Getting to Australia takes time, but once there you’ll soon forget about the boring plane ride. There is just something special about the land Down Under. It may be the spectacular scenery or perhaps it’s the artistry of man’s creations, from aboriginal rock art tens of thousands of years old to the modern Sydney Opera House with its world famous stunning architecture. There are plenty of famous landmarks in Australia for you to discover. Or it could be the cuddle koalas or the hopping kangaroos. Whatever. Just throw another shrimp on the barbie, mate.
1. Kata Tjuta
Kata Tjuta is a series of huge ancient rock formations spread out over 12 miles in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in Australia’s Northern Territory. The 36 domed rocks are one of two landmarks in the park; the other is Ayers Rock. The sandstone rock formations are believed to be about 500 million years old. The highest dome is called Mount Olga in honor of Wurttemberg’s Queen Olga, Tsar Nicholas I who celebrated her 25th anniversary here. Kata Tjuta is sacred to the aboriginal Anangu people who’ve lived in the area for 22,000 years and are joint managers of the park.
2. Cable Beach
With 13 miles of gorgeous white sand beaches, Cable Beach is one of Australia’s iconic beaches. Located in Western Australia’s Kimberly region, it’s a must if you’re into beachcombing or sunbathing. What makes Cable Beach so colorful is that it’s sandwiched between red ochre cliffs and the azure blue waters of the Indian Ocean. Take a romantic camel ride along the beach at sunset – sunsets over the Indian Ocean are like no other. Or, if you’re a shopper, the nearby town of Broome is a good place to pick up some South Seas pearls gathered by Broome’s pearl divers.
3. Ubirr Rock Art
You don’t have to be a Grandma Moses to appreciate this primitive art, some of which dates back more than 40,000 years. These 5,000 drawings, which have been painted and repainted over the millennia, represent one of the largest collections of rock art in the world. You’ll find them at Ubirr in Northern Territory’s Kakadu National Park. The drawings represent the lives of the aboriginal people who lived here. The drawings, some of which were painted just 2,000 years ago, are detailed representations of man, animals, fish and plants – all things the early people dealt with in daily life.
4. Twelve Apostles
Once part of the cliffs that lined the Southern Ocean, the Twelve Apostles stand proudly in the water at heights of 150 feet or more. Formed by erosion, they died by erosion: There are only eight Apostles still standing today. It’s generally believed that, in time, erosion will create more limestone pillars, but probably not any time soon since it took millions of years to create these. A popular landmark in Victoria state, the pillars are best viewed at dawn or dusk. This natural wonder is truly an awesome sight, both above and below the water.
5. Great Barrier Reef
Stretching more than 1,200 miles along the northeast coast of Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is another place to enjoy nature at its finest. It’s the world’s largest coral reef, comprised of 2,500 reefs and 800 islands. Formed millions of years ago, the reef is an underwater wonder, just made for exploring by scuba divers and snorkelers. Or you can see it without getting wet on a sailboat or catamaran cruise. You can even see it from outer space. In addition to fabulous coral formations, here’s what you may see: several species of whales, dolphins and sea turtles plus saltwater crocodiles, and hundreds of birds and amphibians.
6. Sydney Opera House
If there’s one thing that modern man has made that is the symbol of Australia to the world it is the Sydney Opera House. Completed in 1973, the Sydney Opera House quickly became an iconic landmark not only in Australia, but also the world as well. Sitting in Sydney Harbor, this famous building resembles shells that you might find on the beach IF you could find impressionistic concrete shells. All this concrete is supported by more concrete: 588 pillars sunk 82 feet below the water. The Sydney Opera House is a performing arts center with multiple venues to showcase Aussie and international talent.
7. Kings Canyon
Kings Canyon in the Northern Territory is about as awesome a canyon as you’ll find anywhere. It may not be as deep as the USA’s Grand Canyon, but the scenery is nothing short of spectacular. It’s a good place to dust off those hiking boots, but do stay on the trails at this Watarrka National Park destination. That’s because part of Kings Canyon is a site sacred to the aboriginal peoples. One walk takes you down to the bottom, at Kings Creek, where you can experience the rugged canyon from a different perspective.
8. Ayers Rock
Ayers Rock or Uluru is probably the most famous rock in Australia. Standing 1,148 feet above its barren surroundings, this limestone monolith goes even deeper below ground. Ayers Rock is located in southwestern Northern Territory pretty close to the geographic center of the country. Since Ayers Rock is about a five-hour drive from Alice Springs, you’ll probably want to spend the night there. This will give you time to climb the rock see it at its best when the sun rising or setting appears to change the rock’s color. Ayers Rock is also known by its aboriginal name, Uluru.