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Top Ten List of Best Places to Visit in Australia

embraceaustraliaadmin | Monday, September 14th, 2009 at 5:29 pm

So just where do you choose to go when you visit Australia? It’s a vast and beautiful country with so many delights and wonders that many tourists simply don’t know where to start. So in order to do justice to this great country, we’ve compiled a list of the best places to visit in Australia, well we think they are the best places to visit anyway! There’s something for everyone in this list, from the adventurous explorer, to the shopaholic; from the car lover to the culture craver. So sit back and let us give you a brief glimpse of the best places Australia has to offer. And if this whets your appetite, check out our guide on getting to Australia which includes the best flight deals to Australia on offer at the moment. See how well we look after you!

1. Great Barrier Reef

Diving is just one way to explore this enchanting underwater world.

Diving is just one way to explore this enchanting underwater world.

The Great Barrier Reef, situated in the Coral Sea off the coast of Queensland, is the largest coral reel in the world, encompassing 900 islands and stretching over a huge 2,600 kilometres. It’s so vast that it can even be seen from outer space!

The reef is now a World Heritage Site and home to a diverse range of life including whales, dolphins, porpoises, turtles, sea snakes, stingray, sharks and saltwater crocodiles, I’ve not even mentioned the numerous species of fish, frog or plant life either!

The present reef is thought to be around 6 to 8 thousand years old, but the reefs beginnings can be dated back to around 20,000 years ago.

The waters surrounding the reef are some of the clearest in the world, making it a popular destination for divers. Many cities along the Queensland coast offer daily boat trips to the reef and passengers who don’t fancy getting their feet wet can view the reef from one of many glass-bottomed boats or underwater observatories that cruise the seas.

Best times to go are April through to November.

2. Sydney Harbour

New Years Eve fireworks across Sydney Harbour.

New Years Eve fireworks across Sydney Harbour.

Sydney was the location of the first European settlement in Australia and we’ve loved it ever since! This natural harbour is where you can find the iconic Sydney Opera House and magnificent Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The best time of year to visit is New Year when you can witness the breathtaking sight of the world famous and spectacular New Years Eve Fireworks.

Sydney Opera House is easily accessed on Bennelong Point, Sydney Harbour and has become one of the classic symbols of Australia. Its structure won the architect Jorn Utzon architecture’s highest honour of the Pritzker Prize. He described the Opera House as “a symbol for not only a city, but a whole country and continent.”

The Opera House consists of one concert hall, two theatres, a playhouse, a studio, the Utzon room and the Forecourt as well as a restaurant, a café and a bar. Tours are given daily between 9am and 5pm.

Sydney Harbour Bridge spans the central business unit of Sydney and the North Shore. It’s an impressive steel arch structure nicknamed ‘The Coathanger’ and was designed and built in Northumberland! It carries 7 lanes of traffic, 2 railway tracks, 1 footpath and 1 cycle lane.

Whilst you can drive across the bridge, there is a toll so beware! However what better way to see the bridge up close and personal than by walking across it? Signs direct pedestrians to a flight of steps on which the bridge can be accessed, there is also a lift from the Botanic Gardens or the Circular Quay.

3. Tasmania

One of Tasmania's breaktakingly stunning backdrops.

One of Tasmania's breaktakingly stunning backdrops.

Tasmania is an island on the southernmost tip of Australia, separated from the mainland by the Bass Strait. It has been nicknamed the “Island of Inspiration” because of the natural, unspoilt beauty it encompasses.

The island is 364 km long by 306 km wide and has a population of 500,000. Many natural wonders can be seen on the island, including the columns known as the ‘organ pipes’ on Mount Wellington and the quartzite formed ridges such as those on Frenchman’s Cap. Rare rock formations can also been seen, as well as continental granites and magnificent caves.

Tasmania is the most mountaineous region of Australia and its tallest mountain, Mount Ossa, can be found in the world famous Cradle Mountain range. Other parts of Tasmania are heavily forested and are home to some of the world’s last temperate rain forests in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s also dotted with beautiful waterfalls and flowing rivers.

It is here where you will find the Great Oyster Bay, boasting a magnificent view of the surrounding peninsulas. Of its wildlife you will no doubt have heard of the great Tasmanian Tiger, now sadly extinct although there have been unconfirmed sightings in Tasmania so you never know, it’s worth taking your camcorder just in case! The Tasmanian Devil might be easier to find, however do take care, these little devils pack a an evil bite! Birds are frogs are also in great abundance on the island, making it a wildlife spotter’s paradise!

Best time to visit is November through to March to avoid the heat of the summer.

4. Melbourne

Melbourne is Australia's cosmopolitan hub.

Melbourne is Australia's cosmopolitan hub.

Melbourne is the largest city in the state of Victoria and the second most populated city in Australia. It’s characterised by many grand civic buildings including Parliament House, Old Melbourne Gaol, the State Library, Melbourne Town Hall and many others, all funded by the Victoria gold rush in the 1850s.

Recently Melbourne has become famous for its street art which began as graffiti in the 1970s and has now become big business with many art galleries bidding to display photos and stencil art by the young artists. So popular has it become that there is now a Melbourne Stencil Festival every year. Some of the best places to see original street art are in the areas of Abbotsford, Brunswick, Richmond, South Yarra and Collingwood among others. See the Stencil Fest for more information.

Melbourne is not known as the country’s shopping capital for nothing, from budget shoppers to designer addicts, there is something here for everyone! The Arts Centre in the Southbank holds a Sunday Market that showcases over 150 stalls of the finest artisans, here you really will find a gift for that someone who has everything. Queen Victoria Markets are a must for fresh fruit and veg as well as bargain clothing and bags and the atmosphere of the market is just not to be missed! For something more classy and upmarket, head for the Royal Arcade, Melbourne’s oldest shopping arcade or the Block Arcade which is based on those of Paris, London and Milan and practically oozes elegance! Chinatown is always buzzing with life and is home to the very best Chinese restaurants as well as Chinese cinema and a museum and it hosts many events.

In the middle of all these shops you’ll find numerous parks and gardens in which you can rest and put your feet up whilst marveling at the tree-lined avenues and landscaped vistas.

Best time to visit is said to be March when the evenings are still warm.

 5. Barossa

Barossa is the wine growing region of Australia.

Barossa is the wine growing region of Australia.

Barossa is one of the major wine producing regions of Australia. It benefits from the hot climate of  South Australia, being only 60km northeast of Adelaide. It also has a very diverse history that is reflected in its three major towns.

Tanunda is regarded as the most German influenced as it was first populated by German settlers in the 1840s and the city still retains many German traits. Angaston, by contrast, is typically English, first being populated by Cornish miners. Nuriootpa was influenced by both Britain and Germany and is regarded as the most vibrant of the three.

The area is characterized by the fields of vines and viticulture is the main employment and income of the area. A fact that is celebrated in the yearly Vintage Festival held every April for a week. The event is marked with carnivals, bands, dancing, food and wine tasting, making April the best time of year to visit this area!

Many big name wine brands come from this region including Wolf Blass, Yalumba, Orlando and others. The area boasts some of the oldest Shiraz vines in the world but other varities include Riesling, Semillion, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon. Many wineries are open for tastings and there are organized tours that operate out of Adelaide. 

As well as sampling the wine, the food is also excellent, being a combination of traditional German heritage food and food made with fresh, local produce. After all that wining and dining, why not take in some of the areas many antique shops and art galleries too.

6. Uluru

Uluru is one of the iconic symbols of Australia.

Uluru is one of the iconic symbols of Australia.

Formerly Ayres Rock, this has to be one of the best known sights of Australia! Uluru is situated in the so called Red Centre in Northern Australia and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

Uluru measures a staggering 348 metres from top to bottom and has a circumference of 9.4 km. It also extends approximately 1.5 miles underground and this is the heart of what the Aborigines call their “dreamtime” and is what makes this site so sacred to them. They believe that the space underneath Uluru is actually hollow and contains the spirits of their ancestors.

Its structure is a single monolith, one of the biggest of its kind (disputes are ongoing as to whether it is Uluru that can claim the biggest monolith or Mount Augustus). It’s made of sandstone which changes its colour from orange, to blue, violet or red during sunset and sunrise. There is a sunrise viewing point on the road around Uluru and also a sunset viewing point.

Climbing Uluru is frowned upon and there are signs discouraging visitors from doing so, but you can walk around the base which takes from 2 to 4 hours. There are numerous other walks you can do around Kata Tjuta, including the Valley of the Winds walk, a spectacular looped walk from two lookouts in Kata Tjura.

The best time to visit is July, August and September when the weather offers a more temperate climate.

7. The Great Ocean Road

One of the most exhilarating drives of your life!

One of the most exhilarating drives of your life!

This road runs along the southern coast of Australia. 250km by length it runs from the Bellarine Peninsula to Warrnambool.

Built in 1930 in memory of fallen soldiers it takes in some of the most magnificent scenery in Australia. It is a car drivers dream, with its winding cliff top roads being featured in many films and television programmes, including many car advertisements. If you love driving, you’ll love this! One of the most scenic parts of the road is the section in Port Cambell National Park where you can view some of the major rock formations, the famous of which are the Twelve Apostles.

There are many walks just off the road where you can get out and enjoy the surrounding countryside, including the Surf Coast Walk and the Great Ocean Walk.

If you don’t fancy doing it by car, or you don’t trust the driver(!) there are many bus tours that run from Apollo Bay and Warrnambool. You can even see the road from the air with one of the many helicopter tours from the visitors centre at the Twelve Apostles near Port Campbell.

You can drive the route in a day, but you’d be wise to allow two so that you can make a few stops along the way. There are passing places for slower vehicles to pull into and allow the faster cars to overtake, so if you notice a queue forming behind you, do pull over and let them get ahead!

Best time to go, probably spring and autumn when the scenery is at its best.

8. Fraser Island

The white sandy beaches of Fraser Island.

The white sandy beaches of Fraser Island.

Fraser Island is the biggest sand island in world at 122 km long and the only place where sand and rain forest live in harmony. It is a World Heritage Site, making it a precious part of Australia’s natural and cultural heritage.

Imagine long stretches of interrupted white beaches, clear blue lakes, ancient rainforests and striking sand cliffs. It is also home to many endangered and rare animal and plant species including dugongs, turtles, curlews, ferns, mangrove colonies etc. Its wetlands have been listed by the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance and are highly protected. Pure bred dingoes are also on the island, though visitors are advised not to feed them as they are highly dangerous.

Lake McKenzie is one of the most famous of the lakes on the island. It has crystal blue waters and perfect white sands. However with fame comes popularity and it can get crowded in the middle of the day during peak season.

Bird lovers will be in paradise as Fraser Island is home to over 300 species of bird, including many rare coastal birds such as brahminy kites and pied oyster catchers. The ground parrot also resides here along with honey-eaters and cockatoos.

The whale spotters might catch a glimpse of humpback whales migrating from Antartica between July and August or the occasional Tiger Shark which makes the inviting seas not so inviting for bathers!

One of the best things to do is hire your own 4WD and explore the island at your leisure. You can pitch up a camping place on the beach, although you will need a permit. Alternatively you could choose the Youth Hostel or one of the many lodges.

9. Daintree Rain Forest and Cape Tribulation

Cape Tribulation, where rainforest meets sandy beaches.

Cape Tribulation, where rainforest meets sandy beaches.

Daintree National Park is about 3 hours north of Cairns. Within the park you”ll find one of the oldest rain forests in world, a mere 135 million years old! It ends at Cape Tribulation where the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef meet.

Cape Tribulation, so called by Captain Cook because of all the troubles he encountered there, is now a popular destination for student travellers and backpackers and there is plenty of adventure still to be had here, whether it’s in the form of kayaking, snorkelling or climbing.

The Daintree Rainforest also contains smatterings of little residential dwellings and some of the inhabitents of these villages make a living by offering tours around their land to visitors. You may be lucky enough to spot a cassowary whilst you are there. If you want to venture out alone, there are many trails throughout the forest, including aerial walkways for the brave!

The Park contains the highest number of plant and animal species that are rare or threatened. You can find out more about them by using one of the interactive rainforest guided walks that are available.

It’s also the ideal place to try many exotic fruits with such curious sounding names as the Lemon Meringue Pie fruit and the Chocolate Pudding fruit. These fruits cannot be transported though because of their fragile states and in any case, it’s best to eat them fresh, straight off the tree!

Riverboat hiring is also popular so that visitors can spot one of the crocodiles on the banks of the Daintree River.

You can get there by car or bus from Cairns and Port Douglas, but for the energetic amongst you there are also cycle trails.

10. Kakadu National Park

The striking beauty that is Kakadu National Park.

The striking beauty that is Kakadu National Park.

Kakadu National Park is the largest national park in Australia and is situated in the north east corner of the Northern Territory. There is something for everyone here, from outback adventure and nature activities to aboriginal culture.

The park is ideal of those wishing to know more about Aboriginal culture as it contains the highest number of aboriginal rock art sites in the world, the most famous of which are at Nourlangie Rock and Ubirr.

The Aboriginal people have occupied this area for at least 40 000 years and there still remains wholly aboriginal land such as Arnhem Land, steeped in aboriginal culture and history and also home to diverse wildlife and stunning landscapes.

Kakadu Park is certainly a wildlife haven with no less than 68 species of mammal, 120 reptiles, 26 frog species, 10,000 insect species, 290 bird species and 2,000 types of plant. There are still species yet to be discovered.

The popular wetlands provide the most visual attractions, filled with sleepy saltwater crocodiles and colonies of herons. Feral horses, pigs and water buffalo can all be spotted here.

The landscape also has many treats in store, including the spectacular twin falls in Arnhem Lane; Yellow Water, the famous billabong that is literally crammed with wildlife and Gunlow Plunge Pool which combines beautiful waterfalls with a crystal clear and cool plunge pool.

Best time to visit is October to December or April to June when the weather is cooler and the wildlife more abundant.

If you’ve ever visited these sights and want to share your experiences with us, please do so by joining our vibrant community and posting your experiences on your very own blog! You can also comment on this article and add your own recommendations for the top ten places to see in Australia.

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6 Responses to “Top Ten List of Best Places to Visit in Australia”

Comment by zaemah — September 28, 2010 @ 5:23 am

hi!!i’m zaemah from kula lumpur,Malaysia..i’ve seen ur website.it’s so fantastic.i really like it!!i know that kangaroo only we can see in Australia.i like kangaroo soo much b’coz there’s no kangaroo in Malaysia.hihi..one of my colleague have go there and he brought for me the kangaroo bear..i still keep it until now..there are also have many best places in Australia.and one thing.i think it’s not difficult for me to find the ‘halal’ food especially Muslim like me.i hope one day i will be there.

Comment by GoIndiaProperty — November 26, 2010 @ 9:51 am

hi!!i’m zaemah from kula lumpur,Malaysia..i’ve seen ur website.it’s so fantastic.i really like it!!i know that kangaroo only we can see in Australia.i like kangaroo soo much b’coz there’s no kangaroo in Malaysia.hihi..one of my colleague have go there and he brought for me the kangaroo bear..i still keep it until now..there are also have many best places in Australia.and one thing.i think it’s not difficult for me to find the ‘halal’ food especially Muslim like me.i hope one day i will be there.

Comment by zac — October 31, 2011 @ 9:09 pm

Great list. I recommend reading these article to choice the right place for you to visit in Australia – Best Places to Visit in Australia

Comment by zac — November 9, 2011 @ 8:31 pm

Great article Thanks. Australia is an incredible country; there is something for everyone.Australia has a myriad of Natural Wonders, which means that the adventurous tourist will be spoilt for choice, i’m pretty sure everyone wants to visit Australia at least once in their lifetime and you should too considering how full of beauty and natural wonder it is. Find more recommendations about Best Places to Visit in Australia

Comment by neeta — November 27, 2011 @ 2:01 pm

great article, i think Australia is a must to visit country. it is full of beauty, its rainfall, its national parks, its island and much more. it helped me a lot in my project again thanks a lot.

Comment by Ambii — March 28, 2012 @ 1:34 am

this is such a good web site thanks for sharing

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