Smoky Cape: Hat Head National Park, New South Wales
East of South West Rocks and within Hat Head National Park is Smoky Cape, home to an iconic lighthouse and frequent kangaroo sightings. Early one morning, and despite a strong southerly wind, Laucht caught a blazing sunrise, with an added perk of seeing a family of kangaroos. “The best piece of photography advice? It’s always worth getting up for sunrise,” says Laucht. “I stumbled down to the beach one morning, rubbing my eyes. Before me sat a mob of kangaroos — mothers and joeys.”
Smoky Cape Walking Track: Hat Head National Park, New South Wales
This walking trail is perfect for viewing the lush rainforest and wildlife in Hat Head National Park. During her walk through the park, Laucht took in the sights, from the cabbage tree palms to the abundance of lush ferns: “Keep an eye out for swallow-tailed butterflies and an ear out for whip birds. The trail leads to Gap Beach, which is perfect for a refreshing swim”.
Mount Ngungun: Glass House Mountains, Queensland
Mount Ngungun makes up a portion of Queensland’s Glass House Mountains, taking claim as the sixth tallest mountain within the range, and aptly named in 1770 by Captain Cook, for their resemblance to glass furnaces, or glasshouses. During her visit, Laucht explored mountain trails, just before catching an epic sunset view. “It’s a stellar place to enjoy sunset and a glass of BYO wine!” Laucht says.