Australia is blessed with a wide variety of natural wonders and attractions, both above and below the water. A few of the most famous are listed below.
Great Barrier Reef: The biggest and (arguably) the best diving reef in the world. The tourist gateway to the reef is the party town of Cairns, along Queensland’s northern coast, but there are numerous access points. Don’t have your SCUBA license? That’s ok. Tour companies will take you on “Introductory Dives” for about $75 AUD a pop. It’s well known that the places these companies go to heavily trafficked areas with not-as-brilliant colors, but unless you have some boat-and-guide connections or a lot of dosh, it’s generally the best backpacker option. Don’t worry, it will still blow your mind. Snorkeling is also available.
Uluru (Ayers Rock): When you get a postcard with all those pics of Australia on it, this is the big ol’ red rock that rises out of the middle of nowhere. And it does seem to rise out of the middle of nowhere. It is the largest monolith in the world with a base that is 9 kilometers around and reaches 348 meters into the air. Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park is located approximately 450 kilometers southwest of Alice Springs. It is listed as a World Heritage Site. Although climbing the rock is possible when it is not closed for heat, wind or other reasons, the traditional Aboriginal protectors, Anangu, ask that travelers do not, as the rock holds a great spiritual significance. There is a cultural center two kilometers away from Uluru where visitors can learn more about the Anangu people and the importance of Uluru. Entrance to the cultural center is free.
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Monkey Mia: One of the top attractions along Western Australia’s coast, located in Shark Bay, a protected World Heritage Area a solid day’s drive north of Perth. Squeal as ‘wild’ dolphins come into the shallow waters and swim around you and hoards of other tourists. Rangers feed the dolphins 2-3 times a day- you are not able to feed them on your own. Dolphin sightings are not guaranteed.
Daintree Rainforest: Although it takes up less than .2% of Australia’s landmass, the Daintree Rainforest is home to 30% of the nation’s frog, marsupial and reptile species, 65% of the bat and butterfly species and 20% of bird species. The rainforest is located in the far north of Queensland and is usually the next stop for backpackers on their way up from Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef. The Daintree Rainforest is more than hundred and thirty-five million years old, which makes it the oldest rainforest in the world. It is also a World Heritage listed site.