Australia has been always our dream to visit and there are many reasons for that. Australia like only a few other countries in this world is packed with incredible landmarks. We traveled for 5 months in Australia and managed to drive around the entire continent. We have seen the best of the best. From the biggest landmarks to the ones which are truly underrated and need to be on your bucket list.
If you plan to see all the landmarks in Australia, then get ready. There are a lot of them and we promise you, there is nothing like it anywhere else. Ready?
HOW MANY LANDMARKS ARE IN AUSTRALIA?
There is no official number of how many famous landmarks Australia has, but we counted around 25. Of course, it is up to you which one do you consider the most famous ones and which one you would like to add to your bucket list. Have a look at the map to get a better idea of where they are located.
FAMOUS LANDMARKS IN AUSTRALIA
We present to you Australia’s absolute highlights. We hope you have a couple of months to get to see them all. Australia is big and it can be rough, but get ready for some of the most astonishing places this planet has to offer.
We will mention all the best places in Australia which you need to see, also we are adding lesser-known landmarks in Australia in an additional post (coming soon), which will surprise you, but definitely not disappoint.
1. GREAT BARRIER REEF
Australia has so many famous landmarks, but this natural wonder might be globally the most-recognized one of all: the Great Barrier Reef. No surprise here, as the Great Barrier Reef is a place of superlatives and we placed it atop our list.
You can experience the Great Barrier Reef on many levels, either by taking an island trip to one of the many islands that are part of the reef such as Fitzroy Island or Frankland Island. Or you can go on a snorkeling trip, but the best way how to experience a great barrier reef is to scuba dive. We are very passionate scuba divers and being able to dive in the Great Barrier Reef was a dream coming true. We took 3 dives (thanks to Divers-Den) and it definitely didn’t disappoint. During our dives, we saw beautiful coral walls, reef sharks, turtles, and many other tropical fish.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living system in our world and the only one that can be seen from space.
If you are interested in finding more about how we take our photos: check our guide to 16 TRAVEL MUST HAVES FOR PHOTOGRAPHY GEEKS.
THE GREAT BARRIER REEF IS DYING
Its size is unfathomable with a length of over 3.000km, with over 900 islands and for us, it is hard to imagine that something like this exists. However, climate change and agricultural runoffs affect the corals negatively and they are dying. Because of rising temperatures, the ocean is getting warmer and corals are struggling to survive. Already two-thirds of the corals died which is really a frightening fact. If one considers that a large number of marine life finds shelter in the corals and that large amounts of oxygen are produced by the corals. Therefore, it is still worth to visit, and we truly hope that mankind finds a way to reverse the current development. Currently, it doesn’t look good.
The best (and the most known) gateway to the Great Barrier Reef is Cairns.
Pssst, if you are hunting lesser known landmarks in Australia, try Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia. It is well preserved and maybe a better place than the Great Barrier Reef to see (living) corals.
2. ULURU & KATA TJUTAS
In the very heart of Australia lies a huge rock. But it is not just any rock. Central Australia is very famous for its red center and even more for the most famous red rock in the world. The rock is 600 million years old and was announced a world heritage site in 1987. If you wonder why Uluru has such a distinctive color, it is due to surface oxidation of its iron content.
The most iconic photos of Uluru you can get during sunsets. It is incredible to experience the dramatic color changes of Uluru during the golden hour. Make sure to get a map of Uluru to see where the best spots for sunset are located. Over favorite one was here. We didn’t stay at the parking lot but continued a bit further down the road.
Since you are not allowed to fly a drone in Uluru (without a permit), we were creative enough to place our tripod on the roof of our car to get the whole picture of Uluru 😀 it worked for us.
The best access point to Uluru is the town Alice Springs.
DID YOU KNOW?
It is now prohibited to climb Uluru. The traditional owners have been fighting for this for many years and were finally heard (yay).
BEST TIME TO VISIT ULURU & KATA TJUTAS
The best time to visit Uluru is from May to September. The nights will be cool but during the day it will be bearable for you to walk around. In summer it’s very hot and the temperature can get up to 45 degrees. The worst thing is that after 11 AM you are not advised to walk around Uluru or the Kata Tjutas due to the heat.
3. AUSTRALIAN OUTBACK
While the Outback is not necessarily a landmark it is still something specifically Australian. And by that, we mean something every visitor should visit in Australia. Don’t venture too deep into it otherwise, the Outback might not let you go again. You will soon learn about hundreds of explorers, adventurers, and travelers that ventured out there to never return. The Outback is a very unique place and if you are in the city, make sure to drive out to see it for yourself.
If you have seen some photos from Australia you must have noticed an iconic landmark with turquoise waters and swirling white sandbanks. The Whitsundays is one of the most beautiful places we have seen in Australia. This place is so gorgeous, that we will guarantee that it will take your breath away, and not just once, but several times. The most famous spots in Whitsundays is Whitehaven Beach and the breathtaking Hill Inlet.
The best gateway to the Whitsundays is the town Airlie Beach.
You can also stop at other islands located near Whitsundays such as Daydream Island, Hamilton Island and stay in a very beautiful Hamilton Resort. Also, a very popular activity from Airlie Beach is to fly over the Heron Island which looks like a heart from the sky. There are so many beautiful spots in Queensland and we highly recommend you to come down to Noosa and check the Fairy Pools in Noosa National Park. Noosa is a cute beach town and if you are into hiking, there are 8 beautiful coastal walks you can do in the area around.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Whitsundays should be called Whitmondays? On the 3rd of June 1770, Thomas Cook landed in the area and named it Whitsundays. However, he didn’t know that he had crossed the international date line coming from Tahiti and that it was already Whit Monday.
Whitehaven Beach is an 8 km stretch of incredible white sand and one of the best places in Australia. It is a well-known beach around the world and in Australia, it was several times named the best beach in Australia. This place is well known for its heavenly white sand. Sand that is so fine that if you would like to polish your silver you could do it here. The sand is made out of 98% pure silica, which can be used as a natural polisher. So don’t forget your silverware.
And if you are looking forward to a beautiful spot to get married, then this is the place. Although you won’t be alone, there are around 1500 people getting married here every year.
DID YOU KNOW?
Whithaven Beach was rated the 5th best beach in the world.
5. SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE
There is no one in this modern world who doesn’t know or hasn’t seen any photos of the Sydney Opera House. It is one of the most iconic landmarks and the most famous building in Australia. And if you are traveling to Sydney there is no way you can miss it. The Sydney Opera House was designed by Jorn Utzon and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2007.
CULTURAL TIP: Make sure to go inside the Opera, and even better, book tickets to the opera. There is nothing more classy than enjoying the Sydney Opera from within.
DID YOU KNOW?
It took 14 years to build the Sydney Opera House instead of the expected 4 years and cost $102 million instead of $7 million. Oops.
6. HARBOUR BRIDGE SYDNEY
If you are strolling around the Sydney Busines District (SBD) you cannot miss the view on the gigantic Harbour Bridge. Also, make sure to go up to the bridge to get fantastic views on the Sydney Opera House. The Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened in 1932 and belongs to one of the most iconic buildings in Australia.
7. HUTT LAGOON
Australia is home to many incredible pink lakes. If you wonder how water can turn pink, it’s not an experiment gone wrong, but our incredible mother nature at work. Water turns into candy pink, sometimes lilac and other shades of pink, orange and even red due to the presence of algae in the water that mixes with salt.
Hutt Lagoon is a very famous pink lake and definitely must be on your bucket list once you are traveling from Perth up the coast towards Darwin. However, it is not pink all year round. The color of the water depends on what season you are visiting and also on the time during the day. Try to come here between 10 am and 2 pm in winter.
The closest town to Hutt Lagoon is Port Gregory.
Another famous pink lake is Lake Hiller, located in the southern part of Western Australia. You can only go there via a tour and either fly over it or take a boat. Moreover, there is a pink lake in South Australia called Lake Bumbunga.
DID YOU KNOW?
The pinkish hue comes from the appearance of carotenoid that produces algae called Dunaliella salina and due to the presence of salt, you will see plenty of pink.
8. NATURE’S WINDOW
Nature’s Window is definitely one of the most unique landmarks in Western Australia and definitely not to be missed. This natural wonder is located in Kalbarri National Park. Here you can experience the wonderful scenery of a gorge and take beautiful photos. We really liked coming here for sunrise. We were here almost alone and had such a wonderful time.
DID YOU KNOW?
Nature’s Window was eroded by wind and rain and consists of many layers of sandstone.
9. GREAT OCEAN ROAD
The Great Ocean Road is a 243 km stretch of coastal road with spectacular views. If you wonder why should you get excited about some road then hear us out. The Great Ocean Road is not only famous for its twelve apostles but also for winding roads with ocean views, hinterland and waterfalls located in the rainforest of Otway National Park.
The best starting points for the Great Ocean Road are Melbourne and Warrnambool.
10. TWELVE APOSTLES
In the beginning, the Twelve Apostles were called piglets, but somehow tourists didn’t give a crap about this place and not many people came to visit. After all, it’s quite hard to get excited about pigs. People needed a new name to make this landmark truly attractive. Hence, the name was changed to Twelve Apostles. Unfortunately, we hate to break the news, there are only 7 Apostles left, so hurry, before they all disappear under the continuous onslaught of waves. Just kidding, we are sure that some of them are going to be there for a while. If they survived for 20 million years, then you still should have plenty of time left.
The best time to come to see the Twelve Apostles is during sunset. During the golden hour, you will experience how the sky dramatically changes its colors. Just be aware that you won’t be alone. After coming from Western Australia (where there is barely anyone) we had a real cultural shock here. The viewing point is very busy and it is very hard to take photos.
However, it is one of the most iconic landmarks in Australia and you have to see it. Don’t only visit Twelve Apostles, but check out other spots, such as The Grotto, London Bridge, Gibson Steps and the Bay of Islands.
If you are planning to do the Great Ocean self-drive road trip, we created the Great Ocean Road 2 days itinerary, so have a look to get inspired.
DID YOU KNOW?
There are only 7 Apostoles left and their cute nickname is 7 Dwarfs.
If you would like to escape the crowds, make sure to visit the Great Otway National Park to do some serious waterfall chasing. We loved Triplet Waterfalls, Beachamp Falls, Hopeton Falls, and Stevenson Falls.
11. KAKADU NATIONAL PARK
Can you imagine that the original inhabitants (Aboriginals) of Australia, have been living here for nearly 65.000 years? It super hard to grasp, but also very fascinating. Thus, Aboriginal culture is the oldest civilization ever recorded in human history.
And if you would like to learn more about Aboriginal culture, Kakadu National Park is the perfect place for it. What makes Kakadu a special place is the extraordinary Aboriginal rock art.
There are many places around Kakadu where you can spot rock art, but the most famous ones are in Ubir. Here you can see many X-ray paintings, paintings of sacred figures and more. Because the rocks are not carbonized it’s very hard to date the paintings. However, the oldest painting scientist can date is 4000 years back.
Make sure to visit Ubir for sunset and once you get to the viewing point you will be surprised by magnificent nature. Seriously, we were just waiting for some giraffes to pop out. Basically, it didn’t look like Australia at all. At least not how people imagine Australia to look like.
DID YOU KNOW?
Kakadu National Park covers a very large area and sizewise can be compared to the European country Slovenia.
CULTURAL TIP: With your entrance ticket to Kakadu come free tours around Kakadu with knowledgeable rangers. We did 3 tours around Kakadu National Park and even joined a free painting course with aboriginal artists.
The best gateway to Kakadu National Park is Darwin.
12. TAKE A KANGAROO SELFIE AT LUCKY BAY
If you are planning your trip to Australia, you couldn’t possibly miss one of the most iconic Australian locals. Yes, we mean Kangaroos. You can spot wallabies and kangaroos in many parts of Australia. But what is better than seeing them on a heavenly white sand beach with turquoise waters in the background? Exactly, nothing! That is why you need to come to Lucky Bay. For us Lucky bay belongs to one of the most beautiful places in Australia.
Lucky Bay Beach is located in Cape Le Grand National Park and is famous for grey kangaroos lazying around on a beach that is accessible by 4WD. If you decide to come to Lucky Bay, make sure to come at least for 2 nights. You can camp at the Lucky Bay Campgrounds (book ahead) and spot kangaroos around the campsite, especially in the morning.
If you are coming from Perth, make sure to check out our Perth to Esperance guide to explore all beautiful spots you can visit along the way.
Don’t stop only at Lucky Bay, but also at the other beautiful beaches and places which are around. Our favorite picks are Hellfire Bay, Little Hellfire Bay, and Frenchman Peak.
DID YOU KNOW?
Captain Flinders named this bay Lucky Bay as he successfully landed with his boat and found himself very lucky to land safely without damaging his boat.
If you want to experience more wilderness and even fewer people then heard to Cape Arid National Park.
The best access point to Lucky Bay is Esperance in Western Australia.
13. ROTTNEST ISLAND
Rottnest is for us one of the most stunning islands in Australia and definitely a beautiful landmark in Australia. If you scroll through Instagram you must have seen many photos and videos with one of the friendliest animals in the world. They are called Quokkas or also called the cutest animals that can smile. That is why many people come visit Rotto to take cute selfies with Quokkas. Besides cute quokkas, Rottnest island is very famous for its pristine rocky beaches and turquoise waters.
The best gateway to Rottnest Island is Perth or even better Fremantle.
DID YOU KNOW?
There are about 10,000 quokkas on Rottnest Island at a density of five animals per hectare.
Make sure to hire a bicycle and bike around Rottnest Island. It is the best way to get around and enables you to stop wherever you like. Check out this awesome day tour which includes return tickets and bike rental from Perth to Rottnest Island.
14. THE PINNACLES
Just 200 km north of Perth in Nambung National Park, you can find some of the strangest limestone pillars shooting upwards from the ground. The Pinnacle dessert is sacred land to Aboriginal people. Aboriginals believe that each pinnacle represents a dead enemy that was defeated on the land. We found it incredible to drive around and admire the intensely colored yellow sand.
DID YOU KNOW?
Pinnacles nickname is Rock Stars in the Outback and scientists still do not know for sure how they were created.
The closest city to the Pinnacles is Perth.
15. THREE SISTERS & BLUE MOUNTAINS
After exploring Sydney, you need to visit the Blue Mountains. The Blue Mountains are just a 90 minutes drive and one of the most worthy days trips from Sydney.
Most of the people come here to see the 3 sisters and leave. However, we urge you to stay at least one night and explore the area around. There is a wonderful hike into the so-called Grand Canyon (nearby the town Blackheath), where you can wander through lush greens, rivers, and canyons with plenty of scenic lookouts. A beautiful lookout you shouldn’t miss is Lincoln’s Rock.
If you are into flowers, don’t miss the Mt. Tomah Botanical Gardens.
Access the Three Sisters and the Blue Mountains from Sydney.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Blue Mountains are called blue, because there is a blue haze over the forest. Eucalyptus trees emit droplets of oil into the air.
How many of these iconic landmarks in Australia are you planning to visit? Let us know in the comments below. We are more than sure that Australia will blow your mind. We love Australia because it is a very unique country and you can never be bored there. Enjoy it.
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