10 Must-Visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Australia


great barrier reef


While Australia is culturally rich and history significant in general, one worthwhile way to explore the best the country has to offer is through its UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These sites are particularly noteworthy in terms of culture and physical significance, and are often beautiful, as well. If you’re planning a trip to Australia, here are 10 must-see UNESCO World Heritage Sites to add to your itinerary.




Great Barrier Reef
Off the east coast of Queensland

Probably the most famous of all Australia’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, this area contains the largest collection of coral reefs and the greatest biodiversity of all the World Heritage Sites. The are is home to 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of mollusk. Within the Great Barrier Reef, you’ll find 2,500 unique reefs and over 900 islands. Some species of animals in the area that scientists are particularly interested in include the dugong (sea cow) and the large green sea turtle, which could soon become extinct.


kakadu national park


Kakadu National Park
Northern Territory

A unique example of complex ecosystems, Kakadu National Park includes tidal flats, floodplains, lowlands and plateaux and habitats for rare and endemic species. Because of this, Kakadu is one of the world’s richest wildlife parks. Moreover, rock carvings, cave paintings and archeological sites provide information about the area’s 40,000+ years of inhabitants, from pre-historic hunter-gatherers as well as the aboriginal people still living there today.


shark bay


Shark Bay
Western Australia

Located at the most western part of Australia, Shark Bay has three noteworthy features: its sea-grass beds, which are the largest and richest in the world, its large dugong population of about 11,000 and its stromatolites, which are colonies of algae that create hard deposits and are among the most ancient organisms on the planet. Additionally, Shark Bay is home to five species of endangered mammals, including the boodie, rufous hare-wallaby, banded hare-wallaby, the Shark Bay mouse and the western barred bandicoot.


australian convict sites


Australian Convict Sites
Various areas

Although thousands of penal facilities were constructed during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by the British Empire in Australia, this UNESCO World Heritage listing contains 11 of them. These include:

  • Old Government House and Domain (Parramatta)
  • Hyde Park Barracks (Sydney)
  • Cockatoo Island Convict Site (Sydney)
  • Old Great North Road (near Wiseman’s Ferry)
  • Kingston and Arthur’s Vale Historic Area (Norfolk Island)
  • Port Arthur History Site (Pictured, Tasman Peninsula)
  • Cascades Female Factory (Hobart)
  • Darlington Probation Station (Maria Island)
  • Coal Mines Historic Site (via Premadeyna)
  • Brickendon-Woolmers Estates (near Longford)
  • Fremantle Prison (Western Australia)

Between 1787 and 1868, about 166,000 people were sent to Australian convict colonies by Britain. Each institution had its own purpose, although all implemented forced labor to help build the colony. The facilities listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites represent the “best surviving examples of large-scale convict transportation and the colonial expansion of European powers through the presence and labour of convicts.”


fraser island


Fraser Island

At about 76 miles long and 15 miles wide, Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island. Half the planet’s perched freshwater dune lakes are found here, as well as rainforests, wallum peat swamps, eucalyptus woodland, mangrove jungle, sand dunes and uncultivated coastline. The island is also home to one of the world’s weirdest beaches at Lake McKenzie, where the fine white silica sand is so pure, you can brush your teeth and clean your jewelry with it.


greater blue mountains area


Greater Blue Mountains Area
New South Wales

The Greater Blue Mountains area is made up of eight protected areas, and is mainly praised for its ability to clearly show how the eucalypts in post-Gondwana isolation has changed and adapted over time. Furthermore, the region significantly represents the biodiversity of Australia, as 10% of the vascular fauna as well as many rare, threatened and endemic species live here. Visitors will find the Jenolan Caves Karst Conservation Reserve here, as well as seven national parks, including the Blue Mountains, Kanangra-Boyd, Gardens of Stone, Thirlmere Lakes, Wollemi, Yengo and Nattai.


sydney opera house


Sydney Opera House
Sydney

An iconic symbol of Sydney, Australia, this unique piece of architecture brings together various forms of creativity and innovative. By showing a radically new way of building, the structure has greatly influenced archeciture and design. Furthermore, the opera house serves it’s function of providing a world-class performing arts space, while also responding to its environment and being accessible to the community as a major cultural center.


bungle bungle


Purnululu National Park
Western Australia

Purnululu National Park covers almost 240,000 hectares of remote land. The most prominent feature of the Purnululu National Park is the Bungle Bungle Range, a deeply dissected range made of Devonian-age quartz sandstone which has eroded over the past 20 million years to form the beehive-shaped cones shown above. Not only are they bizarre looking, the process by which they came to be involved the interacting of biological, geological, erosional and climatic phenomena. What’s really unique about these formations is they change in appearance depending on the weather, sun position and season.


lord howe islands


Lord Howe Island Group
New South Wales

Created by volcanic activity more than 6,562 feet under the sea, these islands feature unique topography and a wealth of endemic species. Some of these include the flightless Lord Howe Woodhen, which was once thought to be one of the rarest birds on the planet, and the Lord Howe Island Phasmid, the world’s largest wood insect which was once thought to be extinct. In terms of landscape, sheer mountain slopes, lagoons, a broad arc of hills and remnants of a shield volcano and caldera can be seen. Moreover, this is where visitors will find the world’s most southerly true coral reef.


royal exhibition building


Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens
Melbourne

The original purpose of the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens was for the international exhibitions of 1880 and 1888. Designed by Joseph Reed and constructed from timber, steel, slate and brick, the structure features elements from the Byzantine, Romanesque, Lombardic and Italian Renaissance styles. The venue reflects “the global influence of the international exhibition movement of the 19th and early 20th centuries.”

Visit the Great Barrier Reef at a substantial discount

The Great Barrier Reef IslandsYesterday we told you about a new travel survey from LivingSocial that revealed that Americans consider themselves the worst travelers in the world. That same survey also asked respondents to rank their top international travel destinations with Australia‘s Great Barrier Reef coming out on top. To celebrate this distinction, and to help make some of those travel dreams come true, Hamilton Island is now offering a discount of nearly 40% for future visitors.

The Hamilton Island & Sydney package includes everything you’ll need to enjoy an Australian vacation. The itinerary features round-trip flights on Virgin Australia from Los Angeles, ground transportation to and from the airport and five nights stay in both Sydney and on Hamilton Island itself. It also includes snorkeling excursions on the Great Barrier Reef; a visit to the world famous Whitehaven Beach; access to windsurfing, catamarans and paddle skis; and much more. The package is priced at $3646, which represents a 38% savings, and must be taken between April 1st and September 15th of this year.

Having visited the GBR myself a few years back I can attest to how beautiful a destination it truly is. The Whitsunday Islands, of which Hamilton Island is a part, is amongst the most stunning places I’ve ever been and I completely understand why it was named as the top “dream destination” on the LivingSocial survey. Other places that earned a place on that list include the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, the Grand Canyon in Arizona and the Great Wall of China. No word yet if any of those places are offering discounts on travel as well.

Underwater bollywood dancing on the Great Barrier Reef



While it isn’t hard to find countless videos on the web showing you the beauty and marine life of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, it isn’t that often that you find the location being the set of a choreographed, underwater dance number. The video is actually a contest entry for the Tourism Tropical North Queensland’s bollywood dance competition submitted by Seawalker, an underwater diving company that allows you to walk on the ocean floor. Despite having gravity working against them, the Seawalker team actually does an impressive job at mastering the dance moves, and are clearly having a great time doing it.

Karl of Seawalker commented post-production, “It’s a very unusual experience trying to dance underwater in a helmet, as all you hear is bubbles, no music, and yourself counting out the moves in a 4/4 count just hoping that everyone around you are in time. Thus, [it took] about 15 takes to get it right.”

Check out their finished product above.

Australia plans world’s largest marine park

An area the size of Germany and France combined is about to become the world’s largest marine park off of the north-east coast of Australia. Including a broad swath of the Coral Sea (where the Great Barrier Reef currently resides), the massive area is home to some of the most exotic sea creatures in the world as well as several important shipwrecks from World War II.

The protection afforded from the creation of this park will guarantee that the floral, fauna and archaeological species will continue to thrive unhindered by manmade causes, and will almost definitely pave the road for further tourism in the region.

Announced late last week, the Guardian indicates neither name nor official boundaries for the park as of yet. The government of Australia will release further deals within ninety days.
Superlatives are a bit of a speciality for us at Gadling — there’s something tantalizing about hearing about most outrageous roller coaster or the largest pretzel stand or the drunkest airline passenger in the world. So when we heard that Australia is planning the worlds largest marine park, our fingertips started tingling. Australia — the land of furry creatures and meat pies is going to establish the largest marine park in the world. Awesome.

The area to be protected lies in the Coral Sea off the northeast coast of Australia, where the G

Divers can experience coral spawning in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia this November

In 1981, the first scientific observation of coral spawning took place. Coral spawning can be thought of as a coral orgy or sex on the Great Barrier Reef, with the process beginning six months prior when eggs and sperm begin to form in the coral. Certain factors must be present for the coral spawning to take place, such as water temperatures being 27 degrees Celsius and a full moon (the spawning with occur from the 2nd to 6th night following).

If you want to see coral spawning for yourself first-hand, visit Queensland, Australia, from November 15-17th, 2011 and signup for a night dive. While the dates are not 100% guaranteed, it is predicted that this is when the coral spawning will occur this year. Want to check it out from the comfort of your computer chair? Watch this video: