Australia’s red dirt outback, dark sea cliffs and lush hinterland all hide natural wonders waiting to be discovered.
In Australia, you’ll find some of the most unique landscapes in the world. Tucked inside the dense wilderness and wide-open frontiers lie enticing natural phenomena formed over millions of years.
Here are the most incredible natural attractions around the country.
Australia’s largest state is also home to perhaps the largest number of extraordinary landscapes. Head just over two hours north of Perth and prepare to encounter a scene widely regarded as being better suited to another planet. The Pinnacles, located within Nambung National Park, is a mammoth collection of giant limestone pillars that protrude from the desert-like surrounds and make for an awe-inspiring sight.
The Bungle Bungles
When it comes to Australia’s most jaw-dropping landscapes, the Bungle Bungles deserve a top spot. Located in the Kimberley, a wilderness region in the north of Western Australia, the Bungle Bungles consist of a cluster of giant black and yellow striped, beehive-like towers that are simply dazzling, particularly when witnessed from the air. Take a scenic helicopter flight to admire the strange sight from the sky.
Another fascinating natural attraction in Western Australia is Lake Hillier, known for its baffling bubblegum-pink hue. Located in the picturesque destination of Esperance, about 7.5 hours from Perth by car, Lake Hillier draws visitors from around the world for its photogenic colour. Although it’s not the only pink lake in Australia, it’s often considered the most vibrant.
Out of Hyden, a town almost four hours east of Perth, comes a geological oddity. The aptly-named Wave Rock is a granite cliff that has been carved by nature to resemble a breaking ocean wave. The rock stands an impressive 15 metres (49 feet) high and extends for 110 metres (361 feet).
The Northern Territory is famous for its red dirt terrain, but this state’s mesmerising landscapes venture far beyond the boundary of the outback. The towering sandstone walls of Kings Canyon, located about six hours from Alice Springs, are quite simply astonishing. The walls are an intriguing blend of jagged red rock and smooth, steep stone. Full of vibrant colours, Kings Canyon can be explored from a helicopter or on the iconic rim walk.
Uluru and Kata Tjuta
Less than five hours from Kings Canyon you’ll find another remarkable wonder. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is home to two of the country’s most moving natural monuments. Kata Tjuta is a gathering of giant red sandstone domes that dominate the surrounding arid landscape. Thought to have once been a single rock, these three dozen domes are a sensational sight. Interestingly, the highest point of Kata Tjuta reaches a height of 546 metres (1791 feet), making it roughly 200 metres (656 feet) higher than the better-known Uluru and an absolute must-stop when visiting the Red Centre.
Litchfield National Park
Distinctly different from the Northern Territory’s burnt red landscapes are the many waterfalls and swimming holes that speckle the state with blue. When it comes to swimming in the wild, it doesn’t get much better than the pools of Litchfield National Park, around a three-hour drive north of Katherine on the way to the city of Darwin. The most popular place to take a dip is Wangi Falls, where there is an easy access ramp into the large natural swimming pool surrounded by rainforest.
In World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, about two hours from Darwin, you’ll find Gunlom Falls and plunge pool. The pool lies at the bottom of the falls and extends to a flat, elevated ledge that offers sweeping views of the hills and ridges below. It’s a steep 45-minute hike to the top, but a refreshing dip makes it worth the effort.
South Australia might be known for its wine and wildlife, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find some jaw-dropping landscapes. If you're driving the Great Ocean Road, consider making Mt Gambier one of your pit-stops and head to Umpherston Sinkhole. Once a limestone cave, this sinkhole is the result of corrosion that led to the cave’s roof collapsing and creating an underground crater. It’s since been transformed into a stunning sunken garden that you can admire day and night. You'll find Mt Gambier approximately a 2.5-hour drive from Allansford, the last stop on the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne.
Another of South Australia’s spectacular landscapes lies within the famous Flinders Ranges, a rugged outback region set about 5.5 hours north of Adelaide. Wilpena Pound is a huge, sunken natural amphitheatre of mountains resembling a crater. Spanning almost 100 kilometres (62 miles), the only way in is through a massive gorge that's 11 kilometres (seven miles) long and eight kilometres (five miles) wide. Take the 5-hour drive north of Adelaide to get there, or view it on a scenic flight.
Girraween National Park
Brimming with natural wonders to discover, Queensland is one of the best places to find an unexpected adventure. Just over three hours from Brisbane lies Girraween National Park, a treasure trove of tantalising landscapes. Choosing just one highlight within the park would be impossible, so start with Granite Arch, a natural stone doorway created from three huge boulders. From the Granite Arch track, make your way to The Pyramid trail, where you’ll ascend the steep slope to the summit. Here, you’ll not only find panoramic views of the stunning bushland, but also the mindblowing Balancing Rock, a huge round boulder that balances on one end.
The Fairy Pools
Noosa, a seaside town located in the Sunshine Coast, is famous for its sandy beaches and oceanfront cafes, but venture out of the village and you’ll find beautiful landscapes and incredible swimming holes. The Fairy Pools, set within Noosa National Park, are natural tidal pools surrounded by dark and dramatic basalt rocks. Don’t forget to pack a pair of goggles; the pools are home to a variety of coral and sponges that can be spotted at low tide.
The Great Barrier Reef
Of course, your nature tour of Queensland won’t be complete until you see the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system. There are several locations from which you can reach the reef, including Cairns, Port Douglas, Airlie Beach and Bundaberg. Stretching over 2,600 kilometres (1,615 miles) and home to 900 islands, the opportunities to be awed are endless. Take a day trip to iconic attractions like Heart Reef and Vlasoff Cay, snorkel over some of the world’s best coral and spot marine creatures ranging from manta rays to reef sharks. No matter where you begin, you’ll embark on an unforgettable experience.
The Walls of China
New South Wales serves up a variety of different landscapes, each of which has unique attractions to discover. In Mungo National Park, located less than nine hours from Adelaide or fourteen hours from Sydney, the Walls of China boast some of the most mind-boggling views in the state. Here, nature has carved out dramatic crescent-shaped sand and clay dunes that demand attention. Check out the landscape from the viewing platform, and don’t forget to dress for the weather, which can vary greatly.
In the dusty north of New South Wales, hidden within Mount Kaputar National Park, are the quirky Sawn Rocks: a volcanic cliff face that resembles pentagonal crystals made of stone. The 40-metre (131-foot) tall cliffs are thought to plummet an additional 60 metres (196 feet) into the earth. The rocks are easily accessible by foot; begin at the Sawn Rocks picnic area, where you’ll pick up a wheelchair-accessible track. Walk just ten minutes to the viewing platform, where you’ll marvel at the unusual rock formation jutting upwards from Bobbiwaa Creek.
Dark Sky Park
You’ll have to look skyward to see another of New South Wales’ stunning natural attractions. At Australia's first and only Dark Sky Park, you can enjoy some of the most spectacular stargazing thanks to the high altitude, low humidity, crystal-clear skies and low light environment. Located in picturesque Warrumbungle National Park in central New South Wales, the Dark Sky Park offers amazing stargazing opportunities both on your own and from an observatory. At Warrumbungle Observatory, you can book your chance to navigate the night sky as you spot stars and planets through up to five different telescopes.
The Australian Capital Territory is not only home to Australia’s capital city, Canberra, but the beautiful Namadgi National Park. Walk through the park to the soaring granite cliffs of Booroomba Rocks and see the park stretching out before you. From the clifftops, you can see an aerial view of Canberra as well as the graceful Brindabella Ranges beyond.
From thrilling road trips to jagged mountains, Victoria is filled with natural attractions to explore. Just a three-hour drive west from Melbourne, the Grampians is a place of inspiring vistas, stunning sandstone mountains and endless space to explore. Take off on a hike to Boronia Peak for views that will leave you breathless. Begin at the Tandara Road carpark before following the track across Fyans Creek and through native pine forests. The 2.5-hour return hike culminates with an awe-inspiring view of tree-speckled mountains, blue lakes and sweeping valleys.
The Great Ocean Road
Several of Victoria’s most beautiful natural attractions lie along the state’s most spectacular road trip: the Great Ocean Road. Brimming with coastal views and ancient rock formations, the road offers a surprise around every corner. One of the most impressive wonders of nature is the Loch Ard Gorge, a site of staggering limestone stacks that tower above turquoise water. Admire the formations from the elevated viewing platform, or be dwarfed by the stacks when you weave your way to the beach below. Other stunning sights along the Great Ocean Road include the iconic 12 Apostles, Gibson Steps and London Bridge.
Dolerite sea cliffs of the Tasman Peninsula
With its vast wilderness and rocky coast, Tasmania has no shortage of dramatic natural attractions. The enormous dolerite sea cliffs found at the bottom of the Tasman Peninsula, located less than two hours from Hobart, are one of the state’s most impressive wonders. Measuring up to 300 metres (984 feet) in height, these jutted creations are perfectly suited to the rugged, almost unworldly coastal surrounds. These are the Southern Hemisphere’s highest sea cliffs, and for the daring, they are an abseilers’ mecca. In Cape Hauy, you’ll find The Candlestick and the Totem Pole, standalone sea stacks that stretch out of the ocean and into the sky. Because of their stark vertical cliffs, the Totem Pole and Candlestick are popular destinations for rock climbers, but you can also marvel at the bizarre rock formations from a coastal cruise.
The Bay of Fires
Another of Tasmania’s natural attractions lies within the white-sand beaches and clear waters of the Bay of Fires. Located less than three hours from Launceston in the state’s northeast corner, the Bay of Fires contains incredible granite boulders covered in bright orange lichen. While the rocks are impressive by themselves, they appear even more vibrant against the blue coastal water.