Here is a compilation of 24 recommendations of famous Australian landmarks that are a must-see for anyone planning on visiting Australia. Expect to see spectacular views, beaches and landscapes, modern cities filled with culture, amazing food and wine experiences, and lots of adventures in the outdoors with Australian wildlife.
So, which Australian landmarks should be on every visitors / travellers bucket list? Most people have heard of Sydney Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru, but there are so many more Australian landmarks both natural and man-made.
This compilation of must-see Australian landmarks cover unique and distinctive natural formations, UNESCO world heritage-listed sites, and iconic modern buildings from all over Australia and across all of the states and territories.
So, here is a compilation of 24 famous Australian landmarks you should add to your bucket list.
Did You Know?
- Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock in the Northern Territory is Australia’s oldest landmark – about 550 million years old.
- The Sydney Opera House is the most iconic and recognisable Australian landmark. Surprisingly, the architect of this iconic landmark never returned to Sydney to see its completion.
- The Great Barrier Reef is larger than the United Kingdom, Holland and Switzerland combined.
“[Australia] is the home of the largest living thing on earth, the Great Barrier Reef, and of the largest monolith, Ayers Rock (or Uluru to use its now-official, more respectful Aboriginal name).”– Bill Bryson, Down Under –
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Famous Australian Landmarks – Queensland
Great Barrier Reef
Recommended by Emma at ‘The Checklist Chic’
One of the seven natural wonders of the world, The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system and can even be seen from space. Although the reef can be explored from most of North-East Queensland, the best place, in my opinion, to explore from is Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays.
There are many great tours to explore the reef that include: snorkelling, scuba diving (even for first timers, like me), underwater observatories, semi-submerged submarine rides and even optional helicopter flights; all from their pontoon on Hardy Reef. They even have options to stay on the pontoon overnight in their Reef Sleep swags under the stars. Or you can stay overnight in Australia’s first underwater accommodation and have a front row seat to the dazzling underwater world in their reef suites below deck.
Another great way to soak up the marvellous views of the reef, is to fly over it. From above, you’ll see the pure turquoise waters, the unique white silica sand swirls of Whitehaven Beach and the composition of coral that has naturally shaped itself into a heart. I enjoyed a scenic flight tour from the co-pilot’s chair, which has the largest window to soak in the views.
Top Tip: Check before you swim! October through May (the best time to visit) is also “stinger season,” when the box jellyfish and the Irukandji are abundant. It is recommended to wear a one-piece stinger suit when snorkelling and diving. These are generally provided or can be rented.
Recommended by Raksha at ‘Solo Passport’
Located in the Whitsunday Islands, Heart Reef is a natural reef which is in the shape of a heart. It is situated off the coast of Airlie Beach in Queensland and it was first discovered in 1975. Made up of corals sitting in its own reef lagoon, the reef belongs to the Great Barrier Reef stretch. It is only about 17 metres in diameter and is believed that the corals date back 20 million years.
As the Heart Reef is a protected reef, one cannot snorkel or scuba dive there. The only way to see this beautiful wonder is either by taking a sea plane or a helicopter. The views from above are stunning and sometimes one can spot marine animals like rays and turtles. It is best to be seated at either the front or at the back of the plane as it provides unrestricted views.
Heart Reef can be visited anytime throughout the year as the islands have tropical weather and provide clear views.
Top Tip: The best way to see this beautiful sight is from above. GSL Aviation offer tours in a light plane from Airlie Beach and include views of Conway National Park, mainland river systems, Airlie Beach, Whitsunday Islands, and The Great Barrier Reef.
Recommended by Victoria at ‘Guide Your Travel’
Whitehaven Beach is arguably Australia’s most famous beach and one of the best beaches to visit on the east coast of the country. Whitehaven is known for having the whitest sand in the world with 98% silica.
The beach is stunningly beautiful but it’s not the easiest to reach. You need to hop on a boat in the little town of Airlie Beach and take a tour to the Whitsunday Islands where Whitehaven Beach is located. Definitely make sure to go early in the morning as the beach gets quite crowded during the day.
There are lots of different tours to choose from to visit Whitehaven Beach. Some include a full day of snorkelling and even diving. Whitehaven Beach itself is best for swimming and relaxing as the water is quite shallow. You can visit the beach year-round although it’s most beautiful during the Australian summer.
Top Tip: There is not a lot of shade though so keep that in mind.
Fraser Island is iconic as it is the world’s largest sand island and stretches over 120 kilometres in length and 22 kilometres at its widest point (184 000 hectares). Also known as K’gari, it is World Heritage-listed along with other well-known Australian landmarks such as Uluru, Kakadu and the Great Barrier Reef.
It is located just 360 kilometres north of Brisbane and just a quick 40 minute ferry ride from the mainland in Hervey Bay. Fraser Island boasts diverse landscapes and unique wildlife experiences, and is a precious part of Australia’s natural and cultural heritage.
There are numerous amazing things to see and do on Fraser Island including driving on wide white-sand beaches, tobogganing on the shifting sand blows / dunes, and swimming in the crystal clear water of lakes, lagoons and freshwater streams. Some of the must-see sights include the Maheno shipwreck, multicolored cliffs of the Cathedrals, Champagne Rock Pools, Lake McKenzie, the rainforest trails at Central Station, floating down Eli Creek, and panoramic views from Indian Head.
It is common to spot wildlife including dingoes (Australia’s purest strain), kangaroos, sugar gliders, brushtail possums, flying foxes and sand monitors, among other species. Look to the skies and you will see brahminy kites, sea-eagles, yellow-tailed black-cockatoos, and king parrots. In the coastal waters, sharks, humpback whales (August through October), dugongs, and dolphins can be seen just metres from shore.
Top Tip: The best way to explore Fraser Island is in a high-clearance 4WD vehicle with low range capability. Driving along 75 Mile Beach, a National Highway and also a landing strip for light aircraft, ranks as one of the best outdoor adventures in Australia.
Paronella Park is a heritage-listed tourist attraction located at Mena Creek in Queensland, which is just 120 kilometres south of Cairns. Covering five hectares of land next to Mena Creek Falls, Paronella Park is a mystical wonderland, complete with Spanish-style castle, and tranquil waterfalls, bridges and tunnels. With a lush rainforest made up of 7,500 tropical plants and trees, it comes as no surprise TripAdvisor has named it as one of Australia’s best tourist attractions.
Since opening its doors in 1935, Paronella Park has attracted curious visitors from all over the world looking for an experience that cannot be had anywhere else. As such, the original creator, José Paronella, succeeded in his mission to turn this special part of Australia into a magical destination for the public.
Admission includes a Souvenir Guide Book / Map, a Botanical, fish food to feed the fish and turtles in the creek, The Dream Continues Tour, The Darkness Falls Tour, and The Hydro Tour. Many people choose to only do the day tour (which provides fantastic insight into the park’s original founder and owner, José and his family), but the evening tour should not be missed! The waterfall and lower refreshment room are floodlit at night (courtesy of the restored hydro-electric generator), and here you will enjoy a light show set to music from a local family group, The String Family.
Top Tip: Your price of admission – $47 per adult – includes one free night at the Paronella Park camping area. This includes motorhomes, caravans, campervans, and tents. Bookings are essential to ensure you do not miss out!
Located just a 60 minute drive north from Brisbane, Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast is now a famous Australian landmark because of Steve Irwin, The Crocodile Hunter. Steve worked hard to teach the country (and eventually the world) about animals, their nature, their conservation and how important they are to our planet.
Visitors to the park can choose from a variety of unique and exciting experiences throughout the day including a huge range of free daily shows and some truly hands on experiences. Some of the most popular exhibits include the Wildlife Warriors Show in The Crocoseum, or maybe you would prefer to head to Africa and see giraffes, zebras and rhino, or South-East Asia to view beautiful tigers playing.
If you would like a more hands-on experience, you can cuddle a koala, feed a kangaroo, walk a tiger or sneak a peek into the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital. Conservation shows are held across the course of the day around the park and provide a rare insight into numerous animals including their habitat, diet, and other interesting facts such as where a tortoise likes to be tickled.
Top Tip: Once you have paid for your entrance, head straight to the African section either by walking through the park or taking a complimentary ride on Steve’s Safari Shuttle. We have found it is best to get to Africa as early in the day as possible as there is little shade here and it can get very hot.
Famous Australian Landmarks – New South Wales
Sydney Opera House
Recommended by Cass at ‘Cassie the Hag’
Sydney Opera House is perhaps Australia’s most famous landmark. But despite its prevalence on TV for its New Year’s Eve fireworks and in traveller’s holiday photos, it’s still absolutely worth seeing.
Designed by the architect Jørn Utzon in 1957, the modernist building design was inspired by the sails of ships. Utzon was a sailor himself, and his father a naval engineer! This gives the building a unique, even magical quality, that makes it stand out against the navy blue waters of Sydney Harbour and the nearby Sydney Harbour Bridge.
You can visit on a walk from Sydney’s historical The Rocks suburb, or a meander around the Botanic Garden to Macquaries Chair (which is a great Sydney photo spot with views over the Opera House and Harbour Bridge).
In the evening, enjoy the sunset with a glass of wine at the Opera Bar. Or, better yet, go and see a show. Sydney Opera House is a wonderful celebration of Australian arts, and a fantastic venue for music, dance, theatre, and other performing arts.
Top Tip: You can visit the behind-the-scenes of the Sydney Opera House with one of its popular backstage tours.
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Recommended by James at ‘Travel Collecting’
Sydney Harbour Bridge is in the middle of Sydney Harbour, connecting the central city on the south shore to the northern suburbs. Nicknamed “The Coat Hanger” because of its iconic shape, it has dominated the Sydney skyline since it opened in 1923.
Today, you can see the bridge from all around the harbour throughout the year, but there are several especially great places to see it. One of the best has to be the Opera Bar, a beautiful outdoor bar at the base of the Sydney Opera House with stunning views across the harbour to the bridge. Keep in mind that the sun will be in front of you in the afternoon, which is not the best for photography, so mornings are best.
Another spot, popular with locals, is Cremorne Point on the north shore, best visited by ferry from Circular Quay. If you are staying in a hotel in Sydney, there are also great views of the bridge from many of the rooms in the Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel.
For something a little different, go for a swim in North Sydney Olympic Pool, which is located right next to the northwest pylon of the bridge. You will see the bridge looming above you while cooling off in summer.
Top Tip: You can even climb to the top of the bridge! There are several options available, from the 2.5-hour “Insider” Bridge Climb to the 3.5-hour “Ultimate” Bridge Climb, but all of them will take you to the very top of the bridge for truly breathtaking 360° views of Sydney Harbour and the city.
Bondi Icebergs Ocean Pool
Recommended by Emma at ‘Emma Jane Explores’
Few sites scream Sydney more than the iconic aqua and white Bondi Icebergs Ocean Pool located in the heart of Bondi Beach. Bondi Beach is located around 20 mins drive from Sydney’s CBD and if you’re accessing via public transport then you’ll want to take the train to Bondi Junction and then grab one of the very frequent buses to get you down to the beach.
Bondi Icebergs Ocean Pool is located right at the start of the famous Bondi to Coogee cliff walk and it is spectacular viewing from up high as you watch the waves crash against the side of the pool.
To swim in this famous Sydney attraction, it will set you back a mere AUD$9 for adults and AUD$6 for children. Bondi Icebergs is also home to a fantastic restaurant, so you can have a leisurely lunch in style whilst taking in this incredible sight.
Top Tip: Bondi Icebergs Pool is cleaned each Thursday, so usually you’ll want to avoid Thursday mornings if you’re keen for a swim.
The Three Sisters
Recommended by Holly at ‘Globeblogging’
Few images are so iconic and recognisably attached with the Blue Mountains as that of the Three Sisters.
Looking over the Jamison Valley, the sandstone has eroded over time leaving three distinctive rock formations that each stand taller than 906 metres. The Three Sisters Aboriginal Place is sacred to the local people and there are several versions of Aboriginal legend explaining the origins of the formation.
It is located in Katoomba which is approximately a 90 minute drive west from Sydney CBD. Most tourists will head to Echo Point to look over the imposing rocks and have the opportunity to take a bridge out to the first sister.
They are accessible all year round but bear in mind that Katoomba’s altitude means it can get quite cold in winter, but you might even be lucky enough to see snow falling!
Top Tip: For a less crowded, but still great view of the sisters, head to Eagle Hawk lookout.
Recommended by Holly at ‘Globeblogging’
The limestone cave system of Jenolan Caves can be found in the Greater Blue Mountains region, approximately 200 kilometres from Sydney, NSW.
Tours can be arranged from Sydney or Katoomba, or the really ambitious can walk the old six foot track route which ends near the caves. To get there by road is as easy as staying on the Great Western Highway until the turn off, and the caves are a further 45 minutes from here. It is best to check for the latest road updates before you depart, as recent weather events have resulted in some parts of the road requiring repair and a detour via Oberon may be required.
The caves are an even temperature all year round, but be aware that during winter this area does receive snow which may make the drive in more difficult.
Jenolan Caves are approximately 340 million years old, and as the oldest known open cave system in the world, it is definitely worth the trip. While you are there don’t miss your chance to take a stroll around the area and check out the geological formations.
Top Tip: If you keep your eyes peeled around the Blue Lake you might even catch sight of an elusive Platypus!
If you are planning a trip to Sydney, here are the BEST WEEKEND TRIPS FROM SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA.
Famous Australian Landmarks – Victoria
Recommended by Priyadarshini at ‘Glorious Sunrise’
The Twelve Apostles is a must-visit Australian landmark located in Port Campbell National Park in Victoria. You can visit here by going on a road-trip from Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road to enjoy the glorious views of these apostles.
The apostles are limestone stack cliffs standing majestically in the midst of the ocean towards the shore. The apostles were never twelve in number, but originally there were eight. Over time, mother earth claimed one tower leaving seven apostles remaining to date.
For the best views, check out Gibson Steps lookout point which is very close to the Twelve Apostles. It is a bit of a climb when you come back up, so plan accordingly. It is warmest along this shore in the months from December to February, but the Twelve Apostles is always worth visiting any time of the year. Just check to see if rain is in the forecast, otherwise you are good to go.
Grassroots Deli Cafe is about 10 minutes drive from Twelve Apostles and has great food. Southern Ocean Villas is a good stay option here.
Top Tip:Always carry a jacket or dress in layers because it can get very windy and cold on the shore.
Recommended by Bernadette at ‘Live Sozy’
The famed Moon Man is the iconic entrance to Luna Park in Melbourne. The park opened in 1912 in Melbourne and is a historic landmark located near the beach at St. Kilda. The park is modelled after the Luna Park of Coney Island in New York but it is one of the oldest amusement parks in the world because it has continuously operated through the years.
The main attractions are the wooden roller coaster, the Scenic Railway, and the carousel which has undergone extensive restorations, and both are worth a ride. The roller coaster is a great way to see the surrounding area and it is one of the last roller coasters still operated by a brakeman who rides the train to slow it down and stop it.
Other Luna Parks were operated in Australia but the only ones that are still open are this one in Melbourne and another in Sydney. It is easily accessible via public transportation and has plenty of parking for visitors with cars.
The best time to visit is during cooler months or those summer days when it isn’t scorching hot. Always bring a hat and sunscreen to protect yourself while in line, especially for the Scenic Railway which could take longer on busy days.
Top Tip: Plan on setting aside a whole day if you are planning on visiting Luna Park as it is jam packed full of stuff to do.
Recommended by Mark at ‘Travels in Gippsland’
If you are looking for an escape that has something for everyone, then Phillip Island is the perfect place for a magical getaway. Located an easy 90 minute drive from Melbourne there are so many things to do on Phillip Island.
Most people flock to the Island, both tourists and locals alike, to watch the Little Penguin Show nightly. As you sit by the seaside these amazing Little Penguins make their way onto the beach, up the sand and back to their burrows. It is a joy to watch for both adults and kids alike and one of the most remarkable things to witness.
Taking a Wildlife Coast Cruise from the Island will take you out to Seal Rock. Here the seals laze in the sun and frolic in the water. You can also see Seal Rock form the Nobbies where you can learn more about Phillip Island and even visit Antarctica!
If you would like to step back in time, then a visit to Churchill Island is fantastic. Here you can see what life was like on Phillip Island back in the early 1900’s. You may be lucky enough that the Island is hosting the Farmers Market if you are visiting on a weekend. Here you will get some amazing fresh produce from local farmer’s right near Phillip Island.
There are plenty of free things to do on Phillip Island too. At low tide you can take one of the walks along the beach to see the Forrest Caves, Magiclands and the shipwreck of the S.S Speke. If you prefer a walk that doesn’t involve sand, then you can go searching for wallabies and koalas at the Oswin Roberts Reserve.
Top Tip: Head back to San Remo for a brilliant serve of fresh fish and chips and once finished, then a visit to the jetty is a must. Every day pelicans come in to be fed by the local co-op workers and you can watch along. This happens at around 12 noon. You will also find some huge (and we mean huge) stingrays that glide under the jetty throughout the day.
Recommended by Willow at ‘Travels in Gippsland’
One place that should be on everyone’s Victoria Australia bucket list is the Gippsland Lakes.
Most people will visit Lakes Entrance to get their first taste of this amazing natural wonder. Lakes Entrance is the biggest town on the lakes system and has the majority of the facilities holidaymakers will need for an epic visit to Gippsland. From Lakes Entrance you can easily discover the beauty of the lakes system either by boat, walking, swimming or if you are lucky enough from the air.
The Gippsland Lakes are made up of lakes, lagoons and inlets that snake their way down the coast making it home to some of the most pristine beaches in Australia. One of them is the magnificent 90-mile Beach. Easily accessed from Lakes Entrance and patrolled in the warmer months, this is one beach that solidifies the absolute beauty Australian beaches have. At times throughout the year, you will find yourself the only person on the beach.
If you want a more relaxed trip to the Gippsland Lakes then one of the small towns along the lakes system is for you. Beautiful towns like Paynesville, Metung and Raymond Island are where country hospitality shines. Local wines, food and magnificent farmers markets are where you can get some of the best local produce with an amazing coastal backdrop.
Throughout the Gippsland Lakes, you will also find unique Australian animals. The Gippsland Lakes system is home to the Burranan dolphin which is only found in the Lakes and in Port Phillip Bay. You can also see an abundance of kangaroos, wallabies, and seals, and a visit to Raymond Island will allow you to see the koala colony there.
The Gippsland Lakes is not just about water sports and fishing, there is just so much to do and so much to see.
Top Tip: Hiring a sailing boat or motorboat is the perfect way to see the true beauty of Gippsland Lakes.
Famous Australian Landmarks – Western Australia
Recommended by Natalie & Steve at ‘Curious Campers’
Ningaloo Reef is the largest fringing coral reef in the World and it is right here in Australia. Forming part of Western Australia’s Coral Coast, it stretches for 260km between Exmouth and Coral Bay, both are ideal bases for getting out to explore the reef.
At 1200km from Perth, getting to Ningaloo Reef is part of the adventure. You can fly into Exmouth via Perth then you will need to hire a car to get around. Otherwise it is a road trip from Perth. Allow a couple of weeks to see everything along the way. Once you make it to the reef, you get to enjoy one of the best things about it – how accessible it is.
Whether you‘re in Coral Bay or Exmouth, the inner reef is within 50 metres of the shore. No need to book cruises to the reef here! You can snorkel over beautiful coral gardens and gaze down on everything from colourful fish and turtles to rays, reef sharks and dugongs right from the beach. Ningaloo’s ease of access makes it ideal for both beginner and experienced snorkellers.
Top Tip: The best time to visit is between April and October, the days are a bit cooler but the water is still comfortable to swim in. At this time of year you can also do an activity Ningaloo is famous for – swim with whale sharks. Swimming with these gentle giants truly is a bucket list experience. Other marine encounters you can have are swims with manta rays and humpback whales.
Recommended by Tess at ‘Tessomewhere’
Rottnest Island is a small island located off the coast of Perth, Western Australia. It’s just a half hour ferry ride from the seaside suburb Fremantle to this unique island. There are no cars, lots of amazing beaches and it is home to the insta-famous marsupial, the quokka!
Whilst some accommodation is available on the island, it books up quickly in the warmer summer months. Take a day trip to see the best of Rottnest all year round.
Rottnest is known for its turquoise blue beaches, with incredible snorkelling spots that you can reach by bicycle or hopping on the island explorer bus. With 63 beaches on the island, you will be spoilt for choice. Popular spots for snorkelling include Parker Point, Little Salmon Bay and The Basin (pictured).
Before heading back to the mainland, make sure to get the famous Quokka selfie. Quokkas are found across the island, but they are most active in early mornings and later in the afternoon. Remember not to touch or feed the quokkas, and don’t forget to get low to get the best selfie with these cute animals.
Top Tip: For a 360 degree view over the island, head to the Wadjemup Lighthouse in the middle of the island. Alternatively, treat yourself to a scenic joy flight over the island for an amazing aerial perspective.
READ MORE ABOUT QUOKKA AND THE BEST PLACES TO SEE WILDLIFE IN AUSTRALIA
Recommended by Ann & Rick at ‘The Road Is Life’
Wave Rock is one of Western Australia’s most unique and iconic natural landmarks. The wave shaped rock rises up over 15 metres tall and stretches out for 100 metres in length, it’s truly an impressive sight! If you visit during spring (September – November) you’ll be lucky to see a carpet of wildflowers growing around the base of the rock and surrounding area.
Wave Rock is located within the small Wheatbelt town of Hyden. The drive from Perth to Wave Rock takes around 4 hours which makes for a long day of driving if you’re thinking of taking a day trip. It’s best to spend a night there to really experience all that this region has to offer.
Don’t miss the other great attractions in Hyden as there are plenty more things to see and do there. The Hippo’s Yawn is an incredible natural rock formation only 1km from Wave Rock. Another must-see is Mulka’s Cave which is a 15 minute drive away. You’ll find some fascinating ancient Aboriginal rock art painted on the walls inside the cave.
Top Tip: For an unforgettable experience, try to catch a sunset at Wave Rock. Watching the sky light up over the rock makes for an especially magical view.
Famous Australian Landmarks – Northern Territory
Recommended by Claire at ‘Claire’s Footsteps’
Uluru is one of the best Australian landmarks. It is the largest single rock monolith in the world, and is a place of deep spirituality for Aboriginal Australians.
Uluru is located right in the middle of Australia. Many people drive here on a Darwin to Adelaide road trip, or you can also fly to Alice Springs and drive to Uluru. Alternatively, there is an airport in Yulara which is close to Uluru – but the plane tickets are very pricey!
Once you’re here, it’s a place to just walk around and appreciate the natural beauty. There are a few trails running around the base of the rock where you can learn about its importance to Aboriginal people. Better yet, you can also do a ranger tour where you will learn about its significance first hand!
It’s also worth catching Uluru at sunrise. It catches the sun perfectly and turns all sorts of beautiful shades before settling on its signature orange hue.
Top Tip: While you’re at Uluru, don’t miss Kata-Tutja as well. These are a large group of rocks that are also really fun to explore – a trail goes right through the middle of them!
If you’re travelling through Australia, Uluru is a must-visit!
Gunlom Falls, Kakadu National Park
Recommended by Sally at ‘Our 3 Kids vs the World’
Gunlom Falls is located in Kakadu National Park and is one of the best water holes to experience. The falls can be viewed from an easy walk out to the bottom of the falls, known as the Gunlom Billabong. To fully experience Gunlom Falls you’ll need to hike the track to the Gunlom Plunge Pool, an intense climb on a dirt track with some rock climbing involved at the end.
However, visiting this area of Australia is no easy feat and will require some organisation and planning. A 4WD is a must and roughing it camping for a bit is very much recommended. There is no comfy hotel in close proximity to the place so roll out your swag and enjoy a night under the stars.
You can only visit Gunlom Falls in the dry season which is generally between May and September, however it really depends on conditions up there and how big the wet season was before. The falls will need to be cleared of saltwater crocs before opening to the public. There will be freshwater crocs however unless provoked, they are generally harmless.
Gunlom Billabong was made famous in the movie Crocodile Dundee, and you’ll also see the Gunlom Plunge Pool in many adverts promoting Darwin and the Top End. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, the Top End is definitely Australia’s best kept secret. Get yourself up there soon.
Top Tip: Make the effort to hike to the Gunlom Plunge Pool as it is by far one of the top Australian travel experiences and stay for sunset if you’re game to climb back down in the dark.
Famous Australian Landmarks – Australian Capital Territory
Parliament House, Canberra
Recommended by Helen at ‘Differentville’
Opened in 1988 after eight years of construction, Parliament House in Canberra is famous for its design which aims to see it rising from the hill upon which it sits just ‘as true democracy rises from the state of things.’ Less well-known elements of design though are that the flagpole on the top is one of the world’s largest stainless steel structures and the flag on it is the size of a double decker bus!
But you don’t have to just admire Parliament House from the outside, as there are free tours throughout the day that take you into the building (book your time in advance here). Some of the highlights include walking through a sitting of Parliament (when possible so book on a weekday to maximise your chances) and a giant Lego model of the building complete with random sheep, which is definitely one of the more unusual things to see and do in Canberra.
Parliament House is a short walk from many of the major Canberra museums, including the Museum of Australian Democracy which is now located in the old Parliament House.
Top Tip: Parliament is the closest main sight to the Kingston area so book the last tour of the day, then head here afterwards. This trendy new waterfront district, about 30-minute walk, or a short Uber ride away, is full of bars and restaurants. The Dock has a great view but a nice casual atmosphere.
The Australian War Memorial, Canberra
Recommended by Paula at ‘Australia Your Way’
A visit to the Australian War Memorial is high on the list of things to do in Canberra for everyone visiting the country’s capital. Whether or not you are a history buff, you will find something of interest among the vast collection presented here.
From small scale model battle scenes dating back decades to modern presentations of the psychological effects of combat, the exhibits at the Australian National War Memorial are presented with compassion and honesty.
Included are many first-person accounts, memorabilia from individual soldiers including personal letters, uniforms, and keepsakes from their time abroad. On our most recent visit, there was a photographic exhibit on veteran’s tattoos and the meaning behind the art they had chosen to wear.
There are a number of sound and light shows and several large-scale aircraft on display. The naval exhibit was really engaging for kids and adults.
Entry to the memorial is free, but bookings must be made online beforehand.
Top Tip: Time your visit for the afternoon so you can witness the Last Post Ceremony held at 4:45pm each day, 15 minutes before the memorial closes. Allow time beforehand to visit the Hall of Memory and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the back of the Pool of Reflection. The stained-glass windows are exquisite.
Famous Australian Landmarks – Tasmania
Recommended by Bec at ‘Wyld Family Travel’
If you are visiting Hobart then a trip to Port Arthur should be at the top of your list. This former penal colony prison is now a shell of what it once was but the stories that it can still tell are horrific.
Being sentenced to time at the Port Arthur site must have instilled fear into any man who was sent there. It’s harsh surrounding landscape and bitter cold wind that whips off the water could bring the toughest to their knees. Add in the labour that most inmates undertook and you have one of the harshest environments in the world.
You can take a guided tour of the site for about 45 minutes. Your Port Arthur guide will lead you around the major sites of the prison grounds and tell you stories of the harsh conditions convicts faced at the time and personal stories of who the convicts were as well.
The guide will also bring you to the recent heart ache that Port Arthur witnessed. The Port Arthur Massacre, where in 1996, 35 people were murdered and 23 wounded when a gunman opened fire at the historical site bringing it to the forefront as a place of deep sorrow to a new generation of Australians.
After the tour you are free to wander the historical site on your own and discover what the running of the prison was like. There is the Commandant’s House with old furniture and home wares in it. There is the solitary confinement cells where you can learn about the ‘rehabilitation’ that was conducted and then there are the house of the guards that all have a story to tell. On your way out make sure you take the time to have a look in the visitor centre which has more information about the Port Arthur Convict Site in it.
You can easily drive to Port Arthur from Hobart, but if you do not have a car then there are many guided tours that you can go on that will incorporate all the travel down to the site. The only problem with a guided tour from Hobart is that you don’t have time to wander at your own pace.
Top Tip: If you do decide to get a guided tour of Port Arthur from Hobart, book one that includes a boat tour of the Isle of the Dead.
Famous Australian Landmarks – South Australia
South Australia’s Wine Regions
Australian wine regions are world renowned for producing some of the best wines in the world.
This Australian landmark pertains to numerous regions within South Australia, rather than just one specific location, but we felt it was imperative to be added to the list! After all, South Australia is home to one of the Great Wine Capitals in the world – Adelaide.
South Australia’s wine regions excel in producing premium wine, provide exceptional wine tourism and has some of the oldest vines in the world. Adelaide is the gateway to all 18 of South Australia’s wine regions from the Barossa, McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek, Adelaide Hills, Clare Valley, Coonawarra and Riverland.
Within an hour’s drive from Adelaide, there are more than 200 cellar doors to explore. You can sip and sample your way through a large variety of wines in unique cellar door experiences such as in a double decker bus at Down The Rabbit Hole Cellar Door, or perched in a giant Rubik’s cube at d’Arenberg. Discover hidden wineries down dirt roads, pull up a pew in a reimagined church or just enjoy the view at an architectural marvel.
Every month South Australia hosts a celebratory festival focusing on wine. The Crush Festival marks the beginning of vintage, Winter Reds Festival is a communal blessing of Syrah, Grenache and all other red grape choices, and Chardonnay May pays homage to the king of white grapes.
Top Tip: The best way to fully enjoy South Australia’s cellar doors and wineries are on one of the many wine tours on offer. You can choose from luxury wine touring to helicopter wine tours, winery bus tours and vineyard tours.
In Summary – Famous Australian Landmarks
Above we have listed 24 famous Australian landmarks all visitors and travellers should add to their bucket list. This list covers both man-made and natural Australian landmarks so there is something to suit and of interest to every type of traveller on their trip.
Are you planning on visiting Australia? Have you visited any of the Australian landmarks listed above, or have we missed a famous Australian landmark you love to visit? Post your tips and questions below.
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