If Australia was not a continent, it would be the world’s largest island. Four times larger than the biggest island in the world (Greenland), Australia is the world’s smallest continent. Surrounded by water, this country may be remote but there are so many natural landmarks in Australia, you’d need years to see them all. From incredible rock formations to deserts, waterfalls, mountains and the Great Barrier Reef, many of these places are UNESCO world heritage listed.
24 million people call Australia home and its cities are both vibrant and laid back. Many of the most famous landmarks in Australia are in Sydney but there are plenty of lesser-known manmade landmarks in Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide too. So where do you start? Here’s are 20 of the most famous landmarks in Australia to tick off your bucket list.
20 Famous Australian Landmarks For Your Bucket List
Natural Landmarks in Australia
1- The Three Sisters
Every year, the Blue Mountains National Park draws millions of visitors who are attracted to its serenity and pristine nature.
The most famous natural monument in this National Park is the rugged landmarks called ‘The Three Sisters’.
These stunning rock formations rise high above the mists of the Jamison Valley, over 900 m.
In reality, three sisters, Michni, Gunnedu and Wimla, each with its own name, are three vertical pillars.
The Three Sisters are 2.5 km from the Great Western Highway.
A treasure chest of scenic gorges, canyons, craters and waterholes hides within the craggy dry mountain ranges around Uluru.
While the secret jewels of Central Australia are a lost world of incredible natural treasures, Uluru stands out as an iconic Australian landmark.
You can understand why it’s called the heart of Australia as soon as you lay eyes on Uluru.
This World Heritage site, previously known as Ayers Rock, rises 348 m from the desert floor and is an impressive Australian landmark that dominates the landscape.
Uluru is one of the oldest treasures of the continent and this sacred place for the Anangu is over 550 million years old.
3- 12 Apostles
The Great Ocean Road most definitely deserves its spot on everyone’s top Australian landmarks list as it is also a top scenic drive in the country.
The road hugs the coastline of Victoria and is a spectacular drive past coastal towns, beaches, rainforests and waterfalls.
The 12 Apostles, which are twelve limestone monuments that jut out from the Southern Ocean, are the highlight of the drive.
The incredible formations hewn from rock are 15 to 20 million years old.
4- Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is possible one of the world’s most famous natural landmarks and has had a place on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1981.
It’s certainly Australia’s most breathtaking natural wonder and also holds the distinction of being the world’s largest and longest coral reef.
The GBR is actually a collection of 3000 different reefs and 900 islands on the continent.
Home to more than 1500 species of fish (including potato cod, manta rays, and clownfish) and other marine animals, visitors can also expect to spot various kinds of sea turtles, sharks, dugongs, giant clams, whales, and more.
There are many islands around the Great Barrier Reef that offer luxurious resort stays, beautiful white sand beaches, but most visitors go on a day cruise from Cairns.
5- The Pinnacles
One of the major Australian sights that everybody has to see but most Australians never get to see is the Pinnacles Desert.
Actually, the desert receives more than 250,000 tourists a year and is a popular attraction in Western Australia.
The desert occupies about 190 hectares and is situated about 60 metres above sea level.
It is packed with pillars of limestone, some reaching a height of five metres and many created around 25,000 to 30,000 years ago.
The desert is roughly a two-hour drive away from Perth and can be explored by car, or a guided tour.
6- Mount Kosciuszko
Australia is the only continent in the world where, after a fun and leisurely walk, you can stand on the highest point.
Mount Kosciuszko is Australia’s highest peak, standing at 2,228 metres.
In most other continents around the world, Mount Kosciuszko will be considered nothing more than a slight hillock.
At Thredbo village, lazy walkers can board the chairlift, from which you can do a 6 km walk on metal walkways built to protect the alpine vegetation, and then you’ll be standing at the top of Australia.
A nice 9 km walk from Charlotte Pass is also available. Of course, when the snowfields at Thredbo and Charlotte Pass are busy with skiers and snowboarders, the whole place comes alive in wintertime, but in the summer, the alpine flowers are an unforgettable experience.
7- Wilpena Pound
Wilpena Pound is a natural mountain range situated approximately 450 kilometres north of Adelaide.
It is part of the National Park of the Flinders Ranges and is easily accessible by road.
Rock climbing, camping and bushwalking are the most popular sports.
At Wilpena Pound, you’ll also see wild kangaroos, wallabies, emus, dingoes, and all sorts of reptiles.
Since it is in such a remote area, to fully appreciate the natural environment, it is best to remain at the Wilpena Resort.
The Adnyamathanha guides at Wilpena Pound Resort offer special and unforgettable Aboriginal Cultural Tours to tourists to the Flinders Ranges, who can learn more about the culture, land, native animals, and bush-tucker.
The Adnyamathanha people have a history that stretches back to over 100 million years ago and are connected to the ancient and rugged Ikara-Flinders Range.
8- Remarkable Rocks
On the south-west side of Kangaroo Island, off the coast of Adelaide, the Remarkable Rocks is a memorable natural landmark to see.
These boulders were formed into today’s form by 500 million years of rain and wave pounding and are a feature in Flinders Chase National Park.
The best times to enjoy the breathtaking beauty of this South Australian landmark is sunrise or sunset.
9- Lake Eyre
Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre National Park is special to the Aboriginal people who live around it and stars in many of their storeys and songs.
It is generally dry but Australia’s biggest salt lake sometimes the fills with water, and becomes an oasis with waterbirds and fish.
Not far from Lake Eyre is the Painted Desert, which is a large rocky outcrop of large and small hills formed more than 80 million years ago, rising abruptly from a flat, desert landscape.
They are a two-hour scenic flight from Coober Pedy.
10- The Bungle Bungles
The orange and black banded Bungle Bungles, one of Australia’s most unusual rock formations, are only accessible during the dry season (April through November).
With many walking trails that wind through the range that expose secret watering holes and vast gorges,
The Bungle Bungles in the northwestern of WA is a must-see.
Famous Monuments in Australia
11- Sydney Opera House
One of the most recognisable Australian landmarks is the Sydney Opera House, which is an architectural marvel and an Australian icon that was built in 197.
This famous building on Sydney Harbour is shaped like a shell and is built on 588 pillars plunged 82 feet under the sea.
The Sydney Opera House is a centre for performing arts with numerous venues to show Aussie and foreign talent.
12- Australian War Memorial
The Australian War Memorial in Canberra, the nation’s capital comprises of a museum, a shrine and an extensive archive.
It’s a sacred place dedicated to those who have served Australia during wartime.
The museum is impressive and has displays featuring stories about war heroes and a number of aircraft that played a part during various wars.
13- Sydney Harbour Bridge
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is an Australian cultural symbol and another architectural marvel.
The world’s largest steel arch bridge is an iconic landmark in Australia that stretches over one of the world’s most beautiful harbours.
The main road crossing the bridge, the Bradfield Highway, is 2.4 km (1.5 mi ) and is one of the shortest highways in Australia.
It was named after John Bradfield, who was the Chief Engineer of Sydney Harbour Bridge and Metropolitan Railway Construction” in 1914 and his many years of work on the project gained him the legacy of the bridge’s “father.”
Although Bradfield preferred a cantilever bridge without piers and the bill for such a construction was passed by the NSW Legislative Assembly in 1916, it did not proceed as the government felt that the funds would be better spent on the war effort.
14- Sovereign Hill
Sovereign Hill is one of Australia’s biggest tourist attraction and an open-air museum that takes you back to the 1850s to the Australian gold rush.
At Sovereign Hill, you can enter an underground gold mine, meet costumed goldfield characters, talk to artisans and visit the confectionery factory.
The Gold Museum has a huge gold collection and is the place to learn about the history of Ballarat.
The Sovereign Hill Hotel, which has beautifully-styled Governor’s quarters, is a good place to stay.
15- Flinders Street Station
One of Australia’s most prominent landmark buildings is Flinders Street Railway Station.
Located in Melbourne, the railway station was opened in September 1854 and was the first built in Australia.
Flinders Street Station became the world’s busiest train station in 1926 and was even busier than New York’s Grand Central Station and Liverpool Street Station in London.
Today, with its distinctive exterior and green copper roof, this historic Australian landmark fascinates visitors and is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register for having the fourth longest railway platform (708 metres) in the world.
16- Parliament House
Australian Parliament House, opened in 1988 by Queen Elizabeth II and located in Canberra, is where important meetings are held in the country.
The structure resembles two boomerangs and is topped by a flagpole that is 81 metres high.
There are 4,700 rooms in Parliament House and the bulk of the rooms are open to the public.
In the galleries of the parliament, you will be able to see Australia’s finest architectural treasures and contemporary art.
Parliament House in Australia is a modern Australian landmark to see and is also open to the public every day.
17- Port Arthur
This chilling remnant of the past is a historic Australian landmark on the island of Tasmania.
It is not a pleasant place visit but is a reminder of the country’s dark days and ignoble past.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, Australia was where British and Irish convicts were deported to and Port Arthur was one of the most prominent penal colonies of the time.
Surrounded by water on three sides and believed to be inescapable, it was Australia’s version of Alcatraz.
Port Arthur Penitentiary has been abandoned since closing in 1877.
In the 1890s, the destruction caused by fires and earthquakes left the foundations hollowed out and it later became infamous for a killing spree in 1996, where over 30 visitors to Port Arthur were killed by a gunman.
Things to do in Port Arthur include going on a lantern-lit ghost tour, visiting the immersive museum and walking the ruins to learn more about the history of the nation.
18- Byron Bay Lighthouse
Cape Byron Lighthouse marks Australia’s most easterly point and is a famous landmark on Australia’s east coast.
The famous lighthouse was built in the 19th century to protect ships sailing along the coast and operated by resident keepers until 1989.
These days it has an automated light that is distinctly visible from Byron Bay township.
Byron Bay is a popular seaside town on the east coast of Australia and has become virtually synonymous with the country’s invariably associated laid-back, beach surfer lifestyle.
Artists and musicians were attracted to Byron Bay years ago, followed by ageing hippies seeking to put down roots, and wealthy retirees: an eclectic community of people call Byron Bay their home.
19- Queen Victoria Building
Constructed in 1898 to replace the original Sydney Markets, the QVB is a stunning example of Byzantine architecture spread across an entire city.
The historic Sydney landmark has three floors and some of the best shops in the city.
Pierre Cardin described the Queen Victoria Building (QVB) as one of the world’s most beautiful shopping centres.
The building is a bit like a grand cathedral, with stained-glass windows that allow light into the central room.
There’s a cartwheel window depicting the arms of the City of Sydney and the roof incorporates arched skylights running north and south lengthwise from the central dome.
20- St Paul’s Cathedral
In Melbourne, St Paul’s Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral, the Diocese of Melbourne’s Cathedral Church and the Archbishop of Melbourne’s seat.
Located in the heart of Melbourne, the architecture echoes the grand cathedrals of Europe.
Designed by renowned English architect William Butterfield, it is constructed in the transitional neo-Gothic style and was considered Butterfield’s final masterpiece.
This religious landmark of Australia stands on the site where in 1836, Dr Alexander Thomson led the first public Christian services in Melbourne.
From 1836 to 1848, the site became a market then an Anglican Church in 1848 was built from bluestone was the parish church of St Paul.
St Paul’s Church was demolished to make room for the present cathedral.