As one of the world's most-visited countries, Australia is every traveller's dream. For many, it is a land of adventures, endless summers, rugged landscapes and clear waters. Australia is where you can find top UNESCO world heritage sites, stunning ecosystems, and friendly people.
My list of must-see Australian landmarks covers monuments, places and top sights and attractions that can't be missed during a visit to Australia. It also includes natural wonders, heritage sites, outstanding modern buildings, and much more!
Home to 24 million people, Australia occupies 7.692 million square kilometres and is surrounded by the Arafura, Timor, Coral, and Tasman seas, and the Pacific and Indian oceans. Australia's biggest cities are Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide, and the landmarks on this list are from all over Australia.
The best time to visit Australia is from September to November and March to May. The temperatures during these months are not too hot or cold - perfect for long periods outdoors!
One of the world's largest monoliths, Uluru Rock, also known as Ayers Rock, is a spectacular natural formation and spiritual site. Formed about half a billion years ago, the rock is made of red sandstone and stands at 348 metres above sea level.
This iconic natural wonder is situated in Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park in the Northern Territory. The rock is home to rare plants, animals, religious sites and caves covered in ancient rock paintings.
The best time to visit Uluru Rock is before sunrise or sunset when the sun covers the rock and paints it in a sunburn red colour.
Australia's favourite landmark, Bondi Beach, is about 1 kilometre long and the perfect spot for sunbathing, surfing, swimming, and relaxing coastal walks. It is located approximately 7 kilometres from Sydney's city centre, making it easily reachable by walking or cycling.
Bondi Beach is also home to the world's oldest surf lifesaving clubs and one of the country's oldest swimming clubs. It is also a well-known spot for whale and dolphin watching. If that's still not enough, there are several beach cafes, a big golf course, and boutique swimwear shops.
If you are visiting over a weekend, you will find the Bondi Farmers Market (Saturday) and the Bondi Markets (Sunday) operating not too far from the beach.
Established in 1830 on Tasmania island, Port Arthur used to be a timber station that was later converted into Australia's largest prison colony. Now, the sight is one of the most historical places in Australia which tells the history of the convicts' daily lives.
Situated on a secluded peninsula, the Port Arthur prison used to be known for having the toughest punishments (including hard labour) in the country. Not surprisingly, most of its prisoners didn't survive and were buried on a small nearby island called the Isle of the Dead.
The Port Arthur Historic Site consists of a prison museum, a separate prison for punishments, a convict church, a cafe, and a souvenir shop.
Situated in the Gascoyne region of Western Australia, Shark Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site covering 23,000 square kilometres. It was the first location in the area to receive UNESCO status in 1991.
Shark Bay is known for having rare plant species, the most stable dugong population in the world, the oldest living fossils on Earth, and the well-known Shell Beach. It is also home to humpback whales, pelicans, manta rays, more than 6000 turtles, and at least 28 shark species.
A shrine and a museum, the Australian War Memorial is one of the most important historic Australian landmarks.
Opened in 1941 and situated in Canberra near the Australian Parliament House, the War Memorial consists of the Commemorative Area (shrine) where the Last Post Ceremony is held, and several interesting exhibits (galleries). Some galleries include the First World War, the Second World War, Conflicts 1945 to Today, and much more.
It also has a massive sculpture garden and reading rooms (research centre). If you want to visit the research centre, you will have to book before your visit.
Tickets and guided tours can be booked in advance on the memorial's website.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981, the Great Barrier Reef is Australia's most breath-taking natural wonder. It is the world's largest and longest coral reef that comprises of 3000 separate reefs and 900 continental islands.
More than 1500 species of fish (including Potato cod, manta rays, and clownfish) and other marine animals live in the Great Barrier Reef. You will also be able to spot different kinds of marine turtles, sharks, dugongs, giant clams, whales, and more.
The Great Barrier Reef has over 100 islands which offer luxury resort stays, gorgeous white sand beaches, and informative cruises. You will need several days to see the best of the Great Barrier Reef.
The Great Ocean Road, or Surf Coast Highway, is an Australian National Heritage site and is perfect for a long coastal road trip. A 243-kilometre road runs along the southwest coastline connecting Torquay to Allansford city.
While driving, you will pass by many scenic places, such as the charming fishing village of Port Fairy, the iconic limestone stacks of rocks known as the 12 Apostles, the lush and filled with waterfalls Great Otway National Park, and the magnificent Apollo Bay. You should plan about two days on the road if you are thinking of exploring all the places mentioned above.
If you don't drive, a Great Ocean Road guided tour can be booked from Melbourne.
One of the must-see Australian landmarks in the Northern Territory, Kakadu National Park is the country's largest national park. It is filled with refreshing waterfalls and waterholes, rainforests, wetlands, exotic animals, and the world's oldest indigenous rock art.
The park covers 20,000 square kilometres and is a World Heritage-listed area for its cultural and natural values. It has more than 5,000 aboriginal rock art sites and is home to the Bininj/Mungguy people.
On your visit to the park, you will be able to learn about Australia's ancient cultures, take a river tour to spot crocodiles, explore nature, and go for a dip in a plunge pool.
Lord Howe Island is a natural paradise in the Tasman sea. It is well-known for its white-sand beaches, wildlife, and untouched landscape. With only 300 permanent residents living on the island and only 400 tourists allowed at a time, Lord Howe is a luxurious and tranquil island retreat.
The island is about two hours away by plane from Brisbane and Sydney. It is only 11 kilometres long and 2.8 kilometres wide. The best way to get around the island is by cycling or walking. You could easily visit Lord Howe Island after you've spent a couple of days in Brisbane checking out its beautiful views.
Lord Howe Island offers various kinds of activities including swimming, hand-feeding fish at Ned's Beach, sea kayaking, and hiking.
Island tours can be booked in Sydney, Brisbane, and Lord Howe Island.
Sydney Harbour Bridge, also called 'coat hanger' by locals, is one of the most iconic humanmade landmarks in Australia. It connects the northern and southern sides of Port Jackson Harbour.
Constructed in 1924, but only opened in 1932, the bridge is the largest steel arch bridge in the world. The total height of the bridge is 135 metres, while the roadway is 51 metres above sea level.
For the best views, arrive at the bridge around sunset.
The Sydney Opera House is a performing arts venue in Sydney, New South Wales. It is one of the most famous and iconic buildings of the 20th century. In 2007, the building was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1973, and designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon, the opera house consists of several performing venues and hosts more than 1500 shows per year. It also receives about 10.9 million visitors per year, including performance viewers and tours.
Regular guided tours of the Sydney Opera House can be booked in advance at the tourist information centre or on the website.
Located in the Northern Territory, Watarrka National Park is a protected area of nature. The national park is a part of the same red-orange desert range as Uluru Rock and is packed with picturesque landscapes, animals, rare plants, gorges, and rock holes.
The park is the most known for Kings Canyon as it showcases Australia's spectacular natural beauty and is filled with adventurous trails for beginners and advance hikers. If you are looking for family walks, you can try the Kings Creek or Kathleen Springs Walk that also teaches about local aboriginal history.
Watarrka National Park can be visited at any time of the year, but I recommend visiting between April and September when the weather is more pleasant.
Kangaroo Island is one of the natural Australian landmarks that can't be missed on your trip. Located 13 kilometres off the coast of South Australia, the island is the country's third-largest island after Tasmania and Melville Island (Tiwi Islands).
Kangaroo Island is popular for its seafood restaurants, local breweries, wine tours, impressive walks, and wildlife (think kangaroos, koalas, short-beaked echidnas, and more). While here, you can also walk amongst endangered Australian sea lions and watch them in their natural habitat.
Ferries operate daily from the town of Cape Jervis, and there are regular flights from Adelaide.
Considered to be another major landmark in Australia, the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area is about a 2-hour drive from Sydney. It can be reached by train, car, and coach.
The Blue Mountains cover an area of one million hectares and is filled with tall eucalyptus trees, sandstone cliffs, waterfalls, waterholes, streams, and canyons. There are numerous well-marked walking and hiking trails that take you through gorges and caves.
You can easily explore the park for several days.
Named Australia's top tourist attraction, Sovereign Hill is an open-air museum that takes you back to the 1850s and lets you experience the Australian gold rush.
At Sovereign Hill, you can enter an underground gold mine, meet costumed goldfield characters, talk to artisans, and visit the confectionery factory. These activities guarantee you a full day of great fun!
The entry to Sovereign Hill includes a ticket to the Gold Museum. The museum has a vast collection of gold and teaches about Ballarat city's history. There is also the Sovereign Hill Hotel, which has beautifully-styled Governor's rooms.
If you start at Thredbo, you can ride the Kosciuszko Express Chairlift and pass Lake Cootapatamba - the highest lake in Australia.
The best time to hike Mount Kosciuszko is from December to March when wildflowers are in full bloom.
If you are looking for unusual Australian landmarks, Kuranda Scenic Railway has to be on your list. The railway runs from the coastal city of Cairns to the rainforest town of Kuranda, taking you through rainforest, mountains, and waterfalls.
Opened in 1891 and rising to 328 metres above sea level, the Kuranda Scenic Railway passes through 15 handmade tunnels and 37 bridges. It is about 37 kilometres long, and the journey takes about 2 hours to complete, including the stop at the waterfalls.
When you arrive at Kuranda station, you can explore the station's tropical gardens and walk into the town where you can find aboriginal crafts shops and galleries.
The Pinnacles Desert is one of the big Australian landmarks that everyone has to visit. It attracts more than 250 000 visitors per year and is considered to be Western Australia's most-visited attraction.
The Pinnacles Desert covers about 190 hectares and sits about 60 metres above sea level. It is filled with thousands of limestone pillars, some of them reaching 5 metres high. The pinnacles were formed approximately 25,000 to 30,000 years ago.
The desert is located about a two-hour drive from Perth. You can reach it by car, or take a guided tour bus from Perth.
The Brighton Bathing Boxes are one of the most popular Australian landmarks in Brighton. The boxes consist of 82 colourful wooden Victorian beach huts that are located on Brighton Beach, just 13 kilometres from Melbourne.
Dating back to the early 1800s, the wooden beach huts were built for women to change their clothes before bathing. Today, they are privately owned by different people and are used as storage facilities or art shops. All the bathing boxes have retained their classic Victorian architecture with very little having changed over time.
To avoid the crowds, visit the Brighton Bathing Boxes in the early morning or after sunset.
Flinders Street Railway Station is one of the most famous buildings in Australia. It is located in Melbourne. Opened in September 1854, the railway station was the first built in Australia.
In 1926, Flinders Street Station became the busiest train station in the world and surpassed Grand Central Station in New York and London's Liverpool Street Station.
Today, it fascinates visitors with its distinctive facade and green copper dome. It is also listed on the Victorian Heritage Register for having the fourth longest railway platform (708 metres) in the world.
Opened in 1988 by Queen Elizabeth II and located in Canberra, the Australian Parliament House is the place where the nation's most important meetings are held. The building resembles two boomerangs and is topped by an 81-metre high flagpole.
Parliament House has 4,700 rooms, and the majority of the rooms are open to the public. You will be able to find Australia's finest historical treasures and contemporary art in the parliament's temporary and permanent galleries.
Australia's Parliament House is open daily to the public. Guided tours can be booked beforehand from tourist information centres and websites.
One of the most famous natural landmarks in Australia, Daintree National Park is the third oldest rainforest in the world with unique fauna and wildlife. It is also a paradise for bird watchers and nature lovers.
The national park is located in Queensland and is divided into two parts: Mossman Gorge (80 km from Cairns) and Cape Tribulation (110 km from Cairns). There are plenty of fun activities to do here, including spotting saltwater crocodiles on a Daintree River tour, trekking through the rainforest, and flying through the trees on a zip-line.
Daintree National Park can be reached by car, coach, and tour bus.
Located about 18 kilometres off the coast of Western Australia, Rottnest Island is one of the most famous landmarks in Australia among locals. It is a car-free island that offers a perfect getaway from the buzzing city.
Rottnest Island has about 63 white sand beaches with activities such as snorkelling, diving, and surfing. The island is home to the cutest animal in the world as well - the Quokka - which can't be found anywhere else in the world.
If you are travelling from late August to November, go on a whale-watching cruise. You will be able to spot humpback and southern right whales.
Located about 1400 kilometres north of Perth, Karijini National Park (previously known as Hamersley Range) is the second-largest park in Western Australia. This park is the ideal place for adventure seekers.
Karijini National Park's landscape was formed about two billion years ago. You will find ancient cavernous gorges, some of the oldest rocks on Earth, cascading waterfalls, and pools here.
If you are a thrill-seeker, try the 'spider man walking' section of the park. You will have to navigate through a narrow gorge and jump into a plunge pool that is surrounded by natural walls. Try higher canyons if that's not enough for you.
Known for the magnificent Cable Beach, aboriginal Broome Town is sometimes overlooked by tourists. This laid back and colourful town has a fascinating history to tell about its aboriginal times and pearling in the 20th century.
Broome Town is surrounded by the warm Indian Ocean, pristine beach, and red coloured rocks. It is home to various aboriginal craft shops, buzzing markets, and working pearl farms. Of course, you can find numerous pearl showrooms where you can try on and buy pearl jewellery.
The best way to reach Broome is by plane departing from various Australian cities.
The Kimberley Coastline, however, is the real gem of Kimberley. It is also one of the most famous landmarks in Australia. The coastline consists of about 2600 islands, many of which are unnamed. The islands are well-known for their aboriginal rock art, swimming holes, white sand beaches, red cliffs, and wildlife, such as whales, dolphins and saltwater crocodiles.
To see the real beauty of the Kimberley Coastline, you will need to book a cruise tour.
Located in the Northern Territory, Litchfield National Park is the region's hidden gem and one of the most iconic Australian landmarks.
The national park is home to stunning waterfalls and waterholes, monsoonal vine forests, giant termite mounds, and historic ruins. The park can only be accessed in the dry season, and it stays quite cool through the hottest months.
You can explore the park on your own, stay overnight at a camping site, or you can go on a tour departing from Darwin. If you wish to see more spectacular views, six-minute helicopter tours are available to book from tour companies.
The Darwin Military Museum was originally set up as an artillery museum in the mid-1960s. Today, the museum tells the story about Australia's involvement in WWII and other important battles.
You will find plenty of information about various battles and wars, original guns, and other artefacts collected from archaeological sites here. There is also a big exhibition outside, so make sure you visit that too!
The museum also has a cafe where you can get a small bite to eat.
Named as the 'Island of Smiles', the Tiwi Islands are the best place to learn about Australian aboriginal culture, meet friendly locals, and go fishing.
The Tiwi Islands consist of two main islands (Bathurst and Melville) and nine smaller uninhabited islands. There are minimal tourist facilities on the islands, so the majority of people visit them for just a day tour. If you wish to go by yourself, you might need permission from the government.
The group of islands is well-known for aboriginal art and crafts, traditional lifestyle, and an extraordinary passion for football.
Tiwi Islands is also the best place to shop for bright traditional clothes and artwork.
Located in the middle of nowhere, Daly Waters Pub is an extraordinary outback pub. It is the only pub in the country that has held a continuous liqueur license since 1938.
Just five minutes off the Stuart Highway, Daly Waters Pub surprises its visitors with an interior and exterior that looks like a dumping ground. It is decorated in traveller's 'memorabilia' (lost items) that includes driving licenses, cards, posters, tickets, bras, and more.
The pub has a wide range of food, camping facilities, and guest rooms. Also, every evening you can enjoy live music. If you are on a road trip, make sure to visit the pub along the way.
This list has covered 30 iconic human-made and natural Australian landmarks that can't be missed on a trip to Australia. This guide has ideas for families, group and solo travellers, and backpackers.
Australia is a big country filled with colourful towns, modern cities, fascinating landscapes, and clear waters. You will be able to find something beautiful and exciting to do no matter where you go.
Most of Australia's landmarks are scattered around the country and can't be reached by public transportation. The best and cheapest option is to rent a car. If you don't drive, there are plenty of tour companies that can customise your tour depending on your preferences. Be aware; the tours are quite expensive!
I hope you enjoyed this Australia travel guide and found lots of useful information to help you with planning. Have the best time of your life in breath-taking Australia!
This article was edited by Loredana Elena.
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