9 Must-See Australian Icons

From beaches and forests to lively towns, coastal cities and famous structures, Australia has a variety of attractions.

The following list of destinations prepared by Mediatimes (Visit Brisbane ) offers a diverse range ways to experience Australia’s deep history, rich culture natural beauty.

1. Uluru

Not only is this sandstone rock formation highly regarded for its beauty – it also holds great cultural historical significance in Australia.

Sometimes known as ‘Ayers Rock’, Uluru is located in Central Australia, the closest town being Alice Springs, which is 335km away.   Uluru stands 348m high and 863m above sea level

Many stories about the origin of  Uluru exist in Aboriginal legends and the formation remains sacred to the Anangu people who live in the surrounding area.

In this dessert climate, interaction between the Earth’s atmosphere and the Sun’s incoming rays creates some spectacular sun-sets and sun-rises, during which the surface of the rock appears to change colour.

Despite being the most visited site in Australia, there is, some controversy surrounding tourism in the area.

When the area was officially handed back to the traditional custodians of the land in 1985, it was done so under the condition that climbing the rock would remain an option for tourists. Although the local Anangu residents settled for this agreement, they have made it clear that they do not wish for the rock to be climbed due to its spiritual significance. There are signs surrounding the area which urge visitors not to climb.

But every year, over 250, 000 visitors respectfully experience the beauty of this landmark and the surrounding area.

Nearby Uluru is Kata Tjuta, made up of 36 domed rock formations. Kata Tjuta is sometimes known colloquially as The Olgas, s name that derives from its highest point, Mount Olga.

The area has been leased to Parks Australia, and Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Park is open all-year round. Opening times vary throughout the year between 5am and 6:30pm, while the park closes somewhere between 7:30pm and 9pm, depending on the time of year.

The area is also home to many examples of historical Aboriginal rock art, some of which feature Aboriginal symbols that have been passed down for thousands of years.

If you visit Uluru, you are also likely to see people painting or performing traditional Aboriginal dances. The park is also home to some unique wilde-life, including the Superb Fairywren.

The natural beauty and historical significance of Uluru make it a must-do for anyone planning a trip to Australia.

2. Whitehaven Beach

It goes without saying that the Great Barrier Reef is highly regarded as one of the great natural wonders of the world.

But a visit to Queensland would not be complete without stepping foot on a little piece of paradise called Whitehaven Beach.

This 7km stretch of clear waters and soft ivory sand has been named “Australia’s Most Beautiful Beach.”  Located on Whitsunday Island, Whitehaven is a real tropical escape.

The bright colour of the sand is due to its make-up of 98% silica, which is believed to be a result of the sea currents that have continued over millions of years.

Another unique thing about this sand is that it doesn’t retain heat. No matter how hot it is, you walk comfortably along the beach barefoot before cooling off in the sparkling ocean.

There are a few ways to soak in the experience of Whitehaven. Limited campsites are available on Whitsunday Island. If you want a Holiday with a truly serene atmosphere, it’s definitely worth booking in advance.

Transport to Whitehaven Beach is also available from other parts of the Whitsundays, as well as snorkelling tours that allow you to experience the Reef on your way to Whitehaven.

Hotels, apartments and Bungalows can be found on surrounding destinations such as Hamilton Island and Haymen Island. These places are more commercially developed to cater for tourists. So if you enjoy the best of both worlds, a day-trip to Whitehaven is the perfect option.

Wherever you stay, there is every reason to make Whitehaven Beach one of your top priorities.

3. Port Arthor

An essential part of experiencing Australia is connecting with its history. Formerly a convict settlement, Port Arthur is now an open-air museum. While the town itself has a current population of less than 500 people, the historical site is Tasmania’s top tourist attraction. You will have the opportunity to see magnificent sandstone statues built by convicts and the preserved Dockyards where whaleboats, buoys and barques were crafted.

Named after Lieutenant Governor George Arthur, this are dates back to the 1800s, during which it was an infamous destination reserved for the criminal offences that were considered to be the most severe. In 1966, Port Arthur was the scene or the worst mass murder event in Post-Colonial Australian History.

But a visit to Port Author is definitely not all doom-and-gloom. Surrounding the remains of this institution are lush green parklands, and scenic walking trails.

There are also a number of organised activities available, including guided walking tours, cruises and ghost tours.

Many visitors are attracted by the contrast between the dark history and the beauty of the surrounding gardens and coastline.

Port Arthur is a key Australian icon that will complete your visit to Tasmania.

4. Cradle Mountain- Lake St Clare National Park

Encompassing 168, 00 hectares of World Heritage, this is the place to truly absorb the beauty of Tasmania’s wilderness. There an enormous range of things to see in this region, including silent, damp rainforests, jagged mountains, icy streams and pristine lakes.

At the heart of this national park is Mt Ossa, Tasmania’s highest mountain, a popular attraction which many visitors enjoy climbing.

If you are in the mood for a serious challenge, why not embark on the Overland Track, a six-day walk that takes you through the core of Tasmania’s Wilderness. Along this path, you can encounter lakes, gorges, forests and moors.

If you travel during April, you will also get the a chance to see the Deciduous Beech tree as it changes colour.

This park features outlandish vegetation that is unique to the climate and can’t be found on Australia’s mainland.

So during your visit, take the opportunity to experience the tranquil atmosphere and exclusive scenery of Tasmania’s Wilderness.

5. Sydney Harbour Bridge

As one of Australia’s most photographed land-marks, Sydney Harbour Bridge opened in 1932 and has continued to attract tourists from all over the world.

Aside from being a place for magnificent views and photo opportunities, the bridge has a touch of interesting history. Upon the opening of the Bridge, Jack T. Lang, who was serving as the NSW premier was beaten to the cutting of the ribbon, which was intended to signify the opening of the Bridge. Before he got the chance, a man Captain Francis De Groot slashed the ribbon with his sword.

As a member of a political group called The New Guard, Captain De Goot believed that the Sydney Harbour Bridge should be opened by a member of the royal family.  Once he was detained, the ribbon was tied back together and the Premier proceeded in the official opening.

There is more to learn, see and do when visiting this iconic Bridge. The Pylon Lookout provides a great view of the city and features a great display on how the Bridge was made.

For adventurous types, the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb is an absolute must-do.  Climbs are available day, night, dawn and twilight and are conducted safely with specialised climbing gear.

Whether you’re after an adrenaline rush, a historical experience, or the chance to take in the beautiful city around you, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is has something special to offer.

6. Horizontal Waterfalls

David Attenborough has named this phenomenon was named ‘one of the greatest wonders of the natural world.’

Located on Western Australia’s Kimberly Coast, these tidal currents pass sideways through two narrow coastal gorges, creating a turquoise waterfall effect. This sceptical, technically called ‘pinch rapids’ reverses along with the changing of the tides.

These falls are breaks in the McLarty range, which is over one billion years old. Every year, tens of thousands of people travel via sea plane from Broome and Derby to get a glimpse of these waterfalls in action.

In certain tidal conditions, it is possible to drive boats through the gaps to the bay behind, with the assistance of highly experienced skippers.

This is the only place in the world where you will have the chance to see a horizontal waterfall.

7. Naracoorte Caves

This world heritage listed site is home to an extensive collection of fossils, providing a snapshot of some of the now extinct species that existed in the area.

Located in the Limestone Coast Tourism Region of South Australia, the Naracoorte Caves National Park is a great place to get up and close with some of the spectacular formations,  soaking up the mysterious atmosphere as you navigate your way through stalagmites and stalactites.

The Park is recognised as one of the world’s most important fossil sites.

This site is recognised worldwide for its fossil collection. The park is open 9am-5pm, with a range of different options for exploring the caves.

There is also the option of adventure caving, a more challenging experience that involves crawling through unlit caves, passing through wide chambers and squeezing through tight spaces.

If you are planning a visit to South Australia, exploring these caves is a perfect way to experience something new, while getting in touch with nature.

 8. Melbourne Arts Precinct

Melbourne is well known as the cultural capital of Australia and home to many established and aspiring artists.

With its distinctive spire construction at the centre, the Melbourne Arts Precinct is the perfect place to discover the city’s wide variety of song, dance and theatre.

Aside from being a place to see upcoming plays and exhibitions, the buildings each have their own stunning architecture. There are a number of events, exhibitions and back-stage tours throughout the year. Visit the Precinct in the evening to see the vibrant blue lights of the spire watch this little arts hub come to life.

9. The Twelve Apostles

Rising up from Victoria’s Southern Ocean, stand a glorious collection of limestone stacks. Over time, these formations have been sculptured by erosion and wind into the intricate formations we see today.

Despite the name, only eight Apostles remain and others seem to be on the verge of collapsing. These majestic cliffs, arches and pillars are particularly beautiful at sun-rise and sun-set and can be seen from a range of lookouts.

There are also scenic helicopter flights available, allowing visitors to take in a birds-eye view of these exceptional formations. The surrounding area is also inhabited by a diverse range of marine life.

Visitors occasionally spot penguins in the early hours of the morning as they nest in caves below the Apostles.

As the erosion is continuing, it is uncertain as to how long these iconic stacks of limestone will last. So if you are travelling to Australia, see the nine remaining Apostles before they disappear