Australian Landmarks

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25 of Australia's amazing landmarks, unique natural wonders and iconic structures. (see bottom of page for 3 bonus lists)



Sydney Opera House
Conductor Eugene Goossens began work with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 1947, and soon afterwards approached John Cahill, then premier of New South Wales, with an idea to build an opera house for the state. However, it was not until 1956 that the NSW Government announced that they would hold a design competition for an opera house to be located at Bennelong Point, Sydney.

A Danish architect Jorn Utzon was the winner. While the Sydney Opera House was being built, several government officials demanded Utzon make changes to his design. He refused, and the arguments between Utzon and the officials ended with Utzon leaving Australia in 1966 never to return. In 1973, the Sydney Opera House was finally completed.


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Uluru - Ayres Rock
Uluru stands 348 metres high and is more than 9 kilometres around its base. However, the section that is visible is only one-third of the rock. The other two-thirds is under the ground. This makes Uluru one of the largest monoliths in the world.

In 1873, British explorer William Gosse named the rock after the premier of South Australia, Henry Ayers. For most of the 1900s, the federal government controlled Ayers Rock. However, in 1985, the government handed the rock and the surrounding land back, Kata Tjuta National Park, to the Traditional Aboriginal custodians. It is now known by its traditional name, Uluru. It is also a listed World Heritage Area for both its cultural and natural values.
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Shark Bay - Western Australia
Historically an important area due to the belief that the first European to set foot on Western Australian soil did so on a small island in Shark Bay. In 1616, Dutch explorer Dirk Hartog sailed along the west coast of the continent. He left behind a pewter plate on a pole, inscribed with the details of his visit at the site now known as Cape Inscription. Later, in 1699, British explorer William Dampier explored the area and gave it the name 'Shark's Bay' because of the large numbers of sharks he saw.

Shark Bay contains the world's best collection of stromatolites, a form of algae that are among the oldest life forms in the world. It also has one of the world's largest dugong populations, with about 14 000 of these strange-looking sea animals living in the region. In addition, dolphins, humpback whales and turtles live in the bay or pass through it. Five species of endangered mammals also live in the Shark Bay area. In 1991, Shark Bay was listed as a World Heritage site. As you would expect there are also plenty of sharks!
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Great Barrier Reef
Located off the coast of Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system composed of roughly 3,000 individual reefs and 900 islands.

Selected as a World Heritage Site in 1981 and it has also been touted as one of the seven natural wonders of the world. It is also the world's largest World Heritage Area extending 2,000 kilometres and covering an area of 35 million hectares.

The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space and is the world's biggest single structure made by living organisms.
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Kakadu National Park
The World Heritage Listed Kakadu National Park is a unique archaeological and ethnological reserve, located in the Northern Territory. Inhabited continuously for more than 40,000 years it features cave paintings, rock carvings and archaeological sites that have recorded the skills and way of life of the region's inhabitants.

The most prominent physical feature in Kakadu is the Arnhem Land Escarpment, a 1.6 billion-year-old sandstone cliff that stretches for miles across the park. The cliff, which hosts many waterfalls, is surrounded by towers of sandstone, rainforests, and swamps. It is also one of the most remote and wild regions of the country, filled with tropical forests, torrential monsoons, high humidity, wild animals, and few people.

The park's 10,000 sq kilometers of woodlands, wetlands, and floodplains are home to an amazing array of wildlife, including more than 300 species of birds, 75 species of reptiles, 50 species of mammals, 1,500 species of butterflies and moths, 50 species of fish, 25 species of frogs, and thousands of species of plants, many of which remain unclassified.
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Sydney Harbour Bridge
The Sydney Harbour Bridge construction started in 1923 from the design by Dorman Long and Co's Consulting Engineer, Sir Ralph Freeman. It took 1400 men eight years to build and includes six million hand driven rivets and 53,000 tonnes of steel making up its construction. 272,000 litres of paint were required to give the Bridge its initial three coats!

Sadly, sixteen workers died during construction, but surprisingly only two from falling off the bridge.

It now carries eight traffic lanes and two rail lines and almost 200,000 cars per day cross the bridge. It is the world's largest steel arch bridge with the top of the bridge standing 134 metres above the harbour.
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Bungle Bungles
Familiar to Aboriginal Australians for centuries, most Europeans knew nothing of the Bungle Bungles until the 1980s, when they became part of the 45,000 hectare Purnululu National Park in Western Australia. The mountains rise 200 to 300 meters above a forest and grass plain in the Kimberley and cover an area of about 35 km by 24 km.

Water is responsible for both the whimsical shape and colorful banding of these mountains. The beehive-shaped mounds are made of sandstone and other conglomerate rocks, deposited in the area by the meandering braids of ancient rivers.

Water has also created the colorful bands that circle the Bungle Bungles. Where layers of the rock are soft, water seeps in, allowing dark algae to grow in black bands. The orange bands are made by a thin layer of iron and manganese, which coats layers of the rock, making them less permeable to water.
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The Horizontal Falls
The Horizontal Falls, near Talbot Bay, in the north-west of Western Australia is described by David Attenborough as "one of the greatest natural wonders of the world". Although they are called waterfalls, this natural phenomenon actually consists of immense tidal currents hurtling through narrow coastal gorges. And they do all this sideways - hence the name, Horizontal Falls.

It is created by the enormous variation in tides - which are as much as 10 metres driven by the massive Montgomery Reef located 30 miles out to sea from the bay. The water level rising, or falling, in Talbot Bay (due to the tide) causes a major height difference with the water level in the inlet on the other side of the Falls. The velocity and mass of water involved in this twice daily event make it one of the largest tidal changes in the world.

Talbot Bay is almost Australia's last frontier, few people have ever seen this spectacular event. There is no car access.
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The Twelve Apostles
The Twelve Apostles are the most famous of all formations along the spectacular Great Ocean Road in Victoria. Formed over many years by the errosive action of the sea against Limestone and Volcanic rock the tallest of the rock stacks is around 45 metres high. Today there are only there are only eight of the original twelve still standing due to the continous natural errosive forces.

The stretch of coastline is known as the Shipwreck Coast because more than 80 ships have gone down here due to the rough ocean and rugged rock stacks.
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Wave Rock
Wave Rock is a natural large stone formation in Western Australia near the town of Hyden. The formation is said to be many millions of years old and contains strips of grey and red granite in the wave formation.

Its rounded wave-like shape, formed by weathering and water erosion, reaches 15 metres in height and extends 110 metres in length.

Nearby there are other rock formations such as the Hippo's yawn, The Falls and the Breakers.
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The Three Sisters
The Three Sisters is part of the Blue Mountains National Park which is located just an hours drive west of Sydney. The formation is named after the Aboriginal dreamtime story of three sisters named Meehni, Wimlah and Gunnedoo who lived with their father.

The Blue Mountains National Park area itself was originally formed many thousands of years ago from the sediment of a very large river system which over the years have eroded the surrounding landscape to form the multitude of deep valleys and relatively high peaks we find today.

The Blue Mountains earned their name from the distinctive and deep blue haze caused by scattered rays of light coming in contact with fine dust particles and droplets of oil dispersed from the eucalyptus trees in the valleys.
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Lake Eyre
Lake Eyre, in South Australia, is Australia's largest salt lake, situated in the driest region in the country to the east and north-east of the lake lie the Tirari, Strzelecki and Sturt Stony deserts, for most, inhospitable environments. When dry, much like in the photo to the left - which is its usual state, the lake bed is a glistening sheet of white salt.

When the lake does fill which has only been on three occasions in the last century, it becomes temporarily Australia's largest lake as it spreads out to 9500 square kilometres.

The lake itself was named after Edward John Eyre who in 1840 became the first European to sight it.
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Australian Antarctic Territory
The Australian Antarctic Territory is the part of Antarctica claimed by Australia and is the largest territory of Antarctica claimed by any nation an area estimated at 6,119,818 km sq. in size, which is almost as large as the Australian mainland.

Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, driest and highest continent in the world. It is also the most isolated where for part of the year the sun doesn't rise, and for another part it never sets. The territory is inhabited only by the staff of research stations and occasional tourists.

Technically the highest peak in Australia, Mount McClintock stands at 3,492m within the Australian Antarctic Territory.
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Swan Bells - Perth
The Swan Bells are a set of eighteen bells hanging in a specially built 82.5 m-high copper and glass campanile in Perth, Western Australia and is one of the largest sets of change ringing bells in the world.

Swan Bells is one of only three peals of 16 bells hung for change-ringing in the world, the others being in Dublin and Birmingham. It features two extra 'semitone' bells although all 18 are never rung together.

Twelve of the set are historic bells from St Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square in London and the six others were cast in recent times.
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Port Arthur
Port Arthur was named after Van Diemen's Land lieutenant governor George Arthur. The settlement started as a timber station in 1830; it is best known for being a penal colony. From 1833, until 1850s, it was a destination for the hardest of convicted British and Irish criminals, those who were secondary offenders having re-offended after their arrival in Australia.

Port Arthur was secured naturally by shark-infested waters on three sides and the 30m wide isthmus of Eaglehawk Neck that connected it to the mainland was crossed by fences and guarded by prison guards and dogs.

Today, Port Arthur is one of Australia's great tourism destinations located within the scenic beauty and wonder of Tasmania.
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Cradle Mt - Lake St Clair
Lake St Clair National Park which includes Cradle Mountain is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Lake St Clair is the deepest lake in Australia and the head of the Derwent River.
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The Australian Alps
The Australian Alps is an amazing mountanious region featuring 11 national parks and reserves. It's renowned for it's winter snow and summer flora. It's home to Mount Kosciuszko, Australia's highest peak and the region is part of the Great Dividing Range which extends from Queensland through New South Wales and into Victoria.
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Ningaloo Reef and Shark Bay
Stretching for almost 300 kilometres Ningaloo Reef is a World Heritage listed coral reef system. The nearby Shark Bay, Australia's largest bay, features a 1,030 square kilometre Wooramel Seagrass Bank and is the largest of its type in the world. Ningaloo Reef is, at times, home to the Whale Shark, the largest fish species in the world.
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Watarrka National Park and Kings Canyon
Watarrka National Park in the Northern Territory is home to some amazing landscapes and in particular, Kings Canyon. Kings Canyon goudes it's way into the earth some 270 metres at points.
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Kangaroo Island
An island 7 times the size of Singapore yet home to only just over 4 thousand people. The island is a natural wonderland featuring amazing coastal scenery and diverse wildlife such as koalas, kangaroos, penguins, goannas, fur seals and sea lions to name some.
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Fraser Island
Fraser Island off the Queensland coast is the world's largest sand island. It's 123 km long and 25 km at its widest. It was World Heritage-listed in 1992.
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Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach is about one kilometre long and receives many visitors throughout the year. It was added to the Australian National Heritage List in 2008. Apart from being a beautiful and popular beach it has also been the backdrop in several movies and recently TV shows.
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The Daintree Rainforest
The Daintree Rainforest covers an area of around 1,200 square kilometresmaking it the single largest block of tropical rainforest in Australia. It is also World Heritage listed. Apart from strikingly diverse landscape it's home to a diverse array of flora and fauna, some being of the most ancient in the world.
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The Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road stretches along the Victorian coast for some 243-kilometres between Torquay and Warrnambool. The road was built by returned soldiers between 1919 and 1932, and is dedicated to casualties of World War I making it the world's largest war memorial. The road is also Australian Heritage Listed.
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The Kimberleys
The Kimberley was one of the earliest settled parts of Australia, with the first arrivals landing about 40,000 years ago from the islands of what is now Indonesia.The Kimberley is an area of 423,517 square kilometres (163,521 sq mi), which is about three times the size of England or twice the size of Victoria. Pictured is Mitchell Falls.
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3 more lists of landmark and tourist attractions

  • Trip Advisors Top 10 Aussie landmarks Tripadvisor

    1. Sydney Opera House, Sydney
    2. Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney
    3. Australian War Memorial, Canberra
    4. Block Arcade, Melbourne
    5. Eureka Skydeck 88, Melbourne
    6. Port Arthur Historic Site, Port Arthur
    7. Circular Quay, Sydney
    8. Cape Byron Lighthouse, Byron Bay
    9. Fremantle Prison, Fremantle
    10. Kings Park War Memorial, Perth
  • 10 natural wonders of Australia - CNN

    1. Great Barrier Reef, QLD
    2. Uluru, NT
    3. Shark Bay, WA
    4. The Pinnacles, Perth WA
    5. Twelve Apostles, VIC
    6. MacKenzie Falls, VIC
    7. Fraser Island, QLD
    8. Kakadu, NT
    9. Blue Mountains, NSW
    10. Bungle Bungles, WA
  • 15 World Heritage Listings - AU GOV

    1. Kakadu, NT
    2. Uluru, NT
    3. Queensland Wet Tropics, QLD
    4. The Great Barrier Reef, QLD
    5. Fraser Island, QLD
    6. Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves, QLD - NSW
    7. Willandra Lakes, NSW
    8. Lord Howe Island Group
    9. Tasmanian Wilderness, TAS
    10. Shark Bay, WA
    11. Purnululu National Park, WA
    12. Australian Fossil Mammal Sites, QLD and SA
    13. Macquarie Island
    14. Blue Mountains, NSW
    15. Heard and McDonald Islands