The end of the road: Australia's ten most spectacular dead ends

There's something hugely satisfying about reaching the end of a journey. The experiences and emotions of the whole trip pour out in one, final place. Some destinations are regularly associated with this feeling. They're at the end of the track, road or train line, and become a symbolic end point. Australia, of course, is blessed with several stunning end of the line locations, including…

Cape York

Overlooking the landscape from the spa on the escarpment end of the line
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Photo: TEQ

Where? Far north Queensland

The far northern tip of Australia doesn't really feel like the true end – mainly because two of the Torres Strait Islands line up in front of it. But by land, there's no further north you can go. And given that the drive up to Cape York takes days of rough roads and dicey creek crossings, there's a palpable sense of achievement in finally arriving there. See Queensland.com

South Cape Bay

Where? Tasmania

Australia's most southerly 'mainland' point has a slightly different problem – you can't realistically get to it. The South East Cape in Tasmania has no track going along it. But the track to neighbouring South Cape Bay brings on a suitable array of feels. First, you need to drive to the end of Australia's most southerly road. Then it's a four hour return walk to often blustery South Cape Bay. You can see the South East Cape jutting out towards Antarctica from there. See parks.tas.gov.au

Doctors Gully

Ever thought of feeding fish in the ocean, at Doctors Gully, right in the heart of Darwin, is Aquascene, where hundreds of fish come to shore at high tide to be fed by hand.

Photo: Tourism NT/Aquascene

Where? Darwin

The true northern end of the Stuart Highway is a crushing disappointment. It merges, almost apologetic and unnoticed, into Daly Street in Darwin. So you might as well go the extra 650 metres to the Doctors Gully car park. Then, you can pretend your multi-day journey along one road through the centre of Australia ends staring out at Darwin Harbour. See tourismtopend.com.au

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Cape Inscription

Aerial view of Cape Inscription on Dirk Hartog Island National Park in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area. end of the line
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Photo: Tourism WA

Where? Dirk Hartog Island

Unless you cheat, getting there by boat, Cape Inscription takes dedication and an awful lot of boneshaking driving down four wheel tracks to reach. At the northern tip of Dirk Hartog Island, this was the spot where the first recorded landing of Europeans on Australian soil took place. But it feels much more like an end than a beginning when the sun sets over the seemingly endless Indian Ocean. See parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au

Barrenjoey Headland

Views across to Barrenjoey Head from West Head lookout, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

Photo: Destination NSW

Where? Sydney

The gargantuan sprawl of Sydney has the most beautiful natural ending point. The northern beaches get less and less crowded as you head north, finally reaching Palm Beach and the end of the Barrenjoey Peninsula. Here stands the Barrenjoey Lighthouse, guarding the stingray-shaped Barrenjoey Headland and staring out to the strange new world beyond Broken Bay. See nationalparks.nsw.gov.au

Double Island Point

Aerial view of cars on the beach

Photo: TEQ

Where? Sunshine Coast, Queensland

What the Barrenjoey Headland is to Sydney, Double Island Point is to the Sunshine Coast. The difference this time is that you drive along the beach to get there. From Noosa, a ferry ride crosses the Noosa River, and Teewah Beach becomes the highway. Great Beach Drive 4WD tours takes on the drive, and has special access to the Double Island Point Lighthouse. From the lookouts, it's often possible to see whales, dolphins, rays and turtles in the water. See greatbeachdrive4wdtours.com

Mt Isa

end of the line
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mt isa qld
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Photo: Reichlyn Aguilar/TEQ

Where? Queensland

A very different end of the line experience comes when the Inlander Train pulls into Mt Isa. Instead of being at an obvious finishing point, you feel like you've been plunged into the heart of nowhere. The 977km journey from Townsville heads across the Great Dividing Range into the outback, taking 21 hours. When you finally get off at Mt Isa, you know you've been transported into a very different world. See qldtravel.com.au

The Mouth of the Murray

end of the line
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Photo: Adam Bruzzone/SATC

Where? The Coorong, South Australia

Australia's longest river bids adieu with a whimper, as dredging machines fight valiantly to keep the Mouth of the Murray from silting over. The Murray exits into the Southern Ocean via a system of lakes and lagoons, sneaking out between two long, sandy peninsulas. Get there on a kayaking tour at the end of a Murray River road trip, and it feels outrageously idyllic. See canoethecoorong.com

Pulpit Rock

Cape Schanck | March 2019 | Luke David Photography

Photo: Visit Vic

Where? Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

The true southerly point of the Australian landmass, excluding Tasmania this time, is South Point on Wilson's Promontory. But that's very hard to get to, so you may as well go for somewhere that feels like it. At the end of Cape Shanck on the Mornington Peninsula, Pulpit Rock rise from a series of rock pools like a giant shark's fin. Of all Australia's end-of-the-line spots, this feels the most dramatic. See parks.vic.gov.au

Cape Leveque​

Aerial view of Western Beach, Kooljaman at Cape Leveque at sunrise.  end of the line
David whitley
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Photo: Illustrations Photography/Tourism WA

Where? Kimberley, Western Australia

A long four wheel drive marathon from Broome, past Indigenous settlements and pearl farms, finally brings you to Cape Leveque. It's the most Australian of places, with a white sand beach and red sand rocks behind it. A few beach shacks and tents provide respite for the weary traveller, while mud-crabbing tours take place along the beach looking out towards a distant Indonesia. See visitbroome.com.au

Disclosure: David Whitley has been a guest of Tourism Australia and the state tourism authorities.

See also: Driving Sydney to Melbourne? Here are the 10 best coastal stops

See also: Australia's ten unsung inland islands

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