Incredible Australian landmarks worth a visit

There are so many incredible things to see and do in the world, but some places are more notable than others becoming so iconic that they easily achieve landmark status. If you were to ask anyone about famous Australian landmarks, even those who had never set foot on the vast land down under would be able to name a few – Sydney Opera House, Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, and Twelve Apostles. These culturally significant places symbolise the Australian continent to the world, and witnessing these majestic wonders in real life promises to be an experience unlike any other. From the ocean to the outback, from city views to natural wonders in the wild, everything about Australia is unique and worthwhile. Get to know 10 of Australia’s famous landmarks to include in your next trip itinerary!

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Uluru Rock | Photo: Trevor Mckinnon

1. Uluru Rock, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

Surrounded by myth and mystery, Uluru is one of Australia’s famous landmarks and probably the most iconic natural wonder on the continent. The 3.6 kilometres long and 348-metre high rock rises majestically above the surrounding landscape while two thirds of it lie hidden beneath the surface. The spectacular monolith is a symbol of the Australian outback and a sacred aboriginal monument. Indeed, the whole surrounding area of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is spiritually sacred. The imposing rock strikes a stark contrast against the surrounding desert stillness, and this grandiosity expands during the early and late hours of the day when the rays of the rising and setting sun touch the layered texture of this natural wonder turning it into different shades of red, orange, and yellow. A visit to the Uluru National Park will be an excellent introduction to the aboriginal culture, its roots, and why Uluru is sacred for the community. As soon as you witness it in person, it’s easy to see why it’s called the heart of Australia.

Uluru Rock | Photo: Kyle Hinkson

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park | Photo: Mike Holford

2. The Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef National Park is one of the most extraordinary places in the world, and due to its significance, the reef has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since the early 80s. The largest coral reef system in the world includes more than 300 types of hard coral and a dazzling display of marine life that is every bit as colourful as the coral. The size of the Great Barrier Reef is truly unfathomable – it is bigger than the United Kingdom, Holland, and Switzerland combined. The best place to start exploring this natural wonder is from Cairns, where you’ll have endless opportunities for scuba diving, island hopping, skydiving, sailing, and more. While the Great Barrier Reef is beautiful all year round, note that the best time to visit if you want to explore the reef from the water is between May and November. When it’s summer in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s also the stinger season in the reef, which means that you’ll only be able to swim inside the stinger enclosures at the beaches or will have to wear a stinger suit to keep yourself safe.

Great Barrier Reef | Photo: Yanguang Lan

3. Twelve Apostles

Another iconic Australian landmark is the natural wonder known as the Twelve Apostles. Located on the southern coast approximately a 4-hour drive from Melbourne, it may not be as famous as Uluru, but despite that, it’s one of the most photographed places in Australia that rises dramatically from the waves in the rugged coastal landscape. The limestone monuments date back 15 to 20 million years, but unfortunately, in 2005, one of the formations collapsed, and since then, a couple of smaller ones have suffered from the weather, too. But the scenery is as dramatic as ever, and if you arrive on a particularly sunny day (or even around sunrise or sunset), you’ll be met by the most beautiful sight painted in warm golden hues. Don’t be discouraged by the time it takes to reach this place from Melbourne! In fact, this Australian landmark is on the Great Ocean Road route, which is a stunning road trip route filled with awe-inspiring scenery complete with coastal towns, beaches, waterfalls, and even rainforests.

Twelve Apostles, Australia | Photo: Daniel Sessler

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The Great Ocean Road is a stunning road trip route filled with awe-inspiring scenery complete with coastal towns, beaches, waterfalls, and even rainforests

4. Sydney Opera House

One of the most famous buildings in the world and Australia’s most widely recognized landmark in the New South Wales capital, the iconic Sydney Opera House was imagined by the Danish architect Jørn Utzon, who designed it to reference a yacht’s sails. Despite its name, the opera house has five performance spaces altogether, not just for opera but also for dance performances, concerts, and theatre. This one-of-a-kind architectural wonder commands the Sydney Harbour landscape and is worth exploring both inside and out. To see it from the inside, you’ll want to attend one of the events taking place or take a one-hour guided tour. For Instagram-worthy shots, you may want to head to Milsons Point, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Cremorne Point or Hickson Road Reserve.

Sydney Opera House | Photo: Jesse Hammer

Photo: Rodrigo Summer

5. Wineglass Bay, Freycinet National Park

More than a famous beach, Wineglass Bay in Tasmania, defined by its perfect arc, clear turquoise waters, and pristine white sand shoreline hugged by rugged mountains, is well-loved and recognised both in Australia and worldwide. A popular place to visit, it’s Tasmania’s crown jewel and an iconic Australian landmark. Wineglass Bay is a part of the Freycinet National Park located on the east coast of Tasmania. While Wineglass Bay is the most popular place in the park, there’s not a lack of other things to explore, including the park’s various hiking trails or the Great Oyster Bay. It’s well worth booking a couple of days in your travel itinerary to explore this stunning part of Australia. Drive through the calm rural countryside, and you’ll see wineries inviting you to stop and sample some of the locally produced wines and other produce. Make sure to try the fresh seafood, a speciality in the coastal parts.

Wineglass Bay Beach | Photo: Lochlainn Riordan

6. The Three Sisters, Blue Mountains National Park

Natural landmarks in Australia are quite common, and perhaps one of the most notable ones is the Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains. This rocky trio is located a mere hour’s drive from Sydney with several lookout points in the Blue Mountains to give you the best view. Formed over 200 million years ago, the Three Sisters are stone towers created by volcanic lava pushing through sedimentary rock. As with many natural landmarks, they have a bit of myth and mystery surrounding them – an Aboriginal legend tells a story of how forbidden love between two tribes turned three sisters, Meehni, Wimlah, and Gunnedoo, into stone. Head to Echo Point for the best view of the Three Sisters and take the easy Three Sisters to walk. Alternatively, you can explore the Giant Stairway, a popular walking trail with 998 steps that descend from Echo Point to Honeymoon Bridge and connects you to the first sister.

The Three Sisters, Blue Mountains | Photo Henrique Felix

Photo: Mike Baker

7. Sydney Harbour Bridge

The image of Sydney Harbour is instantly recognisable across the globe as one of the iconic Australian landmarks. Together with the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge commands the landscape. Nicknamed “The Coathanger” for its arch-like shape, the bridge opened to the public in 1932, bearing a resemblance to New York City’s Hell Gate Bridge. Carrying rail, road, and pedestrian traffic, the bridge can be best observed either from a distance or up close on foot – the eastern side is for pedestrians while the western side is reserved for cyclists. Enjoy epic views of the harbour by visiting the Pylon Lookout housed in the southeast pylon. For daring adventurers, the BridgeClimb experience is a real treat as it offers one of the top attractions in Sydney – climbing the bridge to the very top! Depending on the climb you choose, it can take up to 3.5 hours to summit and return. After thorough safety instructions, you’ll be dressed in a boiler suit and equipped with a harness and headset, ready for the climb to enjoy 360-degree views of the harbour and the city.

Photo: Mads Schmidt Rasmussen

Sydney | Photo: Christopher Burns

8. The Pinnacles

One of the most remarkable natural wonders on the continent and a highly popular landmark in Western Australia is the limestone formations known as the Pinnacles. Located in the Nambung National Park, two hours from Perth along the Indian Ocean Drive, these otherworldly formations are among Australia’s most exceptional and captivating natural landmarks. Visit the lookout and contemplate the natural elements that shaped the Pinnacles over millions of years. The lunar-like landscape is epic any time of the day and fully transforms into a meditative experience after sundown when the Milky Way decorates the sky in striking contrast to the structures dominating the scenery.

The Pinnacles Desert, Cervantes, Australia | Photo: Tobias Keller

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The lunar-like landscape is epic any time of the day and fully transforms into a meditative experience after sundown

9. Bondi Beach, Sydney

Considering Australia’s immense shoreline, there’s not a lack of beautiful beaches. Bondi Beach near Sydney is one of the most famous ones. The huge crescent-shaped white sand beach is a real surfer magnet and popular with locals and tourists, who sunbathe on the pristine beach and swim in the azure waters. It’s worth noting that only parts of the beach are safe for swimming due to strong tides, so it’s always best to swim in the areas marked safe by lifeguards. If you merely want to enjoy the views and take a dip without worrying about tides while still overlooking Bondi Beach, you’ll want to head to the legendary Bondi Icebergs Club. Its lap pool is open all year and offers magnificent ocean vistas. After that, enjoy some food and drinks at their bistro-style restaurant or explore the area. Since Bondi Beach is surrounded by expensive real estate, the neighbourhood has some very nice restaurants and bars. You’ll find great lunch and dinner options at the Coogee Pavilion, nicknamed “The Pav” by locals. Head to the Coogee Pavilion Rooftop, which has four indoor and outdoor bars with some of the best views of the beach in the area.

Bondi Beach | Photo: Jenny

10. Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

Spectacular in all aspects, Cradle Mountain National Park in Tasmania serves epic wilderness and the most glorious mountain views on a platter. Vast landscapes of untouched nature, complete with snow-capped mountains, glacial lakes, and thick and ancient forests are not something you’d normally associate with Australia yet there it all is, in Tasmania’s northwest. Cradle Mountain National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that covers over 160,000 hectares. You don’t have to be an outdoor enthusiast to picture yourself in the heart of this remarkable place ¬as well-kept tracks fit for everyone lead you through the national park towards surprising discoveries, where you can breathe in the beautiful surroundings. You can access the park from two points – one is on the north side of the park at Cradle Mountain, and the other is south at Lake St Clair.

Cradle Mountain | Photo Nico Smit

Tasmania | Photo: Steve Bruce

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Sydney, Australia | Photo: liam-pozz-HZvGtncWvyQ-unsplash

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