Deep down at the far end of the world lies a continent that is so vast and dry, it is a wonder in itself how the diversity and beauty that is hidden in every corner has evolved. From lush rainforests to the largest coral reef system and dusty deserts, Australia has it all. And the top 25 of these places you must see in Australia I will show you. Sothe actual question is: which one do you have to see if you cannot see everything? At least to this I can give you a good answer with my personal favourites.
A Lifetime is Never Enough
It took me eight months to explore Australia the way I did: from Melbourne over Adelaide to Darwin and then down from Cairns to Syndey, from Melbourne to Perth and up to Monkey Mia with a little bit of Tasmania and Kangaroo Island inbetween, covering places people told me I must see in Australia.
Needless to say, it was one hell of a ride and one I would always do again. And again. And you should too! Don’t even think about distances, enjoy it for what it is: an adventure!
But in case you don’t have eight months to spare, here are my absolute favourite places so you know what to put on your itinerary (and check out my three sample itineraries for 3 weeks in Australia).
Australia has so much to offer, so the choice is hard, I know. To help you be better prepared once you do leave the big cities, I put together a 30 page Australia guide booklet full to the brim with information on what you won’t find in regular guides: survival tips, handy knowledge about how to not accidentally having to pay fines (who knew “smuggling” fruit within one country was an offence?) and how to travel truly “outback style” (it’s a free download and gives you access to a library with even more printables).
1) Uluru, Northern Territory, Australia
There is no place in the world that has had such an immediate effect on me as the fabled Uluru. There is something so magical about it, an aura that is hard to explain and that I smiled at when being told by other travellers. Well, I have to agree. You have to visit to understand.
2) Kangaroo Island, South Australia, Australia
It is basically Australia in a nutshell: with forests, beaches, crazy rock formations covered by red stuff (oxidized sand for the red centre and lichen here on the island) and even a desert!
3) Whitehaven Beach, Queensland, Australia
Whitest beach. Ever. You won’t believe it if you haven’t seen it. Sure, there are other white and squeaky beaches (at Lake McKenzie and in Wilsons Prom), but this one is on a tropical island! Who doesn’t like to have a dose of a tropical sailing adventure with snorkeling and chilling in azure blue waters? Exactly.
4) Esperance, Western Australia, Australia
You have probably seen those photos with a cheeky kangaroo lazing on the beach. If you come over to Esperance that’s what you will take a photo of as well. When it comes to empty beaches, you can find them here as well.
5) Atherton Tablelands, Queensland, Australia
Maybe you can spot the cassowary. It looks like the Avatar version of an Emu. The forest of the Tablelands itself seems from another world with its lush green forests, waterfalls, pools and lakes in former volcanoes.
6) Kata Tjuta, Northern Territory, Australia
Most travellers I’ve met loved Kata Tjuta more than Uluru (but it’s my list and so it only made it to place 6)and it is remakable with all its red boulders and collection of all types of stones that have been pressed into shapes over thousands of years. My tip: Walk the Valley of the Winds in the morning to avoid tourists and the heat!
7) Breathing Rocks, Western Australia, Australia
I am not kidding you, these stone lookalikes actually produce oxygen! You can’t really see and neither do you need to see bubbles because the most impressive fact is that was the reason life was possible on earth. The were the first to enrich our sky with oxygen.
8) Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory, Australia
The landscape will just haunt your mind. Climb up Ubirr and gaze over the biggest country of aboriginal tribes, Arnhem, and you know why it is sacred. From stacked mountains, over dense green and wide savannahs with lakes and swamps at the horizon, you’re new dream land might just be in front of your eyes.
9) Ningaloo Reef
Never heard of it? It is the lesser loved cousin of the Great Barrier Reef, just on the other side of the country. But what most people don’t know is that he is actually the more handsome and less visited one. Double bonus!
10) Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia
The Great Barrier reef is another must. Especially since it might not last very long. If it’s not storms wreaking havoc to the sensitive eco system, then it is tourists touching the fragile corals, causing their untimely death.
11) Eyre Peninsula, South Australia, Australia
A great gem that is not well known among travellers to Australia. South Australia is the driest country on the driest continent with the most remote regions in the country as well but its nature sure knows how to impress.
12) Bay of Fires, Tasmania, Australia
Where bright red meets deep blue on a white shore, the Bay of Fires could be believed to get its name from the lichen that cover the round boulders of the coastline. (It was actually an explorer story.)
13) Wilsons Prom, Victoria, Australia
Once connecting Tasmania to the Australian mainland, it comes as no surprise that Wilsons Prom looks out of place. But you should not avoid it. If you can’t make it to Tassie, get yourself here! So far, it has been a local secret and you won’t see many tourists here. So come over until the newly discovered coral reef will bring in tons of visitors.
14) Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia
Ah, my good friend Maggie. You get so many different coral reef bays, koala sightings, wonderful sunsets, snorkelling opportunities, fresh fish foods and even Italian ice cream. And if you fancy it, you can even live in huts.
15) Mount Amos and Wineglass Bay, Tasmania, Australia
I don’t want to spoil the mood of these lovely pictures but the name is not as nice as it sounds. It, again, goes back to Tasmania’s bloody history where whales were violently slaughtered in the bay, tainting it red.
16) Grampians, Victoria, Australia
If you are driving along the Great Ocean Road, be sure to stop at the Grampians and spend at least one day here. I was fortunate enough to do it three times and each time a new grand trail opened up to me.
17) Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia
Another must see that is super popular. Supposedly one of the best coastal drives, you will be hard pressed to not find a view that will haunt you long after. My absolute favourite even after three drives is Loch Ard.
18) Flinders Ranges, South Australia, Australia
There are two spots that I tried and tested. The hike through Alligator Gorge takes only about an hour and shows you eerie white trees against intense red rock walls. It is a great trail to see typically Australian nature.
Another weird and wonderful natural creation in Australia. If you don’t get too distracted by all the yellow sand covering the ground, you will be intrigued by the rocks poking out like small towers everywhere. Aboriginal legends have it that they used to belong to a group of teenagers who wouldn’t listen and ran away. Geology, however, says the Pinnacles in Nambuk National Park were part of the primal ocean.
20) Blue Mountains, North South Wales, Australia
Let me clarify one thing and travelcate you (see what I did there? travel and educate…hehe). The Blue Mountains are actually a plateau and the blue comes from the eucalypt oils that fill the air on hot days. And if you want to see them, stay away from the crowds and see this must see place during a hike.
21) Kings Canyon, Northern Territory, Australia
One of the most stunning natural formations with an amazing rim walk that takes between 3 and 4 hours to complete. If you are coming during spring and summer, start early in the morning otherwise the gates might be close to keep people away and avoid deaths through heat stroke. Stock up on at least a 2L water bottle, wear a hat, shades and sun lotion. This is important! And then enjoy the Kings Canyon rim walk, but stay away from the cliff edges.
22) Coober Pedy, South Australia, Australia
This bucketlist of places you must see in Australia is about natural wonders, but I just had to include Coober Pedy as it is a geographical wonder as well. It is located on the world’s biggest opal fields. You could do it like the one lucky bus driver who kicked over a rock in the car park and suddenly was thousands of dollars richer.
23) Mission Beach, Queensland, Australia
There is not much to see in MIssion Beach if you don’t like beaches, the ocean and jungles. If you come here, be prepared for extended walks with barefeet on soft sands and maybe seeing a rare cassowary along the national park walks (do not approach!). For a day adventure, you can do skydiving over the reefs or head over to the island and explore.
24) Philip Island, Victoria, Australia
How does a quaint island life sound? Especially if you are staying in Melbourne, the island will be the perfect day trip option. You can dine in the many delicious restaurants, visit the koala sanctuary and the world’s tiniest penguins on Philip Island.
25) Litchfield, Northern Territory, Australia
If you are travelling around Darwin and are near Katherine Gorge already, why not visit Litchfield as well? It has many nice springs and waterfalls and in some of them you can swim (inform yourself about crocodile safety beforehand).
26) Nature’s Window, Western Australia, Australia
A very popular tourist destination is Nature’s Window in Kalbarri National Park. The walk from parking to the window was relatively easy but you should avoid summer time, when it was absolutely tough due to the intense heat and humidity even on cloudy days.
27) Mary River, Northern Territory, Australia
If you want to see eye to eye with a crocodile (and not be eaten), check out Mary River, the most croc infested river in the world. You can do guided boat tours and as long as all of your body parts stay within the boat you are fine (don’t lean out, seriously don’t).
28) Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia
I didn’t have a great experience on Fraser Island but that might have been because I was on a rushed one day trip, seeing as many sights as possible within one day.Fraser is the biggest sand island in the world and therefore distances are not to be underestimated, so learn from my mistakes and at least stay overnight.
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If you wanna head out to your own adventure now for places that you must see in Australia, you need to know a thing or two about the outback. Often, a regular car won’t do and requries a 4 Wheel Drive instead. Once you tried to brave the dusty roads in the bushland, you will know and if you are thinking about driving on sandy beaches (Fraser Island is best for that), think about letting off a little air out of your wheels or you might get stuck.
I could go on and on about the things I learnt, from staying snake safe to finding amazing foodie spots along the journey. And so I put it all in a handy little e-booklet for you to download and have a look before your own Australian adventure. Or you could just look at the pretty pictures. It’s entirely up to you. Oh, and it’s free. Just type in your email address and I’ll send you the link.