Top 10 Australian Landmarks

L'Australia offre un'ampia scelta di destinazioni imperdibili dal fascino e dallo splendore unici.

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It’s impossible to include every notable location when compiling a list of must-see destinations in a country as vast as Australia. However, we’ve curated one that showcases its diverse landscapes, from the iconic Outback to Australia’s vibrant cities, stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and rugged mountains, providing a glimpse into the country’s beauty and variety.

1. Uluru/Ayers Rock

Standing at an impressive height of 348 metres (higher than the Eiffel Tower) and some 3.6 kilometres wide, Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock) is a majestic sandstone monolith located in the Northern Territory, near the geographical centre of Australia. This iconic landmark is not only a natural wonder, but also a culturally significant site for the Aboriginal people of the region. According to their beliefs, it was created at the dawn of time when ancestral spirits traversed the barren landscape, shaping the landforms we see today.

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2. Kakadu National Park 

The second-largest national park in Australia after the Munga-Thirri-Simpson desert, Kakadu is renowned for its abundance of Aboriginal cultural sites, numbering over five thousand. Visitors to Kakadu can immerse themselves in breathtaking landscapes teeming with diverse flora and fauna. The park is home to over twenty species of frog, as well as snakes and crocodiles. Among its birds are unique species like the so-called Jesus birds, famed for their ability to walk on water — although actually they are treading on aquatic plants.

3. Sydney

The largest city in Australia, Sydney offers a vibrant mix of attractions that capture the country’s diverse character. A perfect starting point for exploration is Hyde Park, one of its most iconic parks. Nearby, Circular Quay bustles with bars, restaurants and shops, offering a stunning view of the Harbour Bridge, affectionately known as the Coathanger. Adjacent to this area lies The Rocks, where the first colonisers settled, and the iconic Sydney Opera House, inaugurated in 1973 and now a symbol of the city. Sydney’s multiculturalism is exemplified by its fascinating Chinatown, a bustling pedestrian area brimming with shops, entertainment venues and authentic Asian cuisine. The city also boasts renowned zoos and aquariums, providing opportunities for visitors to encounter Australian wildlife such as koalas, kangaroos and dugongs. One of Sydney’s prime attractions is its picturesque coastline, with Bondi Beach a highlight. This expansive stretch of sand offers approximately a kilometre of pristine shoreline, along with a plethora of aquatic activities for visitors to enjoy.

4. Melbourne

Often ranked first as the world’s most liveable city, Melbourne is Australia’s second most populous city and serves as the gateway to the Great Ocean Road, a scenic 4.5-hour drive which leads to the awe-inspiring Twelve Apostles, towering limestone pillars rising forty-five metres from the Southern Ocean. Once connected to the mainland cliffs, they now stand as majestic formations on their own. Historically prosperous, Melbourne emerged as one of the wealthiest and largest metropolises by the late 1880s. Renowned for its vibrant cultural scene, the city has garnered acclaim as a hub for street art, theatre and live music. It also hosts events like the Australian Grand Prix and the Australian Open. A mere (by Australian standards) two-hour drive south of Melbourne lies Phillip Island, famed for hosting the world’s largest little penguin colony, offering visitors a unique wildlife experience.

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5. Tasmania 

Located across the Bass Strait off the southeast coast of Australia, and 240km from the mainland, Tasmania is a heart-shaped island, 364km long and 30km wide, surrounded by 334 smaller islands. Its remote location adds to its allure, making it an intriguing destination. Tasmania boasts some of the world’s oldest flora and fauna and is renowned for its natural wonders, ranging from deep lakes to extraordinary beaches like Wineglass Bay, consistently ranked among the top ten on the planet. Among its unique wildlife is the iconic Tasmanian devil, a carnivorous marsupial about the size of a small dog, notorious for having one of the strongest bites in the world.

6. Kimberley 

Situated in Western Australia, the Kimberley region was among the first to be colonised. This area provides unique experiences, including camel rides along the stunning Cable Beach. It is also home to one of Australia’s most iconic roads, the Gibb River Road, which traverses the heart of the region. Kimberley is also notable for the town of Kununurra, where the Waringarri Aboriginal Arts Centre showcases the artistic work crafted by local Aboriginal people, offering visitors a chance to connect with their culture.

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7. Pilbara

Another captivating region in Western Australia, the Pilbara region is renowned for its distinctive red earth and rich Aboriginal culture. The majority of the region’s population resides in the Roebourne coastal sand plain, which also serves as the primary hub for industry and commerce. To the east lies a captivating desert, sparsely populated by a small number of Aboriginal peoples. The Pilbara is home to stromatolites: fossilised evidence of Earth’s oldest life forms, dating back over 3.4 billion years.

8. Cairns

The city of Cairns, located in the state of Queensland, served as an Allied Forces staging ground during World War Two. Today, it is a thriving tourist destination renowned for its flourishing cruising industry, with a vibrant waterfront esplanade, bustling with shops and restaurants. Cairns offers convenient access to the breathtaking Daintree Forest and the Great Barrier Reef. Nearby, the coastal town of Port Douglas is a hidden gem, boasting gorgeous beaches, lush rainforests and a laid-back atmosphere.

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9. The Great Australian Bight 

The Great Australian Bight is an expansive open bay; often considered part of the Indian Ocean, some argue it is part of the Southern Ocean. It is characterised by towering cliff faces reaching heights of around a hundred metres, adorned with rocky capes. Formed approximately fifty million years ago, the Great Australian Bight marks the separation of Antarctica and Australia. This region is renowned for its diverse marine life, making it an ideal destination for whale-watching enthusiasts. It serves as a vital habitat for various whale species, as well as abundant populations of Southern bluefin tuna, attracting fishing enthusiasts from around the world.

10. The Blue Mountains 

Located just a ninety-minute drive from Sydney, the Blue Mountains offer endless hiking trails amidst sandstone cliffs and eucalyptus forests, which give the region the blue haze it is named after. This area boasts numerous remarkable spots, including the Three Sisters. Located in the city of Katoomba, this unusual rock formation features in an Aboriginal legend that tells the story of three sisters who fell in love with three brothers from a neighbouring tribe. Another significant location is Echo Point, which serves as the gateway to multiple walks and other viewpoints. Among them is the adventurous Giant Stairway including an impressive staircase of almost one thousand steps leading to the valley floor below.

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Questo articolo appartiene al numero July 2024 della rivista Speak Up.

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