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15 Breathtaking Natural Wonders of Australia

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No doubt when your mind conjures up images of Australia, your mind automatically comes to its natural wonders.

Australia has it all when it comes to nature. It has blissful beaches, majestic mountains, spirited rainforests, tropical islands, a vast outback desert and miles of wetlands.

It’s not the cities that I think about when travelling in Australia, but the natural landscapes. I see images of rock formations, or coral reefs, of wine regions and waterfalls.

Australia is not short of natural beauty, and it wasn’t until our 18-month road trip around the country that I fully realized how strikingly beautiful my country is.

I don’t know if there’s an official definition of a “natural wonder” but these are the natural places I found “wondrous” and moved me physically and emotionally.

Natural Wonders of Australia

1. Uluru

If there’s one area that differentiates Australia from other destinations it’s the Outback.

Standing in the heart of the outback is one seriously big sandstone rock. You may have heard of it, it’s pretty famous, and it’s dominated every postcard from Australia for decades.

Formerly known as Ayers Rock, and now goes by its aboriginal name, Uluru, this sacred rock formation to indigenous Australians is believed to be about 700 million years old.

Uluru stands 348 metres above ground and is taller than The Eiffel Tower, and is 2.5 times the height of Sydney Harbour Bridge.

It’s 3.6kms long, 1.9kms wide, with a circumference of 9.4kms.

When you look at it on postcards, you don’t really get a sense of its enormity, but seeing it up close is a whole different experience.

Not only is the size and how it dominates the outback horizon a momentous moment, but witnessing how it changes colour at sunrise and sunset is a truly spectacular sight.

It would be sinful to come to Australia and not make a trip out to see the country’s most famous natural wonder.

2. The Horizontal Falls

Horizontal Falls gushing between a narrow channel between cliffs

While Uluru is world-renown, The Horizontal Falls is not, and so we wanted to share this hidden gem with our readers because it was a natural site that truly wowed us!

The Horizontal Falls are a natural phenomena, created by two narrow openings between two escarpments, causing the tides to ebb and flow into each other, giving the appearance of horizonal waterfalls.

The tides in this region are some of the biggest in the world, reaching up to 12 metres. It’s these enormous tides that create this unique phenomenon, and there’s nowhere else in the world where you can see a waterfall fall sideways.

Taking on the falls in a jet boat is a thrill I won’t soon forget! But the best way to see the Horizon Falls is on a scenic flight.

The flight takes you over the coastline of Broome, over the Buccaneer Archipelago, before getting a birds eye view of the Horizontal Falls and then landing in Talbot Bay in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia. 

3. The Great Barrier Reef

woman and child Snorkelling and posing to camera at the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia

The Great Barrier Reef is the only living thing on Earth visible from space and one of the seven natural wonders of the world, so of course it has to appear on this list.

It has more than 600 different types of coral and 1,500 species of tropical fish that inhabit the reef system.

Stretching 2,300km long – the same length as from Vancouver to the Mexican border, the GBR consists of 900 islands and 3,000 individual reefs making it the world’s largest coral reef and the largest living structure on the planet.

It’s not just a wonder of Australia but a true wonder of the world.

There are many ways to experience the GBR, from diving, snorkeling, glass-bottom boat tours, and even scenic flights.

The main gateway to the GBR is from Cairns, but there are many access points up and down the Queensland coast.

4. Fraser Island

75 Mile Beach, Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia

Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world and was formed over 800,000 years ago, when sand was dumped from places as far as Antarctica when it was still joined with Australia.

It stretches for 123 km long and 23 km wide, and is a Listed World Heritage Site because it’s constantly moving and evolving.

Fraser Island is the only place in the world where tall rainforests are found growing on sand dunes at elevations of over 200 metres. It’s a special place and what I like to call “nature’s perfect island.”

It’s also an adventurers paradise, since the only way to get around the island is by four-wheel drive along its 75-mile beach highway.

It’s a great place for those that love camping, beach fishing, rainforests, swimming in inland lakes (there are 100 freshwater lakes), and spotting migrating humpback whales off shore.

Watch our video of our experience on Fraser Island here…

5. The 12 Apostles, Great Ocean Road

Twelve Apostles - one of Australia's natural wonders. Click inside to see the others

The Twelve Apostles are the star of the show along the famous Great Ocean Road in Victoria.

These massive limestone formations tower 45 metres above the southern ocean and were formed some 20 million years ago as the sea gradually eroded the soft limestone cliffs.

There are only eight remaining limestone stacks (the rest have fallen) that make up the 12 Apostles, framed by a backdrop of wild, ferocious ocean and magnificent cliffs that extend up to 70 metres high.

The best time to photograph and see them is at sunrise – you’ll beat the tour buses and have the place almost to yourself – and at sunset.

You should also walk the boardwalks around the cliff tops which provide various viewing platforms and take the Gibson Steps down onto the beach for a close up perspective.

6. Ningaloo Marine Park

woman snorkeling Ningaloo Reef -

Before starting our journey around Australia, many other Aussies and travelers told us that Ningaloo Reef rivals the Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef is iconic, but it’s packed with tourists, whereas Ningaloo is much quieter and no less beautiful.

Ningaloo Marine Park protects Ningaloo Reef – Australia’s largest and most accessible fringing reef that stretches 300 square kilometers.

The awesome thing about Ningaloo is the easy access, you can just walk in off the beach and be snorkeling 10 metres from shore. 

The snorkeling and diving is world class, and it’s here that you can swim with the whale sharks. If you head to Coral Bay, you can also swim with manta rays in the Ningaloo Reef.

Some of the most amazing beaches we’ve seen are located along this coast; Sandy Bay and Turquoise Bay.

7. Kakadu National Park

woman in natural infinity swimming hole in kakadu

After spending five days exploring Kakadu National Park, I can’t believe some people call it Kaka-Don’t.

Me, I put Kakadu up there in the top three National Parks in Australia that we visited during our trip around Australia, and we visited plenty of parks.

One of the few UNESCO World Heritage sites to be listed for both its cultural and natural features, Kakadu is renowned for its rich Aboriginal history and biodiversity.

At 19,000 square kilometres, it is almost half the size of Switzerland!

Kakadu offers adventure, cultural experiences, stunning sunsets, waterfalls, gorges, wetlands, Aboriginal rock carvings, floodplains, wildlife, unique flora and fauna and a bit of star-gazing.

It’s also one of the top places in Australia to see saltwater crocodiles, and the Jumping Crocodile Cruises are legendary attractions in the park.

8. Kata Tjuta

Kata Tjuta at sunset

Approximately 50 kilometres down the road from Uluru, is Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (formerly the Olgas) are a natural phenomenon that are said to originate from a similar time.

They are made up of 36 domes which are spread over an area of more than 20 kilometres, making it bigger than Uluru. The tallest dome rises 546 metres above the plain.

Kata Tjuta is a Pitjantjatjara Aboriginal tribe word meaning ‘many heads’. They are equally spectacular at sunrise and sunset compared to Uluru.

There are many hiking trails around the Kata Tjuta, but we recommend you do the Walpa Gorge Walk and the Valley of the Winds Walk.

9. Whitehaven Beach / Hill Inlet

swirling white sands and turquoise water of whitehaven beach

We haven’t set foot on all 10,000 beaches in Australia, but we’ve seen more than most people, so we can confidently say that Whitehaven Beach in The Whitsunday Islands of Queensland is still at the top of the list!

We’re not alone in singing its praises – it consistently ranks in the best beaches in the world lists on Trip Advisor, and it’s where Oprah Winfrey chose to have her beachside BBQ on her tour down under!

If it’s good enough for Oprah, it’s good enough for me!

The isolation, the pure white-soft-silica-sand and the swirling patterns of Hill Inlet are like nothing I have ever seen. 

When you walk on Whitehaven, you’re setting foot on a real slice of Aussie paradise.

10. The Daintree Rainforest

Daintree Rainforest on the edge of the water

How can something so old, be so beautiful? 

Estimated to be 180 million years old the Daintree Rainforest pre-dates even the Amazon and is the largest continuous area of rainforest on the Australian continent containing an array of flora and fauna and about 430 species of birds.

Just a short 2.5 hour north of Cairns, the Daintree is a destination unlike any other. It has such a wide biodiversity, with temperate rainforest backing onto pristine shores and unspoiled ocean.

Some of the highlights of our visit to the Daintree included a visit to Daintree Discovery Centre and my favourite spot, Cape Tribulation.

11. Sydney Harbour

aerial view of Sydney Harbour

Sydney is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and a big reason for that is its stunning harbour side location.

You’re probably not expecting Sydney Harbour to appear on a list of amazing natural wonders, but hear me out…

Sure it has the man-made icons like the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, but it’s the natural beauty of the harbour that always leaves a lasting impression on me.

With more than 240 kilometres of shoreline and meandering waterways, on a warm sunny day it becomes one big aquatic playground. 

The best way to experience Sydney Harbour is from a ferry. You can take the circular Quay to Manly, which is a popular day trip from Sydney for those looking for a quick natural escape. Or you can jump on a Sydney Harbour Cruise, going sailing on a historic Tall Ship, by kayaking in nearby Middle Harbour.

12. The Gordon River

The Gordon River in Tasmania -

A visit to Gordon River was a day to remember. We cruised gently along the river and admired where the lush and ancient rainforest was reflected in the mirror calm waters.

Here you will find forests of Huon Pine, which is notable for its boat building qualities.

The World Heritage-Listed Gordon River flows 200 kilometres from its source in the central highlands of Tasmania through the uninhabited wilderness of the Gordon-Franklin Wild Rivers National Park.

The entire course of the Gordon River is an uninhabited wilderness area until it reaches the Macquarie Harbour.

It’s pure, unspoiled, uninterrupted, natural bliss.

13. Bungle Bungle Range, Purnululu National Park

aerial view of the Bungle Bungles, Western Australia

The Bungle Bungles are a remarkable rock formation in the Kimberley region of Australia, in the UNESCO World Heritage listed Purnululu National Park.

These behemoth beehive-shaped, orange and black mountains are said to be more than 40,000 years old, and are made up of Devonian-age quartz sandstone.

The rock formations rise as high as 300 meters in some place, and are surrounded by waterfalls, wildflowers, hiking trails, and of course, stunning views from the cliff tops.

What makes the Bungle Bungles so special is that there are more than 200 sites with rock art or aboriginal burial grounds.

It’s also incredibly remote, and you need a 4WD vehicle access the park. The road out to the Bungle Bungles is infamous for being one of the roughest in the country!

14. The Pinnacles, Nambung National Park

pinnacle shaped rocks in desert

Another natural wonder on the West Coast are the limestone formations of The Pinnacles in Nambung National Park, located 162 km northwest of Perth.

The Pinnacles are unique in that they are made up of deposits of seashells, caused by the receding ocean over a period of 25,000-30,000 years.

You can walk around these unique rocky pillars, which stand as tall as 3.5 meters, and be simply amazed by the power of nature.

15. Three Sisters Rock Formation, Blue Mountains

the three sisters of the Blue Mountains Natioanl Park
credit: Shutterstock.com

The Blue Mountains are the most famous natural attractions near Sydney, and are famed for the striking rock formation known as The Three Sisters.

The Three Sisters are an unusual in that they jut out of the cliff edge on the north escarpment of the Jamison Valley.

According to local legend, the rocks used to be sisters but they were turned into stone after a tribal love quarrel.

Today they are a popular landmark in the Blue Mountains, and are best viewed from Echo Point in the town of Katoomba.

More Natural Wonders of Australia Inspiration

Need more inspiration about nature sites to explore in Australia? Check out these other guides…

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What is your favourite natural wonder of Australia? Let us know in the comments!

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