Stretching around 2,300 kilometers along the northeastern coast of Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is the Earth’s largest living organism. It’s home to more than 600 types of hard and soft corals, together with a staggering array of tropical fish, mollusks, turtles and sharks.
Australia’s most iconic building is the Sydney Opera House which nestles on the shores of Sydney Harbour at Bennelong Point. This multi-venue performing arts center was designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon and completed in 1973, before being added as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.
Located part way between Alice Springs and Uluru in Watarrka National Park is magnificent Kings Canyon, which boasts the deepest gorge in the Red Centre. Sandstone walls tower more than 100 meters above Kings Creek that meanders below, with sections of the gorge forming part of a sacred Aboriginal site to the Luritja people.
Situated in the heart of the Red Centre is the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. It includes one of Australia’s most iconic landmarks, Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock), as well as the dome-shaped rock formations of Kata Tjuta, or the Olgas, which lie around 40 kilometers away.
Located around 45 minutes’ drive west of Sydney’s city center is the Featherdale Wildlife Park, set across seven acres of land in the suburb of Doonside. It was established in 1972, primarily as a nursery for Australian native trees and plants, while also providing a refuge for native animals.
With a magnificent setting at Circular Quay near the ferry wharf, the Customs House Library is set within one of Sydney’s finest historical landmarks. It was constructed from 1844 to 1845 to serve as the headquarters of the Customs Service before becoming a venue for exhibitions and functions in 1990.
The Museum of Sydney explores the people and events that have shaped the city, built on the ruins of the house of New South Wales' first Governor, Arthur Phillip. Remnants of the original 1788 building, such as drains and privies, can still be glimpsed today through glass openings in the museum’s forecourt and foyer, retaining what is a significant and symbolic site for the city.
Just a short ferry ride from Circular Quay across beautiful Sydney Harbour will take you to the world-famous Taronga Zoo. It boasts magnificent water views across its 69 acres (“Taronga” is an indigenous Aboriginal word meaning “beautiful view”) and is home to more than 4,000 animals from 350 different species.
Just to the south of Sydney lies the magnificent coastal cliffs, untouched beaches and native bushland of the Royal National Park. It stretches across 151 square kilometers and was the second national park to be established in the world, after Yellowstone in the United States.
On the doorstep of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and immediately adjacent to Circular Quay lies The Rocks, a historic neighborhood of charismatic sandstone architecture and cobblestone streets. It was established as Australia's first European settlement in 1788 and is today packed with fascinating museums, boutique shops and iconic pubs, making it worthy of an entire day’s exploration.
Australia’s oldest scientific institution, the Royal Botanic Gardens sprawl across 30 acres on the edge of Sydney Harbour. It was opened in 1816 and remains one of the most important botanical institutions in the world, home to an impressive collection of plants from Australia and around the globe.
Sydney’s hub for entertainment is Darling Harbour, which lies a ten-minute walk from the CBD or a short ferry ride from Circular Quay. It’s home to the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium and WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo for up-close animal encounters, as well as great cafes and restaurants overlooking the water.
Soaring above the city skyline as Sydney’s tallest structure, the Sydney Tower Eye measures in at 309 meters. It features a 360-degree observation deck that offers unparalleled panoramas across the city, making it one of Sydney’s most popular tourist attractions.
Located in the heart of Darling Harbour, adjacent to the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium and Madame Tussauds, is WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo. This award-winning, native wildlife park is designed like a rainbow serpent from the Aboriginal Dreamtime stories, with open-air exhibits enclosed by a stainless steel mesh roof that resembles the serpent’s ribs.
Entertaining Sydneysiders since the early 19th century, the beautiful Capitol Theatre is located in Haymarket. It hosts world class musicals, theatrical plays, ballets and concerts within its magnificent historic setting.
Home of the Sydney Theatre Company, who perform both here and at the nearby Roslyn Packer Theatre. The company was formed in 1978 and initially worked out of numerous rented premises throughout the city, with actors such as Geoffrey Rush, Hugo Weaving and Cate Blanchett having developed their careers here.
Home to more than 700 different marine species, the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium is one of Australia’s largest and most impressive aquariums. It’s set across 14 themed zones, including Jurassic Seas, the Shark Walk, Dugong Island, the Southern Ocean and the Discovery Rockpool, as well as the world’s largest display on the Great Barrier Reef.
The Powerhouse Museum is situated in the old Ultimo Power Station building, just a short walk from Darling Harbour. It’s the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences’ main venue (aside from the historic Sydney Observatory), with outstanding collections that span science, technology, communication, transport, furniture, media, fashion and contemporary culture.
Located in the beachside suburb of Manly on Sydney’s northern shores, the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary is a much-loved aquarium, dedicated to the conservation of marine species. It first opened its doors in 1965 as Marineland and has undergone numerous name changes and revamps since, eventually being launched as Manly Sea Life Sanctuary in 2012.
The Sydney Harbor Bridge is an iconic image, along with the Opera House, of the city of Sydney in Australia.Climb the Harbour BridgeExperience the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the most thrilling way possible with BridgeClimb, an adrenalin sports company that will take you up and over the southern half of the bridge.
Set across five levels on the edge of the Domain Parklands, the Art Gallery of New South Wales is one of Australia’s most popular art galleries. It boasts an impressive collection of Australian art, including one of the country’s largest galleries of indigenous art, as well as an extensive Asian gallery and the works of European masters.
Australia’s largest national park and one of the county’s most magnificent wilderness areas is Kakadu National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage-listed landscape includes soaring sandstone escarpments, tall monsoon rain forests and wildlife rich river estuaries and mangrove swamps, together with expansive floodplains that transform with the seasons.
Boasting an outstanding collection of aircraft that have played a role in the history of Australia is the Darwin Aviation Heritage Centre. It was established in 1976 when a group of aviation enthusiasts wanted to preserve relics following the destruction of Cyclone Tracy, with the current museum opening its doors to the public in 1990.
Located at East Point, the Defence of Darwin Experience provides an immersive look at the role the city played in World War II. Visual and multimedia displays offer first-hand accounts of the Bombing of Darwin, together with artifacts and objects that reflect the city’s tumultuous past.
Set within Nitmiluk National Park, around 250 kilometers southeast of Darwin, Katherine Gorge is an undisputed highlight of visiting the Northern Territory. It borders Kakadu National Park and is of particular importance to the Jawoyn people who are the custodians of the land here.
Named after Frederick Henry Litchfield who was an early pioneer and explorer in the Northern Territory, Litchfield National Park is one of the most popular day trips from Darwin. It features waterfalls and springs along the Table Top Range escarpment, with tropical monsoon forests, giant termite mounds and natural swimming holes.
Located just inland from Sydney and forming part of the Great Dividing Range, the Blue Mountains National Park is one of New South Wales’ most popular natural attractions. It’s home to the towering Three Sisters sandstone rock formations and sacred Aboriginal sites, with plenty of walking trails to discover its waterfalls, magnificent gorges and scenic lookout points.
Fronted by its famous nine-meter-wide smiling face, Luna Park Sydney is an amusement park situated at Milsons Point on the northern shores of Sydney Harbour. While it originally opened back in 1935, it’s undergone numerous name changes and revamps since then, reopening in 2004 after an extensive redevelopment.
Set within the former Marine Services Board Building on the edge of Circular Quay, Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art is one of Australia’s most impressive modern art galleries. It features more than 4,000 works by both Australian and international artists, spanning media that includes painting, sculpture, photography and moving image.
Located in Haymarket, in the southern part of Sydney’s CBD, Chinatown is the heart of Asian culture in the city. It was originally established in The Rocks area of Sydney in the late 19th century, before moving to near Market Street in Darling Harbour.
Established in 1846, the Royal Botanic Gardens sprawl across 40 hectares to the south of the Yarra River and are considered one of the finest of their kind in the world. The gardens include more than 10,000 different species, including many rare varieties of both native and exotic species.
Known to locals simply as “The G”, the Melbourne Cricket Ground is considered Australia’s most legendary sports stadium and the country’s largest. It was here that the 1956 Olympic Games and 2006 Commonwealth Games were showcased and it is considered the spiritual home of Test Cricket and Australian Rules Football.
Stretching along the Yarra River just a short stroll from the city center, Southbank is a vibrant area of restaurants, cafes, cultural institutions and shops. It is a major hub of live entertainment, with venues such as Hamer Hall, the State Theatre and the Playhouse situated within the Arts Centre, as well as being home to the famous Crown Casino.
Australia’s oldest public art museum is the National Gallery of Victoria, which is set across two locations in Melbourne. It was founded in 1861 and has grown to become one of Australia’s largest institutions dedicated to art, with the NGV International collection on St.
Named after the 1854 Eureka Stockade rebellion of Victorian goldfield prospectors, the Eureka Tower has become one of Melbourne’s most recognizable landmarks. Its gold-plated windows and crown glisten in the sun’s light as it soars 297 meters over the Southbank entertainment precinct.
If you want to gain a more comprehensive insight into the history of Melbourne, make the short tram ride from the CBD to the Melbourne Museum and Royal Exhibition Building. It follows the development of society and cultures in the city from its indigenous Aboriginal communities to modern-day settlements and has recently been awarded the title of “Best Tourist Attraction”.
Officially known as the Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens, the Melbourne Zoo is located a short tram ride north of the city center and survives as Australia’s oldest zoo. It was modeled on the London Zoo and first opened to the public on 6 October 1862 on a 55-acre parcel of land at Royal Park.
Brought all the way from Yorkshire, England to Melbourne’s Fitzroy Gardens, Captain Cook’s Cottage is the former home of one of the most influential explorers to enter Australian waters. It provides a unique insight into the life and times of this British captain who made the first European contact with Australia’s east coast, as well as being the first recorded as having circumnavigated New Zealand.
If you want to pick up fresh produce and artisan goods in Melbourne, there’s no better place than at the historic Queen Victoria Market. It’s the only surviving 19th-century market left in Melbourne’s CBD and is the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere.
Set within the West MacDonnell Ranges just a short drive from Alice Springs, Simpsons Gap is one of the most prominent gaps in the region and the site of a permanent waterhole. Its rugged cliffs stand in striking contrast to the desert plains and dunes that surround the gap, with white-barked ghost gums and eucalyptus dotting the landscape.
Situated to the north of Darwin’s city center on the edge of Fannie Bay is the ever-popular Mindil Beach Markets. It takes place every Thursday and Sunday evening during the dry months of April through to October and is particularly famed for its magnificent sunsets over the Indian Ocean.
Set within North Queensland’s Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, Daintree National Park is renowned for its exceptional biodiversity, home to a prolific birdlife and a number of endemic species found nowhere else on earth. It is also home to the oldest rainforest on the planet and the closest living example of the rainforests that once covered the ancient supercontinent of Gondwanaland.
The largest sand island in the world, UNESCO World Heritage-listed Fraser Island is situated just off the Queensland coast between Bundaberg and Brisbane. It is protected within the Great Sandy National Park and boasts spectacular landscapes that include untouched beaches, crystal clear lakes and sacred Aboriginal sites to explore.
Famed for its endless stretches of beach, legendary surf and family-friendly theme parks, the Gold Coast is one of Australia’s favorite holiday destinations. It centers around the high-rise hub of Surfers Paradise, stretching north from here to Southport and south to Coolangatta.
Scattered between the northeast coast of Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays include 74 idyllic islands that are ringed by picture-perfect beaches and colorful coral reefs. These continental islands are part of a subsurface coastal range, with all but five declared national parks, and the Great Barrier Reef provides them with naturally protected waters.
Nestled within the Atherton Tableland to the northwest of Cairns, Kuranda is a charming rainforest village on the edge of beautiful Barron Gorge National Park. It’s famed for its rainforest markets that take place every day and feature a range of locally-crafted produce, handicrafts and clothing.
Stretching from Caloundra in the south to Noosa Heads in the north, the Sunshine Coast is one of Queensland’s premier beachside getaway. It’s renowned for its charismatic beach towns and great surf, as well as a lush hinterland that provides a worthy diversion from the coast.
Situated within the McPherson Range on the Queensland/New South Wales border, Lamington National Park features magnificent tracts of subtropical and tropical rainforest, steep gorges and more than 500 waterfalls. This World Heritage Area is deservedly one of Queensland’s most popular national parks and within easy access of both Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
Home to Mount Kosciusko, the highest mountain in Australia, the Snowy Mountains form part of the Great Dividing Range in New South Wales. It’s a hub for winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding, with glacial lakes and magnificent snow gum forests that attract bushwalkers, anglers and mountain bikers throughout the year.
Scattered with vineyards and cellar doors, the Hunter Valley is Australia’s oldest wine-growing region and situated around two hours’ drive from Sydney. It’s renowned for its Semillon, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignons, with boutique restaurants serving locally-sourced produce overlooking the rolling landscapes.
Stretching from the southern edge of Sydney’s suburbs to the border with Victoria, the South Coast of New South Wales is one of the state’s most attractive regions. It’s blessed with beautiful beaches backed by the dramatic peaks of the Great Dividing Range and a picturesque landscape of rolling green hills.
Just a short flight from Australia’s East Coast, Lord Howe Island is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed destination of outstanding natural beauty. This crescent-shaped volcanic remnant forms part of a larger archipelago of islands and islets in the Tasman Sea, surrounded by coral reefs teeming with life.
Enclosed by two volcanic headlands, Port Stephens is both the name of a bay and a town to the north of Newcastle. The area is renowned for its white sandy beaches and protected bushland that makes it a popular holiday destination for locals.
While the coast of New South Wales is heavily populated with beach resorts and big cities, the outback of the far west is a different world altogether. Classic country towns offer a warm welcome, while rugged national parks boast magnificent desert landscapes and sacred Aboriginal sites.
Situated at the base of the Fleurieu Peninsula, Kangaroo Island is the third largest in Australia, with much of the island protected within spectacular nature reserves. It’s home to not only kangaroos but also koalas, sea lions, penguins and a diverse array of native bird species.
One of Australia's most iconic wine-growing regions, the Barossa Valley lies an hour’s drive to the northeast of Adelaide. It includes the towns of Tanunda, Angaston and Nuriootpa where historic stone cottages and Lutheran cottages are a lasting legacy of the German settlers who arrived here in the 19th century.
Renowned for its riesling, the Clare Valley is a picturesque wine-growing region around two hours’ drive north of Adelaide. It’s set within stunning pastoral landscapes that were settled by Polish, English and Irish immigrants during the 19th century, with their legacy still visible in the charismatic heritage towns and bluestone buildings.
Boasting some of the most breathtaking landscapes in Outback South Australia, the Flinders Range combines rugged gorges and weathered peaks with stunning spring wildflower displays and a rich Aboriginal history. They are named after the explorer Matthew Flinders and located around five hours’ drive from Adelaide, running north to south in the eastern part of South Australia.
One of the least crowded coastal areas in Australia (but also one of its most beautiful), the Eyre Peninsula is a triangular-shaped landmass to the east of the Great Australian Bight. It’s home to magnificent coastal cliffs and pristine beaches, as well as stunning national parks to explore.
Flowing from the New South Wales Alps to its mouth at the Coorong in South Australia, the Murray River is one of the world’s longest navigable rivers. It extends around 2,700 kilometers and is dotted with historic settlements and stunning national parks where soaring sandstone cliffs and tall eucalypts line the riverbanks.
One of Tasmania’s most popular national parks, the Freycinet Peninsula juts into the Tasman Sea on the East Coast of the state. It’s famed for its jagged granite peaks and friendly wildlife, as well as boasting one of the most beautiful beaches in Australia Wineglass Bay.
A favorite weekend escape for locals, Bruny Island lies a short ferry ride from the picturesque town of Kettering, just 35 minutes’ drive south of Hobart. It boasts some of Tasmania’s most magnificent natural landscapes that provide a haven for rare and endangered wildlife species, as well as plenty of gourmet offerings.
Located on the Tasman Peninsula overlooking Carnarvon Bay, Port Arthur was established as a penal settlement in the 19th century and now functions as an open-air museum and historic site. Its hauntingly beautiful sandstone buildings were constructed using convict hard labor and include an immense penitentiary and the remains of the Convict Church.
A short drive from Tasmania’s northern hub of Launceston takes you to the Tamar Valley, one of Australia’s most beautiful wine routes. It sprawls between the Tamar River and the mighty Bass Strait, with conditions that are ideal for growing cool-climate grapes and rolling landscapes that offer a picturesque backdrop.
A short walk from central Launceston takes you to the beautiful Cataract Gorge, a natural formation that rises from the banks of the Tamar River. This public park offers hiking trails, a scenic chairlift and plenty of wildlife spotting, as well as historical landmarks to discover.
Surrounded by stunning glacial lakes, ancient rainforests and unique alpine vegetation, Cradle Mountain is the iconic centerpiece of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. It forms part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and is the starting point for the famous six-day Overland Track, one of Australia’s most famous multi-day walks.
Situated in the far southwest corner of Australia, Margaret River is a land of sweeping vineyards and legendary surf. It’s blessed with an alluring maritime climate that buffers the extremes of hot and cold that affect other areas of Western Australia, with fertile soils that have proved ideal for growing grapes.
Situated a short ferry ride from Fremantle, Rottnest Island is a national reserve and one of the most popular getaway destinations near Perth. It is famed for its native quokkas (a wallaby-like marsupial that is found in only a few other places in Western Australia), as well as being home to boisterous colonies of sea lions and southern fur seals.
The world’s largest fringing reef, Ningaloo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the few places in the world where you can swim alongside whale sharks. The Ningaloo Reef Marine Park stretches more than 250 kilometers along the coast, from Amherst Point in the south to Bundegi in the north.
Sprawling across more than 600,000 hectares in the Hamersley Range, Karijini National Park is the second largest in Western Australia. This vast wilderness area features deep gorges, cascading falls and picturesque rock pools, surrounded by lush tropical foliage and semi-desert landscapes.
The first Australian site to be UNESCO World Heritage listed, Shark Bay protects some of the world’s largest seagrass beds, as well as ancient stromatolites that are one of the oldest of earth’s life forms. It includes the Shark Bay Marine Park, Francois Peron National Park, Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve and Zuytdorp Nature Reserve, as well as a scattering of offshore islands.
Nestled in the southwest corner of Esperance Bay, Cape Le Grand National Park is a magnificent protected area of pristine beaches, dramatic granite and gneiss peaks and rolling heathlands ignited in wildflowers. This ancient landscape has remained unglaciated for more than 200 million years, resulting in the survival of numerous primitive relict species.
Located in Western Australia’s spectacular Kimberley region, Purnululu National Park is home to the famous rock formations known as the Bungle Bungles. These striking orange and black sandstone domes rise dramatically from the grass-covered plains, which have long been inhabited by Australia’s indigenous people.
Stretching for more than 240 kilometers between Torquay and Allansford, the Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s most scenic drives. It takes in spectacular beaches, charismatic surf towns and the iconic rock formations of the Twelve Apostles.
Jutting into Bass Strait to the southeast of Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula is a popular getaway destination for locals. It features idyllic stretches of beach and an enticing gastronomy scene, as well as picturesque walking trails within the Mornington Peninsula National Park.
Featuring rugged sandstone mountains that rise spectacularly from the Western Plains, the Grampians National Park is one of Victoria’s most popular wilderness destinations. It’s traversed by bushwalking trails and scenic drives that explore its cascading waterfalls and panoramic lookouts while being dotted with campsites and climbing routes.
Sprawling between Torquay, Princetown and up into the Otways hinterland, the Great Otway National Park protects rugged coastlines and pristine beaches, as well as tall forests and cascading waterfalls. Windswept tracts of heathland support magnificent spring wildflowers while lush fern gullies provide a habitat for a diverse array of species.
Traversing the magnificent Dandenong Ranges, the Puffing Billy Railway is a heritage, narrow gauge railway that stretches between Belgrave and Gembrook Stations. It was built at the turn of the 20th century in a bid to develop the rural areas on the outskirts of Melbourne, with the Victorian capital situated just 40 kilometers away.
Jutting into Bass Strait to the southeast of Melbourne, Wilsons Promontory National Park is Victoria’s largest coastal wilderness area. It’s a land of rugged granite mountains and white sandy beaches and renowned for its abundant wildlife that can be spotted along the extensive walking trails.
Nestled in the Victorian Alps of the Great Dividing Range, Mount Hotham is home to Victoria’s highest ski resort and a favorite winter getaway for locals. The summit of Mount Hotham rises to more than 1,800 meters, with Hotham Alpine Resort offering 320 hectares of skiable terrain.
Wander through the Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens that have been created atop an extinct volcano or enjoy the scenic drive around the edge of the garden. Seasonal floral displays illuminate the grounds, with incredible views over Daylesford from the walking trails.
Lake Daylesford sprawls to the south of the town, with the “peace mile” walking trail hugging its perimeter. The elegant Lake House nestles on its eastern shore, with its fine-dining restaurant and country house accommodation one of Victoria’s most exclusive.
Take a ride on the Daylesford Spa Country Railway that travels from the 1882 heritage-listed railway station in Daylesford to the town of Bullarto. It travels through thick forest and the scenic countryside of the Central Highlands to what is the highest operating railway station in Victoria.
Located at Knuckey Lagoon, around 15 minutes’ drive from Darwin’s city center, Crocodylus Park was set up by renowned crocodile biologist Professor Grahame Webb. There are both saltwater and freshwater crocodiles of all ages on display, from 30 centimeter-long hatchlings to giant 5-meter specimens, as well as a number of American alligators.
Other Oceania Pacific-related lists of tourist attractions and sightseeing spots: