Who says you need to travel overseas to encounter some of the world’s most amazing sights?
We have a massive back yard here in Australia, and often all it takes is hopping in the car and taking a short drive to encounter an experience that’s on par, or better than, what many other countries have to offer.
It’s one of the benefits to having an entire continent as your country: if variety is the spice of life, then Australia clocks in at jalapeño level. Want some of the best beaches in the world? We’ve got them. More of a fan of wining, vining and dining? Check. How about some pristine alpine landscapes comparable with Europe? You bet.
In case you’re not convinced, here are 23 of our favourite photos that prove down under surely comes out on top.
1. You can enjoy a beer in South Australia while checking out Great White Sharks
Looking for an ultimate wildlife encounter that comes with a dose of frothy, cold refreshment? Join Port Lincoln‘s Adventure Bay Charters aboard their unique Aqua Sub and peer through its glass windows as your body remains completely dry, but not your throat.
2. You can see the Aurora without putting up with 6 months of night time and sub-zero temperatures
The Aurora Australis may not have the international fame of its northern counterpart, however, those visiting Tasmania and other southerly parts of the country during the winter can be treated to a spectacular light show all the same.
Check out Tasmania’s view of the light show from Cradle Mountain/Lake St. Clair National Park pictured here.
3. Even holes in the ground look amazing here
What do you do with a giant collapse in the earth? You just create a gorgeous, enchanting garden inside according to South Australians.
Formed as a result of a cave collapse, Mt. Gambier’s Umpherston Sinkhole has been delighting families with its blend of shrubs, ferns, trees and vines for decades.
4. Our waterfalls go sideways…
For when a regular waterfall just doesn’t cut it head to Western Australia’s Kimberley region. The region is home to “one of the world’s greatest wonders” according to Sir David Attenborough.
The Horizontal Falls near Broome and Derby in WA has not one, but two sideway-rushing waterfalls, and can be explored with operator Horizontal Falls Adventures for an up-close look from on the water and in the sky.
5. …and our lakes are pink…
Anyone care for some strawberry milk? It may look pretty, but don’t drink it! Middle Island’s Lake Hillier in Western Australia is believed to derive its unusual colour from a certain type of algae common in the region. Part of the Recherche Archipelago (try saying that fast three times) the lake can be seen up close by joining
Part of the Recherche Archipelago (try saying that fast three times) the lake can be seen up close by joining Esperance Island Cruises for an extended journey to the island’s shores.
6. …and our regular waterfalls are no slouch, either
Australia is boasting some impressive waterfalls. If you’re in the Top End, why not take in some of Kakadu’s dramatic falls, if you’re travelling around Queensland be sure to visit Wallaman Falls or you can admire the tiers of Western Australia’s Mitchell Falls.
But if you’re after a real photographic treat, then Russell Falls in Tasmania is your one stop shop. Look at the sheer size and beauty of it!
7. We make the edge of the Earth look good, too
With a visit to South Australia’s Head of Bight, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the world WAS truly flat. When mapmakers envisioned the edge of the earth, South Australia’s Head of Bight is likely a close approximation of what they had in mind.
To add to its appeal, the region is an awesome spot for spotting whales from June to September.
8. Our sunsets are legendary on both coasts
One of the main benefits of having so much coastline is the sheer quantity of top spots to watch the sun go down. In fact, there are so many awesome sunsets each night in Australia, we ran a poll a few years ago to determine which destination took out the title of Best Sunset in Australia.
The winner? The small and charming town of Busselton, in Western Australia pictured here.
9. We’ve got plateaus just like the central USA, except we stick them in the water
The word ‘island’ mostly brings to mind palm trees, golden sandy beaches and exclusive resorts. Not the case with Tasmania’s Tasman Island, a dolerite-dotted and wildlife-rich speck of rock that lies in the blustery Tasman Peninsula.
Plus, you have to respect the ingenuity – or is that insanity? – of building the country’s most isolated lighthouse over 100 years ago in a place that’s only accessible by air today.
10. Plus islands with holes in them
This is Cleft Island off the coast of Victoria’s Wilson’s Promontory. The island is a massive chunk of granite home to a gaping, grass-filled cave that’s over 130 metres wide. It’s completely inaccessible for the average traveller.
11. And some regular breathtaking islands as well
Australia is teeming with gorgeous islands of various shapes and sizes, including NSW’s unique Lord Howe Island. The island may sit over 600km off the Australian east coast, but it’s an Australian island and a simply gorgeous one at that.
In fact, one American man who is fortunate enough to have visited every country in the world named it “the most perfect place on Earth”. High but deserving praise.
12. There are approximately 10,685 beaches to choose from here
You don’t need to head to a far-flung island to find beautiful beaches here in Australia. According to an estimate by the Coastal Studies Unit at the University of Sydney, there are over ten thousand beaches around Australia.
Which is the best is entirely subjective, the Whitsundays‘ Whitehaven Beach was voted number 1 in a poll a few years ago, however, the sheer number of beautiful contenders is staggering (including WA’s Twilight Beach, pictured here).
13. We’ve got some truly great road trips…
Thanks to our wide, open roads, there’s plenty of adventure to be had in Australia on four wheels, whether that be on a guided tour or in your own car. While the likes of QLD’s Cairns to Cape York, WA’s Gibb River Road, Tasmania’s East Coast and NSW’s Pacific Coast are all epic trips, Victoria’s
While the likes of QLD’s Cairns to Cape York, WA’s Gibb River Road, Tasmania’s East Coast and NSW’s Pacific Coast are all epic trips, Victoria’s Great Ocean Road ranks near the top (pictured above).
14. …and some epic flights to take as well
Of course, for alternative angles on the best of Australia, few trips can compete with hopping aboard a helicopter or light aircraft for a birds-eye view. You can soar over QLD’s iconic Heart Reef, SA’s expansive Lake Eyre, and even see Uluru from above.
Those willing to open their wallets can take in some truly unique landscapes such as South Australia’s massive Wilpena Pound pictured here.
15. You can visit the moon, without actually… visiting the moon
Neil Armstrong and friends could have saved themselves some substantial stress by simply renting a car and driving a couple of hundred kilometres to the north of Perth instead.
The Pinnacles Desert in WA’s Nambung National Park is a collection of limestone formations that bring to mind a distinctly alien landscape, especially in the evening.
We do 3 of the essential “W”s really well including…
Take your pick of any of the renowned wine regions that have put Australia firmly on the international wine map in recent years and you’ll find your palate delighted. Top regions include the Yarra, Hunter, Barossa or Tamar Valleys, and WA’s increasingly popular Margaret River wine region.
Add in a number of boutique wineries throughout regional QLD, NSW and the ACT and there’s a red or white available to suit all tastes.
Whether you’re a fan of pale turquoise blues, deep azures, or simply prefer to keep things crystal clear, Australia does water well in all its forms. For stunning examples of the former, head to one of the island chains on both coasts such as QLD’s Whitsundays or WA’s Buccaneer Archipelago and Rottnest Island.
For the darker of the three, few are as spectacular as Tasmania’s alpine Lake Oberon; and for clarity, any number of the country’s Hinterland regions or Fraser Island‘s gorgeous lakes will fit the bill.
18. …and Wildlife
The world loves our animals almost as much as we do! There are an estimated 943,832,119 photos hanging on international walls of former visitors to Australia cuddling a koala.
Koalas aren’t the only animals to see, you can also hand-feed kangaroos, play with a platypus, pose underwater with parrotfish, watch parading penguins, or get within a hand’s length of some of the world’s largest crocodiles at Crocosaurus Cove in Darwin.
19. Our rocks are big and mighty
Who said size doesn’t matter? You all know the majesty of Uluru, but don’t forget the likes of…
…Kata Tjuta/The Olgas in the Northern Territory…
…Mount Augustus in Western Australia…
…The Remarkable Rocks on Kangaroo Island in South Australia…
…or Western Australia’s Bungle Bungles.
20. Our oceans come with built-in swimming pools
Swimming in a pool, within an ocean? Call it poolception, but there are multiple spots around the country in which swimming a few laps in a man-made pool fuelled by the intermittent splashing of the ocean isn’t merely a dream.
Some of the most famed include Manly and Bondi in New South Wales, but don’t forget the recently-renovated Merewether Baths of Newcastle on the state’s central coast.
21. We turn graffiti into an artform
We aren’t referring to tags plastered across cities, we’re talking about Instagram-worthy art graffiti. Victoria’s artistic capital of Melbourne has turned what used to be a public annoyance into a true piece of beauty in multiple parts of the city.
There are numerous endorsed examples of street graffiti around Melbourne city, with the ever-changing Hosier Lane being the standard bearer for its layer-on-layer of political and individual expression.
22. Here’s what you can do in Australia in Winter…
While there’s a certain appeal to the magic of snowfall various parts of the world experience at winter, there’s also a certain appeal to Australia’s version of wintery.
You’ll be able to walk around in shorts and even go for a snorkel in the world’s most beautiful reef system. Queensland’s coastline, and the pictured Lady Elliot Island offer all of the above with no snow shovels in sight.
23. …and this is what n Australian Christmas looks like!
Put another shrimp on the barbie, mate (but seriously, we don’t even say that, they’re called prawns).
In addition, if you’re looking for all the top things to see and do in and around the rest of Australia including activities, attractions and more, be sure to check out our main Experiences section.