17 Bucket List-Worthy Attractions in Australia

  • 01 of 07

    Bucket List Items in Australia

    Sydney Opera House lit up at night
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    Australia is teeming with natural beauty and man-made wonders—no matter what state or territory you visit, there’s bound to be a site that takes your breath away. Plan your once-in-a-lifetime trip to Australia with the destination ideas in this list.

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  • 02 of 07

    Queensland

    Corals and fish at the Great Barrier Reef
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    As the second-largest state in Australia, Queensland is a delicious mix of sprawling outback and stunning coast, with a number of stunning islands scattered off its shore.

    The Great Barrier Reef

    As the state’s key tourist destination, the Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and certainly deserves its celebrity status. Stretching from Fraser Island in the south to the Torres Strait in the north, the reef is the world’s biggest single structure made from living organisms and can be seen from outer space!

    Fraser Island

    While we’re talking big, let’s keep talking about Fraser Island. This largest sand island on earth is home to rainforests, freshwater lakes, creeks and a stunning coastline, not to mention a menagerie of native Australian wildlife such as echidnas, possums, sugar gliders, dingoes, snakes, cockatoos, and wallabies. It’s extremely popular among campers and fishers and can be accessed by ferry from the mainland.

    Big Red Dune

    Next, if you travel...MORE 1,500km west of Queensland’s capital city, Brisbane, the white sand of Fraser is replaced by Big Red. Located just outside Birdsville on the edge of the Simpson Desert, the Big Red Dune is the world’s largest sand dune desert and stretches into neighboring South Australia and Northern Territory. The Birdsville Big Red Bash is a music festival held at the unique destination each year, showcasing some of the country’s most-loved artists.

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  • 03 of 07

    New South Wales

    Sydney's harbor, circular quay and the landmark Sydney Harbor Bridge
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    When it comes to Aussie icons there are two man-made structures in Sydney that immediately spring to mind: the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Sydney Opera House. These two would most likely be on any tourist’s list of ‘must sees.’ While perhaps not as breathtaking as the country’s natural landscapes, they are feats in construction and design.

    Sydney Harbor Bridge

    You can get up close and personal with the ‘coathanger’ by booking a Bridge Climb, or simply walk across and marvel at the gorgeous old girl, who was constructed in the 1920s and 30s.

    Sydney Opera House

    The Opera House steps are where many tourists will snap their photos, but with more than 1,500 performances each year, it may be worth shelling out some cash to appreciate what many artists describe as the best stage in the world.

    Bald Rock

    If you can’t make it as far as Uluru, Australia’s other incredible rock can be found in the New England region of NSW, just outside of Tenterfield. Bald Rock is a huge granite outcrop found in the Bald...MORE Rock National Park and offers incredible views from its summit. While you’re in the neighborhood, pop over to Thunderbolts Hideout for a look at a piece of Australian bushranger history.

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  • 04 of 07

    Western Australia

    Swimmers enter the water at Rottnest Island, Western Australia
    ••• Stephanie Pappas / EyeEm / Getty Images

    Western Australia is more than just outback, with wineries, rock formations, and these three sites that you should consider adding to your bucket list.

    Fremantle Prison

    For a no holds barred insight into Australia’s convict history take a tour of Fremantle Prison. Built using convict labor in the 1850s, the jail became a maximum security facility before its closure in 1991 and now offers a variety of tours into its underbelly, including cell blocks, gallows, whipping post and prisoner works of art.

    Rottnest Island

    Just a ferry ride from Fremantle, you’ll find the spectacular Rottnest Island. Hire a bike and get peddling to discover hidden beach pockets where you can step off into stunning clear water and reef. Keep an eye out for quokkas, the island’s most famous marsupial.

    The Kimberley

    Another brilliant icon to visit in the west is The Kimberley, aptly described as a ‘magical place’. It is found in the most north-west pocket of WA and Kirstin, who has traveled extensively through the...MORE region, says it deserves its reputation.

    “It makes you feel wonder and awe as well as connected with the earth around you,” she shares. “You can be driving through desert spinifex country on a rough track in the middle of nowhere and then all of a sudden come across a magnificent gorge with towering rock in a myriad of greys, reds and browns and water so clear you can see the fish and crocs swimming.”

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  • 05 of 07

    Northern Territory

    The sun glints off red rocks in Australia's Northern Terriroties
    ••• Australian Scenics / Getty Images

    We’ve left the best ‘til last. It’s hard to pick just a few gems from this magical place.

    Kakadu National Park

    Kakadu National Park is just a few hours from Darwin, but you could spend weeks trekking through virtually untouched landscapes and cruising billabongs as you learn fascinating local Aboriginal culture.

    Devil's Marbles

    Head 1,000km south of Darwin and you’ll meet the Devil’s Marbles (Karlu Karlu). The giant granite boulders, which can be found in a range of different formations, hold great cultural and spiritual significance to the traditional Aboriginal owners of the land.

    Uluru

    Our most iconic outback landmark is found 335km south west of Alice Springs and stands almost 350m high. Uluru (Ayres Rock) is at its most magical at sunrise and sunset and you’ll find a host of tourist options, from camping to camel rides and helicopter tours, to make sure this is more than just a bucket list experience.

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  • 06 of 07

    Victoria

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    The state of Victoria in south-eastern Australia is home to two locations that belong on your bucket list.

    Great Ocean Road

    No matter who you speak to, most Australians would have the ​Great Ocean Road on their bucket list. The 243km stretch of highway winds from Torquay (west of Melbourne) to Allansford and was built in honor of our fallen World War I diggers by returned soldiers. The drive hugs sheer limestone cliffs as it takes you past the Twelve Apostles, famous beach breaks, and charming seaside towns.

    Melbourne

    If city exploration, food, coffee, and fashion are more up your alley, the city of Melbourne is a must—specifically, the city’s many laneways and arcades. Wherever you look there is something to discover: delicious treats, trendy clothing stores, kitsch homewares, kooky gifts and stunning street art. Be sure to pick up a map of all the little alleys so you don’t miss any, and check out Trip Advisor for great Melbourne accommodation deals.

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  • 07 of 07

    Tasmania, South Australia, and the ACT

    Tasmania's Dove Lake reflects mountain peaks and blue skies
    ••• John White Photos / Getty Images

    Tasmania, South Australia, and the Australian Capital Territory are all worth checking out and each has one bucket list-worthy location that comes highly recommended.

    Cradle Mountain

    You could be forgiven for thinking you’ve just landed in Canada if you visit Cradle Mountain in Tasmania in the winter. Standing at its base and looking across Dove Lake, you’ll see snowcapped peaks reflected in the glassy blue water. Poking out of the Central Highlands, 1,545m above sea level, the mountain can be climbed most of the year but can be dangerous come winter so know your limits.​

    Flinders Ranges

    It’s time to put your hiking boots on and discover the Flinders Ranges. Starting about 200km north of Adelaide, the state’s largest mountain range is home to the iconic natural amphitheater, Wilpena Pound. The richness in the color of the rock and cliffs is at its best around sunset. Another iconic landmark in the region is The Cazneaux Tree, made famous by photographer Harold Cazneaux in 1937.

    Lake Burley...MORE Griffin

    Lake Burley Griffin may not boast idyllic white sands, crystal clear water or exotic Australian marine life, but this Canberra icon has plenty to offer. Incredibly, the 11km stretch of water was man-made in the 1960s, and today it is surrounded by numerous world-class attractions and national institutions, including the National Library of Australia and the National Gallery of Australia.