Australia gave us kangaroos, Neighbours and vegemite sandwiches. It awed us with the Sydney Opera House, the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef and sun-drenched beaches of Bondi. Enjoy one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world with these handpicked suggestions of the best places to visit in Australia based on Australian landmarks that others miss.
I love Australia. But let's face it. It's huge. And you're unlikely to be able to see it all in one go. So use the classic Australian landmarks to guide your initial planning. Then pick a region and delve deep with the itineraries and further reading options below.
Does anyone need to be told about this place?! The Sydney Opera House is recognisable world wide, joining UNESCO's world heritage list in 2007. It remains one of Australia's most visited destinations, with a staggering 8.2 million people visiting its harp and shark like fins each year, with many more posing for photos outside. To keep the temperature down inside, Sydneysiders take seawater taken directly from the harbour.
Kakadu National Park covers a staggering 7646 square miles, encompassing some of the world's most famous flora, fauna, and rock art. Camping is also allowed here, although more luxurious lodges also exist.
It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site steeped in cultural significance: it's been continuously occupied by Aboriginal people for at least 40,000 years.
Don't pass up the chance to view one of the 5000 rock art sites which offer a fascinating insight into the lives of local Aboriginal people.
Just an hour and a half from Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road is 243 kilometres of tarmac that sweeps along some of the best views in the world. Sandy beaches, rocky shores, surf spots and rolling farmland. It could also be described as the Greatest Monument to Love - brotherly love in this case as a project for soldiers returning from World War One.
A former convict settlement established by the British Empire, Port Arthur housed the hardest of British and Irish criminals.
Australia's convict past is a complex area, quite apart from the guided ghost and paranormal tours, and Port Arthur remains one of the most preserved convict settlements in the country. Over 1,000 graves still exist on the island, ominously referred to as Death Island. This landmark remains one of Tasmania's top tourist attractions to this day.
Over in Queensland, the TV and movie-star famous Heart Reef ranks as another of Australia's most famous landmarks. Beyond looking beautiful by itself, it also provides some of the best underwater viewing of the Great Barrier Reef. Heart reef is protected from scuba diving and snorkelling, unfortunately but perhaps understandably, and is only viewable by seaplane or helicopter.
Kangaroo Island bounces (sorry!) 70 miles off the coast, south west of Adelaide, connected to the mainland by ferry and plane. Nearly one third of the island is declared a conservation area or National Park, home to penguins, koalas and sea lions. And as Australia's third largest island, that's a lot of conservation space.
Uluru, located in the heart of the Northern Territory, is the world's largest monolith.
It's also, as I'm sure you know, one of Australia's most well-known landmarks.
It rises 1141 feet above the ground and the surrounding area, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, is a world heritage site to boot. In 1985, Uluru was returned to the Anangu people for the great significance and spiritual importance the site held for them.
You can view it by helicopter, hiking and even by camel ride. It's a sight you don't want to miss.
Explore and soak up Sydney; the food, the beaches, art galleries and sun-drenched days. Drive or fly from the magnificent deserts to Queensland, and experience the Great Barrier Reef or the charisma of Port Douglas.
Start in Perth; visit its castles, gardens and sample some of WA's stunning cuisine. Embrace the maritime history of Fremantle & spend a night on Rottnest Island. See the beauty of the Margaret River town and its craft breweries and wineries, before heading to Albany and Esperance for some delicious sun soaked beaches.
See the sights of Sydney, before heading to the stunning Blue Mountains. Visit the charming Hawkesbury Valley, and embrace the history and bountiful beaches of Newcastle. Venture to Gosford and the Brisbane Water National Park, and enjoy the state forests and some delightful Australian sun.
Use urban-chic Melbourne as a base for exploring the Great Ocean Road, a road trip that lives up to its name.