How difficult it is to draw up a list of the most beautiful things to see when visiting Australia! Austral country at the antipodes of the Earth, Australia is the oldest and most isolated continent in the world. The country is located south of Indonesia, and northwest of New Zealand . Australia has 24 million inhabitants spread over 7.69 million km², of which 90% of the population lives in urban areas. The result is a density of only 3 inhabitants/km²!
The largest country in Oceania, populated for more than 50,000 years, Australia is one of the few countries in the world to have been able to retain its indigenous inhabitants (Aborigines), who have lived there since prehistoric times. Discovered by Europeans in the 17th century – Dutch, French then English -, Australia was claimed by Great Britain in 1788 and therefore has a relatively recent official history (which did not prevent it from being bloodied by the colonization, slavery, racism and the wars of the 20th century…).
This country fascinates from many points of view: the vastness of its territory, the hospitality of the locals – who call themselves Aussies in local denomination -, its many endemic species (sometimes deadly), its breathtaking landscapes between the two Pacific oceans and Indian, the diversity of its climates, its beaches, its nature, its biodiversity or its economic prosperity (it is the 13th economic power in the world, and the second most developed country in the world after Norway according to the United Nations).
What to do in Australia? The list of must-see things is long! Here is our list of the most beautiful places to see when visiting Australia!
1. The Great Barrier Reef
Australia’s iconic site, the Great Barrier Reef is also one of the most famous attractions in the world. Stretching over 2,600 kilometers from Cape York to Bundaberg, it is the largest coral reef in the world. Many marine species as well as billions of polyp corals live there, spread over 900 islands and 2,900 reefs, making it a unique site, listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1981.
Due to its warm and clear waters, its biodiversity and its proximity to the coast, it is a marine paradise for divers and bathers and one of the underwater wonders that must continue to be protected!
2. The Whitsundays
Archipelago located right in the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland, here is another essential activity to do when visiting Australia: hundreds of thousands of tourists go there each year but the Whitsundays Islands which form the archipelago are sufficiently numerous (there are 74) to be peaceful there.
And the landscapes are sumptuous, unique in the world: beaches and strips of white sand, warm, crystalline, emerald and turquoise waters warmed by a tropical sun… Something to inspire everyone! Airlie Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Australia and it is the best known starting point for touring the Whitsundays archipelago.
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3. Cairns and the rainforest
What to do in Australia? The surroundings of Cairns are also worth seeing. A coastal city enjoying a hot and humid tropical climate, Cairns is surrounded by mountains on which lush vegetation grows: the rain forest, or rainforest , where you can go for beautiful hikes between the mangroves, the eucalyptus forests and where the one can observe many endemic species dating from evolutions since Gondwana (marsupials, rodents, birds, reptiles, etc.).
4. Fitzroy Island
We had been there in 2012 and had been seduced by this island. Not sure what to do in Cairns? Take a day or two by ferry to Fitzroy Island , a beautiful island in the Great Barrier Reef where you can stroll and swim or snorkel, admiring brightly colored tropical fish.
People come here to visit the Opera House , with a view of the Harbor Bridge , but Sydney has many other attractions: its nightlife – around the Kings Cross district -, its huge Botanical Garden, The Rocks district, walks along along Sydney Bay – jagged as much as it is immense -, the surf beaches (Bondi Beach, Clovelly Beach, Palm Beach, Avalon Beach, Manly, Maroubra Beach, etc).
6. The Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains National Park is located two hours northwest of Sydney, is a chain of sandstone mountains stretching over 1,436 km² and culminating at 1,112 meters above sea level.
An integral part of the Australian Cordillera, the Blue Mountains are carved out by deep gorges reaching a depth of almost 1,000 meters in places, dizzying peaks that would almost make the Gorges du Verdon pass for a very small furrow! Climb up – to Echo Point or Three Sisters – for a breathtaking view of the gorges, between precipices and waterfalls to cross.
7. La Great Ocean Road
After visiting Melbourne, what to do in Australia during your road trip? Taking the road west, drive on the Great Ocean Road , the famous 243 km coastal road along the State of Victoria, with its magnificent views and cliffs overlooking the ocean: Loch Ard Gorge, London Bridge, The Twelve Apostles are the most renowned emblematic points.
The cliffs of Étretat (Seine-Maritime) or the Algarve (Portugal), in comparison, are small pebbles!
How to visit Australia without going to Tasmania? The southernmost territory of the country, Tasmania has a rich and preserved natural environment, a third of which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Wander through bays and multiple national parks – Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, Southwest Conservation Area, Southwest National Park , etc. – by discovering an incredibly rich biodiversity. If you love nature, this is the place to go!
9. Coral Bay et Exmouth
After a road trip to visit Perth and the west coast, don’t miss Coral Bay , nicknamed the “Little Barrier Reef”, in the state of Western Australia. A real paradise for divers, this corner full of isolated and wild nature allows you to observe sharks, whales, manta rays and many other marine species.
Going up towards Exmouth , the Cape Range National Park, which is home to a very rich fauna and flora, allows you to stroll on sublime beaches that are almost deserted.
10. Karijini National Park
Another Western Australian gem, Karijini National Park is a must-see for anyone visiting Australia who has time to venture into the western wilderness. A region full of beauty and wild nature, it is an absolutely unmissable park.
Arriving by road, it’s like being in a movie of the American Far West, with red rock canyons, waterfalls, caves and natural pools to immerse yourself in, waterfalls flowing into impressive gorges , many unforgettable treks to do.
11. Cable Beach in Broome
This beach in Broome , to the west of the peninsula looking out over the Indian Ocean, is remembered as one of the finest in Australia.
Located in the northwest of the country, it is a white sand beach stretching over 22 kilometers where you can, in the evening, see caravans of dromedaries pass by… or even walk on the backs of these beasts and have the feeling of walk on water !
12. Kakadu National Park
Finally, to complete your tour of Australia, are you looking for what to do at the end of the trip? Discover the Northern Territory, with the Kakadu National Park , comparable to the area of the departments of Gironde and Landes combined. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981, the park has been continuously inhabited for 40,000 years and is home to remains of hunter-gatherers and fishermen from the Neolithic era to the present-day Aborigines.
It is therefore a unique place in the world, only 250 kilometers from Darwin. Consisting of multiple escarpments, cliffs, waterfalls and basins, the park is home to a very diverse fauna (thousands of species of insects, freshwater fish, amphibians and reptiles including the terrifying saltwater crocodile, snakes, more than 280 species beware of crocodiles if you want to swim…
13. The Devils Marbles
Continuing south, you’ll come across a unique site in Australia’s Red Desert: the Devils Marbles , huge granite boulders scattered across a valley between Tennant Creek and Alice Springs .
The rocks shaped by erosion over millions of years are impressive, and offer a unique view, especially at sunrise and sunset.
14. Ayers Rock – Uluru and the Red Center
Finally, the best for last: how to visit Australia without seeing Uluru ? True emblem of the country, Uluru – or Ayers Rock – is known worldwide as a pebble placed in the middle of the red desert, a sacred mountain for the Aboriginal peoples.
The surrounding area has many other must-see sites: the Kata Tjuta – or Olgas -, Kings Canyon. Please note: you will be surrounded by flies!